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June 28, 2016 - 2:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia, news.
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      Randolph Zickl

Updated at 2:22 p.m.

Randolph Zickl, the 81-year-old attorney, charged with grand larceny 2nd for stealing $75,000 from a former client, pled guilty to the charge in County Court on Friday, The Batavian has learned.

Since police departments only release information on arrests, and not court activity, that information wasn't available in the initial press release.

The guilty plea was uncovered by our news partner 13WHAM in a conversation with the Erie County District Attorney's Office and confirmed by The Batavian through a local source. 

Zickl will be sentenced Sept. 20.

Through court sources, 13WHAM learned that Zickl's victim was the widow of a client who died and Zickl handled the estate. He reportedly double-billed the client and then continued to withdraw money from the victim's account over a three-year (not two as previously reported) period.

If Zickl is able to make full restitution by Sept. 20, he will likely receive a probationary sentence.

He also resigned from the New York State Bar Association.

Because Zickl has two sons working the Genesee County District Attorney's Office, the Erie County office handled the prosecution and Zickl appeared in Genesee County Court, but an Erie County judge presided over the case.

Previously: Respected local attorney accused of stealing from elderly client

June 28, 2016 - 1:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in 1366 Technologies, business, STAMP, news.

A Boston-based company that has picked Genesee County for the location of its silicon wafer plant announced a major strategic move today that officials say will provide a tremendous positive impact on cash flow.

Wacker Chemie, a supplier of highly purified silicon, is making a $15 million equity investment in 1366 Technologies through the supply of the silicon that will be used by 1366 to manufacture its advanced silicon wafers.

The silicon wafers will be manufactured in a plant at the Science, Technology & Advanced Maufacturing Park (STAMP) in the Town of Alabama through a process that officials with 1366 say will greatly reduce the cost of solar power.

The partnership will also include a technical collaboration between the two companies. Wacker Chemie will provide expertise in silicon as well as facility design, engineering and construction.

“We see the potential for the Direct Wafer technology to provide an excellent contribution to accelerate global solar adoption," said Ewald Schindlbeck, president, Wacker Polysilicon. "1366 has developed a commercially valid answer to a longtime manufacturing challenge. We’re eager to add our high-quality products and bring our expertise to the effort.” 

Frank van Mierlo, CEO of 1366, said the partnership is a good sign for the future adoption of his company's groundbreaking solar wafer solution.

“Commercial traction is gained when technical success and financial support are established within the industry," van Mierlo said. "This partnership with the world’s most technically advanced silicon provider clearly demonstrates market acceptance for the Direct Wafer technology. Wacker’s silicon is the best in the industry and has been a crucial competitive edge for Wacker’s customers. It will do the same for 1366."

The manufacturing solution developed by 1366 offers a significant advantage over traditional ingot-based production technologies, according to company officials. The process makes wafers in a single step, pulling them directly from molten silicon instead of today’s multistep, energy- and capital-intensive approach, resulting in significant wafer production cost savings.

June 28, 2016 - 12:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, restaurants, business, downtown, Carter's, news.

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Yes, dreams can come true, and so far, they have for Brenden Mullen, who eight years after going to work in his father's restaurant, formerly Larry's Steakhouse, is now the owner of Carter's in the same location.

But the dream doesn't stop there. Carter is the name of his 9-year-old son, and if dreams really do come true, it will be Carter someday welcoming you at the front door or serving you a drink.

"If I can, I'll get Carter's successful and then 10, 15 years down the road, I'm on my way down South and I'll leave this place for him to take over if he wants," Mullen said.

It's been seven months since Larry's closed so Mullen could revamp the restaurant and put his own mark on it. There was a lot of planning and work into getting the doors open again, he said, which happened today.

The theme of the new restaurant is nautical with a nod toward the Northeast seafaring tradition.

Naturally, the menu is filled with seafood appetizers and entrees.

"I spent the past seven months coming up with different menu ideas," Mullen said. "When I started narrowing it down, the result was predominately seafood, and then when I got to thinking about it, it seemed like a good idea, our niche, so to speak."

Mullen enjoys the restaurant business, he said, because he loves food and he loves people.

"When I was 21 years old, looking for something to do, I thought, there's no better way to make a living than working in a restaurant," Mullen said. "I love food and I love going out to dinner, and you can't be in this business if you're not a people person. To be able to hang out and mingle with my friends and customers, it really doesn't get much better, in my opinion."

June 28, 2016 - 11:46am
posted by Howard B. Owens in BID, downtown, batavia, news, business.

