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Upstate artist captures the spirit of New York's history

By Howard B. Owens

This morning I discovered the art work of Jim Parker. He's an Upstate artist.

While none of his subjects seem to touch on Genesee County, I wanted to share this finding because I'm as fascinated by the style and quality of his work as I am by the subject.  

Billie and I have enjoyed what little exploration we've been able to do of New York. It's a beautiful and historic state full of charming rural scenery and buildings. 

Among Parker's favorite topics for painting are villages, landscapes and buildings from Upstate counties in the 18th and 19th centuries.  These paintings can really feed the imagination because so many of the buildings he paints are still standing, or buildings like them are still standing all over he state.

Three Genesee County businesses in D&C's Top 100 list

By Howard B. Owens

Three Genesee County companies made the 23rd Annual Democrat and Chronicle list of Top 100 companies in the region.

The local companies are: Lapp Insulators LLC, 130 Gilbert St., LeRoy; Liberty Pumps Inc., 7000 Apple Tree Ave., Bergen; and, Manning Squires Hennig Co. Inc., 8426 Seven Springs Road, Batavia.

Here's what the D&C says is criteria for making the list:

The Top 100 companies are ranked by revenue growth using a mix of dollar and percentage increases over the three most recent fiscal years. To be eligible, companies must be privately held, independent, have a minimum of $1 million in annual revenue and headquarters in the Rochester region, which includes Monroe, Ontario, Wayne, Livingston, Orleans, Genesee, Wyoming, Seneca and Yates counties.

The D&C said the average growth rate for the Top 100 companies over the past two years was 25 percent.

Hurricane Warning: A day in the life of a Black Lab

By JIM NIGRO

It's that time of year when retrievers tend to shine, really making their owners proud. After considerable time invested in training, many a Lab’s owner will now savor the moment as their charge leaps from the cattail blind or camouflaged duck boat in pursuit of downed waterfowl, or maybe work the swale for upland game. Yet many a Lab isn’t trained to perform in the woods, fields or swamps – they are simply family pets and good companions. Such is the life of “Hurricane,” one of three Labs owned by the Kehlenbeck family of Alabama. And while not your conventional Lab, Hurricane possesses many character traits for which Labrador retrievers are noted.  

Attentive and focused......

though not always!

Always happy when getting attention.

Stately in appearance.......

and noble-looking.

but most of all, they're good friends.

PBA president comes out against revised charter referendum

By Howard B. Owens

City residents, when you vote on the revised City Charter on Tuesday, Frank Klimjack wants you to consider one additional thing: You may be voting on whether Batavia has its own police department in the future.

Klimjack, president of the Police Benevolent Association, is asking city voters to just say no.

"I really think what this administration is looking to do is over time get rid of the police department," Klimjack said. "They will tell you it will be a merge, but there's no merging. You have to abolish your police department, and then hopefully the guys who are still hanging, maybe the sheriff's department picks them up or maybe they get picked up by another municipality."

The proposed change to the charter would strike the words "There shall be a police department ..." and add in "the City Council may choose to establish a police department. ..."

"That's huge," Klimjack said. "That's a total 180 degree change, where they tell you they're behind the police, 'we support the police,' and then they turn around and want to run this charter by you."

And Klimjack isn't sure what the city would replace the current police force with.  It can't be the State Police, he said, unless state law is changed, and he isn't sure bringing in the Sheriff's Office will really save city taxpayers any money.

Currently, the city is patrolled, usually, by four police officers. The Sheriff's Office would need to hire 30 additional deputies to keep the same level of service.

"The Sheriff is not going to do it for free," Klimjack said. "Is there savings? There may be some small savings, but what do you get for it? You get an occupational force that has no ties to the city whatsoever."

Klimjack worries that low voter turn out in an off-year election will mean that relatively few people are deciding the future of the police protection and service they get.

He's concerned, also, he said, that the level of service for the city, without a local police force, will be not as good as what citizens get now.

