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Donna Brown Heads Back Downtown

Remember Donna M. Brown? Brown was second deputy mayor of Buffalo for a spell, occupying the suicide seat next to First Deputy Mayor Steve Casey, Mayor Byron Brown’s chief political officer.

Prior to being named deputy mayor in January 2008, Donna Brown spent five years as director of community relation for LP Ciminelli, Inc., working as a liaison between the development firm and elected officials on the Joint Schools Construction Project. Her job in the Brown administration was to address the city’s ever-deepening poverty issues. In April 2009, after more than 15 months—during which Buffalo fluctuated between second- and third-poorest city in the country, according to the US Census Bureau—her plan finally was released. It was a 77-page document, nearly a third of which was a list of poverty-fighting accomplishments claimed by the Brown administration, and the rest of which comprised dire statistics cribbed from other studies and a laundry list of existing programs and not-for-profit organizations that serve the urban poor.

In a city that is regularly deluged with plans, and plans to mark plans, this one—compiled quickly in an election year, delivered late—was memorable only for its embarrassing lack of substance. There were no new ideas offered, no concrete steps advocated; it remains a placeholder buried on the city’s website, representing work that has yet to be done. The task force of community leaders it recommended has never been heard from publicly again.

But Donna Brown has returned. Last spring Brown left the mayor’s office, as second deputy mayors are wont to do, and took a job at Erie County Medical Center, overseeing “patient satisfaction and cultural awareness.” On Tuesday, the Common Council confirmed her as the mayor’s appointment to the board of commissioners of the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority.

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