Officials are being coy with details, but the city and the Business Improvement District are apparently close to a negotiated agreement that will end a bit of a dispute over some operational issues. 

The turning point apparently came at a meeting Friday involving City Manager Jason Molino, City Attorney George Van Nest and an attorney for the BID who, up to this point, hadn't been involved in the situation.

Laurence Rubin, of Kavinoky & Cook, LLP, in Buffalo, was at Monday's City Council meeting, where Molino informed council members that progress had been made and an agreement should be forthcoming.

A public hearing on a proposed change to local law that would have affected the BID's district plan as well as required the BID board to abide by the State's Open Meeting Law and Freedom of Information Law was held, but there were no speakers.

Both Molino and Rubin sidestepped questions about the sunshine law requirements.

"We have an agreement in principle on the substantive issues," Rubin said. "I don’t want to get into the details and give you a long law school lecture, which I’m sure you don’t want to get into now, but in terms of the principles of transparency and timelines, I think there’s agreement."

Molino said, "I think both the City and the BID board are interested in the issues of transparency and that the public having access to board decisions and board meetings as well as how decisions are being made."

Rubin said he is an expert in the area of special districts and business improvement districts and General Municipal Law (GML).  

Asked if he was aware of any districts that were required to abide specifically by the sunshine laws, he said he didn't know of any, but that such districts and boards are generally open and transparent.

"I think government and the public and taxpayers do want to see transparency and I think there is a common theme about that," Rubin said. "Again, I don’t want to get into a law school lecture. The Freedom of Information Law or the Open Meetings Law, per se, is not really the issue. The issue is should there be transparency and there is absolute agreement on both sides that there should be."

At no point, has there been any specific allegation that the BID or the BID board has been anything less than transparent, but Molino raised the idea few weeks ago that to ensure transparency, the city should require the BID to abide by the sunshine laws.

In a memo to BID members last week -- property and business owners within the downtown district -- Executive Director Laurie Oltramari said the BID board objected to the sunshine law requirement not because the BID isn't transparent, but as a matter of legal precedent and principle. 

"The BID board is opposed to the City of Batavia adopting a local law imposing such as it conflicts with state law and our meetings are already open to the BID membership," Oltramari said. "For the City to implement such is creating new law for the City of Batavia, setting new precedent within NY State and discriminating against a not-for-profit corporation."

The dust-up between the city and the BID began a few weeks ago when Molino required the BID board to cut its budget to better comply with General Municipal Law, which Molino said the BID's budget had skirted for the past few years.

The BID's assessment, which is the basis for the BID's budget, is set by the city and while Molino said he has raised the issue with the BID in previous years, this year he said the city would correct the assessment to comply with GML.

Rubin repeatedly said that in his role as legal counsel for the BID on this issue, he didn't want to look back and concentrate on past history.

"We had a very positive discussion with the city administrator and the city attorney," Rubin said. "We talked about substantive issues. We set aside the history and whatever conversations may have been and we just talked about the statute and the proposed revisions to the local law. It was very constructive. I can’t really speak to what happened in the past, but going forward seems to be very constructive and very productive."

June 28, 2016 - 10:49am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, news, infrastructure.

The city will receive $2 million in federal block grant money to repave six streets, Public Works Director Matt Worth told the City Council on Monday night.

The six streets will be milled and repaved at a cost of $2.5 million, and there may yet be some state money to help cover some of the cost difference.

The streets are Clinton Street, East Avenue, Liberty Street, South Liberty Street, Swan Street and Vine Street.

The city will now seek proposals from engineering firms, with the selection of the firm in the fall and then preliminary engineering work can begin. The final design would be completed in the fall of 2017 with work beginning in the summer of 2018.

June 28, 2016 - 10:23am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, city historian, history, news.

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City Historian Larry Barnes received his Volunteer of the Year award from the Batavia City Council at the start of Monday night's meeting at City Hall.

Barnes was named Volunteer of the Year earlier but was unavailable to receive the award.

The honor recognizes his many years of volunteer work as city historian, especially his efforts in support of the city's centennial celebration. 

Barnes said the award was really a shared award and recognized the many people and organizations who have helped him throughout his tenure as historian.

June 28, 2016 - 9:21am
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, batavia.
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      Randolph Zickl

Story updated with more information at 10 a.m.

One of Genesee County's most widely respected and prominent attorneys has been arrested for allegedly stealing $75,000 from an elderly client over a period of two years.

Randolph Zickl, 81, is charged with one count of grand larceny in the second degree.

Det. Todd Crossett said this morning that the investigation began in September with a complaint from a family member of the alleged victim. Crossett said the family member noticed some bank transactions "that didn't look right."

