Video: Mickey Kearns Answers Questions from BR Readers

BR friend and correspondent Francesca Maines asked in this post what you would most like to know from this year’s mayoral candidates. After gleaning pertinent questions from your responses, Maines sat down with Councilman and 2009 mayoral candidate Mickey Kearns last week, who he was able to candidly answer those questions.  

In addition, Kearns adds a few personality touches of his own, such as bringing a book with him that he discusses in part.

In Part 2 of this podcast, Maines will pose the same questions to Mayor Brown.  The mayor was scheduled to be interviewed yesterday, but was unable to make the appointment, as he was spending time with area fire fighters and the families of the  2 City of Buffalo Firemen who perished in yesterday’s fire.  

About the author  ⁄ WCPerspective

Buffalo and development junkie currently exiled in California.

40 comments
sbrof
sbrof

I never said what I feel is consistent or what Kearn's believes but from living in the city my whole life and seeing the blatant disregard the police force has for laws and the citizens they are sworn to protect, is disheartening.

Several people I know will not live in the city because when they have called the police to have them never show up. I don't know what they are doing when driving around... but it sure doesn't seem like anything important when are not in one spot long enough to actually deter crime and are not reasonably responding to people's calls.

No one is expecting 2 minute arrival time for a car accident... but you should have to wait 2 hours either. Or when you give up waiting and go straight to the police station for help because your call went unanswered getting the cold shoulder, why are you bothering me attitude. How are you supposed to feel safe and why would you ever want to live someplace where the cops don't seem to care about your concerns. I have been told by city employees, cops, council members over the years that if you really need the cops to show, tell them you think there is a gun present. Otherwise it's a crap shoot.

I remember a friend basically watched his neighbor's house get broken into, called the cops as it happened.... a couple hours later. After the guy was gone they decided to drive by, shined a light down the driveway and moved on. Great job guys... Sorry I have no respect for the police force as it stands now. I know there are many many people really trying hard... but the attitude that pervades the force needs to change. Getting them involved, on the streets, into resident's lives

tired
tired

Kearns not corrupt? Whose been running the mudslinging campaign and whose been on the job? Kearns is a wisp of smoke. No concrete statements on how he would perform his promises.

whatever
whatever

Warren, You write that Masiello kept the BPD "fully staffed" and Brown has failed to do so.

Simple question: How is it you consider something "fully staffed" when it has 735 but not when it has 795?

In 2006 just after Masiello left office, weren't there 735 officers?

And btw, didn't the Masiello admin propose a long term reduction to 675?

Ref for both of above: http://tinyurl.com/2006-police-article

And now are there 795 officers?

Ref: http://www.bpdny.org/Home/Press/Current/15NewOfficers

Isn't the current 795 bigger than the 735 in 2006? That's 60 more than when Masiello left office, isn't it? Yet you say Masiello kept it fully staffed and Brown doesn't?

"Warren

August 26, 2009 8:59 PM ...The Brown Administration simply failed to find enough qualified candidates to keep the police force fully staffed. ..."

"Warren

August 27, 2009 10:22 PM Since 1978, every Administration has faced the same hiring requirements, and kept the force at full staffing."

What's your reasoning? Is it fair to wonder if you're looking at this objectively?

whatever
whatever

Warren>"Even after that, though, they failed to do what Rochester NY just did: recruit in sufficient numbers to hire well-qualified, racially diverse officers."

That's wrong according to the Roch D&C last month. It sounds like Roch has very serious difficulties as Buffalo in trying to accomplish court-ordered minority police hiring:

http://rocnow.com/article/local-news/2009907120348

"Minorities mostly miss out on recent RPD hiring boon

Brian Sharp – Staff writer July 12, 2009

A dramatic expansion of the Rochester police force over the past two years — meant to increase police presence in high-crime neighborhoods — relied on four straight recruit classes in which 85 percent to 90 percent of the new hires were white recruits, records show.

This, in a city whose population is 52 percent non-white, and despite a federal court order mandating that at least one in four police hires be minorities.

Rochester has hired 164 police officers since July 2007, bringing the uniformed force to 777. All but 19 of the new hires were white recruits, however.

The classes were the least diverse in more than a decade of hiring and dropped minority officer representation just below 25 percent.

..."

Read the whole thing. It's very critical of Rochester about this - very different from your praise, and it says Roch will need to meet with the court about how to deal with their decree.

No doubt Rochester's problems are Byron's fault too somehow.

