Quid Pro Quo Politics Buffalo Style

by Theodore Kirkland

Some place, at a certain time, certain selected groups met privately. Some Black and some White. They made certain decisions. When the meeting concluded, a certain people had been placed on the bottom, another group on top. At the bottom they received and experienced all that was not good for them –  guns to kill their own, drugs to use for their misery, children living without fathers or mothers at home, high prison population of Blacks, Black youth gangs killing each other, disproportionate number of Black men killing Black women, and a daily dose of ignorance because they could not see the harm for the trinkets.                                        

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Although free of criminal charges, at least for the moment, Masten Council Member  Ulysees O. Wingo’s future depends on Erie County District Attorney  John J. Flynn’s personal and political feelings. Less spoken about, is that the DA can refile those charges against Mr. Wingo at any time as long as the statute of limitation has not expired. But chances are the DA will not refile because Black Baptist preachers carry on a rather quid pro quo relationship with the D.A. and other Whites of authority such as police officers and the police commissioner. I know. I use to work in the detective division.    

     In politics quid pro quo is boss; where one favor demands another in return.  In  Mr. Wingo’s case as a minister, District Attorney   Flynn benefits more by allowing him to remain free from jail and possibly work with other  clergy who have also found themselves in hock to the DA. Their  numbers are unknown and kept confidential by the DA, but having been a police officer and parole board commissioner   I  personally  came in contact with countless Baptist ministers. But Mr. Wingo has one good choice. He could seek a leave of absence from his church to   prevent this conflict of interest between his church duties and his role as the DA’s man in the church. He could regain his position after having served out his time with the DA. There are other choices, but this is the best.   

      It’s no secret that the Irish political machine has as its number one goal, to keep the DA’s office under the control of the Irish. In the majority of political occasions, they have been successful. So what does this have to do with Blacks, one may ask? The group that gains the Black vote wins the prize.

     The Irish  are   the most powerful political group in Western, New York followed by the Italians, both of whom benefit  from a quid pro quo relationship with Buffalo Blacks.

 This may explain politically why former Mayor Anthony Masiello was seated on the dais at the Black Achievers Award Dinner, making him the first White, to my knowledge, to receive such an honor. This could be a signal that the Italians are preparing to make an attempt to retake that seat or some other power seat.

     Yet Blacks haven’t gained any semblance of political power from the Italians or from Irish by way of quid pro quo or bare knuckle politics.  

     And unlike the Irish and Italians who seek real political power, Blacks  appear to have settled for fancy titles, even though titles do not denote power. Some place in my background of Black history I remember reading that Whites found out that Blacks loved seeing other Blacks with titles. 

        So regardless to which party, the Democrats or Republicans, they would have a Black on their ticket in national elections just to be seen in order to make Blacks think they were included in the decision making process.

       The following is not meant to embarrass anyone, but the truth must be told for how much further down can we fall living with the psychology of lies. So I speak the following out of love and out of the desire for us to live knowing what we are up against, for lies told continuously has a strange way of becoming words of truth.     

      When Arthur O. Eve was Deputy Speaker of the State Assembly, George K. Arthur Common Council President, Florence E. Baugh, president of the School Board, Roger Blackwell, Chairman of the Erie County Legislature, and James Pitts, leader of the Common Council, all of them together did not represent political power. It’s a shame to say it but they did not have enough power to have one White racist cop removed from the Black community nor one bad teacher.                

   Today we have Byron W. Brown, Mayor of Buffalo, Crystal Peoples-Stokes, New York State Majority Leader, Ellicott District Council Member Darius Pridgen, President of the Common Council, Ulysses O. Wingo, Masten District Council Member,  Rasheed Wyatt,   University District Council Member and Byron Lockwood, Police Commissioner. If we add up all these people with fancy titles together, they still would not represent real power.  Believe it or not this all  has historical roots that began   during enslavement and the various methods  the slave master used to keep  Blacks under control.   

      Beyond all of the above, the most important aspect of the District Attorney’s office is that he “decides” who is charged with a crime and who is not. Before I graduated from the police academy, the message was clear: you don’t  lock up Catholic  priests.   

      When I was a rookie cop in the   academy, I heard that no one liked to work in South Buffalo; it was too political they said, because  before you could get to the station with your prisoner, the word would came that “so  and  so”  knows “so and  so,” so turn him loose.   

       But on the East side of Buffalo, the police could lock up all the Blacks they wanted to  without any hassle, neither from Blacks nor Whites  because  Blacks still had no power.

Long Time Contributing Columnist and Community Voice Ted Kirkland

 Theodore Kirkland: Theodorekirk@aol.com