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hillaryAfter Hillary Clinton’s loss, women around the country grieved. So did their young daughters. The glass ceiling held.

“To all the little girls watching this, never doubt that you are powerful and valuable and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world,” Clinton said in her concession speech.

Clinton reminded us of the little girls throughout her campaign, even producing an ad showing them looking in the mirror while listening to Donald’s Trump’s put-downs of women. Clinton implored us to remember this election would speak to them.

That’s why Trump’s victory was a crushing, devastating blow to those hoping to send a message that misogyny would no longer be tolerated.

It’s not enough to tell little girls they still matter. It’s not enough to tell little girls they can become anything they want in life. It’s not enough to tell  them they’re equal to little boys.

Little girls should know they may be in for a different ride in life. When they show leadership, they may be told they’re bossy, attention-seeking and annoying. They may not get the same kind of praise for a job well done. They may not get the same raises. They may not get the same promotions. They may be told they’re not likable. They may be told they’re too ambitious. They may be told to wait their turn. When they wait their turn, they may be told they’re entitled.

No one wants to have that conversation with little girls. We don’t want to admit this stuff still happens. We don’t want to expose them to these unpleasant realities. We don’t want to confront our own biases and our own complicity.

Many people say Clinton didn’t lose because she’s a woman. Even if that’s true, we can’t deny she’s been held to a different standard her whole career. We can’t deny Trump’s misogyny didn’t prevent him from winning an election.

I have no doubt there will one day be a woman president. Maybe it will be more likely if we confront what often happens to women when they strive for success. Maybe women would be more prepared for these obstacles if they were warned — when they were little girls.

My book, Broad, Casted explores the role of gender in my journalism career and campaign for state assembly. It is available in print and digital editions. There will be a book signing at the Little Theatre Cafe on November 20, from 2 to 4 p.m. Coffee and cookies provided.

 

Links of the Day:

WarrenOnly 22 percent of voters in the City of Rochester came out on Election Day. That compares to 29 percent in 2011, the last race for county executive. That’s about 6,400 fewer voters, an astonishing drop.

Can’t blame the weather. It was a beautiful, sunny day.

The county executive contest was the main reason for city Democrats to go to the polls. The citywide races were won in the primary, as Democrats outnumber Republicans in the city 6 to 1.

Maybe Sandy Frankel wasn’t the most exciting candidate, but she suffered from a weak party. The local Democrats are deeply divided. The party has a limited get-out-the-vote operation and limited funds. Mayor Lovely Warren does have a get-out-the-vote operation and a huge campaign account. But she won’t lift a finger to help. She let Sandy Frankel twist in the wind.

Doing the math, if city voters turned out at the same rate as the towns, another 8,200 people would have voted. That’s not enough to have changed the outcome in the county executive race, even if all voted for Frankel. But city voters can make a difference in countywide elections. Rep. Louise Slaughter lost the suburbs, but won the city and was able to keep her seat.

The following is a post-election Twitter exchange with several local journalists.  It discusses whether the state of the local party is to blame for Democratic losses and whether Mayor Warren is obligated to help right the ship.

 

 

 

What accounts for the horrible showing on Election Day?

 

 

 

Cuomo - 220X165A lot of people said Andrew Cuomo created the Buffalo Billion because he didn’t win Erie County when he ran for his first term as governor. He wanted to win over the community. The strategy was successful, as he carried Erie County when he ran for his second term.

Is it Rochester’s turn?

Cuomo did not win Monroe County in the 2014 election. You can blame resentment over the Buffalo Billion, Safe Act, Common Core, a perception he’s a bit of a bully and the general feeling he doesn’t care about Rochester. Having a lieutenant governor from Rochester during his first term did absolutely nothing to shore up his popularity.

In 2015, Cuomo seems to have discovered Rochester exists.

Gannett wrote an article called “Rochester clearly in Cuomo’s focus now.” It reads in part:

Anti-poverty initiative. Photonics center. Capital for a day. Medical marijuana facility.

After losing Monroe County in November, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his administration are clearly paying more attention to the Rochester area.

(snip)

In January, the Democratic governor appeared in Rochester to announce a $1.5 billion competition for upstate economic development aid. He spoke once here in February about his budget proposal, then twice in the county in March.

(snip)

Cuomo could use the boost, too. His job-performance rating in May fell to 37 percent,the lowest point since he became governor in 2011.

I think it’s too soon to say Cuomo is all about Rochester. (And if he is – where was he before? Why now? Does this make the first four years of not being here go away?)

