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Video: Franczyk accuses Fontana of 'pandering political stunt'

Less than a week after being appointed to the Common Council, the city's newest lawmaker was tapped with a committee chairmanship.

Council President Richard A. Fontana has appointed South Council Member Christopher P. Scanlon as chairman of the body's Finance Committee.

"I just have to say that I see this as a pandering, political stunt," Fillmore Council Member David A. Franczyk said on the Council floor this week.

Scanlon replaces Delaware Council Member Michael J. LoCurto, who held the post since early January. (Before him, former South Council Member Michael P. Kearns held it.)

Franczyk asserted Scanlon's appointment to chair the committee was an attempt by Fontana to add a sixth member to the Council majority.

"If you want to have someone to be an ally of yours, or a sixth vote, ask him for it. Don't pander to them; don't patronize them. Ask him for it and let them make up their own [mind]," Franczyk said. "But this kind of pathetic pandering for a freshman councilman, to me, does a disservice to the spirit of the [city] charter and to this council."

Watch Franczyk's complete comments:

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Fontana -- who barely responded to Franczyk's comments on the floor -- afterwards said naming Scanlon chairman gives him an opportunity to gain experience.

The move was "not a reflection" on LoCurto, but "just about giving [Scanlon] some responsibility," Fontana said.

"Just because you're new, doesn't mean you can't do the position," he said.

In terms of Franczyk's comments, Fontana said, "I've earned every vote I've gotten over the past 14 years. I don't pander."

Fontana said other members of the Council majority approached him and asked him to appoint Scanlon to the chairmanship. He also said there could be a lot of turnover on the Council in the next three or four years, and that it would be prudent to have other lawmakers with experience.

Both Franczyk and LoCurto said the Council's Finance Committee is one of the most important.

LoCurto said he questioned how the Council leadership could install a lawmaker with only a week's experience to head the panel.

Scanlon, who was appointed to the South seat by a 5-3 vote on May 16, was named Finance Committee chairman in a memo from Fontana filed with the City Clerk's Office on May 22. The vote on his appointment was divided by members of each Council faction, with the five-member majority faction all behind Scanlon.

Fontana said he talked with Scanlon about the chairmanship and he was "fine with it."

Scanlon today declined to comment on Franczyk's statements, but said he does not see himself as a member of the Council's majority faction, even though it was with their support he got appointed to the seat.

Scanlon said he told other Council members during his interview and in one-on-one meetings that he would be "independent" and would work for the residents of his district.

But what about those who might think he might owe something to those who appointed him?

"I think I owe the people of South Buffalo to do what's best for them," he said.

--Aaron Besecker
Follow me on Twitter: @BeseckerBN

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