Tag Archives: Daniel Derenda

Derenda Part II, Electric Boogaloo

21 Jul

A Buffalo Common Council source told me their strategy for dealing with with Mayor Brown’s nominee for police commissioner is essentially, “Derenda delenda est“.

Later today, at a special session, Byron Brown will resubmit Dan Derenda’s name as his nominee to be Buffalo’s next police commissioner.  This came after the council held up the nomination in committee last week and essentially tabled a vote on Derenda until the completion of the their seven-week summer break.  Since that meeting to table Derenda’s nomination, we were treated to a special hearing with Buffalo Human Resources Commissioner Karla Thomas, at which she was unable to lend credibility to the Mayor’s claim that a national search for a commissioner was undertaken.

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This supposed “national search” resulted in a nominee who lacks a college degree or extensive professional training, lacks command experience, may/may not live in the City of Buffalo and whose main qualification appears to be his resume submission to http://geocities.com/friends_of_steve_casey.  As I said the other day, the issue isn’t necessarily Derenda’s qualifications (or lack thereof), but rather the ham-handed way the process was handled by the Brown administration.

There was no need to promise a national search for the job when they had no intention of actually conducting one.  Not following through and not being transparent about the process only gave their political opponents the opportunity to debunk the Mayor’s story.  Which they are doing with great enthusiasm.

The council did not take up the matter of Derenda’s nomination during their regularly scheduled meeting yesterday.  There was debate as to whether or not the Mayor could legally resubmit Derenda’s nomination on short notice and rather than fight out the charter legalities on the floor, the Mayor pulled the nomination.

Today, he’ll resubmit and we’ll see some political fireworks from Councilmen Kearns, Rivera and LoCurto, the three staunchest members of the Derenda opposition camp.  Derenda has support from Grassroots-affiliated Demone Smith, Bonnie Russell and Joe Golombek.  Rich Fontana has also stated that he intends to vote in the affirmative, which means Mayor Brown only needs one more vote for confirmation.  Ellicott Councilman Curtis Haynes has not given an indication of what he intends to do, but he voted to table last week and generally votes with the ECDC/Hoyt affiliated members of the Council.

This makes Council President Dave Franczyk the man of the hour.  What will he do?  I suspect Franczyk can be convinced that it’s in the interest of the city to fill the position and not wait two months for the Mayor to submit Derenda’s name again.  The Council has extracted enough political blood from the Mayor at this point and it’s probably time to move on.

In other news at the council, Kevin Helfer got his patronage job as parking czar and the ECDC Democrats voted down Mayor Brown’s nomination of Grassroots-affiliated David Rodriguez to serve as Corporation Counsel to the City.  They also tabled the Bass Pro Community Development Agreement, perhaps until after the recess.

Double Secret National Search

19 Jul

Today, Karla Thomas, Commissioner of Human Resources for the City of Buffalo appeared before the Buffalo Common Council to answer questions about the “national search” conducted to hire a new Commissioner of the Buffalo Police Department.  And by “answer questions”, I mean she was visibly annoyed by the requirement to be there and informed the Council that she simply posted the job to various free websites, performed no background checks, did not vet the applications, was not part of the selection process, conducted no followup on the applications, nor was she in any way involved aside from forwarding resumes to the Mayor.  Watch Thomas give us her best Sgt. Schultz impression during the hearing:

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If you haven’t been following the story, the Mayor decided to hire Daniel Derenda, who served as Deputy Commissioner of Police under previous Commissioner H. McCarthy Gipson (who was fired while in a hospital bed).  Derenda is a close political ally of FIRST Deputy Mayor Steve Casey and was appointed to the position of Deputy Commissioner with no previous command experience.  He also lacks a college degree or extensive professional education, typically precursors to a nomination to the top police job in one of America’s 100 largest cities.

Marc Odien has the details on the “national search” which included several job postings which were submitted to various job websites this past weekend.

Human Resources Commissioner Karla L. Thomas insisted at today’s hearing (video coming soon) that the use of 14 free Internet sites where the job opening was posted produced 33 “well qualified” candidates out of a pool of 41 applicants.

However one of the two sites she claimed fed the listings to 13 other sites shows a different story.  Note the date: 17 July 2010

As of Saturday, the City began  soliciting applications and resumes for a job they have already awarded to the guy they found by the water cooler during their supposed “national search”.

Let’s be honest here, no “national search” was conducted.  There is no definition of “national search” that could possibly be stretched to define what happened.  In politics, the smallest lies can create the biggest problems.  For being such supposed expert political operators, Casey and Brown repeatedly demonstrate a keystone cops level aptitude for political machinations.  They are just not very good at this whole “Mayoring” thing.