"The consolidation of dispatch," Klimjack said, "you'll hear it's been great, but it's been nothing but a disaster on the working end, for the guys who are actually working in the field. Did we save any money? I don't think we did. I live in the City of Batavia and I didn't see it in my tax dollars. I just look at that as the first step in consolidation and do you really want to get rid of the Police Department?"

Nothing scary here, just a Halloween Deal of the Day

By Howard B. Owens

T.F. Brown's, at 214 E. Main St., Batavia, NY: T.F. Brown's is a great place for a good meal, good friends and to catch up on what's going on in the sports world. "If it happens in sports, it happens at Brown's." We have a $20 gift card for $10.

Center Street Smoke House, 20 Center St., Batavia, NY: Authentic Southern BBQ, from ribs to brisket with all the fixin's. We have a $25 gift card for $12.50.

Delavan's Restaurant and Tavern, 107 Evans St., Batavia, NY: To me, Delavan's is one of those restaurants where you want to eat frequently until you try everything on the menu. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

Jackson St. Grill, 9 Jackson St., Batavia, NY: Try the fresh, skinless haddock fish fry on Fridays. We have a $10 gift certificate for $5.

Settler's Restaurant, 353 W. Main St., Batavia, NY: Settler's has a 25-year history of serving great, affordable breakfasts, lunches and dinners to Batavians. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

Total Image Hair Salon/Sarah and Amanda Lowe, 226 Ellicott St., Batavia, NY: Time to update your style? Try something different or finally get the hair styling you've dreamed of, give Sarah or Amanda at Total Image a try. We have a $22 gift certificate for $10.

NOTE: If you've never bought Deal of the Day before, or are otherwise unfamiliar with the rules and process, click here.

SOLD OUT

Another deer in the city struck by a car

By Howard B. Owens

A deer that was struck by a car at Main and Oak is trapped in a fenced area at Prospect Avenue and Mix Place.

It is bleeding profusely, according to the report.

Police had received a report about the car striking the deer, and then the deer left the area, so police were searching for it when the call came in about its current location.

UPDATE: DPW has been requested to respond to scene and dispose of the carcass.

No rain in the forecast for prime trick-or-treat time

By Howard B. Owens

It's no fun to trick or treat in the rain, but ghouls, goblins as well as princesses and pirates shouldn't worry too much.

The forecast for this evening ranges from 0 percent to 10 percent chance of precipitation.

But it is going to be a little cold. The temperature is expected to drop into the high 40s.

The good news is, the wind will have died down by then.

Wind, did you say? Yes, there's a wind advisory in place from 4 to 6 p.m., with gusts of up to 40 mph expected.

Happy Halloween. Be safe.

Boyce Road home continues halloween tradition with haunted barn

By Howard B. Owens

There are 215 carved pumpkins in front of the home of Julie Allein, but that's just the introduction to a haunted house that has been scaring the bejeebus out of kids and adults alike for nearly two decades.

"It's all about the fright," says Allein.

Her barn is converted into two stories of horror show, with carved up body parts, cadavers and sculls and a ghoulish funeral that features a dead Michael Jackson as a guest.

Amazingly, it takes Allein and her family only about a month to prepare for the Halloween haunt, and that includes each of the 215 carved pumpkins, gutted by her mother-in-law and cut by Allein. Each one has a unique design.

She might not start the work until early October, but "the mind's always turning" she says, and she tries to think of ways of improving on the previous year's effort.

"It’s grown throughout the years, adding a bit here in there, but probably the last five years we can’t grow any more, so we just change it every year," Allein said. "This year, we made a real casket. It’s a lot of fun."

The Allein's haunted barn is located at 8894 Boyce Road. It will be open Halloween evening and admission is free.

Top photo, courtesy Julie Allein.

Alexander Road haunted barn 'the biggest yet' in third year

By Howard B. Owens

Mark Fry started turning their barn into a horror of haunts about three years ago just to scare their kids, but as more and more people stopped by, they kept adding to the show.

"This is the biggest yet, 11 rooms," Fry said. "Everybody this year tells us, keep it going. We were going to shut it down, because last year we had about 40 (visitors) but this year we’ve probably already had over 200 come."

