Posts Tagged ‘Brian Davis’

Brian Davis: Missing in Action

July 14, 2009
Let them eat cake . . . at a Mark Croce-owned restaurant

Let them eat cake . . . at a Mark Croce-owned restaurant

I was going to do a follow-up to this post focusing on Brian Davis’ absenteeism, but Channel 2 beat me to the punch.  According to their report, Davis has missed 16 of 26 committee meetings — where the actual work of the common council gets done — since March.  Constituents in the Ellicott district are receiving something like 40% representation from their common council member while paying 100% of their taxes, unlike Davis who lives in a tax-free home in an Enterprise Zone:

Last year, Davis faced criticism when it was disclosed that he was paying no property taxes on his house on Hickory Street because it is located inside an Empire Zone. Houses in the zone can apply for a seven-year waiver on property taxes, which in this case, save Davis and his wife $2,800 a year.

Davis in 2004 voted to extend the life of the zone. Six months later, his fiancee bought a lot on Hickory from the city, then sold the vacant lot to Savarino Construction Services, which in turn constructed the house and then sold the house and lot back to her in August 2006 for $181,000. The Davises now reside in that house.

Yesterday I spoke with someone in the Ellicott district who had been trying to get Davis’ help getting a stripped car removed from his street.  After repeatedly calling the office with no luck, he went in person and managed to to speak to a staffer who said the car would be removed . . . in 5 days!  Davis himself was not in the office.  He rarely is.

So in addition to the long list of personal scandals surrounding Brian Davis, it’s become clear that he also delivers poor constituent service while drawing his salary from the public and not paying taxes himself.  Give this guy a powdered wig and he’d look right at home hanging out with Marie Antoinette!

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Brian Davis is Still Doomed

July 12, 2009
Dignified.

Dignified.

I was watching the news today and saw David Rivera talking about the recent shooting at Whitney and Virginia when my wife made a good point — that isn’t his district.  It’s Brian Davis’ district.  Why isn’t Brian Davis the one promising to help fight crime in the wake of a high-profile murder in his district?

From what I hear, it’s a pretty common thing for other councilmembers to have to do Davis’ job for him.  The Buffalo News reported that Davis had a poor attendence record at Common Council meetings, and staffers of other council members report receiving calls from Davis’ constituents asking for their help since “they don’t have a councilman.”  So besides making it rain at Grassroots fundraisers, what is Brian Davis doing with our time?

Well, he’s doing enough to warrant being investigated by Frank Sedita and the state police.  Stay tuned, this is gonna get interesting.

UPDATE: Check out my new site — http://wnymedia.net/wnymedia/colineager/

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?

Brian Davis, Leonard Stokes and the Failure of One Sunset

May 24, 2009
Still missing . . .

Still missing . . .

There’s a pretty incredible story in the Buffalo News today about One Sunset, the restaurant opened by former Turner-Carroll basketball star Leonard Stokes that failed in a year despite $160,000 in city money and an unusually “hand on” approach from city officials:

Bankers on a city board told local basketball star Leonard Stokes “no” when he asked to borrow $120,000 from City Hall to start an upscale restaurant.

Too much risk. Too little private money. Not enough experience on the resume.

But City Hall bureaucrats replied “yes” to the then 26-year-old Stokes. They cobbled together $160,000 in loans and grants to help him launch One Sunset, his Gates Circle restaurant.

And they didn’t stop there.

One of the city’s top economic development officials did everything from handling cash receipts to negotiating with vendors to decorating restaurant bathrooms.

“She was there more than Leonard was,” said Jeff Wright, a former bartender, of Michelle M. Barron. Barron is vice president of neighborhood economic development for the Buffalo Economic Renaissance Corp., City Hall’s development agency.

• After bankers and others on BERC’s large loan committee rejected Stokes’ loan request, BERC employees approved smaller loans and a grant whose amounts exempted the proposal from further banker scrutiny. The money totaled $110,000, almost as much as the $120,000 rejected by the bankers.

• Although One Sunset was located in the Delaware District, the restaurant’s $30,000 grant came from federal anti-poverty money allocated to Davis for his Ellicott Council District.

• City officials, including Barron, urged the Erie County Industrial Development Agency to loan the restaurant $50,000 without disclosing the restaurant was on the brink of closing. The IDA made the loan without checking financial statements or public documents showing One Sunset was in trouble.

Wow, where to begin?  I’m most interested in figuring out why Stokes received this kind of service when so many regular people find City Hall nearly impossible to work with.  It could be that his history as a star ball player opened up some doors that would have been otherwise closed.  Still, even in a  town so starry-eyed that it would give Terrell Owens the key to the city just for showing up, it’s hard to believe that city officials would bend over backwards for what amounts to a minor-league basketball player.

I’ve always thought Brian Davis was the key to this story.  It seems odd — and hopefully illegal — for him to have used anti-poverty money designated for the Ellicott district to support an upscale restaurant in the Delaware district.  It seems odder still that one of the many personal checks he’s accused of bouncing was for $3,500 to Stokes’ landlord on behalf of the restaurant.  It’s one thing to misuse public money — that happens all the time, unfortunately.  But it’s something else entirely for a public official to start spending his own money.  What is the relationship between Brian Davis and Leonard Stokes?

Brian Davis is Doomed

May 7, 2009
It's all politricks . . .

It's all politricks . . .

The Buffalo News is reporting that Ellicott District Common Councilmember Brian Davis lied about his educational background.  Davis, who is in the midst of a scandal over writing bad checks to city-licensed delis in his district, had claimed to have received a degree in political science from Trinity College.  The News’ Jim Heaney investigated and found that the 10 colleges with “Trinity” in their name had no record of Davis graduating:

Common Council Member Brian C. Davis says he has a degree in political science from Trinity College.

But none of the 10 colleges in the nation with Trinity in their name says Davis has graduated from their school.

The revelation follows publication of a Buffalo News investigation last month showing that Davis has a history of financial irresponsibility that has resulted in the state freezing his campaign accounts, suspending his driver’s license and suing him for unpaid taxes. Davis also has had 10 liens or lawsuits filed against him after creditors said he failed to pay his bills.

Council President David A. Franczyk, after being informed of The News’ latest finding, convened a meeting with an attorney from the city Law Department and Council Majority Leader Richard A. Fontana and President Pro Tempore Michael P. Kearns to discuss what, if any, powers the Council has to investigate Davis’ conduct.

This really should be it for Davis.  Back in 2001, newly-hired Notre Dame football coach George O’Leary was fired when it was revealed that he had lied about his academic credentials on his resume.  There are plenty of similar examples from other walks of life.  If lying about credentials can disqualify someone from coaching football, shouldn’t it disqualify someone from a position of real public trust?  Or do we grant our public officials a licence to lie to us?  Wait — don’t answer that question.

Finally, I’d love to see Heaney do a similar investigation into the background of the rest of our top city officials.  For one, it would blunt any accusation of bias (and you know that’s coming).  But I suspect we’d find out more interesting truths about the folks who’ve conned the public into letting them lead them.