Peaceable Assembly

Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him.

– Martin Luther King, Jr.

http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984

Photographs by Flickr user Sunny Hasija, used with permission. 

Best and Brightest

Why so quiet?

That was fast. 

Just about a week ago, Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw hired a person named Jeff Bochiechio to be his new chief-of-staff. Mychajliw had famously pledged to hire only the “best and brightest” and specifically campaigned on a pledge to not just end, but root out, the “friends and family plan” of county hiring commonly referred to as patronage. 

Jeff Bochiechio may have been the best and brightest person to apply or submit a resume for the position of chief of staff – I don’t know. Frankly, I don’t think that it’s a bad thing for an elected official to surround himself with close friends and associates in some positions, because these are the people you know and trust to do a good job for you. Patronage isn’t always horrible. But compare: 

 So, Mr. Mychajliw has held himself to a higher standard, given his campaign pledges about eliminating patronage completely, which is why his former WGRZ colleagues so sharply questioned him on January 10th about this Bochiechio hire

According to Bochiechio’s resume and LinkedIn page, he began his career working for former Republican congressman Tom Reynolds, he was former County Executive Chris Collins chief fundraiser for three years, he says he ran Jane Corwin’s 2008 campaign for state assembly, and had a patronage position in Buffalo with Republicans in the state senate.

In defending his hiring of Boccheicio, Mychajliw points to the fact he’s a lawyer.

Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw: “My predecessors have hired a public relations person for that position of chief of staff where I have hired a public sector attorney with municipal experience and extensive experience e and state and local finance law and tax law and IDA law.” 

Scott Brown: “You say extensive experience, he worked for less than a year at a local law firm, he’s fresh out of law school where is his extensive experience?” 

Stefan Mychajliw: “In the same respect that Mark Poloncarz was a private sector attorney and served in the office of Erie County comptroller.”

Heh. Nice one, right? Except Mark Poloncarz was sworn in as a lawyer in 1998, and became Comptroller in 2006. That’s 8 years’ worth of experience doing corporate finance law at a big downtown firm; the comptroller should know that 8 is more than 1. Also – public sector attorney? Bochiechio’s LinkedIn page reveals only a brief stint with a private downtown firm. There is no evidence whatsoever of him having been a “public sector attorney”. 

But perhaps Bochiechio had special qualifications? For instance, he was a full-time law student at UB between 2008 – 2011, yet served as the New York State Senate’s “WNY Regional Director – Majority Operations” during his third year of law school.  According to SeeThroughNY, Bochiechio “earned” $49,154 in 2010, and a further $34,112 in 2011. That’s over $83,000 in taxpayer money for what is – if you’re also simultaneously attending law school – essentially a no-show job. 

Today, Bochiechio resigned abruptly as Channel 4 reported that he had pled guilty to DWI in Machias. He was arrested in October for blowing a .13 BAL – almost twice the legal limit. It’s unlikely that he’ll serve time in jail, but he will likely pay a fine, be on some sort of probation, have his license revoked for 6 months, and be required to have an ignition interlock device installed in his car. What kind of vetting took place to hire this young kid, about whom no one would be paying any attention if he was just working in the private sector? 

Scott Brown: “Most of his (Bochiechio’s) background in politics is as a fundraiser, will you used him to raise money for your campaign?” 

Stefan Mychajliw: “Certainly an option, I want to hired the best and brightest for this office and I also want to make sure that I have the best and brightest and most competent people when it comes to running for re-election this year.” 

Bochiechio’s position has a starting salary of $62,000 a year. 

This guy was hired because he’s got political experience running campaigns for Republicans, and because he’s well-connected. There’s nothing ostensibly wrong with that – indeed, it’d have been a smart hire, if he didn’t have the DWI. But when you make a big deal about rooting out patronage, you’re going to come under especial scrutiny about hiring friends, family, and the well-connected. This wasn’t just a hire violative of Mychajliw’s campaign pledge – it was poorly vetted, even for a patronage hack. 

