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Stephanie Miner

Stephanie Miner

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s budget proposal throws a bone to cities. It lets them fix pension payments over time.

But Syracuse Mayor Stepahnie Miner thinks that’s just kicking the can down the road and one expert predicts cities will end up overpaying on their pension obligation.

Lt. Gov. Bob Duffy told her if she doesn’t like the proposal, say hello to a financial control board. The New York Times reports:

On Wednesday, Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy traveled to Syracuse for a previously scheduled meeting with journalists at The Post-Standard of Syracuse.

At that meeting, Mr. Duffy suggested he had an option in mind: “I would say to the mayor, if this is not sufficient, then I would suggest one viable option she would have is to request a financial control board,” he said — which would assume many of the mayor’s powers.

That drew a sharp response from Ms. Miner.

“I think that’s a false choice, to say to the people of New York State you either have to borrow more or give up democratic control of your city,” she said in an interview.

Good for Mayor Miner.

Upstate’s cities are struggling. They’ve been crushed by decades of people fleeing to the suburbs. That sprawl was aided by state and federal policies that subsidized and encouraged highway and infrastructure development, home-buying, company relocation to suburbs, and segregated school districts.

Cities have been left with a poor and needy population that needs more services and is unable to pay huge amounts of taxes. Cities are pockmarked with vacant lots and empty factories.

Of course our Upstate mayors have had it. The governor’s budget did not provide an increase in state aid. It’s not unreasonable for them to seek help from the state and federal government.

Rochester Mayor Tom Richards told the Democrat & Chronicle:

“I’m working on balancing a budget without anything, and it’s going to hurt like hell,” the mayor said Wednesday, adding later: “Every year since I’ve been here, we’ve reduced our employment. And if we don’t get any help this year, we’re going to do it again.”

Richards recently wrote an op-ed in City Newspaper explaining why cities are so important. The state can ill afford to have its cities fail. Whatever the state does or does not do to help its mayors, don’t blame them for trying.

Links of the Day:

– Rochester has a list of designated buildings of historic value. It’s a little arbitrary and hasn’t been updated in some time. (The house I grew up in and the house I live in now are both on the list.)

– Wegmans plans to build a store in Buffalo and residents say it looks too suburban. It sounds like the East Ave. store fight. The Buffalo store will also have an adjacent wine shop. (Surprise, surprise.)

– To cut down on vacant houses, Syracuse may fine owners.

– The NYPD is testing a device that can spot concealed guns.

– A former Jillian’s in Albany is being turned into a church.

25 Responses to Don’t Forget the Cities

  1. suburban flee might also be related to the idea that life in the suburbs is more ideal for the vast majority of people (especially those in the upper middle class) than life in the city… not any actions that subsidized it, living in the suburbs is still significantly more expensive than living in the city.

  2. It appears whoever came up with this plan is trying to fix a problem with pension contributions we’ve had for a while. That is the fact that contributions vary based on market performance. People like to forget that during the economic booms cities paid little and for several years nothing in pension contributions. So this idea is pretty simple, its just being introduced at an odd time. If cities want a smaller contribution now, they’ll have to make up for it in the inevitable “good” years by laying more that they would need to. These are just arbitrary numbers. It instead of having contributions swing from 24% to 0% over the last 15 years, you’ll just pay 15% yearly.

  3. Rachel, I thought you were smarter than to buy into nonsense like this: “They’ve been crushed by decades of people fleeing to the suburbs… Cities have been left with a poor and needy population that needs more services and is unable to pay huge amounts of taxes…”

    This is nonsense, Rachel. Right within the city limits you have the University of Rochester, an institution that has one of the 60 or so largest endowments in the United States, yet pays ALMOST NOTHING in tax revenue to the city of Rochester.

    You are also letting Richards off the hook for his $20 million giveaway to RochWil for the Sibley building. You remember, this is the building that RochWil didn’t even clean the windows of for something like seven years, but they conned Richards and by extension the general public into thinking that all that rent money they took in for MCC Downtown was spent on operating costs such as building upkeep. Sorry, not buying it.

    Downtowns are struggling due to stupid decision making that has made them inhospitable to residents with money, resources and choices. And that includes the RCSD which has the lowest black graduation rate in the United States. Blaming this all on suburban sprawl is ridiculous. You’re better than this, I hope.

