Buffalo Mayoral Candidate Bernie Tolbert during his press conference Monday.
BUFFALO, N.Y. - For the second time in less than two weeks the campaign of Buffalo Mayoral candidate Bernie Tolbert has brought forth some serious allegations against his opponent, Mayor Byron Brown.
The allegations come with the primary election for mayor scheduled for two weeks from Tuesday.
This time, Tolbert promised claims of corruption in the city's civil service system during a Monday afternoon press conference.
Tolbert introduced Police Dispatcher Tim Strunk, who is an Iraq war veteran with a masters degree in forensic science, who claims he was passed over for promotion because he does not engage in "pay to play politics" in the city.
"I did not risk my life to come back and listen to people tell me that this is how it is -- that you can't beat city hall. That I need to get 'juiced up' to get the job," Strunk said.
More than a week ago, the Tolbert campaign brought forth someone accusing the Brown administration of manipulating crime stats to make the city look safer.
Both times, however, the campaign has made serious allegations without proof. These are allegations the press, in all likelihood, cannot verify or debunk.
REPORTER: Do you believe -- are you as a candidate claiming that there is pay-to-play corruption in within the Brown administration, and if you're claiming that, do you have proof?
TOLBERT: I'm claiming that I've had discussions with individuals who relay that type of information. I personally have no proof. It's information that's been passed on to my by other, who, for whatever reason, felt that they wanted to share it with me.
During the press conference, Strunk was flanked by Bill Gambino, the Vice President of the Buffalo Police Association, who claimed he too was passed over for promotion for political reasons. Strunk brought forth two massive binders of documents related to his quest for information about his failure to be promoted.
REPORTER: Is anywhere in that pile direct evidence of pay-to-play?
STRUNK: No. Now let me ask you this. What government agency or person would directly give evidence to someone that would ultimately implicate them?
Strunk said he has not filed a lawsuit against the city, although he said he spent several thousands of dollars on legal fees exploring the possibility.
In response, Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda told us late Monday afternoon by phone that Strunk's claims have absolutely no merit; that the department followed state civil service law in filling the positions; and that the reason Strunk was not promoted was because of "issues from his background check."