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City Hallways (April 5): Council talks City Honors - and it's not all friendly chatter

Wingo 'takes exception.' So does Scanlon.

Was quite a scene in Council Chambers Tuesday when a discussion on City Honors admission policies created a rare public display of disagreement among the normally amicable lawmakers.

It started with Masten Council Member Ulysees Wingo talking about school district efforts to increase African-American student enrollment at City Honors. At one point, Wingo referred to a resolution he introduced that mentioned a public school policy giving limited preference to public school students over private, parochial and charter students as a way to help address racial disparities.

Wingo wanted the Council to refer his resolution to the Education Committee he leads.

South District Council Member Chris Scanlon then spoke up, saying that many families in his district send their children to Catholic schools, especially in the early grades. He therefore cannot support a policy, he said, that treats Catholic school students differently than public school ones when attempting to get into City Honors in middle or high school.

"I don't think it's right," Scanlon said.

North District Council Member Joe Golombek agreed, noting he has lots of charter school families in his district.

Rather than suggesting changes to City Honors, Golombek said, he'd prefer to see other public schools operating as successfully as City Honors.

Wingo shot back that no one is talking about eroding the success of City Honors.

"I take exception to the idea that affluent parents who send their children to Catholic schools should have a right, based off of the fact they are Catholic, that they should have exclusive rights to City Honors," he said, later addng: "I support City Honors . . .  What I don't support is a lack of diversity. We have Buffalo public school students who are equally qualified . . .  If parents feel a Catholic education is right for them, by all means go to your Catholic schools and have fun saying your Catholic prayers."

Scanlon then "took great exception" to Wingo's characterizaton of Catholic school parents as "affluent," saying his parents  – like many others – sacrificed to send their children to Catholic schools.

"My parents were not affluent," Scanlon said. "They sacrificed."

In the end, the Council referred Wingo's resolution to the Education Committee, which is expected to discuss the issue Thursday.

P.S. Only CPAs need apply

Yesterday, City Hallways reported the Common Council was expected to support a new law,  requested by City Comptroller Mark Schroeder, that would require only certified public accountants be appointed to three top jobs in his office – city auditor, city accountant and investment/debt management officer.

The Council unanimously approved the measure.

P.S. Appointed

Also yesterday, City Hallways reported that Mayor Byron Brown appointed Janice McKinnie to the city Zoning Board.

Here's an addendum on that. McKinnie is executive director of the True Community Development Corp., the development arm of True Bethel Baptist Church, headed by the Rev. Darius Pridgen, Common Council president.

In today's, my colleague Deidre Williams has story on ambulance response times in Buffalo.


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