Mascia Disqualification Creates Chaos at BMHA Election

BY MATT RICCHIAZZI  

Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority (BMHA) officials’ decision to disqualify dismissed BMHA Housing Commissioner Joe Mascia from running as President of the Resident Advisory Board (RAB) became public on the same day as the election, June 27, 2016. Tenants of BMHA were also informed that Marine Drive residents would be barred from voting and that Mascia was ineligible to serve since Marine Drive, where Mascia lives, was not a federally subsidized development.

That announcement, made by Commissioner-elect Leonard Williams just minutes before the vote was to take place, threw the process into turmoil as BMHA residents protested the last minute disqualification.

Williams is closely aligned with the Administration of Mayor Byron, BMHA Chairman Michael Seaman and BMHA Executive Director Dawn Sanders-Garrett, with whom Mascia has often sparred.

Residents at the scene wanted to know why the bar to Mascia’s election was never applied to past elections and demanded to know why Marine Drive residents were – for the first time – excluded from voting in the election.

Mascia’s supporters argue that this represents another example of the Brown Administration’s longstanding efforts to exclude Mascia from the authority’s governing structure. In this case, the action disenfranchises thousands of public housing residents.

Mascia was expected to win the election in a landslide. He was nominated on May 30, 2016 by fellow residents of BMHA. Following Mascia’s removal from the BMHA Board by Mayor Brown earlier this month, he vowed to continue as a resident advocate.

Williams’ announcement that Mascia was off the ballot sparked an uproar at the polling stations, causing residents to stop the voting causing the election to be suspended until a legal ruling can be obtained.

Without officers, RAB cannot provide federally required comments to ratify the sale of Woodson Gardens to City Honors High School or BMHA’s Five Year Plan.

“They don’t care how many people they bomb as long as they get this one guy (Mascia),” says Terrence Robinson, the high profile preservationist. “They have shown a complete disregard for the rights of the residents and how many people they disenfranchise in their petty vendetta.”

“They deprived BMHA residents the right to a BMHA Commissioner for a year, and now they concocted a bylaw change to frustrate residents’ choice. They initiated changes to the election process and now construed federal regulations in an unprecedented manner to further disenfranchise 1,000 Marine Drive residents from participation,” he adds.

It is unclear when RAB elections will be held.

  • Guy Thomas

    Another one-sided “news column” by Matt Ricchiazzi. He states opinion disguised as a fact when he states declaratively that Leonard Williams is closely aligned with the Mayor and his appointees. He does this without telling the truth that Mr. Williams is just another former BMHA tenant-elected Commissioner AND that Joe Mascia also called him the N-word on that infamous tape that Ricchiazzi fails to mention. If Williams is so closely aligned with the mayor, how has he ever benefitted from this “closeness?”
    Also declared as fact with no back-up is that Mascia was expected to win the election in a landslide. This is an opinion and should be attributed to someone in a “news column.”
    Also laughable is the label Ricchiazzi uses for Terrence Robinson — “high profile preservationist.” Huh? Since when? Terrence Robinson has worn a few hats courtesy of the media, but this is a first. This unsuccessful politician may have a few axes to grind with Mayor Brown and they are easily discernible by anyone with a search engine and a will (and a brain, of course). One huge similarity he does have with fellow curmudgeon Joe Mascia is that he has never won a real political election and both sought political help from the powers that be that they both claim to fight.
    In conclusion, lost on Mr. Ricchiazzi is why tenants at Marine Drive were ever allowed to vote for officers on the Resident Advisory Board in the first place. Since this is requirement of public housing authorities for federally subsidized developments and Marine Drive IS NOT federally subsidized, it seems as though a disenfranchisement of federally subsidized tenants HAS BEEN CORRECTED by ruling Marine Drive residents ineligible to vote.
    What gives Artvoice? You used to be more savvy than to support such a toxic individual.