News U Can Use Archive

Another Voice: News editorial glosses over racist history of Route 33

Matthew O’Malley

Read the full article from Buffalo News here.

There’s an important petition up at change.org started by University of Arizona Assistant Professor Erika Gault, who grew up in Buffalo. It concerns Mayor Byron Brown’s reluctance to publicly say the name of mayoral candidate India Walton, and the recent replay in Buffalo of historically racist tropes concerning Black women.

I, too, would like to recognize the elision of proper names, albeit in a somewhat adjacent sphere: The Buffalo News editorial board’s opinion regarding the renewed energy around doing away with the Kensington Expressway (“Push to bury Route 33,”May 23).

UB reinstitutes indoor mask mandate effective Tuesday

Eric DuVall

Read the full article from Buffalo News here.

The University at Buffalo will reinstate its indoor mask mandate beginning Tuesday for all employees and students regardless of their vaccination status, the school said Monday.

The mask rule is expected to remain in place when students return en masse later this month.

Vaccine update: 9 charts that show how New York is handling the spread of COVID-19

Lee Digital Content Center and Reconnecting Labs

Read the full article from Buffalo News here.

How have case numbers changed over time? How many people have been vaccinated? Find out with these charts and maps, updated weekly.

Economy update: 6 charts that show how the economy is performing in Buffalo and New York

Lee Digital Content Center and Reconnecting Labs

Read the full article from Buffalo News here.

See how unemployment has changed over time, plus how small businesses are doing in our community, and more economic indicators with these regularly updated charts and graphs.

UB to celebrate 2020 graduates in fall commencement ceremony

News Staff Reporter

Read the full article from Buffalo News here.

UB President Satish K. Tripathi on Friday announced that the university will host in-person commencement exercises for members of the Class of 2020 in the fall, nearly a year and a half after they were supposed to be feted.

Buffalo’s 14215 ZIP code among those Cuomo targets for vaccine push

News Staff Reporter

Read the full article from Buffalo News here.

With roughly one in four New Yorkers still unvaccinated against Covid-19, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday said the state will attempt to boost the vaccination rate by targeting 117 ZIP codes that have both low vaccination rates and a high spread of Covid with outreach efforts by community-based organizations.

Twenty-five of those ZIP codes are outside New York City and Long Island and include two in Western New York: 14215 in Buffalo and Cheektowaga and 14770 along the Pennsylvania border in Cattaraugus County.

Can Erie County office close the health equity gap?

News Editorial Board

Read the full article from Buffalo News here.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz plans to spend $300,000 in federal stimulus money to attack the racial disparity in health outcomes. It’s a good start. The challenge for Poloncarz: Ensure the spending actually narrows the gap.

In Erie County, African American children are more than twice as likely to die within a year after birth, according to the County Health Rankings report, and twice as likely to die before they turn 18. African American girls are 2 1/2 times more likely than whites to give birth in their late teens.

Underlying all of that is poverty. Nearly half of African American children in Erie County are living in poverty – five times the rate among white children.

Lynne Dixon’s 25-point plan launches county comptroller contest

New Staff Reporter

Read the full article from Buffalo News here.

The 25-point proposal, to be released today, revolves around “helping senior citizens, small businesses, and taxpayers,” her campaign said. Her “signature item,” she added, is allowing senior citizens on a fixed income and small business owners to pay property taxes monthly, instead of annually.

Buffalo police community outreach

Sharon Cantillon

Read the full article from Buffalo News here.

The Buffalo Police Department held a community outreach called Taking It to the Streets at New Hope Baptist Church,  across from Schiller Park, Tuesday, July 20, 2021. It provided a chance for the police to interact with the public. Police officials and various officers were on hand as well as  community groups and services. They plan on doing similar events around the city throughout the rest of the summer.

Buffalo Residents Protest in Solidarity with Cubans

Natalie Fahmy

Read the full article from WKBW Buffalo here.

Thousands took the streets in Cuba last week to protest against the government. In Buffalo on Sunday around 50 residents took to the streets to march in solidarity.

Erie County looks at new way to tackle old problem: serious health disparities

Sandra Tan

Read the full article from Buffalo News here.

While Covid-19 drew renewed attention to the local health disparities issue, the nature of the disparity has been known for a long time. Erie County fares worse on many state and national averages when it comes to premature deaths, lack of preventative care and childhood poverty among African American residents.

David Robinson: Buffalo Niagara worker shortage slows the Covid-19 recovery

David Robinson

Read the full article from Buffalo News here.

