Artvoice: Buffalo's #1 Newsweekly
Home Blogs Web Features Calendar Listings Artvoice TV Real Estate Classifieds Contact
Previous story: The March on Washington at 50
Next story: Patrick Burke - Candidate for Erie County Legislature

Small Talk

A presidential visit is never complete without protests. Among those who will demonstrate outside UB’s Alumni Arena on Thursday morning, when President Barack Obama delivers his speech on education and jobs, will be opponents of high-volume, horizontal hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, or fracking, which has yet to be permitted in New York State. “In a June speech, President Obama indicated the country would take ‘bold action’ to address climate change, but he included the use of natural gas, when the science shows that methane leaks undermine its benefits, actually increasing greenhouse gas emissions and exacerbating climate change,” says Rita Yelda of WNY Drilling Defense and Food & Water Watch, two of the half-dozen groups taking part in the protest. Yelda says the demonstrators will highlight the US Environmental Protection Agency’s coverup of several incidents of water contamination caused by fracking in three different states.

• In her quest to return to the Erie County Legislature, Barbara Miller-Williams is being haunted by the less-than-savory reputation she developed when she served as the Legislature’s chairwoman. In October 2011, as Miller-Williams was about to lose her seat to Tim Hogues, a former employee, Debbie Allen, filed a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights alleging that Miller-Williams forced her to perform political work and personal errands while working on county time, including visiting foreclosed properties Miller-Williams was interested in purchasing and picking up her granddaughter at school.

When Matt Spina of the Buffalo News asked Miller-Williams about Allen’s allegations at the time, she denied the claims and dismissed the suit as a political maneuver, citing the timing of the complaint: a year after Miller-William fired Allen, and right before an election.

But it’s pure coincidence that this week’s public hearings on Allen’s complaint occurred just three weeks before Miller-Williams seeks to defeat Hogues in the Democratic primary—an effort in which she will be abetted by the fearsome get-out-the-vote machine of her political ally, Mayor Byron Brown. Allen’s complaint was initially dismissed by the state Division of Human Rights, which found “insufficient evidence to support a conclusion that the complainant was discriminated against based on her age and color.” (Allen claimed that Miller-Williams was an abusive boss who derided her for being too old and dark of skin.) But Allen appealed that ruling and won, and so her complaint is now moving forward. Just in time for election day.

blog comments powered by Disqus