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News roundup: Beck and Mallow double team Cox and Bialkowski

By Philip Anselmo

Reporter Joanne Beck got a little spitfire and sass out of City Council President Charlie Mallow in an article that turned from good intentions to bad vibrations.

Beck's story opens with the headline: "Mallow's mission: Get city financially solvent in the next 18 months and then call it a day." Mallow tells her that he is "going to take care of the budget ... and then hand off the city in better financial shape for someone else to take care of" — and the article seems to be very much about that: Mallow's plans to save the city from itself.

The story takes a sharp turn, however, when suddenly Councilman Bob Bialkowski shows up and quickly assumes the role of the anti-Mallow.

Mallow's four-year term is up in 2009. Despite his belief that "I'm going to do what's right every single time," he's been accused by at least one councilman of not doing right. After Mallow abruptly shut down Councilman Bob Bialkowski at Monday's conference session, Bialkowski shared his thoughts about the leader-at-large.

Bialkowski told Beck that Mallow is "making up his own rules" and that he "had something other to discuss" but was prohibited to do so by Mallow, who is quoted later in the article as saying: "Sometimes you have to shut your mouth."

Mallow contends that Bialkowski should recuse himself from voting about the mall sign since Bialkowski's wife is the mall manager and stands to gain financially if the city purchases a sign for the Mall Merchants Association. There is no indication that Bialkowski was given a chance to respond.

Instead, Beck quotes more Mallow, who is anything but subtle about his opinion of Bialkowski: "I believe [Bialkowski] wants to put the city in a weakened position to benefit the mall merchants."

After quoting Mallow as saying that Bialkowski should "shut his mouth," Beck moves on:

[Mallow] would like to see that kind of silence more often from Bialkowski and Bill Cox. Both councilmen brought up — or attempted to discuss — issues that had nothing to do with city business, Mallow said.

Bialkowski and Cox brought up two issues: excessive bird droppings on the City Centre roof and legal fees for the city attorney. Cox said that he tried to get both items included on the agenda but was refused.

City Manager Jason Molino said the bird droppings were an issue for the mall. As for the legal fees, Mallow said: "A majority of council" already said it didn't want to discuss such costs.

Cox is never quoted in the article. Nor does Beck indicate that she made any attempt to give Cox a chance to respond.

Also in today's Daily News:

  • Mother's Chicken-n-Fish plans to add a dining patio and spruce up the landscaping around its Ellicott Street restaurant.
  • The May 19 house fire in Byron that was responsible for the death of Cheryl Reis, her son, Timothy, and her two daughters, Emily and Virginia, has been ruled "undetermined." Byron Fire Chief John Durand told the Daily News: "If we haven't determined a cause by now, I doubt it will become anything other than undetermined."
  • Officials in the towns of Batavia, Elba and Oakfield have agreed to look further into the possibility of sharing court facilities. Step one: get state approval.
  • A pair of fun features can be found on the front page and in the local section today. Matt Surtel writes about the 4-H Fashion Show that was held yesterday at the Genesee County Fair. And Virginia Kropf is back for another Around the Towns, this one about the Buffalo Transportation Pierce Arrow Museum. Kropf vows to write more articles on museum's in the area, so we can look forward to more.

As always, we encourage folks to pick up their own copy of the Daily News at area newsstands. Or, better yet, subscribe online at

Daniel Jones

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! Bob Bialkowski and Bill Cox grandstand like the City Council is the Barnum and Bailey Circus, Charlie has been able to work across party lines to overcome obstructionists and make real progress by making the City fiscally stable.

Jul 17, 2008, 2:15pm Permalink
Mark Potwora

I must agree whole heartly...Charlie Mallow has always found the time to answer any all questions i might have..Hey Charlie maybe when your done with the city,you could run for county legislator they need new blood..maybe get rid of that
so called cartoonist that spose to represent us city of Batavians...please keep up the good work..

Jul 17, 2008, 3:32pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

So, Dan, are you saying it's OK for Joanne Beck and Charlie Mallow to team up on a one-sided article slamming two elected officials, just because you don't like them? They shouldn't get a chance to have their say?

Jul 17, 2008, 3:43pm Permalink
John Roach

They can have their say, just as you and I do. Just post a comment right here in the Batavian.

