It's pretty safe to say it's all over but the shouting, and believe me, there will be shouting.
The first business day after Brian Davis pleaded guilty to pocketing campaign contributions and lying to about it to the state Board of Elections, his colleagues on the Common Council got busy making him a persona non-grata.
They stripped him of all his committee assignments and pretty much said said he's finished. Or, in the words of Mickey Kearns of the Sounth District:
"Based on his guilty plea, he has violated state public officers' law, and he's no longer a Council member."
Update: Davis' support on the Council is down to zero as of Tuesday afternoon. About the only pol we haven't heard from is Mayor Byron Brown. Why are we not surprised?
Council leaders on Monday met with Acting Corporation Counsel David Rodriguez to ask him about what it takes to replace Davis and how soon the city law department will render a legal opinion to get the ball rolling.
Already, attention is turning to who will replace Davis for the remaining 25 months of his term.
Here's the intelligence I've picked up the past couple of days:
The Council would appoint a replacement, after presumably conducting interviews of candidates and fielding a non-binding, but usually accepted recommendation from the Democratic committeemen for the Ellicott District.
If you're assuming Brown's surrogates in Grassroots control committee seats in the district, you'd be wrong. I'm told neither Grassroots nor another faction headed by Arthur O. Eve. Jr. hold a majority of seats. There's also a number of committeemen independent of those two camps - swing votes, if you will.
Prospective candidates are already coming out of the woodwork and the field could grow to 10 or more. Names being bandied about include Barabara Miller-Williams, who used to hold the seat and now serves in the County Legislature; firefighter Byron McIntrye, who previously ran against Davis and who narrowly lost a race this spring for the Board of Education; and a couple of other former candidates for the Ellicott seat, William Trezevant and Kenny Robinson. I'm also hearing Marilyn Rogers, who works for the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority.
A lot is at stake politically.
In a sense, there is an anti-Brown majority on the Council - five of nine members - although when push comes to shove, most of them go along with the mayor. But politically, the majority is not on the same page as the mayor, and they realize that if they appoint another like-minded member in the Ellicott seat, they would have a veto-proof majority, which could shake things up. To say nothing of ruining Steve Casey's day.
Adding yet more intrigue are preliminary discussions among some Council members about reorganization that would change, or reaffirm, key leadership positions. Among the titles up for grabs in Council president, which is kind of a big deal, even moreso with Brown's uncertain future.
Yeah, the mayor was just re-elected to a second term, but that doesn't necessarily mean he is long for City Hall.
He's mentioned as a possible running mate to Andrew Cuomo, although not in this New York Times story from yesterday. Furthermore, his administration is being investigated by everyone this side of the KGB and, as the commerical goes "Hey, you never know."
If the mayor leaves in mid-term, the Council president succeeds him. So, the reorganization takes on special importance, and the appointment of a Davis successor is a factor.
There's another reason why the Ellicott appoint is important. Because the district is arguably one of the most important in the city.
It includes all of downtown, the inner-harbor (i.e. Bass Pro site), Erie Basin Marina and LaSalle Park, the Buffalo Medical Campus, and neighborhoods adjoining downtown on the lower west and near east sides that are in various stages of decline and revitalization.
In other words, if there's any district seat in the city where you want someone who is on the ball, someone who can influence decisions that impact the entire city -- indeed, the region -- it is Ellicott. And no one worth a hoot has occupied the seat since Jim Pitts.
So, here's hoping the the committeemen, and then the Council, go beyond politics in deciding who will fill the seat.
Don't blow this one, guys and gals.
taggedCity Hall | Politics