The Ballad of Byron Brown

For fifteen long years he’d been cream of the crop.
The king of the hill. The man at the top.
He’d cut all the ribbons for fifteen long years.
For a renaissance fueled by hotels and craft beers.
For fifteen long years, he had gone with the flow,
Mild-mannered and monotone, rostrum in tow.

Byron Brown has been mayor since two-thousand-six.
Plenty of time – with more problems to fix.
While things have improved for the white upper classes,
Not all see his tenure through rose-colored glasses.
Crime getting worse, cops are out of control,
Even punitive speed traps had taken their toll.

So India Walton said she would oppose,
This longtime incumbent, whom everyone knows.
For her community – for change and for hope.
And for her it seemed unlike some boring old trope.
The people, she says, had deserved so much more,
than from Byron Brown’s terms – of which there’d been four.

Progressives knocked doors, they made calls and held signs,
Throughout winter and spring to earn Walton two lines.
She envisaged – promoted a rust belt New Deal,
And spoke of her ambitious plans with a zeal.
But Brown kept pretending she didn’t exist,
His “rose garden strategy”? Easy to miss.

No campaign, no debate, never uttered her name.
He figured that this year was more of the same.
His machine was well-oiled – his lackeys would show,
It wouldn’t be close, if they all would just go.
He thought he was safe and he’d get his fifth term,
But India Walton became a concern.

On primary day, Walton’s backers turned out,
And this suddenly gave Brown a reason to doubt
His own re-election and chance number five.
His campaign ran on fumes and seemed barely alive.
He lost, and his chances were over, he reckoned.
The dread private sector, beginning to beckon.

But lo, who is this? Doug Jemal from the South?
Rocco’s out of his pool and Carl opened his mouth?
The Partnership, Jacobs, our own one percent,
Would not abide changes without their consent.
My fainting couch! Fan me! Arrange my affairs!
(To them welfare’s fine, just so long as it’s theirs.)

A meeting was hastily called to review,
What this millionaire posse should, could, and would do.
Carl called it and made sure that Pigeon was there,
and he told Bob McCarthy; their plans were laid bare.
They canceled it once and then tried it again,
But Carl was like poison to some of these men.

India, meanwhile, was doing the rounds.
Explaining that city hall wasn’t just Brown’s.
The national media gave her much attention,
This winner, whom Brown couldn’t bother to mention.
As mayor, she’d help out the poor and forgotten,
Before Tesla and plans grandiose, misbegotten.

He waited a week, let it all settle down,
Our caretaker mayor, the one Byron Brown.
His people held “protests”, sent loads of group texts,
All his patronage hires were suddenly vexed.
A grassroots campaign! A moment propitious!
But the grass isn’t real. That turf is fictitious.

It was too much to bear, all this talk about “people”.
So Brown hatched a plan both pathetic and feeble.
If democracy‘s something that should not be flouted,
Then where was the mayor’s campaign when it counted?
“There is only one mayor at a time!” Brown proclaimed.
She’s a radical! Socialist! Shame! Shame! Shame! SHAME!!

He could have conceded, acknowledged her win.
Been gracious in loss, let these changes begin.
But power corrupts, so instead he’ll contrive
A plan born of weakness and lame “strive for five.”
Byron Brown, the caretaker of all he surveys,
Will write himself in, if it means that he stays.

Brown’s shelf life, politically, may have expired.
Dems voted last Tuesday and told him he’s fired.
Despite all his noise, our democracy worked.
He didn’t campaign, and instead he just lurked.
Now angry and bitter, too late to the stump,
‘Stop the steal’ he’ll demand, like that other guy, Trump.

Bob McCarthy Doing Mychajliw PR

The Republicans are fighting about which of their Sheriff candidates is MAGAier. Here comes Stefan Mychajliw to offer his ethical and fiscal clarity, such as it is.

Oh, and here comes Bob McCarthy to simply transcribe and publish whatever Mychajliw tells him, without checking it first.

On one side we have Somethingorother Garcia, who switched parties a few times and voted in the Democratic primary in 2016. So not MAGA!

On the other side we have Somethingorother Healy-Case who also switched parties even more times, but did not vote in the Democratic primary in 2016. OMG MAGA!

Who cares.

Anyhow, Mychajliw, gearing up to lose a town supervisor’s race in a landslide, sweatily called Bob McCarthy to tell him:

In a routine review of county expenses, Comptroller Stefan I. Mychajliw Jr. said he is scrutinizing payments of $282,037 since 2015 to 716 Security and Investigations, partly owned by Garcia.

Bob McCarthy

Mychajliw has spent much of his recent tenure as “Comptroller” no-showing and launching little culture war catfights. There exists no place on earth and no person with a brain who suddenly believes that Mychajliw – who doesn’t know how to do the job from which he has absented himself – undertook a “routine” review of county contracts with a current candidate for office. It insults everyone’s intelligence and quite obviously so. But what McCarthy wrote next is simply amazing:

Mychajliw, also a Republican, emphasized that he has taken no position in the hotly contested primary race featuring Garcia and Karen L. Healy-Case, the endorsed party candidate.

Bob McCarthy

Now, this is a lie. To clarify: I have no doubt that Mychajliw opened his gob and told Bob McCarthy this lie. What is doubly egregious, however, is that McCarthy and the Buffalo News did not see fit to double-check Mychajliw’s assertion that he had “taken no position” in the Sheriff’s primary race between Garcia and Healy-Case.

Had McCarthy or his editor undertaken a simple check of the state election website, he would have discovered the $100 donation Mychajliw made to Healy-Case in late March 2021.

Mychajliw can support whomever he wants, but it is an abuse of his power to use his state-sanctioned office to target political opponents for special scrutiny or persecution. It is just as much an abuse of power as Trump pulling reporters’ phone logs or Mychajliw using the Comptroller’s office to issue what amounts to a campaign press release. I guarantee you that the Erie County Comptroller has no say or authority over what the state does with its state and federal funding for the Skyway.

Mychajliw also noted that the payments pose “numerous issues and concerns” for Garcia, especially should he win election as sheriff and profit through the county.

“There could be a serious conflict if he is potentially sheriff and privately benefits from a job his office can handle to begin with,” he said.

Bob McCarthy

So, Mychajliw is not accusing anyone of malfeasance, but merely suggesting that there is a potential conflict of interest. “Could be” and “potentially” are the weasel-word clues. Garcia responded he would sever his relationship with that company if he should win, so what is the problem?

The problem is that Stefan Mychajliw used his public office to do the Healy-Case campaign’s bidding and generate some mailer copy for it.

It is time for this shamefully opportunistic serial candidate to be retired to the dreaded private sector.