NRP lawyer said Brown was vocal about need to make ‘Stenhouse happy’
forward with substantial evidence of their accuracy.”
The appeals court looked at the impasse between Brown and NRP and determined it was rare for projects that far along in the development process to suddenly end.
The judges also reviewed the history of the project and described it as a development that might have benefited low-income people in Buffalo.
They also pointed to the evidence gathered by NRP and said it suggests the city’s motive in killing the project was either “caprice or a form of political engagement whose ethical valence seems dubious,” the court said.
“We are troubled by the implications of the evidence that NRP adduced in support of its claim,” the panel said.
In the suit against the city, NRP said Brown wanted the developer to hire his longtime ally, the Rev. Richard A. Stenhouse, to oversee minority involvement in the project and that he suggested more than once that the multimillion-dollar housing project was at risk.
Weiss, in an affidavit filed with the court, said the mayor was vocal about making “Stenhouse happy.”
Mayor Brown further stated that he was sick of seeing “white developers on the East Side with no black faces represented,” Weiss said.
When NRP went forward with its request for proposals and hired someone other than Stenhouse, Weiss said Brown told him, “I told you what you had to do and you hired the wrong company.”
Stenhouse, a well-known and influential minister involved in development on the East Side, was a defendant in the suit until he settled with NRP for a reported $200,000 in early 2012.
Despite settling, Stenhouse has said, through his lawyers, that he never demanded or in any way insisted on a contract with NRP.
In 2017, U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny dismissed NRP’s suit, citing the principle that city leaders’ are “immune from civil liability” in such cases. The appeals court also cited legislative immunity in affirming Skretny’s ruling.
NRP declined to comment on the appeals court’s decision upholding the dismissal.