Erie County Legislator Albert DeBenedetti, D-Buffalo, filed a freedom-of-information request Thursday with County Executive Gorski for details of the county's lease negotiations with the Buffalo Bills.
"I hereby request a copy of all Buffalo Bills lease proposals which you have tendered to (Bills owner) Ralph Wilson," DeBenedetti said in a letter to Gorski. "Continual public references have been made to said proposals. The lease must be acted upon by the Erie County Legislature and is an item of public business."
Gorski spokesman Scott Brown said the proposals will not be supplied to DeBenedetti.
"The county is under no obligation to release proposals," Brown said. "The Legislature will have the final say on any proposed agreement."
DeBenedetti said the Legislature receives only information filtered through published reports.
"We are operating in a vacuum," he said. "Mr. Gorski is conducting public business behind closed doors."
DeBenedetti said the state freedom-of-information law was passed to prevent secret decision-making. "It's a shame that an elected public official must avail himself of this measure to obtain public information," he said.
Brown said a lease extension would be reported to the Legislature as a memo of understanding between county official and Wilson that would outline all basic provisions.
"It would then be voted on by the Legislature," Brown said. "Everything would be included in that package, and that in essence becomes the lease."
DeBenedetti said he is troubled by suggestions that the lease could cost $60 million.
"If we are going to spend that much money, are the Buffalo Bills the best bang for the buck?" he asked. "Are there better investments for Erie County?"
Brown said the Gorski administration is doing everything it can to keep the Bills here.
"If Mr. DeBenedetti wants to vote against keeping the Bills in town, he's free to do so," he said.
DeBenedetti said he wants the team to stay here but questions what he describes as $37 million in additional debt taken on by Erie County in the past five years to improve Rich Stadium.
He said the expenditure was made without a lease extension guarantee. The Bills lease expires next July.
"I love the Buffalo Bills and hope the Bills stay in Erie County, but Mr. Wilson should not hold Erie County hostage," DeBenedetti said.
"Mr. Wilson says he must make a good business decision, and I agree. But Erie County must make a good business decision, too," he added. "The Legislature and the public should have access to any documents that will impact the future destiny of this county."