> BRIDGE COMMISSION
Ruling on FOIA issued in bid for severance information
A federal judge ruled Friday that the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission is not subject to the state Freedom of Information Law, but he gave the commission's critics the option to file a new lawsuit, asserting their rights under the federal Freedom of Information Act.
Two Niagara County legislators, Republican John D. Ceretto and Democrat Danny W. Sklarski, filed suit to try to compel the Bridge Commission to disclose the severance package for its former executive director, Thomas E. Garlock, who either quit or was fired July 21, 2008.
The Bridge Commission asserted that it is not subject to any freedom of information legislation because it is binational, with a board half American and half Canadian.
U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara said the commission is not a state agency and denied the legislators' request under the state law. But that doesn't mean the commission is in the clear; Arcara gave the plaintiffs 60 days to try to make a case that the federal "sunshine law" applies.
Charles E. Graney, attorney for Sklarski and Ceretto, said he expects to continue the suit.
Arcara wrote, "Whether the commission is a federal agency that is subject to FOIA remains to be seen. However, there can be no doubt that the commission is a public authority of some sort performing a public function."
> FEDERAL GRANT
NFTA gets $6 million for noise mitigation
The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority has received a $6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to perform noise mitigation.
The grants will go to retrofitting homes near the airport to reduce their exposure to airport noise.
"This funding is great news for Buffalo residents and positive step forward for the community's quality of life," said Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., who announced the grant with Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, D-N.Y.