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City Hallways (May 18) The bigger picture

I got a great suggestion from a one-time City Hall official  who said the title of these blog items - City Hallways -  got her thinking  literally. "What about introducing a little treasure hunt that focuses on the amazing details of the hallways in City Hall? " she said.

So starting today, I'm including with this blog a new photo each week, taken either of a City Hall hallway, or something on or in in a  hallway.  This week's photo is from the first floor. I thought the lighting was kind of cool. The  posters are a current display by Buffalo pre-kindergarten classes.

On the calendar

We got a press announcement that Mayor Brown and Rep. Brian Higgins will be on Jefferson Avenue  this morning with some financial lenders to announce funding for Bellamy Commons. The project involves converting a vacant Jefferson Avenue building into 30 apartments as well as offices for the NAACP and Buffalo Black Achievers.

A Citywide View 

Here's an interesting discussion I've been hearing, and thought  worth sharing.

A  month or so ago, Delaware District Councilman Mike LoCurto suggested Buffalo needs an independently elected public advocate, someone to represent the public, look into complaints and concerns, and introduce legislation on the public's behalf.  Someone who would represent the entire city, not just a single council district.

Initially, several of LoCurto's colleagues seemed  supportive, although much of that support was around  the idea of having someone besides the mayor elected to a citywide seat, and taking a citywide view on issues.

In recent weeks, council support for the public advocate idea has waned. South District Councilman Chris Scanlon said a public advocate would do pretty much what council members do. Then North District Councilman Joe Golombek introduced an alternative idea,  this one suggesting that the city's Commission on Citizens Rights  take on a higher profile,  and take on some of the tasks LoCurto  suggested for a public advcocate.

That's the resolution before the council now.  Seems the public advocate idea is going nowhere. But one part of the public advocate discussion has continued, and that's the idea that perhaps Buffalo needs another citywide elected official. It's a sort of a public stance by some lawmakers that the elimination in 2002 of four at-large seats, including that of elected council president, went too far.    The suggestion I'm hearing the most is for an elected council president .

But there's a glitch. Right now, there are nine council members, including a council president appointed by his colleagues.  Simply adding a council president would create a 10-member council.

Not good since it could create tie votes.  So adding an elected council president would require either adding an  additional council member, perhaps to an at-large seat, or eliminating one of the existing district council seats.

So which seat would that be?

A Woman's Perspective

Postscript to that last item: When the council downsized in 2002, there was lots of  talk  that eliminating the four at-large positions would disproportionately decrease African-American influence in city government, since three of four at-large positions were filled at the time by African-Americans. Not much was said that women  - one black, one white -- held two of the four positions.

Thirteen years later, today's  nine-member council has five white males, three black males and one Hispanic male. No women.


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