10/28/2007

Still in Second Place

The intersection of poverty and the built environment here in Buffalo, NY - the country's second poorest city - represents a series of issues and problems that most residents and observers of Buffalo probably wish would just go away. Not only are we the second poorest city we also have the second highest rate of vacant properties - see recent New York Times article, here. Double punched.

Cover story of today's Buffalo News - For Today's Children a Different Kind of Poverty - places the problem front and center on everyone's table, living room floor or recycle bin. Check out the editorial explanation for the three part series, here.
Adam Zyglis Cartoon
Ntare Ali Gault, 40, is a poet and spoken word artist who has lived his whole life in Buffalo's Fruit Belt. He is reading from his poem "In This Life" during a video tour of some of the city's worst poverty.
I know, by mid-week Sunday's paper will be in the trash, story and problems out of mind. Yet I'm left wondering. If this election cycle included the mayor's race this year, what sorts of questions would we be asking Byron or other candidates.

Related stories:: (check back for additional posts/articles)
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2 comments:

b said...

That cartoon is classic and spot on. I have to say, though, that as bad a mayor as I consider Byron to be - these problems preceeded him and will be here long after he's moved on to higher office. And it's certainly far from unique to Buffalo.

His spin is indeed frustrating, however. It would be refreshing to have a mayor be candid about obvious conditions instead of this "turning the corner" B.S.

As for what voters would ask, probably not much.

What is odd to me is that no candidate or politician in the city, not one I can think of, talks about how much worse things are getting over time. They all seem satisfied or at least accepting.

The number of Buffalo neighborhoods not safe at all after dark is growing and growing. No surprise businesses are hesitant to locate in such areas. Not that there's a hell of a lot of job-creating businesses wanting to be in an Upstate NY city anyhow. Public school violence is more and more taken for granted. Even the Buffalo News in their "child poverty expose" seems to just accept as a matter of fact that responsible parenting is a thing of the past in urban areas. Hardly a passing mention of parents at all in the reporter's writing and even less in Margaret Sullivan's piece.

One thing I give Byron a "B-" grade for is the recent increased emphasis on vacancy demolitions. Begging for donations hasn't worked out, but he took a chance and it was well intended. I realize they're still doing a bad job of organizing what houses are chosen, no excuse for that, but given that they're planning to do 1000/year it's likely the vast majority will be decent decisions. Masiello all but ignored that problem for years.

On honesty and candor, I'd give him a gentleman's "D-". On general competence and the police dept, I suppose a "D+". They do solve some crimes but I've a feeling it's usually in spite of how they're managed.

b said...

And of course that B- is conditional on him following through with finding state funding and making the effort to do 1000 houses/year for five years with at least some improvement of public input about house selections. I suppose so far I just think he's a step up over Masiello in that regard and maybe a few others. Damn, it's just sinking in to me how awful Tony was in so many ways if Byron can seem a step up for anything.