That’s worrisome because it’s a sign that the low-hanging fruit in the recovery has been pretty much picked. And we’re still down about 30,000 jobs from where we were in June 2019, so the recovery is far from over.

Now that the economy is operating without many Covid-19-related restrictions, it is the more difficult structural issues that are holding back the recovery.

Buffalo’s last school zone speed camera shut off

Deidre Williams

Read the full article from Buffalo News here.

After at least two lawsuits, accusations of a money grab by the city and more than a year of conflict between the Common Council and Mayor Byron W. Brown, the last school zone speed camera in Buffalo has been turned off.

The move followed what Brown described as a “passionate plea” from University Council Member Rasheed N.C. Wyatt in a Facebook post Thursday.

Brown commits to mayoral debate co-sponsored by The Buffalo News

Harold McNeil

Read the full article from Buffalo News here.

Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown has committed to participating in a debate against his opponent in the mayoral race, Democratic Party nominee India B. Walton, in an event being sponsored by The Buffalo News, WGRZ and Buffalo Toronto Public Media.

Walton, who defeated Brown in the Democratic primary, was out of town, and her campaign has not yet committed to participating in the 7 p.m. Oct. 12 debate. 

Citizen panel questions Buffalo police chief on white supremacy in policing

Deidre Williams

Read the full article from Buffalo News here.

Noting a series of alarming incidents around the country, members of a citizens police oversight panel that reports to the Buffalo Common Council on Wednesday questioned Police Commissioner Byron C. Lockwood on the steps being taken to prevent a white supremacist from infiltrating the department’s ranks.

Council sets meeting for public to weigh in on federal stimulus spending

Deidre Williams

Read the full article from Buffalo News here.

Buffalo is slated to receive $331 million in federal stimulus funding. Half of the windfall arrived last month. The second payment is expected to come next year. All of the funds must be spent within the next four years. The Common Council will hold a public meeting for the community to weigh in on the spending.

‘Supply is not the issue’: Why rural places like Allegany County lag in vaccinations

Stephen T. Watson

Read the full article from Buffalo News here.

The vaccination campaign is running up against the independence prized in rural areas, vaccine hesitancy, lingering animosity over the governor’s public health restrictions and the continuing spread of misinformation about Covid-19. Those and other factors have contributed to the low vaccination rate in Allegany and elsewhere, experts say.

Professionals from city’s wealthier areas powered India Walton to victory

Jerry Zremski

Read the full article from Buffalo News here.

Walton grew up poor in one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods, but she beat Buffalo’s four-term mayor, Byron W. Brown, with votes – and a lot of campaign help – from professionals in the city’s wealthier enclaves. And now Walton and her supporters are working to defeat Brown’s write-in bid in November and create a progressive city administration led by a self-proclaimed democratic socialist.

Six Takeaways From India Walton’s Historic Victory in Buffalo

Russell Weaver

Read the full article from Jacobin here.

As clichéd as it sounds, Buffalo’s historic June 2021 primary, in which democratic socialist India Walton won a major upset over four-term incumbent Byron Brown, is something of a tale of two cities. And it’s the same tale that Buffalonians have discussed for generations: the “East-West divide” carved by Main Street through the heart of the city.

At Albright-Knox, steel frame for expansion is in place: ‘This is a remarkable moment’

Mark Sommer

Read the full article from Buffalo News here.

The expanded museum, at a cost of $168 million, is expected to reopen in fall 2022, three years since the museum closed in November 2019. When it reopens, the museum will become known as the Buffalo AKG Art Museum. AKG stands for the museum’s major contributors: John J. Albright, Seymour H. Knox Jr. and Jeffrey E. Gundlach.

Masks no longer required in summer school

Barbara O'Brien

Read the full article from Buffalo News here.

The state Health Department updated the guidance because of the “current low rates of Covid-19 transmission,” it said in an email to school districts.

Schools and districts may implement the masking policies for child care, day camp and overnight camp programs, the state said. That guidance says that unvaccinated children “are strongly encouraged but not required to wear face coverings indoors as feasible.”

India Walton’s mayoral campaign reinforces progressive police proposals

Robert J. McCarthy

Read the full article from Buffalo News here.

Walton cruised to victory last month by emphasizing new ways to solve old problems, especially in policing. She reiterated on Wednesday her plan to reallocate $7.5 million of the Police Department budget to programs that link usual subjects of police attention to mental health services. Her Wednesday event also marked the first of many in which she is expected to highlight her proposals, backed by high-profile figures like Williams. Others with similar socialist philosophies – such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of the Bronx and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont – are mentioned as other potential campaign allies.

