Tag Archives: Buffalo Deputy Mayor Steve Casey

Karla Thomas blasts Steve Casey as a “Cancer” in Mayor Brown’s Cabinet

23 Oct
Byron Brown speaking at Medaille College
Image via Wikipedia

The Buffalo Challenger doesn’t have much of a web presence, so a lot of what gets published there flies under the radar, but a reader directs my attention to an “open letter” that Buffalo HR Commissioner Karla Thomas published in the Challenger this past week.  The theme of the letter is that Byron Brown isn’t the leader he could be thanks to a “cancer” in his cabinet: Mayoral underboss Steve Casey.

Thomas’ letter follows, verbatim as printed in the Buffalo Challenger:

The Karla Kronicles
An Open Letter to the Mayor:
There is a Cancer in Your Cabinet…


Dear Byron,
This letter is not intended for Mayor Brown.  It is addressed to the man whose leadership I have followed for over two decades.  Its’ intent is not to be mistaken as malicious, but to be accepted with the love it is being sent.  On behalf of myself and our community, I am appealing to the sensibilities of the man who this community entrusted their safety and caretaking through the electoral process.

Byron, there is a cancer in your cabinet.  Its name is Steve Casey.  His presence in your camp has derailed the direction of your purpose.  It has inflicted pain and confusion on innocent people and employees and brought organized chaos to your leadership.  His quest to become powerful through your anointing must be stopped.

If there was ever one thing our peers always believed about you, Byron, is that you were fair.  In evaluating the up and down side of a situation, you always opted for what was right.  That was your leadership style, pre-Casey.

Your decision however, to fire me without due process and refusal to pay out the remainder of my term is reflective of Deputy Mayor Casey’s influence on your decision making.  This decision serves no real purpose nor is it politically prudent.  It is, however, definitely politically motivated.  The timing of my termination (right before Golembek’s primary) speaks volumes about the real purpose behind your actions.  You simply gave in to some heavy political pressure from people who had nothing to do with getting you re-elected.  I am respectfully requesting you return to the leadership style hat got you elected Masten District Councilman, NYS Senator and Mayor of the City of Buffalo.

This Social Security Death Master has been given God status.  The $800,000 spent on health care premiums for dead retirees is not lost.  It was stolen by those families who knowingly used insurance they were not entitled to.  Our Comptroller should be trying to get that money back from those families–not trying to help fire me.

Relations with our labor unions are greatly improved.  The new Director of Compensation and Benefits is making phenomenal strides in finding and correcting decades old systemic problems with service delivery and overall division functioning.  The Civil Service Division is operating efficiently and the Personnel Division is gearing up to conduct collective bargaining agreement training.  All of these things have occurred under my watch.  I have no more business being fired than Casey does remaining your Deputy Mayor.

Our detractors are ecstatic watching us prepare to commit suicide on the spirit ofour beloved Grassroots legacy and do irreparable damage to any opportunity or dreams you may have for higher office.  I besiege you – look for an exit route for Steve Casey.  As long as he breathes in your cabinet, it will be on life support, leaving our city gasping for air as he continues to negatively impact your leadership with clandestine poison.

The final destination of this journey we have embarked on is a place called disaster.  Neither one of us will arrive safely if you opt to take this trip to the end of the road.  While the outcome for me may impact my employability, it will leave an indelible mark on your political career.

Byron, the best chemotherapy you can give your advisory cabinet is to change its composition.  Give it a make over.  Replenish it with diversity and some good old fashioned Buffalo born and bred loyal statisticians.  Then and only then will this community’s confidence be restored in your leadership of the City that loves you, embraced you and that God has strategically placed you at the head of.

Respectfully submitted,
Commissioner Karla Thomas


PolitiFAIL Elite Eight: Casey vs. Brown

30 Mar

One could credibly make the argument that Casey and Brown are, politically, the same person.  As Colin Eager put it, Casey is Willie Tyler to Brown’s Lester.

Since Casey and Brown’s political histories are so tightly wound together, who is more responsible for the FAIL?

Is it Byron Brown, the likeable guy who rose from Grassroots activist to Gorski aide to Councilman to Senator to Mayor?  Or is it Steve Casey, who has gone from Gorski aide to Brown aide?  Is it Byron Brown, whose Senate career highlight was a few streets being re-named, or Steve Casey, whose entire career can be summed up as: Steve Pigeon wannabe.

The best analogy to pop culture I can make is to suggest to you that Steve Casey is Grima Wormtongue to Brown’s Theoden.  Not a perfect analogy, and exquisitely nerdy, but it takes up the issue of evil, which the Lester/Willie example doesn’t.

