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Over the Weekend

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.

  • Ex-Buffalo Resident

    The Schulman story is a nice example of why you can’t get anything done in Buffalo. As soon as a project gets ready to move forward, someone pops up from the woodwork and sinks it. The story was very revealing when the Cleveland developer asks how a non-elected person with no formal ties to the city can kill a project.

    I hope the FBI and others take a look at this one. This kind of trash is why a lot of people eventually give up on Buffalo. It is a problem that has held back the city for decades. Shakedowns, curruption, incompetent elected and appointed officials, and other things that need to be eliminated from government.

  • speaktruthtopower

    So let’s review why Byron Brown deserves another four years as mayor:

    Appoints corrupt Steve Casey as Deputy Mayor (co-mayor), Casey was brought to WNY from PA by corrupt political boss Steve Pigeon.

    Young construction worker is killed because Casey allowed developer to cut corners.

    Mayor’s son takes family SUV on joy ride and damages the car of the daughter of a city employee. City Hall employee is demoted for speaking up about the Mayor lying about incident.

    Public Works Commissioner convicted of public corruption charges.

    Strategic Director Tim Wannamaker travels the nation interviewing for other jobs and the city pays for his travel. Before Wannamaker leaves town, he promotes Michelle Barron to Vice President of the BERC. Barron moonlights as manager of restaurant One Sunset.

    Mayor hires Donna Brown as Deputy Mayor after qualified African-American woman who held the post is run out of town by corrupt Deputy Mayor Steve Casey. Casey was intimidated by this woman’s qualifications. Donna Brown’s main charge is to fight poverty in Buffalo. Donna Brown spends over a year learning about poverty. It gets better. The Mayor appoints as chair of the taskforce charged with fighting poverty, Nate Hare, CEO of the CAO and former or current lieutenant in the Mayor’s political organization. The CAO receives about 30 million dollars a year in federal and state funding to fight poverty in Erie County. The Chairman of the non-profit CAO is Brian Davis.

    Mayor pushes out Rich Tobe as Economic Development Commissioner. Tobe’s accomplishments were a bit suspect but he is known for his honesty and integrity.

    Mayor appoints Brian Reilly as Commissioner. Reilly expands Barron’s duties at the BERC. He also provides his girlfriend, using poverty funds with what every American deserves as a fundamental right, a good health care plan.

    Casey pushes the Corporation Counsel out the door because she questioned his political activities in City Hall. Dan Rodriguez, who lacks the qualifications for the job is named Acting Corporation Counsel.

    Mayor appoints Carla Thomas, Commissioner of Human Resources. She is the former President of the Mayor’s political organization. Thomas now oversees Civil Service hiring at City Hall and has direct access to the personal information of City Hall employees.

    Tanya Perrin Johnson, the childhood friend of the mayor’s wife is appointed Commissioner of Community Services. She oversees programs funded by state and federal dollars. Perrin-Johnson had been asked by her previous employer to look for work elsewhere.

  • speakruthtower

    Oh and don’t forget the City’s top lawyer Alisa Lukasiewicz quits because the impending spate of lawsuits and indictments doesn’t bode well for a brilliant young lawyer’s intent on keeping her law license.

  • leigha lohaun

    I read the news posting’s.I agree with Reverened Stenhouse.Insted of judging him.Did it every cross your mind maybe it was the developers project?I feel in my heart Reverened Stenhouse wants the best for everyone.He sure sounds like a very caring and wounderful man.

    From Colorado

  • kevin kilbane

    I know this project well that was “derailed” by the city. I work for a company that specializes in investing in low to moderate income housing and have been involved in projects all over the country. I have seen Phase I of the East Side Housing Initiative – which consisted of approximatley 30 rent to own homes built in the same blighted east side neighborhood as the proposed NRP project. Believe me, the City of Buffalo can only stand to benefit from a developer investing over $12MM in a neighborhood that is in dire need of high-quality affordable housing. Sad to say, but the people who lose most from the lack of support by the city are the lower income residents of the east side neigborhood who would benefit greatly from a brand new home at a very affordable price…… many other folks are convinced that the Reverend Stenhouse’s support for the project would have been granted had the developer caved in and handed him what he was seeking….shame on the city and the Jeremiah Group for derailing a project that a blighted midwestern city like Buffalo truly needs.