In light of Fillmore district council member David A Franczyk’s recent efforts to, according to his critics, "red line certain minority neighborhoods" and other alleged racial activities, an exploratory committee has been formed by a number of East side activists and a local developer to investigate whether or not to commence a recall election on the veteran council member.
The city of Buffalo charter provides for the recall of any elected official after 6 months in office.
The committee appears to be spearheaded by long time Franczyk nemesis Frank Parlato Jr who has reportedly retained a leading municipal law attorney to research the legalties of a recall in July.
Parlato told the Illuzii letter that, if they push forward on the recall plan, they should have little difficulty in securing the required signatures in less than one week.
A number of long time Franczyk foes, including Darnell Jackson Sr. are expected to take part and are fairly salivating at the prospect. It is expected that the issue will be given ample press in the black newspapers in Buffalo, plus Parlato’s own trademark pamphleteering.
Many credit Parlato with hampering Franczyk’s unsuccessful run for council president in 1999 when one week before the primary election a front page Buffalo News story and a Channell 7 news broadcast appeared about Franczyk’s prior racialist campaign literature - apparently provided to them by Parlato himself..
"Parlato is a rabid dog,’ said one local Franczyk supporter. "Every day he got his people out with below the belt dirty fliers like he did when he (attacked) Greg Olma who is, in spite of what the Illuzzi letter thinks, a very good man. Olma was smeared and slandered by this a–hole."
Still Francyzk may have a disadvantage in a recall campaign likely to focus sharply on the issue of racism. Fillmore is primarily black and many voters already believe or suspect that Franczyk is a racist.
Already one flier has surfaced from the committee which includes two distinct copies of Franczyk’s past election material which Franczyk distributed separately to blacks and whites.
In the white edition, Franczyk clearly uses the fear of blacks moving into Fillmore as an incentive for white voters to support him.
However in a district that has collapsed, and is soon likely to be eliminated by the Common Council in its quest to downsize, some are questioning the need for a recall.
Parlato responded, "We are merely studying the issue at this point . I think it may be a good idea for the public to assess the fact that Franczyk snuck in by some rather unusual legal challenges that eliminated his only white opponent, while aggressively encouraging and possibly financially supporting blacks to run against each other and split the black vote."
Whether true or not, Franzyk presides over a predominantly black district that has known of his racial politics since 1990 when, with his father’s help, he gerrymandered the Fillmore district assuring a white plurality there. Since then however the composition of the district has changed and blacks are now overwhelming in the majority --yet, have, oddly, a white councilman who has long been accused of racism -- and not by Parlato alone.
However, some of Parlato’s detractors say that Parlato is pushing this recall simply because of his long standing feud with Franczyk which began in 1997 when Franczyk called for an investigation of Parlato’s real estate business. A two year long investigation showed no evidence of wrongdoing according to letters signed by the US Attorney and the NY State Dept of State.
Parlato responded, "It’s a little premature to say we are going to do this recall. We haven’t decided yet. If we do it will not be merely a question of vendetta. He attacked me because my family’s business sold houses to blacks in his district yet that was then, this is now. This is a district wide issue. I am going to be entirely upfront about my role in this, if we pursue it I will shout it from the rooftops.
"A recall is an underutilized but eminently fair approach. I see that not only is Franczyk attacking me personally, again, but Franczyk is also attacking lenders who lend to minorities. Perhaps it may be time to let the people of the district decide if they want to keep him another year or not. They can certainly keep him if they want."
Darnell Jackson another member of the committee pointed out that while Franczyk represents a black district, his entire staff is "as usual, all white."
"I think there is little doubt he’ll be booted out,"said Jackson.
Some seem to think Parlato’s hard ball politics may be effective given the climate that the Fillmore District currently finds itself after 15 years of Franczyk as council member. In the last campaign, Parlato published a cartoon of Greg Olma in a diaper with a list of Olma’s alleged misdeeds and the caption "Isn’t it time for a change." In a 1999 Franczyk campaign which he lost to James Pitts, a flier appeared with Franczyk with two heads, one with a caption speaking racist remarks to whites, while the other speaking to blacks assuring them he is their best and truest friend.
"What Parlato did to Olma has never seen before in local politics. He disassembled him feather by feather,’ said Charley Flynn, Chairman of the Independence Party, and a long time Parlato ally.
Another political observer who asked not to be named said that Parlato’s approach to blanketing the Fillmore district with fliers may have wider implications than just for Dave Franczyk
"It may spill over to the county judge race." said our source, " Franczyk’s brother may emerge as the candidate to run against Republican Ann Adams and he will need black votes to beat her. If the Franczyk’s name is yet again associated with racism coupled with the extremely rare event of a recall itself for Dave it will likely bode ill for both brothers. It would be most unfortunate."
Some of the committee members feel that if they pursue it, however, success is likely.
Said Jackson, "I think we can get the black voters to see that Franczyk along with his perennial side kick Greg Olma are not friends of the black community and while the Fillmore district remains intact it should have a non-racist in there."
When contacted by the Illuzzi letter for a recent story Franczyk said he would not wish to be quoted in the Illuzzi letter.