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Tokasz to lobby for city in Albany

Buffalo has hired one of Albany's most influential hired guns to lobby the governor and legislature.

That also means former Assembly Majority Leader Paul A. Tokasz again is doing the city's bidding.

Tokasz, a Cheektowaga Democrat, became a city lobbyist when the administration of Mayor Byron W. Brown hired his company, Patricia Lynch and Associates, one of the state's most powerful lobbying firms.

The city agreed to pay the firm $40,000 a year.

"The mayor wanted the best representation possible, and that's Pat Lynch," said Peter Cutler, a Brown spokesman. "They've got a proven track record and been very successful on behalf of their clients."

The hiring of Lynch and Tokasz also means the city is ending part of its 10-year relationship with Victor Farley, a Republican lobbyist, and, more recently, former Mayor Anthony M. Masiello.

Their firm, Government Action Professionals, lost its state lobbying contract to Lynch and Tokasz but remains the city's chief lobbyist on homeland security issues.

The city signed a contract with Lynch's firm in February after soliciting offers from across the state.

"We've opened a Buffalo office, and we're trying to grow our business here," Tokasz said of the firm's hiring.

Tokasz and Cutler said the firm will advance the city's legislative agenda, most notably its economic development efforts. They said the firm will not get involved in the city's attempts to alter the status of the state control board overseeing city finances.

"It was never a consideration," Tokasz said of possible lobbying over the control board's status or state appointees to the board. "That was never why our firm was hired."

In Lynch and Tokasz, the city has two Democrats with close ties to the current power structure in Albany.

Tokasz enjoys a close relationship with Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer, and Lynch once worked for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan.

Under state law, Tokasz is prohibited from lobbying his former colleagues in the State Legislature until 2009. He is allowed to lobby the Spitzer administration.

Their firm, which had $4.2 million in billings in 2005, is the second-biggest lobbying firm in the state capital.

Lynch started a one-person business in 2001, and the client list grew quickly, in part because of her close ties to Silver, her onetime boss and longtime friend. The firm has about 73 clients.

e-mail: pfairbanks@buffnews.com

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