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BERC Gets a CFO, Reilly Concentrates on Inspections and Permits in Economic Development

On July 14th of last year, in this BR story, I recapped a WBFO Buffalo Rising Rountable discussion, writing: Economic
Development got a new commissioner
 in the person of Brian Reilly.
We discussed how this job, formerly held by Rich Tobe, might be split between
two people, as it also entails being the head of inspections and permits. In a
town with aging housing stock and diminished population, should the head of
Economic Development be responsible for so much? Granted, the two departments
would have to work hand in hand for many new projects, but it seems like a lot
for even the most capable of individuals.

Today, Mayor Byron Brown announced Reilly’s resignation as Commissioner of Buffalo Economic Development Corporation (BERC).  In his new duties, Reilly will be Commissioner of Economic Development, Permit and Inspection Services, a job he already was already responsible for under his former title, while the new chief financial officer of BERC will be E.J. Walton.
“We’ll use Brian where his real strengths lie, in economic development,” according to Peter Cutler, spokesperson for the mayor.  Walton will report directly to Mayor Brown, who is Chair of BERC.
The vetting process for Walton has been ongoing with the local business community and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) officers or several weeks, and today the former vice president of the Environmental Services Division of First National Bank of Boston “hit the floor running.”
As early as tomorrow, another long-vacant position in the department, that of President, may be filled according to the mayor’s office.  “We haven’t had anyone in there as president since John Riccione was terminated [in late summer of 2008], and the search and possible filling of this position at this time [of Reilly’s resignation] is purely coincidental,” said Cutler.
The change comes as a result of the mayor’s concerns with BERC management and policy decisions, and a subsequent audit by Commissioner Janet Penska, after which Mayor Brown requested Reilly’s resignation.  The mayor accepted HUD’s offer this past June to offer technical assistance in restructuring BERC.  As a result, Penska now meets weekly with local HUD field office representatives in an effort to bring about reform and change that will “lead to long-term stability at BERC and better services and economic development for our residents and the city,” Mayor Brown said.
According to Cutler, “Reilly was stretched thin.  The bottom line is that this department needs change and reform.”
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