The Second Amendment and Tyranny

Tyranny is defined generally as oppressive, absolute power vested in a single ruler. The United States cannot, by definition, be tyrannical because it is a representative democracy where you have the right to overthrow any person or party every two, four, or six years – depending on the office. Your recourse is political action and being enfranchised to vote, organize, and petition. 

When the 2nd Amendment was drafted, the United States did not have a standing army – because of our experience with our British oppressors, America was decidedly hostile to the idea of a standing army.  As a result, our new nation depended on amateur on-call militias; Switzerland still uses this model wherein only 5% of its military is made up of professionals, while the militia and reserves are made up of able-bodied men aged 19 up to their 30s and 40s.  Because these people are members of a reserve militia, they keep and own their own military equipment. A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. 

But we long ago reconfigured our domestic military structure to switch from state-based reserve militias into a professional national military. To the extent the old state militias exist, they’re made up of the various National Guards. We don’t call upon average citizens to keep arms to fight off the Indians or the British; we have the Pentagon. 

If you look at the two recent Supreme Court cases which held that the “well-regulated militia” language, which was so carefully inserted into the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution, doesn’t really mean anything. Astonishing, that, but little can be done about it. In DC v. Heller , the Court affirmed an individual right to possess a firearm without respect to whether the bearer is a militia member, and that these arms can only be possessed for lawful purposes, such as self-defense. 

Heller also confirmed that your 2nd Amendment rights are not absolute or unlimited. Concealed weapons can be banned by states, you can limit their possession by felons and the mentally ill, and you can ban carrying a weapon in certain areas and regulate the sale of weapons. Particularly dangerous and unusual weapons can also be regulated or banned.  Although Heller applied only to federal districts, a subsequent case – McDonald v. Chicago – held that the 14th Amendment ensures that the 2nd Amendment and its jurisprudence also apply to state action. 

Because handguns aren’t unusual, and the petitioner in Heller intended to keep a handgun in his home for personal protection, his use was lawful and DC was ordered to issue him a permit, and could not require him to keep the gun essentially unusable while being kept. 

Nothing that happened yesterday in Albany is violative of the 2nd Amendment. The 2nd Amendment is silent on the number of rounds a clip can hold, and bans on certain types of weapons have been consistently upheld. If you have to re-register to drive a car every few years, you can re-register to own a gun. How do we monitor felonies or mental illness with lifetime permitting? 

But I want to pivot back to something – tyranny. How many people have you heard in the past month since the Sandy Hook massacre explain that assault weapons and other militaria must be legal because we have some sort of right to fight tyranny. How many people have suggested to you, with an astonishing ignorance of history of propriety, that, e.g., German Jews could have halted the Holocaust if only they had been armed. 

Make no mistake, notwithstanding Jefferson’s tree of liberty, there is no law, statute, or Constitutional provision that exists in this country to allow someone to fight domestic “tyranny”. What these people are saying is that they detest the government – especially Obama’s government, because he is Kenyan or an usurper or a Nazi or a communist or a “king” or maybe just because he’s brown-skinned. At which point do we determine as a society when we have made the flip to “tyranny”? Who is the arbiter of “tyranny”? At which point do we determine that all of our anti-treason statutes and the constitutional provision found in Article III, section 3 of the Constitution can be set aside because of “tyranny”? 

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.

The Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason, but no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture except during the life of the person attainted.

You have no right to possess militaria to fend off “tyranny”. If you think you do, show me the statute or law that says so. Show me the statute or law that repeals our anti-treason legislation. It doesn’t exist. 

If New York wants to ban assault weapons or clips holding more than 10 bullets, it can. If you don’t like it, get your tea party buddies together and elect a legislature in Albany that will repeal it.  But there’s not a thing in the world that suggests that you can, if you don’t like it, take up arms against Albany or Washington. That would be a crime. If you try it and you’re armed, law enforcement won’t like that. Not at all. 