Erie County legislators expect ugly fight before vote on how to spend stimulus money

Sandra Tan

Read the full article from Buffalo News here.

The Democratic majority of the Erie County Legislature stands poised to approve County Executive Mark Poloncarz’s $123.7 million spending plan Thursday, which would take one of the biggest windfalls in decades and use it to boost a variety of infrastructure and community improvement projects, as well as county payroll.

But the Republican-supported minority caucus is gearing up to wage a battle on the Legislature floor. They will push to sidetrack the county executive’s spending plan and replace it with a different plan that they say offers more public input.

Buffalo offering aid for those behind on water bills

Jeff Slawson

Read the full article from WKBW Buffalo here.

The City of Buffalo and the Buffalo Sewer Authority are providing relief to the more than 30,000 households that fell behind on water and sewer bills during the past 16 months. Of the $361 million the city received through the American Rescue Plan, $13 million of it will be used to wash away debt for low-income families who faced financial hardships as a result of the pandemic.

Over 1,100 vaccinated at home, but Erie County program hits snags

Sandra Tan

Read the full article from Buffalo News here.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz first announced on May 11 that the county had contracted with Buffalo Homecare and the Visiting Nursing Association of Western New York to deliver and administer the vaccine to the homes of eligible residents who request it, regardless of whether they are homebound.

After a year of pandemic learning, a more expansive approach to summer school

Barbara O'Brien

Read the full article from Buffalo News here.

At least 20% of federal American Rescue Plan money must be used in the next three years to deal with learning loss by students due to the Covid-19 pandemic. That amounts to $63 million in Erie and Niagara counties, and for many school districts, summer school will be one of their tools.

As the fall campaign begins, India Walton confronts questions over her past

Maki Becker

Read the full article from Buffalo News here.

A self-proclaimed democratic socialist who vows to “put people first,” she said her life – growing up poor on the East Side, being a single mother of four boys, being a nurse and a community organizer and having firsthand experience being arrested by Buffalo police – has prepared her for this moment as she faces a write-in campaign from an emboldened Brown in the general election on Nov. 2.

What the primary vote tells us

Geoff Kelly

Read the full article from Investigate Post here.

Ken Kruly is a political analyst for WGRZ-TV, publisher of Politics and Other Stuff and author of Money In Politics for Investigative Post. In an analysis for Investigative Post, Kruly compared Brown’s performance this year to the results of his previous four mayoral campaigns. He found Brown’s share of the vote dropped in six of the nine Common Council districts compared to four years ago.

How India Walton would revamp policing in Buffalo

Aaron Besecker & Maki Becker

Read the full article from Buffalo News here.

“She will prioritize addressing the root causes of crime such as concentrated poverty and lack of living-wage jobs,” according to her platform on her campaign website, and she would emphasize “harm reduction and restorative justice programs rather than punitive measures.”

How Did a Socialist Triumph in Buffalo?

Michelle Goldberg

Read the full article from The New York Times here.

That danger is real. Polls reveal that both Black and white voters reject the slogan “Defund the police.” Yet Walton has shown that even in a city where shootings have surged a staggering 116 percent so far this year, a socialist promising police reform can win.

Byron Brown launches write-in campaign for mayor as others eye the race

Robert J. McCarthy

Read the full article here.

Gone was the aloof incumbent seemingly self-assured of an unprecedented fifth term leading Buffalo. Instead, Brown launched a “do over” candidacy, passionately announcing in the Statler Terrace Room a write-in campaign for the Nov. 2 general election to reclaim the office he preliminarily lost to newcomer India B. Walton on June 22.

Walton’s campaign outworked Brown

Geoff Kelly

Read the full aricle here.

She’d beaten Brown by 1,507 votes, according to the unofficial tally by the Erie County Board of Elections. That’s more than the absentee ballots left to be counted. She won almost 52 percent of the vote to Brown’s 45 percent. Le’Candice Durham, a City Hall employee whose campaign seemed designed to siphon votes from Walton to benefit Brown, got 650 votes, or just over 3 percent.

Council seeks judge’s opinion on legislation to eliminate school speed zone cameras

Deidre Williams

Read the full article from Buffalo News, here.

Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown has said he will not sign expedited legislation approved by the Common Council to eliminate school zone speed cameras because council members did not follow the proper process.

Mayor Brown didn’t budget money for speed zone cameras – but he’s not giving up on them

Deidre Williams

Read the full article from Buffalo News, here.

Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown did not include any revenue from school zone speed cameras in his 2021-22 budget proposal.

State AG says Buffalo can establish a civilian review board

Deidre Williams

Read the full article from The Buffalo News here.

