byron brown

Buffalo Mayor Brown Responds To Bid-Rigging Convictions

Much of the Buffalo Billion case, of which four defendants were found guilty yesterday, surrounded the state tailoring a bid for $750 million RiverBend manufacturing facility to a specific developer.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, D, said he has no tolerance for public wrong-doing but was adamant the convictions do not diminish the “transformational effect” of the governor’s signature economic development plan which funded the factory.

“It has transformed lives,” Brown said. “It’s helping to transform this community and those resources are very much a part of Buffalo’s renaissance.”

The mayor said the funding continues to flow into the Western New York community, with projects in progress and others still to come. He assured developer, who may have felt cheated by the bid-rigging connected to RiverBend, that they will have their chances as well.

“There will be ample opportunities for people to participate in the resources that have been provided through the Buffalo Billion,” Brown said.

The question though, will developers be on a level playing field when those opportunities come around. Brown said at the local level, the city is always reviewing its process to ensure they are working and he expects the state will take its own steps to “make sure any mistakes, any wrongdoing are less likely going forward.”

State Dem Chair Says AG Endorsement Process Will Be Competitive

As state legislators plan to start interviewing potential appointees to replace former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman next week, the State Democratic Party is also considering how to address the vacancy.

Whoever is appointed by the Legislature will not necessarily be the presumptive candidate when the party meets for its convention in less than three weeks. In fact, based on comments from State Party Chair Byron Brown, we could be headed for a primary.

“We have great candidates all across the state of New York,” Brown said. “It will be a very competitive process. It will be an open process and the state convention will be where we will decide who will be the endorsed Democratic candidate for attorney general.”

Brown said diversity is very important consideration both for himself in the governor. Many observers have suggested a female attorney general could restore credibility to the office, given the accusations of domestic violence leveled against Schneiderman.
“Having a female candidate I think is something that could be incredibly attractive to the Democratic base and to New Yorkers in general,” Brown said.

There are several potential candidates from Western New York, where the party chairman lives, but Brown did not endorse any of them nor any other candidate for that matter. He said in order to make it a fair process he doesn’t want to opine before everyone has had the opportunity to present their credentials for consideration.

NY Dem Chair Explains Unity Letter

From the Morning Memo:

This weekend, state Democratic Party chair Byron Brown took aim at the Independent Democratic Caucus, a group of breakaway members that have enabled the state Senate Republicans to retain control of the chamber.

Brown, who issued his unity call a day before the party’s committee members were set to gather for their annual meeting, explained why he decided to entered this long-simmering debate now – even though the 2018 elections that will officially determine the make-up of the Senate are over a year away.

“I think it is reaching a point of critical mass where Democrats in every section of the state of New York, from Long Island all the way to Niagara Falls, are saying that they want to see Democrats work together,” the Buffalo mayor said.

Brown was hand-picked to head up the party by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and formally elected to that post just over a year ago. He said he felt compelled to let IDC members know about the complaints he has been hearing from other Democrats.

In a call with NY1 yesterday, Cuomo said he supports the chairman’s message, and he criticized the Senate arrangement that gives the GOP the de facto majority – albeit without actually naming the IDC.

Although some believe Cuomo has the political weight to reunite the caucus, and have steadily increased pressure for him to do so – particularly as he seeks to raise his national profile with an eye toward a potential 2020 White House run – the governor has repeatedly insisted that’s not the case.

“If they don’t want to marry, I have no power or role in forcing the marriage,” he said during a stop in Western New York this summer.

If not the governor, though, then who is ultimately responsible for brokering this long-awaited peace deal?

Brown believes he knows the answer to that question.

“I think the IDC and mainline Democrats are going to face increasing calls from the public to come together and work together in the best interest of the residents of the state of New York,” he said. “And I wanted to send a clear message that as chair of the state Democratic Party, I have heard from people in every section of our state.”

In his capacity as mayor of an upstate city, Brown said he’s not concerned that a Democratic majority with a majority of downstate representatives in the Senate would negatively affect his community. That’s a line the Senate Republicans have successfully employed for several election cycles running now.

He said members of the party want people in charge who share their values on key issues like healthcare and the environment, among other things.

“I believe that a Democratic Senate is in the best interest of the people of the state of New York, and I certainly believe that Democrats in leadership in the Senate can do an excellent job in representing the interests of the people of Western New York,” he said.

Brown Wins Buffalo Mayoral Primary

From the Morning Memo:

It was a little closer than polls predicted, but by the end of the night, incumbent Byron Brown, unofficially, had come away with a decisive 15 point victory in the Democratic primary for Buffalo mayor.

Given the city’s overwhelming Democratic voter enrollment edge, Brown is headed toward an all-but-certain victory in the November election, which will make him just the second mayor in Buffalo history to win a fourth four-year term.