 

PoliticsNY.net: Open

Congratulations to Michael Caputo and Pete Herr for today’s inauguration of the new, libel-free PoliticsNY.net. Check out this first post, wherein Caputo explains why he bought the URL and then decided to resurrect the site

Fuck Your Gun

Let’s limit gun ownership to what Heston is holding here.

Yesterday, in something of a whirlwind session of the oft-feckless New York State legislature, Senate Majority leader Dean Skelos, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, and Governor Andrew Cuomo agreed to the key provisions of what is called the “NY SAFE” act, or “Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement” Act. It passed the state senate late Monday, and will be taken up by the Assembly today. 

The law will do the following: 

– limit gun magazines to hold a maximum of 7 bullets; 

– universal background checks for every single gun transfer, including private ones that are person-to-person; and 

– a “Webster provision” mandating life without parole for anyone who murders a first responder. 

Here’s what at least one 2nd Amendment purist had to say about it on Twitter: 

 

The second amendment. The one that helps enshrine perpetual violence and revolution. Its purpose – clearly stated – was to make sure that our new country, which at the time had no standing army, could protect itself from attacks by Britons, Frenchmen, Spaniards, and whatever Indian tribe or nation from which we were trying wrest control of land.  

You want a gun for hunting? Target practice? Skeet? To ward off robbers or burglars? That’s fine. You don’t, however, get to keep a military arsenal. 

Those on the deepest fringes of the right wing – the people who think lunatic Alex Jones is an influential and sane voice about guns – love to bring up the notion that the 2nd Amendment exists to protect you from “tyranny”. No one gets too worked up trying to define what “tyranny” is, or who gets to decide when “tyranny” becomes a clear and present danger. This crowd loves to cite the Declaration of Independence – a document that was a declaration of war against a monarch who brutally exploited his American colonies. The Declaration, however, ceased to have any legal effect the moment that Britain lost the war and recognized American Independence. 

So, no, proud patriot, you don’t have a right to take up arms against the government. Indeed, Article III, section 3 of the U.S. Constitution makes that sort of thing a very serious crime.  

One more gun control effort, one more gun fetishist makes some broken, semi-informed analogy about how if the Jews were armed in the 30s, they could have somehow halted their own genocide in the face of a German war machine. One more gun debate, one more person suggesting that our representative democracy – flawed though it might be – is or could oh-so-easily-be the equivalent of Pol Pot’s Cambodia. One more effort to limit the firepower we so casually make available to lunatics, one more person expressing their idiot fever-dream of single-handedly taking on the FBI or One World Government or ZOG, notwithstanding the fact that the government could – if it wanted to – easily take out your entire neighborhood with an unmanned drone operated by a teenager nursing a Monster Energy Drink in a dank, smelly basement in Northern Virginia. 

One more gun fetishist, one more clumsy analogy made to some other object with a large capacity or capability of doing harm that we are allowed to own, but the primary purpose for which is not “putting holes in things at breakneck speed”. Gas tanks, fast cars, pencils.  

And what of tyranny? We’ve had plenty of tyranny in this country, but when the Black Panthers agitated for blacks to arm themselves during the civil rights struggles of the 60s, the NRA was happy to support the Mulford Act, which limited the Panthers’ ability to carry arms and inform black citizens of their Constitutional rights. The NRA supports your right to bear arms, so long as you’re of European descent and not too uppity. 

Some have taken to social media to criticize the limit on magazines. I don’t understand why it’s ok for someone to have a semiautomatic pistol that can fire 7 bullets in 7 seconds and extinguish 7 lives in that period of time, but I suppose it’s exponentially better than the 33-round clip that Gabby Giffords’ would-be assassin had in his possession. He was subdued only as he tried to reload; by that time, six people had been killed

I get that violence is an integral part of American society and history. But I also recognize that you don’t get to own an F-15 or a nuclear missile just because it makes you feel safe or helps you ward off “tyranny”. 