Warren
Warren

After 4 years in office, Brown has not shown even the slightest grasp of the issues, has postured (and podiumed) about public safety. Given the amount of candidates that took the exam, they could not hire enough officers...and that was predictable given the lack of planning and effort that the Brown Administration put into recruiting. And the Brown Administration thought they could skirt NYS Civil Service law- in fact, attempted to.

Kearns is not corrupt.

Brown is corrupt and incompetent.

Warren
Warren

Since 1978, every Administration has faced the same hiring requirements, and kept the force at full staffing. In fact, the federal court order was lifted a couple of years ago, so the City actually has more freedom now then at any time since 1978.

Finally, the fiasco was worse than you said, because it was not that there weren't enough minority candidates, it was that Civil Service law stated the out-of-staters were ineligible (but the Brown Administration thought the State would overlook that). Even after that, though, they failed to do what Rochester NY just did: recruit in sufficient numbers to hire well-qualified, racially diverse officers.

And Brown did not.

whatever
whatever

Warren, I don't know if not finding enough minority police recruits is mainly due to Brown admin incompetence (I'm not sure, but don't other cities have similar difficulty?), or due to an unreasonably stringent federal court order for hiring percents. It could be some of each. I understand why a racially diverse force is desirable, but I'm not a fan of strict quotas. Perhaps candidate Kearns has suggestions of better strategies to recruit minority police or to have federal court orders over turned, but I'm not aware of him saying either.

The nationwide police recruiting a few years ago was a Brown admin fiasco. After many applicants traveled here at their own expense to take the exam, the city had to exclude all out-of-towners because the court said too many were white.

That looked incompetent for not getting court approval of the recruiting plan before inviting so many people to travel here only to be excluded from hiring. I suppose they could argue in their defense they couldn't predict so big a percent of nationwide applicants would be white or how well they'd do on the exam.

Complying with that court order doesn't seem easy no matter who's mayor.

bflobr
bflobr

@z9icons: Its not about "not finding enough qualified minority candidates", its that given the amount that took and made the grade on the civil service test, they couldn't hire any more new cops than they did. You can't just skirt NYS Civil Service law or the court ordered injunction. Kearns is absolutely posturing with his talk about public safety. Has Brown really impressed in his 4 years? Not really, but Kearns hasn't shown even the slightest grasp of the inner workings of the issues.

okcheckitout
okcheckitout

Go AnswerLady go, you're on a roll! And you're correct!

Warren
Warren

No, it says:

"The city is essentially under “a court-ordered hiring freeze” for police officers because it didn’t have enough minority applicants to fill its existing vacancies, Penska said.

That de facto hiring freeze stems from a 1978 decision by U. S. District Judge John T. Curtin that the city had discriminated against minorities and women in the hiring of police and firefighters."

This kind of deceptive language manipulation is characteristic of the Brown Administration. Notice the "essentially"... and "de facto". In fact, there is no court-ordered hiring freeze. The Brown Administration simply failed to find enough qualified candidates to keep the police force fully staffed. It was a failure of execution, and it had nothing to do with the 1978 decision. So Penska is saying that there are certain requirements that have to be met, and if the City doesn't meet them, it's "like" a hiring freeze.

AL
AL

20 more reasons to vote Kearns:

* Federal authorities, DA, state troopers launch probes of City Hall and Brian Davis

* City workers Coerced participation in re-election campaign

* Abuses of power and questionable spending in Buffalo’s anti-poverty programs

* One Sunset – antipoverty programs used to fund luxury restaurant

* Michelle Barron - One Sunset, unqualified people with questionable backgrounds hired to upper level positions in City Hall

* Chief Brown Supporter in City Hall, Brian Davis, bounces checks, has history of bad debt, state sanctions for failure to file campaign disclosure reports, college credentials unverifiable, tax free house.

* Anti poverty plan - lets all work together

* Unauthorized Double Dipping

* $30,000 Blackberrys

* Silencing Opponents

* Crime Rates Spike

* Streets Not Plowed During Major Snow Storm

* Empire Zone Funds Used for Luxury Condos and Waterfront Hotels

* City Hall Travel and Take Home Cars Questioned

* City Owned Abandoned Homes and Vacant Lots Neglected, Housing Codes not enforced

* City Officials Forced Out

* Billions in development, taxpayer funded

* Mayor Attempts Cover up of Son’s Hit and Run with the Family SUV

* Media Gag Orders

* Casino Gambling

* The war on Canisius College

z9icons
z9icons

Accurate geotagging or not, crimereports.com shows crime is wide spread across all areas of the City. If the Mayor actually placed a priority on this, I'm sure he could have found enough qualified black candidates to fully staff the police department (qualifying us for extra community police).

whatever
whatever

Sean>"I don't think we would have to increase the police force much as all."

