11/08/2011

Gillian Brown: Getting into Housing Court - Part II

The outcome of today's City Court race is critical for Buffalo.   I've recently written about the reasons why Gillian Brown is the clear choice over at Buffalo Rising - Gillian Brown: Getting to Housing Court.  In reference to a recent Artvoice post,  Woody Brown, Gillian's son - a recent City Honor's graduate and Senior Class President - posted the following on my facebook. 
Check out this latest article urging you to vote for my father, Gillian Brown, for City Court tomorrow. According to Geoff Kelly, "He’s well known in Democratic circles, well liked, and has the energy of a lot of younger progressive activists who are taken by his desire to continue Nowak’s legacy of reform and innovation in the city’s housing court." And as David Torke put it so economically, "Among the six candidates for four slots on city court in Tuesday’s election, Nowak has a natural successor: Gillian Brown."
In the event that you haven't seen Gillian's thirty second TV spot, here's the buzz:


During the recent National Trust Conference, held last month in Buffalo, NY - former Housing Court Judge Henry Nowak spoke during a session about the role of Housing Court in building a more resilient Buffalo.  The case study involved Essex Street on the City's West Side and the positive role a progressive and reform-minded housing court can make in helping to stabilize an emerging neighborhood.

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Former Housing Court Judge Henry Nowak - National Trust Conference - Buffalo, NY

Here's the podcast of Judge Nowak's presentation.  The last portion of the audio file include's a q&a with Jeremy Clifton, former Housing Director, Westminster Economic Development Initiative and Ronald Oakerson, Professor of Political Science, Houghton College, Houghton, NY.  If you are interested in the important role of Housing Court in helping to build a better Buffalo, this audio podcast provides significant insight in how this process is achieved.

Gillian Brown is the only candidate for City Court who has embraced former Housing Court Judge Nowak's reforms and if elected is capable of extending these important policies.  Listen to the podcast and distribute this post to your family, friends and colleagues before they go to the polls today.    
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CIty in Crisis - Gillian Brown and Aaron Bartley - Part III

This is the third part of a three part series - City in Crisis.  Here City Court candidate Gillian Brown talks about the City and the importance of Housing Court.  Aaron Bartley address the City's housing crisis and discusses the importance of electing a progressive reform minded judge.
Aaron Bartley is the Executive Director of PUSH Buffalo.  He live's and works on Buffalo's West Side.
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City in Crisis - Gillian Brown and Prish Moran - Part II

This is the second part of a three part series - City in Crisis.  Here City Court candidate Gillian Brown talks about the City and the importance of Housing Court.  Prish Moran address the City's housing crisis and discusses the importance of electing a progressive reform minded judge.
Prish Moran is the owner of Sweetness_7 on Grant Street on Buffalo's West Side.  I talked to her about the back-story involving the role of Housing Court in the acquisition of her building that houses the cafe, store-fronts and apartments.
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City in Crisis - Gillian Brown and Sam Magavern - Part I

This is the first part of a three part series - City in Crisis.  Here City Court candidate Gillian Brown talks about the City and the importance of Housing Court.  Sam Magavern address the City's housing crisis and discusses the importance of electing a progressive reform minded judge.

Sam Magavern is a writer and public interest lawyer, currently serving as co-director of the Partnership for the Public Good. He also teaches at the University at Buffalo Law School. He has written non-fiction, poetry, fiction, scholarly articles, a movie screenplay, and comic books. His work has appeared in many journals, including Poetry, The Antioch Review, The In 2009 he published Primo Levi's Universe: A Writer's Journey.
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9/02/2011

Gillian Brown: Getting into Housing Court

I had the opportunity to meet up with Gillian Brown this week.  We inspected the vacant lot where 94 Northampton once stood and admired the architectural detail and structural stability of 11 Holland Place, yet another City-owned residential property, ripe for homesteading.  Gillian is a City Court candidate running on the Working Families line in next week's primary race.  Two incumbent judges - Eagen and Fiorella - share the same minority party endorsement (as well as the Democratic Party endorsement).
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Gillian Brown in front of City-owned 11 Holland Place
Yesterday, I sat down with Gillian and asked him about his candidacy, qualifications and the importance of Housing Court.  Here's the podcast (running time 20min).      
In a poor City where most of the housing stock has a 50 year backlog of deferred maintenance, sky rocketing abandonment and vacancy issues and an ever increasingly longer list of City-owned real estate force so many questions.  Few answers.  What is clear is that a creative, intelligent and progressive person in elected office can make a difference.  Remember Judge Nowak's Housing Court policies and reforms?  Gillian's deep experience representing poor and working class people in City Court as an Attorney and his understanding of housing issues places him in the cross-hairs of what is need in Buffalo right now.  
If you are a member of the Working Families Party please vote for Gillian on Primary Day, September 13th.  Once the ballot line is secured for the November general election - everyone can vote for the only candidate who actually wants to be in Housing Court. 
Geoff Kelly over at Artvoice has been covering the pre-primary and the back room drama that resulted in Gillian being removed from the Democratic Party ballot line - see Blackballed, Gillian Brown v. Board of Elections and most recently Blood Sport: How City Court Races turn Ugly.  

Gillian's next fundraiser: Thursday September 8th at Charlie O'Brian's 865 Elk Street, from 6:00 - 9:00pm.   $30 includes beer, well drinks and chicken wings. 