I know that the rhetoric on this issue is going to get much worse before it gets any better. After all, we have a Kenyan communist President, against whom any facile lie is routinely thrown. I also think that insane lunatics shouldn’t have access to military weapons and equipment; shouldn’t be able to waltz around your town with enough firepower to put 11 holes in a first grader. Shouldn’t be able to get so many rounds off in so little time that the first grader’s jaw and hand are disappeared. 

If you like guns, good for you. If you’re a Glenn Beck / Alex Jones type, I sincerely hope that you get Galt’s Gulch going – that you divest yourself completely from American society and go off and start your post-hippie, penis envy-laden republic of gunnutistan – a place that is not on American soil and is free from American law and jurisdiction, so you can carry out your secessionist fever dreams away from us normal people. 

Because our easy access to guns and our gun culture make our society a particularly violent one; not video games or TV shows – those are safe avenues of expressing the reality of warfare. We love war and conflict. We can’t get enough of it. Somehow, other societies are able to function without it. 

New York is going to limit your ability to transfer your guns to the angry and insane, and it’s going to make you have to reload more frequently while you’re shooting up your neighborhood or a schoolroom. This isn’t the end of the 2nd Amendment – it’s a first step to protecting those of us who don’t run around living in perpetual fear, armed to the teeth. 

Failed City Opposes Bridge to Canada

Remember how Matty Moroun wanted to build a truck-only bridge to Fort Erie up by the rail crossing? Anyone else notice that anti-Peace Bridge expansion is right there on the front page of his Buffalo bridge website? I did. Has Mr. Moroun’s organization been seeding groups in town with money? Good question. Any way to find out? Please; this is Buffalo, not Detroit.  

I wonder why Canadians think it’s important to maintain better road links with the United States? I know there are a lot of very vocal Buffalonians who agree with the people in this video who think easier travel to Canada is unimportant, and rather than expand the Peace Bridge, argue strenuously for its removal.  Here’s your ghost of bridges future: 

Long Live Cuomoism and our People’s Socialist Government!

Here is what the New York commentariat considers to be a “hard left turn” for Governor Cuomo

Equal pay for equal work for females. Clearly, the notion that female labor be subject to the same remuneration as male labor is a wild socialist plot that will soon see the Bolsheviks come for your land and goats. 

Tax breaks for startups and money for high-tech clusters. Entreprenueriat of the world, unite! 

Confiscation of guns possessed by the mentally infirm. Stalin. Hitler*

Three upstate casinos. Under a proper socialist regime, those casinos would only be able to be patronized by foreigners in order for the regime to earn some needed hard currency. At last check, New Yorkers will not only be permitted, but encouraged, to hit the tables and slots. 

Expanding school years or days. Socialist indoctrination takes time. 

$1.50 hike in minimum wage to $8.75. Else the red banner be raised and the Spartacists take to the streets of Albany. 

Pairing community colleges with employers. Smash the kolkhozniki

“Civilian Emergency Response Corps” to help with natural disasters. AKA “Komsomol“. 

A “bar exam” for teachers to pass before certification. Comrade teacher, you will educate the vanguard of the entreprenueriat. 

Longer prison sentences for gun crimes. The upstate gulag archipelago demands warm bodies. 

Reforming & liberalizing marijuana possession laws. Pot is the opiate of the masses. 

I, for one, welcome our new communard overlords. 

 

 

*I add Hitler to be extra-facetious.  Despite what ignoramuses may tell you, Hitler was by no means a “socialist” despite the presence of that word within “National Socialism”. Naziism is about as far removed from Marxism-Leninism and Stalinism as a political ideology can be. 

Donald Trump Releases Forged “Birth Certificate”

Several months ago, billionaire lunatic and horrible person Donald J. Trump tried to influence the presidential election by hyping a “big announcement” only to have no announcement at all – except that he’d give $5 million to a charity if the President released his grades from schools he attended. 

During an appearance on the allegedly comedic “Tonight Show with Jay Leno”, comedian Bill Maher jokingly challenged Trump to release his birth certificate to prove he wasn’t the “spawn of his mother having sex with an orangutan.” Trump, naturally, took this semi-seriously; I fully expect there to be litigation over this, and Trump will lose. 

