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Slim and No Chance of Mayoral Control of School Board–It’s Just Another Farce

carl fox business

 

By Carl Paladino

As it stands now the chances of Mayoral control of the Buffalo Public Schools (BPS) are 1 in 10. 
 
If it were to pass State government, it will never survive in the courts. 
 
The lack of basic understanding of constitutional law by Byron Brown and Darius Pridgen is astounding. What if every time we disagreed with one of their decisions we threw them out of office?
 
As for Wilmers, Koelmel, White and the group of 18 liberal elitists trying to manipulate from behind the curtain, this loss will show that they and the Board of Education (BOE) minority (former majority) have become irrelevant as leaders in this community.  In the past they gave us three incompetent carpetbaggers as Superintendents who came with no institutional knowledge and talked big but didn’t have the ability or gut to stand up to those parasites who breed off of the power and money of the BPS.  
 
How many additional family members are Grass Roots and Crystal Peoples looking to put on the BPS payroll? She already has two no-shows on the Municipal Housing Authority.  
 
She also wants to set quotas to replace the merit system with a race based system to destroy what is left of morale in the Buffalo Public Schools (BPS.). 
 
The cowardly conspiracy of Black elected and not elected leaders, union leadership and private business people to maintain the status quo for their own empowerment with no regard for the thousands of children now held hungry and uneducated, circling the drain, as captives in the cycle of poverty, is solely for the purpose of providing the voting base for liberal candidates. 
 
It is no secret that that ineffective leadership in the past resulted in the generational dysfunction of the BPS that we suffer today. 
 
“Mayoral Control” is an act of desperation, similar to the incompetent minority Board members who, for lack of any articulate, intelligent argument, comment or solution on an issue, blurt the race card. 
 
This attempt to remove from office reform minded Board members, elected specifically to change the direction of the BPS, is an affront to the taxpayers and parents of Buffalo and an unconstitutional abuse, illustrating only the desperation of those whose watch has ended. 


Cop Block WNY’s Debut

A police officer is empowered to use reasonable force to overcome resistance and effect a lawful arrest. Once a person is subdued and in custody, however, smacking, hitting, or kicking the suspect is straight up brutality. If you hit a handcuffed suspect who’s lying on the ground, you’re basically torturing him.

But why? They don’t appear to be asking him any questions. They’re not trying to get information – there’s no evidence he’s giving that the courts can suppress.  They appear merely to be battering him for the sake of it.

That is to say, there’s a fine line between using force lawfully to subdue a suspect who is resisting arrest, and sadism. So, I’d love to know what precipitated this.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to remind people that your smartphone’s shape is like a widescreen TV, but only when you hold it horizontally. If you take video in the vertical aspect, that video is going to suck.

 


Another Reason Why Buffalo Needs A City Manager

Filed under: Byron Brown, Local Politics

you-are-fired

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.

www.reinventinggov.org


“We Want To Blow The Doors Of This Building Open”

Wishful

Newly elected Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto two weeks into his term stated “We want to blow the doors of this building open to provide information”. Peduto served on the Pittsburgh City Council prior to becoming Mayor where he sponsored legislation that strengthened the Ethics Code, created the city’s first Campaign Finance Limits, established Lobbyist Disclosure and Lobbyist Registration and ended No-Bid Contracts.

Peduto with the assistance of Pittsburgh Council Member Natalia Rudiak supports an Open Data Ordinance that will implement a proactive approach in providing government information to the public.

Instead of requiring citizens to complete Freedom of Information requests and having the city to spend staff resources on gathering information which often takes weeks, the city is going to make as much information as possible available on its web site. Cities around the country are taking a similar approach.

Peduto is leading by example by making his daily schedule available on the city’s web site for all to see. With so many elected officials being part of a culture of secrecy, it is great to see a new Mayor who supports open and transparent government.

Meanwhile in New York State and in particular in the Buffalo area no one is blowing the doors of government open. We have government officials who are deeply entrenched in a culture of secrecy. I have tried to get the Mayor and the Buffalo Common Council to sponsor Open Data legislation but no one is interested. Listen to this brief interview by Jim Heaney to hear what he has to say about Byron Brown and Andrew Cuomo. Heaney has 35 years of experience in requesting information from elected officials. 


A Tool For Open Government

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Some cities like Oakland are committed to open government and some cities like Buffalo are not. In previous posts I have discussed the problem with obtaining information from the City of Buffalo.

The City of Oakland working with Code For America has created a great app called RecordTrac. RecordTrac provides an easy on-line tool for citizens to request information from city government in a way that is open for all to see. The response time from city departments is tracked, citizens can see the status of their requests and more importantly all requests and the information provided is available for everyone to see. Posting all requests allows citizens to search for information that has already been provided and saves city officials time in finding and responding to information requests.

