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Brown, Casey and Davis: BERC no-shows

"Eighty percent of success is showing up," proclaimed Woody Allen.

Which may help explain why the Buffalo Economic Renaissance Corp. is such a mess.

The agency's governing board includes two elected officials, Mayor Byron Brown, who serves as chairman, and Ellicott Common Council Member Brian Davis.

Davis hasn't shown up for a board meeting since last November, shortly after he bounced a rent check for the One Sunset restaurant.

The mayor hadn't been seen since December until he showed up for a hastily called meeting last week to discuss Brian Reilly's resignation as BERC president earlier that day.

Problem was, the meeting violated the state Open Meetings Law because the agency failed to notify the press and public. Apparently, the people's business was none of our business.

I got to looking at the minutes of board meetings posted at BERC's Web site and found that the private-sector members are pretty diligent about attending.

It was a different story for city officials.

Brown has made only eight of 20 meetings since January 2007. Keep in mind, he's the chairman.

Davis has made six of 13. He actually was showing up most of the time until the you-know-what started hitting the fan on One Sunset.

Deputy Mayor Steve Casey was a chronic no-show until he finally stepped down from the board late last year, making only four of 14 meetings. He blew off all eight board meetings in 2008 before stepping aside late in the year.

I'm not sure why Casey wasn't showing up; perhaps he had more pressing business, like gearing up for the mayor's re-election campaign. I trust Casey has a better attendance record at campaign strategy sessions than he did at BERC meetings.

I understand the mayor is a busy fellow. Maybe he can't make all the meetings, although I believe BERC sets its board schedule well in advance, so I'm not sure scheduling conflicts are a legitimate excuse.

But isn't it reasonable for the mayor -- the chairman of the board, for crying out out -- to be there more than he's not? Especially this May and June when the board considered measures to clean up the abuses The News revealed in our investigation of One Sunset.

The mayor would have us believe he is going to reform the agency. He might start by showing up.

It's worked for Woody.


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