According to Yahoo.com, this is what Trump’s people sent to Maher: 

January 8, 2013

Mr. Bill Maher

Real Time with Bill Maher
CBS Studios
7800 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Dear Mr. Maher:

I represent Mr. Donald J. Trump.  I write on his behalf to accept your offer (made during the Jay Leno Show on January 7, 2013) that Mr. Trump prove he is not the “spawn of his mother having sex with an orangutan.”

Attached hereto is a copy of Mr. Trump’s birth certificate, demonstrating that he is the son of Fred Trump, not an orangutan. Please remit the $5 million to Mr. Trump immediately and he will ensure that the money be donated to the following five charities in equal amounts: Hurricane Sandy Victims, The Police Athletic League, The American Cancer Society, The March of Dimes, and The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Regards,

Scott S. Balber

Astonishingly, however, this is the “birth certificate” that Trump’s lawyer attached: 

 

Clearly, this is a cheap forgery. First of all, it is not a birth certificate, but a certification of birth. There were no dot-matrix printers available to New York City bureaucrats in 1946, much less bar codes. This is a clear forgery and/or an obvious attempt to manufacture something that does not exist. Where is the long-form birth certificate?

Furthermore, this clear forgery merely purports to establish that the father’s name is “Fred”. Nowhere on that document is it noted whether “Fred” is homo sapiens or pongo pygmaeus.  

As an American and a patriot, I demand that Donald Trump release a long-form birth certificate, proving that “Fred Trump” was not an orangutan living in New York City in 1946.  Until that moment, this is irrefutable proof that Trump is not a natural-born toxic billionaire, but clearly a orangutan-man with wispy orange hair and a nasty disposition. 

Trader Joe’s in a Wegmans World

Trader Joe’s is coming to that huge shopping center in Amherst on Niagara Falls Boulevard where everything new to WNY always goes. Best Buy, Christmas Tree Shops, Carrabba’s, Panera Bread, and Chipotle all help to make that place impossible to navigate.  It will be located near Barnes & Noble and Famous Footwear. 

Trader Joe’s started in California as a convenience store competitor to 7-11. To differentiate its stores from the national chain’s, it adopted a South Seas motif and started selling specialty items. 

Two brothers, Theo and Karl Albrecht, created the discount supermarket chain “Aldi” in West Germany after WW2, and were instrumental in its European – and later worldwide – expansion.  Theo and Karl had a disagreement in the 1960s over selling cigarettes, so they split Aldi geographically in Germany, with Theo running Aldi Nord.  In 1979, a family trust of which Theo was a member bought – and still owns – Trader Joe’s.  And if you think about it, Trader Joe’s is Aldi with better frozen foods, higher quality groceries, and a cute concept.

I saw lots of commentary yesterday about how we don’t need Trader Joe’s because we’re so blessed to have Wegmans, the best grocery store in the universe. Not taking away from Wegmans at all, but Trader Joe’s is different, just like Aldi is different. I don’t see Aldi struggling to make do in a Wegmans-heavy market; neither will TJ’s. 

Although Trader Joe’s won’t be able to sell wine in its New York stores, thanks to our idiotic, protectionist liquor laws, it sells a nice variety of craft beers, has a great coffee section, one of the best frozen sections you’ll ever see, fantastic chocolates, and plenty of healthy and organic items that are different or cheaper than what you’re used to.  It’s fun to browse around and check out the many good-quality, cheap private-label items they carry. 

I used to go to TJ’s all the time when I lived in Massachusetts and recently stopped in to the new location outside Rochester, which is coincidentally located in the shopping center immediately adjacent to the Wegmans mothership in Henrietta. I didn’t leave empty-handed. 

Welcome Trader Joe’s. We like good food and we like bargains. It would seem to me that you’re a perfect fit for WNY. My only question is – what took so long? 

This Place Mattered

With news of a new Bills head coach and an end to the NHL lockout yesterday, anything I write here will just get lost in the clutter. 