Let's make this clear also. Bob Bialkowski called Joanne Beck first to complain about Charlie. She then called Charlie so he could have his say. It's just that his say made more sence than Bob's.

Jul 17, 2008, 3:55pm Permalink
Charlie Mallow

Just so everyone is clear. John is right, I didn't call the paper, they called me after I was slammed by Bob. If Bob didn't want to hear my answer, he shouldn't have called the paper..

Jul 17, 2008, 4:02pm Permalink
John Roach

Mr. Owens, did you read the Daily News article? How did Joanne Beck slam anyone? She just wrote a fair story, started by Bialkowski. The Batavian's headline was their lead in.
Charlie slamed them, not Joanne Beck. She does not take sides.

I like Mark Potwora's idea of Mallow running for County Legislature.

I look forward to Mr. Bialkowski's response here in the Batavian.

Jul 17, 2008, 4:26pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

John, and how do you know that?

Charlie, nowhere does Joanne report that the article came about because Bob called her.

The way she wrote the article leaves the appearance that the the article was cooked up to slam Bob and Bill. Thanks for clarifying how the article came about, but that doesn't change that she left out relevant information.

And Bill is quoted not at all.

Jul 17, 2008, 4:36pm Permalink
Charlie Mallow

Besides the article stating that these comments from Bob were given on Tuesday, the day after the council meeting. Joanne Beck called me at work and said, ”Bob Biakowski said… “

The article seemed very clear to me. I think you should dig it out of the recycling bin and read it again.

For the record, I don’t enjoy arguing with anyone. I also don’t enjoy being called off my job and given the news that I’m getting beat up by someone, I’m supposed to be working with.

Jul 17, 2008, 4:48pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

Dan, the issue isn't whether you, they, or me have a right to speak freely. It's whether two elected officials were given a fair chance to defend themselves.

Jul 17, 2008, 5:15pm Permalink
Daniel Jones

Charlie in his interview responded to what was said about him. Charlie was put on the defensive from the start and all three were able to make their case. I don't have a problem with the article.

Jul 17, 2008, 5:19pm Permalink
John Roach

Mr. Owens, now that you see Mr. Mallow's response, do you now agree that this whole thing was started by Bob going to the paper? Makes you wonder why Bob has not responded yet?

Jul 17, 2008, 5:23pm Permalink
Philip Anselmo

But Charlie, stating that Bob Bialkowski said what he said on Tuesday doesn't mean anything. Beck writes that you also said what you said on Tuesday. Nowhere are we — the readers — told that his comments were made "before" yours. And if they were, what would that signify, anyway?

Now, even if the article stated that Bob Bialkowski called Joanne Beck to complain about Charlie Mallow — which, again, it does not — that fact would not change the tenor of the article, which is my "real" concern in the post that spawned all of these comments.

Jul 17, 2008, 5:24pm Permalink
John Roach

Let’s get to the meat of this. Mr. Bob Bialkowski wants the tax payer to buy a new sign for the City Center and for the people who employee his wife, who is the City Center Manager. Simple as that. The city took the old sign down, true, but also true was that the tax payer put that one up also. In addition, the private property owners want to tell us what kind of sign we the tax payers will put up with our money.

Mr. Mallow asked Bob not to vote on the issue since, in his opinion, Bob has an interest in the outcome since Bob’s wife’s job depends on the City Center doing well enough to keep her. Mr. Mallow has the city attorney looking into the matter.

As can be expected, Bob didn’t like that. He also didn’t like not being allowed to talk about the attorney’s fees, even after 6 out of 9 had voted not to bring that up, again, until budget time.

Mr. Bialkowski then calls Joanne Beck at the Daily News and complained. She then does what a good reporter should do, call the other side and gets Mr. Mallow’s response. She didn’t print many of the other things Mr. Mallow mentioned that Bob has done, but maybe Mr. Mallow will put them here right here. I do not know, or care, if Bill Cox was contacted or not. He is very computer savvy, better than most of us, and can respond to Mr. Mallow right here if he wants.

Jul 17, 2008, 5:51pm Permalink
Daniel Jones

Philip, Mr. Bialkowski initiated the article, Mr. Cox has spoken for himself enough for 7 articles, although I thought that he was in this one he wasn't, however, Bob and Charlie still made their opinions known.

