City firefighters didn't have far to go to deal with a small blaze that erupted last night on Jamestown's Tracy Plaza just outside of city hall. Fire Battalion Chief Matt Russo says a passerby noticed the flames in some debris from construction work taking place on the northwest side of the plaza shortly after 9:30 PM. Russo says a truck was sent out... and, firefighters used a water can... and, extinguisher to snuff out the small fire. He says a city fire investigator was at the scene last night... but, the fire -- at this point -- appears accidental. No one was hurt... and, damage was minimal. Firefighters were back in service within half-an-hour.
The U-S Supreme Court's decision to allow corporations and businesses to anonymously make donations to political campaigns was "one of the major errors" the court has made in recent years. That from Associate Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsburg... who was Monday's featured lecturer at Chautauqua Institution. During a rare... and, exclusive one-on-one interview with WJTN's Jim Roselle... Ginsburg talked candidly about the 5-to-4 decision the court made in the 2008 case of Citizen's United versus the Federal Elections Commission. Ginsburg... who is one of the more 'liberal' members of the court... voted against Citizen's United in the 2010 decision. Ginsburg adds, though, that there's nothing in the final opinion that suggests there shouldn't be a disclosure requirement. She says it would still be constitutional for Congress to say there's no limit on contributions... but, all contributors must be identified. However... Ginsburg Ginsburg says Congress hasn't taken that action. Citizen's United is a conservative lobbying grouip that wanted to air a film critical of Hillary Clinton... and, to advertise the film during television broadcasts in what is described as an "apparent violation" of the 2002 "McCain-Feingold Act..." which sought to reform campaign financing.
Ginsburg also offered some rare insight into today's court that you normally don't get from a retired judge... let alone a sitting one. As opposed to the "Ivory tower" vision most American's have of the U-S Supreme Court... she says it's one of the "most collegial places" she has ever worked at. She says they have two law facilities that are part of the court facility... along with the Washington, D.C. Court of Appeals. Ginsburg adds the justices do get out of the court to met with other court leaders internationally. Ginsburg... who is 80... will celebrate 20 years on the high court next month... and, despite a recent bout with Colo-Rectal Cancer... she plans on serving on the high court until she dies... or is no longer to continue her duties. Ginsburg graduated from college in 1954... and, decided to become a lawyer when she began working for a Professor of Constitutional Law during the "McCarthy Era." She spoke to kick-off "Crime and Punishment" Week at Chautauqua.
A Cherry Creek man is jailed on 50-thousand dollars bail for allegedly robbing the Kwik Fill station on Routes 5 and 20 in the town of Hanover. Sheriff's Deputies say 44 year-old Daniel Mniszewski was arrested last night following a weekend investigation into the incident... which was reported at the gas station and convenience store last Friday night. Officers say they followed up on several leads... but, are not saying if a weapon was involved. They add that Mniszewski gave a voluntary statement regarding the robbery. Officers say charges are also possible for a similar incident in the Erie County town of Hamburg. Mniszewski arrested on one count each of first-degree robbery and petty larceny... arraigned, and sent to the county lock-up.
State officials say a glitch has substantially disabled the state Department of Motor Vehicles computer system, slowing transactions to a crawl in local offices statewide and on-line. In some cases... they stopped all together. A DMV spokesman says the problem hadn't been pinpointed as of Monday afternoon... and, it isn't clear when the system will be back in full operation. The Chautauqua County Clerk's Office reported it was unable to handle DMV transactions about 2:30 PM Monday. The state DMV says a mainframe server was upgraded Sunday and tested properly... but, it couldn't handle the load of actual business Monday morning.
The 2013 United Way Campaign is off and running with the start of the annual Pacesetter Campaign. The United Way of Southern Chautauqua County held it's kick-off was held yesterday afternoon at Wegman's in West Ellicott. The Pacesetters are a group of 20 businesses and groups that have agreed to set the Pace for the General Campaign... which begins in September. Pacesetter Chairwoman Liz Lingenfelter of Wegman's says the effort to raise 144-thousand dollars of the overall, 1.315-million dollar goal is very important. Lingenfelter says the United Way office has produced a video to help the Pacesetters group in connecting with their employees about the need in the community. General Campaign Co-Chairman Deke Kathman says the fact that over 31-thousand lives were impacted by United Way funding underscores how vital meeting this year's goal is. Of the 144-thousand dollar Pacesetter's goal... Lingenfelter says -- if they can reach that mark by the end of August -- "it will really springboard us into the full campaign." For more information on the campaign... call the United Way at 483-1561.