“Buffalo can take steps now to establish a civilian review board to investigate allegations of police misconduct, according to the New York State Attorney General’s Office. Such a board should hold final disciplinary authority over officers and subpoena power, and it should have a substantial budget and a qualified professional staff to carry out its duties, according to a letter from the office’s Civil Rights Bureau to Mayor Byron W. Brown.”

Sheriff’s candidate: Party chairman said she’s ‘not what a sheriff looks like’

Sandra Tan

Read the full article from The Buffalo News here.

“Kimberly L. Beaty has more than 30 years in law enforcement and believes she has credentials to make a strong push for the Erie County sheriff’s seat as former deputy commissioner for the Buffalo Police Department. But according to her recount of conversations with the Erie County Democratic Party chairman, there was one thing Beaty didn’t have. The right look. ‘He said, “You’re not what a sheriff looks like, and what people are used to,” ‘ she recalled.”

Buffalo’s school zone speed cameras are on a path to being removed

Deidre Williams

Read the full article from The Buffalo News here.

“Six out of nine city lawmakers voted Tuesday to get rid of Buffalo’s school zone speed cameras by September, but it is not a done deal. Their patience is running out.…According to the City Charter, Mayor Byron W. Brown has 10 days to sign the legislation or veto it. If he vetoes it, the legislation goes back to the Council, which then has 30 days to vote to override the veto. If Brown does not act then, the legislation becomes law.”

Brown calls for a more focused citizens’ rights commission to improve policing

Deidre Williams

Read the full article from The Buffalo News here.

“The report calls for the city’s Commission on Citizens’ Rights and Community Relations to undergo a community planning process with residents from all neighborhoods to improve interactions with the police. The plan also calls on the commission to provide a survey on its website for residents to complete any time they interact with police officers.”

New Buffalo program seeks to replace dilapidated houses with new homes

Deidre Williams

Read the full article from The Buffalo News here.

“Buffalo kicked off a pilot program Tuesday with the demolition of a dilapidated house in the Hamlin Park neighborhood to make way for a new house to be built within 12 months…The program seeks to replace vacant, blighted structures with affordable houses for new homeowners. The city’s Division of Real Estate identifies a community housing partner for construction of a new home within 12 months from the date of demolition.”

State sues Sheriff Howard over handling of sexual misconduct allegations in county jails

Matthew Spina

Read the full story from The Buffalo News here.

“‘The Erie County Sheriff’s Office has an abysmal track record of complying with the requirement to notify the commission of incidents that jeopardize the safety and well-being of individuals in custody, facility staff and the community,’ Commission of Correction Chairman Allen Riley said in the written statement.

Probe faults mayor, former police chief for keeping Prude death secret

The Associated Press

Read the full article from NBCBLK here.

“An investigation into the official response to Daniel Prude’s police suffocation death last year in Rochester, New York, is faulting the city’s mayor and former police chief for keeping critical details of the case secret for months and lying to the public about what they knew. The report, commissioned by Rochester’s city council and made public Friday, said Mayor Lovely Warren lied at a September press conference when she said it wasn’t until August that she learned officers had physically restrained Prude during the March 23, 2020, arrest that led to his death.”

Black Lives Matter backs Amazon union push in Alabama

Joseph Pisani

Read the full article from AP News here.

“‘Black workers have historically been the backbone of this country, its institutions, and innovations,’ said Patrisse Cullors, the executive director of Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, in a statement. ‘Therefore, it is fully within our rights and dignity that we be treated and compensated fairly. Just as we have the right to live, we also have the right to work.'”

Racial disparities plague vaccine rollout in WNY and across U.S.

Caitlin Dewey

Read the full article from The Buffalo News here.

“In New York, white residents have received a disproportionate share of vaccines in each of the state’s 10 regions and in all five counties of Western New York. That disparity is especially dramatic in Erie County: While white residents make up just over 81% of the population, they account for almost 91% of the newly vaccinated. Black residents, on the other hand, represent 5.7% of all vaccinated people (compared to 13.1% of the population), while Asian residents make up 2.5% of those vaccinated (3.6% of the population) and Hispanic residents make up 2.2% (4.5% of the population).”

Fruit Belt housing project delayed to allow community talks

Jonathan D. Epstein

Read the full article from The Buffalo News here.

“The nonprofit developers proposing 50 units of affordable housing in Buffalo’s Fruit Belt neighborhood asked the Buffalo Planning Board to delay consideration of the project for another month, as they reach out to the community to resolve concerns and resistance. Dunkirk-based Southern Tier Environments for Living and the Fruit Belt Community Land Trust want to construct a 33-unit apartment building at 326 High St., at the corner of Peach Street, along with five three-bedroom duplexes, one two-bedroom duplex and five single-family homes on scattered sites.”

