The case of the missing committee meetings

Schroeder cries foul as Common Council committees haven’t met since July 18won’t meet again until Primary Day

When the Common Council meets next Tuesday, they will have to skip a significant part of the agenda – the numerous items that get discharged from each of six regular committee meetings.

No items made it out of committee because there were no committee meetings held since July 18, a week before the last regular council meeting.

“It is unprecedented,” said Buffalo Comptroller, and mayoral candidate, Mark Schroeder.  “No one has been able to provide me an example of when the council has held two regular meetings without having committee meetings in between.”

Committee meetings, which provide an opportunity for the public to speak, are normally held in between the bi-weekly regular council meetings, which do not allow comments from the general public.  The next scheduled committee meetings, however, are not until September 12, which is also the day of the Democratic primary election.

“That’s 56 days – nearly two months – that the public has been denied the opportunity to weigh in on the issues facing our city,” said Schroeder.  “Think about how much has happened with just the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority in that span.  The authority’s board has had a complete overhaul, and none of the appointments went to committee.  The mayor said in a debate that he won’t enforce his own law department’s decision that the BMHA should pay back the $4 million it owes the city.  The cockroach infestation at Marine Drive Apartments is so bad that the U.S. Postal Service wouldn’t even deliver mail there.”

“Yet the residents of BMHA, and the taxpayers who fund its $40 million budget, have no opportunity to voice their concerns,” said Schroeder.

Schroeder said his staff inquired as to why there were no committee meetings scheduled before the council’s September 5 meeting.

“We were told that because the city charter allows the council to skip its regular meetings in August, they didn’t have to have any committee meetings either,” Schroeder said.  “Of course, the council does have the option to schedule committee meetings on any day during that 56-day span, but they chose not to.”

As to why the council took such an unusual step, Schroeder said the reason is obvious.

“The Common Council is protecting the mayor, who wants to avoid any negative attention this close to an election,” said Schroeder.  “So the problems at the BMHA, the circumventing of the Green Code, the crime in our streets – it all gets swept under the rug, just like every other major problem in this city.”

“The Common Council is supposed to serve the public, not the mayor,” said Schroeder.  “I wouldn’t exactly call them independent in the first place, but this goes too far.”

Schroeder said there are other ways for the public to weigh in on important issues.

“Since the public can’t speak at the council meetings, and they can’t get past the police officers at the mayor’s office, they can always let their voice be heard on September 12 by casting their vote for a candidate that does care what the people of Buffalo have to say.”

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