West Seneca tax increase stirs rancor
Outbursts, insults mark ‘scary’ mood at meeting
A hostile crowd didn’t give an inch to West Seneca Supervisor Sheila M. Meegan and town councilmen during a meeting Monday night when the board approved an 8.6 percent property tax increase for 2018.
It didn’t matter that the tax increase was less than the proposed 12 percent and that the tax bill on the average market value house of $150,000 would go up by less than $100 next year.
Residents shouted after the vote and disrupted the meeting for several moments by yelling comments and then chanting, “We’re the town! We’re the town!” And then it got worse. “Resign now, Sheila” and “I hate you, Sheila,” some people yelled from the
and how his arrests forced him to give up his public housing apartment and live apart from his five children.
The new study on marijuana arrests indicates Buffalo is similar to other medium-sized urban communities and confirms that the disparity in arrests, a long-standing issue for local law enforcement, continues today.
Authored by the Partnership for the Public Good, a local think tank, the study is intended to boost efforts at reforming New York’s marijuana laws. Reform advocates say the costs of marijuana prohibition far outweigh the benefits, especially given the national movement toward legalization.
“It’s shocking how many we arrest,” said Sam Magavern, executive director of the partnership. “Mostly we’re talking about young people who have the most to lose.”
Rebecca Town, a lawyer for the Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo, said Pennick is typical of the young black men who find themselves pulled over by police, often more than once, or even twice.
She still sees evidence of “stop and frisk” arrests in public housing developments and indicated local police often use marijuana as an excuse to make a traffic or pedestrian stop.
“It’s often the suspicion of marijuana possession that gets the ball rolling,” she said.
In Buffalo, according to the study, more than 2,000 people were arrested in connection with low-level marijuana crimes over the past five years but the numbers are dropping.
Last year, 231 people were arrested for marijuana possession in Buffalo, down from 555 three years earlier.
Magavern said the study shows that, despite the decline in arrests, the harm caused by them – young men losing job offers and teens missing out on education opportunities – falls more heavily on blacks and Hispanics.
The study also suggests that enhanced police enforcement in a community can lead to distrust and, ultimately, poorer relations between residents and police.
“You erode the relationship between law enforcement and the community, especially those with people of color,” said Kassandra Frederique, state director for the Drug Policy Alliance.
The report also notes that studies on marijuana use show young white people, compared with young blacks and Hispanics, are more likely to use marijuana. And yet, the study found them at significantly less risk of prosecution.
“Everyone knows, if you’re a young person in Clarence and you’re smoking pot, you’re not going to get arrested,” Magavern told reporters. The vast majority of Clarence’s residents are white.
Assemblywoman Crystal PeoplesStokes, a Buffalo Democrat, is sponsoring a bill to legalize marijuana use among adults in New York State, and noted that several states, including nearby Massachusetts, have already done so.
“The war on drugs is lost,” PeoplesStokes said Tuesday.
The disparity in local marijuana arrests is not unusual, especially in medium to large-sized cities, and studies of other communities have found similar disparities. In New York City, lowlevel marijuana possession arrests increased 10 percent last year, according to a study by Politico.