Local Matters

Community Sponsors

city council

July 9, 2019 - 1:23pm
posted by Lauren Leone in batavia, city council, news, notify, crime, crime task force.

Batavia Police Chief Shawn Heubusch presented City Council with a proposed resolution Monday night for a Memorandum of Understanding among Genesee County law enforcement agencies and the Monroe Crime Analysis Center in Rochester to share information. It received strong support.

Heubusch explained to Council members that over the past few months local law enforcement has coordinated with the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services and MCAC to develop the agreement.

He said becoming a member of MCAC is the best approach to access information databases and facilitate crime response and investigation.

“What this memorandum does is it allows us to share information with Monroe Crime Analysis Center and also reap the benefits of them sharing information with us,” Heubusch said.

This new crime analysis system also comes at no cost to city taxpayers.

“Being a member of the crime analysis center in Rochester costs the city zero," Heubusch said. "It’s really about gaining that information and being able to analyze that information in a way that we can’t now."

The chief said that most of the criminal element in Batavia is connected to individuals from the City of Rochester and the Monroe County region. The MCAC memorandum will allow local police to share records with Monroe County law enforcement in real time.

The memorandum includes resources like crime monitoring and background checking information to alert law enforcement of identifying factors when pursuing suspects.

City Council members reacted favorably to the proposed resolution.

“It seems like, according to this, between the state police, the [Genesee County] Sheriff, Monroe County Sheriff and District Attorney, our District Attorney, DCJS — they’re all signed on to this," Council President Eugene Jankowski said. "It’s good to be sharing information.”

Other agencies participating in the memorandum are the Le Roy and City of Rochester police departments and the Genesee County and Monroe County probation departments.

City Manager Martin Moore wants to reduce crime and restore a sense of safety in Batavia. In June, the first Batavia Crime Task Force meeting was held so law enforcement and city leaders could talk about ways to combat crime.

“I want to thank the police department working together with the other police departments," Moore said. "This is one of the things that was brought up in our initial Crime Task Force meeting, and it’s one of the first actions that our police is working on."

The MCAC memorandum is expected to aid in identifying sources of crime, mapping incidents and arrests and following crime trends. MCAC is one of the task force’s first strides toward securing resources to prevent and deal with crime.

The proposed resolution for the memorandum will be forwarded for consideration by Council. The next City Council Conference and Business meeting at 7 p.m. Aug. 12 at the City Hall Board Room, 2nd Floor, City Centre.

January 22, 2018 - 11:48pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, city council, Batavia Muckdogs, dwyer stadium, Batavia Players.

The prospect of keeping professional baseball at Dwyer Stadium is looking brighter after the Batavia City Council unanimously passed a resolution authorizing the assignment of the Dwyer Stadium lease to the New York-Penn League and its wholly owned subsidiary, Batavia Muckdogs Inc.

The NY-P has decided to step in and run the Short Season Class A team, which had been operated by the Rochester Red Wings for the past decade. The league ended the agreement between Rochester and the Genesee County Baseball Club Inc., in November.

“We had several conversations (with NY-P officials) in late fall, and they expressed a desire to stay in Batavia for 2018,” City Attorney George Van Nest said at tonight’s meeting at City Centre Council Chambers.

Van Nest said the issue of extending the lease and sublease is time sensitive since the NY-P hopes to begin assessing Dwyer Stadium later this month. He said the all terms of the current lease will remain the same – removing the GCBC from the lease -- and the extension will be in force through April 2019.

Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian noted that the Red Wings “removed their equipment,” inferring there could be additional City expense above and beyond the $25,000 it contributes to the stadium on an annual basis.

Van Nest said NY-P officials talked about improvements to the facility.

It also is believed that pre-existing agreements for local high schools to use Dwyer Stadium will continue. It is unclear if the NY-P will supply its own staff or use local employees, including longtime groundskeeper Don Rock, who attended tonight’s meeting.

In other action, Council:

-- Agreed to consider leasing three City-owned City Centre Mall parcels (known as the Dent property) to the Batavia Players theater troupe, but expressed concerns about the rent schedule, square footage and the ability to sell the parcels if desired.

Christian questioned Patrick Burk, Batavia Players president, about the number of employees, wages, volunteers and hours invested into their productions. Burk said there are 15 to 20 part-time employees throughout the year at their current location of 56 Harvester Ave., some who receive stipends that pay them “more than minimum wage in some cases.”

But Christian said she had a “problem with leasing any parts of the mall.”

“I want to totally get out of the mall,” she said. “I have a problem with nonprofits not paying property taxes.”

The lease agreement calls for monthly rent charges of $747.92 for months one through six ($1 per square foot), $1,223.86 for months seven through 12 ($3 per square foot), and $2,991.66 for months 13 through 60 ($4 per square foot). It also allows the City to sell the property, with 180 days’ notice. By multiplying the initial rent times 12, that comes to 8,975 square feet that the City would be leasing to the Batavia Players.

Councilman Robert Bialkowski said he found a discrepancy in the square footage, and asked if the City would end up subsidizing part of the maintenance fees.

Van Nest said he and Interim City Manager Matt Worth would look into the fees and square footage and provide that information to Council prior to the Feb. 12 Business meeting.

Council members John Canale and Patti Pacino spoke on behalf of Batavia Players, with Canale calling the organization “a pillar of the community” that would draw much activity to downtown.

“Plus, with the DRI (Downtown Revitalization Initiative award that the City received), part of it is to get the arts to the downtown area,” he said.

Burk said the Batavia Players are seeking more than $500,000 from the City's $10 million DRI award to fund most of the organization's relocation project.

Pacino urged her colleagues to “please put feet on the street downtown” by leasing space to Batavia Players.

In the end, Council voted to move the proposal to the Feb. 12 meeting contingent upon an accurate count of the square footage to be leased.

-- Moved resolutions concerning the 2018-19 budget, water rate changes, Business Improvement District plan and City Centre concourse user fee local law amendments (see preview story below) to the Feb. 12 Business meeting.

-- Agreed to consider a contract with In Site: Architecture LLP, of Perry, to assess the deteriorating condition of the pillars at the north entrance of Redfield Parkway, and conduct design work as required related to lighting, preparation of bid documents, construction specifications, bidding coordination and construction administration at a cost of $4,860.

