In an effort to keep the conversation open, following similar sentiments by local figureheads such as Eddie Egriu (see here), New York Assemblyman Michael P. Kearns concurs that there should be an open dialogue and communication regarding the workings of the New Stadium Working Group.
Too often in Buffalo we have been left in the dark, only to find that our representatives didn’t exactly have our back (even with the best intentions), the way we assumed they did. In the case of the new stadium, undisclosed meetings have left everyone guessing as to what the eventual outcome will be. Talks of possible relocation to Niagara Falls by some, and Downtown Buffalo by others. In the end, there are those who feel that full disclosure is not only appropriate, it’s both ethically and lawfully correct. The following statement was issued to Governor Cuomo by Kearns:
Dear Governor Cuomo:
You have been a champion of Western New York with the Buffalo Billion and so many of us appreciate your efforts. Although Buffalo has not had a major championship, your support has created a new energy and excitement for a prosperous Western New York future.
The Buffalo Bills, as you know, are an integral part of this community and the WNY psyche. Recently, the Erie County Stadium Corporation, a subsidiary of the New York State Urban Development Corporation d/b/a Empire State Development, Erie County and the Buffalo Bills Inc. appointed members to the New Stadium Working Group, an advisory group tasked with exploring and investigating the construction of a new stadium or substantial renovations of the current Ralph Wilson Stadium.
The creation of the New Stadium Working Group has created uneasiness among the most important supporters of the Bills – the 12th Man. As you know, the 12th Man has been an integral part of the success of the Bills. On December 12, 1992 the Bills honored their 12th Man as the seventh inductee onto the Bills Wall of Fame. The 12th Man pays for the tickets and is given a seat at the stadium or tunes in to a local broadcast. The same 12th man has paid for over $95 million in state and county funds for Ralph Wilson Stadium’s current renovations, but does not have a role in the proceedings or activities of the New Stadium Working Group.
The New Stadium Working Group may not have to abide by the Public Officers Law, but many fans want to play a role in the building of a new stadium. After many calls to my office by concerned fans about the process, I decided to create a link on my Assembly Webpage to give our greatest stakeholders the opportunity to comment on the work of this group and insure public trust throughout this process. In addition any comments or recommendations made by the public I will provide to this honorable committee.
Although the New Stadium Work Group is made up of some of our finest elected officials and leaders in the community, their undisclosed meetings have caused uneasiness, concern and uncertainty that I cannot respond to even though the building we are discussing is located in my Assembly district.
Therefore, I am asking that you consider making these meetings subject to the Open Meetings Law, in order to relieve the stress and concern created by the secretive nature of these proceedings.
Any relevant information I receive at the link on my website I will share with the New Stadium Working Group for their review in the hope that this opens up the process and alleviates the stress of the community.
As President Barak Obama has said, “Public engagement enhances the government’s effectiveness and improves the quality of its decisions.” It is my hope that we work to improve the process of the New Stadium Working Group and your participation is vital in this regard.
Very truly yours,
Michael P. Kearns | New York Assembly – 142nd District | 1074 Union Road | West Seneca, New York 14224