Cleveland Developer Sues City of Buffalo, Byron Brown, Others
by Geoff Kelly - posted 6:07 pm, June 6, 2011
Today NRP Development, the Cleveland-based firm that claimed that Mayor Byron Brown nixed an East Side housing development deal when NRP refused to hire an ally of Brown’s to consult on the project, filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking damages.
We’d heard that the city had recently submitted a lowball offer to settle NRP’s complaint. Apparently that didn’t work out. The RICO (Racketeering and Corrupt Organizations Act) suit alleges that a plan to construct and manage 50 single-family homes on the city’s Masten Park and Cold Spring neighborhoods was canceled after the company refused to find a way to include (that is to say, pay) Reverend Richard Stenhouse or the Jeremiah Partnership, a coalition of East Side ministers with interests in housing development. Stenhouse was allegedly looking to consult on minority participation goals for the project, a contract which was warded instead to Dr. Henry Taylor’s UB Center for Urban Studies and J.W. Pitts Planning, headed by former Common Council president Jim Pitts.
More on this tomorrow. In the meantime, enjoy the use of direct quotes in items 50, 51, and 52 of the complaint:
50. During the course of these events and in making the illegal demand, Brown said: “If you do not hire the right company [i.e. Stenhouse and/or the Jeremiah Partnership], you do not have my support for the Project.”
51. Brown also said: “Make Stenhouse happy or the deal will not go through” and further stated that he was “sick of seeing those fucking white developers on the East Side with no black faces represented.”
52. After the Development Team selected the UB Team instead of Stenhouse, Brown said: “I told you what you had to do and you hired the wrong company.”
No “on information and belief,” no paraphrases. Do they have a recording? The statement in item 51, if true, is not without merit: Developers in the city have often paid lip service to minority hiring laws and agreements while finding ways to ignore them. But if, as the suit alleges, the Brown administration demanded that NRP Development prefer a particular contractor as a minority hiring consultant, that’s a serious offense.