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Sunshine the Best Disinfectant

Got this press release today from the Common Council, concerning a resolution demanding more transparency from the city’s semi-autonomous agencies and boards:

Council Members Kearns and LoCurto and their co-sponsors, Council Members Rivera, Fontana, and Franczyk, are introducing two resolutions for consideration by the Full Common Council, that would increase the transparency of operations of all City Boards, Agencies and Authorities codified in the City of Buffalo Charter and Code as well as any Not-for-Profit organization receiving city taxpayer dollars.

These resolutions would impose new requirements on entities, many of which yield considerable power and have been criticized and referred to as “shadow governments”, to provide city officials and taxpayers with the opportunity to gain greater insight into their operations.

In the first resolution, the governing bodies all City Boards, Agencies and Authorities, are being called upon to hold their meetings in Council Chambers and utilize existing recording equipment and allow for meetings playback on the City’s CATV government channel, for viewing by individuals who are unable to attend such meetings.  This would also enable meetings to be held in a geographically centralized, uniform location that is well serviced by public transportation and which nearly all Buffalonian’s are familiar with.

The second Resolution directs the Acting Corporation Counsel to prepare a Local Law requiring that all Not-for-Profit organizations that contract with the City and receive taxpayer dollars to file on an on-going basis with the City Clerk, their meeting schedules, by-laws/rules of operation, the composition and membership of their governing boards, approved minutes of meetings, and any report, study, review and audit, financial or otherwise, prepared by, performed on or for, the respective organization.

Good idea.

  • Dick Kern

    It is important that BMHA not be forgotten as another part of City Hall’s “shadow govt”, especially as the long awaited plan-to-develop-a-poverty-plan evolves.

    BMHA is City Hall’s major poverty agency spending many $10’s of millions annually as few ever watch it. I am hoping to be in Bflo later this month for ‘Ex-Pat Weekend” but cannot learn if BMHA is, or is not, holding its board mtg at 300 Perry headquarters on its usual 4th Thursday of the month at noon.

    In Sept 2007 I co-ordinated my trip thru Bflo to my HS reunion in Penna to enable my attending a BMHA’s bd mtg, but it was cancelled at the last minute.

    BMHA, like BERC, needs much closer watching.

  • Laura Kelly

    I’m a Director of a not-for-profit that’s a member of the Buffalo Community Center Collaborative. The BCCC advocates and practices Excellence in Not-for-profit administration, and as such advocates transparency and accountability. I’m all for making public documents public, including financial audits, annnual reports, board minutes, board meetings, and tax filings.

    I’m concerned about that last phrase there. The one about required filing of any study, audit, review or report. Any study? What about a market study funded by some other entity? When you go to your lawyer, do you demand that he produce everyone’s files, and the grounds that your a customer?

    Now I don’t suppose that the City of Buffalo is expecting that we will share all of our work product with them. It would be silly to demand our housing studies when they only fund us for human services activities. But let’s be careful with the language, shall we? It’s OK to share of our own accord, but I don’t want to have to either fight or ignore a city ordinance. There’s too much of that going around already.

    Laura Kelly
    Old 1st Ward