And those are 11 pretty scary rooms, filled with more than a dozen local actors portraying everything from ghouls to flesh-eating surgeons.

If you don't get a little jolt of fear before the tour is over, your heart isn't beating.

The haunted barn on Alexander Road (Route 98) is free, and Friday night was going to be the last show, but on the spot last night, Fry and his wife decided to open for three more hours, from 3 to 6 p.m., on Saturday.

It's hard to close a good show.

Pet of the Week: Savanna, my heart's delight

By Pachuco Owens

I'm in love, I think. At the very least, this bella belle has caught my attention and, quite possibly, bewitched me in the process. I have named her Pet of the Week. I am her minion; she's my heart's delight, at least tonight. I am a dog, ya know.

She says: "My name is Savanna. I am an Australian Shepherd/Blue Heeler mix. I am a very smart dog, I have my owners well trained. After my morning run I take my Kong toy out to the kitchen and it gets filled with peanut butter. When I am hungry, I nudge my food bag with my nose and I get fed.

"I am a ball of energy, and the Queen of the House. In exchange for spoiling me, I give my people lots of love and attention. I protect them and our home by letting them know anytime anyone comes anywhere near our house. I am a very good watchdog."

Happy Halloween!

From Pachuco,

AKA, Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered

The Batavian 2009 Election Survey Results

By Howard B. Owens

Below are the results of the election survey taken of readers of The Batavian over the past three days.

Please keep in mind: 

  • This is somewhat experimental. We're curious how close we can get to accurately reflecting how the election will go. That question won't be answered until election night. But as a matter of transparency, we're releasing the results tonight (also, even while acknowledging the potential pitfalls of this survey, candidates are expressing an eagerness to know the results.
  • This is a non-scientific survey. Participants are self selected, which statisticians will tell you can skew results.
  • An online survey isn't beyond being gamed, or tricked, but I see no evidence of that taking place in this case.

All of that to say: You shouldn't let these results influence your voting decisions, from who to vote for or whether to show up at the polls. Treat this as a potentially interesting reflection of how readers of The Batavian are responding to the candidates, but not necessarily a prediction of what will happen on Election Day.

Two other notes. We are not randomly deleting responses as we previously said we would. We had to delete too many as it is because SOOO MANNNNY people didn't follow the instructions on the survey.

The most common reason we deleted surveys (and whole surveys were deleted, not just specific questions) was people voting in BOTH district elections for the County Legislature. The next most common reason, was saying you lived in the Town of Batavia or another town and then voting in Batavia races or on the charter question.

We have 165 completed surveys. We trashed at least 200 more for failure to follow the instructions and another 25 for stating not registered to vote and unlikely to vote (you see, those were trick questions). We also deleted five surveys with duplicate IP addresses.

We're also not displaying results for jurisdictions that had only one or two respondents.

Here's the results:

Very likely to vote: 149 (90%)

Batavia City Council - Council at Large   Answer   Marianne Clattenburg 49 (22%)   Timothy E. Buckley 45 (21%)   Frank C. Ferrando, Jr 44 (20%)   Phillip J. Ricci 39 (18%)   Sara J. Balbi 26 (12%)   Julie Ann Wallace 15 (7%)

 

City of Batavia Charter Revision   Yes 52 (64%)   No 29 (36%)

 

Genesee County Legislator District 7 (Wards 1 & 6)   Robert H. Radley 22 (59%)   Rosemary Christian 15 (41%)

 

Genesee County Legislator District 8 (Wards 2 & 3)   Christopher M. Charvella 17 (55%)   Hollis D. Upson 14 (45%)  

 

Darien Town Clerk   Alice E. Calmes 5 (56%)   Linda P. Graber 4 (44%)

 

Darien Town Council (Vote for 2)   Michael A. Plitt 7 (35%)   Stephen J. Ferry 5 (25%)   Christopher M. Nicastro 4 (20%)   Charles J. Flagg 3 (15%)   Jimmie E. Flaming 1 (5%)

 

