Buffalo’s Food Trucks React

Interviews conducted Tuesday after the Common Council passed the new Buffalo food truck ordinance. It is expected to be on the Mayor’s desk on Monday, and will hopefully be signed shortly thereafter.

State of the Union Reactions

CONGRESSWOMAN LOUISE SLAUGHTER

WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (NY-28) today released the following statement following President Obama’s State of the Union address to Congress responding specifically to two tenants of his speech that she has worked on for years: rebuilding America’s manufacturing sector through trade enforcement and passing legislation that would end insider trading among Members of Congress.

“I was delighted to hear the President’s enthusiasm to sign legislation that ends insider trading in Congress and finally reigns in the political intelligence industry that’s been lurking in the shadows of the halls of Congress. I’ve been working on the STOCK Act since 2006 and I say that if the President wants to sign the STOCK Act, let’s get it through the House and send it to him!,” said Slaughter. “It is my hope that the bill that we send to the President is the same bill that has received overwhelming support. The STOCK Act is bipartisan, has enough support to pass the House and is what we should make the law of the land.”

“I was also encouraged that the President shares my desire to strengthen the American economy by rebuilding the American manufacturing sector. For too long American manufacturers have had to compete against illegal trade practices from international competitors and now is the time for bold trade enforcement policies.” Read more

Food Truck Legislation: Passed

Buffalo Common Council Jan. 24, 2012

As anticipated, the Buffalo Food Truck ordinance was passed by the Buffalo Common Councilon Tuesday by a vote of 8-1, with Councilmember Mickey Kearns voting in the negative.

I have embedded below the full text of the legislation as adopted, and later this week, I will post video interviews I conducted with the truck owners.

The measure was adopted after Councilmember Kearns took to the floor to ask for more “patience” from the food trucks, proposing that the annual fee be reduced to $395 per year, and that a regulation of one truck per block face be implemented. Councilmember Golombek remarked that the trucks had been patient enough. Councilmember Pridgen wanted to be sure that non-profit groups that feed the needy would not be covered under this statute, and the corporation counsel indicated it all depends how they serve food. There was also some discussion regarding the fact that the $1,000 to cover the trucks from now until the law’s sunset in April 2013.

Regulation in this case is a good thing, as it sets forth how the trucks must behave, and hopefully eliminates any risk of random or capricious complaints from brick & mortar restaurants. Buffalo is in the forefront of this new movement, and for that we should be proud.

Mayor Brown is expected to sign the bill into law within the next two weeks.

Buffalo Food Truck Ordinancehttp://www.scribd.com/embeds/79264224/content?start_page=1&view_mode=list&access_key=key-217roprivh7xnikj1nhh//

Two for Tuesday

1. Hopefully, the WNY Food Truck Association will have something to celebrate later today, as the Buffalo Common Council is set to vote on proposed food truck permitting and regulations at 2pm today (Tuesday the 24th).  Buffalo Place, which governs much of the downtown CBD, has said it will follow the same guidelines the city sets forth, although trucks may have to pay a separate fee for a Buffalo Place permit. Follow along at #BUFTruck on Twitter.


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2. The Boston Bruins traveled to the White House yesterday as part of a traditional ceremony where the President congratulates the winner of last season’s Stanley Cup. All the Bruins attended, except for one. Goaltender Tim Thomas is a Glenn Beck “conservative” and decided to skip the ceremony, issuing the following statement (verbatim, all SIC):

I believe the Federal government has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberties, and Property of the People.

This is being done at the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial level. This is in direct opposition to the Constitution and the Founding Fathers vision for the Federal government.

Because I believe this, today I exercised my right as a Free Citizen, and did not visit the White House. This was not about politics or party, as in my opinion both parties are responsible for the situation we are in as a country. This was about a choice I had to make as an INDIVIDUAL.

This is the only public statement I will be making on this topic. TT

Setting aside for a moment the statement’s inherent inconsistency, no one is disputing Thomas’ right as a “Free Citizen” to opt to skip the White House event. But what, precisely, did it accomplish? I’m not aware of a similar snub taking place during George W. Bush’s administration, and if it had I’d have been critical of that, as well. Because the White House event wasn’t a political one. It wasn’t a Bruin endorsement of Barack Obama and his policies.

