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Phil Fairbanks

Phil Fairbanks covers federal courts and criminal justice issues and occasionally veers off into the world of refugees, human traffickers and streets gangs.


Tropical storm Hugo arrived Friday night in Western New York, a remnant of its former self but strong enough to knock out power to more than 1,200 homes in Cattaraugus and Allegany counties and to keep a flood watch in effect until early this morning.Niagara Mohawk Power Corp. officials said 575 homes near Salamanca lost power at about 8 p.m. because of rain and wind …

The Horizons Waterfront Commission has narrowed the list of candidates for its top job to two finalists and expects to pick one of them within two weeks.Chairman Edward Cosgrove informed the commission Wednesday that a final decision on an executive director is forthcoming, but he stopped short of identifying the two finalists.He also declined to comment on the commis…

Delaware North Cos. is looking into buying a major downtown office building, possibly Goldome Center or Goldome Court, as a new home for Buffalo's largest privately held company.Downtown business and real estate sources say the company is exploring the possibility of selling its headquarters at Delaware Avenue and North Street and buying Goldome's headquarters buildin…

A City Hall planner from Pittsburgh has emerged as the front-runner in a group of finalists seeking the top job at the Horizons Waterfront Commission, but sources say he may not take the post.W. Paul Farmer, an assistant city planner in Pittsburgh, was considered the leading candidate for the post of executive director, according to sources familiar with the Horizon C…

Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly is working with the Griffin administration on plans to restore the historic Market Arcade complex into shops, offices and a restaurant.Details are being kept private, but downtown business sources say Kelly's agents, with the help of former County Executive Edward J. Rutkowski, have proposed the project to Mayor Griffin and his aide…

One of every seven poor Buffalonians lives in housing that lacks a toilet, running water or adequate heat. And the poorest of the poor might have to spend up to 70 percent of their income to rent an apartment.A "crisis" is how a national research group described the housing picture in Buffalo, yet the lack of safe and affordable shelter has not emerged as a major issu…

Charges of race and age discrimination have been filed against a Delaware Avenue apartment complex by a local non-profit group, officials said today.Housing Opportunities Made Equal has filed a complaint with the state, charging Gates Circle Apartments, 1310 Delaware Ave., with using "subtle barriers designed to discourage African-American applicants."The complaint, f…

A yearlong study of Woodlawn Beach has concluded, finally, that the natural sand beach can be restored and reopened as a regional park.Bolstered by the new study and others that support it, local officials say the once popular bathing area in the Town of Hamburg could reopen in two to three years.A final report is not expected until later this year, but a series of en…

When Jimmy Griffin became mayor, the Theater District was nothing more than a row of dilapidated buildings, most of them empty.Twelve years later, those two blocks on the north end of downtown are still struggling, but the revival has been strong enough for Griffin to suggest that the center city is coming back and that he is the reason why.The Theater District that D…

The spoiler issue was raised again Monday as supporters of Democratic mayoral candidate Wilbur P. Trammell called on local party leaders to revoke their endorsement of William B. Hoyt.About 10 Trammell supporters held a news conference on the steps of Ellicott Square, where the local Democratic Party has its headquarters, to protest Hoyt's unwillingness to pledge supp…

The city's top building inspector will issue a demolition permit next week for the former Bank of Buffalo, paving the way for a dismantling of the landmark building.Joseph V. Schollard, commissioner of inspections and community revitalization, said the permit will be issued Tuesday, with or without an agreement between the owner and the Buffalo Preservation Board.Fran…

The Griffin administration is prepared to approve an emergency demolition of the historic Bank of Buffalo building but with some assurance that the walls and dome will be dismantled piece by piece and rebuilt.Council Majority Leader James W. Pitts said he met Wednesday with representatives of the administration and Ciminelli Development Corp. of Amherst, and both side…

Mayor Griffin today defended a top aide's purchase of property that now stands to increase in value because of a city development plan.Griffin, who spoke to reporters today after a ceremony in the Theater District, said Deputy Police Commissioner Joseph Scinta did nothing wrong in signing a contract to buy a commercial building near Pilot Field while city officials we…

A Depew man held off police for more than an hour Friday night before being arrested and charged in a shooting outside his home.William Tworezek of 62 Dartmouth St. faces charges of reckless endangerment, illegal possession of a weapon and criminal mischief. He was being held at the Depew police station and was to be arraigned today.Police said they arrived at Tworeze…

City Hall has asked the same demolition company that damaged the former Bank of Buffalo to help decide whether the landmark should be shored up or demolished.Representatives of Kimmins Industrial Service Corp. will tour the building next week and offer an opinion on whether rubble can be removed from inside the building, and if the removal is enough to secure the buil…