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Two "class" acts

Let's see. We have Bryon Brown stiffing a member of President Obama's Cabinet in a rare visit to Buffalo and Chris Collins calling an orthodox Jew an "anti-Christ" and mentioning him in the same breath as  Hitler.

We know how to pick 'em in Western New York, don't we?

Let's start with Collins and a report from Bob McCarthy:

In a story first reported by the New York Daily News, the county executive -- who is exploring a run for governor next year -- referred to French seer Nostradamus' predictions that the world would experience three "anti-Christs" before the apocalypse. He then said it's generally accepted the first was Napoleon, the second Hitler, and was "pretty sure" the third is Silver -- an orthodox Jew.

Collins said it in the context of Silver as part of Albany's "three men in a room" budget process, in which the two legislative leaders and the governor make most budgetary decisions.

The remarks are already sending shock waves through the state's political establishment, and Collins has reacted, calling his choice of words "a poor joke."

"While we may disagree strongly on policy matters, my statement had no place in our political discourse and I am truly sorry to both the speaker and to anyone else who I may have offended," he said.

Are we talking poor taste, or something deeper?

I don't know, but let's examine Collins' recent track record.

His county attorney is steadfastly trying to block efforts by state and federal officials to find out what's happening at the county prison and holding center, in the face of escapes and allegations of prisoner abuse.

In his effort to elect four Republicans to the County Legislature, and tip the balance of power his way, he has aligned himself with the local Tea Party movement that includes some extreme right wing voices, as documented by the Buffalo Geek.

And, through the budget process, Collins has taken aim at numerous programs aimed at the poor and proposed a three-year funding freeze for a library system that is already hurting.

Does all this sound like a guy running county government like a business? Or a right wing ideologue?

Hey, I report. You decide.

On to the mayor.

Who do you see in the picture below. Or, more precisely, who don't you see?

HUD secretary











Let's see, there's Brian Higgins. And Shaun Donovan, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and urban Development. And Chuck Schumer. All three flew in from out of town. Also pictured on the far right is, no, not Chris Collins, but Anthony Armstrong, of the Buffalo office of the Local Initiatives Support  Corp.

Why was Donovan here?

Schumer said the secretary came to Buffalo to learn more about the plan that he and Higgins are shepherding in Congress.

In other words, our lawmakers are hustling to set up a program that would likely help Buffalo, among other places, and the guy in a position to write the check wants to know more.

Brown was supposed to participate in the secretary's daylong visit. But nooooooooooo. He was too busy, according to Peter Cutler, his spokesman.

What was so important that the mayor couldn't meet with Donovan?

"It was just a busy day," Cutler said.

Busy with what?

"Some issues at the office."

No big deal Brown didn't take time out, Cutler assured me.

"He's met with the HUD secretary before."

But have near fear, Brown sent Deputy Mayor Donna Brown in his place.

"He wanted to make sure we had a presence."

I'm told by someone in attendance the deputy mayor showed up more than half-an-hour late.

Nice. I'm sure than made a good impression.

Now let me get this straight. The nation's top urban affairs official makes a rare visit to Buffalo and the mayor is too busy? The same mayor who shows up at every ribbon-cutting ceremony, who treats crime scenes as a a photo op?


I'm not in the guy's head, so I don't know for sure why he blew off the fellow in a position to bring a lot of money to the nation's third-poorest city.

But I do know that Brown was irate in March when HUD issued a report ripping the city's management of its block grant program, to the point where he called D.C. to demand that HUD silence Steve Banko, head of the Buffalo office. And I think it's pretty safe to assume hizzoner wasn't happy when HUD's inspector general agreed in July to audit the city's use of block grant funds.

So, was the mayor too busy, or still in a snit?

As I said earlier, I report. You decide.

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