Daniel Prude’s Death Leads to No Charges for Police

Sarah Maslin Nir

Read the full article from The New York Times  here.

“‘The criminal justice system has demonstrated an unwillingness to hold law enforcement officers accountable in the unjustified killing of unarmed African-Americans,’ [Attorney General] James said, her voice growing emotional at a news conference at Aenon Missionary Baptist Church in Rochester. ‘What binds these cases is the tragic loss of life in circumstances in which the death could be avoided.'”

Black Lives Matter movement nominated for Nobel peace prize

Martin Belam

Read the full article from The Guardian here.

“The Black Lives Matter movement has been nominated for the 2021 Nobel peace prize for the way its call for systemic change has spread around the world. In his nomination papers, the Norwegian MP Petter Eide said the movement had forced countries outside the US to grapple with racism within their own societies. ‘I find that one of the key challenges we have seen in America, but also in Europe and Asia, is the kind of increasing conflict based on inequality,’ Eide said. ‘Black Lives Matter has become a very important worldwide movement to fight racial injustice.’”

Cuomo: Black hospital workers shunning vaccine at greater rate than whites, Latinos

Jay Tokasz

Read the full article from Buffalo News here.

“The governor said there’s ‘understandable’ cynicism and distrust of the health care system in the Black community because of previous injustices. But the governor said such distrust isn’t justified when it comes to the Covid-19 vaccine. He said he has been calling pastors and other leaders in African American communities around the state about it, and the state plans to roll out an advertising campaign aimed at building trust in the vaccine among Black New Yorkers.”

Rochester Police Pepper-Sprayed 9-Year-Old Girl, Footage Shows

Nicole Hong

Read the full article from The New York Times here.

“The police department in Rochester, N.Y., released body-camera footage on Sunday that showed a 9-year-old girl being handcuffed and pepper-sprayed by police officers who had responded to a family disturbance call. During the incident, which occurred Friday afternoon, officers restrained the girl, pushing her into the snow in order to handcuff her, while she screamed repeatedly for her father, the footage showed. At one point, an officer said, ‘You’re acting like a child.’ She responded, ‘I am a child.'”

UB experts believe there’s a fundamental flaw with current polling

WBEN

Read the full article from WBEN here.

BUFFALO (WBEN) – “The one thing we can say for sure in this is that the big loser last night was the pollsters,” said Professor Jim Campbell, as a group of University at Buffalo experts held a virtual meeting to discuss Election Night and the election process as a whole.

“This was not supposed to be as close as it turned out to be in many states,” he continued.

Wisconsin turned out to be a very thin margin, as election officials continues to tally votes in a state where Democratic Nominee Joe Biden holds a lead. Prior to Tuesday night, it was anticipated that Biden would run away with Wisconsin, holding nearly a double-digit lead in some polls.

UB Professors Discuss Divisions Amid Presidential Election

Andy Young

Watch the video and read the full article from Spectrum News here.

“This is a deeply, deeply divided country along ideological lines,” said Henry Louis Taylor, professor of urban planning.

“This was in some ways a referendum on President Trump and indicates how sharply polarized we are as a nation,” said James Campbell, professor of political science.

President Trump has threatened lawsuits to come over the voting process and collecting and counting of ballots in some states.

Election law expert James Gardner expects to see recounts and court cases to resolve this, but also wondered about the how the federal courts, including the United States Supreme Court, would handle the situation with objectivity.

Black Man Died of Suffocation After Officers Put Hood on Him

Troy Closson and Ed Shanahan

Read the full article from The New York Times, here.

“A Black man died of suffocation in Rochester, N.Y., after police officers who were taking him into custody put a hood over his head and then pressed his face into the pavement for two minutes, according to video and records released by his family and local activists on Wednesday. The man, Daniel Prude, 41, died on March 30, seven days after his encounter with the police, after being removed from life support, his family said.”

Black Americans Still Face Obstacles In Obtaining Credit, Mortgage Loans

Palash Ghosh

Read the full article from International Business Times, here.

“Black Americans are denied access to credit far more than their white counterparts, according to a recent report from LendingTree (TREE), the online lending marketplace. Specifically, regardless of income levels, in 2019, Black adults were denied credit – including credit cards, higher credit card limits, mortgages, refinancing, student loans, personal loans – 44% of the time (versus 19% for whites). Put another way, Blacks were denied or approved for less than the amount requested 57% of the time versus 24% for whites.”

