Supreme Court Clears Way For Same-sex Marriage In California

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The Supreme Court Wednesday cleared the way for same-sex marriage in California, declining to rule on Proposition 8, which defined marriage as between one man and one woman. Gay rights advocates had mounted an expensive and groundbreaking legal challenge to a decision by California voters in 2008 to amend the state constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage.
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Statement From Congressman Brian Higgins on Supreme Court Ruling on Marriage Equality


“In its decision to rule DOMA unconstitutional, the Supreme Court recognized what New Yorkers already know: that a family is a family and, regardless of the gender of its spouses, it deserves equal protection under the law. This decision rightly acknowledges that all couples who are legally married deserve the same federal recognitions and rights.

“Our nation was founded on the basic values of freedom and equality and we must stand by these core principles. Today marks an important step forward in the fight for marriage equality. I look forward to legislatively repealing DOMA in its entirety as a cosponsor, along with 100 of my colleagues in Congress, of Congressman Jerry Nadler’s Respect for Marriage Act.

“And while I would have preferred the Court to overturn California’s Proposition 8, by declining to decide the case the Court allows same-sex marriages to resume in California. The effect will be to secure marriage equality in the most populous state in our union. I am proud that New York is one of 12 — now 13 — states with marriage equality and look forward to the day when Americans in all 50 states have the right to marry the individual they love, regardless of gender.”

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Development is focus in Amherst supervisor race

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Manna challenges incumbent Weinstein

As the race for Amherst supervisor heats up, a familiar issue – development – is once again taking center stage.

One needed to look no further than a ritzy Snyder neighborhood Tuesday night to see the issue is as controversial as ever.

Members of the Livingston Parkway Association – who are fighting a six-story Hyatt hotel from being built near their backyards – held a political fundraiser for Council Member Mark A. Manna, who is challenging incumbent Supervisor Barry A. Weinstein.

The residents say they’re still angry with Weinstein and other town leaders for allowing two recent hotel projects on Main Street – and they’re pledging to help bankroll Manna’s campaign.

“Every opportunity to vote against these projects, I did,” Weinstein wrote Tuesday in a Buffalo News letter to the editor. “I have addressed residents’ complaints and supported their issue to the maximum extent of my authority.”

“For him to say he’s powerless, it’s ludicrous,” Butler said. “If he believes this, he’s not up to the job of being the de facto mayor of the largest town in Western New York.”

As a point of information:

Mr. Manna has voted in favor of every member proposed to serve on the Zoning Board and Planning Board since he has been on the Town Board.  Manna said he has offered up names of possible candidates to serve but those names were not supported by the rest of the Board so he voted with the other Board members to make the Board work harmoniously.
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Canadians Reporting Accord On Peace Bridge

A Canadian official says looming deal on Peace Bridge will be good for both sides of the border.(Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News file photo)

Canadian officials say they have reached an “agreement in principle’’ with New York State to resolve a bitter dispute with New York State over the future of Peace Bridge improvements.

A Canadian official, speaking on condition of anonymity Tuesday night, said the looming deal should be announced soon that will be “good for both sides of the border and one that favors hard hats over lawyers’ bills as we’ve argued for all along.’’
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Higgins Calls for Action This Week to Prevent Student Loan Rate Increase

Brian Higgins

Brian Higgins

Congress Must Act Or Rates Double July 1

Federal student loan rates are scheduled to increase from 3.4% to 6.8% in less than a week if Congress doesn’t act.   As Congressman Higgins heads back to Washington, DC for votes he is pushing for action in the House of Representatives to keep higher education borrowing affordable.

Congressman Higgins supported the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 which initially included the provision to lower Stafford loan rates from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent through 2012.  A temporary fix implemented to extend the rate through the end of June 2013 is scheduled to expire on July 1 causing rates to double.

“Student loan rates not only impact college affordability, they play a role in the larger economy by taking resources away that could otherwise be spent on goods and services, such as homes and cars, that support jobs,” said Congressman Higgins.  “The higher education debt burden is already difficult enough for recent graduates; adding thousands of additional dollars in interest only sets promising, educated young people up for failure.”

Seven million college students in the United States benefit from federal Stafford loans, 422,000 in New York State alone.  Between 2009 and 2012 11% of New York State graduates (24,800 students) defaulted or went 9 months or more delinquent on loans.  The average NYS graduate has approximately $27,000 in loans upon graduation.