Worth said In Site: Architecture has an outstanding track record of historic work, and called its bid a “soup to nuts proposal.”

Earlier, Council heard from city resident John Roach, who asked that if it was possible to create a special use taxing district – likely consisting of residents on or near Redfield Parkway -- to pay for the repairs.

“The study will cost $4,800 and it may take $17,000 to fix them (the pillars),” he said. (A special taxing district) would raise money to pay for the pillars without irritating the rest of us.”

Worth and Van Nest said they will look into that.

November 2, 2017 - 10:55am
posted by Howard B. Owens in city council, batavia, news.

Three at-large City Council seats are up for election Tuesday. There are eight candidates. We asked each candidate to answer five questions and this morning we published their answers verbatim. 

Below are links to each candidate's response:

November 2, 2017 - 10:49am
posted by Howard B. Owens in city council, news, batavia.

Three at-large City Council seats are up for election Tuesday. There are eight candidates. We asked each candidate to answer five questions and we are publishing the answers verbatim.

Here is the Q&A with Brad Eddy.

If elected, what’s your #1 priority? Our community is my priority, so I plan to always listen to and be the voice of the people in our area. As I have met so many great people across the city, I have heard many times, “No one hears us or cares what we think.”  I want to change that perception by being a true progressive voice for our community and city.

There has been great progress in the city toward revitalizing the core downtown business community. What will you do to accelerate the revitalization process? I will be a strong advocate towards continued downtown development, as well as citywide revitalization. To help accelerate the process, I will work collaboratively with the city and other local officials/entities to prioritize the 10 million dollars the city has received from the state. I will ensure that the money is going to projects that increase the appeal and standard of living for current and future city residents.

What services currently provided by the city should be cut or eliminated, if any? How and why? I am committed to reevaluating the amount of resources that are given to services by the city and redistributing them to make the most sense/impact for our community.

What business, leadership, or economic training and experience do you have that make you more qualified for a job on the City Council over other candidates? I have spent my professional career leading businesses, both large and small, in the area of Human Resources. I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Business, Human Resource Management from Western Governors University, and I hold two Human Resource certifications, a project management certification and am a proud graduate of the Leadership Wyoming class of 2014.  I am currently completing my Master of Jurisprudence in Labor and Employment Law from Tulane University Law School.

Being in Human Resources, I am charged with balancing what is right for a business with the needs of their employees. This position has prepared me for the role on City Council. I have the expertise and skills of listening to both sides of an argument while maintaining objectivity and providing unbiased proposals for the best outcome.

What one, two, or three books first published within the past 250 years has most influenced your thinking about society and government? When it comes to holding an elected position in government, the community’s residents often look to their officials to represent their best interests and act as a leader. I have read many leadership books throughout my career, and The 360 Degree Leader by John Maxwell is one that I feel has influenced me the most.

In Maxwell’s work, he teaches that most often the best place to lead is from the middle.  Leadership is not as much about the position you hold as it is about your disposition. I have learned the importance of approaching every situation the right attitude, building strategic relationships, envisioning long-term goals, and dedicating myself to see those goals through to completion. Maxwell’s writing has shaped my perception of what a leader should embody and how I as a leader can have a positive influence on our community.

November 2, 2017 - 10:43am
posted by Howard B. Owens in city council, news, batavia.

Three at-large City Council seats are up for election Tuesday. There are eight candidates. We asked each candidate to answer five questions and we are publishing the answers verbatim.

Here is the Q&A with Mark Potwora.

If elected, what’s your #1 priority? My first priority, if elected, would educate myself on the protocol for being a member of city council.
I am running on a platform of replacing the city manager. In my opinion, he has presented budgets with higher tax levies year after year.
All this as council cut trash and ambulance services and privatized them. Which I did agree with. We were told that they were big budget items. The incumbents at large have also been on board with these increases in the tax rate. Also, I feel that his solution to the mall is just doubling down on ownership as the answer to all the mall problems. All the city did was agree to do what they were expected to do in the beginning and that maintain the concourse which he didn't do and now ten years later the problem is going to cost more then if the city had been doing it in the first place. Also, it cost the taxpayers more in court and lawyer fees. We need a new manager with skills and vision to not allow in this case the mall, to go to this extreme to be solved. We need a manager responsible to the people. He works for us. As I walked many streets going door to door talking to hundreds of residents getting signatures and introducing myself for the most part the underlying theme I heard was it is was time for a new manager and that we should be out of the mall business and our tax rate should be lowered. No one said we need more brewery/restaurants. In the end, it is all about change at the top and that would be replacing the city manager

There has been great progress in the city toward revitalizing the core downtown business community. What will you do to accelerate the revitalization process? First off I don't know what core businesses you mean. When I look at Main I see a bar/restaurant trying to open for the last couple of years with the help of taxpayer dollars. I see empty storefronts (Carrs building, hair salon and another empty building on the corner. On Jackson, there are a few others. Across the street, I see a mall with many empty storefronts. In fact, the city owns nine of them. No revitalization there. Just a statement that someday they will be filled. I would rather see lower tax rate for all businesses, not just a select few that get abatements or grants. The BID should be part of the solution but that is just another tax on a business which some would say with little results. BDC seems to function as an extended arm of the GCEDC. Seems they need the involvement the GCEDC to move forward on a project. Ex is Arby's. So I would say why are we funding the BDC? Eliminate it and save the taxpayer some money. 

What services currently provided by the city should be cut or eliminated, if any? How and why? What is the role of city government? Those that live here decide what services they need and can afford. I can only ask for more efficiency in all city departments (DPW, police, fire) after all those who work in those departments are more apt to know where the process can be done better. I don't mean managers I mean those who fight the fires, patrol the streets and maintain the infrastructure. They should be rewarded or compensated for saving taxpayers money.

What business, leadership, or economic training and experience to you have that make you more qualified for a job on the City Council over other candidates? I have worked for a major corporate-owned business, been a member of a union for 30 years, held office statewide for a political party. But I would say what is most important is the many years I have lived in this city. Paid property taxes. Raised a family. Balance my budget every year. Learn how to live with in my means. So I do understand what is takes to maintain a home here in Batavia. I have no conflict of interests.
I do see how many are struggling to pay the taxes that the city imposes on them. but too many are on fixed incomes and are having a hard time making ends meet to stay in those homes that they raised families in for many years.