Black Workers in Buffalo Face Bigger Share of Coronavirus Impact

Kim Mackrael

Read the full article from Wall Street Journal, here.

“The coronavirus pandemic risks widening the financial gap in Buffalo, N.Y., between white and Black workers, who entered this year’s economic downturn with less financial security and are disproportionately employed in sectors more vulnerable to layoffs and exposure to Covid-19. Over the last half-century, Black people in Buffalo were more likely to trade relatively stable manufacturing jobs for lower-wage work in the service sector, live in poorer neighborhoods and face higher levels of unemployment, according to researchers…”

Trump boasts of pushing low-income housing out of suburbs

Matthew Choi

Read the full article from Politico, here.

President Donald Trump is pining for support in the suburbs, and pushing out low-income housing is playing a part in his bid to get it.

In a set of tweets and in remarks in Texas on Wednesday, Trump bragged about his administration’s rescinding an Obama-era fair housing rule that was meant to combat housing discrimination. He characterized low-income housing as a detriment to the suburbs and claimed that Democrats were out to uproot and destroy suburbia — a cultural sphere that he equated to the American dream.

“You know the suburbs, people fight all of their lives to get into the suburbs and have a beautiful home,” Trump said during a talk in Midland, Texas. “There will be no more low-income housing forced into the suburbs. … It’s been going on for years. I’ve seen conflict for years. It’s been hell for suburbia.”

Buffalo’s Police Brutality Didn’t Start With Martin Gugino

Geoff Kelly

Read the full article from The Nation, here.

According to activists circulating a petition demanding his immediate resignation, [Mayor] Brown has never demonstrated an inclination to change the way police operate.

In fact, those activists say, the opposite is true. Under three police commissioners named by Brown in his 14 years as mayor, the department has instituted policies embodying the specific brand of racism that fuels protests across the country.

Some examples:

§ Setting up police checkpoints in poor, mostly black and Latino neighborhoods, which were discontinued after their constitutionality was challenged in a lawsuit.

§ Raising revenue for Brown’s cash-strapped administration by targeting motorists in those same neighborhoods for minor infractions—busted headlights, expired registrations or insurance cards, rolling stops.

§ Creating special units with a reputation for brutality and disregard for the Fourth Amendment.

 

NYC slashes program funding in ‘cautious’ FY21 budget

David Oliver

Read the full article from Smartcities Drive, here.

Dive Brief:

  • New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the city’s budget for fiscal year 2021 (FY21), which previewed “cautious planning” and deep cuts across multiple sectors to address constraints amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. At $89.3 billion, the budget is $3.4 billion smaller than the one for fiscal year 2020 (FY20) to account for a potential $7.4 billion tax revenue loss across both years.
  • The sanitation department, for instance, saw its e-waste and community composting subsidy programs temporarily disappear, amounting to cost savings of $3.4 million and $3.5 million, respectively in FY21 and beyond. The city also curtailed funding for its Summer Youth Employment Program; Vision Zero program; tree pruning and tree stump removal efforts; and educational district-charter partnerships program, among other adjustments.
  • The budget aims to keep safety, health, shelter and access to food top of mind, but “Washington must also step up” to get New Yorkers through the pandemic, De Blasio said. ​

$8M will fund fight against Covid-19 in Buffalo’s most ‘vulnerable communities’

Caitlin Dewey

Read the full article from Buffalo News, here.

The plan comes after weeks of growing evidence that coronavirus has hit communities of color particularly hard, as well as vocal calls for governments and health care systems to step up more targeted interventions. Five of the seven Erie County ZIP codes with the highest concentration of Covid-19 are predominantly African American, according to an analysis by Alan Lesse, an associate dean at the University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

Health department data also show black patients account for a disproportionate share of Erie County’s Covid-19 deaths.

“Black and brown people are scared. They’re staying home,” said Dr. Raul Vazquez, a physician and health care executive whose affiliated organizations serve thousands of low-income patients in Buffalo. “But the community will benefit from this. That’s very important.”

Black Businesses Left Behind in Covid-19 Relief

Natalie Hopkinson and Andre Perry

Read the full article from CityLab, here.

