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Stay on Peace Bridge Demolitions Continues

This week opponents in the Peace Bridge plaza expansion filed arguments on whether a lawsuit aimed at preventing the demolition of seven properties on Busti Avenue will be heard in Federal Court rather than State Supreme Court, where initial arguments took place last week. The Public Bridge Authority has requested the change in venues, claiming that the planned expansion isn’t subject to state regulations because it is a PBA “internal matter.”

The other side, the preservationist Campaign for Buffalo History, Architecture, and Culture and several area residents, will argue for throwing the case back into the state court for substantive arguments about proper environmental assessments (or not) on the planned demolition of the houses along Busti Avenue to make way for the plaza expansion, which would include a new Duty Free store and car and truck parking for the store. Proper environmental assessments would likely get into health impacts not just of the demolitions but of the introduction of diesel truck emissions further into a residential area already with high asthma numbers due in part to bridge diesel emissions.

Ever wonder why all the politicos down the line are on board for this project that would destroy community infrastructure and likely exacerbate an existing health crisis, all for the sake of a bigger Duty Free store? (All except Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, who was in line, but then had the temerity to ask Governor Andrew Cuomo to hold up a while, in light of “valid concerns” of the community related to “lack of transparency” by the PBA. Which freaked out the likes of Congressman Brian Higgins and State Senator Mark Grisanti, who have absolutely nothing to say about the demolition of infrastructure issue, the public health crisis, or the lack of transparency.)

Totally just guessing, but one of the possible reasons might be money. In the form of political contributions. The Duty Free store at the Peace Bridge is operated by Duty Free Americas, Inc., which is owned by members of the Falic family, a large family that is open-handed with political contributions to a variety of mostly right-wing candidates and causes, but to some extent, equal opportunity donors. On the Federal Elections Commission website, check out Simon Falic, Jerome Falic, Leon Falic, but also Gila, Fima, Debbie, Nily, and Lisa. Maybe others. Listed for literally hundreds—many hundreds—of political contributions over the past few years, mostly in the $1,000 to $10,000 range.

It’s just possible that some of the politicians’ enthusiasm for the plaza expansion plan is in the hope of a scrap or bone from the Falic table (or tables). I mean, Cuomo’s going to run for president some day, right? And they all have elections coming up. Higgins, Grisanti. All of them.

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