Silence is Golden,
(but Patterson’s Eye still Sees)
by Chris Stevenson
I notice people like Judge Robert Russell looking to be appointed to New York State Supreme Court by Governor David Patterson. While I highly recommend that appointment I also notice a tendency by Patterson to pay no attention to Buffalo when it comes to statewide office candidates. There may not be a more vet-proof town than Buffalo. Silence is golden, but Patterson’s eye still sees.
Our Mayor for instance, Byron W. Brown-B-lo’s first African American Mayor-is bold and confidant looking in press conferences and major city events. When it comes to confronting hard black issues he seems timid by nature. OK actually I noticed this way back when he was a Councilman but I dismissed it when he ran for Mayor much to his delight. Back then the mission was to see if Buffalo’s highly individualistic blacks were even capable of electing a black Mayor. It turned out we were, and in turn Byron began to snub us when we needed him most.
On one hand crime in Buffalo dropped under his tenure to a significant low, in ’08. Credit Brown and Commissioner H. McCarthy Gipson for this. Brown has repaved Bailey Ave., (although it took months to put blacktop over it) and improved the face of some black business strips along Jefferson Ave. through grants and loans. What makes Brown unqualified to run Buffalo is his lacking the will or the strength to bring a stop to it’s racist infrastructure. This is vitally important in Buffalo because it takes a brass knuckle black leader to achieve this without compromise and as of yet Buffalo has never known such a leader in any of it’s political offices.
Buffalo’s culture is gauged on how much (actually how little) white business leaders and politicians think local blacks should have. A black Mayor or County Executive candidate in Buffalo will start off being perceived as wanting to do for his people regardless of how much he intends to work the white agenda. It not that whites don’t think he’ll listen to them, they don’t want him catering to his people period. When Buffalo needed a police chief from outside the city, Brown picked one with a disposition similar to his from within the department; Gipson. Years ago whites in Buffalo knew a black Mayor was coming just watching the growing black population vs. the white flight. In turn they picked a candidate for us, one with the subjectiveness to have white handlers steering him in their direction and the patience and humility to endure the tireless “forget the blacks” phone calls.
Thus Byron W. Brown was created. “The Horror, the Horror.” A soft-spoken dark brown carbon-based entity. A suit-wearing photo-op biped. Ms. Congenial. The product of the most powerful black political group in Buffalo, at the time. Brown even once hoped to backdoor his way into statewide office, once then-Senator Hillary Clinton officially declared her candidacy for President, the New York Times mentioned his name on a shortlist of possible replacements. No doubt this was an ideal scenario for Brown. An appointment to US Senator would make for a great shortcut to a US statewide position and thus national prominence without all the leg-work and campaigning that US Senator and Governor hopefuls have to do. That a US Senator from the most powerful and influential state in the union could come from a city as diametrically contrasted to New York as Buffalo (only 400 miles away) would be a bigger stretch than Joe Mesi beating Joe Frazier in any era. Grassroot’s does not have enough backdoor deals, game or schmoozing to pull that off. Not that Byron gave up hope.
Once it became clear that Hillary-herself a historically ineffectual Senator-was going to lose her bid, Brown saw his role in DC politics sinking further and further down. Post-Election developments once again saw the name Brown rise from the invisible to the visible in NY statewide politics. Once again the faulty Brown can have a chance to be US Senator by default. Speculation about Brown and Congressman Brian Higgins being appointed immediately gave way to rumors about Caroline Kennedy. Caroline, a longtime humanitarian soon became the target for some ant-Kennedy hating that really had little to do with her, but forced her to remove her name. In terms of New York City, Brown really has no name to remove (even though he comes from the City). Sure who wouldn’t want to skip through big time politics without getting their hands dirty? I wrote before that Brown likes to be seen digging a couple chunks of dirt on new building projects, but he doesn’t break new ground. Buffalo needs a ground breaker, bad, real bad.
When former Buffalo Police Officer Cariol Horne was fired from her job, she and her supporters marched through City Hall. Once they reached the Mayor’s door Brown hid in his office refusing to come out. He also gave the OK to later promote the white officer who punched Horne in the face after she stopped him from choking a suspect. This is very revealing in that if you can’t protect the women of Buffalo, how can you protect the state? Would it be presumptuous to assume that Governor Patterson doesn’t know about this and this could be the reason Byron wasn’t selected? Patterson comes from lineage as well, his family fought the power alongside Malcolm X, Percy Sutton. Such behavior without even trying to right the wrong done to her is no-doubt repulsive to him.
Another failure to protect women may have been the reason Murial Moore Howard wasn’t chosen to head SUNY. On Moore’s watch as President of Buffalo State was Richard McKeon, a burned-out university police officer employed at Buff State. McKeon was known to cavort with prostitutes and is now doing 20 years for murdering his live-in girlfriend. I know Judge Russell has sought the Supreme Court seat for years and has come up short every time, but Patterson may be on a silent-running (or shunning) when it comes to this troubled city. At least when it comes to Byron it was determined he had enough of a free ride and that’s advice we had better follow this fall. For Blacks to vote for Byron Brown for re-election would border on insanity.
Chris Stevenson is a columnist for the Buffalo Challenger. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org