Social distancing is not new to black communities. “Social distancing” in the form of anti-black segregation and discrimination was U.S. law throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. This created racial wealth disparities that have lingered, negatively impacting black people’s capacity to start and maintain businesses. The remnants of federally backed redlining practices, which financially isolated black people throughout the 20th century, throttled the amount of wealth black people could create from homeownership. Most entrepreneurs start businesses with the equity they’ve accrued in their homes. Consequently, black people, who’ve been over-burdened by American economic policies, require a different kind of stimulus in this coronavirus scourge era.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (Cares) package is an attempt to offset an impending recession caused by mandated and voluntary social distancing, which will last until at least April 30. Congress should also pass a relief package for people who’ve suffered from the de jure and de facto social distancing of racial segregation, which still sets African Americans apart from white people today on both a spatial and economic basis.

 

A Green Stimulus Plan for a Post-Coronavirus Economy

Brentin Mock

Read the full article from CityLab, here.

If we’re going to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, then let’s do it in a way that shakes up the status quo. This is the message that a group of U.S. economists, professors, and veterans of the last financial crisis sent in a letter to Congress yesterday asking for “green stimulus” legislation to jump-start the economy in a way that controls for climate change and poverty.

They are asking for a $2 trillion commitment for programs that will create living-wage jobs, amped-up public health and housing sectors, and a pivot away from a fossil-fuels-based energy frame. Under their plan, the stimulus would automatically renew every year at 4 percent of GDP, or $850 billion annually, as well as give the public more of a voice in whether — and how — large-scale corporations would get bailouts. For now, the coalition recognizes that the focus should be on stopping the spread of coronavirus and mitigating all related health risks.

 

How Coronavirus Affects Black People: Civil Rights Groups Call Out Racial Health Disparities

Royce Dunmore

Read the full article from Newsone, here.

The president of Color Of Change, Rashad Robinson, explained:

“This pandemic reveals a terrifying reality — many Americans don’t even know if they are infected with COVID-19 because they are scared to go to the hospital and receive free tests and treatment that may saddle them with debt that could take years to pay off. After years of Republicans, big pharma and major corporations fighting against paid sick leave legislation and medicare for all we are left with a crisis where disproportionately Black low wage workers are continuing to support the public without the health insurance or paid time off that would make us all safer.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about 29 percent of the workforce was able to work from home. Ninety percent of higher-wage workers received paid sick leave compared to lower-income workers, according to BLS. Just 31 percent of workers with salaries in the bottom 10% were allowed paid sick leave.

Among the working poor, Black workers will witness an even greater impact.

 

A Golden Opportunity for a Green Stimulus

Kate Aronoff

Read the full article from The New Republic, here.

Providing both Democratic and Republican talking points—about government waste and excess, for instance—Data for Progress found at least 60 percent of respondents supported the idea of green industrial policy to boost a number of concrete technologies: smart grids, electric buses, renewable energy, battery technology, and building retrofits with a focus on low-income housing. Investments toward underground high-voltage transmission lines and electric minivans and pickup trucks also polled well. The only technology for which poll respondents seemed to dislike the idea of federal backing was meat alternatives like Beyond Meat. Report authors Daniel Aldana Cohen, Thea Riofrancos, Billy Fleming, and Jason Ganz also found strong support for federal funding of graduate programs in fields linked to green technology, such as engineering.

“Americans seem fine with a mixed economy. If anything, they’re excited about it,” said brief co-author Aldana Cohen, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania. “The Republican Party and the mainstream media will tell you that Americans want markets to be the leaders. Respondents were excited for the government to support things that feel even minimally like a public good, even when they’re told the private sector would do a better job.” Riofrancos, a Providence College political scientist, argued that the results show an appetite for the state to be something more than a “handmaiden to capital.”

Rising home values: As investors cheer, low-income owners despair

Caitlin Dewey

Read the full article from Buffalo News, here.

Like hundreds of other low- and fixed-income homeowners in fast-appreciating neighborhoods, the Howells fear they can’t keep pace with the speed or the scale of the reassessment. The project, which concluded in September and will hit city tax bills next July, logged steady growth in most neighborhoods, though some parts of the city saw no real appreciation, and others experienced staggering spikes.

Average assessments spiked most dramatically on the West Side, a Buffalo News analysis of more than 60,000 preliminary assessment records shows. They increased by as much as 272% on the blocks south and west of Symphony Circle, raising property tax bills by hundreds and even thousands of dollars.

Residents of a number of traditionally working-class and mixed-income neighborhoods, including Allentown, the Fruit Belt and Elmwood-Bryant, also saw assessments jump far above the citywide norm, hiking tax bills, escrowed mortgages and rents. Citywide real estate values grew at four times the rate officials predicted in 2015, according to The News’ analysis.

Fighting gentrification and displacement: Emerging best practices

Juliana Broad

Read the full article from The Next System Project, here.

