Assemblymember Crystal D. Peoples Assemblymember
Crystal D.

Reports to the
Spring 2008

Welcome To Buffalo
photo (l to r) Sangwani Mabhena, Marthe Ngwashi, Dr. Donald Reed, Yolanda Holmes, Frances Ilozue, Karen Stanley Fleming, Darkenya Waller, Jericka Duncan, Dr. Joseph Melvin and Assemblymember Peoples

“Stepping Onto the Welcome Mat” Buffalo Newcomers Honored

Known as the “City of Good Neighbors,” Buffalo is always pulling out the welcome mat to greet and embrace newcomers to our great city. On November 29th, Assemblymember Peoples honored and welcomed ten newcomers to the city at her Second Annual “Welcome to Buffalo” reception, held at The Legacy House.

“Each year, Buffalo boasts of its continued growth in rebuilding its neighborhoods, cultural tourism and educational systems. All of this is due to the collaborative efforts of native Buffalonians and those who are just beginning to experience what the city has to offer,” stated Assemblymember Peoples.

The ten honorees affectionately named, “The Talented Ten,” were Bashar Al-Issa, BSC Group; Jericka Duncan, WIVB-TV; Karen Stanley Fleming, City of Buffalo-Department of Finance; Yolanda Holmes, GEICO; Frances Ilozue, Rapha Family Medicine; Sangwani Mabhena, HSBC; Joseph Melvin, Buffalo Public Schools; Marthe Ngwashi, Office of New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo; Donald Reed, UB Department of Athletics; DarKenya Waller,Esq., Pennsylvania Life Insurance. The successful reception was well attended by a cross section of the community. It was an opportunity for the honorees to network with local business owners, elected officials, community organizers and friendly Buffalonians. A few of the honorees from last year’s reception were in attendance, including Warde Manuel of University at Buffalo Athletics.

Peoples said, “Buffalo is seeing a lot of gifted professionals relocate to the region for the quality of life they can find here — affordable housing, first-class colleges and universities, excellent hospitals, professional sports teams, and a 20-minute commute to almost anywhere. There are also many people who leave Buffalo, only to come back because they didn’t find the quality of life they were hoping for in other cities. When people take ownership of their city, they work together to restore it, improve it and sustain it.”

Keeping with the “Welcome to Buffalo” theme, several local groups and businesses donated Buffalo-themed gifts. Special thanks were extended to our donors, including the Buffalo Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Buffalo Zoo, Don Allen, Jr., Mayor Byron Brown’s office, the Greater South Buffalo Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Buffalo and the University at Buffalo Bookstore.

Assemblymember Peoples encourages others to welcome new Buffalonians to the city and cultivate relationships that will become the building blocks of tomorrow’s innovation and the sustainability of the region’s economy.

Fighting in School Has Consequences

With the rise of violent incidents on school grounds, our children are often unaware of the legal consequences that result from their behavior and violence in schools. It is vital that parents and children realize how serious these actions can be.

Violence in schools is never acceptable, and New York State has enacted very stringent laws that punish children who are violent in schools. One specific law, the “Safe Schools Against Violence in Education” Act (Project SAVE) signed into law in July 2000, creates penalties for any intent to cause physical injury to a teacher or school employee, including those who may be trying to break up a fight. The punishment is charged as a second degree assault, a Class D felony (subsection 10 of section 120.05 of the New York State Penal Code).

A Class D felony is punishable by a mandatory jail sentence. Imprisonment for a Class D felony includes a minimum one-year sentence and maximum imprisonment up to seven years. The judge involved in the case has the ability to decrease the minimum jail time based on the nature and circumstances of the assault or the history and character of the student. This discretion allows a judge to set jail time for one year or less, for assaulting a teacher or school employee. Students and parents need to understand that fighting in school and assaulting a teacher has severe consequences and may result in jail time.

Assemblymember Peoples stated empathetically, “Every year thousands of young men and women are sentenced behind bars for assault and other violent acts. Do not become a statistic, finish your education, do what is right and continue your journey towards success. We are counting on you to be a contributing and productive member of our community.”

Race, Politics
and the Press

During President’s Day Weekend 2008, minority legislators, community organizers and lobbyists attended the 37th Annual Black, Puerto Rican and Asian Legislative Caucus weekend, at the Empire State Plaza in Albany, New York. The conference was held from Friday, February 15th through Sunday, February 17th 2008.

The New York State Association of Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislators hosts this conference every year to address the issues and concerns that are pertinent to its constituencies across New York State. Several legislators and organizers hosted informational workshops ranging from homelessness and healthcare to the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in urban communities. A variety of vendors presented conference goers with information and New York State memorabilia at the vendor fair. A variety of interesting merchandise was also marketed and exchanged at the vendor fair.

According to Tyrone Benton, the Executive Director of the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus, the caucus was formed in 1966 to establish an effective political alliance that would consistently give all minorities and the poor a real voice in state government. To date, the Caucus continues to host annual legislative forums that address the pressing issues of minorities.

