It was gratifying to see the Buffalo News editorial board’s opinion, published on line on November 18, 2019, under the headline: Editorial: Common sense on Gates Circle.
The editorial board praises the November 15, 2019 decision by the Hon. Mark A. Montour, Justice of the New York State Supreme Court, for “reject[ing] the (City of Buffalo’s) ludicrous logic of calling Gates Circle ‘blighted’ to get tax breaks (for private developer TM Montante Development LLC).”
As the attorney who brought the lawsuit on behalf of Buffalo resident Daniel Sack, I certainly concur with the editorial’s conclusion: “Montour’s ruling is a victory for common sense.” But I need to note that this is also a victory for individuals, such as Dan, who are willing to stand up and proclaim: City officials, you are abusing the intent of the law, and I am going to challenge you in court.
[If you’re interested in learning about the legal and factual background of the case, please read my November 16th blog post , and if you’d like to see the court’s perspective first-hand, here’s Justice Montour’s decision : Justice Montour’s Decision in Sack v. Buffalo Common Council-TM Montante.]
But the real purpose of this posting is to briefly follow up on one curious comment in the Buffalo News editorial: “… [I]t does not take a white-shoe law firm to know the difference between a high-end neighborhood and a sham.”
I agree. It shouldn’t matter how prestigious or large a law firm is, or the school where a lawyer has obtained her or his degree. Each person given the privilege to practice law in New York State should not only have the capacity to look at a legal issue in an objective and logical manner, but also — whether a government lawyer, a private practitioner, or in-house counsel – should possess the courage and integrity to say to his/her client or boss: With all due respect, this makes no sense.
One final thought. Our city’s elected and appointed officials – from Mayor, to Common Councilmembers, to planning and agency staffs – must also apply common sense and a desire to follow the law when they are making decisions on our behalf. They are not off the hook simply because an issue involves the meaning or purpose of a statute or law.
With All Due Respect,