Posted tagged ‘Byron Brown’

Buffalo’s State Of The City Represents A Failed Approach

February 16, 2012

Very few town board or city councils actually set goals or involve the community in goal setting and reviewing the accomplishment of goals. Bay City Michigan (population 35,000), does all of the above. As reported in the Bay City News , the City Commission invited the public to participate in a Saturday meeting to set goals for the City Manager. A few months ago the City Manager in a public session and in a private session with city officials explained how he met last year’s goals. Input is being sought from city residents to prioritize a list of goals for 2012.

In contrast every year the Mayor of Buffalo holds a state of the city address where without any discussion with city councilmembers or community members the Mayor proposes his goals and initiatives for the year. As the Buffalo News reports, the Mayor’s success in achieving the yearly goals he puts out are mixed. “The Buffalo News asked the Brown administration last week for more information about four projects and initiatives announced in prior State of the City addresses. The Mayor’s Office did not respond to The News’ inquiries for information.”

When the Buffalo Common Council President was asked about the four initiatives according to the Buffalo News “He said he wasn’t familiar enough with them to provide more information.” Councilmember David Rivera stated “If the information about previous projects is difficult for a reporter to obtain, imagine what the public gets.”Rivera said it’s important to have checks and balances in government so that such information can be tracked and disclosed.”I’d imagine if they did what they said they were going to do,” Rivera said, “they’d have press conferences.”

The process utilized in Buffalo does not sufficiently engage fellow elected officials and community members in setting goals for the City. The communication necessary to get people on board and committed to making things happen simply does not take place. The end result is that not a lot gets done other than the initial splash of press coverage.

The approach utilized in Bay City takes time, but in the end it is a better approach to setting government goals and monitoring their accomplishment. There is never a meeting in Buffalo where elected officials review stated goals and discuss whether they have been achieved or not. Elected officials don’t like to be held accountable and Buffalo’s dysfunctional way of operating ensures that little gets accomplished without anyone being held responsible.

For many years Mayors and City Councilmembers in Buffalo have utilized a flawed approach in setting goals and the lack of real results in a City, which is the third poorest in the Nation speaks volumes. Instead of doing the same process year after year, maybe some future Mayor or City Council will try a different way?

Job Fairs Are Great PR For Politicians But Ineffective Otherwise

November 12, 2011

The Buffalo News reports that Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown sponsored a job fair, which attracted 1,500 people. While politicians have very little to do with creating jobs, they are all feeling the heat from an angry public seeking employment.

While I applaud the Mayor for trying to help, the truth is that job fairs are small thinking and for the most part ineffective. Job fairs are great at attracting attention for politicians eager to show that they are doing something, but the reality is that job fairs typically disappoint prospective employees and employers.

Some quotes from the Buffalo News article:

While some companies did not initially accept resumes, they were asked to take the requests for jobs following complaints to organizers. 

Kim Foster, 52, of Buffalo, said Thursday’s event seemed “a little unorganized,” with many of the businesses not having applications on hand, instead pointing job seekers online.

Afterward, Foster said she was disappointed. “It seems like I just wasted my time,” she said.

In a 2009 survey by Challenger, Gray a job placement firm, in which human resources executives were asked to rate the effectiveness of various job-search methods on a scale of 1 (least effective) to 5 (most effective), job fairs ranked as the least effective job-search method, scoring an average rating of 1.6.

In the ninth annual Source of Hire Study released by recruiting consultancy CareerXroads, career fairs accounted for only about 2.3% of surveyed employers’ external hires.

According to Monster’s Fall 2009 Atlanta Local Market Report, only 15% of recruiters in the region indicated that they would use job fairs as a recruiting tactic.

While 1,500 people most likely wasted their time attending Buffalo’s job fair, Mayor Brown got some good PR making it look like he is doing something worthwhile. In addition to an ineffective job fair, the Mayor of the third poorest city in the United States has sought to encourage economic development  in Buffalo by providing grants/loans to barber shops, beauty salons and restaurants. A happy owner of a barber shop, salon or restaurant who talks to people all day long generates great PR and votes for a politician bearing gifts. Once again not the most effective use of public dollars but priceless as far as re-election PR.

Are job fairs effective or just a PR tactic?

Politicians Love To See Their Name!

September 20, 2011

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown has taken promoting his name to a level never seen before by a local politician. Putting the Mayor’s name on newly purchased fire trucks, which caused a public back lash has brought the issue of the Mayor’s self promotion to a head. As reported in the Buffalo News:

Office entrances. Gateways to city facilities. The shirts of many city lifeguards. Banners near the downtown waterfront. Some crime surveillance cameras. Lobby displays that promote literacy. Even a Zamboni at a city ice rink. You’ll find “Byron W. Brown” on all these — not to mention a barrage of video programs aired on the government access cable television station. Folks who live or work in Buffalo or who visit City Hall know this fact to be true: the mayor loves to see his name on things. More so than most previous mayors. “He has his name on everything except for the City Hall urinals,” quipped one former city official.

Brian Meyer from the Buffalo News has created an interesting video “Building the Brown Brand” that is worth watching. I welcome a creative approach to addressing city issues, but unfortunately Brown’s obsession with plastering his name every where is not the type of innovation needed in Buffalo. In researching whether other municipalities have addressed the issue of elected officials spending taxpayer dollars on displaying their names, I came across the following:

1) Illinois – State Senator Jack Franks in 2009 introduced the Local Official’s Sign Act which makes it a Class A misdemeanor for the name of an elected officer of a unit of local government or school district to appear on a sign paid for with public funds. A criminal statute is probably not the way to go to address this issue and the proposed legislation has not become law. Illinois State Senator Matt Murphy introduced legislation this year to amend the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act to prohibit: The proper name or image of any executive branch constitutional officer or member of the General Assembly may not appear on any (i) bumper stickers, (ii) commercial billboards, (iii) lapel pins or buttons, (iv) magnets, (v) stickers, and (vi) other similar promotional items, that are not in furtherance of the person’s official State duties or governmental and public service functions, if designed, paid for, prepared, or distributed using public dollars. The Murphy legislation is probably a more realistic approach to addressing excessive marketing by politicians at taxpayer expense. The key issue though is determining items “…that are not in furtherance of the person’s official state duties or governmental and public service functions”.

2) Philippines – The Philippines of all places has addressed the issue of politician marketing at taxpayer expense by issuing a directive to all government officials that states:

The practice of putting up billboards or signages bearing the names, initials and images of government officials on government programs and projects has been noticeably abused and misused by some public officials for their personal interest and has taken the credit away from the taxpayers who are the one paying for such programs through their tax payment. In pursuit of the President’s directive issued during the 4th Cabinet Meeting held on August 5, 2010, where he directed all members of the Cabinet and other government instrumentalities to refrain from associating the President’s personality and identity in their programs and projects, and pursuant to his Department’s thrust to uphold local governance, practice of putting up billboards and signages and other information materials bearing the names, initials or pictures of government personalities on all government projects, and properties (fire trucks, ambulances, vehicles, etc.) are hereby prohibited.  Towards this end, all Local Chief Executives are hereby deiced to revisit all government projects and properties and to ensure that this policy is strictly observed.

Do you think some type of legislation preventing elected officials from displaying their names at taxpayer expense is necessary or is this just not an important issue to worry about?