I've been a huge supporter of Buffalo ReUse and Michael Gainer's leadership and vision. Under Michael's leadership the organization was formed and moved to this neighborhood, around the corner on Northampton. It has become a functionally integrated and necessary component in helping shift perceptions and gradually move this neighborhood off of life-support. I've blogged about Buffalo ReUse with a dozen posts - google 'gainer' in this blog's search box - and see this organization and Michael's works as a unique and transformative moment in an increasingly fragmented landscape in this, the country's third poorest city.

This morning I learned that Michael Gainer was fired yesterday from his position by Harvey Garrett, a west side housing activist and the newly appointed interim Executive Director of Buffalo ReUse. I spoke with Michael this morning and just met with him this afternoon. Harvey Garrett responded in an email that he'd have a statement for me this afternoon.
Stay tuned...

update - 4:03pm

In response to my request for an official statement from Buffalo ReUse, I received the following statement from Harvey Garrett this afternoon
via email.
This is the official statement so far - it's still being worked on but here it is.

As no doubt you already know, Michael Gainer, one of our founding members, is no longer employed by Buffalo ReUse. Buffalo ReUse will forever be indebted to Michael for his vision, passion and drive, without which Buffalo ReUse would not exist today. The decision to part ways with Michael was the most difficult our young organization has faced, and we assure you it was absolutely our last resort. As the statement released by Michael indicates “lots” of “mistakes” were made, protocols were not followed and the chain of command was not respected. These infractions have created significant barriers to the organization, its sustainability and its future growth. Like all not for profit entities, Buffalo ReUse--and everyone associated with it--must, above all else, follow clearly defined regulations and protocol for its business matters. Unfortunately, a cross-roads has been reach with Michael regarding these matters and accordingly a change had to be made.

We wish Michael the best in his future professional endeavors.

If you would like further information we urge you to contact Stephanie Simeon, Chair of the Board of Directors at Stephanie.simeon@gmail.com.
I'll be posting additional material and statements about this rapidly developing story as it becomes available.

Make sure to check out the growing comment stream/video that Chris Smith has posted over at Buffalo Geek - here. A video interview with Michael Gainer about these developments is in the works.
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Caesar Bones said...

Garrett mows down another employee at an organization he worms his way on top of!

Is he paid to do this or is it just a hobby?

Mary/Bruce said...

As one of forty or so founding members of Buffalo ReUse, I am appalled and infuriated about the firing of Michael Gainer. I see this as nothing more than a simple power grab pulled off by a group of young, "well meaning", career oriented opportunists intent on building their resumes. In fact, I believe that Board Chair, Stephanie Simeon said as much in a "Buffalo Spree" magazine interview when she stated, "When I'm fifty, I'll have my own thing going. Stephanie and Associates".

The arrogance of Ms. Simeon's statement, "wishing Michael well in his professional endeavors" reeks of smugness and insincerity.

My old friend Bobby Seale would call these folks jackenapes, fools, "well meaning" people willing to climb over the backs of people attempting to bring about positive change.

As a founding member I am calling for the immediate reinstatement of Michael, the removal of Harvey Garrett, and the immediate resignation of all board members. I will not stand by and allow this to go unchallenged.

If this attempt by the Oshei Foundation (to insert Garrett as executive director of Buffalo ReUse) was an effort to change the direction of BR, they should be ashamed! If this is how they swing their financial weight, then F..K them, we'll accomplish this mission without their dough. I thought they were trying to involve themselves in positive change for Buffalo?

Bruce Beyer

Anonymous said...

I used to have respect for Garret's methods and motives, but no more. He's fast becoming the infallible Saint Harvey.

Anonymous said...

I have to echo Mary/Bruce's statement. It could not be more succinct. This is number 2 for Garrett. The first was at the Landmark Society.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it bad enough that the West Side has learned to distrust and dislike Harvey?...and now he wants to spread his ill will across the East Side, too?

Charger said...

I've admired Michael's vision and energy since I first met him shortly after he moved to Buffalo - when Buffalo ReUse was just a glint in his eye.

From a distance I have always respected Harvey for his dedication to the West Side and unofficial public service.

I am astounded by this turn of events and I will find it very hard to continue to support Buffalo ReUse with anything like the same enthusiasm that I have in the past.

ReUse is way too young to kick its founding visionary to the curb. Stephanie and Harvey will have their work cut out for them explaining this move to long-time supporters, and keeping the organization going. For the sake of the mission I hope they can, but the spark is gone.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I understand there were some real financial management issues at Buffalo Reuse, but is this another hit by the Coalition for the Preservation of Harvey Garrett's Preservation Reputation?