Darien Town Council, unexpired term   David D. Riker 7 (70%)   Samuel E. Williams 3 (30%)

 

Le Roy Town Justice   Answer   Kermit Arrington 13 (65%)   Darryl D. Sehm 7 (35%)

 

Le Roy Town Council (Pick 2)   Thomas Stella 15 (58%)   Christine M. Smith 8 (31%)   Jay E. Whipple 3 (12%)

 

Le Roy Town Council, unexpired term   Kelly J. Lathan 14 (67%)   Jennifer AO Keys 7 (33%)

 

Stafford Town Council (Vote for 2)   Ronald Panek 10 (38%)   Donald L. Mullen 9 (35%)   Michelle Mouery 7 (27%)  

 

Stafford Superintendent of Highways   Answer   Steven Boldt 13 (87%)   James D. Pontillo 2 (13%)

 

Candidate has not volunteered for CASA, contrary to repeated claim

By Howard B. Owens

"The children" is a key part of the City Council campaign platform for Julie Wallace, but when it comes to her claims of serving the kids of Genesee County, there appears to be inconsistencies in her resume.

In our Oct. 15 candidates' forum in which The Batavian and WBTA interviewed Wallace, Wallace said, "I do a lot for the children. That's basically what I want to do. I want to do more for the children than anything."

She also claimed that evening that she is a volunteer for CASA, a claim repeated in her bio in the Daily News interview earlier this week.

"I do a lot of volunteering," Wallace said Oct. 15. "I volunteer for CASA."

After being tipped by a reader, The Batavian called Tara Pariso, executive director of CASA, and Pariso said Wallace has never volunteered for CASA.

CASA stands for "Court Appointed Special Advocates" and the job of volunteers is to help children in foster care.

Pariso said her predecessor, Sara Munger, had started the application process with Wallace, but Wallace never completed the interview process required for all volunteers. Pariso said Wallace was supposed to do one of the two required interviews last week, but missed her appointment. She also said volunteers require an extensive background check, checking for any criminal record, and Wallace has not yet had a background check.

Wallace today had a different story. She didn't explicitly repeat the claim to volunteer for CASA, but she did say that Munger interviewed her and cleared her for training to begin in November.

When asked if she had that in writing, she said she did not.

"I just touched base with Tara last week, since Sara had left," Wallace said. "Everything was all set to go with Sara."

Wallace was adament that she will start training in November. 

When we spoke to Pariso yesterday, she was equally adament that Wallace had done no volunteering of any kind for CASA and that she needed to be interviewed and pass a background check before she could start volunteering.

UPDATE Monday, Nov. 2, 9:42 a.m.: We just received this e-mail from Sara Munger:

As the former director for Genesee County CASA for Children I would like to   verify some misconceptions that have been shared with your readers.  I did in  fact interview a Julie Wallace near the end of my service as the Director for  CASA for Children.  At no time during the interview did I tell Ms. Wallace  that she was accepted as a volunteer for CASA, or that she would be going  through the training process as a volunteer.  When interviewing CASA  advocates it was my policy to review all of the materials after our  interview, check at least three references (by phone, or through mail) and  complete a thorough back round check on all potential candidates.  When I  interviewed Ms. Wallace I explained to her that after reviewing her  application and completing these appropriate steps, I would then contact her  to set up a time for training.  Shortly after our interview, I stepped down  from my position as the Director, and Mrs. Tara Pariso was hired as the new  CASA director.  At this time Ms. Wallace's application was handed over to  Mrs. Pariso, and the application process and background checks had not been  completed.  Ms. Wallace did contact me to follow up with the interview, and  it was explained to her that due to current circumstances, I was not able to  move forward with her application, but ensured her that I would hand over her  information to the new director.  At no time did I indicate to Ms. Wallace  that she was accepted as a CASA advocate, or indicate that she would be  training in November.

Graham Corp. announces new contracts totaling $16 million

By Howard B. Owens

Batavia-based Graham Corp. today announced more than $16 million in new contracts.

Graham manufactures equipment critical oil refineries and the petrochemical industry. The  new contracts are for two refineries in the Middle East and a fertilizer project in Asia.

