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Brown, Collins & Bruno: A three-ring circus

Let's catch up with what our fearless leaders are up to.

First up, Mayor Byron Brown, who has decided he wants to take back the parks, but is being coy about his intentions for the Olmsted system.

Brown and casey It seems strange, even by City Hall standards, that the mayor would want to mess with what appears to be the unqualified success of the Olmsted Conservancy.

But let's keep in mind the way his administration strung along most of the housing and human service agencies that depend on City Hall for funding.

Regardless of their performance, agency after agency waited months and months to get their contracts approved, and with it, the money necessary to operate.

Next, Erie County Executive Chris Collins, who, more and more, reminds me of a local version of Dubya. The imperial thing, ya' know?

Chris collinsFaced with $1 million in spending for culturals that Collins doesn't want, he says he will simply ignore the additional money by refusing to sign contracts with the groups for the amount of funding earmarked by the County Legislature. Rather, he'll stick to his original figure.

After all, give and take between the executive and legislative branches is for wusses.

Just ask Dubya.

But wait, there's one add-on Collins is going to honor - $300,000 for the Colored Musicians Club.

Why the exception?

Because it's supported by Legislator Barbara Miller-Williams, silly. She's being courted to head a hybrid coalition of Republican and opportunistic Democratic legislators that would form a Collins-friendly majority - at least until the county executive blows it up by acting like, well, Chris Collins.

Keeping the $300,000 only underscores that this budget spat isn't really about principle, but politics.

Finally, we have Joe Bruno, who is poised to trade in one set of pinstripes for another, thanks to his conviction on corruption charges. 

Bruno It wasn't so long ago that Bruno, Eliot Spitzer, Alan Hevesi and Sheldon Silver were running state government.

Who wouda' thunk that Chris Collin's version of the Antichrist would be the last man standing?

I wonder who will be the next domino to fall?

As an aside, Pat Lakamp has a terrific package of stories in the paper the past couple of days on City Hall's management of its grants program. Suffice to say, it's a mess.

I also had a story on how Brown and Co. decided to reward one restaurant with more than $150,000 in grants despite its history of being a tax deadbeat. But hey, where else could you hope to find both warm food and hot parking permits.

Usually, I'd be all over the stories in this blog, but I'm going to hold my fire until this coming Sunday, when I expect we'll publish companion stories on BERC's lending practices. So, sit tight. I'll try to make it worth the wait.

As the Carpenters once sang, "We've Only Just Begun."

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City Hall | Local Government | Politics | State government
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