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Brian Davis: Back to Work

Ellicott District Councilmember Brian Davis is back in City Hall today, after a two-week medical leave that he happened to take just as charges surfaced that he bounced a check for more than $3,500 and skipped out on a private loan of $5,000 more. Brian Meyer of the Buffalo News writes:

When pressed by a reporter today to discuss the controversy, Davis would only say he expects the issue to be “resolved” by the end of the week.

“It’s in the hands of my attorney right now,” he said.

Davis also declined to discuss reports published in ArtVoice that other unidentified store owners on the Lower West Side and East Side have had problems with some of the lawmakers’ checks. Davis would only say the allegations were spread by a “political opponent.”

You can read the story Meyer refers to here. Basically, a bunch of Lower West Side deli owners grudgingly admitted to me that they’d had problems with Davis cashing checks in their stores, and that they were afraid to talk about it because Davis had the power to have their operating licenses pulled.

Brian Davis

Brian Davis

I first heard stories about Davis passing bad checks several months ago, from someone who has alternately been an ally of and had run-ins with Davis. It’s true that this particular story, about the deli owners, was brought to me by Bryon McIntyre, who challenged Davis in the 2007 Democratic primary for the Ellicott seat. (I indicated as much in my article.) But I checked the allegations by visiting the delis where McIntyre had heard complaints, plus several more.

So in the end, the allegations come from the deli owners themselves, not from Davis’s political rivals. Last week, neither Davis nor his attorney would respond to these allegations. This doesn’t seem much of a response, either. The deli owners have no political relationship with Davis, for or against, as far as I can tell.

I called Davis’s attorney today to ask him again about these allegations, plus a few more. He hasn’t called back yet. When he does, I plan to ask him a few questions about the accepted narrative of this scandal: What compelled Davis to step in and write a rent check for the failing restaurant One Sunset, when he could not afford to do so? I have a copy of the ethics disclosure form Davis filed with Buffalo’s City Clerk for 2008, and he indicates no business association with One Sunset—no business associations at all, in fact. If Davis was not a partner in the restaurant, why would he make trouble for a failing business and himself by writing that check to Kevin Brinkworth, One Sunset’s landlord?

The other question is how One Sunset managed to fail so quickly and completely, despite $80,000 in loans from BERC (now in default), another $50,000 in loans from ECIDA (possibly in default, too, though I have not been able to confirm this), a $20,000 community development block grant to overhaul the facade, and a lot of good press (including a positive review from this newspaper, for what that’s worth). We’ll continue looking into the story of One Sunset’s failure, its defaulted loans, and Davis’s apparent interest in keeping the place afloat.

  • Assaroni

    Rumor has it that his credit card was declined at SoHo last weekend… HACK!!!

  • Inquiring Mind

    I was wondering why doesn’t Davis cash some checks at a few corner deli’s in his district to raise funds to pay for the check he bounced to One Sunset’s landlord?

    But then it occurred to me, he might be using money from the deli checks to pay his lawyer. Can’t spend the same dollar twice.

    On the other hand, why not just pay the lawyer by check? Maybe he didn’t think of that.

    Maybe council members aren’t paid enough. Are they due for a raise? Will Davis at least get some extra pay for chairing the Police Oversight Committee?

  • Simon Magus

    Davis thought he could pay for his vices by sports gambling. He was certain Pittsburgh was going to cover in the Superbowl. Now his problems have doubled.

    According to Mike DeGeorge:
    “Bookmaking to feed your habits has always been legal, I should know, how the hell do you think I lost my job at channel 2? After my credibility went that far down, the only work I could find was in the police department.”

  • Bryon J McIntyre

    I have seen people removed from high offices for allegations and statements, some withdrew from prominent appointments for less. It is a thing called honor and integrity. Once again,my community is being dealt a raw deal, we have to honer a dishonorable person chosen through the machine to represent us. If I write a check for thousands, post- or pre-dated, and it bounced, I would probably be arrested, and convicted. I have never heard of police negotiating and I knew the DA wouldn’t prosecute. Who really cares?
    Bryon J McIntyre
    (A Political opponent that believes in honor, integrity and CHANGE)

  • Dick Kern

    There are apparently still no answers in the incredible “invasion’ of the Syaed Ali family residence on Breckendridge Ave at 7 AM over 14 1/2 weeks ago (Nov 7) by 6 police agents. They apparently removed $1000’s the family’s possessions on a highly dubious search warrant signed by City Court Judge Caraig Hannah, a close friend of the Mayor, who forgot signing it. None of the possessions have been returned, & no answers have been given to repeated inquiries.

    It is an issue needing major “Police Oversight”, but not by a Councilman chairing the oversight committe who is in major trouble himself.

    Has Davis removed himself from the committee? Or, has the Council removed him?

    Integrity matters!

  • The most damning bit of all this from my limited perspective is the fact store owners grudgingly admitted they’d had some trouble with the guy’s checks (that’s owners plural on both the east and west sides !). That they were very reluctant to speak about it for fear of retribution makes a very strong case against. Mr. Davis.

  • Doubting Thaddeus

    After listening to Ellicott District Council Member hopeful Bill Trezevant today on Jonathan Rivera’s Fiesta Latina Spanish Radio program (WBBF 1120 AM) I compelled me to question why neither the DA’s office or the City of Buffalo Council doesn’t ask for an full investigation in the matter of Councilman Davis’s alleged wrongdoings, which if rumors circulating Davis are true, include other infractions as well as more bounced checks at local delis and escalation to strong arming these very same businessmen or women. If in fact true, the sure rise to criminal behavior and in the very least the perception is disheartening. And in addition, the Council President should remove Davis from the Police Oversight Committee, or demand he recuse himself until any and all claims os misbehavior are cleared. It’s like the fox guarding the henhouse!

    The is little in the way of having confidence in Davis from the standpoint of a constituent, business leader, or any other elected official while these alleged abuses remain un-investigated and unanswered. In every sense, we in the Ellicott District are being served by a non-existent representative: the seat is vacant!