MIC CHECK! Occupy Buffalo Making A Difference

4:19 pm in Uncategorized by Jackie Wilson



Industrial Development Agencies — there’s one near you. While this post is about the phenomenal job Occupy Buffalo has done keeping a watchful eye on the practices of the Erie County Industrial Development Agency, there are similar agencies all over the country that impact your community. Occupy your local IDA.

In Buffalo, the ECIDA Board consists of non-elected, appointed members. It is their responsibility to allocate taxpayer dollars to industrial development, as in providing jobs, which sustain families, neighborhoods and outward, keeping a quality of life viable for all. Instead many IDA grants go to the 1% to redo or keep up fancy hotels, keep a factory or warehouse going a few years until the grant runs out, when they move on to the next county who will grant funds. Some grants are for chain restaurants or stores who will supposedly develop more jobs. Yes, more part time or minimum wage jobs with no benefits. The grant money really just fuels the coffers of the ultimate owners, the 1%.

A dedicated core group of Occupy Buffalo has consistently attended every ECIDA meeting since October. There have been mic checks and speak outs; there has been negative press. The group kept on. The project awaiting approval now is to grant $895,000 to Carl Paladino to “redo” the Graystone Bldg., a beautiful old building in Buffalo that has Landmark Status, into luxury apartments. You will remember his name from the New York Governor’s race – the man who wielded a baseball bat and was going to clean up Albany.

Paladino acquired the building in 2002; work was begun and soon halted after a worker fell through the roof in 2003. Paladino was cited and fined twice by the city housing court. No fines have been paid, no work has been done, and there is still a huge gaping hole in the roof of the Graystone – for nearly ten years! Did I mention Paladino is worth $150 million?

Last week, Occupy Buffalo turned up the heat, and 30 occupiers attended the open public meeting to speak. But there was a problem. Only one board member got the e-mail to attend. Say what? The meeting was convened, the recorder passed around, and many occupiers went on record against giving $895K of taxpayers money to Paladino’s project. There was, of course, no vote.

Tomorrow, April 16th at 9 a.m. is the annual board of directors membership meeting. This means they must all attend, and they will be voting on the Graystone project. By Thursday, 4/12, there was an announcement that the meeting was moved to the Erie Country Public Library and that Erie County Sheriff’s Department deputies were asked to be on hand if members of the public become too rowdy. This in light of peaceful, non-violent protest and attendance at meetings. Watch the videos of what occupiers – of all ages and walks of life – have to say. We the people are awake and sick of it. Read the rest of this entry →