Buffalo BEAST - Buffalo's New Best Fiend

Sept 21 - Oct 5, 2005
Issue #84

  ..Buffalo's Best Fiend
Why is it OK for the press to lie?
Allan Uthman

Banana Republicans
3rd World, US-style
Shawn Ewald

Drowning Reality
Truth not a Major Factor in New Orleans
Kit Smith
Of Pandas & Morons
Truth vs. Myth in PA
Jeff Dean
Star Wars
The Sequel & the Reality
Bob Fitrakis

Play the Blame Game!
Match the Stupid Quote!
Roberts Confirmation Maze

Buffalo in Briefs
The Sports Blotter
The Week in Sports Crime
Matt Taibbi
Wide Right
Bills Football
Ronnie Roscoe
Kino Korner: Movies
Michael Gildea
Page 3
Separated at Birth?
[sic] - Letters
 Cover Page

Idiot Box
Perry Bible Fellowship
Bob the Angry Flower

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Last Issue: (83)

Slaughterhouse Jive

After much hand wringing and drama, the Buffalonian cultural event known as Curtain Up! marked the beginning of a new theater season. This year’s controversy swirled around whether the Tralf, a familiar venue for live music downtown, would be allowed to open its doors as planned for the event.

Given the spellbinding intensity of this summer’s political theater, our local thespians will have a tough act to follow, but in the case of the Tralf, political theater merged with actual theater in the form of Curtain Up!

As reported in The Buffalo News, the new owner of the club, Rohit Kapoor, had run afoul of the City’s building inspectors and County health inspectors for failing to obtain the required permits to open the business in time for the Curtain Up! event. News reporter Jim Heaney provided readers with enough of the details to leave them in suspense as to whether the young entrepreneur would be able to meet seemingly insurmountable deadlines. Of course everyone was relieved that world of young Kapoor didn’t come to an end because of a bunch of faceless bureaucrats, but some further “backstory” might be helpful in fleshing out this drama.

The Tralf started life as a the Tralfamadore Cafe, a live jazz club named after the planet Tralfamadore in Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'s classic novel, “Slaughterhouse Five.” The building that is now home to the Tralf was formerly owned by Theatre Place Associates. Under the Masiello Administration some two million dollars, mostly in federal HUD grants, were invested in the building. Masiello crony and current Chief of Police Rocco Diina was on the board of TPA. Masiello backer, Jim Militello, then used his influence to bring in his brother, noted jazz musician Bobby Militello, to take over the club. The market for live jazz, fickle at its best, made it hard to operate the club at a profit. But being a jazz musician, Bobby made do.

The building itself apparently lost its ability to generate HUD grant money, was put into the receivership mechanism of the Buffalo Economic Renaissance Corp. and then “flipped” at a fraction of the cost of taxpayer funds that were funneled into it. The new owner, Acquest Development, was no stranger to HUD projects. Still, Acquest’s chief, Bill Huntress, raised eyebrows by unceremoniously dumping Bobby Militello in favor of the young Kapoor when he assumed control of the building two years ago.

The flipping of Theatre Place should have been an orderly real estate deal between politically connected entities. What happened?

According to The Niagara Falls Reporter, Huntress aroused the curiosity of federal investigators when Acquest constructed the employee parking lot for the Seneca Casino in Niagara Falls. Kapoor’s father and Niagara Falls City Engineer Ashok Kapoor allowed Acquest to work without permits, even though the site was believed to be toxic. The original owner of the property was none other than longtime Masiello crony and supporter Harry Williams.

Which brings us full circle. Huntress may have been repaying a favor by bringing in young Kapoor, but in doing so he seems to have raised the hackles of the Militellos. Millions of dollars in HUD money has been squandered during the Masiello regime, surely this little permit tiff is too insignificant to blow the lid off of everything, right?

More Briefs:
1. Some People Have Spoken
2. ...But Who's Counting?
3. The Red Sea
4. Bass Pro: Smell the History


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