  4. It is not just poor decision making in cities but also crime and rough neighborhoods that people do not want to live in. BUT its not just upstate’s cities that are struggling but upstate in general. Check out enrollment numbers for area schools and you will notice steady declines in student population across the entire region, not just Rochester. People cannot get jobs and starting businesses is not the answer for everybody so they move and take their young families and potential desposable income with them. The last 3 governors have not ever addressed how to keep people from fleeing upstate and that is disheartening. We need tax plans and packages that are different then what happens downstate. We need incentives to keep people here and we need jobs for people to stay here. Not everybody can start a business and not everybody can just do retail for $9/hour. People need real jobs and they need them here and they need them now.

  5. January 24, 2013 at 1:42 pm Peking Humonculous responds:

    Couldn’t agree more, Animule. Stop blaming white people and start looking at the politicians who always put their rich pals, like Wilmorite, for example, ahead of the city’s taxpayers and citizens. This state collects MASSIVE amounts of tax money from us. Everything is taxed- income, purchases, there are taxes you are paying via your utility bills, property taxes, gas taxes, cigarette and alcohol taxes. You seriously want me to feel bad for Richards that he can’t take these MASSIVE amounts of money and continue to provide the goods and services we pay for? WRONG.

    And Duffy- what a complete tool!

  6. Flight to the Burbs has been the excuse given to why our population has stagnated. It is incorrect. It is flight from NY state. We have immigration, we have youth coming into the city post-high school/college, but the state as a whole is losing people. Blaming it on white flight is 40 years late. Aren’t the Burbs 50% minority in Monroe County now?
    And the pension/control board thing is more proof that Cuomo/Duffy are anti-union right of center politicians looking to Union Bust. For years the city paid zero to the pension. They budgeted money for contributions but were told by McCall none were needed as the fund was doing well. From 15% down to zero. Where did that money go? It sure as heck wasn’t saved like it should have been. Pick a local non-profit or large Democrat supported company; that’s where the pension money went. The Pension is mandated by law to keep funds sufficient to cover every single employee in municipal work covered if 100% retired at once. There is no trickery, no scam. It’s how it always has been.
    And Control Boards…… Dufus’ answer….. Buffalo had one. The head of it, an M&T bank exec, paid himself over $200,000 a year while cops and firemen were reduced in salary and numbers. Man people are dumb. They are so blindly loyal to a Party that they refuse to allow themselves to think critically. Control. Control over unions. Control over the Pension fund. Control over guns. If anyone over 30 honestly doesn’t see the fascism in this attitude then shame on you. Only Andy and Bob can save us. What’s next? Will we have a small fire at the Capital Building? Some window breaking of suburban homes? Martial Law can’t be far behind. Control boards…… wow. So much for democracy.

  7. January 24, 2013 at 3:06 pm theodore e kumlander responds:

    the problem the cities are having with their pension costs result from the fact that the cities did not pay into the pension fund what they owed for years and now the bill is huge and of course public employees and retirees are getting blamed for the problem.

  8. You can’t ignore white flight and the racial bias of this area. But as others have pointed out, Rochester, and cities in general are swamped with tax-exempt land. This land is a benefit for the entire area, but its the municipality (usually a city) that it’s located in that takes the hit of supporting it.

    While I’m no fan of city government, you certainly can’t claim they have the market cornered on poor governing. If the quality of the leaders dictated where people lived, Monroe county would be empty.

  9. Justaguy, the suburbs are NO WHERE NEAR 50% minority. The D&C just did a report using the census figures and while the City of Rochester is 43% white and 42% black with the remaining 14% Asian, other or multiple races, the Monroe County figures excluding the city is 89% white, 5% black, 3% Asian. 16% of city residents identify as latino while only 4 percent in the county do.

    I’m not going to blame only white flight, but acting like it doesn’t exist is insane.


  10. I don’t have a link but maybe the story was many towns are now 50/50….. anyway, the city has been majority minority for what? 20 years? What was the white only population of the city 20, 15, 10 and 5 years ago. Not the % of total, the actual number. If the number hasn’t dropped dramatically there is no ‘flight’. There comes a time when you can’t blame what happened in the 1960’s and 70’s and ended by the mid 80’s for what happens now. There comes a time when the piss poor decisions made by the politicians of the last 20 years must be blamed on the piss poor decisions of the politicians that made them for the last 20 years. Mayor Ryan and Police Chief Gordy are long, long gone. The city is and has been run by the people who clamored to run it back in the 60’s-80’s and they need to be blamed for it’s continued demise, not this myth of whites fleeing en mass to the Burbs. If anything, the inner ring Burbs have absorbed minority middle class flight from the city.

