Kearns for Mayor of Buffalo

13 Sep

For all intents and purposes, election day for Mayor of the City of Buffalo falls on Tuesday of this week.

Of course, I am but a lowly suburbanite with no ability or right to vote in this election. My opinion is completely worthless, and I recognize this 100%. However, I do believe that what happens in the city of Buffalo can have an affect on the rest of the region, including my town. A well-run city attracts people and businesses. A poorly run one repels them. It’s as simple as that. So, as a proponent of regionalism and metropolitan government, I will opine in this race, as I did in 2005 when I urged the people of Buffalo to vote for Kevin Helfer.

Here’s what I said then about Byron Brown:

He’s a nice guy and I’m sure he’s a hard worker and loves Buffalo. I have no doubt about that. But I fear that he would maintain the status quo. When interviewed on the WNY Progress Report about patronage and Ray McGurn, Brown said that patronage wasn’t such a bad thing, and that Ray McGurn isn’t his problem. The constant illegal parking outside his downtown campaign office is emblematic of an arrogance of power and a complete disregard for the rules by which the rest of us live by.

But above all, Brown has no executive experience whatsoever, and has done little during his tenure in the State Senate. History has proven time and again that a driven politician with good ideas can make his mark against even the most difficult odds. Brown didn’t go to the Senate to shake things up and reform it. He went to play along. Out of 4 bills that he co-sponsored in the Senate, three involved the changing of street names. Not a record of achievement.

When Brown headed up Grassroots – the political club he helped found to wrest political influence from people like Arthur Eve – $80,000 in money went unaccounted-for. Brown is receiving a great deal of support from his buddies in Grassroots like Maurice Garner and Clarence Lott. Ultimately, a Brown administration would replace the South Buffalo patronage mill with a Grassroots patronage mill.

By contrast, Helfer pledges a meritocracy, whereby only qualified people get hired – not the best-connected people.

Ah, meritocracy. What a quaint concept.

What Byron Brown brought to the city was a hyper-political environment where who you know is more important than what you know. An environment where you are ordered by your supervisor to do campaign work. The idea of meritocracy in City Hall is all but dead, as underscored by the myriad good people hired for important positions whose departures were attributed to the ham-handed, arrogant, offensive interference by Brown’s ultra-political, Pigeonesque deputy.

While some progress has been made fiscally and in other areas, as pointed out in the Buffalo News’ non-endorsement endorsement, the problem isn’t whether or not Byron Brown has been a failure. In many ways, he hasn’t. That is, if your measure of success means that things plod along with the same old ad hoc battles being waged and same old problems being band-aided by the same old “solutions”.

Four years in, and there’s still no plan.

The problem is that Byron Brown is above all a disappointment. He was the first new mayor elected to lead the city in a decade. He is young. He is a transplant to the area. He is smart, bright, and seemingly inquisitive. One would think that someone such as this might bring new ideas to the office – ideas that might help Buffalo abandon its post-industrial rust belt malaise and begin its journey towards whatever’s next.

Instead we get Citi-Stat and its accompanying show-trials of department heads. We get BERC handing over hundreds of thousands of dollars to inexperienced restaurateurs who are friendly with the Mayor, but poor credit risks. We don’t have Smart Code. We don’t have a comprehensive plan for the city’s future and a path to get there. We have Brown instead taking credit for everything good, and passing the buck on every mistake and misstep.

Seriously, the last time Brown acknowledged a mistake was after he tried and failed to cover up his kid’s late-night joyride. Everything with the Brown Administration is a state secret of the highest order. There is no accountability, no candor.

These things count for something in this day and age. In this place.

So, we turn to Mickey Kearns. He made a splash last year bucking Mayor Brown and Brian Higgins on the Route 5 changes now underway. Frankly, I think he’s wrong on that. He has a tendency to fumfer and filibuster, and he’s a relative newcomer to city government. He has been waging battle against a small-picture mayor by countering with his own small-picture ideas. These are problematic for me, because a city like Buffalo needs vision as much as it needs honesty and competence.

