BY MATT RICCHIAZZI
The Contract Compliance Committee, chaired by BUILD President Charley H. Fisher and County Legislator Betty Jean Grant, has come to a tentative agreement with LP Ciminelli this morning, following a demonstration protesting the firm’s failure to meet minority hiring goals announced at the unveiling of the $750 million taxpayer funded Solar City project. LP Ciminelli is the construction manager on that project
“This was a very productive rally at LP Ciminelli this morning. Through our advocacy, we were able to meet with the firm’s Vice President and contract compliance officer,” explains Legislator Grant. “We met for almost 2 hours with these two individuals and from this meeting, future meetings have been planned.”
“We applaud the relationship that is developing between LP Ciminelli and the community,” Grant says. “Through interactive dialogue and meetings, we hope to bring the young men in the minority communities of Buffalo further along the road to adequate job training and employment opportunities.”
Grant is expected to challenge State Senator Tim Kennedy in the September primary.
Kennedy is at the center of a state investigation into improper campaign spending involving the political operative G. Steven Pigeon. That probe stems from a complaint that Grant filed in 2013, initiating an investigation into Kennedy’s nearly $80,000 contribution to the Western New York Progressive Caucus, a fundraising committee controlled by Pigeon and his associate Kristy Mazurek. Many observers postulate that Kennedy will be indicted ahead of the primary.
“In a very obvious way, if corrupt politicians are prosecuted in relation to the Pigeon probe, that’s a major political win for Betty Jean — who is already seen as the region’s most honest and trustworthy elected official on the political scene,” says one Grant supporter at the rally. “She is literally cleaning up our politics. That’s going to play well this cycle.”
“Our state and local representatives have to find ways of lowering taxes in New York State,” Grant writes on social media. “If people stop buying cheap clothes and products from China and other foreign places, Americans can start working in local, newly built factories.”
In past election cycles, Grant has waged strong campaigns despite being massively outspent. Her ability mobilize the East Side voting bloc makes her one of the region’s strongest political contenders for State Senate this year.
During a 2012 primary campaign against Kennedy, Grant came within a few hundred votes of victory, but a full counting of the votes was prevented by State Supreme Court Justice Joseph Glownia — who maintains close ties to Pigeon — effectively giving the seat to Kennedy. The same Justice remove the congressional candidate Eddie Egriu (who was challenging a close Glownia ally with ties to Pigeon) from the ballot under an equally suspect legal premise in 2013.
Some operatives are speculating that Glownia may be one of the several unnamed Justices widely expected to be indicted in the ongoing Pigeon probe.
Many of the city’s most prominent political activists were in attendance, including Fisher; Joe Mascia, the tenant elected municipal housing commissioner; Alberto O. Cappas, President and Co-Founder of The Education Pledge; Lion Blyden, the author and minister at Sankofa Ministries; Katrinna Martin-Bordeaux, Chairperson of Young Black Democrats of Western New York; Margo Warr, the community organizer; Lesley Haynes; King Oginga; Esther Smothers; and QueeNia Maat.
“Thanks to Kevin and Stephanie from Ciminelli who listened to us and made us feel welcome,” Grant adds.