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Partnership releases its business Advocacy Agenda in very different political environment

Mike Desmond

The Buffalo Niagara Partnership delivered its annual list of wants and needs Thursday to a very different political environment.

The Advocacy Agenda is an annual event, as the Partnership and local governments put together a joint agenda so when they go to Albany or Washington they are working off the same song sheet.

It is different this year, with the New York State Senate controlled by downstate Democrats, instead of Republicans, and political power in Washington shifting from Clarence Republican Rep. Chris Collins to Democrat Rep. Brian Higgins.

Partnership President and CEO Dottie Gallagher said she is hoping new Albany powers Sen. Tim Kennedy and Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes can help with the agenda.

"It's a huge challenge for us and so the question is how do we effectively manage that and the answer is we can't go alone," she said. "We have to form meaningful coalitions, which we have done and will continue to do, and use the influence of our local leaders that have influence in Albany, Crystal Peoples-Stokes and Tim Kennedy in particular. So we have a strategy and it will be very hard work."

The agenda opposes single-payer health care and the scaffold law. Niagara County Legislature Chairman Keith McNall said his county wants a harbor breakwater in Olcott Harbor, damaged by high water in Lake Ontario.

"It did have an effect on boating. Fishing is a big item," McNall said. "Over the time that lies ahead, we're going to repair that wall with the help of the Niagara region here and hopefully, someday, it will return to what it was and industry up there will go up."

Locally, Buffalo wants money for completing Cars on Main Street. Mayor Byron is happy about that

"We're doing Lower Main Street right now. Now there's a middle portion of Main Street. That's going to be an expensive stretch," Brown said. "So while we have spent over $50 million to open the rest of Main Street, we'll be over $80 million additionally."

Erie County wants help with an agricultural business park in Angola, extension of the Metro Rail north and south and major highway work in Niagara Falls connecting Hyde Park Boulevard with what is now called the Niagara Scenic Parkway. The agenda calls for a permanent property tax cap.

Nationally, the agenda calls for better free trade policies, including the new NAFTA, and incentives for infill development and complete neighborhoods in Buffalo.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.