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Seven Days: the straight dope from the week that was

Thursday, September 10

Will wonders never cease? Today UB professor and sometime AV correspondent Bruce Jackson sent out a mass email endorsing Mickey Kearns for mayor. Rather than explain his rationale, he attached a column published in the Buffalo News penned by his nemesis, his bete noire, his demon: downtown developer Carl Paladino. Strange days.

Friday, September

It doesn't look like Bryon Brown and Mickey Kearns will be exchanging friendship bracelets anytime soon.

The candidates debate. Mayor Byron Brown met his Democratic primary challenger, South District Councilmember Mickey Kearns, in the campaign’s only televised debate, held in the studios of Channel 2. Kearns attacked the mayor for the One Sunset scandal, and his relationship with the restaurant’s owner, Leonard Stokes, in addition to other scandals that have enveloped the mayor’s office in recent months. Brown retorted that Kearns was engaging in “dirty politics” because he was “bankrupt in the ideas department” and had no record to stand on. “This administration is bankrupt in moral values,” Kearns replied. Final score: a draw—not that it matters, because hardly anyone seems to have watched it.

Saturday, September 12

The Buffalo News publishes a somewhat awkward explanation of why it will not endorse either candidate for mayor of Buffalo: In a nutshell, Brown has a cloud hanging over his head—a cloud, it should be added, cast largely by stories reported in the Buffalo News—and refuses to take responsibility for missteps and scandals, while Mickey Kearns is inexperienced and shows little understanding of the way city government and finances work. While the editorial leans toward a favorable evaluation of Brown, an endorsement never materializes. The Saturday morning publication date is strange, too.

Keanu Reeves sighted on Allen Street. In town to scout locations for his new film, Henry’s Crime, Reeves stops in at Rust Belt Books, among other businesses. Declares the Allentown scene to be “cool.”

Sunday, September 13

It’s all primary, all the time: Channel 2 News releases a new poll conducted by SurveyUSA that shows Byron Brown jumping a few points ahead of Mickey Kearns. The new poll has Brown ahead 51 percent to 44 percent, with five percent undecided and a margin of error of four percent. A poll conducted by SurveyUSA a week ealrier had shown 48 percent for Brown and 47 percent for Kearns, with the same margin of error and five percent undecided. But the pollsters acknowledge that their robocall survey of likely voters may mean nothing in an primary that draws so few people to the ballot box. “Only a fraction of Buffalo’s 112,000 registered Democrats are expected to vote in the primary,” they said. “In a low-turnout municipal election, a small mis-measurement can result in a surprise on Primary Day. The winner’s margin will ultimately be decided by which city of Buffalo voters actually show up on Tuesday.”

Truer words were never spoken, it turns out. Relatively high turnout on the East Side and in South Buffalo turn the polls on their heads.

Monday, September 14

Developer Carl Paladino—he’s been busy this week, hasn’t he?—spends the morning on WBEN radio railing against Mayor Byron Brown. He claims to have learned that Leonard Stokes was pulled over by two Buffalo police officers last July in relation to a drug investigation in the Fruit Belt. Paladino says that the two officers were subsequently ordered by police commissioner H. McCarthy Gipson to stay away from Stokes, who had complained to the mayor. As evidence, Paladino produced a memo written by C District Captain Michael McCarthy to his leuitenants relaying Gipson’s order that officers Mark Swaggard and Mike DeLong “stay from a B.M. named Stokes.” Turns out Paladino is right and wrong on this one: The memo is genuine, but it refers to Leonard Stokes’s brother, Lamar, who complained to the mayor’s office that the officers had struck him and thrown his belongings on the ground. The complaint led to an internal investigation, according to Buffalo Police Department spokesman Mike DeGeorge, which cleared the officers of wrongdoing. Why did Lamar Stokes address his complaint to the mayor? What did the mayor say to the police commissioner? We also sent an email to the mayor’s spokesman, Peter Cutler, with a copy of the memo. He has not responded yet, but evidently there exists a memo from the mayor to the Gipson instructing police not to give Stokes special treatment.

Elsewhere, Muntazer al-Zaidi, the Iraqi journalist who famously chucked his shoes at President George W. Bush during a December press conference in Baghdad, is released from prison. “This is your farewell kiss, you dog,” al-Zaidi said as he wound up. “This is for the widows and orphans of Iraq.” The television reporter’s younger brother, Maitham, told the press that al-Zaidi never expected to make it out of that room alive after what he’d done. “He thought the Secret Service was going to shoot him,” Maitham said. “He expected that, and he was not afraid to die.” Al-Zaidi claims he was electrocuted and waterboarded while in prison.

Finally, on the eve of the big primary election, the New England Patriots wait until the final minutes of their season debut to tear out and bite into the still-beating hearts of Buffalo Bills fans everywhere.

Tuesday, September 15

Wow. That wasn’t even close. Despite rampant predictions (including my own) that the primary race between Mayor Byron Brown and South District Councilmember Mickey Keanrs would be a squeaker, Brown and his political machine delivered a shellacking to the challenger. The final tally: 67 percent for Brown (24,595 votes) to 37 percent (14,319). Turnout in the South and Masten Districts was immense for a Democratic primary.

Wednesday, September 16

But hold on: Developer Carl Paladino, who bankrolled Kearns’ candidacy in the final weeks of the campaign and blanketed the media with attacks on Brown, believes the fix was in. He pledged Wednesday morning to mount an investigation into numerous irregularities, including a court order by New York State Supreme Court Judge John Curran that kept voting booths open past 9pm in the Masten District, to accommodate long lines of voters. The lawyer requesting the judicial intervention? Political operative Steve Pigeon.

—geoff kelly

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