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Giambra Says Masiello Vaccilating on City-County Merger

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – The two leaders who appointed a commission to create a city-county merger proposal remain far apart on what regionalism means for Buffalo.

Buffalo Mayor Anthony Masiello and County Executive Joel Giambra appointed the Greater Buffalo Commission to draft a proposal to merger the two governments. But after the commission released its report last week, it was clear both leaders are at odds when it comes to regionalism.

Masiello and Giambra were no shows at the unveiling. The Mayor is very critical of the proposal. He says it does not address Buffalo's core financial problems and only folds the city into the county. Giambra disagrees.

"I have no idea how to work with the mayor," Giambra said. "He's vaccilated on this issue for years now. One days he's for it, the next day he's against it. He was part of the effort for over eight months. You'll have to ask the mayor why he's not happy with it."

"They have not gotten into the real issues of how you create and urban core, which is the city of Buffalo, that's going to be the dynamic, energized core that spins off development in the city and the region," Masiello said. "They have not addressed that issue."

Voters will make a final decision. But the merger deal must first be approved by the County Legislature and then the state before it appears in a voter referendum this November. Masiello says he doesn't believe it will pass unless changes are made.

"I'm going to advocate for the people of Buffalo," Masiello said. "I'm going to tell the truth. This isn't good enough. And it doesn't go far enough."

Masiello says he's convinced that Giambra won't be out in public championing the merger. But Giambra says it's now time for the citizens to move it forward.

"I've taken this as far as I can take it," Giambra said. "I've been talking about this since 1995. I put together the commission. We now have a plan. There's no more ambiguity. There's no more guessing. There's a very solid, decisive plan on the table and right now I believe the voters, the people of Erie County, should have a chance to have their say."

The commission is expected to launch a campaign that will try to convince citizens that its time to merge the governments and create a Regional City of Buffalo.