Tag Archives: patronage hires

Then Why Be Mayor?

22 May

The City of Buffalo Common Council, upon review of mayoral documents, recently discovered that after five months of “searching,” literally nothing has been done to fill the vacant Police Chief’s post. My WNYMedia colleague, Buffalo Pundit, asks the obvious question: what’s the hold up? But to go a bit deeper, I’d like to ask the obvious follow up: why is Byron Brown the Mayor of Buffalo in the first place?

I’m not talking politics here. I’m not asking how Grassroots got him elected, or why Mickey Kearns didn’t a run a better campaign, or who-owes-who favors in Pigeon land. What I mean is: why did Byron Brown wake up one morning and decide to run for Mayor?

I ask because the answer is clearly not to govern. The constant of the last four and half years of the Brown Administration has been glacial change, a focus on minutia, and podium announcements. In no way has governance (dynamic or otherwise) been on the agenda.

Let us cite only the more recent examples. After the high profile firing of top administration officials upon re-election, most posts remain empty. Economic development czars, planners, and strategic development types have been shuffled, fired, or not shown up for work, and their posts remain unfilled. Agencies are broken up and recombined. Underlings change job titles to give the impression of change. The city take over of the parks was a reaction to the county dumping the job, not an initiative of city hall. Pint sized bills for an obscure tax get sent to city homeowners, and the Mayor has heard nothing about it. Recently, the mayor announced a plan to review the outdated building codes of the city. I heard rumblings of this for years – why did it take over four years to hire a consultant to start this? The list could go on and on.

So if Byron Brown has no interest in being a leader, governing the city, fostering change or leaving a legacy, then what is he in it for? The cynical answer is cronyism and the power to hand out patronage jobs. While this may be correct, it is a sad sad state of affairs. In larger or more affluent cities, patronage jobs pay real money and hold real power. In poor Buffalo, it is pathetic to see political machines fight over the scraps: sub-$30K a year “jobs” in the parks department, on water boards, and other commissions. Its not like the Masten and Hamlin park neighborhoods are booming because Brown is directing money and jobs into those areas. Can it really be so valuable for handfuls of friends and supporters to owe the mayor favors? The One Sunset deal is about $200K in lost loans and $30K in cookware. Seriously?

So I ask the honest question to all our good WNYMedia readers and commentors. What’s in it for Byron Brown, and why did he want to be mayor after all?

If all Brown really wanted to do is meet the President, there are easier ways to do it than becoming mayor of Buffalo.

The Specter of Pigeon

21 May

One of the overlooked results from Arlen Specter’s loss to Joe Sestak on Tuesday night is the fact that Pedro Espada patronage hire Steve Pigeon claimed to be instrumental in convincing Specter to switch to the Democratic Party last year.

It got the attention of a Kos commenter, and later Kos himself in a post from June 2009.  It quotes the Buffalo News:

Steve Pigeon, the former Erie County Democratic Party boss who helped mastermind Monday’s coup in the [New York] state Senate, is in line for a top Senate job if the takeover holds in the coming days.

“I expect to play a role. I’m being talked to,” Pigeon confirmed today at the Capitol […]

Pigeon and B. Thomas Golisano, the billionaire owner of the Buffalo Sabres, were still at the Capitol today doing a victory dance — and engaged in non-stop media interviews — for their role in helping the 30 Republicans and two Democrats in Monday’s coup.

Pigeon began working with Republicans and a small contingent of Democrats in late April on a plan to wrestle control of the Senate. Golisano, who poured millions into helping Democrats take control of the Senate in last fall’s elections, gave the green light to Pigeon to work on the coup following a sour meeting between Golisano and Smith at the end of April.

Guess what? Pigeon got his Senate patronage job thanks to Pedro Espada’s assholedness and Tom Golisano’s money.  But Specter lost his because he was too centrist for the Republicans and too opportunistic for the Democrats.

Which further proves the theory: there is nothing that Steve Pigeon does that is for the good of anyone but Steve Pigeon.