So instead, this; on Friday, demolition commenced on a 100 year-old church on Colvin near Tacoma in North Buffalo

The site is completely surrounded by residential properties. Local preservationists are in full building-mourning over it. 

Another church is being demolished in the Queen City. This one was special, it graced a strong neighborhood with stable property values. It lived in an area that could have supported a creative reuse project.

No longer does this neighborhood have this historic gem to provide quality community space, jobs and cultural events. What is sad is, this one isn’t caving in like others still standing across the city. This one is stable, it is strong and reusable. Yet, it gets demolished because the owner neglected it’s property and the City gave in. Surprise!The owner was given a golden demolition ticket from the City of Buffalo, despite the fact that it qualifies to be a local landmark.

The problem with this is that the building wasn’t a “historic gem” anymore. It was vacant – had been vacant since 2006 when a Korean methodist congregation last used what had once been a Baptist church. That’s six (6) years during which the building didn’t act as an historic gem, but as a public nuisance – attracting kids hanging out and, in April, an arsonist. That’s six, going on seven, years during which nothing happened with this building. Right? Well, not so fast. 

RaChaCha at Buffalo Rising repurposed a Preservation Buffalo Niagara press release that was issued with respect to this building

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 5, 2013

In April of 2012, the former North Park Baptist Church on Colvin Avenue was damaged by a three-alarm arson fire. No one was harmed during the incident, thankfully, since the North Buffalo church had been vacant for a number of years after the owner, the Korean United Methodist Church, vacated the property for unknown reasons. Late last November, the owner applied for a demolition permit from the City of Buffalo citing, in large part, the damage caused by that fire.

Earlier this week, the City of Buffalo Preservation Board announced their intention to nominate the former church for local landmark designation, given the property’s high architecturally design, rich history, and physical presence in the neighborhood. The demolition of the former North Park Baptist Church began yesterday (Friday) afternoon at 3pm. The now-familiar manner in which we neglect and sequentially dispose of our city has, unfortunately, begun to define the City of Good Neighbors as much as our actual architecture does.

As we begin to debate the true culprit of yet another Friday-afternoon demolition, whether it is an irresponsible property owner, an utter lack of vision from elected officials, or a general absence of appreciation of our unique architectural gems like this former Italian Renaissance Revival church — or a combination of all of the above — we can’t help but share a critical piece of dialogue that is missing from this familiar conversation. This piece is the incompatibility of the otherwise overwhelmingly successful Historic Tax Credit program, and the economic and design realities related to rehabilitating and repurposing a vacant religious space.

The decline of the neighborhood church building type during the last 40-plus years is very similar to that of the decline of the industrial and commercial buildings in the downtown cores of our cities — as well as the decline of our cities’ neighborhoods themselves. This trend was caused in large part by the movement patterns of our country’s population from established, urban neighborhoods to newly formed communities in the suburbs surrounding our cities. Unfortunately, the recent sequential story of the gradual renaissance of our cities rarely includes the successful repurposing of neighborhood religious spaces. With the aid of the Historic Tax Credit program, once-idle manufacturing buildings are being converted into trendy downtown living lofts, and homeowners in at-risk neighborhoods are provided incentives for renovation work on their historic homes. But almost all vacant churches and other religious spaces are left vacant — many neglected to the point of demolition.

The primary reason why more religious spaces aren’t repurposed as part of the Historic Tax Credit program is that the majority of the prospective buyers’ rehabilitation plans are currently incompatible with the design standards which govern the incentive program. These Standards (known as the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards) mandate that the congregation space or sanctuary, typically a large, rectangular basilica space, which is often two-stories or more in height, cannot be easily subdivided into smaller spaces. The Standards applied in these cases expect those congregation spaces to be reused in a way that respects and reflects the original historic use. This presents an obvious problem for potential developers and owners of these properties, because, typically, every available square foot needs to be leveraged in order for the project to be financially feasible.

