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City Hallways (Dec. 1) Back on the Grid

For this week's photo, I thought City Hallways readers would like a glimpse of  the Buffalo News' office I  work out of in City Hall. Here it is, nothing fancy. Not even a real sign.

The death toll
I promised City Hallways would keep a monthly homicide log. I'm aware of two homicides in November, a 23-year-old shot to death on Ruhland  Nov. 1, and another young man killed, and woman injured, by gunshots Sunday night.  I don't  know  of any other November slayings,  but  there's been plenty of gunfire. Among the shootings:  a 42-year-old wounded  Nov. 5 at Grey and Carlton streets; a 23-year-old  shot in the foot Nov. 6 while walking on Busti; a 20-year-old  shot Nov. 16  on Hampshire; two people  shot - minor injuries, we were told -  on Ernst on Nov. 17. The homicide list on the city's website, by the way, isn't up to date. It stops on Oct. 26. I counted four homicides since then, including two on Oct. 29 - a 19-year-old and a 21-year-old - as well as the ones on Nov. 1 and Nov. 29.

Star power
Folks  were lined up in City Hall, seated on both sides of one of the first floor hallways for much of Monday, obviously waiting a long time for something. "What's going on?" I asked.
"It's the last day to sign up for the STAR (property tax) exemption," I was told.

One woman  complained the STAR exemption form was too difficult to fill out.
Another said that's not a problem. She'll have the City Hall staff help with that.
Others just complained about the line.
"How did you know today was the last day?" I asked one man.
"It says it on the form," he responded.
"Why did you wait until today to fill it out?" I asked.
He just shrugged.

Tree time
I left City Hall about 3:30 p.m. Monday to walk over to Chippewa and Delaware, where Mayor Brown was having a press conference to announce billboards going up around the city to promote the mayor's Opportunity Pledge supporting diversity in the workplace.  Reps from AT&T and IBM, which are sponsoring the billboards, were there. So was Erin Harris, who designed the pledge logo that can now be seen throughout the city. When I got back to City Hall after the press conference, I noticed a tree was up, decorated and lit up in the lobby.

Calendar Items
Council committee meetings today, starting with Civil  Service and  Finance  in the  morning, then Community Development and Legislation in the afternoon.

David Plouffe, chief adviser to the Uber ride-sharing company, will be in City Hall today supporting Brown's Opportunity Pledge on Uber's behalf.  Plouffe is a former White House senior adviser who also was campaign manager for Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign. Plouffe is in Buffalo to take part in a roundtable discussion, hosted by Mayor Brown, to address strategies for growing inner-city economies and creating jobs, according to a press release issued by Brown's office.

My colleague Bob McCarthy and I have story in today's Buffalo News and on the state Attorney General's probe into former deputy Fire Commissioner Joe Tomizzi and the Fire Investigations Unit he headed up.

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