Cohen Says Mascia’s Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Joe Mascia

Joe Mascia

“Actions speak louder than words,” said civil rights attorney Steve Cohen when asked this week about his defense of Joe Mascia, the tenant-elected commissioner on the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority who was suspended Aug. http://southbuffalonews.com9 by Mayor Byron Brown shortly after the release of a tape recording where Mascia can be heard making racial slurs.

Mascia is fighting the suspension in a hearing that is expected to continue into next week in Part 30 of Buffalo City Court before a hearing officer selected by the mayor.

In stressing his point that Mascia is not being characterized fairly by the release of selected portions of the recording made without Mascia’s knowledge, Cohen said Mascia’s “history of public service and [his work] in advocating zealously for BMHA tenants, many of whom are African-American and Hispanic, speaks far louder than the 3 seconds of unfortunate and reprehensible words between two friends spoken in private during a four-hour car ride to Albany.”

Cohen said the hearing officer, Ann Evanko, has denied his efforts to have the full tape recording released during the hearing and “we have been provided only two, four-minute snippets that support” the allegations contained in the mayor’s suspension order.

At press time earlier this week, Cohen said he planned to put Mascia on the stand and give him the opportunity to explain his comments that were recorded and ultimately released during Mascia’s his campaign for the Fillmore District council seat.

In the recording segments that have been made public, Mascia uses the N-word in criticizing several leading African-American officials and he is also charged in the mayor’s suspension order with numerous violations of the BMHA’s code of ethics and personnel policy.

Mascia was traveling to Albany with Paul Christopher last March when Christopher secretly recorded his comments but didn’t release them until several months later, a move that torpedoed Mascia’s candidacy.

The hearing is expected to continue for several more days.

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