Life on the “E” List: The Perils of the Ellicott Vacancy

Brian Davis resigned as Ellicott District Council-member and as a result quite a few people are vying for the appointment to the Ellicott district council vacancy  Mr. Davis resigned on Wednesday, November 18th and by Thursday, November 19th, The Buffalo News printed an article with a putative list of hopefuls. The vacancy posted on the City of Buffalo website on November 20th.  Speculations grew with such rapidity that news stories and blogposts about the list potential candidates evolved like a chain of events in an episode of “24.”

Once the dust quickly settled, I began to think about the role of accountability within the framework of the vacancy. Accountability and transparency have become commonplace buzzwords. In fact, the maxim “accountability” was part of Mr. Kearns campaign acronym, C.H.A.N.G.E. It could be considered one of the top political catchwords of a 21st century politician.

Several questions came to mind as I began to think about the Queen City’s latest political matter in question:

•    Now that the Ellicott seat is vacant, what is the process for appointment in the event of a vacancy?
•    What are the procedures that will provide accountability?
•    What are the job and education requirements for a Council-member?
•    Is a college degree required?
•    What is the time frame condition which satisfies the residency requirement?
•    Who validates the residency requirement of each applicant?
•    Once the applicants request letters, resumés and residencies are verified the list will be made public on the City of Buffalo website, right?

Surely such provisos were considered when the resolution was introduced and codified into law, right?

Uh, well…no.

The city charter Article 3-6, titled Vacancies in the Common Council addresses the conditions related to such an occurrence. In 2006 South District Council-member Michael Kearns introduced a resolution requiring future Council candidates to submit a resumé and a letter of request for the appointment in the event of a vacancy in the Common Council. This resolution was voted upon and the city charter was amended in December of 2006.

Two weeks have passed since the Ellicott district council vacancy was posted. Today, Friday December 4th is the final day letters of interest and corresponding resumés can be received by the City Clerk.

The detailed job requirements including the residency requirement were not included in the official letter posted by the City Clerk but Article 3 of the city charter is mentioned in the letter. You would need to look up what exactly Article 3 pertains to yourself.  If you want to know the names of the submissions you must call the city clerk’s office or Franczyk’s office.

What about life on the “E” list? Where did the list of names originate? Let’s explore. Who thought allowing a presumptive list of candidates to be released to the media BEFORE receipt of the letters, resumés and residency requirement were verified was an act of accountability? Perhaps this tidbit of info would have helped Choco-Logo owner Dan Johnson before he decided to throw his hat in the ring only to remove it because he was residentially ineligible.

However providing the media with a list of valid candidates or news sources verifying facts, probably wouldn’t have provided The Buffalo News and other online news outlets anything to report on and might have prevented the Council-majority from behaving like Common Council illuminati.

None of the answers to my questions were publicized. It troubles me to think of the possibility they were not examined by leaders on the council. That has to account for something, right? Well, there is always the next episode. Stay tuned.

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