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Free Speech, Yes—Free Lunch, No

The invitations to this year’s State of the City speech look a little different than last year’s. Last year, you recall, there was all the hubbub about the Mayor using the seal of the City of Buffalo on the invite, and charging everyone $35 for the privilege of listening to hizzonor. At the last minute, under pressure, the decision was made to allow limited free seating to the handful of citizens who thought a mayor’s State of the City Address might actually be newsworthy. We sat off to the side, staring hungrily at the well-dressed diners’ plates. Geoff Kelly wrote about the speech.

The city’s Board of Ethics rebuked Brown last July about the invites, five months after the event.

This year, the seal and the CitiStat logo are absent, and it’s made clear that the “ADDRESS PORTION IS FREE TO THE PUBLIC”. Lunch is still $35, and the net proceeds will again go to Mayor Brown’s Fund to Advance Buffalo, the 501c3 set up by the mayor to “raise funds and distribute such funds to charitable organizations operating in the city of Buffalo and in support of community activities for the betterment of the residents of the city of Buffalo”. Here are the group’s 990s for 2006 and 2007. I wonder if Alisa Lukasiewicz is still serving as treasurer. Guess I’ll have to look into that.

Click here to read last year’s invite. Click here to read this year’s. Lunch is at 11:30am, speechifying starts at 12:45pm on Friday, February 19 at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center.

And since it’s too late to make reservations, I don’t see where it says you can’t brown bag it, if you want to snack during Brown’s speech.