|Date:||July 23, 2021|
By Orlando Dickson |
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.
This week, the Common Council held two meetings. For this summary, we will focus on both the Caucus Meeting and the Regular Meeting. A Caucus Meeting is where members from a specific political party, in Buffalo's case, the democratic party, meet, but official voting on issues does not occur. The Regular Meeting is the Common Council's primary meeting, where they make official decisions on issues.
During this week's Caucus Meeting, the Common Council heard a presentation from Deputy Comptroller Delano Dowell who asked the Common Council to approve interfund loan requests. He also reported on audits of both the police and fire departments.
Mayor Brown sent a proposed plan to the Council on using the American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding. Council President Pridgen stated that the mayor is committed to working with the Common Council on creating a final plan for the ARP funding.
Councilmember Wyatt asked Michael Finn, Commissioner of the Department of Public Works (DPW), about purchasing radar speed signs. Commissioner Finn stated the city is working on buying the signs, and bids are out for street striping 30 schools. Councilmember Wyatt also asked about the speed humps he requested from DPW two years ago. Commissioner Finn stated that a grant would cover the speed humps, so the Council should find another use for the funding the councilmember requested. Wyatt noted he will be patient but will be paying attention to deadlines and holding DPW accountable.
The Council discussed resident opposition to a state expansion of the Peace Bridge Plaza via a parking lot. Councilmember Rivera stated to Commissioner Finn that the property is in his district and he opposes the expansion project, as neighbors of the bridge have for many years.
During the Regular Meeting, the Council talked briefly about the mayor's ARP funding proposal. Common Council sent the proposal to the Finance Committee but clarified that the document is only a draft – not the document the Common Council will vote to approve.
The Common Council approved an amended version of the Right-to-Know law. This law requires police to provide reasons for their encounters with residents and a written record of interactions with the police that do not result in arrest summons. Councilmembers Scanlon and Golombek were the only members of the body not to approve the law.
The Council adopted a resolution to request DPW to review its list of radar speed sign locations and their installation. Common Council asked the installations to happen in tandem with removing school speed zone cameras before schools are back in session. The Council also asked the DPW to analyze each school zone and assess whether it requires additional traffic calming measures, using crash and traffic data.
Councilmember Wyatt sponsored a resolution to explore a city manager model of governance for the City of Buffalo. A city manager is the hired executive officer of a municipality who works outside of the political realm to keep operations running smoothly. The manager would likely be appointed by the Council, rather than elected by the public. Although the Council is not voting to replace the mayor at this time, this resolution means it is researching options that could potentially replace the mayoral model in the years ahead. (Though to do so, it would likely require a public referendum as well as a state legislative process.)
The Common Council approved a resolution requesting the Commissioner of Parking to refund all school speed zone camera tickets issued after June 15, 2021.
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