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Communications Bureau, City of Rochester

Is Rochester a victim of its own PR?

We felt royally snubbed by the Regional Economic Development Councils and the State of the State gifting of $1 billion to Buffalo.

Ken Warner, who advocates for union jobs, told the Democrat and Chronicle:

“It just seems like Rochester is getting punished for doing a good job,” Warner said. “Not only did we get the booby prize (from the economic development council awards,) we’re getting money we were already getting anyway” for the 390 work.

(I suspected as much about the 390 money in a recent blog post.)

I’ve long felt local leaders inappropriately downplay crises.

When reporters ask Mayor Tom Richards if he’s worried about Kodak going belly up, he says,”I wish them well…we’ll carry on.” That kind of dismissive attitude masks very real consequences for the city if Kodak cannot emerge from bankruptcy in a strong position. The company owns a ton of property, employs thousands of people and is part of the community identity.

Sandy Parker of the Rochester Business Alliance has also downplayed Kodak’s woes, saying her conversations with Perez gave her faith the company will not go bankrupt.

Rochesterians themselves don’t help their cause, tending to ignore the poverty of the inner city. Except when it comes to schools, downtown, and occasionally crime, a lot of people look the other way.

Lt. Gov. Bob Duffy astutely observed in the D&C:

“Rochester is not forgotten. We are not being penalized for our success at all. We are being recognized,” he continued, noting that the same people who touted the jobs report and other good news were among the first to criticize. “We can’t have it both ways.”

We can’t have it both ways. We want our local leaders to be cheerleaders, but we also want them to be honest.

2 Responses to “We can’t have it both ways.”

  1. The problem isn’t how we perceive (delude?) ourselves. The problem is how Albany perceives Rochester.
    Albany is stuck in its 1970 perception of Rochester: self-sufficient, high-tech and able to take care of itself.
    Anyone there with a shred of common sense would recognize that the Maintenance of Effort law for funding the RCSD has been brutally unfair for more than a decade. Duffy said as much himself when he traveled to Albany just days after being elected mayor.
    If Albany can’t do the figurative and literal math on something that obvious, then there’s little hope they’ll grasp our other problems. … and our own delegation there lacks the know-how to make an impact.

  2. Don’t you hate people that make broad statements? Well, here we go:

    Whatever we had going for us, especially in downtown, was destroyed by the efforts of urban renewal, largely administered under the Great Society programs of the mid-60’s.

    The folks who administered it were transplants from places like NYC, Buffalo and Boston. They tried to make Rochester a 95 cooridor urban clone on a basically mid-west frontier landscape.

    The result downtown was a hodge-podge of dis-connected superblocks that satisfied corporate egos, easy access to parking garages to escape back to the 3 P’s, while insulating workers from sidewalk traffic.

    In the immediate ring around downtown, a urban disturbers adopted a strange 20 unit/acre suburban look to neighborhoods that probably should have been left more like what they were – multi-use commercial, industrial and residential.

    They bragged that ROC was the 33rd largest city in America with the 13th largest urban renewal fed grant funding. To many, that sounded progressive.

    Looking at the abandonment of property today, it was probably that we bit off more than we could chew. We created a sterile, pedestrian unfriendly downtown and inner-city neighborhoods that are oriented to back yard parking lots instead of to the sidewalks.

    To attempt to correct what happened in the ’60’s will probably cost more than 20x’s what it took to create it. Not that the city isn’t trying with the demolition of such eyesores as Hanover Homes, Fight Sq. Sterling Homex apts and Midtown.

    No amount of money the state can give us would get us out of the mess in the near future.

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