According to a Congressional Joint Economic Committee report titled “The Causes and Consequences of Increasing Student Debt,” with 2/3 of graduates borrowing to pay for the increasing cost of higher education, total student loan debt in the nation reached $1 trillion this year.  For students who borrow the maximum amount of Stafford loans, a doubling of the interest to 6.8% would cost graduates an additional $4,500.

Higgins is a cosponsor of H.R. 1595, the Student Loan Relief Act, which would extend the current student loan interest rate of 3.4% through July 1, 2015.  Last week he spoke on the House Floor urging passage of the bill and was among over 180 members signing a discharge petition aimed at forcing a vote on the bill.

Western New York is home to 35 colleges and universities with a total annual enrollment of over 116,000 students.

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Poloncarz, Legislators Announce Funding For Operation ‘Primetime’ This Summer


Funds Awarded to 44 Not-For-Profit Agencies Providing Summer Youth Anti-Crime and Enrichment Programs

ERIE COUNTY, NY— Today, Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was joined by Erie County legislature chairperson Betty Jean Grant (D-Buffalo), legislators Lynn M. Marinelli (D-Buffalo, Tonawanda) and Timothy R. Hogues (D-Buffalo), Executive Director of the Lt. Col. Matt Urban Human Services Center of W.N.Y. Marlies Wesolowski, community leaders, and excited children at the T.J. Dulski Community Center in Buffalo to announce a summer full of recreational fun and learning with the return of “Summer Primetime” grants. 44 local not-for-profit agencies will receive some level of funding for their summer programs, with the amount of recipients’ grants ranging between $5,000 – $10,000.

“Operation Primetime” takes advantage of the prime summer months to provide new opportunities for children to enjoy structured, healthy activities during the time they are away from school,” said Poloncarz. “Of course, summer time is fun time, and this program provides the types of activities that children enjoy but that also add to healthy development and contribute to their quality of life, a topic I spoke about in my recent ‘Initiatives for a Smart Economy’ address. They will be learning, socializing, and taking part in community activities. Operation Primetime also allows agencies like the Lt. Col. Matt Urban Human Services Center to expand programming for the summer and give even more kids a chance to get in on the fun in a safe, structured environment.”

Primetime programs primarily serve youth in need, and offer positive development opportunities, access to safe places for summer programs, and a wide range of activities including arts, community service, recreation, and field trips  that are offered by the various program participants. Programs also include educational components. While many of the recipient programs are located in the City of Buffalo, there are others in Tonawanda, Orchard Park, Eden, Holland, East Aurora, and elsewhere.

Legislature Chairperson Betty Jean Grant said, “These programs funded by operation Primetime provide youths who want to stay on the right track with purpose and structure, as well as the proper supervision.  I appreciate that two of the programs will serve the youths and residents of District 2, which I represent, and who are hard-working, honest people fighting to achieve the American Dream. I am glad that County Executive Poloncarz and the County Legislature worked together to provide this vital funding.”

Legislator Timothy R. Hogues, Chair of the Public Safety Committee, said, “I am proud to stand with County Executive Poloncarz and the County Legislature in supporting the fine programs funded by Operation primetime, including several in District 1, which I am proud to represent.  We can see the success stories of the youths who participate in these programs and create opportunities for them to succeed, instead of falling into poor habits which could lead them on the wrong path.”

Legislator Lynn M. Marinelli said, “These outstanding organizations are receiving funds to provide productive, structured recreational activities to help prevent delinquency, increase youth socialization and stay involved this summer.  This is a successful 10-week school summer- recess that many District 3 residents have taken advantage of over the years. I am proud that about 25,000 – 26,000 children countywide are expected to take advantage of this program, and I appreciate working with the administration of County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz to provide these activities helping out youth.”

Erie County Deputy Commissioner of Youth Services Morgan Williams-Bryant said, “Operation Primetime provides an assortment of avenues for children all throughout Erie County to participate in positive youth development and continuing their educational enrichment throughout the summer.  We have many outstanding organizations that provide quality services and a safe haven for children to build lifetime memories.”

Programs receiving funding are asked to operate from 12pm – 7pm, Monday through Saturday. Prioritized program areas, designed for youths ages 6-18, include academic enrichment; cultural enrichment (arts, music, science); career enrichment; youth leadership, community service and civic engagement; and gang and violence prevention. Supervised recreation may serve as a part of a program but cannot be a program by itself.