  11. January 24, 2013 at 6:17 pm Animule responds:

    Interesting observations on “white flight.” How about “black middle class flight?” The black history section of the book “department” in the Walmart in Henrietta is larger than practically any other section (the book section in general is dinky for the store, but the same could be said of the Target and Walmart stores in Victor – if you want hard copy books and don’t live near a Barnes & Noble, you are out of luck). Black flight to Henrietta in the past decade to decade and a half has been extraordinary, yet I haven’t seen or read a single article or story on it.

  12. January 24, 2013 at 9:39 pm Orielly responds:

    Rachel, Rachel, Rachel, in the immortal words of Ronald Reagan “there you go again”. Over the last few months you ran stories on here about spending for filling in the inner loop, the skate park, 20M on Durand Eastman Park, on and on, and now you want us all to cry because the city has no money?

    If Richards needs a MILL, tell him to close down the bar in Charlotte, if he needs 50K tell him to not have the study on the skate park, if he needs 30M tell him to sue Wilmont for back taxes. Tell the mayor to keep the 70M he wants spent on MCC DT, When MCC main can support all MCC students with no building.

    Need I go on? The Mayor and all politicians should be shamed when they make claims of no money and good reporters should stand up to them vs just reporting what they say as if its true. Most informed citizens don’t believe these politicians for a second, and they are real tired of it.

    Cuomo wants to increase fees on speeding tickets to get more state revenue.

    When are we going to DEMAND from our leaders they have some courage and integrity? IF they don’t have the money they have two choices. Raise taxes or cut spending. Have some courage Andy and raise taxes. Any other bogus plan they put forth is just a scam. Call it what it is, and tell it like it is.

    We need reporters who ask the hard questions, when these leaders say they have no money. YOU used to do that, what happened?

  13. I don’t have the information, I’ve cited information for the claims I’ve made. I’d suggest if you wish to prove the point, you find your own demographic information. As I said before, I’m not going to blame it solely on white flight, but it is and has played a large role. It’s lasting effects are the prejudices of the parents towards the “city” has been passed down to children. If you think I’m exaggerating talk to people in Greece, Penfield, Pittsford, etc. Many are afraid to come into the city as if it were some post apocalyptic waste land.

    That said, I think the case can be made for a larger “middle class flight” of many people who can afford to move moving out of the city. That I lay solely at the feet of RCSD.

    • If one is going to point the finger at whites handing prejudices down to their kids, one must also note there is just as significant and equal prejudices the other way handed down by black parent or parents to their children as well.

      And if the last two presidential elections are any kind of yard stick, and I think they are, blacks voted for Obama in the 98% range while whites broke about 50 /50 for both candidates.

      That would indicate that blacks are far more prejudiced than whites in an objective view.

  14. You showed polling and claimed it as fact, no? Polls are exactly that, they prove nothing. Ask the national Republicans who were blindsided last November. Much like in the gun debate poll numbers about race are ‘accepted’ as fact. You made a claim but chose to use a poll to back it up. I admit that I don’t have the data at hand but I admit that. Show me Census numbers.
    I saw that the number of people reporting as 100% white in the City limits went from 106000 down to 92000 between 2000 and 2010. Blacks went from 85000 up to 88000. The City population dropped by 9000. (http://censusviewer.com/city/NY/Rochester)
    That hardly looks like flight to me. Detroit and Cincinnati have seen true white flight continuing but I think the numbers in Rochester when compared to the stagnant numbers of our area overall meets the same standard as those 2 cities saw….. but it makes for good headlines and keeps those feelings of guilt about the 1964 riots alive. Yeah good old 1964, when I wasn’t alive.
    The current state of the city is now 100% the result of the administrations of Johnson, Duffy and Richards along with the people the Democrat party (local) has chosen to put in place (Gantt and Morelli’s folks). I know, we evil whites are to blame for everything. Living in Irondequoit where I grew up makes me part of the problem. My former school that is overrun with children illegally attending by using in district addresses of relatives is my fault. That the bus lines don’t follow the jobs and that Kodak went under even after I bought one of their cameras 2 years ago is my fault. Those politicians the local Democrats support blindly are totally blame-free. Guns don’t kill people; people do. And whites or other suburbanites didn’t create the mess the city is in; politicians did. The vocal minority groups wanted to run the city and they do. Now they need to put up or shut up. So far they aren’t good at either and with the ‘guilt-minded’ do-gooders more than happy to volunteer to take the heat (and in doing so claim to accept it for all who look like them) they never will live up to their oaths. Sheep, fools, blind, arrogant, whatever you want to let me label you because you won’t accept reality is fine with me.

  15. In 2013 in the Greater Rochester Area the last thing I thought would be a big conversation is “White Flight”. It happened over 40 years ago in this area and started in the 50’s with Levittown and Roosevelt (If you have never seen that documentary). To Bill’s point about “Middle Class Flight” and that being on the RCSD, I think there is a lot of truth to that. However it is not just the schools but is also the neighborhoods. Many people move to be safe and that is all races, not just white people but everybody wants to be safer.

