by Chris Stevenson
One of the great privileges of being a part of the press is the ability to show people that no one is such an icon that he or she at some point are beyond criticism or scrutiny whether white or black. Very important in a city like Buffalo. You’ll find that the poorer a city is, the more delusional some of it’s leaders become. My suspicion regarding Buffalo is that for decades what a good number of black politicians wanted from black voters and residents, was the right to screw up and have as little notice or backlash & accountability as possible. ‘Why Not, the White Boys is Doin’ It!’ they would shoot back.
My last column previously urged the Council (particularly the Council majority) to respect the choice of the people or in this case as represented by the Ellicott District Committee. Some of you probably think I should take issue with how things transpired, for in truth the final decision for the Ellicott Councilman was determined by people living outside of Ellicott. Would any Buffalo Bills fan appreciate the Cleveland Browns picking our next Head Coach? Yet on one hand this seems to have been the case with this choice. On the other I also told you a way was made shortly after Byron’s first Mayoral election to go around the votes of the committee if the Council (Majority) wasn’t approving of mid-term appointments by them. While I take issue with the methodology, I also have some reservations on how certain actions by the eventual loser of the Council vote; Pastor Darius Pridgen, campaigned for Ellicott & personally question if this didn’t have some intimidating influence on any of the committeemen. Was the committee vote tainted in some way?
Part of the reasons I think Dr. Curtis Haynes Jr. is a good choice. 1-I never heard of him. This goes a long way with me, especially in a politicians paradise of revolving doors here in Buffalo. 2-His credentials. An Economics Professor in a notoriously economically-deprived business district seems like a godsend at the outset. Certainly can’t hurt (knock on wood). 3-What we missed Pridgen and Bryon McIntyre & a host of others. Joe Golombek picked a candidate who wouldn’t even arrive for interviewing. Who gets a job without being interviewed? Like I said delusions, imagine the drama she had planned for Ellicott. We missed Pridgen theatrics. Whether he would have been a Brown crony or not I see him bringing more style than substance to the Ellicott seat. Why do I say that? Hmmm… a Pastor or Reverend in a political position is almost never a godsend. Even if he claims it is. Would have been entertaining but not very effective. The stories about his followers circling the building on Swan Street in their vehicles seven times with their horns blasting ala the Biblical story of the Walls of Jericho tumbling down, along with his subtle inference that it’s actually God’s will that he have the Ellicott seat is outrageous to say the least.
Dozens of people (I hear upwards of 200) showing up in red in the Council Chamber audience is-no pun intended-one hell of a show (my mean old boss made me drive to Cleveland that day). Over on Ferry and Grider the Book of Darius is a bad mamma-jamma. Darius can move people, he could make Precious lose 200 lbs. Pridgeon has a zealous following like nothing I have ever seen since white teamster and labor unions of the ’70’s and early ’80’s. I remember the Wildcat Walkouts of Greyhound. I remember one driver jumping in front of a bus in order to stop a replacement driver from pulling out at what was then the new downtown station. These was white boys, no one was really shocked. Pridgen comes the closest to getting that same kind of unity and camaraderie and he doing it with blacks, Buffalo blacks. That’s no small feat. You think I’m hating, you’re wrong. I’m envious, I think it’s great. It’s always a wonderful thing for blacks to be tightly united in things other than BS (“no snitching” for example). We needed those blaring horns for former officer Cariol Horne. Y’all understand me? We needed Pridgen’s wildcats to turn out for Elizabeth Taylor Oliver. We needed Darius’ denizens to circle the Rath Building 7 times when Dorothea McDonald was assaulted by a Sheriff’s Deputy.It’s not like Pridgen hasn’t shown hints of this kind of activism before, he organized townhall meetings in Cheektowaga against response to complaints of their persistent & ongoing racial-profiling and brutality and organized a boycott on Walden Galleria years ago.
But this struggle is ongoing, blacks always say they’re tired of doing this or pretend the movement is over. Whites tirelessly continue racism and brutality without letup. Someone is lying. Meanwhile for his 3rd election in a row Bryon McIntyre came close, but not quite close enough. Say what you will about the maneuverings of “Champ” Eve, the secret ballots, backdoor deals or whatever, Mac is still a people’s leader, but he doesn’t move the people whom he needs, to get him where he wants to be. To use my Temptations analogy, Bryon can sing, dance, and is a good dresser, but for whatever reason, he is not tempting. This is my 3rd time supporting Bryon, I’m 0-for-3 with him in two different newspapers. Bro! You’re killin me. I don’t know what to say. If people like you for weeks before the election, but all the behind-the-scenes plans go around, over, beneath and behind you, then it’s probably you. I’ll leave it to him to tell you how close he came, I don’t have the space, but I think a little killer-instinct is lacking. Buffalo is a funny city, nice guys like McIntyre finish last here, but so do crude guys, so I’m mystified. I expect both him and Pridgen to return this fall.