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Acknowledging the obvious on One Sunset

The Brown Administration has begun to fess up, at least in private, about at least some of the shenanigans its main economic development agency engaged in with regards to the funding and operation of the failed One Sunset restaurant.

Mayor Byron Brown's office on Tuesday forwarded its review of the agency's role to City Comptroller Andrew SanFilippo. But neither the mayor nor the comptroller would release the report, saying it should remain hush-hush until SanFilippo's office completes a larger audit of the Buffalo Economic Renaissance Corp.

The report ought to made public and The News will file a request for it under the state Freedom of Information Law.

Sources told my colleague, Brian Meyer, that the review found fault with the actions of BERC veep Michelle Barron. Our story a week ago Sunday detailed her involvement, right down to the painting of bar stools.

At the same time, Brown, responding to a questions from Meyer, acknowledged Tuesday that he met with Stokes regarding the restaurant. Said it was no big deal, that he meets with "literally hundreds of people every week."

Well, maybe if you count all the people in a room when he gives a speech. But we know that Brown is a largely sheltered and isolated mayor, and I doubt a whole lot of people -- outside of his inner circle -- get a private sit-down with hizzoner during the course of a week. And I'll bet few, if any, aspiring restaurant owners get such an audience.

All this leads to a larger question -- what was the mayor's role in the city's decision to help fund and operate One Sunset?

The Brown Administration review --prepared by BERC attorney Divitta Alexander, who was not exactly cooperative when The News was conducting its investigation -- apparently limits culpability to Barron.

But, readers, you should be mindful that the mayor refused to discuss One Sunset when I called his office for an interview during the course of conducting our investigation. I explained to his spokesman that I had specific questions about the mayor's potential direct involvement in the city's decision to assist the restaurant.

The mayor flat-out refused to field questions. 

In the course of writing this blog post, I left word with the mayor's spokesman that I still want that interview. Let's see how he responds.

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