First, the state’s pledge of $250 million to the photonics institute was a no-brainer. The money, coupled with SUNY Polytechnic’s track record, helped Rochester win the Department of Defense’s award. But this was a pledge of money to a maybe. It was also a pledge of money that will undoubtedly be handed out over many years. In addition, Rochester is already a leader in photonics. The governor did nothing to make that happen. He’s supporting something that already exists.

Second, the Capital for a Day thing was a dog and pony show. Does he think Rochester felt special? It was actually kind of insulting to see a bunch of high-level state officials learning about our community over the course of a single day. They should already know Rochester. It shouldn’t take a highly-orchestrated public relations stunt and the sprinkling of pork to get these officials to come to town.

Third, the anti-poverty initiative is a giant unknown. The plan is there is no plan. The governor gave us $6 million and no one has any idea what it will be used for. So far, there have been some nice brainstorming sessions.

Fourth, the medical marijuana facility and its 195 promised jobs is very nice. But Rochester wasn’t the only place chosen for such a facility. Sure, politics could have played a role in the selection, but Columbia Care – as well as Eastman Business Park – may have won on their merits.

Fifth, Gannett thought it was a great thing for Rochester that Cuomo came here to announce another economic development competition. This “Hunger Games” announcement was panned by many.

Finally, trying to shore up Rochester’s economy will not be as tough as other places. We don’t have the same population loss or unemployment as say…the Southern Tier. Things are not great, but they’re worse in other parts of the state. Rochester also has the colleges, workforce and infrastructure for a great success story.

Cuomo could use Rochester to boost his struggling favorability and job performance ratings. The question to start thinking about is this: If Rochester’s economy improves, how much will be due to Cuomo?

 

Links of the Day:

 

– COMIDA: “Nearly a quarter of the projects projected no new jobs and 30 percent estimated creating one new job each.”

– Great history lesson: Why does Jeb Bush admire James Polk?

– The Millennial Commune: An expensive dorm for adults.

– Sweet story: A Syracuse man depended on his bike. When it was stolen, friends and coworkers stepped up.

– Try something new: At 64, Utica man launched second career — as a nude model.

 

Meet Pixie!

 

 

 

 

 

Governor Andrew Cuomo told Syracuse it won’t get help from the state unless it comes up with a viable plan to become economically sustainable. The mayor has been complaining about aging infrastructure, including water mains that burst on a regular basis.

The Syracuse Post-Standard reports Cuomo said:

“Show us how you become economically stronger and create jobs. Then you fix your own pipes.”

cuomoCuomo needs to take a lesson in history. Continue reading

James M.E. O'Grady

James M.E. O’Grady

Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle is reportedly angling to succeed Sheldon Silver as Speaker, despite publicly declaring his support for his “friend.”

It’s been more than a century since the assembly had a Speaker from Rochester. Only one Rochesterian has served in that powerful role: James M.E. O’Grady.

O’Grady was born in Rochester in 1863. He attended the Rochester Free Academy, the city’s first public high school, and the University of Rochester. He became a lawyer, serving on the school board from 1887 to 1892. A Republican, he joined the Assembly in 1893 and became Speaker in 1897.

On November 16, 1894, the New York Times reported on the jockeying for the Speaker position:

Mr. O’Grady says he is not depending on anybody’s influence or dictation to get the position, but is after it on his own responsibility and by his own efforts. He evidently is working principally on the claim of this district for recognition, as Tuesday at Buffalo, in expressing himself as hopeful of getting the solid vote of Western New-York, he said:

“Erie County has Comptroller Roberts and Judge Haight; Syracuse has the Attorney General; Utica has the State Engineer, and Albany the Secretary of State, while Rochester has been left out in the cold.”

O’Grady served as Speaker for two years. He was then elected to Congress, serving from 1899 to 1901. He didn’t get nominated for a second term because of a falling out with the local political boss, George Aldridge. O’Grady returned to Rochester to practice law.

O’Grady died in 1928 at Genesee Hospital. he is buried at Holy Sepulchre Catholic Cemetery.

 

New York Times, November 4, 1928

New York Times, November 4, 1928

 

Sheldon Silver Fallout Roundup:

 

– Sheldon Silver will temporarily relinquish his duties as Speaker.

– Assembly Republicans plan to force their Democratic colleagues to vote on Silver’s ouster. That could come back to haunt Silver’s supporters at election time.

– The Assembly killed a state law barring exactly the type of bad deeds Silver is accused of.

– David Koon: “I couldn’t get a pay raise for my people or an extra phone or an extra computer or anything without” Silver’s stamp.

