A message from


Crystal D.

January 2004

Dear Friends,

The Board of Education is the official policy-making body for Buffalo Public Schools. Its members are our representatives in the school system and each is elected by popular vote.

The Buffalo Board of Education is currently involved in an unpre-cedented renovation program whose success will undoubtedly be used to model other programs like it across the state. The billion dollar Joint School Construction Project is a massive New York State funded capital project. Decisions will be made surrounding the completion of this program that will affect every pupil in the public school system — decisions on school closings, which schools will be renovated and to what degree as well as what school programs will be combined, eliminated or relocated. All of these things will impact not only the quality of education of our children, but the quality of life for Buffalo families. No family will be untouched.

Successful implementation and administration of these dollars will create jobs and generate revenues for minority and women owned businesses through construction and service contracts. It is also designed to provide skilled trades apprenticeship opportunities and access to permanent employment opportunities through training.

Part of the Buffalo Board of Education’s mission is to hold themselves accountable for educating students and working to energize all members of the Buffalo community to actively participate in the accomplishment of their mission. Parents have to do the same. Parental involvement in your child’s education is not only a motivator for the child, but it is a support for their teacher. Today’s economists report that the growth in the American economy and job market will be founded on knowledge based careers.

Remember, in our children’s lives, if we are not part of the solution, we’re part of the problem. Join the PTA. Visit your child’s school regularly so that not only are you aware of his or her academic progress, but of the physical condition of their school. Get involved in the process that determines leadership in your child’s school life. Vote in the upcoming May 2004 school board elections.

The Buffalo Board of Education meets on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month. The meetings are held in room 801 City Hall. Find out for yourself what’s going on with your child’s school and give your input. The sessions usually begin at 5:30 PM.

Assemblywoman Peoples
Co-sponsors Bill that Combats
Insurance Discrimination Based on Past Travel

Assemblywoman Peoples (D-Buffalo) today announced the introduction of legislation to prohibit insurance discrimination based on a person’s past travel history (A.9411).

"Whether or not someone has visited a specific location should not influence their ability to secure a life insurance policy," Assemblywoman Peoples said. "The practice unfairly discriminates and this legislation will put an end to it. As Americans, we have the freedom to travel abroad and should not have to worry about repercussions because of where we choose to visit."

Certain life insurance companies have refused to issue policies to U.S. citizens based on past travel experience. That line of questioning has become common in the industry.

The Assembly’s legislation, which I co-sponsored, would prohibit life insurance companies from basing a decision on whether to deny insurance, cancel an existing policy, or demand a higher premium on an applicant’s lawful travels.

"While assessing risk is a legitimate concern of the life insurance industry, a person’s travel history is not a fair indication of future risks," Assemblywoman Peoples said. "Working families invest in life insurance to protect themselves in the event of an untimely death of a parent or spouse. I strongly oppose insurer practices which deny access to this essential investment because of an applicant’s past travels."

Prison Reform News

Assemblywoman Peoples with Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry

On Tuesday, January 13, 2004, I participated in a public hearing on disciplinary confinement and treatment of prison inmates with serious mental illness. The hearing was held in the Roosevelt Hearing Room in the Legislative Office Building (LOB) and hosted by NYS Assemblyman Jeffrion L. Aubry, Chair of the Assembly Standing Committee on Corrections and Assemblyman Peter M. Rivera, Chair of the Assembly Standing Committee on Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities. The purpose of this hearing was to gather information relative to conditions of disciplinary confinement (Special Housing Units a.k.a. SHU), and treatment of mentally ill inmates in NYS prisons and to hear testimony and suggestions for improvement.

According to statistics provided by the NYS Department of Corrections (DOC), approximately 12% of the state’s prison population suffers from serious mental illness. These prisoners are much less likely to conform to rules and as a result are more apt to receive disciplinary confinement in the Special Housing Units (SHU). Research has shown that lack of access to adequate mental health treatment increases the probability that these prisoners will violate rules, hurt themselves or other inmates and prison staff and serve longer periods of confinement in a SHU. Stays in these single or double-celled units may range from a few days to many years. The problem is that SHU confinement for this population is not helpful. Studies have shown that they engage in higher incidents of self-mutilation and their suicide rates are three times that of inmates held in general prison population.

