Posts Tagged ‘BERC’

The One Sunset Scandal Claims its First Victim

July 9, 2009
Reilly?  Sounds suspicously like a Kearns supporter . . .

Reilly? Sounds suspiciously like a Kearns supporter . . .

Brian Reilly has been forced out at BERC:

Mayor Byron W. Brown has ousted the embattled president of Buffalo’s main development agency, saying the move is about “change and reform.”

Brown confirmed today that he asked for Brian Reilly’s resignation as president of the Buffalo Economic Renaissance Corp.

“I felt Commissioner Reilly was wearing too many hats,” Brown told The Buffalo News today, adding that be believed these multiple roles contributed to a number of recent problems within the agency.

Reilly will continue to serve as Buffalo’s commissioner of economic development, permits and inspections services, a job that pays $91,162. Reilly was making an additional $36,071 for his role as BERC’s president.

I love it when incumbents cast themselves as the agents of “change” and “reform.”

I have to say that Brown is making the right kind of statements about reforming the way the city does its economic development.  Hopefully the reforms are real and lasting.  Still, there are a few problematic elements that remain.  For instance, why is Michelle Barron — who seems to have been much more deeply involved in the One Sunset shenanigans than Reilly — still on staff at BERC?  And why is Brian Davis — who helped steer anti-poverty money out of his district and into the wealthiest district in the city — still on the board?  And most importantly, who will hold Byron Brown — who is ultimately responsible for everything that happens at BERC — accountable?

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Scapegoating Michelle Barron

June 3, 2009
She's not the issue . . .

She's not the issue . . .

The News is reporting that the mayor’s internal probe (ha!) of the One Sunset scandal lays most of the blame on BERC staffer Michelle Barron.  How convenient for Byron Brown, who is, you know, actually in charge of BERC.

While Mayor Byron W. Brown wouldn’t comment on any aspect of the probe, he stressed Tuesday that he did not orchestrate efforts to steer public funds to One Sunset owner Leonard Stokes. The News asked Brown about rumblings that he had meetings with Stokes as the businessman was trying to build his restaurant.

“Have I met with him? Absolutely. But I meet with literally hundreds of people every week,” Brown said.

The “rumblings” that Brown met with Stokes matches what I heard last week — that a recently-departed insider had a copy of the mayor’s schedule for the last few years, that it was being shared with media sources, and that it showed that Brown met with Stokes more than once.

It’s also funny to hear Brown claim that he has such an open door policy.  During the two years that he was refusing to enforce the city’s living wage law, he steadfastly refused to meet with the Coalition for Economic Justice, the folks behind the living wage campaign.  It finally required erecting a tent city in Niagara Square and holding a sit-in outside his office to get a meeting.

The mayor wouldn’t meet with representatives from labor and religious groups with thousands of members  for two years, but he was perfectly happy to meet with an unqualified businessman looking for city handouts?  This suggests two things.  First, as I’ve suggested before, there must be some sort of personal relationship at play to grant Stokes this sort of unusual access.  And second, the One Sunset scandal starts at the top, and we should be wary about the attempt to pin it on Michelle Barron.