You're entitled to your opinion but it doesn't add up to me in the slightest considering that your suggestion was to have police basically stationed at each and every place in the city where there's "a collection of small businesses". There's a huge number of those locations in Buffalo. Probably hundreds. Considering the number of officers on duty per shift, the math for your suggestion doesn't even come close to working.

The following is total untrue nonsense that even your favored candidate Kearns would _strongly_ disagree with:

Sean>"Most of the cops I see aren't doing anything but trolling around streets aimlessly instead of spending enough time in one spot long enough to deter crime from happening in the first place."

Kearns has said the Buffalo police are overworked, not "trolling around aimlessly". Can't have it both ways.

The following is irresponsible garbage too:

Sean>"Right now you call 911 and unless you say there is someone with a gun they cops rarely even show up."

They "rarely even show up" unless there's a gun? That's inconsistent even with your own previous statement that police spend most of their time "trolling around aimlessly".

Do you expect anyone to believe they disregard 911 calls in favor of continuing to "troll around aimlessly"?

They spend most of their time responding to calls.

I'm done responding to your irresponsible false claims. Your claims aren't even consistent with each other, and also aren't consistent with what Kearns has said.

sbrof
sbrof

FYI

It's important to not that not all the points on that map are geocoded correctly. Just make sure the place you click on it actually there. I found a lot of errors along the railroad tracks in Parkside.

quesaisje2
quesaisje2

Initially, I was a supporter of Kearns. However, a recent incident made me question that. I was on Kearns` e-mailing list, and for awhile about a month ago, I was receiving about three e-mails each week. I decided that I didn`t really want to be on the list anymore, so I tried to unsubscribe myself.

When I went through the steps to unsubscribe, the resulting message would list another person`s e-mail address, and say that that address had been unsubscribed. I tried a total of three times, unsubscribing three other people`s addresses, but never able to unsubscribe my own.

Twice I sent e-mails to the Kearns campaign telling them about the situation, but never received any response. Over a month later, I am still on the Kearns` e-mail list.

If the Kearns campaign can`t even run their e-mail list, what would possibly make me think that they could competently run the city of Buffalo?

sbrof
sbrof

I don't think we would have to increase the police force much as all. Most of the cops I see aren't doing anything but trolling around streets aimlessly instead of spending enough time in one spot long enough to deter crime from happening in the first place.

A cop car driving by at 40 mph, using his lights to go through every red light in his way doesn't deter crime. Every criminal knows this, they duck out of sight, 20 seconds later the cop is gone...

If the cops were not gone so quickly the criminals would have to rethink their whole strategy. They would be exposed to the eyes and ears of the cops for much longer.

I also think it would be nice to know where you can find a cop when you need one. Right now you call 911 and unless you say there is someone with a gun they cops rarely even show up. I have several friends who called 911 because of car accidents \ violence on their street or something just plain creepy... never to have a cop respond. They are completely NOT doing their job now. I would like to think involving them with youth, slowing down their pace on commercial streets would instill a little more concern on the cops part and a little more compassion for them from the civilian side.

Here is a map of Crimes for 2007... look at where almost all of the hot spots are.

http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/gCfI-Xnu9_lzM-QIgzGq6Q?feat=directlink

This is where a police presence is needed and needed longer than a 30 second drive by.

tired
tired

Fear mongering? R U Kidding me? Go back to Kearns Campaign HQ and come up with something better. It seems you and your candidate are under the same dilusion of fingerpointing over substance.

whatever
whatever

teddycat>"Obviously not a city resident. Community police are one of the most effective things we ever had against crime."

By the way, obviously you're wrong. I am a city resident. And I didn't write anything against the concept of community policing.

Instead of making things up like those two attepts, how about responding to questions my comment asked?

Why didn't Finance Committee member Kearns at least make a strong public try at shifting funds to the police dept at budget time from other city depts if he believed so strongly that the mayor's proposed budget didn't provide enough officers on the street?

Why is the Kearns campaign website silent about how many officers he'd add and how they'd be funded every year in accordance with the city's financial plan which has to balance?

(The control board won't much care for 1 in 7 chances at short term grants as a funding source.)

whatever
whatever

About the grant, that's an interesting charge but doesn't hold up:

http://www.buffalonews.com/cityregion/buffaloerie/story/747674.html

That says there's a court-ordered hiring freeze until more minority applicants are found. That's crazy, but it's the fed court saying it, and it means the grant application would be rejected.