During the 2003-2004 Legislative Session, I supported A.08849, legislation introduced by Assemblyman Aubry and co-sponsored by Assemblymember Rivera. This legislation called for the creation of psychiatric correctional facilities and transitional service programs for NYS prison inmates with severe mental illness. It further called for the creation of an oversight committee by the NYS Commission on Quality of care for the Mentaly Disabled. A.08849 seeks to establish correctional facilities that provide for the confinement and treatment of inmates with serious mental illness in a manner that is consistent with the mental heath treatment needs of such inmates.

The Mission Statement of the NYS Department of Correctional Services affirms its commitment to offering stable and human "community" environments in which all participants, staff and inmates can perform their required tasks with a sense of satisfaction. I believe this legislation will help the NYS Department of Corrections better carry out the commitments made in their own mission statement and am therefore in support of this bill. I will be working with all of the members of the New York State Assembly to ensure implementation of this much needed legislation.

Fighting for Empire Zone Reform

The Empire Zone program is one of the most important economic development tools New York state has, but there are some major abuses and loopholes that need to be addressed if the program is to remain effective.

Despite helping to create thousands of jobs across the state by offering businesses in designated areas tax incentives, mismanagement and abuse has become commonplace.

Many affluent and suburban communities are included in the Empire Zone Program while other communities that could benefit from being included in the Empire Zone Program are left out. This defeats the whole purpose of having the program. Some businesses have claimed benefits in the program simply by changing their name or hiring a single employee, playing the system to pad their bottom lines at public expense. In addition, the Empire Zone’s true costs and job creation statistics have never been fully flushed out for the public because reporting requirements are either too lenient or inquiries to the administration go unanswered.

Enough time has lapsed to address resolution to these problems. Without a detailed proposal to fix the Empire Zones Program from Governor Pataki, the reality of reform seems further and further away.

The Assembly passed a broad reform package last year that would have ended many of these abuses and closed the loopholes, however the Senate did not champion a "same as" bill through their legislative body and Governor Pataki has not fulfilled his promise for a plan of reform, so the abuse continues.

Empire Zones mean good-paying jobs, and good-paying jobs mean better futures for working families. I intend to keep fighting until this important program meets its full potential, but I need your help. Call Governor Pataki at (518) 474-8390 today. Tell him you want an Empire Zone Program free of abuse and one that works for the communities that they were created for.


Niagara Lutheran Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center and BOCES (Board of Cooperative Services) have developed a training center for Practical Nurses on the site of the facility at 64 Hager Street. Classes will begin on Monday, January 26th. It is a 12 month training program with both day and evening sessions. Niagara Lutheran is located on the East Delavan bus line which will give students easy access to transportation to and from classes. For more information call Margaret Bennett, Director of Recruitment, Niagara Lutheran System. Her phone number is (716) 886-4377 ext. 327. You’ll need to call to reserve your spot in the class.

Measure Assisting Women and Minority Business Owners
Signed Into Law

Assemblywoman Peoples (D-Buffalo) announced today that measures she supported to help businesses owned by women and minorities succeed were signed into law by the governor.

"We need to encourage the growth of business in New York – especially businesses that provide economic opportunities for women and minorities," Assemblywoman Peoples said. "This law will help open doors for an important segment of our economy."

The law extends for another 15 years a program to ensure a fair portion of state contracts are allotted to businesses owned by minorities and women (Article 15-A). The law was also expanded to include contracts put out to bid by the Empire State Development Corporation (A.7233-A/Ch.628 of 2003).

"The law helps companies owned by women and minorities win valuable state contracts – which could mean the difference between success and failure for small businesses just starting out," Assemblywoman Peoples said. "It has been a successful way to help create equal employment opportunities since New York spends an estimated $10 billion annually on contracts for various goods, services and construction needs."

There is a separate law designed to help promote women and minority-owned business participation in state contracts for construction and services (A.9057/Ch.636 of 2003). This was signed into law in September 2003.

"These business owners deserve our full support," Assemblywoman Peoples said. "Enacting these measures will go a long way to provide women and minority business owners with the foundation necessary to succeed and flourish."

Contact Assemblywoman Crystal D. Peoples
ALBANY OFFICE: Room 325 LOB, Albany, New York 12248
(518) 455-5005
DISTRICT OFFICE: 792 East Delavan Avenue, Buffalo, New York 14215
(716) 897-9714