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Helfer chosen to be parking commissioner

A former Common Council member who waged an unsuccessful campaign for mayor against Byron W. Brown has been nominated to become the city's new parking commissioner.

Brown has chosen Kevin J. Helfer to head Buffalo's newly created Parking Department. Assuming that the Common Council approves the nomination, Helfer will be paid $95,000 to run a unit that handles numerous functions involving on- and off-street parking.

Until now, parking-related tasks have been performed by multiple city departments. A consultant concluded that the fragmented oversight bred a "dysfunctional" parking system and urged the city to create the post of parking commissioner to steer a consolidated operation.

Helfer is no stranger to parking issues. He has served as executive director of Buffalo Civic Auto Ramps since late 2004, overseeing an entity that operates city-owned parking facilities. Prior to joining BCAR, he was Erie County's social services commissioner. He previously spent six years on the Council, where he represented the University District.

In 2005, Helfer was the Republican candidate for mayor against Brown.

Other appointments announced by the mayor Tuesday included:

* David Rodriguez as corporation counsel. He had been serving as interim head of the Law Department for the last 13 months, following the resignation of attorney Alisa A. Lukasiewicz. His appointment is subject to Council confirmation.

* Timothy A. Ball as senior deputy corporation counsel. He most recently served as a city attorney advising the Council.

* Peter J. Savage III as deputy corporation counsel. He has been an aide in the mayor's office and is a former assistant corporation counsel.

e-mail: bmeyer@buffnews.com

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