Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown was elected in November 2005. Since that time he has faced down numerous challenges, both inherited and new. He's also had some fresh challenges in his recent dealings with the Senecas on a downtown casino and, more recently, an October surprise storm. Brown discussed the issues.
>Q: How would you rate the city's performance during the October surprise storm?
A: From the men and women of our city departments who worked around the clock and the various governmental and other organizations that collaborated on the post-storm restoration effort to the people of Buffalo, we demonstrated why we are called the "City of Good Neighbors."
>Q: What do you think of efforts by casino foes to thwart the deal?
A: I respect their right to do what they think is necessary to express their position.
>Q: You stress accountability and using CitiStat as a measurement tool. How has that worked?
A: Extremely well. Within six months of taking office, we broughtCitiStat Buffalo on line and every city department will be fully integrated into the system by June. I knew it was a cutting-edge management tool, but I never realized it was going to be as helpful as it has turned out. Through this process, we literally have changed the culture of city government, how it functions and delivers services to residents.
>Q: The city has been under the auspices of a state control board since the last administration. How would you describe your experience dealing with the board?
A: We have a good, cordial working relationship.
>Q: A wage freeze has been in place for city workers for the past few years. What are your thoughts on lifting it?
A: During my campaign for mayor and since, I said one of my priorities is lifting the wage freeze. I remain committed to that goal and I have worked very hard to accomplish that important outcome. My hope is that we will be able to do that very soon.
>Q: Some crime categories are down this year, but as of late November, violent crime is up slightly. What more can be done?
A: I strongly believe in my zero-tolerance policy and am pleased that overall crime in the City of Buffalo is down 7 percent from 2005. Having said that, one act of violent crime is one too many and I will continue to examine every credible law enforcement tactic that will help protect our residents and visitors. For instance, we are preparing to use surveillance cameras, which will be installed in certain sections of the city in the coming year. We will also deploy quick response police units to areas experiencing disproportionate crime. But it is just as important that families become more aware of their responsibility to properly raise their children, instill good values and help prevent criminal behavior.
>Q: If Western New York's congressional delegation asked you for your priorities, what would they be?
A: My administration's focus remains economic development/job creation, enhancing our residents' quality of life and ensuring an efficient and accountable delivery of city services. Any way our state and federal legislative delegations can help improve Buffalo by supporting these priorities will enhance these important goals.