It was my plan to write yet another piece on the “pay-to-play” environment that appears to have tainted so much of the development landscape in Buffalo and the State of New York. The post would start by mentioning an April 27, 2018 headline at the Buffalo News website – “Prosecutors seek use of donations to Cuomo campaign as evidence in Buffalo Billion trial” – and proceed to reference postings which, in my opinion, reflect (at a minimum) the appearance of “pay to play” politics in Western New York. Examples would include U.S. Representative Brian Higgins and Gerry Buchheit’s Queen City Landing project, Buffalo City Council Member Joel Feroleto and Chason Affinity‘s Elmwood and Forest avenue travesty, the Jacobs and Pegula’s contributions to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, etc., etc.]
But my visit to http://BuffaloNews.com in search of the article regarding the Ciminelli donations to Cuomo altered those plans. Before I could locate the “pay-to-play” article, two very different headlines caught my eye and changed my attitude from disdain to gratitude. Rather than address actions fueled by self-interest, greed, and a sense of entitlement, I would use my blog to honor two men who made Buffalo, New York a better place.
The first headline sadly announced the death on April 27, 2018 of Frank B. Mesiah, a Buffalo native who spent decades fighting for racial justice in his hometown and beyond: “Frank B. Mesiah, longtime civil rights leader and former NAACP president, dies at 89.”
I barely knew Mr. Mesiah, but I deeply respected his tireless effort to confront racial discrimination and injustice. His dedication and countless accomplishments – as outlined in the above article – are remarkable. Our community has lost a true leader.
The second headline that altered my plan belonged to Sean Kirst’s column: “A year from now, in Buffalo, how about Luke Easter Park? In contrast to Frank Mesiah’s lifetime of advocacy in the Queen City, the Mississippi-born Easter – who died tragically in 1979 – spent a mere three years hitting home runs as a Buffalo Bison. But, after reading Kirst’s column, it is difficult not embrace his characterization of Luke Easter as “a lasting symbol of community.”
As a kid growing up in Rochester, where Easter played after he was let go by the Bisons, I can attest to the way that this beloved ballplayer could – in the words of Sean Kirst – “galvanize a community, an entire community.” Despite the passage of nearly six decades, I can still recall the respect and affection Easter engendered throughout my hometown. And I can still hear the “knot hole club” screaming L-U-U-U-U-KE whenever our hero came to the plate.
It would be wonderful if Buffalo’s downtown ballpark could be named “Luke Easter Park.” And then, perhaps, our city could find a fitting way to remember Frank Mesiah.
With All Due Respect,