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The commission that will rewrite Buffalo's municipal charter opened its first meeting today after hearing pleas to consider residents' needs as the city moves into the 21st century.

Administering the oath of office to the 15-member Charter Review Commission at ceremonies in City Hall, Mayor Masiello assured the group he has no preconceived notions about their work.

"You have a free hand to determine where we go," Masiello said, describing the new commission as "an awesome assemblage."

The task of reviewing the 200-plus page document will be difficult, Masiello advised them, but he pledged that top city officials will do what they can to help.

"All of you love the city. . . . All of you bring significant knowledge and commitment to this task," the mayor also said.

Also attending the ceremony were City Comptroller Joel A. Giambra and Common Council President James W. Pitts, who warned that past commissions failed because they worked largely in secret.

Pitts also pointed out that much of the commission's work -- including discussions about government structures and consolidations -- could become contentious.

"Many of these issues are extremely controversial," Pitts said, offering to meet with and help the commission in the future.

Members then agreed to meet weekly on Thursday mornings in City Hall starting in May. Two organizational meetings also are planned for April 16 and April 30.

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