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City Hallways (Jan.11) The more things change . . .

Back on the grid

Was great having time off to spend with  the family, but with everyone back safely in their respective places - two  in college, and a third working in New York City - it's time for City Hallways to get back to  work.

We've  made  some improvements, including a new logo (Do you like it?  It was designed  by Qina Liu of The Buffalo News's web staff), more photos and  a  weekly  poll  (See below) asking City Hallways readers their views on an issue-of-the week. I hope  you'll participate..

An 'only in  government' moment

Lots of chatter lately coming from the fire department, especially over the resignation of deputy commissioner Kevin Peterson, who is dropping back to the union ranks as he prepares to retire. The move seemed a bit unusual to me, but turns out it's not all that unique in city government. Typically, I'm told, political appointees promoted through the ranks as Peterson was will drop back to their unionized civil-service position for a day or two prior to retirement in order to qualify for union benefits such as cashing in accrued sick and vacation time. The unusual thing with Peterson, I'm told, is that he's doing it for six months. And that's because he wants to get the maximum vacation-time buyout available to him, 50 days, which he'll qualify for after working six more months.

Also unusual I'm  told, is  Mayor Brown's decision to post the deputy commissioner openings, rather  than just  announcing his appointment.

More things change, more  they stay the same
 It was about a year ago that  City Hallways  posted a picture of  the all- male photo array outside Council  chambers, depicting  the nine-men-in-a room  comprising the 2015  Common Council.  Since then,  two Council members resigned for other jobs, and an election was held of all nine members last November.  A new photo array outside Council Chambers depicts the 2016 Council.

councilFullSizeRender

2016 Common Council

2015 Council

2015 Common Council

Two of the faces are new. Joel Feroleto replaces Mike LoCurto in the Delaware District, and Ulysees Wingo  replaces Demone  Smith in  Masten.  But even as things changed, so much stayed  the same. The 2016 Council, like the 2015 one,  remains all male, and still consists  of one Hispanic male,  three African-American males  and five white males.

From Poland to Polonia
I met a family in City hall, visiting from Poland. They flew into Toronto, then traveled around the country, going to Washington, D.C., to Arizona, Texas, Las Vegas, and  then, in the final leg of their  vacation, stopped in Buffalo for a few days  because they heard the city has a large Polish population. They visited St. Stanislaus Church, but noted the church has only one mass a day.  Not the large Polish community  they expected.

st. stan's 498_IMG_2231ST

I  told them about Buffalo's big Dyngus Days celebration, which seemed to  impress the Polish visitors. And I told them that  Buffalo does still have a sizable Polish,  but that  suburban  migration resulted in  Cheektowaga having a sizable Polish population as well.

“I heard of Cheektowaga” the Polish man said.  "They have  a shopping mall.”

This week's poll
City Council/City Schools: What do You think?

As I’ve mentioned before,  the Common Council seems determined to have a bigger say when it  comes to Buffalo schools, particularly since  Wingo became Masten Councilman. His wife is a teacher, and he’s a youth minister. He’s taken over the Council's Education Committee. While  the committee only met sporadically last  year, Wingo has  scheduled monthly  Education Committee meetings for 2016,  starting with one later this week.

Given that theme, the first City Hallways poll question is education related.  I'll post the poll all week, but please only vote once. I'll publish the results next Monday. Along with a new poll.

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Calendar Items:

Planning Board meets this afternoon. The big item is Canterbury Woods on Gates Circle. Also on the agenda is the still controversial Sweet Pea Market, 226-238  High St., in the Fruit Belt, which got more controversial when  residents recently learned the plan now includes higher-end apartments. My colleague, Jonathan Epstein, has stories on both issues in today's paper. Here's story on the Gates Circle project redesign. And another on the Sweet Pea Market controversy.

Others agenda items include:

*Expansion of parking lot at Foundry Lofts, 1700 Elmwood.

*Conversion of warehouse at 510 Washington into 13 market-rate lofts with 1,370-square-feet office space.

*Construction two three-story apartments with 10 units each at 494-502 Seventh

*Construction of convenience store with gas pumps at 511-525 Broadway.

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