Over the Weekend
by Geoff Kelly - posted 1:28 pm, July 13, 2009
Four items of interest:
—Byron Brown wins the endorsement of Goin’ South, the South Buffalo political organization stacked with city employees. No surprise there; there was no chance that Ray McGurn and Goin’ South would buck the mayor and his allies Brian Higgins, Mark Schroeder, and Tim Kennedy. Still, it’s a show of force for Brown.
—Mickey Kearns wins the endorsement of the Police Benevolent Association. No surprise there, either: What was Bob Meegan to do, spin around and embrace a mayor who keeps dragging the PBA to court and losing? (It’d be informative to get a breakdown of the City of Buffalo’s legal expenses fighting the PBA over the past three years, including time spent by the Corporation Counsel.) The PBA is Kearns’s first union endorsement, but how much good will it do him? There are 700-odd cops in the BPD, plus support staff, but lot of cops live and vote in the suburbs. Nonetheless, Kearns needed an endoresement like this and now he has it.
—Jim Heaney reported in Sunday’s Buffalo News that the FBI, US Attorney, Erie County DA, and New York State Police are all in some manner or another investigating Buffalo’s City Hall. Some are looking at Brian Davis’s finances, some at BERC and One Sunset, some at the city’s use of HUD money. Heaney did well to confirm these investigations are occurring; it’s hard to get beyond a no comment on these matters. His article also offers a review of the cavalcade of scandals rolling out of City Hall over the past few months.
—Most interesting to me, however, is this story by Susan Schulman, about a Cleveland developer whose East Side housing project was nixed after the Jeremiah Project, a group run by the influential Reverend Richard Stenhouse, failed to win a contract to oversee minority hiring on the project. (For the sake of argument, I’m leaving alone the merits of NRP’s project. In any case, Stenhouse’s objections seem thin, since the Jeremiah Project has been lead agency in similar low/mod rental housing development themselves.) Schulman is admirably careful about what she implies in her story, but it reads to me like a classic Buffalo shakedown: Stenhouse, in a position to stall a project, seeks a part of it. When he doesn’t get the contract, he helps to kill the project.
Why is this much more to me interesting than Heaney’s article? Because, whereas a local developer might take this setback stoically in hopes of working another day, a developer from Cleveland may not fear the consequences of speaking out. This is the sort of thing that raises eyebrows at the FBI.