|Date:||June 3, 2022|
By Tanvier Peart|
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 the Regular Meeting. The Regular Meeting is the Common Council's primary meeting, where they make official decisions on issues.
The Regular Meeting opened with a series of presentations. Council Member Scanlon recognized Mental Health Awareness Month on the final day of May by honoring Caili Danieu. The advocate reiterated the crises communities endure and the need to destigmatize conversations about mental health—and make help accessible to more people to save lives. Though Danieu advocates for those efforts, she pushes for community-based actions to invest in prevention instead of reacting to tragedies.
Council Members Bollman and Wyatt recognized the Buffalo Police Department Behavioral Health Team, a co-responder initiative with Endeavor Health Services, in light of Mental Health Awareness Month. The Buffalo Common Council supported additional funding for the team during the 2022-2023 city budget process and hopes the initiative will continue to expand.
Council Member Nowakowski acknowledged local LGBTQIA+ activists and visionaries in honor of June's Pride Month. He presented a Certificate of Recognition to Kelly Craig, Executive Director of the Pride Center of WNY, Ari Moore—artist, griot, matriarch, and Buffalo's first prominently out Black trans woman—and Alexandre Burgos of Upstate New York Black and Latino Pride. Before the Regular Meeting, the Council kicked off Pride Month with community outside of City Hall to raise the Pride Flag.
Common Council wrapped up presentations with a proclamation to honor the National Park Trust and the Kids to Parks Day in Buffalo. The initiative encouraged healthy habits through connecting with the great outdoors locally, throughout the state, and across the nation. Common Council also remembered those lost during the tragedy at Tops on Jefferson while recognizing survivors, including Jerome Bridges, who helped get people into a cooler during the shooting that saved lives.
The Council approved the appointment of a Chief Diversity Officer, Coordinator of Office Automation, and Systems Analyst. The body received and filed the appointment of a HUD Program Manager, Real Estate Maintenance Manager, (temporary) Sr. Data Processing Equipment Operator, and permanent Street Worker.
Resolution discussions wrapped up the Regular Meeting. Common Council unanimously adopted a resolution urging Congress to create gun legislation amid the recent mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas. The Council also passed a resolution to establish legislation for public works contractor bonds that would include a requirement for a special license to dig in the streets. Council President Pridgen acknowledges utility companies also tear up streets during jobs that often leave neighborhoods in disarray.
Common Council adopted a resolution to explore the ability to address the reselling of donated goods. On May 23, the Council posted on its Facebook page a resolution Council Member Wingo filed in response to reports food stores are selling items for relief efforts collected in the community after the tragedy at Tops.
A resolution to extend counseling services for the Jefferson community through the summer passed Common Council. Council President Pridgen thanked Erie County and mental health providers who continue to support residents. He also mentioned a recent discussion with Chair Baskin and her desire to see a trauma center created in the community for ongoing support. "The trauma will go further than the services being offered now will last," Council Member Wingo echoed. He urges more robust funding in mental health support long-term amid the realities—including racism—Buffalo residents continue to endure. While he appreciates food donations, he encourages those who want to help invest in sustainable mental health solutions.
Additional resolutions Common Council passed include ensuring that free donations reach those truly in need, an honoring and healing ceremony fee waiver, and calling on the Buffalo School Board and New York State to implement a financial literacy course.
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