Buffalo Common Council Summary: Week of January 9, 2023

Buffalo Common Council Summary: Week of January 9, 2023

Date: January 13, 2023

By Rose Thomas |

Each week, PPG summarizes important takeaways from the major Buffalo Common Council meetings. We also include information from Council meetings related to our Community Agenda items

For this summary, we will focus on two meetings. The Regular Meeting is the Common Council's primary meeting, where they make official decisions on issues. The Police Oversight Committee concerns all issues dealing with the Buffalo Police Department.

During the Regular Meeting, Council Member Rivera called for post-storm federal aid for the City of Buffalo ("the City"). Many residents have faced damage to their homes. Unfortunately, homeowner insurance doesn't cover damages like asbestos and broken pipes, which pushed the council member to request the delegation for further aid to help those affected by this storm, including those in his district. 

Council Member Scanlon spoke of his letter to the Buffalo Fire Department ("BFD") and the Buffalo Police Department ("BPD") regarding their hard work during the past storm. In it, he stated his concern with post-traumatic stress disorder that the workers faced when dispatched. He wanted to ensure that mental health and counseling received priority for these workers and to proactively provide these services to them. 

The conversation about the December 2022 blizzard continued with Council Member Nowakowski's letter to Mayor Brown highlighting the administrative deficiencies in the emergency response. He hopes that the Council will investigate the administrative management during the storm to learn how they can better prepare for future emergencies. 

Common Council later discussed a series of topics, including an emergency manager position, emergency operation center and warming shelters, and coordination of the county, state, and federal governments. There was an emphasis on developing a city emergency manager role to centralize and coordinate all the issues faced during the snowstorm. Council Member Rivera is hopeful that the City can look into FEMA funding for equipment if there isn't any ARP or capital budget. 

The Police Oversight Committee meeting consisted of an overview from BPD Commissioner Gramaglia on the efforts, procedures, and protocols put in place during the blizzard. He expressed that officers and other first responders did their best at the time. However, it became increasingly difficult as conditions worsened. Looting became a topic of discussion, with council members expressing concerns it devastated communities.

Commissioner Gramaglia ensured life-saving measures were BPD's top priority, although part of the department's job is protecting property rights. Gramaglia noted his team coordinated efforts to address the looting and made active arrests after the storm let up, along with expressing that the department didn't have enough resources to combat both casualties and looting that resulted from the storm. 

Council Member Scanlon expressed concerns over his constituents and other Buffalo residents unable to reach BPD representatives, like the lieutenant and commissioner. Gramaglia noted the department could only make better decisions and protocols if BPD knows who's making specific complaints about an issue.

There were several questions regarding police equipment and vehicles not in use. A relatively average percentage of vehicles remain inoperable due to preventative maintenance and inspection, extensive repairs, or collisions. Council members discussed acquiring the proper equipment (including cars) to strengthen preparedness for future storms.

Need more than just a summary? Contact us at info@ppgbuffalo.org, or find full meeting information and schedules here: http://buffalony.iqm2.com/Citizens/Default.aspx