What one, two, or three books first published within the past 250 years has most influenced your thinking about society and government? 
Harrison Bergeron, by Kurt Vonnegut It is a story essay that in reading it I can see where government can take us. That to get equality you need government control. Which IMO is dangerous.

Don't Hurt People And Don't Take Their Stuff, by Matt Kibbie. Title says it all.

November 2, 2017 - 10:32am
posted by Howard B. Owens in city council, batavia, news.

Three at-large City Council seats are up for election Tuesday. There are eight candidates. We asked each candidate to answer five questions and we are publishing the answers verbatim.

Here is the Q&A with Bob Bialkowski.

If elected, what’s your #1 priority? My #1 priority is to continue to represent the interest of the citizens of Batavia.

There has been great progress in the city toward revitalizing the core downtown business community. What will you do to accelerate the revitalization process? I will work to build the infrastructure that is needed to revitalize all of the community, not just downtown. The best thing government can do for business is to not interfere but to simplify overcomplicated rules and regulations. Our new comprehensive plan should be a step in that direction.

What services currently provided by the city should be cut or eliminated, if any? How and why? This is for the community to decide. As of this time I have had zero requests to cut any services.

What business, leadership, or economic training and experience to you have that make you more qualified for a job on the City Council over other candidates? I have owned two corporations and have over 40 years of business experience. I retired as an Army officer with 30 years of service and have taken many leadership courses through the years. As an Army Master Aviator and a civilian Commercial pilot with over fifty years experience, I am accustomed to making vital decisions. I still serve as a Coast Guard Auxiliary “Aircraft Commander”.

What one, two, or three books first published within the past 250 years has most influenced your thinking about society and Government? 

1. His Finest Hours by Graham Stewart. (The War Speeches of Winston Churchill).  

2. Benedict Arnold’s Navy by James L Nelson. (The Rag Tag Fleet that won the American Revolution).

3. Hit the Target by Bill Yenne. (8 Men who let the Eighth Air Force to Victory over the Luftwaffe).

These books were all written about great men in history that accomplished huge deeds for their countries. These three books verify that government as a whole does very little for the people but the people themselves with great resolve can accomplish monumental achievements. In the case of Winston Churchill, one man that was a great Statesman rallied not only his own country but the United States to stand up against tyranny. It is unfortunate that today there are few if any Statesmen in the world. The people should remember that it is their government and it must always be held in check and accountable at all levels.

November 2, 2017 - 10:24am
posted by Howard B. Owens in city council, batavia, news.

Three at-large City Council seats are up for election Tuesday. There are eight candidates. We asked each candidate to answer five questions and we are publishing the answers verbatim.

Here is the Q&A with Lisa Whitehead.

If elected, what’s your #1 priority? Undoubtedly, it must be to move Batavia in a new direction.  For years, small business in the city has been struggling.  We have a couple of businesses coming into Batavia through tax abatement programs that are seen as our future.  We will need to see how they impact the city’s tax revenue and that won’t be for years down the road.  Too often you see businesses that move into an area because of a tax abatement incentive, leave when that incentive is gone.  Meanwhile, existing businesses that have been struggling for years will continue to struggle because they are not deemed worthy of the city’s financial help.  Having the taxpayers and existing businesses subsidize other businesses through tax abatement has to stop.  Further, it is critically important to identify and remove obstacles that small business owner’s face here in the city.  We need to reduce the number of regulations that prevent the growth and revitalization of our business district. 

There has been great progress in the city toward revitalizing the core downtown business community. What will you [do] to accelerate the revitalization process? I don’t see “great” progress.  Receiving the DRI grant money may be viewed as a boon to the city but it won’t be used to get rid of the greatest eyesore in Batavia.  We need to get out of property ownership and this means the Mall.  To do this, we need a new manager.  This is nothing personal against our current manager.  However, under his guidance, our city’s comprehensive plan has us doubling down on this money pit—including the proposal of the second story for apartments.  Do we really think this is going to improve the “look” of the city?  We need a manager that will get us out of the Mall business - not reinvest taxpayer money year after year, into this failing structure. 

What services currently provided by the city should be cut or eliminated, if any? How and why? No one ever likes to hear that services are going to be cut or eliminated, and I am not sure that we have to eliminate any, but it is clear that these services need to be closely managed.  One way to manage these is to look for creative ways to reduce expenditures.  Reduced spending by sharing services may be one way to slow growth in the city budget.  For example, department heads are currently performing the duties that would normally be the responsibility of the Assistant City Manager and in so doing, have demonstrated that the city does not necessarily need this position.  The City Charter may require this post but it doesn’t necessarily have to be the task of a single individual. 

What business, leadership, or economic training and experience to you have that make you more qualified for a job on the City Council over other candidates? My qualifications are many and varied.  Besides the fact that I have lived in the city for 20 years and regularly attend City Council meetings, I am also an active member of the Genesee County Libertarian Party, the DAR, and my local union chapter.  Over my lifetime, I have worked for both small and large businesses and in both public and private sectors.  I have experience managing people at the department level in private industry as well as experience working in committees.  I currently manage a budget as the elected treasurer of my union as well as manage a household budget.  All of these skills developed over the last 30+ years, and a degree in political science has prepared me for this opportunity to serve the people of Batavia.

What one, two, or three books first published within the past 250 years has most influenced your thinking about society and government? I like history, so my answer would be anything written around the time of the Revolutionary War.  Since learning in high school that a member of my family fought in the Revolution, I have been interested in the writings of that period.  In particular, I am interested in the philosophy behind documents like the Bill of Rights.  To me, this document represents the clearest attempt of any group of people to define individual freedom.  I respect that and feel it’s time that we get back to our roots and commit ourselves to protecting the rights enumerated by this historic and timeless document.  

November 2, 2017 - 10:15am
posted by Howard B. Owens in city council, batavia, news.

