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Council majority looking for new chief of staff

By Jill Terreri

The Common Council majority is searching for a new chief of staff, a patronage position that typically changes hands when a new majority takes over. 

The Council majority, which did not completely clean house a year ago at re-organization, let go of Kevin Linder, who had been a member of Council staff since the end of 2007 and ascended to the chief-of-staff position in 2012, when Richard Fontana took over the presidency. 

"This happens all the time," said Majority Leader Demone Smith. "We kept him a year. We were very fair." 

The Council holds a re-organization every two years, when lawmakers vote for their leaders and appoint staff members.

Linder's last day was Friday. He declined an emailed request to discuss it last week. 

Linder had an ally in Assemblyman Michael Kearns, who was until early 2012 the South District council member, but apparently did not have good enough relationships with the majority, which includes Fontana, Smith, President Pro Tempore Bonnie Russell, and Council Members Darius Pridgen, Christopher Scanlon and Joseph Golombek. 

"We made a decision to take a different direction," Russell said. "We're going to fill the position with someone else." 

Fontana said Linder did not leave under a cloud, and "there's been no wrongdoing, of course." 

Scanlon, Kearns' replacement, said today that the majority came to him and asked him to be the fifth member support the move to fire Linder, and Scanlon agreed. (Updated 10:41 a.m. Wednesday. Scanlon said this morning he was not asked to be the fifth vote, but to support the majority's decision, which he did.)

Golombek confirmed he was not one of the five votes.

The majority was considering former County Legislature Chief of Staff John Calvin Davis to replace Linder, according to four City Hall sources. 

Five votes from the nine-member Council, however, do not appear to be there to confirm Davis.

The majority would like to make the appointment with two weeks, "but a definite name has not been agreed upon," Russell said. 

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About Politics Now

Robert J. McCarthy

Robert J. McCarthy

A native of Schenectady, Robert J. McCarthy came to The Buffalo News in 1982 following a six-year stint at the Olean Times Herald. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and has been covering local, state and national politics since 1992.

Tom Precious

Tom Precious

Tom Precious joined The Buffalo News in 1997 as bureau chief at the state Capitol, where he covers everything from statewide politics and state government fiscal affairs to health care, environmental and municipal government matters. Prior to The News, he worked for news outlets in Albany and Washington, DC.

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri is an Amherst native and has covered politics and government in upstate New York since 2003. She joined The Buffalo News in 2012 and covers City Hall.

@jillterreri |

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News Washington bureau chief, has reported from the nation's capital since 1989 after joining The News as a business reporter in 1984. A graduate of Syracuse University, Zremski is a former Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University. In 2007, he served as president of the National Press Club.

@JerryZremski |