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Buffalo hires Masiello's firm to lobby for city in Albany

Former Mayor Anthony M. Masiello has landed new work with the City of Buffalo.

Masiello's lobbying firm, Masiello, Martucci, Calabrese and Associates, received a $60,000, one-year contract with the city to work on its behalf in Albany as state lawmakers take up three potential new revenue generators for Buffalo.

Prior to serving as mayor of Buffalo for 12 years, the Buffalo Democrat was a state senator and a member of the Buffalo Common Council.

"He certainly understands the city and its needs," said Donna J. Estrich, the city's commissioner of administration and finance.

The Buffalo Common Council on Tuesday approved the contract with Masiello's lobbying firm, which will primarily provide advice on legislative and governmental strategy, monitor legislative activities, identify revenue generating opportunities, provide input on the city's annual state legislative agenda and advocate on issues identified by the city, according to official documents.

The firm will attend legislative meetings and meet with legislators in the state Capitol, city officials said.

"I think that the important thing is somebody is in Albany five days a week while they're in session and knows the connections and who to talk to," Estrich said. "We want someone who can look at best practices and look at legislation and help the city in that way."

The City of Buffalo has some pricey initiatives it wants to make a reality, and with three new revenue sources looming at the state level – legalizing recreational marijuana, allowing sports gambling at upstate casinos and sales taxes on certain internet transactions – the Brown administration wants Masiello's ties to help make sure the city has a seat at the table in Albany.

The other partners at the firm, which has an office in Albany, include Victor Martucci, a longtime aide to local Republican elected officials; and Carl J. Calabrese, the Republican former Tonawanda town supervisor and deputy Erie County executive.

A main focus for the firm will be the three new revenue sources that could help Buffalo – legalized recreational marijuana, sports betting and internet sales – which are included in Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's 2019 state budget proposal.

"They're new revenues for us so we really don't have experience with those. So that was the reason for getting somebody on board," Estrich said.

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The city also has a "wish list" of initiatives that officials hope can get state funding, said Niagara District Common Council Member David A. Rivera.

"We're trying to build a public works campus. There may be other initiatives the city has, and they would like to have somebody there to lobby on behalf of the city," Rivera said. "We'd like to see some benefits from having this position."

Buffalo Democrats hope that the recent appointments of Assemblywoman Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes as Assembly majority leader and State Sen. Tim Kennedy as chairman of the State Senate's Transportation Committee will also lead to additional resources for the City of Buffalo.

"So hopefully we will see some results from Albany," Rivera said.

The city has hired other firms before for government relations services, Estrich said.  The last time was during the 2015-2016 fiscal year.

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