James R. Lines, Graham`s President and Chief Executive Officer, commented, "It is encouraging to see increased purchasing activity in our international markets, particularly in Asia and the Middle East, where we expected the recovery from the global recession to begin. We are also seeing renewed quoting activity in South America. However, we do not believe our markets are in full recovery, and we continue to expect non-uniform order levels for several more quarters."

Less than a month ago, Graham laid off 15 local workers.

Doing it for the Future of Batavia - My Home Town

By Sara Burk-Balbi

Hello, My name is Sara Burk-Balbi and I am a candidate for Batavia City Council at Large. I would like to take this time to thank all the people of Batavia that have been supportive and wonderful during my campaign for City Council. My neighbors, family and friends have encouraged me, walked door-to-door with me and campaigned for me. I am blessed with a lot of support.

I would like to remind each and every registered voter in the City of Batavia to go our and vote next Tuesday. It is important that we exercise our privilege and participate on Election Day. I also hope that you will consider supporting me for City Council. I want to be your Council Person. I want to work for the people of Batavia and I want to insure that your City Council handles issues openly and fairly. I am not a fan of back room politics. I like to make sure that as much that can be discussed out in the open is discussed and executive session material stays private. An open government is a good government.

I pledge that I will work hard. I will represent you fairly and I will be available to listen and to learn. I want to bring new Industry and Retail back into the city. I support fair wage jobs so that families and young people have the means to support themselves again in Batavia. I think the expansion of the Industrial as well as Retail development is by far one of our most important issues.

With increased Industrial and Retail programs comes an increase in property tax revenue that is currently the burden of the home owner. It is not enough to talk about new jobs and “green jobs” and new stores. You must act on them and provide a more intensive effort to make this a reality. Our tax base has to increase in order to see significant savings on our city taxes. You can only cut so much.  You have to depend on an increased base to spread the tax burden to a greater number of tax payers.

I also understand the need to provide services to our senior citizen and youth populations. They require our support and need services that both take care and improve their quality of life. Senior Citizen Programs increase self dependence and Youth Programs decrease incidents of youth crime and delinquency. These are very important programs.

I am humbled at the support and guidance that I have been shown during my campaign.   Next Tuesday, please consider voting for me so that I can serve you. Batavia is such a wonderful place. I would be honored to serve as your Councilperson.

I am endorsed by the City and County Democrat Committee, the New York  State Working Families Party, The Eleanore Franklin Foundation and Senator Kirster Gillibrand.

Sincerely and I thank you for your kindness and support,

Sara Jane Burk-Balbi

Why I Value Your Vote

By Chris Charvella

Dear Friends and Neighbors of the 8th District,

We are nearing the end of the campaign season and by Election Day I’ll have knocked on every door in the 8th District.  It has been a long and interesting road but meeting and talking with you has made it all worth the effort. 

Over the course of the campaign we have discussed balance, oversight and transparency as being the essential ingredients to an efficient and open government and it is plain to see how much you and I really believe in them.  So, today, I would like to put all of the campaign talking points and issues discussions aside and let you know what your vote means to me.

I believe that your vote is a distinctly personal thing. Your vote means that you believe in my ability to successfully represent you and your ideals with the energy and tenacity that you deserve.  For six months now I have represented the 8th District as a private citizen.  Many of you have witnessed firsthand my willingness to make phone calls, write letters and elevate the issues that are important to you.  As your Legislator, I intend to continue this work and to treat your family as if they were my own.

I believe your vote is a measure of thanks for the time I spent on your doorstep discussing your concerns.  I will commit to you now as much of my time as you need to continue our discussions.  I will not disappear from your neighborhood, like most politicians, until the next election season when I need your vote again. Instead I will continue to walk the Wards I represent and hear what you have to say.  I will actively represent you and your ideas.

I believe that your vote is, at its core, a gift.  I will not take it lightly or treat it with disdain.  If you see fit to give me your vote, I will, in turn, give you the very best of myself.  I will give you the full measure of my time and effort, but more importantly, I will offer you an open door, an open ear and an open mind.

