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The Revolving Door

One job lost is another gained

Carla Kosmerl, the director of administration and finance for the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency, isn’t the only one to lose her position at BURA recently.

Also gone is board director Virginia Oehler, replaced by former Niagara District Councilman Nick Bonifacio, and ally of Mayor Byron Brown.

(Oehler’s husband, John, donated money to the mayoral campaign of South District Councilman Mickey Kearns. Just saying.)

Kosmerl was asked last Friday morning to resign or be fired, according to the Buffalo News. She chose to be fired. Kosmerl wore several hats at BURA, including supervising the city’s use of the federal community development block grant. Last spring the Department of Housing and Urban Development blasted the city for poor administration of the block grant, and an investigation by HUD’s Inspector General continues.

“It’s no secret that for quite a while now, the functions of BERC and BURA have been under review, and the review continues,” Peter Cutler, Mayor Byron Brown’s spokesman, told the News. “The mayor has made it clear he wants them to move in a new direction.”

Only a few who worked often with Kosmerl have expressed great sympathy for her, though many echo the sentiments of former city employee Camille Hopkins, now living in faraway Portland, Oregon:

“Not a total surprise,” Hopkins writes. “Brown needs a fall-guy/gal with HUD and the FBI about to step on the City. Carla Kosmerl was good at covering up Masiello’s and Browns problems—she simply knew too much. She refused my numerous requests in 2007 for an explanation why the City awarded certain non-profit groups more funding than they requested.

“Although she was pleasant to me, I can’t say I’m sorry to see her go. She’ll be hired by some connected individual.”

On Tuesday, the Common Council approved the transition of a number of employees in the Department of Public Works from temporary or provisional status to permanent status. The transition entails a raise and access to benefits. One thing several of these employees have in common, besides their department: They donated to Mayor Byron Brown’s campaign fund.

For example, heavy equipment operator James J. Linkowski went from provisional to permanent, after giving $2,490 to the Brown’s campaigns over the years. Richard R. Ferril, also a heavy equipment operator, donated $850 to Brown. John P. Lombardo donated $720. Charles Feldmann donated just $50, but still made the transition from temporary to permanent. Two other workers were made permanent but made not political contributions, according to New York State Board of Elections filings.

—geoff kelly

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