Casey’s misdeeds are legion, and they are the stuff of Buffalo political legend.  Live in his neighborhood and dare to put up a political sign in support of a candidate whom City Hall doesn’t support?  Watch out.  Piss him off at City Hall?  You could find your computer vandalized.  Write something unflattering about the Mayor?  No soup for you.  He allegedly managed Brown’s mayoral campaign on the state’s dime, on state time.  He led city inspectors to harass a neighbor whose garden he didn’t like.  He took a good idea – Citystat – and made sure it was thoroughly politicized beyond all recognition, thus rendered toothlessly useless.

Like the portrayal of soup guy Al Yeganeh in Seinfeld, Casey’s the Byron Nazi.

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This is all a long-winded way of saying Steve Casey is a Volkeresque, Pigeon-flavored asshole, and one wonders why Byron Brown lets it happen.  Unless Byron Brown is also an asshole.  In which case, who’s the bigger asshole?

Who is our political goatse?

There are no stories, necessarily, about Byron Brown doing similarly petty things.  By all accounts, Byron Brown is not just a guy who you want to like – he’s a guy most people do like.  He has stumbled with the handling of his kid’s joyride, and the BERC disaster was truly epic, and one gets a very strong sense that it was just the tip of a corrupt iceberg.

The problem here pivots back to Casey .

Part of the reason for Byron Brown’s presence this far in the tournament is that he is an enabler.  He’s like the wife who knows that daddy beats the kids when he gets drunk, but keeps buying booze anyway.  Petty power plays are like crack to Steve Casey, and Byron Brown is the guy who gives him a lift to buy his shit.

The rumor going around this past year had to do with the fact that the city suddenly found itself without a lot of department heads and key appointees – they saw City Hall as a mere stepping stone.  Byron would sit in as like a caretaker mayor for a term, not make any big mistakes, and then move on to Congress, thus paving the way for Antoine Thompson to become mayor.

A more arrogant and chilling scenario, I could not paint.

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So, the issue is: who is more at fault for the general disappointment – the failure, the broken promises and crushing of the high expectations people had for the Brown administration?  Is it the puppet or the puppetmaster?  Is it the shrewd, sharp-elbowed, tactician, or the mild-mannered, likeable enabler?

This one, dear reader, is harder than it seems.

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PolitiFAIL Tourney Results, Sweet Sixteen

30 Mar

We have now reached the Epic Elite Eight of FAIL.  It was a fun round with some of the best matchup previews to date.  A reminder, the winner of the WNY PolitiFAIL Tournament will be announced at a press conference in front of the Rusted Hulk of Invisible Casino FAIL on Fulton Street in Downtown Buffalo at 5PM on April Fool’s Day.  I hope you’ll be able to join us, we’ll be streaming it live on the site and we’ll invite the winner to receive our FAIL Trophy.

Let’s revisit the day in FAIL.

Joe Illuzzi vs. Andrew Rudnick

This contest was much closer than originally predicted.  In the matchup thread, Illuzzi was compared to both Omar Little and a used condom.  I employed every tactic and insult I had in my quiver to establish a resume of FAIL that would get Mr. Illuzzi past the Bow-Tied Boss of Business Bologna, Andrew Rudnick and into the Elite Eight.  However, the voters rewarded Rudnick’s  seeming lack of accomplishments, high salary and inability to attract women with his feral scent of failure by sending him forward in this tournament with a victory of 204-182.

Byron Brown vs. Mickey Kearns

A rematch of Mayorpaloozer 2009 with Brown once again besting Kearns in a rout.  I thought this contest might be closer than the shellacking Kearns received at the polls last November, but it is pretty clear that the Mayor has no friends among the readership of WNYMedia.  We had expected that a last minute blast of campaign cash from Carl Paladino to help get Mickey over the hump, but he failed to organize his campaign and fell flat on his face, again.  When asked for comment on his victory, the Mayor said, “Ummm, ahhh, ummm, victory in this contest, ummm, ahh”

Dale Volker vs. George Maziarz

This was a clash of FAIL heavyweights.  Two of the most senior members of the FAIL delegation facing off in an epic battle of weak prostates and frivolous mailers to voters.  In the end, Volker’s resume of FAIL, lack of distinguished legislative record, general arrogance and general dickishness carried the day by a margin of 262-198.  Volker can credit his victory to Pundit’s epic matchup preview, which will serve as his magnum opus to local political failure.  Maziarz was last seen hightailing it back to Albany where he can be found spooning up with downstate interests, union insiders and other toxic assets.

