BUFFALO, N.Y.- Steve Banko has always been outspoken. He was perpetually available for comment as the communications director and senior advisor to then-Buffalo Mayor Tony Masiello.
Then, Banko left city government for the local HUD office. There at times, he upset his old friend, with his public rebukes of the troubles the Masiello administration had with staying within the rules of spending HUD grant money. But Banko says Masiello asked for help, and largely got the issues behind them.
When Masiello stepped down and Byron Brown was elected Mayor, Banko says things changed…for the worse.
When HUD audits again found improper spending, Banko did what he always did, spoke out.
In an interview with Artvoice after a particularly bad 2009 HUD audit, Banko was quoted saying, "I defy anyone to understand what happens in Buffalo's City Hall."
Mayor Brown's response? Banko says Brown called Washington demanding Banko be silenced. And effectively, Banko was cut-off from the media. Eventually, Banko would retire, now splitting his time between Florida and South Buffalo.
2 On Your Side asked Mayor Brown repeatedly for his version of events, but his spokesman Michael DeGeorge declined, offering only this: "We have established a strong working relationship with HUD and continue to work with them to address any issues."