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Karla Thomas to Byron Brown: Steve Casey is Ruining You

This letter is not intended for Mayor Brown. It is addressed to the man whose leadership I have followed for over two decades. Its intent is not to be mistaken as malicious, but to be accepted with the love with which it is being sent. On behalf of myself and our community, I am appealing to the sensibilities of the man who this community entrusted their safety and caretaking through the electoral process.

Byron, there is a cancer in your cabinet. Its name is Steve Casey. His presence in your camp has derailed your direction and your purpose. It has inflicted pain and confusion on innocent people and employees and brought organized chaos to your leadership. His quest to become powerful through your anointing must be stopped.

If there was ever one thing our peers always believed about you, Byron, it was that you were fair. In evaluating the up and down sides of a situation, you always opted for what was right. That was your leadership style pre-Casey.

Your decision, however, to fire me without due process and refusal to pay out the remainder of my term is reflective of Deputy Mayor Casey’s influence on your decision-making. This decision serves no real purpose nor is it politically prudent. It is, however, definitely politically motivated. The timing of my termination (right before Joe Golombek’s primary agaisnt Sam Hoyt) speaks volumes about the real purpose behind your actions. You simply gave in to some heavy political pressure from people who had nothing to do with getting you re-elected. I am respectfully requesting you return to the leadership style that got you elected Masten District Councilman, New York State Senator, and Mayor of the City of Buffalo.

This Social Security Death Master List has been given God-like status. The $800,000 spent on healthcare premiums for dead retirees is not lost. It was stolen by those families who knowingly used insurance they were not entitled to. Our Comptroller should be trying to get that money back from those families—not trying to help fire me.

Relations with our labor unions are greatly improved. The new Director of Compensation and Benefits is making phenomenal strides in finding and correcting decades old systemic problems with service delivery and overall division functioning. The Civil Service Division is operating efficiently and the Personnel Division is gearing up to conduct collective bargaining agreement training. All of these things have occurred under my watch. I have no more business being fired than Casey does remaining your Deputy Mayor.

Our detractors are ecstatic watching us prepare to commit suicide on the spirit of our beloved Grassroots legacy and do irreparable damage to any opportunity or dreams you may have for higher office. I beseech you—look for an exit route for Steve Casey. As long as he breathes in your cabinet, it will be on life support, leaving our city gasping for air as he continues to negatively impact your leadership with clandestine poison.

The final destination of this journey we have embarked on is a place called disaster. Neither one of us will arrive safely if you opt to take this trip to the end of the road. While the outcome for me may impact my employability, it will leave an indelible mark on your political career.

Byron, the best chemotherapy you can give your advisory cabinet is to change its composition. Give it a makeover. Replenish it with diversity and some good old-fashioned, Buffalo-born and -bred loyal statisticians. Then and only then will this community’s confidence be restored in your leadership of the city that loves you, that has embraced you, and that God has strategically placed you at the head of.

Karla Thomas, City of Buffalo Commissioner of Human Resources

[Editor’s note: This letter appeared previously in the Buffalo Challenger and is reprinted here at Commissioner Thomas’ request.]

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