Three at-large City Council seats are up for election Tuesday. There are eight candidates. We asked each candidate to answer five questions and we are publishing the answers verbatim.

Here is the Q&A with William Fava.

If elected, what’s your #1 priority? My # 1 priority is to represent ALL the taxpayers in the City of Batavia to ensure that our City government is providing a high level of service in a “Customer Orientated” efficient and effective manner.  Whether it is a small problem or a big problem, all concerns from the taxpayers of the City need timely action and response.

There has been great progress in the city toward revitalizing the core downtown business community. What will you do to accelerate the revitalization process? Yes…the City and Downtown representatives have initiated great steps in the revitalization process.  But we cannot become satisfied with where we are; we have to keep moving forward and invite more discussion with business and potential business owners.  The City needs a more aggressive and innovative approach to incorporate more business into the center of the City.  It would be great to not have any vacant storefronts, vacant property for development, or empty parcels in the mall.  We have to engage City, County, State, financial/banking institutions, and our Chamber of Commerce to provide a financial process to give potential owners a short period of financial assistance to provide a “startup” period.   The assistance could be in lower property rental cost for a period of time or assistance in purchasing a piece of land or building.  We have many people who wish they could start a business but have a problem in the initial start-up costs.  Historically, if a business can survive the first two or three years of their business plan, the percentage of continued success and growth will be on their side. The process is simple, we all need to work together to improve the core of downtown Batavia.  Many people have ideas for improvement.   Let’s listen and give them the opportunity to work together.

What services currently provided by the city should be cut or eliminated, if any? How and why? The Assistant City Manager has announced her departure a few months back.  I would not replace.  I think the City should either employ two or three part-time experienced individuals with Public Administration backgrounds.   We are a City with many qualified citizens being retired; they just might want to be involved.  They could be tasked to work on special projects and backfill the City Manager with assistance. Another suggestion would be to open the position to local universities for an internship experience in Public Administration.  Either method would eliminate the position cost and provide extra hands for the busy City Manager.

What business, leadership, or economic training and experience do you have that make you more qualified for a job on the City Council over other candidates? I believe that with my educational background (BA degree in Finance/Business and a Masters degree in Health Administration/MHA), I have a solid background supporting my 40 years of business experience in Human Resources, Accounting, and Supervision.  My military experience has provided me many opportunities to successfully complete assigned missions and to lead subordinate personnel in peacetime or in a war zone.  In addition, I previously held a Batavia City at Large Councilman position from 1991 thru 1994.  With my experience from Business, Military, Education and previous experience as a past Councilman, I feel uniquely qualified for a position on City Council.

What one, two, or three books first published within the past 250 years has most influenced your thinking about society and government? The first book influencing my thinking is by Robert D. Putnam entitled BOWLING ALONE—THE COLLAPSE AND REVIVAL OF AMERICAN COMMUNITY.  The book explains the civic engagement decline in the United States in political, civic, religious, and connections in the workplace participation providing a suggestive path toward change and not forgetting our usage of technology and mass media in a modern society.  The next book is by W. Edwards Deming entitled OUT OF THE CRISIS.  The book explains the needed transformation of various business sectors in the United States to once again compete in the global business world through drastic “Quality and Productivity” improvements.  The transformation includes improvement in government operations and a warning about politicians concerned with the next election and not doing the right thing for the people they represent for the sake of a successful future election.  Finally, the book that had a large impact on my thinking was written by John F. Kennedy entitled PROFILES IN COURAGE.   Kennedy provided a collection of actions represented by people that disregarded negative consequences to their public and private lives to do the one thing that seemed right in itself.  The decision made was not always the most popular or demanded by a superior, but it was the right thing to do.  All these books have provided something to my thinking and personality in dealing with today’s society.  

November 2, 2017 - 10:08am
posted by Howard B. Owens in city council, batavia, news.

Three at-large City Council seats are up for election Tuesday. There are eight candidates. We asked each candidate to answer five questions and we are publishing the answers verbatim.

Here is the Q&A with Jim Rosenbeck.

If elected, what’s your #1 priority? My first priority will be to observe and learn.  My next priority will be to replace the current City Manager.  This is not personal. It is strictly business.  If the city were a private business, the city manager would have already been replaced based on performance. The incumbent council members at large rate the manager’s performance highly and have lobbied to raise his salary. I disagree. Here are the facts; In 2005 the property tax levy in the city was 3.4 million dollars.  In 2017, that levy is 5.2 million dollars. This represents a 52% increase in the property tax levy on property owners.  During this time, we lost trash services and saw more vacant storefronts appear on Main Street.  Taxpayers spent untold dollars on mall litigation and assumed ownership of several parcels within the mall due to delinquent taxes.  We have failed to maintain that infrastructure and have no plan to exit the mall business.  Indeed the City’s agreement with the Mall merchants calls for doubling down on the taxpayer’s investment.  A new Comprehensive Plan (available on the City website) calls for adding a second story on the mall. Batavians are best served by council hiring a new city manager who better understands the needs of the community. 

There has been great progress in the city toward revitalizing the core downtown business community. What will you do to accelerate the revitalization process? I question this premise.  There is an old saying.  It goes like this; “In God we trust. Everyone else should bring data.”  Where is the data? There has been great promise of progress…most of that is unrealized.  Economic Development programs have been a failure locally and statewide. The city now owns nine properties inside the Genesee Country Mall in addition to the concourse that we have failed to maintain.  We have embraced bad economic policies which shuffle taxpayer money from one hand to another in a zero-sum game.  The devil is in the details with this smoke and mirrors economics.  

What services currently provided by the city should be cut or eliminated, if any? How and why? l will start with this basic premise; People know how to spend their hard earned money better than government.  What are the basic functions of a city government? Better yet, what do the people who pay the bills want from city government?  I have been knocking on doors in the city since mid-July.  Not a single person has told me they want an electric car charging station.  The current leadership is out of touch with the people of Batavia.  They are too busy trying to remake Batavia into a city like Saratoga. Real people want our infrastructure maintained and public safety provided at the lowest possible cost to taxpayers.  Given that government has proven over and over again that it doesn’t understand basic supply and demand economics, it should refrain from anymore shameless meddling.   Avoid unnecessary entanglements with Albany.  Reward efficiency and look for ways to share services.  Ask where we can utilize a volunteer component to help offset costs.  I am not on a mission to eliminate any services.  I am committed to delivering services more effectively and efficiently.