You don’t have to agree with the President to attend a ceremony honoring you, and I think it’s somewhat indicative of a complete breakdown of fundamental civility in our society. Regardless of your thoughts on the current occupant of the White House, the office and what it stands for deserve a certain degree of honor and respect. If the President wants to congratulate you for an achievement, I think it’s better form to go, rather than to stay home and make a political point about why.  Although the Presidency is a governmental post, it needn’t always be a political one, and this wasn’t a political event.

Again – not because Thomas isn’t free to do whatever he damn well wants to do. But I think it was a childish and self-centered move that reflects poorly on him, and is deserving of criticism.


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On to Florida

Newt Gingrich is the anti-establishment candidate; the outsider. It doesn’t get more surreal than that.

Mitt Romney will deign – at long last – to release his tax returns, but only for 2010 and 2011. The LGBT community is fascinated to see whether he helped the effort to abolish same sex marriage in California. The rest of us are curious whether he pays something remotely considered “fair” in federal income taxes.

Barack Obama must be tickled over the Republicans’ infighting and the Gingrich surge.

But after Saturday’s South Carolina primary – the place that helped clinch the nomination for George W. Bush in 2000 over a still-moderate, sane John McCain – it’s become quite an interesting primary race.

And one thing is for sure – no one would be paying this much attention to Mitt Romney’s income and his tax bracket were it not for the Occupy movement that has highlighted just how rigged our entire economic and political system has become in favor of the very wealthiest Americans, and how the middle class has been left behind since Reaganomics became our version of a national religion.

Food Truck Law: It's a Go on the 24th

On Wednesday, the Buffalo Common Council took up the issue of the proposed food truck legislation (after a lengthy and heated Acropolis expansion hearing). As I reported on Wednesday, the WNY Food Truck Association has reluctantly agreed to support the bill as written, and request no changes. Although they were displeased with the radius requirement, the hefty licensure fee, and some other issues, they were willing to give it a shot for a year as written, and come back when the law sunsets to discuss ways in which it might be improved going forward.

A source close to the food truck group was present at the hearing, and learned early on that both Golombek – the bill’s sponsor – and Council President Fontana would be moving it towards a vote next Tuesday the 24th. More importantly, Fontana indicated that he would not be requesting the “one truck per block face” rule.

When Mitch Stenger, the lawyer for the food truck association, addressed the council and repeated the group’s concerns with the legislation, but that they would rather see it passed than further delayed.  After the Acropolis debate ended, Councilmember Golombek made some perfunctory remarks, and then Councilmember Mickey Kearns rose to speak.  Kearns spoke out against the high license fee, and stated that the city should be helping – not punishing – these start-up entrepreneurs.  Kearns then proposed that the bill be amended to lower the license fee to $300 per year, and then surprisingly asked that the “one truck per block face” rule be added, as well as an expansion of the 100′ radius to 175′.

Any such amendment was unacceptable to the food trucks, most importantly because any such change would further delay passage of the law by a minimum of two weeks.

Then Councilmember Rivera rose to speak favorably on behalf of the food trucks, but then proposed that the license fee be lowered to $500, and seconded Kearns’ “one truck per block face” amendment. My sources indicate that neither Kearns nor Rivera had discussed any of these changes with anyone else on the council.

At this point, Stenger rejected both Kearns’ and Rivera’s amendments, demanding that the bill be submitted to the full council as currently written.  The session was quickly adjourned after that.

Afterwards, representatives for the food trucks were assured privately by numerous councilmembers that there were enough votes to pass the bill on the 24th. The vote will take place during the session that begins at 2pm. There will not be any public comment period, but food truck supporters are encouraged to attend in a show of support. 


