Joe Mascia, the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority Commissioner who in a recorded tirade called several African-American leaders in Buffalo the "N" word, has been removed from the authority by Mayor Byron Brown.
In a statement, though Brown says he could have removed Mascia immediately using his executive authority, he instead appointed an independent hearing officer and fact finder.
The Mayor was one of several people Mascia could be heard making slurs about when the cell phone video surfaced in July 2015.
Veteran Buffalo attorney and mediator Ann Evanko found "substantial grounds to recommend the removal of Mr. Mascia from the BMHA Board," according to Brown.
He accepted her recommendation and said, "It’s clear to me from the hearing officer’s findings that Mr. Mascia is a racist masquerading as an activist. He holds strong discriminatory beliefs against the people he claims to be helping."
Dawn Sanders-Garrett, the Executive Director of the BMHA, said this closes a difficult chapter. "We are pleased the Mayor appointed a hearing officer to conduct a thorough, independent review of the Authority's charges against Mr. Mascia."
Mascia spoke with 7 Eyewitness News reporter Katie Morse last year, and apologized for his comments. He called them "out of character" and said they were made "at a moment of weakness".
"You know like I said, I'm 70-years-old. This is not part of my DNA. If it was it would have surfaced a long time ago. I don't think anybody could call me a bigot or a racist. Anybody. Not people who know me. And know me well," he said.
You can listen to what Mascia was recorded saying below. Please be aware that the language used is offensive:
Here is a transcript of the exchange:
Mascia: I filed suit against the five appointed commissioners [of the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority.]
Driver: What’s the matter with you?
Mascia: Well they were appointed wrong. They were appointed and they were confirmed by the Common Council without their due diligence and them vetting the process. So f*** them too.
Driver: They can get you for discrimination.
Mascia: They can get me for whatever they want.
Driver: That’s why you’re going after [Michael] Seaman, [chairman of the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority].
Mascia: That’s right. Seaman first, that way they can’t say it’s discrimination.
EDITED – During this portion, Mascia talks about people he plans on “taking down.” It was removed due to a discussion about a lawsuit being filed. The conversation picks up when the person recording the video is asking Mascia about who else he plans on “taking down.”
Driver: What about the mayor?
Mascia: He’s part of it. They’re his appointees; they’re all a part of his crew.
Driver: What is he?
Mascia: He’s a f***ing n****r.
Driver: What is he?
Mascia: So who did you hear that from, about the mayor leaving in May?
Driver: [Says name that’s difficult to make out]
Mascia: What the f*** does he know?
Driver: What is he?
Mascia: Him? He’s a f***ing camel jockey.
Driver: What’s Darius?
Mascia: Oh, another n****r. F***ing n****rs.
Driver: What’s Leonard Williams?
Driver: What’s Mike Seaman?
Mascia: N****r. He’s a w****r.
Driver: What’s Donna Sanders?
Mascia: She’s a f***ing dumb n****r.
Driver: What’s she doing with the car?
Mascia: You see her girlfriend Crystal Peoples is getting her girlfriend Collins as the new chancellor? Bob Bennett is out! Them n****rs take over, man. They… [Carl] Heastie, [State Assembly Speaker,] says whatever Crystal Peoples wants. So the f***ing n****rs man, I told ya. They get in power, forget about it. Forget it. They want it all.
EDITED – The final section of the video was removed. Once again, Mascia and the driver are talking about a lawsuit, including a freedom of information request, and the inner politics of the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority.
Mascia was the elected Commissioner on the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority's board. The formal removal process prevents him from seeking re-election in the tenant commissioner election, which will be held on June 14.
At the time the video surfaced, Mascia was running for a seat on Buffalo's Common Council. His campaign manager resigned, he was suspended from the BMHA, and he lost his bid for the position.
He wrote this response after news broke about his tirade:
What hurts me the most is offending my friends and people who had the faith in me to ask me to represent them on the Common Council — specifically the minority community. When in office I will fight relentlessly for all minority communities — the African American community in particular — as I have done for five terms as housing commissioner.
To my wife, my daughter, and my grandchildren — who expect much more of me than this — I am deeply sorry.
Regardless of my frustration at the time, there is no excuse for the language that I used. I will continue to fight for neighborhoods that have been neglected and people who have been ignored.
To the people I have hurt, and to the public in general: nobody deserves being described with such language — especially coming from me. It is my hope that I can regain your trust in the coming months.
I have no intention of interrupting my progressive, inclusive vision for our city and the Fillmore district. As always, I will make myself available to the community to discuss this or any other issue related to the Fillmore district or my candidacy.
With my deepest regrets,