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Mayor Masiello on Monday appointed a 15-member commission to overhaul the Buffalo City Charter that includes strong representation from the legal and business communities and sprinkling of education, civic and church leaders.

The Charter Review Commission, chaired by a close Masiello adviser, lawyer James L. Magavern, is expected to conduct a wide-ranging study of the city's 70-year-old legal framework and report the recommended changes by mid-1999.

"I have placed no restrictions on the commission -- all boards and agencies, and each branch of city government must be reviewed objectively," Masiello told the Common Council in announcing the appointments.

"The . . . singular objective will be to produce a blueprint for progress for our city," Masiello added in a statement released by his office.

Sister Barbara Ciarico, Trocaire College president, was appointed vice chairman and the Rev. Darius Pridgen of the True Bethel Baptist Church was named commission secretary.

Masiello also tapped former Buffalo Corporation Counsel James J. McLoughlin, considered to be an expert on municipal law, as the commission's counsel.

Eleven of the commissioners were selected by Masiello, Common Council President James W. Pitts added three, and City Comptroller Joel A. Giambra added one.

Only two of the seats went to former political leaders, while all those chosen are Buffalo residents with deep community roots.

Pitts praised Masiello's cooperation with the Council, saying it has resulted in an "intelligent and diverse" panel.

Giambra said changes must be made because the present charter was written when Buffalo was the "undisputed economic and population
Colossus of Erie County." Since then, he added, things have changed radically.

The last attempt to rewrite the charter occurred more than five years ago under former Mayor James D. Griffin. However, the proposed changes were defeated by voters after then-State Sen. Masiello, along with Council members and others, campaigned against the changes as a Griffin attempt to seize more power.

Masiello moved to calm any fears about potential recommendations, assuring the Council by saying, "I have not, nor will I direct (commission) members to target any department(s), agency or governmental division for specific change, consolidation or elimination." According to McLoughlin, the charter was drafted in 1928 and now contains more than 700 sections, including some considered "dead wood that should be eliminated."

Other appointees include:

Robert M. Greene, chief executive officer and partner in Phillips, Lytle, Hitchcock, Blaine & Huber, who serves on a wide variety of civic boards.

John M. Thomas, interim dean of the University at Buffalo School of Management and adjunct professor in the university's law faculty.

Former Council President George K. Arthur.

Sharon D. Randaccio, administrative vice president of M&T Bank and also president of the M&T Foundation.

Leeland N. Jones Jr., the first African-American elected to the Council in 1952, a former specialist in race relations and former director of the Buffalo Urban Center.

Amy H. Friedman, an advocate for Buffalo Public Schools who served on a committee that helped reopen school libraries.

Robert S. Pacholski, director of development at St. Francis High School in Athol Springs, a former high school coach.

John J. Hurley, vice president for college relations and general counsel for Canisius College, who has served on various boards and directorships.

Lourdes T. Iglesias, a West Side insurance executive and leader in the Hispanic Community.

Gary P. Hess, president of Frontier Supply and Equipment and a strong advocate for regionalism who helped issue a recent study of government consolidation.

Bishop Nathan S. Halton, pastor of Greater Faith Bible Tabernacle Church and founder of Breath of Life Ministries, which operates the largest day-care center in the city.

R. Marshall Wingate, New York-Pennsylvania sales manager for National Fuel Gas Distribution Corp.

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