Food Truck Law: It’s a Go on the 24th

On Wednesday, the Buffalo Common Council took up the issue of the proposed food truck legislation (after a lengthy and heated Acropolis expansion hearing). As I reported on Wednesday, the WNY Food Truck Association has reluctantly agreed to support the bill as written, and request no changes. Although they were displeased with the radius requirement, the hefty licensure fee, and some other issues, they were willing to give it a shot for a year as written, and come back when the law sunsets to discuss ways in which it might be improved going forward.

A source close to the food truck group was present at the hearing, and learned early on that both Golombek – the bill’s sponsor – and Council President Fontana would be moving it towards a vote next Tuesday the 24th. More importantly, Fontana indicated that he would not be requesting the “one truck per block face” rule.

When Mitch Stenger, the lawyer for the food truck association, addressed the council and repeated the group’s concerns with the legislation, but that they would rather see it passed than further delayed.  After the Acropolis debate ended, Councilmember Golombek made some perfunctory remarks, and then Councilmember Mickey Kearns rose to speak.  Kearns spoke out against the high license fee, and stated that the city should be helping – not punishing – these start-up entrepreneurs.  Kearns then proposed that the bill be amended to lower the license fee to $300 per year, and then surprisingly asked that the “one truck per block face” rule be added, as well as an expansion of the 100′ radius to 175′.

Any such amendment was unacceptable to the food trucks, most importantly because any such change would further delay passage of the law by a minimum of two weeks.

Then Councilmember Rivera rose to speak favorably on behalf of the food trucks, but then proposed that the license fee be lowered to $500, and seconded Kearns’ “one truck per block face” amendment. My sources indicate that neither Kearns nor Rivera had discussed any of these changes with anyone else on the council.

At this point, Stenger rejected both Kearns’ and Rivera’s amendments, demanding that the bill be submitted to the full council as currently written.  The session was quickly adjourned after that.

Afterwards, representatives for the food trucks were assured privately by numerous councilmembers that there were enough votes to pass the bill on the 24th. The vote will take place during the session that begins at 2pm. There will not be any public comment period, but food truck supporters are encouraged to attend in a show of support. 


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Acropolis Under Siege

Yesterday, the Elmwood Village Association stabbed one of its own in the back.

The Elmwood Village Association is in favor of the proposal to expand the second floor of 708 Elmwood Avenue for restaurant purposes only. The Association does not favor the establishment of a bar on the second floor of the building. Additionally, the Elmwood Village Association is in favor of allowing a music license for the establishment on the following conditions: music must be kept at a sound level consistent with dining and quiet conversation and must be terminated at a reasonable hour; music is not allowed on any patio; and live music and DJs are not permitted to perform on the premises. Elmwood Village Association is in favor of a second floor patio at this location with the understanding that music will not be permitted and that the patio will close at a reasonable hour.

Didn’t the EVA insist on Bank of America building a faux second floor above it when it bought Pier One? Are we to understand that a faux 2nd floor for appearance’s sake is good, but an actual 2nd floor being used by a business in a poor city with a perpetually struggling economy is a horror? The Dining Roomer attended last night’s community meeting regarding the Acropolis expansion, and noted that it went less than smoothly.

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Seriously – who lives in a city to get peace and quiet? It’s the most outrageous argument I’ve ever heard, and it would be comical if it wasn’t adversely affecting a miniscule Greek restaurant that has been a good neighbor, and a good community citizen for many years.

UPDATE: Read what Newell Nussbaumer writes about the matter at Buffalo Rising today. I think he’s exactly correct.

Brian Kahle Responds to Terry Valenti

On today’s Shredd and Ragan show, Terry Valenti tried to explain away his boasts of having defeated Bobby Flay on Iron Chef, and accused the “marketing company” he hired for Googling him and using false information he had given to people in the past for manufacturing the claim.

So I contacted Brian Kahle, the well-respected local PR pro whom Valenti retained prior to opening the restaurant. It was Kahle’s press release that made its way to Janice Okun, and into her original review. It was Kahle and Lori Brocuglio who acted as Okun’s two sources for the Iron Chef claims, and when Okun called Kahle to verify the Iron Chef claim after their falsity was uncovered, he was perfectly correct in telling her that it’s what Terry and Lori told him.

