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Outer Harbor, climate change on Partnership for the Public Good agenda

The Partnership for the Public Good Thursday unveiled its 2020 policy agenda for Buffalo at the Central Library.

It's an annual exercise of the community-based think tank that provides research and advocacy support to a broad range of partners in the region. Each fall, the group leads what it calls a democratic process involving its to determine the community agenda for the coming year, which includes declaring a climate emergency in Buffalo and Erie County, as well reducing the disparate impact of local traffic fines and fees. They are among the 10 planks outlined in the group's policy goals for 2020.

“This is a collective vision of a more just and vibrant Buffalo,” said Andrea Ó Súilleabháin, executive director of the Partnership, in a statement released Thursday.

Members of the Partnership said they have seen many of their goals realized over the past 11 years, including on such issues as the promotion of early voting, statewide climate legislation, paid family leave, raising the age of criminal responsibility and increasing the minimum wage.

"Engaging in local and state policy arenas gives us the opportunity to directly influence the decisions that affect our communities most," said Partnership policy analyst Sarah Wooton, in a statement.

"Our community agenda process encourages collaboration between community groups across the region. They voice their top policy priorities for the next 12 months, and we move to advance those priorities as a collective – with the voices of those directly impacted at the forefront," Wooton added.

The Partnership's eight other policy prescriptions for 2020 are: implementing a law enforcement assisted diversion program; building a state park on the Outer Harbor; promoting equitable financing of water bills for low-income residents; just cause evictions; improving language access and inclusion in Western New York; dedicating new sources of funding to expand and improve public transportation; purchasing good quality food for Buffalo Public Schools; and equitable and increased representation of front-line communities in Buffalo public art.

Members of the Partnership plan to visit with elected officials in coming months to review the group's agenda and ask elected leaders for their support.

Assemblyman Sean Ryan, D-Buffalo, was among the local officials to offer a comment on the agenda. He applauded the diversity of its goals which include addressing climate change, public transportation and the Outer Harbor. Ryan said the group's work "addresses many of the pressing issues facing Buffalo and Western New York."

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