Anonymous said...

Wow, how very, very disappointing; I only met Michael a handful of times, but he seemed like a nearly ideal leader for such a wonderful project. Whatever the issues with "protocol" and "chain of command," his accomplishments with what seemed to some as a windmill-tilting initiative have been truly outstanding. What a shame.

Any word on the "the statement released by Michael" referenced above in Garrett's statement?

Anonymous said...

I'm also amused by the "chain of command" complaint. What chain of command did Garret honor when he took over the West Side Community Collaborative and drove out its members?

Anonymous said...

As the statement released by Michael indicates “lots” of “mistakes” were made, protocols were not followed and the chain of command was not respected. These infractions have created significant barriers to the organization, its sustainability and its future growth. Like all not for profit entities, Buffalo ReUse--and everyone associated with it--must, above all else, follow clearly defined regulations and protocol for its business matters. Unfortunately, a cross-roads has been reach with Michael regarding these matters and accordingly a change had to be made.

Official statements are usually more discreet and professional that this. Mr. Garrett is showing how he operates; like a bull in a china shop.

He's a well meaning cancer because in his mind he's the solution to every perceived problem.

Anonymous said...

I had respect for Garrett at one point. Time has proven him to be no more than a power-hungry egomaniac who has taken it upon himself to force his way into as many organizations as he can to dismantle them from the inside.

STEEL said...

Since when has this forum become a bash Harvey Garret forum? Too many Anonymous comments to take this thread stream seriously.

I will wait for facts until I start complaining about Harvey or anyone involved in this.

Mary/Bruce said...

Hey Steel, what facts do you need to know? Garrett fired Gainer over some bullshit bureaucratic nonsense and is trying to cover up his and the Board's mistakes. I have never met Garrett but he is behaving like an ass simply because he can. As a founding member of Buffalo ReUse, and one of the people calling for tonight's meeting, I intend to: 1)call for the immediate reinstatement of Michael 2)call for the firing of Garrett and 3)ask the Board to resign forthwith.

If I have to stand out in front of Board members abodes with picket signs (or their places of work) I fully intend to do so. There are no amount of so called "facts" that will alter my complete faith in the integrity Michael Gainer.

Bruce Beyer

Mary/Bruce said...

Since the burning of the Woodlawn rowhouses, David wondered what the purpose of his blog would be. Bashing HG sounds like a good interim subject. He obviously has made a lot of enemies.


STEEL said...

1. What was the "bull shit bureaucratic nonsense"

2. What board mistakes are being covered up?

3. What mistakes of his own is Garret covering up?

4. What were the financial improprieties talked about in other posts?

5. What do you mean by "Power Grab"?

6. Do you have documentation of the motives of the Oshei Foundation?

The fact that you say the facts mean nothing says a lot. Are you sure that is your position?

Mary Jane said...

Why? Did he steal a glass doorknob? Silly Silly people. People that accomplish things usually don't win popularity contest and don't always play by the rules. BReUse only exits due to his efforts. A true maverick.

This native Buffalonian appreciated all his efforts for my city.

He is indeed a breath of fresh air.

Thank you Mr. Gainer

Anonymous said...

What STEEL fails to mention is his relationship with a certain upscale never address the real problems in buffalo just alotta fluff website.
The focus of the website has always leaned toward the upper crust.

STEEL said...


Mary/Bruce said...

"As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know
We don't know."

.....Don Rumsfeld

I think this just about sums up my response to Steel.

Bruce Beyer

STEEL said...

So far you quote The Bush admin and state that the facts don't matter.

OK I get where you are coming from now

Anonymous said...

VERY telling that BRO has yet to run a story on this. It is a topic that is right up their alley but yet ZERO coverage.


STEEL said...

I am not in control of the editorial content at "BRO" Please tell me what is it "telling" about?

Anonymous said...

I believe this has been 'planned' to happen for a long time. Mr. Gainer had a lot of support initially and was showing profit, enter Harvey and his 'Grant money' proposals which would entail oversight and a 'board' to be created to direct such funds. Get the picture yet. Just a matter of time until hostile take-over is
enacted. Mr. Gainer does not need this petty business anymore as it begins to dissolve soon. He has more ideas and creativity of his own to fall back on, better contacts, better friends etc, Getting rid of Harvey and the present board is a step in the right direction.

Anonymous said...

What is telling at Br is they are not saying Anything about this story and it is because of bias patronage and well, you decide

STEEL said...

I am bothered by this whole story as reported here and elsewhere because it has mostly been spun based on emotional attachments and rumor. The comments have been worse.

