PATRONAGE REPORT: CHANGE IN COMMON COUNCIL CHIEF OF STAFF
by Geoff Kelly - posted 11:48 am, January 8, 2013
You know how Antoine Thompson, the former state senator, was recently hired by Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown as director of the Buffalo Employment and Training Center?
Well, that wasn’t the first patronage job Thompson was in line for. In December, there was a move afoot to appoint Thompson chief of staff to Buffalo’s Common Council, replacing Kevin Linder. The idea was a nonstarter, however: Several members balked at the idea of hiring the former Masten District representative, who was rendered politically radioactive by his 2010 loss as an incumbent in an overwhelmingly Democratic district to Republican Mark Grisanti.
Now Linder, an attorney, is on the chopping block again. I’m told that Linder was informed last week he would be relieved of his position as Council chief of staff. His proposed replacement is John C. Davis, former chief of staff at the Erie County Legislature and brother of Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes. Davis is a prominent member of Grassroots, the political organization through which Peoples-Stokes, Brown, and Thompson rose to prominence. Davis is also president of the board of director of Community Action Organization of Erie County, widely perceived as a patronage dispenser for Grassroots. Linder’s political patrons include Mickey Kearns, the former South District councilman who now serves in the state Assembly.
The problem for Davis, and his supporters on the Council, is that the confirmation votes may not be there. I’m told that North District’s Joe Golombek will not vote for Davis, and the South District’s new representative, Chris Scanlon, is hesitant, too. That leaves Davis with just four votes: Lovejoy’s Rich Fontana, Ellicott’s Darius Pridgen, University’s Bonnie Russell, and Masten’s Demone Smith.
That could change, of course: Scanlon or Golombek, or both, could be lured toward supporting Davis, who won’t be nominated for the job until five yes votes have been wrangled. More on this and other staff changes at the Common Council soon.