    Again the bigger point that none of you are talking about is that its not just flight from the city but its flight from the state. There is not enough talk on how to realistically bring jobs to the region, REAL full time jobs. We have 6 colleges in Monroe County and another couple dozen within 100 miles and our grads, young people who will or are having families are leaving because there are no jobs. The big joke is “Buffalo’s Greatest Export is young professionals!” That needs to stop!!! We need to talk about and figure out how to keep people here and that means how do we get jobs back into the area? Giving Wegmans headaches every time it wanted to do something with the East Ave. Store is not the answer and neither was trying to turn the Genny Brew Pub into a historical site. Government needs to help bring jobs back, not thwart companies that want to grow and expand here.

  16. January 25, 2013 at 10:24 am justaguy responds:

    Pretty sure I listed middle class minority movement to the burbs along with people leaving the state. Reading all comments instead of just posting new ones is what makes for a “discussion” instead of a “statement”. Perhaps you missed it but that is something I notice on here and Facebook….. people not reading all comments and then adding to misinformation or moving a discussion to a list of statements. Just pointing it out for my own sanity because otherwise Tim you are totally correct.

  17. Justaguy are you purposely being obtuse? Those population stats are showed are from the U.S. Census.

    The safe neighborhood argument is a joke. If you actually looked at the city by neighborhood, you’d see there are many safe neighborhoods. Crime is focused in several areas.

    • The “safe neighborhoods” in the city… oh you mean Strong/the eastern 19th ward (where all the private college kids live), South Wedge (which I’m sure is majority upper middle class), and Park Ave (also priced out to people who aren’t in the upper middle class)… and by “dangerous neighbohoods” you mean the crescent, the poorest area of the city. The “safe” areas of the city are practically suburbs, just within city limits.

  18. No, I’m being acute. Actually I’m always cute.
    I didn’t read the D&C page you inked as it says right at the top of the page twice that ‘polls show’. I don’t care about polls. Polls are why we have such inept leaders in politics and I do use the term leader loosely. When I see a biased source such as the D&C using the word poll I discount it as once again pushing an agenda instead of reporting. Editorializing instead of reporting. Facts are numbers based and I listed the ones I did and the source. I say again, show me white flight. Detroit is now 8% white. Rochester is still almost 50% white. I also have yet to see anyone in the press hold the politicians who have run the show for the last 20 years accountable. Gantt refuses Rachel’s calls, storms away from her calling her names and that is acceptable? Let a garbage collector do that to a civilian and see what happens. Morelli comes out with his ‘is it legal? Than it’s ethical’ line and only Rachel calls him out on it. Why? Because the people who pull the strings in local media still want invitations to the Mayor’s Ball and to be able to pop into 2 Vine for lunch with hacks from both parties. Show me numbers from the last generation of white flight. Then when you realize that you have no flight, explain to me why everyone is to blame besides the people in charge during that time. It’s because sheep follow the Party, the Machine, and they really don’t want true change or they are going to be edged out. Look at Jesse Jackson. He has basically fallen off the radar because Obama isn’t using the same team as him. Is Jesse on tv thanking Obama for helping ‘their people’? No, he is on tv complaining. And he is doing that to stay relevant. Here is an obtuse statement: Bob Duffy can do more for Rochester in Albany than in Rochester. Proven to be completely false yet he is treated like a rock star here instead of having to hide from the press. And it’s because the sheep love him. They even love his wolf fur coat.

  19. January 25, 2013 at 10:42 pm Derek Sanderson responds:

    Justaguy: wow, you nailed it brother. Maybe the best comment I’ve ever seen posted here!

  20. Ok I guess you’re just mad that you were.clearly wrong on the demographics of this county. The demographic FACTS that are at the beginning of the article as a preface to the polls are from the U.S. Census. So say what you want, but you were wrong.

  21. Yes, you got me. I’m mad at the internet. Mad that I didn’t have the entire D&C catalog handy to find articles about how the towns in the county are more diverse. Maybe it was poor people or free lunches or whatever. But you got me. Grrrrr…… mean old internet.
    How about you address my points about leadership and accountability? Or do you play for Team Democrat and can’t possibly imagine things aren;t going swimmingly well in the city proper. Power and control are the name of the game. Power for 2 Parties with no Constitutional mandate or authority and control over the masses. I’ll be sitting here (angrily apparently) awaiting your critique of our outstanding politicians.

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