I don't know the true story behind Grainer's firing. I do find the talk about Garrett as leader of the evil axis conspiracy a bit tiring and not a little scary.

I don't know why BRO has not written on this. Perhaps because they have no information of substance to add to the matter? Or should they just report on rumors. We have already had commenters on here declare that facts are not important in this matter.

I really don't get this whole BRO angle. Are they part of the evil axis too?

fix buffalo said...

Steel - I'm sure that's not the case with b/r.

Great talking with you. Let me know when you're back in the City for another neighborhood walk.

Anonymous said...


BRO has had no problem on running things in the past based on a partial story or not all of the facts. To say that they are somehow now some altruistic media outlet is funny.

Newell Nussbaumer travels in the same circles as those at the Oishei Foundation.

The crack down on Reuse came from the Oishei Foundation because they were a main supporter.

The Oishei Foundation is and will be taking some shots of mud and I am sure Newell did not want his site to send any along via the comments.

Pretty simple. Buffalo is run by a small group of people.

STEEL said...

I know what you mean BRO is very powerful and how dare Oshei demand any accountability with their money.

Don't beg to use the big boys toys if you don't want them setting the rules. Pretty simple life policy to follow.

Mary/Bruce said...

Dear Mr. Steel,

Facts are facts. It is their interpretation that it at question here. I believe that from your vantage point in Chicago and mine on the East Side of Buffalo our interpretations are irreconcilable. Let's agree to disagree, we have so many more areas of common ground.

Your statement regarding Oshei Foundation money and Trico moving to Mexico is, indeed, right on! The loss of jobs to Western New York was devastating. Perhaps this foundation is an attempt to buy back goodwill?

Buffalo ReUse is not a "for sale" entity. Until it is able to stand on it own two feet, Michael, Kevin, and Caesandra are Buffalo ReUse.

Of course they are accountable if they are squandering investors money but that is not the case! For the Board and Garrett to imply that Gainer et al were engaged in some form of unstated nefarious financial activity is beyond the pale! Their integrity is without bounds.

When the big boys decided to invest in Buffalo ReUse, I believe they were buying into the vision and goals as publicly espoused by Michael. If they listened closely, they would have known that Buffalo ReUse embodied the desire of people in our City for change. Our mission statement was clear,we were intent on working with disenfranchised people.

People who do not respond to "chains of command" or corporate methodology survive hand to mouth by whatever means necessary. It is what is forced upon them by racism, greed, and avarice.

Buffalo ReUse's vision is to offer a survival alternative, meaningful education and employment. If one is to accomplish this goal, it must be done with compassion and justice. Corporate rules and Board decorum do not apply here.

I believe it is the role of the Buffalo ReUse Board of Directors to assist Seawell, Hayes, and Gainer achieve their goals. It is in the interests of all citizens of the City of Buffalo that they succeed!

Bruce Beyer

PS. I'm sorry you missed the irony of my Rumsfeld quote!

mark said...

You all may be getting to the crux of the matter: does the nonprofit model for social change end up strangling the life out of those with vision. It seems so in Michael's case.
What is the difference between an organism and an organization? . . . . . Life.
Please consider reading The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond The Non-Profit Industrial Complex, edited by INCITE! in which is chronicled how the nonprofit system restricts vision.

Anonymous said...

Anon - Do you want to take back all your nonsense about the BRO conspiracy now that they have the most lengthy piece on the story of any media outlet?

STEEL said...


I never said anything about Trico.

The basic thrust of my comments center on my own discomfort with the language and tone of the anti Garrett crowd. Not being an insider I have no basis for taking sides

I do understand that if you are going to take other people's money you need to have a level of respect for their desire to know how it is being spent. To throw paint on Oishei when they ask for accountability is plain wrong. You were good buddies with them when you asked for their money right? Gainer has done great things but as I see it this organization will never do really great things if it is run in an unprofessional manner.

Mary/Bruce said...

Dear Mr. Steel,

Sorry that I made a reference to something you did not state. I've read so many comments these past few days that I lost track of who said what.

I have not thrown paint on the Oshei Foundation's desire for accountability, in fact, I support it.

Mr. Garrett has placed himself in the position that he presently finds himself in. The heat is the result of his own actions.

As I said in the previous post, I think you and I have far more common ground than is apparent from present conversation.

Bruce Beyer

fix buffalo said...

Let's keep comments here on point and factually based. While certain aspects of these developments are highly charged emotionally - trading takes on alleged conspiracies and innuendo does not add value to the conversation or the situation at hand. Neighbors, city residents and the Buffalo diaspora deserve reasonable, occasionally snarky and thoughtful commentary.