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Tongues wag as Buffalo’s top deputy mayor buys a suburban home

When the longtime right-hand man to the mayor of Buffalo buys a home in suburban East Aurora, it’s practically a given that City Hall tongues will start wagging.

And for sure, they have been wagging about First Deputy Mayor Steven M. Casey.

Following the February purchase by Casey and his wife of her father’s home on a 1.7-acre lot on Park Lane South, various reports have pegged the veteran aide to Mayor Byron W. Brown as heading to the Erie County Water Authority, the health care industry or even the construction business.

But Casey dismissed all of that speculation Tuesday – as he has for months – while expressing irritation that anyone would ask about “my personal business.”

“I have not agreed about any position with anybody – period,” he said.

Sources close to Casey, who has worked for or with Brown as far back as their days as aides to then-County Executive Dennis T. Gorski, say the deputy mayor is like anyone else who may from time to time discuss new posts outside of City Hall. That always looms as a natural discussion, they say, in a world of political employment defined by four-year terms.

But Casey’s purchase of the East Aurora home for $160,000 has sharpened focus on him, especially because of the powerful influence he wields in so many aspects of city government and politics. When City Hall insider Peter J. Savage III entered the recent competition for a vacant County Legislature seat, for example, Casey was viewed as a significant player in the process that led to Savage’s selection by Democratic Committee members.

The tongues also wag especially fast because of continued speculation that Brown may eventually leave the mayor’s office to run for lieutenant governor with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo or for some other administration post.

Lt. Gov. Robert J. Duffy has not revealed his re-election plans, and Cuomo has not addressed that subject. As a result, there has been a lot of speculation about Brown’s future.

But as far as Casey is concerned, he emphasized Tuesday that he has no immediate plans to leave City Hall and chastised a reporter for even asking about his purchase of a home outside the city – where his current job requires him to live.

“I own multiple properties, and there’s nothing wrong with that,” he said. “And anyone challenging my residence can come to my house” on Crescent Avenue.

“People can speculate all they want, and I get so tired of the same topic,” he added. “People all over the place have multiple properties.”

While some sources in recent weeks have spoken of a new “rift” between Brown and Casey, other sources especially close to them say their relationship remains strong. They even pointed to a recent Buffalo Chophouse gathering of the mayor, Casey and Savage, along with their wives, as an example of co-workers socializing as friends.