Brown had 51 percent of the vote before absentee ballots were counted, while city Comptroller Mark J.F. Schroeder had 36 percent, and Erie County Legislator Betty Jean Grant 13 percent.

It’s the fourth Democratic primary Brown has won during his political career. Before a large crowd at a pretty lavish party in front of City Hall, the mayor reflected on the victory.

“Tonight it’s clear our can-do spirit is still going strong,” he said. “We are a proud people, hopeful, positive and optimistic. We’ve come a long way in a short period of time.”

Schroeder, meanwhile, told his supporters they won despite his loss, because they made sure during the campaign that the mayor didn’t get a free pass.

“We know that Buffalonians are grateful for downtown development and waterfront development, but the people in the neighborhoods are muttering, ‘What about us?’ And we gave them a plan,” he said.

Grant, who gave up her seat on the Legislature by running for the mayor’s office, said she believes Brown also took on some of her issues during the campaign.

“Things that I talked about, he’s doing now,” she said. “We talked about streets not being paved for years. They’re being paved now. We talk about sidewalks not being repaired. They’re being repaired. We talk about commercial strip having vacant eyesore buildings. They’re being renovated.”

Brown was asked about the nearly half of voters who chose someone else over him, and insisted he represents everyone in Buffalo, regardless of who they supported in this primary.

“I say to every resident of the city of Buffalo that we want to reach out to them, that we want to work with them and when we work together, we are a much stronger community and that’s what we need to do going forward,” he said.

Although Brown will be the prohibitive favorite in November, he still has an election to get through. Among the candidates challenging him is Schroeder, who won the Reform Party primary.

Political Investigations A Prime Topic During Buffalo Mayoral Debate

From the Morning Memo:

There were rarely raised voices or interruptions during the Buffalo mayoral debate before the Democratic primary, but the tone Wednesday evening was undeniably confrontational. The two challengers, City Comptroller Mark Schroeder and Erie County Legislator Betty Jean Grant, consistently attacked incumbent Byron Brown and his record. Brown, in turn, often implied, if not outright said his opponents were liars.

The numerous investigations connected to individuals close to Brown was a theme of the debate. The first question from panel member Bob McCarthy of the Buffalo News was about operatives like Steve Pigeon, Steve Casey, and Maurice Garner.

All three men have been associated with probes and all three at some point in time have been considered Brown allies.

“I think the fact that people that I know are being looked at has no bearing on me,” Brown said. “I am very proud of the record that I have been able to develop as mayor of the city of Buffalo in almost 12 years of service as mayor. It is a record of honesty, integrity and delivering results.”

But both Grant and Schroeder made sure to try and connect the investigations to the incumbent. Grant went as far as to say a “plot to discredit her” in 2013, was hatched on the 2nd floor of City Hall.

Schroeder was less specific about implicating Brown but said the voters should understand what’s at stake. He said he saw plenty of scandal when he was in Albany.

“I was in the New York State Assembly when they escorted Governor Elliott Spitzer out of the building and our government was in free fall. This is not a good thing and this is not what we want going forwarded.”

Brown said there is not one shred of evidence that he’s being investigated and in fact said while his opponents are begging for something bad to happen, “it will not.” He said Brown and Schroeder shouldn’t be using scare tactics.

Mayor Brown Says Law Enforcement Would Be Prepared For Mass Demonstrations In Buffalo

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, D, acknowledged on Monday no community is immune to the type of white nationalist demonstration that led to violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. Brown noted demonstrators in Virginia came from all over the country to protest at the end of last week and this weekend.

“Unfortunately, these kinds of acts could happen in different places,” Brown said. “It was a despicable act in Charlottesville, Virginia and it is why it is so important for us to repudiate the white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan members, and the neo-Nazis that came into this community and created that havoc, brought that evil, and perpetrated those despicable acts.”

The mayor also pointed out the Alt-Right groups had obtained a permit to protest. He said in Buffalo, the city monitors its permits very closely but did not rule out the possibility groups could go to court if they believed their right to free speech was being infringed upon. In that case, Brown said law enforcement would have a plan and be prepared.

“We certainly would work to prevent those kinds of groups from coming into this community but if they did, our police department, law enforcement agencies in our region, public safety agencies in our region, have a lot of experience in dealing with large scale, mass gatherings of people and we would be able to address it effectively here in the city of Buffalo,” he said.

Brown, who is also the chairman of the New York State Democratic Party, said despite the violence, he does not believe race relations are worse in the United States than they have been in the past. He said he’s been heartened to see people in communities across the country, including Buffalo, organize peaceful demonstrations this weekend.

“I think it’s critically important, all over the country, for people to speak out against this kind of intolerance, this kind of hatred, and this kind of racism,” Brown said.

The mayor said he does believe the president’s rhetoric has often been divisive and “there are many that feel” it has created a platform for racism. President Trump specifically condemned white supremacists and neo-Nazis on Monday.