Access to information is an important right that many politicians give lip service to but do not back up with policies and procedures that make obtaining information citizen friendly. Oakland and Code For America have created a great app that can be utilized by other communities. All Code for America apps utilize GitHub, allowing for the application to be easily and freely redeployed by other cities and government agencies.

RecordTrac seems like it would be a great tool to implement in all of our local governments in Western New York. What do you think?

www.reinventinggov.org


Consider Sergio

As I explained yesterday, the Buffalo News editorial board endorsed Mayor Byron Brown in Thursday’s edition. Brown is running for his third term as mayor of a struggling, poor rust belt city who runs a hyper-politicized, allegedly corrupt petty fiefdom. With a million in the bank, he can steamroll over most challengers and has built an interdependent political machine, cavalierly flaunting the laws that ostensibly limit municipal employees’ electioneering, and his ability to compel it.

Byron Brown is a nice enough guy and people like him, but I don’t think he’s the mayor Buffalo needs.

Before you hammer me for not living in the city and opining on the election of its chief executive, I’ll concede the point. But I spend far more of my waking hours working in the city than at home, and I am a firm believer in regionalism. I believe that a strong and prosperous Buffalo is good for everybody. It is the region’s anchor – its entire reason for being, and it’s in everyone’s interests to care how it’s doing. 

I’m not a Republican, but I think that Sergio Rodriguez has run a strong, issues-based race against Mayor Brown, and he’s done so despite being forced to navigate a figurative minefield to do it. He has no support from the county Republican committee, and doesn’t have enough money to do much of anything. He’s bought some lawn signs, but doesn’t have the scratch to do a set of mailings, much less to get on radio or TV.  Instead, he’s been wearing out his shoes, going directly to voters, and he’s been using social media in a town where promotion on Instagram or Foursquare isn’t going to go far. 

Because of the feudal system that Byron Brown has inherited and enhanced, big donors know that helping Sergio is the kiss of death – Brown and his consiglieri would shun you, and no one wants to get sidetracked to discuss what’s happening. Being a Brown outlaw and attempting to do business in the City of Buffalo – any business requiring a permit or license – is untenable. The political class in Buffalo, which is dependent on Brown for its livelihood, knows better than to back Rodriguez. 

The Republicans? Some will privately say that they think Sergio isn’t ready for primetime; that they like him, but while he has good ideas, he hasn’t done much to see them through to completion. They’ll tell you his follow-through stinks, but they’d be in a unique position to help him out with this. What a coup it would be for them to take City Hall after a few generations! But they, too, have a business relationship with the Brown Administration, and it’s best to not rock that boat. 

Stefan Mychajliw is running for his first full term as County Comptroller. Despite the fact that he has literally no idea what he’s doing and treats every press release (and there’s one about every day) as an “audit”, and despite the fact that the “best and brightest” whom he’s hired have abandoned ship, he has charisma, name recognition, and a compelling backstory which will likely propel him back to the 11th floor of the Rath Building. Kevin Gaughan was the Democratic fallback candidate, and while he runs rings around Mychajliw on the details, he doesn’t even come close to touching Mychajliw when it comes to retail politicking. 

One of the reasons the Republicans won’t help Sergio has to do with city turnout; if there was a competitive Mayoral race, Democrats would vote; if city Democrats turn out to vote, they’ll likely vote for Gaughan. So, they sacrifice Sergio to help ease Stefan’s re-election. Sure, it makes perfect tactical sense, but it’s fundamentally cynical.

The News’ endorsement of Brown is astonishing because it has very little, if anything, positive to say about Brown’s accomplishments as Mayor. Almost all of the major projects taking place, representing Buffalo’s “boom” exist in spite of Brown, rather than because of him. More often than not, they come about when he gets out of the way. He gets to show up at the ribbon-cutting and make a proclamation, and then skulk back to the 2nd floor, behind armed guards, to oversee fiefdom. 

The boom that the Buffalo News identifies is illusory. For every new restaurant, medical building, and waterfront announcement, the city’s problems with poverty, crime, joblessness, hopelessness, and failing schools all continue unabated. The big-ticket items are good, but if a city can’t get the fundamentals right, what point is there? People point to positive changes along Grant Street, but gentrification without population or income growth is as unsustainable as sprawl without growth. What the city needs is a leader, not a caretaker. 

Can Sergio be that leader? I think he deserves more of a shot than he’s getting, and the forces aligned in halting him should be ashamed. Even tea party developer Carl Paladino knows that it’s better for him to back Brown and shun Rodriguez if Paladino wants his city projects to go smoothly.

Brown hasn’t even deigned to compete against Rodriguez, which is the ultimate insult – denying voters a race they deserve. But whether or not you think Sergio is the leader Buffalo needs, he has spent months talking about the fundamentals – talking to residents and business owners (small ones, the ones who serve the community rather than big-money interests) about the problems that they face on a daily basis. It’s not pretty – Brown is busy on the radio promoting jobs at Geico way the hell up in north Amherst, so you’re all set if you have a reliable car. Buffalo needs jobs for Buffalonians in Buffalo. There’s no regional plan for much of anything, and one would expect a Buffalo mayor to focus on the quality of life basics, not to ensure his re-election, but to make sure his constituents are better-off.

