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Today an attorney from Harris Beach informed employees of the Buffalo Economic renaissance Corporation that their last day of employment would be October 22. (In other words, a generous two week plus two days notice, delivered not by BERC’s president, real estate mogul Dennis Penman or BERC’s board chair, Mayor Byron Brown, but by a lawyer from the private law firm BERC has been paying to help wind down operations.) The reason for BERC’s dissolution, as far as the remaining employees can tell—those who have not been transfered to the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency, for example is the embrassment caused to the mayor by the One Sunset debacle, in which BERC provided $110,000 in loans and grants to a restaurant run by former basketball standout Leonard Stokes, who had close ties to Brown. The restaurant defaulted in spectacular fashion, leaving in its wake a flood of lawsuits and unpaid obligations. It turned out that Stokes’s initial application for a loan was denied by the large loan committee constituted of finance professionals, but then was later split into smaller loans that could be approved by staff, after the mayor encouraged his people to “help out” Stokes.
Did they ever: Michelle Barron, BERC’s vice president, practically managed the joint. Former Councilman Brian C. Davis held court there, and even wrote a check to the landlord, Kevin Brinkworth, Sr., when Stokes fell so far behind on rent that Brinkworth threatened to begin eviction proceedings. Unfortunately, that check bounced, the restaurant shut its doors, and the whole sorry episode went public—in January of the mayor’s re-election year.
Audits, firings, and recriminations followed. In his January 2010 state of the city address, Brown said he would fold up BERC and consolidate its operations somehwere else, possibly under BURA. Consultants and attorneys were hired to accomplish the dissolution.

According to meeting minutes, BERC’s board was still approving new loans and extending leases with tenants in some of its properties as late as April.

  • Jim Holstun

    burke, v.

    (b{revope}{lm}k) [f. Burke, the name of a notorious criminal executed at Edinburgh in 1829, for smothering many persons in order to sell their bodies for dissection.]

    1. trans. To murder, in the same manner or for the same purpose as Burke did; to kill secretly by suffocation or strangulation, or for the purpose of selling the victim’s body for dissection.
    1829 Times 2 Feb. 3/5 As soon as the executioner proceeded to his duty, the cries of ‘Burke him, Burke him{em}give him no rope’..were vociferated..‘Burke Hare too!’ 1830 LAMB Last Ess. (Chandos) 489 Positively burking you under pretence of cleansing. 1833 T. HOOK Parson’s Dau. II. i. 172 Perhaps he is Burked, and his body sold for nine pounds. a1845 BARHAM Ingol. Leg., The Tragedy ad. fin., The rest of the rascals jump’d on him and Burk’d him.

  • treeman

    Who cares. Find a real story. They are all patronage anyway.

  • wny


  • heeheeehee

    Much more to come out about Mayor Erkles misuse of our tax dollars