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City Hall Bureaucracy Is A Mess

Filed under: Local Politics


Buffalo City Comptroller Mark Schroeder has forwarded a letter to the Buffalo Common Council stating on average a city emergency housing rehab from application to completion takes 712 days. Two years of bureaucracy to get a loan for your leaky roof fixed! On November 20, 2013, the City Comptroller forwarded a letter to Mayor Brown suggesting that the city delegate more responsibility for the Emergency Rehab Loan Program to the non-profit Belmont Housing Services. To date the Mayor has not responded to the City Comptroller’s letter.

Day after day the City Hall bureaucracy is failing residents in need of emergency home repairs who cannot afford to pay for such repairs in a lump sum. It is completely unacceptable.

Another example of the bureaucratic mess in City Hall, are the many provisions of the City Charter which are not being followed. I have written about this in the past. For 15 years a law requiring public art to be a part of major city funded projects has been ignored. When $1 million or more in city funds is spent on a capital project at least one percent of the total project cost must go towards art.

Quotes from a Buffalo News article by Colin Dabkowski tell the story:

– “Resuscitating the law has been a preoccupation of the local visual arts community for years, but until recently no one from the Kafkaesque fortress of City Hall seemed interested in responding. I made several futile inquiries of the Brown administration over a year about the status of the law, and none were returned.”

Another article by Buffalo News reporter Jill Terreri had these quotes:

– “The renewed focus on adhering to the Arts in Public Places law has the full support of the Common Council. which unanimously, directed the administration to follow the law.”

City Comptroller ignored,  citizens waiting years for emergency loans, reporter ignored, Common Council resolution necessary to get action on following the law. You just can’t make this stuff up.

  • starrrbuck

    For 15 years a law requiring public art to be a part of major city funded projects has been ignored.

    Aside from disagreeing with the spending priority, I question that law’s validity for requiring.

    It’s often said about Congress and the state legislature that they can’t legally bind a future Congress/legislature about what to spend in future budgets; each year’s appropriations are legally free to decide spending as seen fit. I’d think the same applies to local legislatures except for spending mandated by federal or state levels.

    The Common Council votes yes/no on each “major city funded project”. If desired amounts of art money isn’t in any project, the Council could’ve easily just voted “no” to hold up the project until or unless the money is added. If they didn’t do that, perhaps they’re hypocrites to later whine about the law not being obeyed.

    If no lawsuits were been filed in those 15 years trying to enforce the “law”, that also leads me to think it’s more a statement of hope or intent, not a real requirement. If it was thought to be legally required, wouldn’t any of Buffalo’s fervent arts advocates have sought court rulings to enforce it at some point in a decade and a half?

    Validity aside, I think spending city money on public art should be much lower priority than other needs such as repairing streets/sidewalks, or eventually funding thermal image cameras for the fire department, perhaps cameras in police car dashboards and on police officers, and many other things – sewage overflow repairs, on and on. The art should be funded by donations rather than the city budget.

    I agree your other point that the mayor’s team should’ve replied to the comptroller’s letter on rehab loans.