Regardless, the grant application isn't be a serious plan either because only 1 in 7 cities who did apply received grants, and anyhow the grants aren't long term funding. Kearns as mayor couldn't change any of those inconvenient truths.

teddycat
teddycat

Obviously not a city resident. Community police are one of the most effective things we ever had against crime.

That Brown couldn't even apply for Community policing grants should be enough to have him removed from office for incompetence.

whatever
whatever

One more thought about police: If enlarging the police force is a serious plan of Kearns, then why doesn't his website's issues page say how many officers he proposes adding and how he'd pay fot it?

Here's all it says now about crime and police:

http://kearnsformayor.com/issues

"POLICE STRATEGIC PLANNING AND DEPLOYMENT

Collaborate with Police Commissioner to develop a strategic plan that will increase law enforcement visibility in all neighborhoods and business districts

- Restore police details to public housing units

- Implement anticrime camera sites in critical and high nuisance crime sites

- Improve safety, reduce nuisance crimes and drug activity by restoring community police to neighborhoods"

That's it. Nothing else. Vague platitudes.

If he really believes the police force should grow as a serious idea and not just something to say in a campaign... how come during the most recent city budget hearings we didn't see Kearns (Finance Committee member) publicly propose an budget amendment to grow the size of the police force and reduce spending elsewhere in the budget to pay for it?

Mayors propose budgets but the common council writes it and votes it into law with changes they want.

If Kearns really believes this as a serious idea and not just something to say in a campaign, didn't he have a responsibility to at least try to make it happen at budget time and put it to a vote among the council?

MrGreenJeans
MrGreenJeans

I'll support someone who promises to reform the Poverty Industry which now constitutes city government. One central office to dole out all State and Federal money - NO "corporations" all over the city with separate staff, all skimming-off much needed money for their own salaries. Make it all easy as possible - you wonder if you qualify for help with your house/street/area/business? Go to ONE central location, which can provide info, applications, and follow-up. And every step would be controlled and overseen by dedicated, official accountant who has the Public's best interest in mind. Form as many Community Groups as you like, but know that you are NEVER going to touch public money. It goes from treasury to final use, and you volunteer for free.

The same candidate would also need to pledge NO more money for subsidized construction, whether domestic or commercial. City government's purpose is NOT as developer or landlord.

whatever
whatever

Sean>"If he did nothing else but put cops on all major commercial streets in the city. So there was always one within screaming distance... I would consider him a successful mayor Not just Elmwood \ Hertel but Tonawanda Street, Amherst, Grant, Jefferson, Broadway... basically anywhere there are a collection of small businesses."

Sean, roughly how many more police officers would have to be added so there's always one on duty within "screaming distance" up and down every street where there's "a collection of small businesses"?

Buffalo has a very large number of "collections of small businesses".

To allocate a lot more police to all of them in a serious way and not just as a superficial token, how much growth in the police force would be needed? 100 additional officers? More? Probably a lot more.

Hiring that many more police would be expensive. Where would money for salaries, benefits, and pensions of all those additional new police officers come from? Other city departments? Which ones?

I'm not saying it's impossible to do, but it would have big impacts on other parts of the budget and unless somebody explains how it could happen it's difficult to think it's not just lazy campaign rhetoric. These kinds of things are differences between a serious plan and a bumper sticker type of platitude promising more cops on the streets.

teddycat
teddycat

I wonder how many of the commenters are registered democrats who live in Buffalo and will actually be able to vote in the primary? Theirs will be the only opinions that matter.

Give me a mayor who actually cares about the neighborhoods for a change. You got my vote Mickey.

flyguy
flyguy

The dropout culture has more to do with the friends, the parents, the culture of I dont give a $hit and school sucks than anything else. Good luck changing parents and how they each their kids. Investing in new programs is all well an good but retraining an engrained culture of being street wise versus school wise will be a hug uphill battle. TEACHERS ARENT SUPPOSED TO BE PARENTS!!!

sbrof
sbrof

perhaps, but Brown came to town with the whole democratic party behind him, every endorsement possible.. things that were supposed to help him actually make changes. The fact that Mickey isn't beholden to these groups is a positive in my book because they need someone to ruffle feathers.

Matthew.Ricchiazzi
Matthew.Ricchiazzi

Shockingly toothless. You can't be afraid to take a stand and to pull some punches. The media likes, and propagates, conflict. That's what you need.

Don't stop short of calling for Mayoral Control of the schools. New York City got Albany to go along, and they've made great strides. As one of the worst performing school systems in the State, we need it too.

The quality of public education is the civil rights issue of our time. The fact that we haven't done more to improve our schools is an inexcusable betrayal, that--under different leadership--must not continue.

