When Detroit filed for bankruptcy, cities across the country asked if they would be next. Many face the same challenges of pension and employee costs, suburban flight, a declining property tax base, vacant housing, crime and struggling schools.
Rochester Mayor Tom Richards warned the city could go down the same path as Detroit if it’s not properly managed. But there are significant differences between the Flower City and the Motor City. City workers are in the state pension system and Rochester has not had the same management problems. (Detroit suffered through decades of having an extreme debt load and saw an explosion of even more borrowing under Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who was also convicted in a corruption scandal.) Rochester maintains a decent quality of life with libraries, police and fire services, parks and more. Rochester’s credit rating is stellar, and has remained so since at least the days of Mayor Bill Johnson.
In short, Rochester is a long, long way from being Detroit.
That’s why I was disturbed to hear people say after Lovely Warren was elected mayor, “Rochester will be Detroit.”
There are no facts to support any such prediction that the city will go down the tubes. Warren has no record of financial mismanagement or incompetence as City Council president. Her mentor, David Gantt, has had some minor scandals and questionable episodes (Fastrac on East Main, red light camera legislation that favored his protege lobbyist, collecting his pension early and playing politics with many major projects and the RCSD), but there’s nothing to suggest deep-seated corruption. Every longtime politician in Rochester has their issues.
Meanwhile, Monroe County is embroiled in a major corruption scandal and struggles to maintain a good credit rating. But no one says the county will become Detroit. Why is that?
We all know the answer.
Links of the Day:
– Cannot get my head around a $20 million state contract for a Rochester head-hunting firm.
– Xerox fired someone for posting a selfie of herself on the job.
– Rochester has some super-wealthy Zip Codes, as this interactive map shows.
– Rochester teachers who appealed their ratings tell me they were awarded a total of 1 to 2 points extra, not enough to make a difference.
– Syracuse’s mayor sometimes gets confronted in public restrooms. She’ll discuss policy anywhere.
– Study will look at bike share feasibility in Rochester. Bob Lonsberry tweeted this is bike entitlement. But: