NRP lawyer said Brown was vo­cal about need to make ‘Sten­house happy’

The Buffalo News - - CONTINUED FROM THE COVER -

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.

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