So I am asking you, the people of the 8th District, to give me your vote.  Rest assured, that I will cherish, honor it, and treat it with all of the dignity and respect that it, and you, deserve.

Sincerely,

Chris Charvella

Hit-and-run driver causes rollover accident on Route 20

By Howard B. Owens

A blue pickup on Route 20 has reportedly hit a car, causing it to roll over, on Route 20 in Bethany.

The truck is reportedly eastbound on Route 20.

The car was reportedly rear-ended by the truck. The truck will have front-end damage.

The injuries are reported as minor.

Bethany Fire and Mercy EMS are responding.


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Disney Halloween at Bank of Castile

By Howard B. Owens

The staff at Bank of Castile/Tompkins Insurance on Main Street in Batavia are having some Halloween fun today. The top three floors are decorated with various Disney scenes and most of the staff is dressed appropriate to the theme on their floors. Groups of children from the YMCA are visiting throughout the day receiving treats as they visit Batavia's own Disneyland.

Today's Deals: Great Kutz, the Color Salon, Alex's, Matty's and more

By Howard B. Owens

Alex's Place, 8322 Park Road, Batavia, NY: People come from all over the region for a fine dining experience at Alex's. It's best known for its ribs, of course, but Alex's seafood is also a favorite of the restaurant's diners. We have a $25 gift certificate for $12.50.

T.F. Brown's, at 214 E. Main St., Batavia, NY: T.F. Brown's is a great place for a good meal, good friends and to catch up on what's going on in the sports world. "If it happens in sports, it happens at Brown's." We have a $20 gift card for $10.

Center Street Smoke House, 20 Center St., Batavia, NY: Authentic Southern BBQ, from ribs to brisket with all the fixin's. We have a $25 gift card for $12.50.

Kravings, Valu Plaza, W. Main Street, Batavia, NY: Recently opened, it offers soups, salads and sandwiches, fresh and flavorful; Monday through Saturday. We have $10 gift certificates for $5.

Matty's Pizzeria, 4152 W. Main St., Batavia, NY: Matty's is another Batavia favorite for pizza and wings. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

South Main Country Gifts, 3356 Main St. Road, Batavia, NY: Handcrafted items, gifts with a regional flair, candles, teas and spices -- South Main has a wide selection to please most any interest. We have a $20 gift certificate for $9.

Great Kutz, in the Valu Plaza, 4152 W. Main St. Road, Batavia, NY: Men, enjoy a $5 haircut again with this offer exclusive to The Batavian. (gift card can be applied toward other services, but not products).

The Color Salon, 35 Center St., Batavia, NY: Susan Francis, the owner and stylist at The Color Salon reminds women, "your hair is your greatest accessory." Francis has more than 20 years of experience helping women get the best hair color. We have a $50 gift certificate for $25.

NOTE: If you've never bought Deal of the Day before, or are otherwise unfamiliar with the rules and process, click here.

T.F. Brown's

SOLD

Alex's Place

SOLD

Center Street Smoke House

SOLD

Great Kutz

The Color Salon

SOLD

Matty's Pizzeria

SOLD

South Main Country Gifts

SOLD

Kravings Kafe

SOLD

A Closer look at Phil Ricci's Platform

By

One of the things that I have stated time and again throughout this process is the lack of forward thinking I see here in Batavia. After months of walking the streets of our city and meeting the hundreds of neighbors that took time out of their day to speak with me, I, with the help of those who know more on these subjects, have created a look of possibilities at some very important issues.

 
First and foremost, let us tackle what I believe to be the simplest issues:
 
Open Government.
 
