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City Hallways (Jan. 20) Buffalo's Magic Bus

Sidewalk snow blowing in another community

Sidewalk snow plowing in another community

A rare dissent

It's been about 14 months now since I was assigned to my current stint as City Hall reporter. During that time, I'd say I've covered about 30 Common Council meetings and hundreds of votes.  Yesterday - Tuesday -  is the first time in these 14 months I can recall the Council taking a vote that wasn't a  unanimous "yes."  Lovejoy Councilman Rich Fontana was the lone dissenter on a sidewalk snow-clearing contract worth up to $100,000.

Fontana says (see story in today's paper) he's not against the concept but would prefer a per diem payment to the flat-fee contract that was voted on, at least for  this  year, since there's only  two  months  left to winter.  I mentioned to Fontana  after the meeting that his no vote was the first I could recall hearing on the Council  over these  past 14 months.  Fontana didn't have any on-the-record comment, but did seem to realize how unusual dissension is when it comes to Council votes.

Money Matters:

Remember  that 60th district Buffalo state Senate race from  two years  ago?  The seat is  up again in  November, this  time with  Democrat Marc Panepinto as the incumbent rather than Republican  Mark Grisanti. So when the most recent campaign finance reports came out over  the  past few days, the first ones  I  checked  were about the  60th  District Senate seat.

Panepinto has $140,922 in  his political  war  chest.  Kevin  Stocker,  the  Republican who upset Grianti in that 2014 GOP  primary - who  is expected to  challenge  Panepinto this year - has $126,995 in  his political fund.  Grisanti  got  a judicial appointment after his  2014 loss, so he won't be on the  ballot.  Al Coppola, the Democrat who ran  a 2014 primary against Democratic,  didn't  file a January  finance  report.

Magic Opportunity Bus

Mayor Brown's been using his office as  a bully pulpit  to push his  Opportunity Pledge as a way to get  the minority hiring issue out in front of  those controlling jobs.  Erie  County Legislator Betty Jean Grant,  meanwhile,  has been  helping to organize  protests at construction sites where minority hiring  numbers  - particularly among African-Americans -  are considered  low.  Now, Darius  Pridgen, the Council President  who  is also bishop at True Bethel Baptist Church, is talking bringing job applications  and job  training right to the neighborhoods suffering from high unemployment. He's hoping his church can raise funds for an "Opportunity  Bus" that would go  into  the  neighborhoods with  laptops residents can use to look for and  apply for  jobs. The  bus  can  also offer job recruiters to talk  directly to residents, and  other job related and other services, including trainers to  help residents  prepare for job tests, or general  job preparedness.

Sort of  reminds me  of  Ms. Frizzle's Magic  Bus.The Magic School Bus

(Here's link to a story in today's paper on the minority employment  picture in Erie County. The numbers aren't good.)

Today's events calendar

Zoning Board meets  this afternoon.

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