Kearns has that honesty. He’s a straight talker. When he tells you something, it’s unencumbered by embellishment and excuses. He promises to be open-minded and learn not only from the city’s past mistakes, but from other cities’ successes. He recognizes that the closed-mindedness in City Hall is a problem, and he pledges to change that. Kearns lists Jimmy Griffin as one of his political influences, but is quick to point out the good in Griffin and jettison the bad.

Rather than re-hashing Kearns, read what Jim Heaney has to say. It’s dead-on.

So, the choice becomes whether you want honesty and openness in city government, or four more years of ultra-politicization, cover-ups, half-steps, and malevolent political coercion? Look, I don’t harbor any illusions about Mickey Kearns being the hope for a new, progressive, forward-thinking Buffalo. But we took a chance on Brown. Now it’s time to take a chance on Kearns.

Vote Kearns on Tuesday.


12 Responses to “Kearns for Mayor of Buffalo”

  1. Terry September 13, 2009 at 3:40 pm #


  2. BuffaloForever September 13, 2009 at 3:55 pm #

    I think that your sentiments pretty much express how I see it, except that I believe that the degree of corruption that is going on here is far deeper than one would think. I think the corruption with Grassroots and Sunset One and all those crazy groups of Steven Pigeon and Golisano are far deeper than was has been written so far, and will probably all come out eventually. This will more likely happen if Brown loses. As crazy as Paladino can be, his sources run deep, and he probably knows things that would shock us. You will probably find that even some of our elected officials that are not being targeted now are knee deep in this whole mess, or at least are taking blind eye to all of it (as in the case of the current and former DA). I think we will all find out eventually that this corruption runs all the way to the fiasco in Albany, which is why I’m really hoping that Brown loses, and the whole dirty political machine behind it gets exposed. There will also be a certain level of political nonsense in every administration, but Brown’s term as taken Buffalo to a new low.

  3. BuffaloForever September 13, 2009 at 3:59 pm #

    Sorry about the few typos I now read in my post. I wish I could have edited it. 🙂

  4. Mike Walsh September 13, 2009 at 5:39 pm #

    I agree…Brown is status quo….until we put that behind us we’re on life support…

  5. al l September 13, 2009 at 6:07 pm #

    lets not forget the others who are disenfranchised from the de facto mayoral election – eligible city residents @ that. they are the Greens, the Conservatives, the WFP, the Independence and the independent. these are people who have no voice (or very very little) in the mayor’s race DESPITE being city residents.

    the move to non partizan or run off elections should be a no brainer, but alas, we trudge on with no vision nor visionaries.

  6. Ward September 13, 2009 at 7:36 pm #

    I guess I don’t have a dog in this fight, not being a resident. Then again, neither is BP,and I’m glad he has weighed in on this one. His last two sentences pretty much say it.

    Byron Brown really wears nice suits. Period. Buffalo needs much more, and time is running out.

    I don’t much know Mickey Kearns, but Buffalo needs someone new, and that’s him. Why, I bet Kearns has never even met Leonard Stokes.

  7. AnswerLady September 13, 2009 at 7:52 pm #

    Hey pundit, I guess that’s why we don’t let lowly suburbanites meddle in Buffalo politics. What percentage did Helfner loose by anyway? Given your previous history I’m not sure we should welcome the endorsement, but hopefully your track record is about to improve. :-))

    Here’s a couple last minute tidbits for your readers’ pleasure:

    Mayor Brown asks Republicans for their votes on Democratic Primary Day

    Mayor Brown/ UB weasel on Protecting the Heights

  8. jld September 13, 2009 at 8:44 pm #

    BROWNS STATUS QUO future for Buffalo will take years to overcome…especially after his hollow non commital response to Cuomo’s lure of Lt. governor. He would leave in aheartbeat as this is just a stepping stone/bookmark for a career politician who HAS NOT the ability to answer a question directly or with fortitude…always playing the middle of the road until one of his advisors tell him what to say….honestly, how could you trust anyone like this…let alone someone who would hold elected office. With the number of dubious/illegal/corrupt incidents that have occurred in City Hall over the past few years, during his reign….it only adds up to the need for change. ANYONE who would vote for this crook, must have a personal stake in his re-election, to make Buffalo suffer another 4 ?? years of his antics.
    While Griffin had his negative least you knew where you stood with him…something Tony Baloney AND Brown both lack…wishy washy and schemeing for the best possible solution for personal political gain!