This is and easy problem to solve because it will take only a few simple steps to correct. Here is my Plan:
 
I will put forth a motion to:
 
  1. Place all meeting agenda items and supporting documents be published on the city’s website no later than seventy two hours before each meeting. This will of course not include any personnel or legal items, but should include all motion items that are open.
  2. With the power of this electronic society, all meetings should not only be taped for cable, but they should also be streamed live via the city’s website. They should also be stored on the site for a period of one year, so that residents can go back and re-watch if they wish. This is not costly as many will have you believe and it will allow anyone that wants a real time or even post time look to have.
  3. Institute a series of floating meetings. The Batavia City Schools for years have held meetings at the different schools throughout the district. Essentially, bring the meeting to the neighborhoods, instead of making the neighborhoods always come to them. There are plenty of spaces that can be used throughout the city that will allow council to hold at least one meeting in every ward. Not only will this allow those who have problems traveling yet another option, but it may even encourage some to experience the process for the first time.
  4. Limit the use of Executive Sessions to only issues concerning legal liability to the city.
 
I cannot make other city officials use online sharing resources like TheBatavian.com to openly speak about their opinions on topics or reasons for their vote, but I can assure you that I will. By giving the public access to its government, providing documentation and agendas, as well giving the ability to hear and see Business and Conference sessions at will, we will all have more insight into our government
 
Police and Fire Departments:
 
The public safety of this community is one of my top priorities. One of the many reasons my wife and I live in Batavia is because it is a safe place to raise kids. I have met and worked with many of the officers in our local force, including Chief Baker, and I am impressed with them all!
 
That all being said, the financial realities of running this city is very clear. At every home I went to, I was told the same thing: Taxes are too high! I understand the burdens that we face. I also understand that we cannot have tax reform without speaking about these two vital agencies. My plan is designed to be thoughtful while being realistic.
 
Police
 
Right now we have an opportunity to fully invest the time it takes into the Police question. We are in need of a new contract and that means the time is right to make a change. The fact is there are too many police agencies in our community.
My Plan is simple. We will merge the City Police Force with the County Sheriff’s department within two years. That is enough time to allow for a smooth transition. We will work with the county to create a “Metro Division” within the Sheriff’s department, so that we can ensure the proper protection for our neighborhoods.
 
  1. We will create a committee made up of multi-community officials (City and County Officials/ Officers) to work through all the details of the transition. Their primary objective: Keep safety levels at their current levels while we transition.
  2. We will honor the careers of our City Police and only eliminate positions through natural attrition to minimize impact on them. 
  3. We will begin in year one to have a blended force with the county as we reduce our staffing levels to fill in any holes. Keeping our patrols where they are and ensuring response times are sound.
  4. We will work with the county to decide what equipment and vehicles are needed and what can be sold. Taken full inventory and using the monies earned to pay for any costs associated. If none, a full return to tax payers.
  5. By year two the county will fully take over operations as well as any officers that will be brought into the new force.
  6. The local police station can either be utilized by the county as a metro dept if they wish or be returned to the city for other purposes.
 
 
This will take time. The first thing that we have to do though is agree to do it. I have listened to enough of you to know that you want a change. I also believe that it should be the residents to decide! That is why when I bring this forward, I will push for a Referendum before I allow it to die out of political fear!
 
As for the Fire Department…
 
My plan for the fire department is different than that of the police.
 
Here is what I propose:
 
1.     We re-negotiate a contract that introduces a blended department of full time officers and paid on call men for night calls. Ensuring flexibility while still maintaining a paid staff.
2.     We enter service sharing agreements with all the surrounding volunteer departments to cut down on future equipment purchases.
3.     We work with our City Fire Union to eliminate mandatory overtime provisions.
 
We will have to train new call men and build up that program. The reality is that we may very well continue with our current force for a few years farther into the future while we do this, but again I believe that the citizens of Batavia should vote for it. I will put forth the motion of a blended department and revised inter-service contract that will be based on market needs.
 
Neighborhood Improvement: 
 
            Every election year people always say that they are for neighborhoods. I find it hard to believe anyone is not for neighborhoods! My plan is to A.C.T.
Accountability
 
Community
 
Transformation
 
The first part, Accountability, is the one that has caused so much distress with those who value their privacy. I am not in favor of the government telling me how to live my life or how to keep my home. At the same time I also understand that one property in disrepair can cause an entire street’s value to decline. That is as much an infringement of another’s personal freedoms as the other. Although, when we choose to live in a communal environment we agree to a set of understandable standards that are common throughout the world.
 