This year, Assemblymember Peoples and Assemblymember Keith Wright, 70th A.D. Harlem, presented the “Race, Politics and the Press” seminar to a standing room only audience. The seminar featured local journalists, Rod Watson and Dawn Bracely, both from The Buffalo News, Errol Louis of The Daily News and Gerson Borrero from La Prensa in New York. The “Race, Politics and the Press” seminar raised questions about the portrayal of black elected officials in the media. The panelists provided suggestions on how to promote fairness in media coverage, effectively use the media to highlight positive work by elected officials, and translate policy into message through the media in an effort to better serve our communities. The seminar’s message brought a heightened awareness of the biases and stereotypes to the forefront and cautioning those in politics about the perils of a misinformed electorate. An informed public is a better community because of its ability to make educated, conscious decisions on what is going on around them and how to respond.

Assemblymember Peoples also hosted a reception, “The Crystal Lounge,” co-sponsored by Ellicott District Councilmember Brian Davis, to offer Buffalo conference attendees the opportunity to relax and network after the seminar workshops. Some exchanged business cards during the reception to foster business relationships between Downstate, intrastate and Upstate New Yorkers. At the reception, a group of attendees discussed the positive impact that the “Race, Politics and the Press” seminar could have on local communities, bringing sensible, accurate and informative news to the public. Assemblymember Peoples stated, “Hopefully, the conference and the seminar highlighted some topics of interest for conference attendees and created a spark towards change in our communities.”

For more information on the weekend’s events, please visit the Association’s website at

Phishing For Your Identity

A new form of identity theft, phishing, (pronounced “fishing”) affects hundreds of consumers each year. Phishing is an attempt to criminally and fraudulently acquire sensitive information, such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication.

The term “phishing” is a variation of the word ‘fishing’ and alludes to using advanced technology baits to catch financial information and passwords. Popular global sites such as EBay, and online banks are common targets for phishing scams. Additionally, e-mails supposedly from the Internal Revenue Service have also been used to collect sensitive data from U.S. taxpayers.

Phishing is typically carried out by email or instant messaging and often directs users to enter details at a website, although phone contact has also been used. The introduction of legislation, user training, public awareness alerts and other technical measures are just a few of the on-going attempts to remedy the growing number of phishing incidents.

The damage caused by phishing can be small such as denial of access to email, to as tragic as tragic financial loss. Phishing is becoming more popular because of the readiness with which unsuspecting people often divulge personal information, including credit card numbers, social security numbers, and mothers’ maiden names. The phishers may use personal information to create fake accounts in a victim’s name, by using information found in public records. Unfortunately, access to such information can lead to a victim’s credit being ruined or even denying them access to their own accounts.

Assemblymember Peoples cautions those who use the internet for financial transactions to check their bank and credit card statements and be aware of who and what sites you give your passwords. For more information on phishing, you can visit on the web.

Legislative Update - Key Legislation introduced during this session

Task Force on the Condition of African American Men (A.09857)

The experiences of young African American men often differ in various ways from other young men in similar racial and ethnic groups. Based on information from the U.S. Census and other national statistics, it has become evident that African American men are disproportionately disadvantaged from young men of other racial and ethnic groups. For those reasons, Assemblymember Peoples sponsored a bill for the creation of a Task Force on the Condition of African American Men in New York State.

The bill aims to address the prevailing challenges facing African American men in society. The Task Force would be responsible for determining causal factors, identifying gaps in services, and inventorying State programs and initiatives that serve to improve the condition of African American men. The Task Force would seek to develop strategies to reduce duplication of services and to maximize coordination between State agencies, providers and educational institutions with benchmarks in place to measure long-term and short-term progress. In addition, the Task Force would prepare a report for submission to the governor and the legislature that provides specific recommendations regarding existing state laws, programs, policies and practices relating to the condition of African American men in New York State.

The Task Force on the Condition of African American Men would consist of 17 members and would report its findings if enacted, no later than December 1, 2009. Currently in the Governmental Operations Committee, the bill has received tremendous support from other members of the Assembly and has been introduced in the Senate by Senate Minority Leader Senator Malcolm A. Smith (14th A.D.).

Higher Education and GED Programs in State Prisons (A.09811)

Research shows that education reduces violence in prisons and promotes rehabilitation by increasing an individual’s ability to successfully rejoin mainstream society. With an education, ex-offenders can overcome difficulties in gaining employment due to a lack of marketable skills. Assemblymember Peoples has been pushing towards the enactment of her bill, A.09811, to establish a GED and higher education program in all state correctional facilities.