If you’re one of the preservationist elites, Mayor Brown has had almost 10 years to develop a strategic plan to market and help people finance the purchase and renovation of dilapidated and vacant city-owned foreclosed homes. Just yesterday, a vacant city-owned house near Grant Street was demolished, and no one knew it was for sale because the city doesn’t put up signs or list them properly.

Sergio Rodriguez may deserve your vote, if you’re so inclined, but at a bare minimum he deserves your attention. He’s talking about the bigger picture, and recognizes that a leader requires a vision. In a town where the mayor has touted the number of demolitions he’s overseen, Sergio has instead addressed the issues of joblessness, crumbling infrastructure, failing schools, vacancies, and crime – things that don’t particularly matter to big developers with Rolls-Royces. But Sergio is also the guy who says City Hall will be open and inviting to all, and where good ideas will find a home. It will be inclusive and transparent, rather than an impenetrable fortress. Is it Sergio’s time? That’s up to you. But he certainly deserves your attention and your thoughtful consideration. I think he’s talking about the important things no one wants meaningfully to discuss, and his party affiliation shouldn’t be held against him. 


Buffalo Recognized by League of American Bicyclists

Here’s a press release from GoBikeBuffalo that came out last Thursday:

Buffalo Named a Bronze Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists

Mayor Brown’s Commitment to Complete Streets is Determining Factor

Buffalo, NY – Mayor Byron Brown and an increasing number of city leaders in communities across the country have embraced the environmental, financial and quality of life benefits that come with being a Bicycle Friendly Community.  These leaders have recognized that bicycling can be the solution to many community challenges. The League of American Bicyclists, in announcing the latest round of Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) awards designated Buffalo, NY as a Bronze BFC.

“I’m proud of the progress we’ve made to transform Buffalo into one of the country’s top bike friendly cities,” said Mayor Byron Brown, noting the city’s commitment of doing ten miles per year of bicycle facilities.  “By building bike lanes and connecting new and existing ones to neighborhoods, parks and business districts citywide, we are providing residents and visitors with health benefits, while offering economic, environmental and transportation benefits to our entire community.”

The BFC program is transforming the way communities evaluate their quality of life, sustainability and transportation networks, while allowing them to benchmark their progress toward improving their bicycle-friendliness. With this impressive round, there are now 291 BFCs in 48 states across America. The BFC award recognizes Buffalo’s commitment to improving conditions for bicycling through investment in bicycling promotion, education programs, infrastructure and pro-bicycling policies such as Complete Streets.

“Buffalo is playing a critical part in creating a truly Bicycle Friendly America,” said Andy Clarke, President of the League of American Bicyclists. “We know Buffalo’s investment in bicycling will be returned many times over in the health, environmental, and quality of life benefits of a thriving community.”

Recent efforts have paid large dividends. Analysis of the American Community Survey data from the Census on bicycle commuting shows that Buffalo ranks 14th in the nation for total number of bicycle commuters – with an impressive 88% annual growth and an incredible 269% increase since 2000.

“This data shows that our collective work is having a significant impact upon our city. With a forthcoming update to the city’s bicycle master plan, the Buffalo Green Code moving forward along with continuing education and encouragement programs, Buffalo is poised to become one of the best bicycling cities in the country,” said Justin Booth, Executive Director at GObike Buffalo.

The BFC program provides a roadmap to building a Bicycle Friendly Community and the application itself has become a rigorous and an educational tool in itself. Since its inception, more then 500 distinct communities have applied and the five levels of the award – diamond, platinum, gold, silver and bronze – provide a clear incentive for communities to continuously improve.

 

So we’ve got that going for us. All you bicycle commuters will agree that this morning’s commute had a slight wintry chill to it. Big deal. Dress right, put some lights on for the commute home, and bring on the cold. Or do you mean to tell me that Buffalonians aren’t as tough as these Danish bicyclists?

Or the Dutch:

 

Or the Danes, again:

Or fashionable girls from Chicago:

Let’s GO, Buffalo!

And if you’re driving, keep your eyes open for cyclists. They’re not just for summer anymore.


Brown Poll: Crosstabs at Large

66% of Buffalonians like Mayor Byron Brown. That’s no surprise – he’s quite personable and likable when seen out and about. Yet 80% of Buffalonians think the school system is horrible (only 11% think it’s good). 

Neither WGRZ nor the Buffalo News have seen fit to publish the full results of the poll, including crosstabs, and it’s not available at Siena’s site

So, we’ll just have to wait for the information to trickle out the way that “real media” decide for you




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