Here are my opinions and solutions…
 
First let’s talk about rental properties. Landlords are business owners, plain and simple. They are paid for a service and, if done properly, profit from it. It is not wrong to require that business owners keep their properties in good repair. This should go for all business owners throughout the city. However, if a landlord will not do that, then I believe the city should have the right to inspect the property, cite violations and fines. This is about safety, not esthetics. Rental properties with damaged foundations, collapsing porches, exposed wirings and damaged piping can create problems for the whole neighborhood.
 
What about people who honestly can’t afford to fix their homes and then see their assessments raise just because they did something nice to their property. To this I have a plan.
 
There is a New York State statute that is already on the books right now. To put it plainly, it allows homeowners to do major home repair without having their assessment rise. It essentially freezes a property’s assessment rate for a period of three to five depending on what the city adopts. I would put forth the five year version of the bill.
 
Here is an example of how it works:
 
            2009 Assessment value of property: $100,000
            Work to be done: New roof, siding and porch
            Total Cost: $25,000
            Assessment would rise to: $111,000 an additional $112.42 per year just in city taxes!
           Under plan: $100,000 – No change for five years!
 
That same house would then be reassessed in 2014. At that time between inflation and market growth the house would be worth $120,000. The way the plan works it breaks down the assessment over a two year period.
 
2015: $110,000
2016: $ 120,000 Full Market Value!!!
 
That is a total of seven years after the original work has been done before you see the change in your assessment!
If a property is sold during the window while it’s frozen the assessment will automatically go to the new rate. I will put this measure forward year one!
 
 
Community
 
Building a strong sense of community is paramount for a neighborhood to actually improve. The ability to trust, respect and protect one another has been the staple of powerful towns and cities throughout our country’s history. The first thing that we have to realize is that Batavia has changed. We are not the same city we were twenty years ago. Most people do not know the person to their left or right anymore. While it is not government’s job to make people know one another. It is very much their job to create a sense of revitalization when it has been lost. Here are my ideas on how we can do just that…
 
1.     Individual community “Night Outs” that are led by the areas ward council person and teamed up with the various agencies throughout Batavia to bring neighbors together.
2.     We need to institute ward forms so, neighbors can come together, address concerns and bring forward issues to their representatives that are important to specific streets.
3.     Individual Ward events like, educational classes, crafts etc. sponsored by the various non-for-profits that bring community members together under like interests.
4.     The re-institution of neighborhood watches. Neighbor protecting Neighbor
 
All are just possibilities, but anything that strengthens a community, improves a neighborhood.
 
Last…Transformation.
 
            The purpose of this is the rebuilding of civic pride and interest that has fallen so over the years. Yes I believe a lot of this has to do with not feeling included in the process, but it’s so much more. Volunteerism is down. The amount of time that people give to charities, sports clubs, civic clubs, church groups and so forth, has seen steady falls for the better part of twenty years. I am not nearly to an age where I can preach about any type of “old days”, but I can tell you that we are just not connected to very much except the internet!
 
Transformation is the return to civic pride and revitalization of community participation on all fronts. It’s the call to action that I don’t think we have ever had and it’s time to give it. I don’t think I have a policy for this. It’s more of returning a state of mind. I will try to lead by example, but more so, I will help any young person that takes an interest in some field find the guide that they need.
 
There is so much more…
 
We have so much work to do! We have long term issues that we need to address now so that we aren’t facing the next budget crisis in four years. We have to be logical at the resources we have and use our city space to the best of our ability. We have got to think bigger about the possibilities and get past “the way we have always done things” mentality.
 
I want to thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts for a Better Batavia. If you want to know more just ask! I hope that you see I am constantly looking, assessing and re-evaluating things to find the best way for the most people! I am, if nothing else, a father of two little girls that count on him to do the right thing. That truth alone motivates more than you can believe not to mess up!
 
My name is Phillip Ricci and I am running for City Council at Large. On November 3rd, I humbly ask for your vote.

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