The alleged transactions, transferring funds from the elderly person's account into Zickl's account, were carried out during a period in which Zickl was not representing the client and should not have had access to the bank accounts, Crossett said.

Until a few weeks ago, Zickl was in charge of the county's Office of Legal Assistance. The office is in charge of handing out assignments to defense attorneys on cases that can't be handled -- usually because of a conflict of interest -- by the Public Defender's Office.

Ray Cianfrini, chairman of the County Legislature, said the Legislature received a letter of resignation from Zickl several weeks ago, but Cianfrini was not made aware until this morning that there was a pending legal case against Zickl.  

The Legislature appointed Mike Rivers to replace Zickl.

Zickl is the father of two attorneys in the District Attorney's Office, Robert Zickl and William Zickl.

The prosecution of Randolph Zickl is being handled by the Erie County District Attorney's Office and he was arraigned on the charge by a judge from Erie County.

June 27, 2016 - 12:08pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in arts, batavia, news, Richmond Memorial Library.

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When Marilynn Palotti, a retired art teacher, traveled to Alaska two years ago, she had no idea it would unleash a flurry of creativity when she returned, but it did. She's painted dozens of pictures capturing what she saw and experienced while on the trip.

Speaking even now about the trip, she's still filled with wonder.

"It’s such a unique place," Palotti said. "It’s so isolated in places. The people are so fiercely independent, yet are so willing to help each other. It’s very hard to describe to someone else what Alaska is, all its idiosyncrasy. It has only 12,000 miles of paved roads and it has millions upon millions of acres of national parks and refuges that are so isolated that you can’t get into them except by flying."

Palotti's show is on display now at the Richmond Memorial Library. The show runs through July and the opening is Thursday, July 7th from 6 to 9 p.m.

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June 27, 2016 - 11:17am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Batavia HS, batavia, schools, education, news.

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A graduating class of 164 students received their diplomas from Batavia High School yesterday in a ceremony held at Genesee Community College.

Superintendent Chris Dailey said 74 percent of the class is pursuing higher education, including 41 going directly to four-year schools, 80 to community colleges and 31 students are entering the workforce already with jobs, plus seven students are going into the military.

"That is college and career ready," Dailey said.

Of the 164 graduates, 142 are receiving regents diplomas.

"For a small city school, that's outstanding," Dailey said. "We'll put that up against anywhere else in New York State."

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Burton Howell, a science teacher at BHS for 28 years, delivered the keynote speech, emphasizing the tough love students got as they made their way through their educational  journey.  Starting on Sunday, they are no longer subject to the rules and discipline of school, but the rules and laws of society, subject to due process.  It's up to them, he said, to make the right decisions through the rest of their lives. He spoke about Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. You can know an object's position, or you can know it's velocity and direction. If you know an object's position, you don't know where it's going or how fast.  He told the students that we know where you are now, but we don't know where you're going.  That's up to each student to decide.

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Valedictorian Alexis Vasciannie noted that the Class of 2016 was an accomplished class, with success in academics, the arts and athletics. She challenged students to enter life now and find their own paths to success.

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Salutatorian Ross Chua closed his speech by singing an original song. Chua, named Mr. Batavia earlier in the year, also participated in the Genesee Symphony Orchestra's performance of his own composition; he plans to attend Syracuse University. His goal is write a symphony that will be performed by a major, world-renowned symphony, or write the scores for major motion pictures. These are big dreams, he confessed, but he would be equally happy if someday he owned a music store, because there he might sell a first instrument to a future top-40 recording artist or the shoes to a future prima ballerina. Those accomplishments would change the world. He reminded his fellow graduates that even the small things they do in life will have a big impact on the world. They should go out and try to make a difference. 

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Chua received the Quincy Jones Award for his musical accomplishments at the school. Awards and scholarships were handed out to more than a dozen students.

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Kayla Burns receives her diploma from Dailey.

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Malachi Chenault is congratulated after receiving his diploma. 

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Zach Lee celebrates graduation while waiting his turn to receive his diploma. 

To purchase prints, click here.

June 25, 2016 - 7:24pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Boy Scouts, troop 6069, batavia, news.

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Doug Danizewski wears a zebra mask today while trying to drum up business on East Main Street for a car wash at Batavia's Original to benefit Boy Scout Troop 6069.

It was indeed hot in that mask, Danizewski said.

June 25, 2016 - 7:10pm

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Bell Barone (pictured below) was among the dozens of kids who turned out today for the annual Fishing Derby at DeWitt Recreation Area sponsored by the Oakfield-Alabama Lions Club.