There was no need to promise a national search for the job when they had no intention of actually conducting one.  Not following through and not being transparent about the process only gave their political opponents the opportunity to debunk the Mayor’s story.  Which they are doing with great enthusiasm.

There were two ways to go about the process of replacing Commissioner Gipson.

1.)  Conduct an honest and transparent search for a replacement, much like what was recently done in Albany.  Their task force (appointed by the Mayor) found qualified candidates from around the country and then subjected those candidates to a public review and vetting process.

The pool of 48 candidates for the city’s next police chief has been winnowed to nine, seven of whom are from outside the Capital Region. The group includes the local head of the FBI, the head of security programs for the World Trade Center, the chief of police in Rochester, Buffalo’s former police commissioner, a former top State Police official and a former deputy chief from Detroit.

Deputy Albany Police Chief Steven Krokoff also has made the cut to receive an interview with the advisory task force picked by Mayor Jerry Jennings to vet the resumes — the only internal candidate to survive the process.

The pool also includes the current chief of the Saginaw, Mich., police and the former chief in Gaithersburg, Md.

The names emerged as the panel also scheduled two additional public forums on the chief search.

Initially, the task force, led by retired Albany County Judge Larry Rosen, had planned to keep the names of applicants confidential until the panel had concluded its interviews and forwarded a handful of names to Jennings for consideration. But the task force reversed course on that issue Monday, citing the immense public interest in the search.

Conducting an open search would have yielded top candidates and involved the public in the process.  Simply posting 100 word job descriptions on free websites was not a “search”, it was a passive solicitation.

2.)  Appoint Derenda to the position without conducting a national search.  Elections have consequences and Mayor Brown was re-elected by a massive margin to lead the City of Buffalo and make Commissioner level appointments.  A direct appointment accompanied with the reasoning behind his endorsement, backed up with endorsements of other commanders within the Department would not have lead to an easy confirmation, but it at least would have been honest.  It may have limited the damage to Derenda’s credibility in the community and within the Department.

Unfortunately, the Mayor went the Dean Wormer route and conducted a “Double Secret” national search and did it clumsily.  The internet makes it pretty easy for us to find out how the search was conducted and this one never really happened.

Council Punts on Derenda

14 Jul

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And in the end, the Buffalo Common Council punted on Daniel Derenda’s bid to become Police Commissioner. The Legislation Committee voted 4-2 to hold the issue until such time as they can inquire of the absent city HR director regarding the supposed, too-little-too-late “national search”.

As with many things in Buffalo City Government, a skeptical council faces off against an obstinate executive office and instead of something good or something bad happening, nothing happens.

As an aside, Councilman Joe Golombek, who is running against Sam Hoyt for State Assembly, is currently allied with the Mayor and voted in favor of the Derenda nomination whilst making concern-trolling mouth-noises to maintain a Saran-wrap-like sheen of “independence”.

Buffalo City Council Hearing Re: Daniel Derenda (UPDATED)

13 Jul

WNYMedia.net is streaming this live today via USTREAM.

A guy walked in a few minutes ago wearing a black t-shirt and holding a huge placard reading “Stop Police Corruption”. Derenda isn’t scheduled to speak until 3:15 4:00 at the earliest. Much of the criticism leveled against him has to do with the fact that the city promised, but evidently failed, to conduct a nationwide search for the police commissioner of the second-largest city in New York State.

Albany, on the other hand, performed just such a search, and even let the press write about the top nine candidates.

Compare and contrast.

UPDATE: Derenda begins his opening statement at around 4pm, going through his qualifications as commissioner. He is a HS graduate without a college degree, but claims that his police experience, together with his command experience, more than make up for that. Touts improving crime statistics in the City of Buffalo.

Derenda’s opening statement concludes with, “I am a city resident and have been; lifelong.”

Councilman Golombek is criticizing the Brown Administration for saying it would perform a nationwide search, but then not doing so. He also wonders why the mayor didn’t at least provide the qualifications of all of the interviewed candidates, even if the names themselves aren’t revealed. Olivia Licata, from the city’s HR department, states that there was a national search and 40 resumes were received and reviewed. That’s all the information she will provide. It was not until May 2010 that the nationwide search was begun, given the maximum 6 month deadline for an acting commissioner to serve, which began in December 2009. Golombek states that he will vote to confirm Derenda based on his qualifications, not on issues concerning the city’s search and transparency.