The WNY Voter vs. Steve Pigeon

This was a showdown between the citizenry of WNY, who each year shuffle to the polls like labotomized minions of the monied insider club of local politics and the king of inside political baseball, Steve Pigeon.  The WNY voters shook off their thorazine induced shuffle to yank Pigeon from his closet and spank him in the light of day.  The voters rout Mr. Pigeon to move on to the next round after winning by  margin of 296-178.

Antoine Thompson vs. Bill Stachowski

Antoine routed in this one, primarily because most people in the area don’t know who the fuck Bill Stachowski is.  Thompson’s ratio of FAIL/Tenure seems to have struck a chord with the voting audience, 281-167.

Tim Howard vs. Lynn Marinelli

I’m getting tired…Rosco P. Coltrane took it to the high priestess of parliamentary procedures, 271-114.

Chris Collins vs. Barbara Miller-Williams

This wasn’t even close.  It was rumored that BMW tried to buy off voters with the proceeds from her three pensions, but Collins’ Six Sigma’d his way to victory, 311-98.

Steve Casey vs. Bonnie Russell

Casey in a cakewalk over a common councilwoman who few know of and less care about.  She snuck through the early rounds due to weak matchups and once faced with a quality opponent, shrunk faster than Casey’s manhood in a cold pool.  Casey wins 161-72.

Our elite eight matchups are as follows:

City Bracket:

Byron Brown vs. Steve Casey or as others are referring to it, Willie Tyler versus Lester.

State Bracket:

Dale Volker vs. Antoine Thompson

County Bracket:

Chris “Boss Hogg” Collins vs. Tim “Rosco P. Coltrane” Howard

Other Bracket:

The WNY Voter vs. Andrew Rudnick

Matchup previews will be published through the course of the day, stay tuned and keep voting!

Casey vs. Russell, PolitiFAIL 2010 Tourney Sweet Sixteen

29 Mar

Steve Casey . . . the eminence grise of City Hall. Or Willie Tyler to Byron Brown’s Lester.

The amount of electronic ink that’s been spilled on Steve Casey is practically unending. I won’t recap every last City Hall scandal here; a simple search for the man’s name here on WNYMedia would produce an avalanche of reading material. Go ahead — I dare you.

Instead, I’ll just remind the gentle reader of some of the more classics of the man’s pettiness and corruption, the sort of gems that have been lost amidst the sea of sewage emanating from the second floor of City Hall. Remember when Casey ran Brown’s 2005 campaign for mayor while still on the State Senate payroll? Or when Casey decided he didn’t have to pay to park outside Brown campaign headquarters because he was on “state business” — you know, the business of getting Byron Brown elected mayor? Or (my personal favorite) when he sicced city inspectors on a neighbor because she had the temerity to display a lawn sign in support of Mike Locurto? Fantastic!

Councilmember Bonnie Russell (5 seed), on the other hand, is the summation of everything bad about the average Buffalo politician. She can’t pay her bills, and has multiple liens filed against her (one for $573 – really?). She is married to a judge, exemplifying our inbred political system. And she can’t show up for meetings, much less represent her district (University Heights), much to the constant chagrin of the Answer Lady. If you are looking for an upset for your bracket, I think you’ve found it here.

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All-Out War on Syaed Ali

16 Jan

Glenn Gramigna has two stories detailing the apparently illegal harassment that Ali suffered at the hands of law enforcement because he allegedly sent out some emails accusing Byron Brown of teh gay and Joe Illuzzi of soliciting blow from Steve Casey. All of those emails were so over-the-top that they were patently false to any objective observer. I’m sure the Mayor was pissed beyond belief, but it doesn’t mean you break the law. Two wrongs, etc.

HT Dick Kern

Byron Brown for US Senate?

2 Dec

It’s definitely possible.

Anyone with a memory of Mayor Brown’s illustrious career in the State Senate will remember that, of four ground-breaking bills he introduced, three involved changing the names of certain streets in the 60th SD.

That’s street-name change we can believe in. Seriously good government, earth-shattering stuff.

Brown is mentioned in this New York Times City Room piece, and I wondered why it was that the Times would be talking up Brown. Sure, they got a quote from his Grassroots teammate Antoine Thompson. But then the source of the article became clear:

“Byron would be great in that position,” said Steven Pigeon, a former Erie County Democratic Party chairman. “And I’m one of the people promoting him. I think it would mean a tremendous amount to the people of western New York to have him there.”

Mr. Pigeon is also a co-chairman of Responsible New York, a political organization backed by the Rochester billionaire Tom Golisano.

“He would be great for the whole state,” Mr. Pigeon said. “He can deal with people in urban, suburban and rural parts of the state. He’s done it his whole career. If the governor is inclined to consider anyone from western New York, he’s the person that makes the most sense.”

