Last Thursday afternoon, 200 copies of Artvoice were dropped off at Erie County’s Rath Building. The next day, we received word that every single copy had disappeared within an hour. In that paper, we published an assessment of Collins’s first term.
AV’s wild popularity notwithstanding, the last time such a run on the paper at the county building occurred was when we published a Bruce Fisher article critical of Erie County Executive Chris Collins’s sense of humor: He had compared New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, an orthodox Jew, to Hitler and the Antichrist. Those papers suddenly disappeared, too. We filed a FOIL request to see the surveillance camera footage for the previous 24 hours from the two cameras that record everything that goes on in the entrance lobby where the papers are left every Thursday. The request was ultimately denied on the grounds that it would compromise the building’s security plan.
On Friday, we called requesting the same access to look at what the cameras recorded. We were told that the FOIL officer, Edward Delaney, wasn’t in but wecould send a request to his email. The FOIL law being what it is, we probably won’t have a response to that request for months—and the request may ultimately be denied as the last one was.
If an individual removed all the papers, one can only wonder why. It’s not like the story accused Collins of being a notorious cheat at golf. It just focused on his record as county executive. Artvoice is a small business, as are most of the advertisers who make it possible to offer the free alternative weekly to the community. What an anti-business stance it is to throw all those papers in the trash. Let alone the fact that stealing free newspapers is an affront to free speech. And illegal.
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