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June 25, 2016 - 6:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Page Auctions, Days Inn, batavia, business.

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People traveled from as far away as California to be in Batavia today for a button auction at the Days Inn on Noonan Drive.

It's that way twice a year, said Margeret McBride, when Page Auctions hosts the event in Batavia. 

"People come from all over," she said.

It is as much about the buttons, which can sell, typically, from $10 to more than $1,000, McBride said, as it is about being social and seeing friends you've made through button collection conventions and auctions.

Page Auctions is based in Batavia, and McBride's husband, Phil, is the auctioneer and their daughter, Whitney McBride Carlson, helps run the business. Page Auctions was founded locally in 1895.

People who collect buttons love buttons, even if the collections can sometimes grow larger than they ever imagined.

"A lot people have said to me they collect buttons because they’re small," McBride said. "I’ve heard that over and over again. People who are collectors, who like to collect things and actually possess them, only have so much room and a lot of people say, ‘I started collecting buttons because I thought they were small,' and then they find out that roomfuls happen. They collect roomfuls of buttons. They put them on cards and hang them on the wall. They display them and sometimes they wear them in jewelry or sew them on, but for the most part, they’re coveted for their artwork."

Besides the aethetics of buttons, they also have a strong historical interest, especially for those who collect military buttons.

The most expensive button McBride remembers is a Civil War uniform button that sold for more than $17,000.

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June 25, 2016 - 6:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, Frost Ridge Campground, news.

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When 16-year-old Sterling Green saw a little boy at the bottom of the pool at Frost Ridge Campground this afternoon, and she saw bubbles gurgling from his mouth, she thought to herself, "I think he's drowning."

The daughter of one of Le Roy's volunteer firefighters, Green did what came natural to her. She jumped in the water to rescue the child.

Her father, Michael Green, was at her side when they got the boy to the pool's edge. The boy's mother came running up, asking, "Is that my boy?" Somebody told her it was. 

The mother tried performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation her her six-year-old son, but Green told her, "let him try to breathe on his own."

They turned the boy on his side.

"He was really blue, then he starting coughing and crying after he vomited," Micheal Green said. "He started talking to us and the paramedics showed up and took care of him, and he seemed good when he was on his way to the hospital."

He was carried by his mother from the pool to the waiting Mercy EMS ambulance and transported to UMMC Strong Memorial Hospital for evaluation.  

Sterling said she was sitting poolside and talking with her mother, her aunt and her sister when one of them spotted the boy at the bottom of the pool and pointed out that he didn't appear to be coming up. 

They don't know how long the boy was under water.

Green said he couldn't be prouder of his daughter.

"I’m a firefighter and she’s just following the footsteps," he said.

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June 25, 2016 - 3:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Habitat for Humanity, batavia, news, Oak Street.

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Today, Habitat for Humanity dedicated the new home on Oak Street of Sheila and Jada Rolle.

Sheila expressed her gratitude for the staff and volunteers who helped them with a beautiful home.

"There’s so much love and peace and the angels all around because everyone who took part in this project blessed us so much, and I thank all of you for the love that you’ve shown us and you have given us," Sheila said.

Previously:

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June 24, 2016 - 2:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, news.

If you lost a large hydraulic piece of machinery within the past 24 hours, please call Batavia PD.

Such a piece of machinery was found on Liberty Street near School Street and is believed to have fallen off a truck.

The equipment is described as "newer." 

To stake your claim, call Officer Marc Lawrence at (585) 345-6350.

June 24, 2016 - 2:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in sports, baseball, elba, youth sports.

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Photo and article submitted by Drew Muehlig.

The Elba Lancers used an explosive four-run fifth inning to surge past Sweden Clarkson 5-2 in youth major league baseball playoff semifinal action Thursday night.

Elba’s Zach Howard led off the inning with a single up the middle. He subsequently stole second base and made his way to third on an errant throw. Howard then raced home on a passed ball, sliding across the plate safely to tie the score at 2-2, firing up the Lancers' bench in the process.

Caden Muehlig followed moments later with a one-out triple to deep right-center field. He would score the go-ahead run on the next pitch as Randy McIntire doubled him in for his second RBI of the game. Nate Esten and Gage Chamberlain also notched RBI doubles as the inning continued. When all was said and done, Elba had a 5-2 lead heading into the top of the sixth inning.

Howard took it from there, sandwiching a foul pop catch between two strikeouts to end the game. He finished with six strikeouts in relief to pick up the win. Starter CJ Gottler kept the Lancers in it, striking out seven, giving up two unearned runs, as Elba struggled early in the field.