  9. plaintruth September 13, 2009 at 8:59 pm #

    Garner is now working for the lobbying firm of Bolton-St. Johns. Lets see how long it takes Brown to hire this lobbying firm… End corruption in City government…Vote Kearns!!!

    From firms web site…

    Maurice Garner is often referred to as a political expert for his countless achievements in Western New York’s political landscape. Garner is a prominent political strategist and has long supported and organized urban-focused initiatives. He has also coordinated the campaigns of numerous public officials in Western New York. Namely, he was the architect of the campaign of the first African-American mayor of the City of Buffalo, Byron Brown.

    Prior to joining Bolton-St. Johns, Maurice co-founded the civic/political action organization Grassroots in 1986. Grassroots was created to develop a coordinated partnership between elected officials and the electorate. Due to his tireless work, Grassroots is now one of the most prominent progressive institutions in Western New York politics.

    Maurice has also worked as the Neighborhood Services Director for Erie County’s Community Action Organization. In that position, Garner initiated various citizen participation and capacity building programs; developed business opportunities to anchor inner-city communities; and, secured record investment and grant dollars for the agency.

    From 2000 until 2003, Mr. Garner served as Buffalo’s Deputy City Comptroller, and in that time he was recognized for successfully addressing multifaceted, complex financial issues while maintaining the integrity of the Comptroller’s office.

    After 2003, Maurice headed Garner Associates LLC, a firm specializing political strategy and building coalitions among community organizations.

  10. booboo September 13, 2009 at 9:03 pm #

    Forget Kearns and Brown, if we want real change in this city a progressive needs to run on the Republican or Independent ticket. Anyone tied into the Democratic Party political machine in this region is a liability.
    I liked Brown at first, but he has turned out to be just as slimy as Masiello and Griffin. But Kearns? The guy is a lame duck. He doesn’t even have a vision for the city. He can’t even maintain control of his own campaign message, relying solely on endorsements and letting Carl Paladino run his mouth all over the radio. If he’s that weak in his campaign, how will he be able to hold back the sharks if he’s in the mayor’s office?
    Seriously, I think a Republican could win if they didn’t use the usual rhetoric of lowering taxes as their solution to everything. I’m a liberal person, but I’m sick of all the local liberals who think we can solve all the cities problems with development projects. The cancer of the city is crime, and you can’t attract real investment when the city is overrun with gangbangers and crackheads who scare people out to the suburbs. That’s why they need to subsidize stupid ideas like Bass Pro. If businesses really thought that operating in Buffalo was profitable, they would be begging to build in the city instead of the other way around. Subsidizing more businesses isn’t going to solve our problems, neither is developing the waterfront. We already have a waterfron it’s called LaSalle park, but people are afraid to go there because of the gang activity. Instead of spending millions and millions on wasteful development projects, let’s return to two police to a car, double our police force, increase the salaries of the men and women who put their lives on the line to keep us safe. Let’s raze all the projects that are on the waterfront. Everyone is talking about waterfront development but no one has to courage to go against the PC taboos and put the projects elsewhere. Seriously, the waterfront should be prime real estate, it needs to be gentrified, and that starts with demolishing the projects and the slums that surround it.

  11. mike hudson September 13, 2009 at 11:30 pm #

    mickey kearns is honest and open? any empirical evidence on that other than you saying so? the crypto-racism here is appalling, and i don’t need glenn beck to jump in on the side of the anti-colored to see that it’s true.

  12. bflofirst September 14, 2009 at 10:18 am #

    God help us all if Cuomo does take Byron off our hands and Antoine comes to the mayor’s office. Then we will still have all the corruption and nonsense and plain meanness of Casey with a goofball at the helm.

    The issues are systemic – Grassroots is corrupt. Look at how many of their members are being investigated – Brown, Peoples, Davis. Garner has his own torrid background.

    This is not a black or white thing. It is a fact thing. All these agencies are not investigating just because they are bored. That organization at its very roots is corrupt and very powerful. You only need to look at Higgins and Schumer to see how powerful they are and how they bow down in faux loyalty to avoid any troubles with CAsey and Garner.

Leave a Reply to Terry Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: