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Small Talk

Who is Sergio? This is Sergio - Republican Sergio Rodriguez, who threatens the local GOP strategy of depressing voter turnout in the city by running for mayor of Buffalo this year against Democrat Byron Brown.

On January 15, the town of Woodstock, New York, became the first municipality in the state to adopt a resolution supporting NY Public Law #1, a proposed state law drafted by environmental activists that would criminalize hydraulic fracturing and related activities. Woodstock, like Buffalo, has already passed a local law prohibiting fracking and related activities within its municpal boundaries. Linda Leeds, of Sovereign People’s Action Network and FrackBustersNY, which authored the proposed law, says, “Activists in other towns with bans in place are asking their municipal officials to draft their own resolutions in support of statewide criminalization of hydrofracking. We anticipate that this will be the first of many similar resolutions sent to our Albany legislators.”

• Like his recent state of the state speech, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s newly released state budget document includes no mention of hydraulic fracturing, in terms of projected revenue to the state or potential costs of implementing and enforcing the regulatory scheme proposed by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. In a Siena Research Institute poll released last week, 44 percent of those surveyed said they opposed fracking in New York State; 40 percent supported it; 16 percent were undecided.

• A continuation of last week’s campaign finance miscellany: Since Jeremy Zellner took the helm of the Erie County Democratic Committee, the party’s finances have remained relatively stable; the committee raised $23,031 and spent $26,442 in the last couple months, leaving a balance of $79,975, which compares favorbaly to January balances in recent years. The party’s housekeeping fund has also remained fairly balanced, collecting $15,048 and spending $16,551, leaving a balance of $36,192, which is about par for a January disclosure report.

The Erie County Republican Party’s finance committee entered the year with $39,202 on hand, reflecting little activity, while its housekeeping committee reported a balance of $9,572, reflecting an intake of $98,360 and an output of $97,073. Why so much more financial activity b y the Republicans? One reason is that the GOP chairman, Nick Langworthy, accepts a salary. So did Zellner’s predecessor, Len Lenihan, but so far Zellner has not been paid; instead, he has kept his well-paying position as chief of staff for the Erie County Legislature.

Also, you may have noticed the “Who Is Sergio?” signs popping up in Buffalo neighborhoods, advertisements for the prospective mayoral candidacy of Republican Sergio Rodriguez. Rodriguez ran for the Niagara District Common Council seat in 2007; he got 698 of the 4,517 votes cast in the general election, in the year that the current office-holder, David Rivera, edged out Mayor Byron Brown’s candidate, Peter Savage III, in the Democratic primary. (Savage pulled 750 votes in the general on the Conservative Party line.) Rodriguez has registered a campaign committee with the New York State Board of Elections, which has raised $1,265 so far.

• There will be a public meeting, the first of three, to discuss proposals to reconstruct 1.5 miles of Ohio Street, between Michigan Avenue and Rote 5, next Wednesday, January 30, 6:30-7:30pm, at the Old First Ward Community Center on Republic Street. If you think the proposed $11 million project is fueling already robust real estate speculation in the neighborhood—witness the recent discussion about the fate of the former Erie Freight House, on a parcel perfectly situated to benefit from such an investment—well, you’d be correct. The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation is hosting the meeting.

• Congratulations to the Buffalo Challenger: 2013 is the weekly newspaper’s 50th year.

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