It looks like Mayor Byron Brown is going to clean house, of sorts, to start off his second term.
Police Commission H. McCarthy Gipson, Fire Commissioner Michael Lombardo and Economic Development Commissioner Brian Reilly are all out.
You could see the Reilly dismissal coming since the summer, what with the slick move to get his live-in girlfriend health insurance via the taxpayer, the fallout from One Sunset, etc. I was among those who initially thought Reilly had potential, but in retrospect, he wasn't cut out for the job.
Brown has turned to the Buffalo Niagara Partnership for help in finding a successor, which I find troubling. Let's face it, the Partnership is a special interest group, and not a particularly effective one, to put it diplomatically.
It's not just that Brown has turned to it for help in hiring a replacement for Reilly, but Dennis Penman, the acting head of the Buffalo Economic Renaissance Corp., has included several folks from the Partnership in closed-door discussions with economic development types in an effort to come up with recommendations to the mayor on how to fix the city's approach to economic development.
Again, why, given the Partnership's track record?
Gipson's removal as police commissioner also comes as no surprise. He hasn't exactly been a dynamo and sources tell me there's been friction between the commissioner and both the mayor's office and other members of the police brass.
I'm a wee bit surprised -- and, from what I understand, a lot of rank-and-file cops are relieved -- that Deputy Commissioner Dan Derenda didn't get the top job. He's tight with Deputy Mayor Steve Casey, he gave generously to the mayor's re-election campaign and his wife's apparel company did quite a bit of business with the mayor's re-election campaign the past year.
The removal of Lombardo as fire commissioner has a lot of people scratching their heads, in part because Brown at first refused to discuss his reasons, then cited overtime costs, which strikes some folks as hollow. I suspect there's more to it, especially given South Common Council Member Mickey Kearns' description of Lombardo .
"[He] wasn’t a yes man. He was someone who spoke his mind,” Kearns said.
Bad career move. Mr. Commissioner.
As one former member of the Brown Administration explained to me a couple of months ago, you're not allowed to say "no" to Brown and Casey. At least not if you want to keep your job.
What are you guys in the fire halls hearing? Comment below or e-mail me.
I take some heart in hearing that the mayor plans on conducting a nationwide job searches to fill the vacant positions.The police department, in particular, could use some fresh thinking at the top. And City Hall's approach to economic development is in need of a top-to-bottom overhaul.
However, as I said last week, the administration could have difficulty attracting top-shelf talent, given the way Brown has allowed Casey to run roughshod over department heads. Any job candidate who does their homework is likely to think twice, then a third time, about coming on board.