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Mayor Brown gets grilled by pint-sized ‘reporters’

As the saying goes, out of the mouths of babes ...

“How much do you make as mayor?” the first youngster in the audience asked Mayor Byron W. Brown.

A lot of people in city government make more than the mayor, Brown responded, before acknowledging his $105,000 annual salary and adding that the salary’s been the same since he first took office in 2006 and isn’t going to change any time soon.

“Why do you want to be mayor?” another youngster asked.

“To make our city better, a city of opportunity for everyone,” Brown responded.

“Is it fun?” Another softball question.

“It is tremendous fun,” Brown told the approximately 50 boys and girls assembled in his outer office Wednesday as part of a “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day” activity in City Hall.

Then these sons and daughters of city government workers – most ranging in age from 4 to 9 – apparently decided it was time to stop fooling around.

“Can you make our schools better?” a little girl asked.

Brown first jokingly suggested the youngster might want to consider a career as a newspaper reporter, then offered a serious response. “Not right now,” he told the group. “But if a form of governance is given to me, I will have the power, and I will do it.”

The youngsters presumably didn’t understand what the mayor was referring to, though some of the boys and girls did seem a bit precocious, so perhaps some did. Either way, the mayor was referring to his offer to take charge of the troubled city school district if Buffalo parents and other stakeholders want to change the existing Board of Education structure and provide mayoral control over city schools.

By coincidence, Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, D-Buffalo, Wednesday announced she would introduce legislation in Albany on Monday that would create a mayoral control school board structure in Buffalo.

The boys and girls didn’t follow up on Brown’s answer about fixing the schools. But there were other things they wanted to know.

“How did you get to be mayor?” one asked. Brown explained that people voted for him.

“Can I be mayor one day?” another wanted to know. “Work hard. Stay out of trouble, Listen to your parents. And you too can be mayor,” Brown responded.

Then came what was perhaps the most challenging question of what had turned into a pint-size press conference.

“If you could choose,” one of the girls asked, “what super hero would you be, and which councilman would you pick as your sidekick?”

Wow. Brown seemed impressed. He repeated the question before taking a few seconds to think of an answer.

“Superman,” the mayor eventually said. “I want to leap buildings and see through walls.”

As for a sidekick, Brown responded: “I am giving you a politician’s response.”

Brown told the group that it’s budget time in City Hall, and he’ll be presenting his budget to the Common Council on Friday. Since he wants the entire Council to support his budget, Brown said, he would pick all Council members to be his sidekicks.