Agencies receiving Operation Primetime funding in 2013 include: Girl Scouts, Young Audiences, Cradle Beach, Willie Hutch Jones Sports and Education, Willie Hutch Jones Sports Detention, WNY United Against Drugs & Alcohol, Computers for Children, Buffalo Urban League, Police Athletic league, UB Liberty Partnership, Firsthand Learning, Firsthand Learning Detention, Canisius Entrepreneurship, UB Center for Urban Studies, Boys & Girls Club of Buffalo, University District CDC-Gloria J.Parks, Love Alive Fellowship, Boys & Girls Club of the Northtowns, Seneca babcock Community Association, Seneca Street Community Development, Valley Community Association, Northwest Buffalo Community Center, Moselle Community Development Corp., PBBC Matt Urban Center, Schiller Park, Community Action Organization, Girls Sports Foundation, Child & Adolescent Treatment Services, Elim Community Corp., Boys & Girls Club of Holland, Boys & Girls Club of East Aurora, Boys & Girls Club of Orchard Park, Town of Tonawanda Recreation, Access of WNY, Boy Scouts, Boys & Girls Club of Eden, Erie Regional Housing Development Corp., Concerned Ecumenical Ministry, Jericho Road Ministries, Peace of the City, Westside Community center, King Urban Life Center, Buffalo Museum of Science, and Be-a-Friend. Total funding for the program is $417,260.

For more information on Erie County Summer Primetime programs, visit

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Despite New Amherst Building, ECC Remains Committed To Downtown

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Erie Community College officials this morning stressed their commitment to downtown Buffalo in light of a recent decision to put a new building on the Amherst campus.

College and county officials in May announced plans for a new Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics building on the North Campus, based on a much-anticipated recommendation from an academic consultant.

Officials said Tuesday that the Amherst campus, which was built between 1953 and the late 1960s, was in dire need of upgrades.

“I can’t even say it looks like a glorified high school,” said William D. Reuter, the college’s chief administrative and financial officer. “It looks worse than a high school.”
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Supreme Court Frees Americans From Burden Of Voting



WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) — By a five-to-four vote, the Supreme Court today acted, in the words of Justice Antonin Scalia, “to relieve millions of Americans from the onerous burden of having to vote.”

Writing for the majority, Justice Scalia stated, “Since 1965, citizens across the nation have lived under the tyranny of being forced to elect people to represent them. This is an important step to free them from that unfair and heinous obligation.”

Justice Scalia added that the Voting Rights Act had “thrust upon the shoulders of millions of Americans the terrible and unwanted burden of exercising their rights in a democracy.”

“Many of them have been forced to drive to polling places, wait in line, and then cast their vote because of the oppressive requirements of this Act,” he wrote. “It is our honor and duty to free them from those hardships.”

In conclusion, Justice Scalia wrote, “Our message today to the American people is simple: we are voting so you won’t have to.”

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Trimming of Amherst Town Board Looks To Be A Go


The downsizing of the Amherst Town Board from six members to five has been given what appears to be a final green light after years of contentious debate.

Mark Manna said, “My resolution to end the appeal of the Judges decision to stop the “upsizing “vote was approved! This means the board will honor the 2010 referendum and the board will be downsized to 5 on Jan 1. Thank you to my colleagues for following my lead on this issue.”

The board voted Monday not to mount a legal challenge to a judge’s ruling that cleared the way for the downsizing to go ahead. “We shouldn’t be wasting our time, energy and resources on this appeal,” said Council Member Mark A. Manna, who proposed the legislation. “It’s just silly.”

The appeal would have challenged State Supreme Court Justice Tracey A. Bannister’s recent ruling that canceled a special election to keep the board at six members.

Surprisingly, Supervisor Barry A. Weinstein, who was in favor of the special election, said he agreed with Manna that the town should drop the appeal. “It’s not worth the money, and it’s not worth the time,” Weinstein said. “I can live with the decision.”

Nearly every sitting board member has changed his or her position on this issue since it was brought up in 2010.

Weinstein ran for office on a platform that included board downsizing, and Manna was once stridently against it.
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Blackhawks Stage Championship Rally

Patrick Kane takes his turn with the Stanley Cup as the Chicago Blackhawks won their second title in four seasons.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Patrick Kane takes his turn with the Stanley Cup as the Chicago Blackhawks won their second title in four seasons

It’s over.  The Stanley Cup has been claimed by the Chicago Blackhawks and Buffalo’s own Patrick Kane was named MVP.

An NHL-record unbeaten streak to start the lockout-shortened season.

Three straight victories to clinch the title.

From beginning to end, the Chicago Blackhawks skated away from the rest of the league.
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