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Home > Leadership > Mayor > Archived Press Releases > 2009 Archives > July 2009 > Mayor Initiates Changes At Buffalo Economic Renaissance Corp

Mayor Initiates Changes At Buffalo Economic Renaissance Corporation Following Internal Review

Contact: Peter K. Cutler

Working With HUD and Business Community to Implement Real Change and Reform

Mayor Byron W. Brown last night asked for and received the resignation of Brian Reilly as president of the Buffalo Economic Renaissance Corporation (BERC). The Mayor’s action followed an internal review of the agency that commenced in early June and was conducted by Janet E. Penksa, Commissioner of the city’s Department of Administration, Finance, Policy and Urban Affairs. During the course of her review, Commissioner Penksa discovered several matters of concern within the BERC, including the agency’s health insurance policy, which had been implemented without the approval or knowledge of the BERC board.

Commissioner Penksa also identified several other BERC management shortcomings, which she outlined in correspondences to the Mayor on June 24th and June 25th. Mayor Brown subsequently sent directives to Commissioner Reilly on June 24th and July 2nd demanding immediate corrective action on all of the identified management shortcomings, including placing all BERC employees into the City of Buffalo’s lower cost health insurance plan and hiring a new Chief Financial Officer for the agency.

“Because I had several concerns about BERC management and policy decisions, I asked Commissioner Penksa in early June to review the agency’s management practices and policy matters and report back to me with corrective recommendations,” said Mayor Brown. “I asked for and received Commissioner Reilly’s resignation as president of BERC, effective immediately, which will include the loss of $36,071 in salary he received from BERC, as well as placing him and all BERC employees in the city’s lower cost health insurance plan on August 1st. So there is no confusion among the public, this action is a direct result of a directive I gave to Commissioner Penksa six weeks ago and I commend her for providing me with a thorough and very professional analysis of the agency’s management operations and policy activities. There will be additional changes within BERC, which I will announce shortly.”

Mayor Brown also announced that E.J. Walton has been hired as the new Chief Financial Officer of BERC. A graduate of Williams College and the Harvard Business School, Mr. Walton’s extensive professional, private sector experience includes six years with the First National Bank of Boston as an assistant vice president and later, vice president in the bank’s Environmental Services Division. Mr. Walton will report directly to Mayor Brown, who is Chair of the BERC board.

In addition to hiring Mr. Walton, Mayor Brown announced that HUD offered to the city in late June and Mayor Brown accepted the federal agency’s provision of technical assistance to reform and restructure city economic development operations. Commissioner Penksa, on behalf of the Administration, now meets weekly with local HUD field office representatives.

“Working closely with the business community, I am currently reviewing candidates to serve as interim president of BERC and I expect to announce that appointment shortly,” said Mayor Brown. “Having HUD and the business community at the table to implement real reform and change will lead to long-term stability at BERC and better services and economic development for our residents and the city.”

Commissioner Reilly will continue to serve as the City’s Commissioner of Economic Development, Permit and Inspection Services.