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Larry Quinn… can be very lonely at the top.

BRO reader submission by Charles Gordon:
I would like to reflect on Larry Quinn’s long time public and private sector leadership role pending his retirement after more than 30 years of commitment to improving our City.  As a long time close friend, I hesitated to join the fray.  He wouldn’t really like it.  But his unique qualities and ability to capture the ear of many of this region’s business leaders by speaking out, has inspired me to sound out too.
Quinn’s long time commitment to Buffalo, his vision par excellence, his rare ability to act decisively, and his courage to stick his neck out have enabled him to reinvent himself many times to the benefit of our community.  Tom Golisano, Seymour Knox, and former Mayor Jimmy Griffin (to name a few) all recognized a unique combination of insight, vision and intellect in Larry and allowed him to shepherd projects that made Buffalo better.  HSBC Arena, the Irish Classical Theater, the Hauptman-Woodward Institute.  All got built on time and under budget in no small part due to Quinn.  Mr. Golisano would surely agree that part of his decision to purchase the Buffalo Sabres was credited to Larry’s encouragement and confidence that the purchase would be an excellent investment in both the City of Buffalo and in Mr. Golisano’s financial health. 
Of course Larry has made some errors along the way, and he got in peoples’ faces too.  He’s a human being.  I certainly haven’t been spared Larry’s grueling critiques, many warranted–a few not.  But often times the best decisions are neither the most popular nor the kind that spare fragile feelings and egos. 
Time will tell about his legacy on the Inner Harbor, but Canalside, for which in his role he has been heavily criticized, he has also shown his unique skills.  These include understanding and analyzing very complex issues, his ability to adapt on a dime to changing conditions, the talent to think outside the box and to express candidly a valid though unpopular opinion when others were fearful.  The precision and simplicity of his words during interviews always made his positions perfectly clear.  And perhaps that frightened some foes that feared Larry’s agenda.  An agenda which was never hidden, but laid directly on the table for all to see quite clearly.  Our Community desperately needs individuals who demonstrate leadership qualities, and often take unpopular positions… to sometimes work outside the system to accomplish goals
Remember how successful the Bills of the early 90’s were year after year??? Marv Levy was often commended on the how well his “system” worked year in and year out. To this day I relish his response:  It’s not the systems….  It’s great Players making great plays….
This is a very smart man who worked hard, made his own breaks, impressed upon smart and powerful community leaders again and again, and who has paid his dues for many years.  He didn’t just land on top.  He got there a few times, fell down, and climbed back up again.  His generational success is no accident.  Quinn’s longevity and his achievements lie in his strong vision, commitment to decisive action, and impatience with the Status Quo.
Yes he stepped on some toes along the way–I remember how my feet hurt.
We wish him well.

Written by David Steele

David Steele

Architect ( a real one, not just the armchair type), author of "Buffalo, Architecture in the American Forgotten Land" ( ), lover of great spaces, hater of sprawl and waste,
advocate for a better way of doing things.

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