McIntire led Elba offensively with two hits and two stolen bases. Brendan Thompson added a single for the Lancers (14-1). Elba will host the league championship Saturday against a team yet to be determined.

Sweden Clarkson finishes the year 13-2.

June 24, 2016 - 2:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in animals, pets, batavia, news.

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This is Jack. Jack is a brown and white Jack Russell terrier. Jack is missing.

He recently had medical treatment for an injury on his neck. He has a staple in his neck, so he wasn't wearing his collar when he went missing Wednesday. He also has two staples in his paw.

Jack is missing from the area of Oak Street and Montclair Avenue in Batavia.

If you can help, call Nathan Stoll at (585) 749-8525 or (585) 356-2965.

June 24, 2016 - 2:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in DeWitt Recreation Area, batavia, fire services, news.

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Information and photos submitted by Glenn Adams.

Yesterday morning, City fire along with a group of volunteers from other departments in the county, participated in water rescue training at DeWitt Recreation Area in Batavia.

The boat and motor and gear were purchased with a grant from Homeland Security.

The first two shots include Ryan Hendershott of the Bethany department and DJ Pollock.

CORRECTION: Only members of City fire participated. Hendershott is a city firefighter and a Bethany volunteer.

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June 24, 2016 - 1:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in schools, education, batavia, City Schools.

There is an allocation of $2.1 million available for Batavia City Schools for technology upgrades, according to a state official who contacted The Batavian on Thursday about a previous story on local Smart Schools grants.

"As soon as the district is ready to submit a plan, the money is their for them," said Morris Peters, public information officer for New York State Division of the Budget.

Superintendent Chris Dailey confirmed the district intends to file a plan in the fall.

"There is no time limit on the money so it does not need to be spent immediately," Dailey said. "We plan to use the remainder to replace devices down the road (2-3 years) as part of our replacement cycle."

The district didn't receive an allocation as part of grant announcements in May, and Dailey said previously, the district decided not to file its plan prior to the June allocation deadline.

Instead, the district used current available funds for its immediate purchases, and made those purchases through BOCES.

Peters said the state had asked the city school district to make changes to its May plan submission, which is why there wasn't an allocation of grant money at that time.

CLARIFICATIONS: We need to include the fact that the district will be upgrading the security camera systems by the fall.

The district submitted its first plan March 29. Corrections were requested April 4 and submitted that same time. This district did not receive funding in May and a minor correction was requested for the next funding round in June. At that time, the district decided to go forward with its own funding and BOCES because the state committee would not meet in time for the district to move forward and meet its own Sept. 1 deadline for implementation.

"If they had met in late April/early May, we would have been OK for ordering," Dailey said. "They did not meet until after our last available date to meet our needs for the fall." 

June 23, 2016 - 2:39pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in BID, batavia, news, downtown, business.

Members of the Batavia Improvement District were informed yesterday in a memo from Executive Director Laurie Oltramari, that the BID Board of Directors has voted to oppose a plan to change the rules for how the BID operates.

City Manager Jason Molino has proposed to City Council that the city adopt a district plan for the BID, which in the past has been drafted by the BID board and then approved by the council, and require that BID comply with the state's Freedom of Information Law and Open Meetings Law.

Oltramari said the BID has already turned in a budget for 2016 that is compliant with the state's General Municipal Law.  

The whole issue of the BID's budget is what precipitated the city's recent actions, but Oltramari told BID members that it was the responsibility of the city manager to ensure property owners in the Downtown tax district were charged the appropriate tax rate, not the BID's.

"The City wants to implement compliance of the debt limits within the General Municipal Law, something that has been known to the City Manager for several years," Oltramari said in her memo to members. "In addition, the City levied the 2016 assessment knowing that there was a compliance issue, collected the BID assessment, and is retained the funds without any authority to withhold funds that are due and owing to the BID."

BID members are people who either own property in the Downtown district or operate businesses in the district.

Oltramari invited BID members to visit her office at 200 E. Main St., Batavia, on Monday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to discuss these issues, or to make an appointment with her for a conversation.

The City Council will hold a public hearing on the city's proposed changes at 7 p.m., Monday.

The proposal would also require the BID to comply with the state's open government law, but Oltramari said director's meetings are already transparent and open for its members.

"The BID board is opposed to the City of Batavia adopting a local law imposing such as it conflicts with state law and our meetings are already open to the BID membership," Oltramari said. "For the City to implement such is creating new law for the City of Batavia, setting new precedent within NY State and discriminating against a not-for-profit corporation."

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