The former North Park Baptist Church is an example of such a failed attempt to use Historic Tax Credits in a proposed rehabilitation project. In 2010, while working at Preservation Studios (a local historic preservation consulting firm), we [Tom Yots and Jason Wilson] participated in a walkthrough of this property with local architect and developer Karl Frizlen of the Frizlen Group. We ultimately partnered with The Frizlen Group in proposing a design that would have placed residential units into the congregation space. The proposed design called for keeping the original interior wall surfaces and stained glass windows, and inserted an independent structure within the open space of the sanctuary (see renderings below). 

The New York State Historic Preservation Office was supportive, and presented the project for informal review to the National Park Service who oversees the historic tax credit program. But the National Park Service eventually rejected the design, primarily because the openness of the congregation space would be lost. With their proposed project being ruled ineligible for the Historic Tax Credit program, the Frizlen Group decided to not move forward with purchasing and repurposing the church. It was determined that Historic Tax Credits were essential in making the proposed project financially feasible.  
 
The former North Park Baptist Church is an example of such a failed attempt to use Historic Tax Credits in a proposed rehabilitation project. In 2010, while working at Preservation Studios (a local historic preservation consulting firm), we [Tom Yots and Jason Wilson] participated in a walkthrough of this property with local architect and developer Karl Frizlen of the Frizlen Group. We ultimately partnered with The Frizlen Group in proposing a design that would have placed residential units into the congregation space. The proposed design called for keeping the original interior wall surfaces and stained glass windows, and inserted an independent structure within the open space of the sanctuary (see renderings below). 
 
The New York State Historic Preservation Office was supportive, and presented the project for informal review to the National Park Service who oversees the historic tax credit program. But the National Park Service eventually rejected the design, primarily because the openness of the congregation space would be lost. With their proposed project being ruled ineligible for the Historic Tax Credit program, the Frizlen Group decided to not move forward with purchasing and repurposing the church. It was determined that Historic Tax Credits were essential in making the proposed project financially feasible.  
 
Like many religious buildings in our communities, the former North Park Baptist Church was located in a residential neighborhood, and anchored the blocks that surrounded it. The character of a neighborhood is often highlighted by the religious buildings that serve as these anchors. The “village” feel of the Elmwood Village comes not just from the small shops and supporting residential blocks, but also from churches like Lafayette Presbyterian on Elmwood at Lafayette, and the Unitarian-Universalist Church on Elmwood at West Ferry. These beautiful and imposing buildings are integral to the neighborhood they serve, and that integration goes well beyond their religious and social activities to include an important physical presence of architecture and landscape.

North Buffalo has lost an important neighborhood landmark today, and it is PBN’s intent to pursue every available avenue to making the rehabilitation of our communities’ vacant religious spaces more of a reality than it was today.

See, this would usually be the point at which I criticize the reactionary nature of Buffalo’s preservationist community, and how its distaste for quickly-approved, Friday afternoon demolition permits is matched only bit its 11th hour efforts to prevent the inevitable, usually with emotional pleas about how much a place matters. 
 
But we can’t do that here – with this property, there was a proactive effort by members of the PBN to promote this building for an adaptive reuse project, but the public money and incentives that make these sorts of projects economically possible in Buffalo can’t be used effectively with former churches. Of course, there are several former churches in town that have been turned into apartments or an art space, so the question I have is, if the project was so great, why didn’t Frizlen go ahead with it without applying for the tax credit program. 
 
Note this: when rattling off the list of “culprits” for this demolition, the PBN omitted a critical actor. 
As we begin to debate the true culprit of yet another Friday-afternoon demolition, whether it is an irresponsible property owner, an utter lack of vision from elected officials, or a general absence of appreciation of our unique architectural gems like this former Italian Renaissance Revival church — or a combination of all of the above…
or a reactive, too-late, preservationist community. But here, at least, Buffalo’s preservationists have identified a specific legislative problem and called for action on it. But calling for action ≠ action, nor does standing around with placards about love and how much a place matters. Good luck. 
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