Ups and Downs, Week of July 18
Sunlight, the best disinfectant: A case investigated and tried by the Southern District of New York came back with guilty verdicts for all four defendants on corruption charges, including Buffalo developer and power broker Louis Ciminelli. We don’t imagine this is the end of bid-rigging and the at-times incestual relationship between electeds and developers, but it’s a cautionary tale. And hopefully the case, opened by then US Attorney Preet Bharara, emboldens prosecutors statewide to target corruption.
Aspiring star-gazers in Western New York can once again look toward the heavens at the Buffalo Museum of Science. Visitors can enjoy the Kellogg Observatory, housed under a new aluminized-steel rotating dome, and look through the refurbished and modernized eight-inch Lundin telescope, for the first time since 1999. The rooftop space also boasts a new glass enclosure featuring stairs and an elevator, making the space accessible for people with physical disabilities for the first time ever. The opening of the observatory, commemorated with a ribbon cutting ceremony Friday, completes the museum’s ambitious $8 million “See It Through” capital campaign which has helped modernize every aspect of the 1929 space. Marisa Wigglesworth, president and CEO of the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences, said the $1.8 million return of the observatory fits in well with the rapid growth of the City of Buffalo. She’s excited for the observatory to play its part in Buffalo’s scientific and cultural renaissance. “Looking through a telescope with your own eye into deep space and a remarkable view of the planets in our solar system is a remarkable experience unlike any other,” Wigglesworth said. “This is a huge milestone in our organization’s history and it took years to get to this day. We received so much support from the community and we’re really thrilled to finally open it back up to the public.”
It’s rare for government investigation reports to bleed from damning to scathing, but the state Commission of Corrections Medical Review Board did exactly that in its conclusion on the 2016 death of inmate India Cummings: “The medical and mental health care provided to Cummings by Erie County during the course of incarceration, and her care, custody and safekeeping by Erie County sheriff deputies was so grossly incompetent and inadequate as to shock the conscience,” reads the report, according to the Buffalo News. The details of how county staff, from both the sheriff’s office and the county’s medical and mental health staff, failed to intervene as Cummings deteriorated physically and mentally over the 20 days between her arrest and her death are flat-out horrific.
In response to Trump’s stunning concession of the new Cold War to Russia, Congressman Chris Collins—our local hero, the first member of Congress to endorse candidate Trump in 2016—released a string of gibberish in support of his president. The statements include assertions that should be parsed individually: 1) The “left” wants to “nullify” Trump’s election with claims of “Russian interference.” That would be impossible and is being said or attempted by no one. 2) “Russian meddling did not make a difference in the election.” Whoa, buddy, you said just a sentence earlier that Russian interference was just a distracting claim, now it’s a fact? 3) “Mueller investigation” should come to a “conclusion.” If the investigation is still ongoing, how are you so confident there was no collusion or meddling? 4) “I urge the President to work with Congress” to prevent any future meddling. Great idea! Can’t wait to see your proposal, especially considering you’re in Congress! 5) “This is something” Obama failed to do. Read: The thing that’s not really a problem and shouldn’t even be investigated but should be solved with legislation is only real inasmuch as it can be blamed on the black guy who used to be president.