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All posts by Joseph Kissel
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August 27, 2020

Botanical gardens could get visitor’s center with gift shop; disturbing graffiti sparks concern from Gosch

The NT common council addressed a variety of nuts-and-bolts city issues at Tuesday’s workshop session.

The city’s botanical gardens (“The Jewel of the 3rd Ward”) received particular attention as two volunteers asked the board to consider letting the group have its own funding line in the Parks Department budget.

The move would facilitate buying flowers to landscape the 12-acre site, they said. That money comes in part from $50 reservations to rent the Gazebo. (Reservations have been down this year to only four, but the previous years saw 10.)

Sentiment on the council and from department heads seemed to suggest its was problematic to earmark [...]

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August 14, 2020

Disturbing N.T. audit report sees Republican council reject Alderman Tylec’s “fiscal stability committee”

“The Mayor and Council did not adopt structurally balanced budgets, properly monitor the City’s financial operations or take appropriate actions to maintain the City’s fiscal stability.”

That’s the verdict rendered by New York State’s Office of the Comptroller after reviewing North Tonawanda’s finances from Jan. 1, 2017, through April 27, 2020.

But there’s more … 

“The general and sewer funds experienced operating deficits from 2017 through 2019.”

“Despite the City’s deteriorating financial condition, officials did not establish a fund balance policy, multiyear financial plan or capital plan.”

“The Mayor’s and City [...]

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July 21, 2020

NT’s “Proclamation Against Hate” is actually sweeping an uncomfortable racial history under the rug

“I’ve got a proclamation that we are not a sundown town,” said NT councilman Robert Pecoraro during the closing comments of last week’s workshop meeting.

Lately, talk of NT’s history of racial exclusion and intimidation has been generating much discussion on social media.

“There is no empirical evidence that we were ever a sundown city,” said Pecoraro. “And I’m TIRED (raises voice) of people saying that North Tonawanda was once a sundown city. It is NOT TRUE (raises voice) and I want to make sure everybody understands that.”

However, since there’s never been an involved public discussion of NT’s former status as a sundown town [...]

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July 10, 2020

N.T. City Clerk, Mayor approve political advertising on city property; council majority silent

North Tonawanda’s City Attorney said on Tuesday he’s looking into the legality of a vendor who’s set up in Gratwick Park and selling political merchandise there.

According to two instances in the N.T. City Charter, political advertising is prohibited on public property.

The decision to issue the permit allowing the trailer in Gratwick Park was made by City Clerk Matthew Parish and Mayor Arthur Pappas.

The city council does not authorize these permits. However, when Alderman at Large Austin Tylec asked the members of the Republican majority if they thought it was appropriate for a vendor to be selling political merchandise for [...]

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