Here's the website - Gillian Brown for City Court.
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8/19/2011

94 Northampton - Bound for the Landfill

An arsonist torched 94 Northampton early Monday morning, one of Midtown Buffalo's most significant city-owned heritage residences.  Two days later a $26.8K emergency demolition contract razed the building, sending yet another East Side treasure to the landfill.
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94 Northampton - Wednesday late afternoon  
fixBuffalo readers may remember that Commissioner Jim Comerford from the City of Buffalo Department of Permits & Inspections removed 94 Northampton from the demolition list in April 2010 - story heregranting this city-owned gem a renewed lease on life.  John Hannon, Director of the city's Division of Real Estate then placed this amazing 3 family residence on the homestead eligible list - $1 house.  City Hall cooperated. 
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94 Northampton - Wednesday early afternoon
The first ten minutes of Wednesday afternoon's demolition.



During an early 2007 neighborhood walking tour, I was handed a photograph of 94 Northampton, dated 1906.  The person joining the tour that morning indicated that her grandmother is the woman sitting on the porch.  With the recent success of the nearby Packard and ArtSpace developments on Main Street, private investment in the immediate neighborhood has been revived and a number of large single and two family houses have been restored along the two block stretch of Northampton between Main and Michigan. 
Here's what 94 looked like, back in the day.
94 Northampton Avenue - Buffalo, 
NY 
94 Northampton - c. 1906
There are dozens of well-maintained houses in the neighborhood, including 82 Northampton, next door. All of these houses can be found within a block of 94 Northampton. By any measure the collection of 19th century architecture in this neighborhood would qualify as an historic district. Near by, 38 Northampton was the first house on the street to sell after Artspace announced plans in early 2006 to locate in the neighborhood.
One block to the North... One block to the North... IMG_0720 IMG_0735 IMG_0789
After numerous showings, no one was prepared to step-up and take on this project.  With the reinvestment in St. Vincent's, a short block away on Ellicott Street, my optimism grew and I was convinced that time was on 94 Northampton's side. 
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    8/18/2011

    Buffalo ReUse: James Green Executive Director - Q&A

    Buffalo ReUse is located in the heart of Buffalo’s East Side.  On any given day customers may include a downtown attorney searching the piles of green limestone that once graced Minoru Yamaski’s plaza at the base of the M & T tower or neighbors buying hardware and replacement screens. Landlords and local contractors were streaming through the door during a recent visit and were searching an inventory of donated doors, moldings and windows and architectural salvage.  Landfilling these items no longer makes sense, especially now.
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    James Green - Executive Director
    I had the opportunity recently to sit down with James Green, the new Executive Director and talk with him about the organization’s past, present and future. Here's the podcast (running time 10 min).
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    Javoun & Tyshawn - Buffalo ReUse garden volunteers  
    Shortly after meeting with James Green, the following Buffalo News story appeared about the organization’s eviction from the Northampton Street location.  I sat down with Vince Kuntz, Buffalo ReUse board President on Wednesday morning and asked him about the eviction proceeding.  Vince remains confident about the organization’s future as a number of possible options are actively explored.  While the details and plans are being hammered out Vince explained that all the recent changes that have taken place on Northampton Street have resulted in a stronger organization, an organization that is rapidly becoming an organization of the East Side. 
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    Len, Rose & Akhalaq - customers
    Hear what Len, Rose and Akalhaq have to say - podcast (running time 3 min.) - about their Buffalo ReUse experience.  I chatted with them while they were shopping the endless aisles of salvaged inventory from some of Buffalo’s most storied buildings and neighborhoods while working on their own home based projects. 
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    2/07/2011

    Code Green - What's next for the East Side?

    The time to determine the future of the East Side is now. Well, it’s actually between February 28 and March 5, when the City of Buffalo is hosting a series of neighborhood workshops to get the public’s input on what will be the first detailed land use plan assembled in Buffalo since 1977.
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    Kehr Street, looking North
    Why is this important? Mayor Bryon W. Brown is undertaking one of the most significant planning projects in over a generation, putting into place master plans for the development of every neighborhood and an entirely new, green zoning code (the first since 1951) that will give these plans “teeth.” The Mayor has dubbed the initiative the Buffalo Green Code
    The upcoming neighborhood workshops will be the foundation for shaping the City’s long-term strategy on nearly any issue that touches “land use,” a catch phrase that includes everything from urban design, transportation, public space, renewable energy, to economic development.
    What do you want to see for Buffalo’s East Side? Employment sites in job-strapped neighborhoods? Cleaned up brownfields? Restored landmarks? Parks in place of vacant lots? More healthy food options? Land banking? Want to stamp out the dreaded Vinyl Victorian once and for all? Want a boulevard in place of the Kensington?
    Whatever your priorities are, they become part of the plan only if you show up and speak your mind. There are nine neighborhood workshops in all. Learn more about them here. The core East Side neighborhoods are covered in three of these workshops listed here:
    Ellicott (Old First Ward, The Valley, Hydraulics/Larkin District, Lower East Side)
    Wednesday, March 2, 6:30 - 9:00pm
    Montessori School, 342 Clinton St. 
    Masten (Midtown, Fruit Belt, Masten Park, Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Schiller Park, Cold Springs/Midtown, MLK Park, Delavan/Grider, Hamlin Park)
    Saturday, March 5, 9:00 - 11:30am
    East High School, 820 Northampton St. 
    East (Broadway/Fillmore, Lovejoy, Kaisertown, Seneca/Babcock, Little Hollywood, Clinton/Bailey)
    Saturday, March 5, 1:00 - 3:30 pm
    Col. Matt Urban Center, 1081 Broadway St.
    For additional information check out last April's Green Code press conference - pics and podcast - here
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