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City Hallways (July 23) The Mascia Recording

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City preservation board meets this afternoon. Looks like lots of window and roof issues.
Food Truck Thursday in Niagara Square

Joe Mascia's Fillmore campaign
Wednesday morning I started working on a Fillmore District council story, but not the one I ended up working on as the day progressed.
Late last week,  Joe Mascia called me, saying his campaign learned that the Erie County Democratic Committee years go adopted a rule prohibiting candidates for most offices from getting Democratic Party endorsement if they have Republican endorsement. Turns out Fillmore councilman Dave Franczyk, the endorsed Dem and the man Mascia hopes to unseat, accepted GOP endorsement this year. Given that, Mascia says Franczyk must forfeit the Dem endorsement. Mascia says he wants it, and sent Democratic leader  a letters asking for their support.
I talked to Dem chairman Jeremy Zellner about it. Zellner acknowledged the rule Mascia referred to exists, but says it hasn't been enforced much, if at all. While Franczyk technically should not have accepted GOP endorsement, Zellner said he's not pulling the Democratic Party endorsement from  the Fillmore district councilman. What's more, Zellner said he would never endorse Mascia.
Mascia, he said, is "not fit for elective office."
Why not? I asked.
Zellner mentioned Mascia  was convicted in the past of violating election law for not filing campaign expense reports.
I mentioned to Zellner that the Democrats last year endorsed another candidate with an election law violation, Marc Panepinto, who went on to become state senator.
Zellner responded that the issue here is Mascia.
Meanwhile, another Fillmore District story was brewing. There's been rumors in recent days of a tape recording containing racist comments by Mascia. Two of my colleagues, Phil Fairbanks and Dan Herbeck, got a copy of the recording.  We  listened to the recording, then invited Mascia to the newsroom to hear it. Mascia sat down in front of a computer, along with his campaign manager, and a campaign supporter, and listened. Mascia acknowledged  having made the comments, and apologized.
After he left the News, I started contacting officials to get comment for the story that appears in today's paper.
When I called Zellner, he reminded me of his earlier comment. "Mascia," he said, " is not fit for public office."
Mascia disagrees, and as today's story says, he told us he has no plans to drop out of the council race.

Here's a link to our story in today's Buffalo News.
Here's the audio-link to the story.

What people are saying:
On the tape, Mascia refers to local African-American leaders using the N-word. He also says that when blacks gain power "they want it all"
Here's the full statements from some of the targets of Mascia's comments  (All or portions of some of these comments were included in today's Buffalo News article):

Mayor Brown:
"I have been made aware of the existence of a tape that allegedly contains statements that are unacceptable and inflammatory by any standard. One of the main priorities of my administration has been to encourage all businesses, organizations, and residents to embrace diversity and to demonstrate a commitment to building, cultivating and preserving a culture of inclusion, fairness and equity in Buffalo. Clearly, if Mr. Mascia can't deny making these statements, he should immediately resign his elected position as a commissioner of the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority."

Council President Pridgen:
"In my 50 years of living, I cannot tell you of a time I've been more surprised and disappointed. The Common Council has worked together to increase diversiy and inclusion in our city. Statements like those allegedly spoken by Mr. Mascia illustrate why our work is not done when it comes to race relations. The part that really hurts is that I have shown no difference in my treatment of people based on the color of their skin, so to be called the n-word with such hatrid is beyond my reasonable comprehension. Tonight, I will pray for Mr. Mascia and his team so they may see beyond color and just see people."

Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stoke (Facebook post)
"Joe Mascia can no more define me than his ancestors were able to define mine! Hate speech hurts the one speaking it more than it could ever hurt me. I know who I am and where I am.
I am told both the Buffalo Police and FBI heard these vile recordings. Due diligence is required, this issue should be fully investigated. Hate speech all to often turns into violence.
It is disturbing that people filled with that level of hate and disrespect desire to be public servants. I trust those he represents now as well as those he desires to represent will reject this mean-spirited attitude.
The world is changing yet the Creator of the universe remains the same. I will trust in the Lord!"

And comments from  Fillmore Councilman Dave Franczyk, whom Mascia wants to unseat:
"Attrocious and vile. It sounds like language in the  1860s Old South.It's pretty scarey stuff. Whether he is an opponent or not. It's vileness and hypocrisy. He represents a Housing Authority that is very heavily minority. It sounds like something right out of the Confederate States of America. I don't think he is fit for public office. All that is hateful. Despicable.  He's constantly running off at the mouth. That kind of language is horrific."
(Franczyk also commented on his GOP endorsement. But I'll wait until tomorrow to write more about that)

From Mascia:
Here is  statement Mascia released after meeting with The Buffalo News Wednesday:
"It was brought to my attention today that I was recorded without my knowledge, and on the recording said something that I am deeply embarrassed by and ashamed of. The statement was totally out of character.
I have deep regard and respect for the individuals mentioned in the recording and apologize to them personally and profusely. It is my hope that they will accept my sincerest apologies and forgive me for my weakness in that moment.
What hurts me is offending my friends and people who had the faith in me to ask me to represent them on the Common Council -- specifically the minority community. When in office I will fight relentlessly for all minority communities -- the African American community in particular -- as I have done for five terms as housing commissioner.
To my wife, my daughter, and my grandchildren -- who expect much more of me than this -- I am deeply sorry.
Regardless of my frustration at the time, there is no excuse for the language that I used. I will continue to fight for neighborhoods that have been neglected and people who have been  ignored.
To the people I have hurt, and to the public in general, nobody deserves being described with such language -- especially coming from me. It is my hope that I can regain your trust in the coming months.
I have no intention of interrupting my progressive, inclusive vision for our city and the Fillmore district. As always, I will make myself available to the community to discuss this or any other issue related to the Fillmore district or my candidacy.
With my deepest regrets,
Joe Mascia

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