Jul 17, 2008, 6:03pm Permalink
John Roach

Mr. Owens and Mr. Anselmo, why don't you two call Ms. Beck and get the answer of who called who first, like anyone really cares? Why did Bob call her and not you?

You two run a great service, an alternative to the paper, but you sound like sore sports. If your going to be a news source, then be one. Call Mr. Cox and Mr. Mallow. Bob Bialkowski called her, whinned and then got slaped by Mr. Mallow. Joanne Beck did what she was hired to do, and did it very well. She got a good story and got it on the front page of her paper. Get off her back and go after the story on your own if you don't like the competition.

Jul 17, 2008, 8:24pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

John, part of the service we provide is to also take a critical look at the local media. Most media never covers the media, but the media has a profound impact on a local community and what they do deserves just as much examination as anybody else in the community. Why should the Daiiy News's impact on the community be exempt from questioning?

We're not trying to be right. We're trying to open up the conversation, and that means raising issues as we see them and then letting the community debate those issues.

Why doesn't Joanne Beck sign up, log on and speak for herself? She's perfectly welcome to. She would have just as free of a voice here as anybody else.

Or she can start her own blog. We would be happy to link to it.

Charlie does a great job of defending his position or explaining his actions. I admire that. Joanne or anybody else from the Daily News is just as welcome to be as open and forthcoming.

And this isn't a competition or about competition; it's about providing a forum for issues to be discussed.

Jul 17, 2008, 8:39pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

As to the points about Bob Bialkowski and Bill Cox not contributing to the conversation, that is disappointing. It would certainly make the whole conversation much more enlightening if they would share their points of view.

They're also quite welcome to have their say as well.

Jul 17, 2008, 8:42pm Permalink
Mark Potwora

I am very surprized at Bill Cox,who is so worried about bird dropping on a roof...were did that come from,unless the mall
manager brought it up to him or maybe her husband Bob..This is why i think because of Bob Bialkowski wife being mall manger that any issues that have to do with the mall.He must recluse himself..I voted for Bill Cox thought he had some good ideas..but now i have my doubts..worrying about bird crap on a roof,when we need sidewalks and street repair in ward 1...makes me think hes not the right man for the job..

Jul 17, 2008, 10:13pm Permalink
Daniel Jones

Mark, I share your sentiments, I'm a City and County Democratic committee member and helped out Mr. Cox's campaign, I'm thinking the same thing myself.

Jul 17, 2008, 10:44pm Permalink
Conor Flynn

Wait. I haven't really been caught up on local news lately. Too busy being 18 and all. What's this about bird droppings causing a problem for the mall? Can someone please tell me why the eyesore of a mall is still standing there in the first place?

Jul 18, 2008, 1:01am Permalink
John Roach

Bob Bialkowski has been upset over bird droppings on the roof of the City Center, that his wife is the manager of. Out of the clear blue, Bill Cox, Bob's Counil partner, called the County Health Dept. to check on the problem he says "people" came to him about. Nobody really thinks "people" came to him, but who cares. That was Bill's right. He could have jsut said he wanted to do it on his own.

The County checked, and while there are bird droppings, it is not a health hazzard and not a problem at all on the City owned part. It appears Bill wants to make the city take care of this. Turns out the City Hall, City owned part of the mall was cleaned of droppings. Bill wanted to waste time talking about this "problem" at the last council meeting and was cut off by President Charlie Mallow. It is not a city problem and Charlie would not waste time talking about it. This was the same night both Bob and Bill Cox wanted to spend your tax money on a sign for the City Center that is only for the private owners of the Mall businesses. Bob and Bill want you to pay for their sign, while they say we are spending too much on parades for the tax paying public. Tax payers put up the old sign and now they want us to do it again.

The fact that Bob Bialkowski's wife runs the City Center business section is something of an issue. Is Bob pushing this for her? Is Bill doing this for his friend Bob? Why give our money to people who have said they are going to sue us over how they want the tax payer to give them money? Would Bob being doing this if somebody other than his wife ran the Center? That is why he was asked not to take part in any Mall/City Center votes, but he refused to step down. Bob might have a legal right to vote, that's being checked into, but he is being very unethical.

Jul 18, 2008, 5:48am Permalink

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