He was convicted in 2011 of having misappropriated nearly $30,000 dollars for personal expenses. The investigation began shortly after he left his post as Buffalo's economic development director in 2008, where he was also the head of the Buffalo Economic Renaissance Corporation (BERC). BERC no longer exists, according to the Buffalo News.
At least one other investigation into misappropriated redevelopment funds directly managed by Wanamaker at the time to the tune of $160k in unpaid federal loans for which Wanamaker was apparently responsible, is being still being conducted by the FBI. Word on the street then was already ripe with pretension of the rotten fruit being sold to Inglewood.
In a Buffalo chat room that appears to offer significant political scuttlebutt, a February 19, 2008 post by "winfield31" stated, "Word up around the coffee shops downtown Buffalo is that Timothy Wanamaker is leaving his post for a similar position in California. Will be leaving in 2 months approx. Question is, what has this guy done to make Buffalo better or for that fact Baltimore, or the future endeavors he pursues?" Several more comments by other posters indicated that wherever Wanamaker went, trouble and scandal were close behind.
Wanamaker was appointed a similar position in the City of Inglewood in April of the same year. It was during Wanamaker's tenure that a $2 billion Hollywood Park deal was made, one which had ties to the still-questionable Renaissance development nearby as well as future deals that will favor developers over residents of Inglewood. It is now rumored that Dec 14 decision by Moody's Investors Services to downgrade $90 million of the City of Inglewood's bonds may be owed, in part, to redevelopment deals made in the last few years.
While city manager of Inglewood, the former Buffalo city executive had as his Executive Assistant a former University of Buffalo (UB) graduate named Mawusi K. Watson. In 2008, she was the "Editor-and-Chief" (sic) of the University of Buffalo's UB Planning newsletter. According to her biography on the City of Inglewood's website, "Ms. Watson was selected to become a Fellow and served as a member of the prestigious and nationally coveted Department of Housing and Urban Development Fellowship Program" while in Buffalo.
She also served as a Research Assistant for the City of Buffalo's Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program in 2006. Sources in Buffalo have stated that the two met while Wanamaker served as Vice Chairman of the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency (BURA), where he was responsible for managing the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development programs in Buffalo, which included the HUD Fellowship and CDBG programs.
Watson remains the city manager's assistant. City of Inglewood documents state that Watson's salary is approximately $100,000.00 annually, which is nearly the same as the city's mayor and twice that of city council members.
Watson did not return calls to comment.
(Randall Fleming is a veteran journalist and magazine publisher. He has worked at and for the New York Post, the Brooklyn Spectator and the Los Feliz Ledger. He is currently editor-in-chief at the Morningside Park Chronicle, a monthly newspaper based in Inglewood, CA and on-line at www.MorningsideParkChronicle.com)
Vol 10 Issue 104
Pub: Dec 28, 2012