This amendment to the current correctional law will enable all inmates imprisoned, other than those with a sentence of life without parole, to be provided with an opportunity to acquire a GED or higher education program. The Department of Corrections would ensure that the education programs include appropriate curriculum and that the programs are taught by certified and specially trained staff for college credit and GED instruction. The bill also addresses the need for the Commissioner to furnish a report within twelve months after the effective date of the subdivision. Assemblymember Peoples looks forward to the bill reducing the ‘revolving door effect’ that often results in ex-offenders re-entering the system due to the lack of education and the stigma of unemployment. “There is a definite relationship between illiteracy and criminal behavior. By removing obstacles to education programs, we remove the ambivalence,” stated Assemblymember Peoples.



With spring officially here volunteers are
needed to aid in park reforestation

Volunteers are needed to plant new trees in the Buffalo Olmsted Park System this spring. The upcoming Community Tree Plantings will help aid in reforesting Buffalo’s beautiful Olmsted green spaces following the damaging October 2006, surprise storm. New trees will be planted in all of the historic Frederick Law Olmsted-designed green spaces including Cazenovia, Delaware, Front, Martin Luther King, Jr., Riverside and South Parks.

The Olmsted Community Volunteer Tree Plantings were held on Saturday, April 26 in Cazenovia, Martin Luther King, Jr. and South Parks and on Saturday, May 3 in Delaware, Front and Riverside Parks. For more information about future plantings, please call the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy at 716.838.1249 ext. 15 or on-line at


The Buffalo Housing Steering Committee (BHSC) was awarded a grant by the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York in conjunction with HSBC Bank for the Minor Home Repair Program. The Minor Home Repair Progeam will assist owner-occupants by providing up to $4,850 to make minor home repairs needed to correct exterior housing code violations. If you are interested in learning more about the Minor Home Repair program, please contact the agency in the Council District where you reside.

Masten District FLARE 716.838.6740

Fillmore District

Matt Urban Center

716.893.7222 ext. 14

University District

Kensington Bailey NHS
University Heights CDA


Lovejoy District

Home Front


Ellicott District

Ellicott District
Community Development


Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor Ready for Recognition


The passing of Assemblymember Peoples’ Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor Commission Bill marks a significant achievement in the preservation of African American history in Western New York. With distinct promise for the City of Buffalo’s tourism industry, this newly enacted law will formally establish the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor Commission.

Under the newly created Commission, several key initiatives will develop such as: the long-term preservation and maintenance of the historic corridor; a strategic, comprehensive, expansion plan, and an evaluation of how economic development opportunities near the corridor will complement the local tourism economy. The areas targeted for preservation in the legislation include the Michigan Street Baptist Church, the Nash House, the Colored Musician’s Club, the Little Harlem Night Club, and other historically significant places that were inventoried and identified by the Commission.

African American heritage has long been neglected and discounted for generations in United States history, and Western New York is no different. When coupled with neglect, poor maintenance, inadequate financial support and urban blight, the very survival of Buffalo’s African American treasures are vulnerable. In an effort to acknowledge the immeasurable value of African American history, the Commission will hope to stimulate the local economy by making the historic preservation site a tourist destination.

The areas outlined for preservation include the Michigan Street Baptist Church (#3), the Rev. Jesse Nash House (#2), and the Colored Musicians Club (#4). In addition, the home of Mary B. Talbert (#1) and the Little Harlem Night Club are commemorated although they are no longer still standing. This Commission will oversee the governing and expansion of the targeted historic area as well as provide recommendations for any oversight.

The two-block area known as the Michigan Street African American Corridor has been the center stage in the epic history of Buffalo’s black community and due to its inclusion in The National Women’s Rights History Project Act, a bill introduced in Congress by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, will receive increased national exposure, making it poised to receive resources to help sustain the historic buildings.

According to Assemblymember Crystal D. Peoples, “The Michigan Street African American Corridor will serve as an important vehicle and force, providing the foundational momentum to create various economic opportunities and investments in Buffalo, ultimately benefiting not only Western New Yorkers but all Americans.”


As the tax season comes to a close, and late filers finish their taxes, Assemblymember Peoples reminds tax preparers that they can receive a fast and free refund by using electronic filing and having their refunds deposited directly into their own bank accounts without taking out a loan.

Peoples cautions consumers against borrowing rapid refund loans that are charged from 40%- 700% annually in interest. Additionally, the preparation fees from commercial tax preparers to process this loans range from $30- $120, often leaving the consumer with only half of their initial refund after all the deductions.

In Assemblymember Peoples’ district, there are over 10 locations that are part of the Erie County Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) preparation sites. These sites offer taxpayers an opportunity to file their taxes for free, using an easy e-file system. There are volunteers on hand to answer questions and guide tax preparers through the process. Please check with your neighborhood location to find out if an appointment is necessary.

VITA Sites in 141st District

  1. Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Services

  2. Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Services- Moot Senior Center

  3. Belmont Shelter Corporation

  4. Community Action Organization- on Harvard Place

  5. Community Action Organization- JFK Center

  6. Delavan Grider Community Center

  7. Community Action Organization- Fruitbelt location

  8. Kensington Bailey Neighborhood Housing Services

  9. SUNY- EOC Bridge Program

  10. University Heights Senior Center