PARENTS and TEACHERS need someone to hold accountable. They need someone to fire. They can't do that with the school board. You can't run a complicated organization effectively via committee. Mayoral control will allow us to implement reform more quickly, and will give parents and teachers someone to fire if they're not happy with the results.

As for the concept of the "community service centers", I think it looses you more votes that it gains. I'm certainly not a fan of the concept. It can too easily become just another machination of a government bureaucracy already too large, too inefficient, too costly, and too poorly managed. More of the same isn't a good answer. If we're trying to create economic development and jobs--and personally, I'm shocked that that isn't more of a focal point in your campaign--then community service centers have a nominal effect at great cost.

I'm all about rooting for the underdog, and I'm cheering for you in the primary, but, please let's hear you take the stands that Mayor Brown refuses to take. Make us believe you know where we're going and how to get us there. That requires bold ideas, and means ruffling the proverbial feathers and telling truth to powerful interests. But voters like gut--and this City desperately needs it.

Shoestring Budget
Shoestring Budget

Cops never budging the safety of their squad cars not only don't make me feel safe, they make me feel like I'm in an occupied territory. Cops walking or biking around and casually participating in the everyday life of the street, now that I can appreciate.

Eisenbart
Eisenbart

tired, that was a really poor attempt at fear mongering. Try harder next time. Maybe you should say Mickey will try to euthanize our grandparents or something. "A vote for Mickey will have vague and devastating consequences!!!" Get real.

Curious though, what has Brown done in the past 4 years that has been so major?

tired
tired

Small? That's the problem. Small steps that a freshman councilman performs while hes getting his feet wet. I think Mickey Kearns COULD make a good mayor ....... in 4-8 years from now. He thinks like a new councilman and mistakes can be made that would have devastating effects on the city and any funding we get right now. Its nice to want change but don't go overboard. Remember a bird in the hand is worth probly about three Mickey Kearns right now. Plus he tends to dwell on conjecture instead of facts and that worries me even more.

NorPark
NorPark

Better too much than not enough, right?

brownteeth
brownteeth

Sometimes too many cops make an area feel unsafe, I mean if the area is safe then why so many cops? I know thats just in my head but I do feel that way sometimes in those situations.

sbrof
sbrof

I don't think they are all big platitudes... He wants to put cops back on the streets, get them involved with youth through sports. Very small but effective things in my opinion. If he did nothing else but put cops on all major commercial streets in the city. So there was always one within screaming distance... I would consider him a successful mayor. Not just Elmwood \ Hertel but Tonawanda Street, Amherst, Grant, Jefferson, Broadway... basically anywhere there are a collection of small businesses. They need protection and support. Because if their customers don't feel safe... they will never thrive and will eventually move, taking their jobs with them.

Christine
Christine

lower taxes are great...but lets remember that this is new york state and Buffalo receives a huge amount of state aid which can be reduced whenever a municipality has a surplus.

So the platitude of lowering taxes only goes so far.

Taxes in Buffalo are lower than Rochester but companies still choose Rochester more than Buffalo.

Taxes in Erie County are lower than Monroe County but companies still choose Monroe County.

Obviously, the platitude of lower taxes is only going to go so far and Buffalo must work on much bigger picture issues in partnership with the business community.

more city assistance converting big buildings to mixed use

more city assistance getting new classA office buildings built downtown

more priorities for recobbled/repaved roads, sewar&water mains, curbs, sidewalks, trees, lighting, rehabbing buildings rather than demolition, etc.

incentivizing urban business parks within city blocks to bring jobs back to the city...which bring back tenants and property owners

Christine
Christine

We want to know what he sees as Buffalo's big picture priorities for the future.

-can the eastside be made as safe as south buffalo

-can the eastside and south buffalo have vital retail districts like elmwood and hertel

-can the city's inspection, fines and siezure laws be reformed for property flipping and neglectful landlords.

-can city fines be added to county/school property taxes

-can the sale of property not be legally recognized until it is filed with verifiable contact information for both the owner and the seller.

-can a new convention center be made a priority as it would fall in his old common council district

-can the city and county cooperate on a one-stop shop for zoning, permitting, empire zones, etc.

what are his big picture issues. what I hear are big picture platitudes...but

watch84
watch84

They are on their way!

nkcarroll
nkcarroll

Support for small business instead of corporate welfare - a novel concept (for some politicians). Growing business is the best way to create a strong local economy.

I like these video interviews - any chance of extending them past the mayoral campaign? Mid-term politicians, local business owners/developers, musicians, artists, etc.

tired
tired

"I wanta, I wanta..." Ok, Mr Kearns, we wanta too, now how you gonna?

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