Buffalo Ruse: Kearns Double Bird Strike Kills Pitts Hotel
by Geoff Kelly - posted 4:11 pm, January 26, 2009
Buffalo’s Common Council has vowed to stop the JW Pitts Properties hotel proposal for the Erie Basin Marina in the usual, quotidian way: by a vote. But Frank Brutus of the Buffalo Ruse has the true and infinitely more readable story:
What could have been one of the darkest days in the history of the City of Buffalo was heroically averted yesterday by South District Common Councilman Michael “Mickey” Kearns. Combining his expert political training with an 8th-grade public school education, Kearns calmly enacted a “double-bird” strike to bring down a hot-air proposal that threatened to devastate Buffalo’s waterfront for generations to come.
Hundreds of witnesses told their story to reporters who flocked to the scene of what some are referring to as the ‘Miracle on Lake Erie.’ “I was watching as Jim Pitts’ waterfront hotel plan was slowly being lifted into the air, higher and higher, by a few council members who supported it,” said Buffalo resident and eyewitness Carl “Jimbo” Brandt. “Then, all of a sudden, from out of nowhere, both of Mr. Kearns’ middle fingers shot straight up. There was a loud ‘bang’ and the proposal burst into flames, black smoke billowing from it’s edges. The last I saw, the flaming proposal was in the hands of Mr. Kearns as he ran in the direction of the Chamber exit.” Another witness recounts what happened next. Rebecca Simons, who operates a cheese cart outside of City Hall, watched as Kearns rushed by her with the fiery proposal in his bare hands. “He looked composed, he wasn’t shouting or screaming,” said Simons, who added, “He actually said to me as he rushed by that he would be back to try some of the gouda. The man is an angel sent straight from Heaven.”
Emergency rescue teams, still assembled at the Buffalo shoreline late last night, were incredulous that the incident was resolved with no reported deaths or serious injuries. “What Mickey Kearns pulled off here today is nothing short of a miracle,” said Buffalo Fire Department chief Michael Lombardo “We’re not a city equipped to deal with the sort of disaster that was looming in that proposal. If it hadn’t been safely thrown into the ice-covered lake, there’s no telling how many people might have been victimized for years to come.”
Kearns, reported by neighbors to be at home with his wife and children, declined to speak to reporters. Raised on the streets on South Buffalo, Kearns learned the power of a double-bird strike while he worked as an aide to the late Mayor James D. Griffin. Family members, who claimed that Kearns never imagined he would ever need to use his bird strike training, were effusive in their praise. “Mickey never asked to be a hero,” said his cousin Molly McGuinness. “But on the precipice of Buffalo’s darkest hour, he calmly carried out the duties that he has spent a lifetime learning.” McGuinness’ sister Maureen quickly added, “And every Buffalo resident owes him more than their gratitude. They need to vote for him when he runs for Mayor later this year.”
Mayor Brown downplayed the Councilman’s heroism. “I like to think that we are all heroes in Buffalo. Plow-drivers, police officers, taxpayers,” said the Mayor. “And I’d like to remind everyone that Mr. Kearns, in throwing the flaming waterfront proposal into Lake Erie, may have created a separate environmental problem that will take generations to correct.” Brown declined to clarify exactly what he meant by that.