But as far as journalism in WNY is concerned, take a look at Kahle’s release, and see how closely Okun’s words follow its template:

Co-owner (with his wife, Lori) and Chef Terry Valenti is a Western New York boy recently returned home from Texas and Florida — he cooked at Mama Leone’s in Manhattan and in resorts in Daytona. In 2003 he took on uber-chef Bobby Flay on the popular “Iron Chef” program. Knocked the socks off him, too.

It was the parsnips that did it,” says Lori. For the show, Terry produced Chilean Sea Bass stuffed with that vegetable (and artichoke hearts for good measure). He even dreamed up a Mango Parsnip Ice Cream that went over very well.

Everything that’s bolded in the two quoted paragraphs is a lie. So, how did it make its way into the paper?

Kahle explained that he doesn’t issue a press release and media kit until after (a) the clients help to write it; and (b) the clients approve it. In this case, every claim Kahle wrote on Valenti’s behalf was told to him by either Terry or Lori.

Although Valenti accuses Kahle of having Googled him, and including materials he found from prior lies he told Florida employers, Kahle vehemently denies doing any such thing. Indeed, Kahle is incensed at the suggestion that it was he, and not Terry or Lori, who fabricated or blew Valenti’s owns claims out of proportion. He was gratified that Valenti didn’t use Kahle’s name during his radio interview.

In other Valenti news, I learned that the Department of Labor did show up at the restaurant yesterday, but there was no fine leveled or violation drawn up.

What follows below is a PDF of the original press release that Kahle sent to media outlets throughout western New York on Valenti’s behalf.

Valenti’s Restaurant Media Kit Releasehttp://www.scribd.com/embeds/78786926/content?start_page=1&view_mode=list&access_key=key-2kbrv5pkisrgrnoe2y3i//

Fact-Checking McCarthy's Story About Grisanti's Money

Courtesy Tom Dolina at Tommunisms.com

Bob McCarthy reports in Thursday’s Buffalo News that State Senator Mark Grisanti (SD-60) reported receiving “nearly $247,000” and that, of the 85 reported donors, only one was from western New York.

The insinuation here is that Grisanti’s local support is slipping, and that he’s dependent on money from outside the region to mount next year’s re-election bid.  It’s an insinuation that is false, and McCarthy is deliberately ignoring or confused by the fact that Grisanti has chosen voluntarily to follow an unnecessarily stringent financial disclosure pattern for a State Senator in a non-election year.

1. All of the checks from outside the area arose from a fundraiser that New York Mayor Bloomberg held in October for Republican Senators who voted in favor of the same sex marriage bill last summer. At that fundraiser, most donors pledged money, and the pledges were fulfilled in early December, and reported in January.

2. When Grisanti files, he itemizes every single donation – even if it’s under the $100 threshold – in order to maximize transparency.  He files to make sure everything is out there, because he has nothing to hide.

3. Grisanti held several local fundraisers during previous reporting periods, but none during the time covered by the January periodic, which would have started in mid-December.

4. If you look at Grisanti’s disclosure (and compare it to that of Maziarz, Kennedy, and Ranzenhofer), he filed pursuant to the tighter election year schedule despite the fact that 2011 was not an election year for him.  In his unnecessary 32 day pre-primary filing, most of his individual donations came from within WNY.  All of the individual donations in the 11 day pre-primary disclosure were from WNY.  In the 32 day pre-general filing, only one individual donation came from outside WNY.

5. Had Grisanti, like his colleagues, opted not to follow that tighter election-year cycle during the last half of 2011, all of those pre-primary and pre- and post-general election disclosures would have been contained in the January filing that McCarthy wrote about.

6. The shorter version is, Grisanti’s January disclosure only covers December 2011. The other Senators’ disclosures covers July – December 2011.

So, McCarthy’s insinuation about Grisanti’s support coming almost exclusively from outside the area, and that this is somehow out of the ordinary for a State Senator, is not a fair representation of the facts in this particular instance.

 

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