Any buzz, therefore, about Brown going to the US Senate, is in Pigeon’s head.

Think about the Brown administration’s ham-handedness and insular secrecy. Think of the utter charade that is a CitiStat meeting. Think of the hirings and subsequent, often rapid, departures of people to help run the Brown administration. Think of Casey’s cameras, and the way in which their camp has tried (and usually failed) to take over the county Democratic committee, and allegedly used scare tactics and intimidation in order to do it. Think about how City Hall requires a FOIL request for the most routine public record. If you think party machines are bad, evil would-be party machines are worse.

The only viable, responsible choice from upstate to replace Senator Clinton would be Brian Higgins.

Although the thought of sending Steve Casey 500 miles from Buffalo is an attractive idea.

(Photo via cluckbucket @ Flickr)

Clearly and sadly, this is politically motivated

23 Jun

No, not the rumors about Mayor Brown supposedly being investigated by the FBI or considered for an Albany post with Governor Paterson.

The unceremonious firing of Commissioner of Economic Development, Permits and Inspection Services, and all-around smart guy Richard Tobe.

Tobe didn’t get along with Byron’s Thing One, Steve Casey. End of discussion.

Steve Casey: CIA Material

30 May

The ACLU has an ongoing FOIA demand and lawsuit for documents related to the treatment of prisoners in U.S. custody overseas.

Below is a page from a CIA Office of the Inspector General review of the CIA’s interrogation and detention program.

So, we know they waterboarded suspects, and the rest, as the ACLU suggests, is left up to one’s imagination.

This sort of governmental transparency and openness is reminiscent of Buffalo’s own City Hall. See here, and here, and here.

At least the City of Buffalo is in good company.

Also – as an aside – the City’s FOIL policy is a story in and of itself. An administration that ran on CitiStat and transparency has implemented GIGO on one, and completely shut down the other.

And furthermore, the audit of the Mayor’s Impact Team underscores the complete ineffectiveness – or possibly gaming of – CitiStat, which is only as good as the information it is fed. Seems as if the system can be rigged to spit out whatever predetermined conclusion the administration wants – it all depends on the data going in. Its failure to discover longstanding malfeasance in that department leads one to wonder what other events of colossal FAIL remain undetected.

Unfinished Business

13 Mar

I found NYCO’s postmortem on the aborted Spitzer governorship to be directly on-point for pretty much all of beleaguered upstate New York. Particularly:

I remember attending a Spitzer speech on saving cities, before the election. I was trying to get a feel for his ideas and rhetoric, what sort of inspiring inaugural speech he might give us, what grasp of imagery he had, what fresh ideas for Syracuse he might have. It felt like a very wonky speech, without much new in it. I thought this was just a style we would have to get used to, and wait and watch harder for the breaks of light in the rhetorical clouds. But those breaks of light never really came.

Spitzer, as governor, made the rounds of Upstate cities and to Syracuse. What ideas would he bring with him beyond the usual promises of aid and gifts? What was our role in his master plan? But nothing new was unveiled; he just met with local movers and shakers, proclaimed their pre-existing plans good — plans that didn’t always completely enthuse local alternative thinkers. “Right… carry on.” He also hired an “Upstate Czar,” something which seemed like a good idea, and still does I suppose (I wonder what will become of Dan Gundersen now?). But I couldn’t help feeling that whenever Spitzer came here, he was not really paying attention. Of course he couldn’t; this is a huge state; but…

And of course, the little disappointments unfolded against a constant state of war.

Hope after hope, continued waiting and hoping, and little disappointments here and there. And questions floating in, vague wonderings if Spitzer really “got it.” Of course he did. How could he not? All one needed to do was wait just a little while longer.

We had an understanding, Eliot and I.

And now we trade a headstrong, combative downstate executive for a more conciliatory, likeable downstate executive. There is very little that an Albany pol can learn about upstate’s problems by doing a weekly run up and down the Taconic. Spitzer leaves mass quantities of unfinished business – both macro and micro. Paterson may be a nice guy, but I get the sense that he’ll be more of a caretaker, keeping the heat on while waiting for the next superhero to be elected savior in 2010.

Oh, and don’t for a second believe all of Mayor Brown’s talk about how close he is with David Paterson, and how this bodes well for Brown’s clout in Albany, and for Buffalo.

Steve Casey didn’t get his job with then-minority leader Paterson by dint of his resume alone, and there was a lot more going on during Brown’s senate tenure than just the re-naming of street signs. Brown was the vote that swung the minority post Paterson’s way, and it didn’t come without some major dealmaking. Dealmaking that Paterson may not remember as fondly as does Brown.