What business, leadership, or economic training and experience do you have that make you more qualified for a job on the City Council over other candidates?  One of my first economic lessons was as a paperboy delivering the Buffalo evening news.  There I learned that if a customer paid for the month in advance I couldn’t spend that money without consequences later on in the month. I had to learn to live within my means.  City government should similarly learn to live within it means. But it doesn’t.  it just keeps on returning to the customer and asking for more money.   I could roll out a simpler answer here citing a handful of college degrees and my career accomplishments.  But why pander to a handful of elitists who think that only a privileged few are qualified to represent the people?   I run for office as a friend of the common man and woman.   I am not beholden to any special interests or political parties. My promise is to exercise common sense and serve the interests of the people of Batavia. 

What one, two, or three books first published within the past 250 years has most influenced your thinking about society and government?  Henry Hazlitt’s “Economics in One Lesson.” has been a big influence on my economic thought.  I wish this book was required reading for those serving in public office.  Here is a quote from Hazlitt that summarizes the one lesson that public officials should humbly understand; 
“The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.” -Henry Hazlitt

Hazlitt states this perfectly. Government fails to get the big picture. Our representatives often fail to understand that they can’t use the people’s money to do one thing without there be a corresponding disincentive for someone else. Let's elect leadership that gets the big picture.

November 2, 2017 - 10:03am
posted by Howard B. Owens in city council, batavia, news.

Three at-large City Council seats are up for election Tuesday. There are eight candidates. We asked each candidate to answer five questions and we are publishing the answers verbatim.

Here is the Q&A with Adam Tabelski.

If elected, what’s your #1 priority?  The #1 priority for next year is to address the expiring sales tax and water agreements with the County.  Sales tax sharing from the County is the City’s largest revenue source, even greater than property taxes.  A consensus must be reached because the City’s fate is central to the County’s fate.  We will also begin to implement Batavia’s new comprehensive plan, which lays out a number of objectives to move our City forward.   

There has been great progress in the city toward revitalizing the core downtown business community. What will you do to accelerate the revitalization process?  Winning the $10,000,000 Downtown Revitalization Initiative, a historic settlement with the Mall Merchants, substantial commitments of private investment (e.g. Eli Fish Brewing, Ellicott Station), new and growing small businesses, and a dynamic BID is all signs pointing to the fact that Batavia’s downtown is on the right track.  Day by day, we are making strides to reverse the physical and economic destruction caused by ‘urban renewal’ and create a true rejuvenation.  The immediate task for me and my colleagues on Council is to make sure the $10,000,000 prize is invested wisely in order to trigger additional private sector investment.  We also need to maintain our relationship with the Batavia Development Corporation, the GCEDC, and other partners who are poised to make economic development projects happen.  The recently created the Pathway to Prosperity is a great example of how we can creatively drive resources to make downtown more ‘development-ready.’ 

What services currently provided by the city should be cut or eliminated, if any? How and why?  Notwithstanding the uncertainty of the sales tax and water questions, the City is in a strong financial position.  I sense no widespread need or desire to put services on the chopping block.  Actually, what I hear most from residents is a desire for more services—more street and sidewalk repairs, more park improvements, more policing, more code enforcement, etc.  These are the things that contribute to our quality of life.  So we try to drive as many financial resources to these services as possible while avoiding overburdening taxpayers.  It’s a balance.  Still, I am always in favor of exploring new and efficient ways to deliver these services, particularly through leveraging new technologies and focusing on shared services with neighboring municipalities or the County.  The County, with the participation of the City and other municipalities, will be developing a shared services plan over the next year to further help identify and implement opportunities for more sharing of services.

What business, leadership, or economic training and experience to you have that make you more qualified for a job on the City Council over other candidates?  Life is the best teacher.  I have worked in the public sector, in the office of a state legislator, trying to help constituents and influence public policy.  I have served in local government, as a trustee and mayor (in Medina) and as a Councilman (in Batavia), finding common-sense ways to improve a community.  I now work in the private sector, helping to grow an established firm.  I have served in the military and learned lessons about teamwork, integrity, and sacrifice.  These experiences give me a broad frame of reference when considering issues before the City of Batavia. 

What one, two, or three books first published within the past 250 years has most influenced your thinking about society and government?  Walden by Henry David Thoreau; John Adams by David McCullough; Our Town by Thornton Wilder.

November 2, 2017 - 9:59am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, city council, news.

Three at-large City Council seats are up for election Tuesday. There are eight candidates. We asked each candidate to answer five questions and we are publishing the answers verbatim.

Here is the Q&A with Eugene Jankowski.

If elected, what’s your #1 priority? My number one priority is to maintain fiscal responsibility with proper budgeting while providing essential services and continued support of Downtown development.  

There has been great progress in the city toward revitalizing the core downtown business community. What will you do to accelerate the revitalization process? I will work to ensure the Downtown Revitalization Grant is properly fulfilled to maximum effectiveness and continue the City Council mission. “Our mission is to create and sustain a vibrant, affordable, safe community where people choose to live and work and where, through a supportive environment, businesses continuously flourish.”

What services currently provided by the city should be cut or eliminated, if any? How and why? Each year during the budget process council members go through the draft budget line by line with Department heads and every expense must be justified.  This is an efficient process that in past years has identified areas of duplication that needed to be trimmed. Budgets the last 3 years have maintained essential services with healthy reserves, along with a reasonable amount of unassigned fund balance.  The City of Batavia has also received the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for its budget presentation for the third consecutive year. This year we were able to use some of those reserve funds to purchase a new fire truck and avoid thousands of dollars in additional finance costs.  At this time I believe services are right where they need to be and I support continued fiscal responsibility.

What business, leadership, or economic training and experience to you have that make you more qualified for a job on the City Council over other candidates? I’ve patrolled the streets of Batavia as a police officer / Lieutenant/ Emergency Response Team (ERT) Commander for over 33 years. ERT required 100’s of hours of additional specialized training along with advanced decision-making skills and critical thinking under pressure.  I’m a college graduate and a graduate of the 198th session of the FBI National Academy. The FBI academy included advanced leadership and management courses. 

What one, two, or three books first published within the past 250 years has most influenced your thinking about society and government? I haven’t read any books that have influenced my thinking on government or society. However “Lincoln on Leadership. Executive Strategies for tough times.” Has had an influence, as well as aided my leadership skill development. It has proved useful in my role as Council President and serving our community.

June 12, 2017 - 8:15pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, city council.

reardon.jpg

condello.jpg

barrett.jpg

neal.jpg

City Council Recognition: Proclamations were the order of the day (or night) Monday as City Council honored several Batavians with City Recognition Awards.

From top photo to bottom, Councilman John Canale recognizes Jennifer Reardon as Homeowner of the Year for her "little library" and outstanding flower gardens at her Washington Avenue home; Councilman Robert Bialkowski congratulates Anthony Condello as Community Volunteer of the Year for his work with the Farmer's Market, Downtown Batavia Business Improvement District and Holland Land Office; Bialkowski honors Mike Barrett of Batavia Marine & Sporting Supplies as owner of the Business of the Year; and Councilwoman Kathleen Briggs reads a proclamation extolling the achievements of Eagle Scout Christopher James Neal.

Photos by Mike Pettinella.

July 11, 2016 - 8:25pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in batavia, news, city council.

Batavia City Council took less than 30 minutes Monday night to decide to pursue a state Community Development Block Grant for $50,000 -- and commit another $50,000 in matching city funds -- for a Citywide Stormwater Capital Improvement Plan study, and to approve 10-year cable television franchise agreements with Community Cable Corp. and Empire Video Services Corp., and appoint numerous city residents to a trio of committees.

City Manager Jason Molino said his proposal to Council regarding the CDBG deals with a project that "best aligns" with the city's strategic plan, and follows up on the city's commitment to investiing in its infrastructure, which has resulted in a state-recognized water and sewer capital plan.

"The grant will help us to study the flood plain, which has about 1,400 properties, in an effort to prevent future flooding, and it also will take into account the 'Big Ditch' -- the massive stormwater culvert that runs from Walden Estates on Bank Street to Ken Barrett's (auto dealership, and out to the Tonawanda Creek)," Molino said. "The mapping of it and determining the status of it will be incorporated into part (of the study)."

Molino said the city has previously capitalized on CDBG money in the form of housing rehabilitation, microenterprise (small business) grants and infrastructure funding. He said planning -- in this case, preliminary engineering reports -- is a fourth component of the program administered by the NYS Office of Community Renewal.

He estimated the entire stormwater study would cost about $100,000, which is why he urged Council to include a $50,000 match -- an amount well above the required 5 percent local match. Molino said he believes the increased city contribution would enhance Batavia's chances of getting the grant.

Council voted unanimously to schedule a public hearing for July 20, as required by law, and also to submit an application for the grant by the July 29 deadline. In order for the city to be eligible to apply for the grant, it has to show that at least 51 percent of the persons who would benefit from implemention of the plan are low- to moderate-income persons.

"Because this is a citywide project that impacts all residents, we would be able to use all the census tracts (thus meeting the criteria)," Molino noted.

He said notification of the grant would come around December.

In other action, Council:

-- Approved cable television franchise contracts with North Penn Video and Empire Video Services of Prattsburg, which in reality is one company with two DBAs (Doing Business As). The resolution stated that the city believes the company has the "financial, legal and technical ability to provide these services" and "can reasonably meet the future cable-related community needs and interests."

As a result of this action, Empire Video Services now will be competing with Time Warner Cable, another city franchisee, for residents' cable TV business.

-- Appointed the following to city committees/boards -- Youth Board, Page Wasilewski, Councilperson Brooks Hawley; Audit Advisory Board: Marc Staley, Nicholas Harris, David Leone and Councilpersons Adam Tabelski and Paul Viele; Deer Management Committee: Kenneth Alfes, Gus Galliford, Mike Freeman, Dann Neale, Joe Rowbottom, Al Hemer, Ryan Whitcombe and Councilperson Paul Viele.

-- Moved to the Aug. 8 Business meeting a proposal to accept a supplemental agreement, called Marchiselli funding, that would reimburse the city for the cost of the design aspects of the Summit Street Reconstruction Project.

This is a program that offers a 15 percent funding grant to the project through New York State, in addition to the 80 percent funding already approved through the Federal Highway program, Molino said. Public Works Director Matthew Worth said he expects "double digit" numbers of supplemental agreements as the project progresses.

-- Moved to the Aug. 8 Business meeting a request by the city firefighters' union to open a one-year window for entrance into a more lucrative state retirement benefit plan. Molino said the one-time past service cost will be $27,441 and the estimated annual cost for this fiscal year will be $5,485.

March 14, 2016 - 9:09pm
posted by WBTA News in batavia, city council, news.

Over the objections of three Batavia City Council members, a dozen city hall management employees will get a pay raise on April 1.

The objections came in the form of “no” votes on the 2016-2017 city budget and a separate resolution authorizing the 2.75-percent pay increase.

Voting against the budget and the pay raise for the managers, not covered by a union contract, were council members: Paul Viele, Ward 1; Kathy Briggs, Ward 5, and Rose Mary Christian, Ward 6.

Ward 4 Councilman Al McGinnis was absent from the meeting.

“I just couldn’t support the pay raise right now,” Viele said, “not that they don’t deserve it, but taxpayers deserve a raise, too. We’ll see what happens next year.”

Another resolution to increase the hourly rate of part-time and seasonal employees from $9 per hour to $9.31 was passed with Viele, Briggs and Christian voting no. Christian and Viele also voted no to a 3-percent increase in water rates.

The $16.3-million budget called for a tax levy of $5.1 million, which translate into a tax rate increase of .8 percent. The budget becomes effective on April 1.

 

January 5, 2016 - 10:52am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, city council.

citycounciljan42015.jpg

Newly appointed City Council Member Adam Tabliski said a vote Monday night to change council leadership was something no other council member warned him was coming, and even Eugene Jankowski, who replaced Brooks Hawley as council president on a 5-4 vote, said he wasn't sure he would even be nominated for the position until it happened.

Jankowski said he doesn't believe the unexpected move signals a power shift toward a new council coalition with its own agenda.

Four of the five votes for Jankowski -- Jankowski, with new council members Paul Viele and Al McGinnis, and incumbent Kathy Briggs -- came from members observers have said want to replace Jason Molino as city manager.

Rose Mary Christian also supported Jankowski for council president.

After the meeting, Jankowski, Viele and McGinnis all denied they were part of any such movement and said they support Molino continuing as the city's top administrator.

"I can only speak for myself and I don't feel that way," Jankowski said. "I don't see that as an issue. I plan to carry on with the regular weekly meetings just like Councilman Hawley did and disseminate that information to council like it was done in the past and keep things public."

Ask if he anticipated a movement to change city managers, Viele said he didn't see that happening.

McGinnis said, "Not from me, there won't be." 

Viele said his priorities are the mall issue, the deer issue and what to do with the police department.

McGinnis put the police issue at the top of his agenda, followed by the mall.

"I'm pro having a police department," McGinnis said. "I want to have a police department."

As one of the task force members who recommended the Swan Street location for the new police headquarters, he said he still favors constructing a new facility on that vacant lot.

Tabelski, selected by the City GOP to replace John Deleo, who was elected to the County Legislature, was confirmed as the new appointed by the City Council in a unanimous vote at the start of Monday's meeting. 

There are a number of big issues facing the city, Tabelski noted.  The council must dive right into a new budget; there's the law enforcement issue, the mall, the comprehensive plan and brownfield redevelopment.

"I'm eager to be part of the discussion," Tabelski said.

Given the sudden change in leadership, and despite the denials from other council members, Tabelski acknowledged some concern that there might be an effort among some on the council to change city managers.

"I have a concern that that might be a direction some would want to go in. That's not my direction," said Tabelski, whose experience includes a term as mayor in Medina. "I have a lot of confidence in the current manager and the very professional team he has assembled."

It would take five votes to replace the city manager.

Tabelski, like other council members, said he does believe that the 5-4 vote does not signal a potential inability for council members to work together. Jankowski said the council has a history of not always agreeing on their votes, but continuing to work together in a congenial manner.

"This is not a split on the council," Jankowski said. "There are new people on the council and they want to take it in a different direction and I think we're all going to work together, so I don't think it's a problem either way."

citycounciljan42015-2.jpg

citycounciljan42015-3.jpg

The City Council: Brooks Hawley, front row, left, Eugene Jankowski, Paul Viele; Kathy Briggs, back left, Patti Pacino, Al McGinnis, John Canale, Adam Tabelski and Rose Mary Christian.

November 10, 2015 - 1:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, city council, Elections.

Incumbent John Canale retained his Ward 3 City Council Seat and challenger Al McGinnis captured the Ward 4 seat after the last of the absentee ballots were tallied today.

Polling place and absentee ballots gave Canale a total of 123 votes ot 103 for Richard Richmond, and McGinnis had 180 votes compared to 143 for incumbent Pier Cipollone.

July 14, 2015 - 5:59pm
posted by Traci Turner in batavia, city council, crime.

A group of Hutchins Street residents raised the issue of increased criminal activity in their neighborhood during a City Council meeting Monday.

Ken Darch, a resident on Hutchins Street who represented the group, expressed his concern for the continuous fighting and drug activity in his neighborhood.

Darch told of a fight involving 15 to 20 people that broke out Friday night and started up again Saturday morning. 

“There is constant drug activity of all kinds," Darch said. "There are cars going up and down the streets and transactions going on constantly,” Darch said. “Hutchins Street has also become a sanctuary for sexual offenders.”

Darch stated the two major problems that need to be addressed are the unaccountable landlords and the lack of law enforcement. Darch said the city needs to take action and hold offenders responsible for the crimes they commit.

Sixth Ward Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian agreed with Darch about the increasing amount of criminal activity not just in his neighborhood but in all areas of the city.

“We used to have minor problems," Christian said. “Right now we have major problems. There is no respect for police officers and a lot of drugs out there."

Christian said she believes the resolution to the problem involves increasing police patrols and neighbors following through with signing a complaint if they witness a crime being committed.

Second Ward Councilwoman Patti Pacino and Fifth Ward Councilwoman Kathy Briggs want to hold a meeting with residents to address neighborhood crime.

“We have a lot of problems and we need to take action,” Briggs said. “I’m willing to meet with all of our wards to do something.”

Councilman John Deleo stressed the need to invest in street cameras. According to Deleo, the camera placed on State Street has significantly reduced crime in the area.

Other business at Monday's City Council meeting included approving a pay raise for the city manager and a presentation by the Batavia Development Corporation.

The council voted 6 to 3 in favor of giving City Manager Jason Molino a 2-percent wage increase. Molino’s annual salary will be $91,272.

The Batavia Development Corporation is requesting proposals from individuals or organizations that would like to invest in the former Della Penna and Santy’s properties. Julie Pacatte, economic development coordinator, hopes to attract private investors with tax incentives to clean up the rundown properties. According to Pacatte, investors can received up to 50 percent of cleanup costs with tax credits through the Brownfield Cleanup Program. The deadline for proposals is Aug. 12.

June 9, 2014 - 11:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, city council, downtown, BID.

WBTA contributed to this story.

It took the City Council 20 minutes to debate whether the city should reimburse the Business Improvement District $1,900 for flowers.

In the end, the resolution passed 5-4, but not before some sharp words where shared in the council chambers.

Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian looked around the room during the debate and wondered why Don Burkel, BID director wasn't there, "so we could rip his ass."

The request for the reimbursement didn't quite come from Burkel, however, it came from Councilman John Canale, who invited Burkel to submit a request for reimbursement. Canale saw it as a symbolic gesture to show common cause between the City Council and the business community. 

Councilwoman Kathy Briggs said the city already does enough for Downtown. The sidewalks are clean, the medians are beautiful and city crews hang the flower baskets.

"The fact is, we just saw this for the last time in our last packet and I'm like, 'oh, what's this,' " Briggs said. "The fact that a few council people were talking about it beforehand, planning it, then why didn't we know about it in a committee report? Why weren't we told about it. I got it in my packet and I'm like, 'what's this?' They didn't come to us at budget time. If you want this done, come to us and let's talk about it, but for me to find it in my packet and then decide it, no."

Councilman John Deleo also opposed the idea.

“I promised voters I would be financially responsible with their money,” Deleo said, “but flowers don’t rise to that level.” 

“It’s not just about making Downtown pretty,” countered Councilwoman Patty Pacino, “it is about making Downtown attractive to new and existing businesses.”

The BID fronted about $3,900 for the hanging baskets.

"I supported Vibrant Batavia because I wanted to bring pride back to the city," said Councilman Pier Cipollone, who spoke at length about the need to restore pride in Batavia. "If more people have pride they'll have a better feeling about being Downtown."

Also Monday: 

The city spent a total of $10,700 during the last fiscal year defending itself against a lawsuit filed by the City Centre Mall Association.

The figure was obtained by resident John Roach through a Freedom of Information Request. Roach complained that the bills he obtained were not “itemized.”

City Manager Jason Molino countered that Roach only requested a total amount for mall litigation and if an itemized accounting was requested, it could be provided.

The legal services summarized in the 2012-2013 fiscal year were incurred before the city filed a countersuit against the Mall Association earlier this year.

January 28, 2014 - 10:35am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, city council, lt. eugene jankowski.

A request by newly elected City Councilman Eugene Jankowski to amend council rules clarifying how and when council members can contact city staff received little support from the rest of the council Monday night.

And when City Manager Jason Molino said the current rules already allow a council member to do what Jankowski was asking, Jankowski said he was satisfied with Molino putting that on record and let the matter drop.

"I guess I'm happy with it," Jankowski said. "If the rules already say that, then I guess there was some misunderstanding because I was told that when I e-mailed department heads and requested a meeting, instead of being provided a date and a time, I was told I must go through your office."

Jankowski's position is that just because he's been elected to council, he shouldn't lose the right of any citizen of the city to go to a member of city staff, particularly department heads, and ask questions.

What Jankowski said he doesn't want to see happen is give council members the leeway to give orders to city staff or intefer with the conduct of their jobs or get involved in union issues, but he does believe council members have the right and obligation to gather information.

Molino said the rules are in place to ensure proper supervision of employees.

"There's one person responsible for their work, and that's me," Molino said. "That's what you hold me accountable to."

Jankowski is a former lieutenant in Batavia PD, served a time as interim chief and was forced to retire when Molino and Chief Shawn Heubusch decided to restructure the department last year and eliminate all lieutenant positions.

The former cop and city manager have a long history of being at odds with each other and Jankowski wasn't happy about being forced out of his job.

Jankowski received the most votes in November's council member at large election.

He said he did go through Molino to schedule a meeting with Heubusch to discuss, among other things, the proposed "neighborhood sweep" proposal. Jankowski, who initially proposed the idea, said he came away from the meeting believing it's a good idea, though perhaps inappropriately named.

"There may be complaints we should look into, maybe complaints of a sensitive nature, maybe it's a complaint about him," Jankowski said. "If we ran right to him and told him or had to go through him it might cause some sort of problems. It might not be appropriate."

Only Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian spoke up in favor of Jankowski's proposal, but she also said she's never had an issue going to any department head and asking questions. She just does it and nobody has ever told her to stop, she said.

"If you have a question you should be able to talk to any department head," Christian said. "We represent the people of Batavia. We don't represent Jason. Sorry Jason."

Molino said there's never been an issue with council members going to department heads and asking questions.

"There's nothing in the rules that prohibits you from contacting department heads and asking questions," Molino said. "When you ask questions, sure I find out about it, but I usually follow up with, 'did you get your answer, can I do anything more?' "

Christian said that's exactly what happens.

January 9, 2014 - 8:54am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, city council.
Brooks Hawley

One of the main goals of Brooks Hawley, the new City Council president, is to make sure the council works together as a team.

They will all have their own opinions, of course, but members of the council should work together as a cooperative unit as they tackle such issues as the upcoming city budget.

He even expects newly elected Councilman Eugene Jankowski and City Manager Jason Molino to bury their differences and move on.

Jankowski is a former Batavia PD lieutenant who was forced out of his job last year when all lieutenant positions were eliminated from the city's budget. Even before that, Jankowski and Molino didn't always see eye to eye.

"People may have issues with people in the past, but I think they need to move forward from that and work as a team with the other eight city council members," Hawley said.

During last night's meeting, Jankowski sought a change in the language to council rules relating to council members contacting members of city staff.

The current language is unclear, Jankwoski said, because the rules infer council members can contact department heads but they must go through the city manager's office.

Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian said she contacts department heads all the time and doesn't see the need to change the rules, but Jankowski said a memo has already gone out to city staff telling them that if Jankowski contacts them, they are to refer him to the city manager's office.

"City employees have been ordered not to talk to me," Jankowski said.

Councilwoman Patti Pacino said the rule is necessary to help prevent, as may have happened in the past, council members abusing their position, contacting department heads to get things done for a specific council member first rather than prioritizing work on a community-wide basis.

The issue of the rule change was tabled until the council's next conference meeting.

As for the budget, Hawley said he doesn't have any preconceived ideas about what budget priorities to pursue. He is eager to see what city staff presents and dig into it.

He does oppose any tax increase.

"I think we should hold the line," Hawley said. "I never want to raise taxes. That's not why I got into office. I don't have a personal agenda on anything. I want to serve the people of Batavia and I want to hold the line."

Hawley said he would like to see more recreational opportunities in the city.

For anybody expecting a change in the current trash collection system, Hawley thinks it's a dead issue.

"I believe we dealt with that," Hawley said. "It's in the past. It's not going to go back in the budget. I believe what we have now is going to be status quo."

Subscribe to

Calendar

S M T W T F S
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
7
 
8
 
9
 
10
 
11
 
12
 
13
 
14
 
15
 
16
 
17
 
18
 
19
 
20
 
21
 
22
 
23
 
24
 
25
 
26
 
27
 
28
 
29
 
30
 
31
 
 
 
 

Copyright © 2008-2019 The Batavian. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service
 

blue button