California’s Bay Area is home to one of the country’s worst housing crises, where despite soaring rents there are still far more empty homes than unhoused people. In late January 2020, a group of unhoused mothers—organizing under the name “Moms 4 Housing”—took matters into their own hands, occupying a home in West Oakland that had been vacant for two years. Despite their violent police eviction, the moms had overwhelming community support and media attention. Their occupation and organizing resulted in a historic win not only for the right to housing but also for a burgeoning strategy that communities are using to combat decades of racist housing policies, displacement, and gentrification.

The property’s absentee landowners, Wedgewood Properties, agreed to sell the home to the Oakland Community Land Trust, a nonprofit that buys land to maintain permanent affordable housing for low-income communities.

Though there is sometimes disagreement about how to define and measure displacement and gentrification (with some pompous claims that it’s not even a bad thing), the public and private strategies of disinvestment—which have long incubated the concentrated poverty experienced by communities of color—are undeniable: redlining, exploitative financial practices, white flight, tenant harassment, and predatory housing courts have resulted in the structural racism that undergirds our nation’s housing crisis.

Beneath Amherst’s Audubon Golf Course, a long-forgotten mass grave

Stephen T. Watson

Read the full post from Buffalo News, here.

It was a secret to all but a few people with long memories in the Town of Amherst.

In 1964, crews working to build a new roadway on the University at Buffalo’s Main Street campus dug up several graves. What was all but forgotten was where the remains were unceremoniously reburied.

In two locations on and near Amherst’s Audubon Golf Course.

Now, the town is figuring out what to do to give the dead a proper final resting place.

“This is what it is. We have what we have. Now, what do we do, and how do we do it in the right way?” Amherst Supervisor Brian J. Kulpa said.

Apple Commits $2.5 Billion to Ease California Housing Crunch

Jack Nicas, Kevin Granville and Conor Dougherty

Read the full article from The New York Times, here.

Apple on Monday announced a $2.5 billion plan to address the housing crisis in California, becoming the latest big tech company to devote money to a problem that local lawmakers and economists believe it helped create.

The iPhone maker’s plan includes a $1 billion investment fund for affordable housing and another $1 billion to buy mortgages. Apple also intends to make a 40-acre, $300 million property it owns in San Jose, Calif., available for new affordable housing.

Apple’s housing plan is a response to the increasing pressure Silicon Valley’s tech giants are under to play a more active role in the region’s housing crisis. As local tech companies big and small have boomed, they have flooded the region with hundreds of thousands of highly paid employees.

Daring Imagination: Growth in Buffalo and Utica

President Shirley A. Mullen

Read the full article from The Houghton College Blog, here.

Houghton’s extension programs are intended to serve students who would not otherwise be able to access a Christian liberal arts education, and who would be highly unlikely to come to Houghton’s residential campus. The focus on tutoring, language development, mentoring, community support and accountability has resulted in impressively high completion rates (over 80% in both Symphony Circle and Houghton College Utica).

Pierre Michel, a member of the Class of 2011, recently assumed the leadership of the oldest of Houghton’s extension sites—Houghton College Buffalo: Symphony Circle. The son of Haitian immigrants, Pierre brings his own life experience to the Symphony Circle site, along with his previous work in leadership roles at two other educational institutions. Thus far, the program has primarily served refugees on the west side of Buffalo.

Erie County Corrections Advisory Board expected to be approved next week

Mike Desmond

Read the full article from WBFO, here.

The Erie County Legislature held a public hearing Thursday evening, but not a single speaker showed up. That was unexpected, because the hearing revolved around the plan for a Corrections Advisory Board, which has been controversial.

Earlier in the day, Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard told the Legislature’s Public Safety Committee he would go along with the creation. That was unexpected as well, as he has been unhappy about recreating a board that fell out of existence six years ago.

The sheriff told the committee he wanted “an open-minded, honorable advisory board,” not one “to advance a political agenda,” and that its work might benefit his department. That was such a breakthrough that hours later, no one showed for the evening hearing.

San Diego Housing Commission Sued Over Housing Voucher Program

Claire Trageser

Read the full article from KPBS Public Media, here.

Last year, the San Diego Housing Commission decided not to use a federal program aimed at desegregating its neighborhoods. Now, the housing commission is being sued for that decision.

The bulk of people in San Diego who use housing vouchers to help pay their rent are segregated into lower income neighborhoods. At the start of 2018, the city had an opportunity to join a federal program aimed at fixing that — it would help people who want to live in more expensive areas by increasing the number of their vouchers, which would give them access to safer neighborhoods, more grocery stores and better schools.