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Another Reason Why Buffalo Needs A City Manager

Filed under: Byron Brown, Local Politics


Successful organizations hire people based on talent, regularly evaluate performance and discipline problem employees in a timely fashion. The city of Buffalo does none of the above.

Hiring decisions as we all know are often based on who you know, the number of political petition signatures obtained and the amount of political contributions made. The City Charter as I have written about in the past requires the Commissioner of Human Resources to develop and implement a system for evaluating employee performance. Employee evaluations in Buffalo City Hall and most other local governments, are a rare event.

An article in the Buffalo News points out that the Buffalo police department has not conducted an employee disciplinary hearing in four years. Under New York State law a government employee can be suspended without pay for thirty days. The next step after an employee suspension is to conduct a disciplinary hearing. Until the hearing takes place, the employee must continue to be paid while not working. 

It appears that in the City of Buffalo employees are being paid while suspended and not working for years. I have conducted employee disciplinary hearings, they can be difficult and very time consuming. Allegations are one thing, proving something with sufficient evidence can be tough at times. Allowing cases to linger for four years is simply bad management and unacceptable.

The answer to addressing the backlog of disciplinary cases will probably be to direct more business towards the city’s favorite politically connected law firm, Hodgson & Russ. As you may recall from previous Buffalo News and ArtVoice articles, Hodgson & Russ has received millions of dollars in city legal business, more than all other law firms combined. 

This in my opinion is just another example of why the City of Buffalo needs a professional City Manager to run day to day operations. Many communities around the country operate with a professional City Manager who has the authority to make hiring and firing decisions and who is held accountable for his/her job performance. Politicians concerned about petition signatures and campaign contributions often don’t make good management decisions. A City Manager does not care about signatures and contributions. All a City Manager cares about is hiring the right people to get a job done.

  • Peter_A_Reese

    Only really sick people write stories about improving government at 2 AM.