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NFTA tabs Masiello firm to lobby in Albany

After a board meeting yesterday, the NFTA has an Albany lobbyist and a restaurant that will run all winter on the waterfront.

The board voted to hire the lobbying firm headed by former Mayor Anthony Masiello for $72,000 a year.

Chairman Howard Zemsky says the authority hasn't been doing well in getting money from Albany in hard times and is joining other transit authorities in hiring a lobbyist to be up-to-date on what's going on and to push for more cash.

"It's also keeping track of legislation and helping us to strategize. We are actively engaged with the state on many levels, but most of the transit authority's have lobbyists. Unfortunately, if you compare our funding on a per passenger basis, we're lagging and I think we have to have all hands on deck to try to turn that around," Zemsky told WBFO and AM 970 News.

Masiello issued a written statement saying his firm, Masiello, Martucci, Calabrese and Associates, would make sure the authority has the necessary resources to help the region grow.

Zemsky says there was no discussion of any political plans by Masiello, who is reportedly interested in becoming chairman of the Erie County Democratic Committee.

Board members also approved a deal to keep Dug's Dive at the Small Board Harbor open this winter after several years of wrangling.

Owner Tucker Curtin says there are business opportunities in being open in the winter.
"We certainly want to promote winter-time recreation and we want to see people out there ice fishing and we're hoping that families might be encouraged to come out there and do a little ice fishing and maybe come in for a hot chocolate or a bowl of chili," Curtin told WBFO and AM970 News.

"There's also other things that can happen down there with cross-country skiing and all kinds of fun stuff that we might be able to tie in with Tifft Farm and some of the activities that they have going down there."

Curtin says he has already installed a wood-burning fireplace and energy-efficient windows for winter use of the building.

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.