Mickey Kearns quizzes Derenda – how many servicepeople are in the BPD – the figure is 774, and Derenda breaks it down. 150 civilians work for the department. Derenda doesn’t know what the department’s budget is. Derenda created a BMHA housing unit for the BPD. From January – June 2010, there have been 27 homicides in the city of Buffalo, including one at a BMHA housing facility. Derenda likes two-man cars, and uses them to respond to hotspots. Supports precincts over districts, but recognizes that there are union issues.

I have to leave, and there are 7 additional councilmembers to go. Watch the WNYMedia.net feed on USTREAM.

Buffalo News Pwn3d by Commenters

29 Jun

The Mayor of the City of Buffalo appointed interim Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda to the post permanently. The Buffalo News’ article reporting that fact is quite odd, to put it mildly.

On a whim, I checked out the comments to the article. What I found there, posted by anonyms who were free to write without fear of retaliation by City Hall or Police HQ, was information that directly contradicted the news transcribed in the Buffalo News from city press releases and provided by the Mayor’s office.

Derenda, 50, an East Side resident and 24-year veteran of the force, declined to comment, though he was seen headed into meetings with Mayor Byron W. Brown at City Hall this morning. The position of top cop pays $116,989 a year.

More specifically,

Derenda and his wife and their two young children reside in Buffalo’s Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood, where he grew up. In past interviews, Derenda said it was always his goal to join the police department.

But anonymous commenter “ProperEnglish” posted this:

Dear Ms. Sullivan,

Seeing as though you and your minions at the Snooze refuse to do any investigative reporting and continue to print blatant propaganda from Brown, Casey, Cutler and the likes, I took it upon myself to do a simple search of public records.

Dan Derenda and his wife currently reside in Clarence, and have for several years. Correct me if I’m wrong but, when he was Deputy Police Commissioner he was supposed to be under the rule that states he was SUPPOSED to live in the City, right?

He claims an address on Pierce street in Buffalo. However, if you or your fine reporters had done ANY sort of homework, you would have realized that this is a fraud! The particular piece of property that he and his wife own on Pierce street is legally deemed a paper street. I don’t know of anyone who resides on a “paper street”.

My next post will have my references, so don’t delete this post as uninformed hearsay!

Sure enough, ProperEnglish in the very next comment reveals that Derenda has resided in Clarence Center since about 2006, according to the County Clerk’s records, and his phone number is listed there.

Another anonymous commenter, who might not want his or her real identity known says:

lou michel and brian meyer have absolutley lost all credibility, printing this propaganda should be criminal: failure to recognize his lack of rank, failure to explore his business ties with the brown bandwagon, a failure to investigate his real residence and a failure to explore his real “work ethic” by running his company on city time, makes this article a total fluff piece, as if we will fall for it. figures the only cop to talk about derenda on the record is diina, those two and the word dedication in the same sentence is actually funny. diina will have to give up his trophy for the most hated commissioner, now that his buddy derenda is working his 3 hrs a day, 7 day a week work schedule…

Maybe it’s not just the racist BS that prompted the News to get rid of anonymous commenting in the coming weeks. Maybe it’s also the fact that it can be pretty brutally pwn3d by its readers within a few hours of the article’s appearance.

And here’s what Artvoice wrote about Derenda’s chances of becoming Commissioner a full month and a half ago:

Derenda a “Shoe-In”

That’s how a policeman friend of ours described Daniel Derenda’s prospects for being named Buffalo’s next police commissioner. Derenda has been interim commissioners since Mayor Byron Brown unceremoniously fired H. McCarthy Gipson at the end of last year. The mayor promised that there would be a national search for Gipson’s replacement, but lately some members of the Common Council have complained that there’s been no earnest effort to find any other candidate than Derenda.

You may recall reading something about the matter in this column in the first issue of 2010: “The number one candidate is Deputy Commissioner Dan Derenda, who reportedly has the support of Deputy Mayor Steve Casey,” we reported. We suggested then that the Brown administration worried that the Common Council majority might hesitate to confirm the selection. In addition to kneejerk reaction to Casey’s support, the Council might balk because Derenda’s primary residence is apparently in Clarence and he lacks. A delay in appointing him would give him time to sort that out.

Derenda has donated $2,200 to Brown’s campaign coffers since 2006, and his apparel company, First Impressions, donated $696 in goods to the mayor’s re-election campaign. First Impressions has provided campaign support to numerous candidates Brown has sponsored in recent years, including Barbra Kavanaugh, Antoine Thompson, Jessica Maglietto, and Craig Hannah.

I’m sure Derenda’s tenure as Commissioner will be neither more nor less distinguished than that of his predecessors. But at the very least, one would hope that the local paper would do more than simply offer Peter Cutler transcription services.