 

Links of the Day:

 

– Experts say New York schools are not in crisis, as the governor suggests.

– “Educators and parent advocates I’ve heard from since then can’t believe (Cuomo) is so out of touch.”

– There’s an oversupply of teacher candidates, creating a tough job market.

– The Rochester City School District boots volunteers and makes them jump through hoops.

– Here’s reason Western New York gas prices are higher. (It kills me people are complaining cheap gas is not cheap enough.)

– Buffalo area state lawmakers want to kill Wilmot’s planned casino.

– University of Rochester researchers say pregnant women can eat fish.

Car, go park yourself.

It’s fair to say Mayor Lovely Warren has had a rocky first year in office. Let’s take a look back at good, the bad and the ugly.

The Good:

Warren– Mayor Warren Goes to Washington: The mayor established relationships on the federal level. She met with the Vice-President on creating more manufacturing jobs, drew attention to the plight of young black men as part of the president’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative, talked to the president about being mayor of a city with a large number of poor residents, helped secure funding for port dredging and helped to get Rochester selected as a “Manufacturing Community,” making the area eligible for federal dollars.

– Mayor Uses Muscle: Lovely Warren secured the necessary votes among Democrats on the Monroe County Legislature to move the Costco and MCC downtown campus projects forward.

– Mayor and Maggie: The mayor and county executive share a good relationship. Maggie Brooks endorsed Warren for the position, an unprecedented move for a local Republican.

– Facilities Modernization: The mayor pushed to get more provisions for fiscal accountability in the second phase of construction.

– Party in the Park: This is a minor win, but moving it from the parking lot seemed like a good idea. We’ll know when the attendance numbers come back.

– More AIM Aid: This is sort of a half-win. Rochester got an extra $6 million from state lawmakers in the budget, but the city still gets the lowest amount of aid per capita compared to other cities. It also has to give the school district $119 million every year, while Buffalo and Syracuse can give far less to their districts. In addition, the state ignored the mayor’s request for $100 million for a performing arts center.

– Focus on Early Learning: Warren formed an Early Learning Council and has tirelessly promoted reading among young children. It’s too early to say if these efforts have paid off.

– Bloomberg Grant: The mayor helped to secure a $1.95 million grant to fight poverty using innovative techniques.

– Inner Loop: The mayor helped secure the final pieces of funding for the project to move forward. The project to fill in the Inner Loop started way before the mayor took office, but she’s been executing it according to plan.

– Police Reorganization: The mayor’s plan to create five police sections is extremely expensive and some say it’s not necessary, as crime has declined dramatically. But she is fulfilling a campaign pledge to bring police officers closer to the neighborhoods they serve. If this works, it will be a big part of her legacy.

– Transgender Benefits: Warren announced transgender city workers would have their treatments covered under medical insurance.

– Hart’s Grocery: The city played an active role in getting this downtown store open. The store received a tax abatement and federal loan.

 

The Bad:

 

– Uncle Reggie: The scandal now known as “Uncle Reggie” involved lying and nepotism. Hiring her uncle and another man as highly-paid security guards didn’t go over well. Neither did lying about how many times her uncle was stopped on the Thruway with her in the vehicle. Neither did ignoring reporters.

– Port Rollout: The mayor inherited this project, so it’s not fair to blame her for the plan to build a marina and develop the surrounding land. (Though she was on City Council and didn’t voice objections.) But when the project started to become real, Charlotte residents went beserk. It didn’t help that residents weren’t involved in the developer selection process and that the developer’s basic designs fell flat. As a result of the outcry, the city later involved residents in the design and planning.

– Officer Daryl Pierson’s death: This tragedy could have happened under any mayor, but it counts as a significantly awful event in her first year. Warren showed grace and leadership in the days following the shooting. The city did an excellent job planning a funeral that touched thousands of people. However, the feelings of goodwill evaporated when Warren posted about the Ferguson grand jury decision, saying Officer Darren Wilson had no regard for human life. This outraged supporters of police officers, who believe Wilson had no choice. The Pierson family jumped into the controversy, making harsh comments about the mayor. It was an ugly episode.

– St. Patrick’s Day Parade: The city removed the parade from East Ave. without soliciting any public input. When the public got wind of the plan, people were outraged. The move was a huge blow to East End businesses and patrons. The city backtracked, offered alternative routes and held a public hearing. A final route was chosen that goes down part of East Ave. The city claims the detour is temporary and necessary because of the Inner Loop project, but officials did a very poor job explaining their reasoning.

– Deaths of Larry and Jane Glazer: After they died, the city went out of its way to say everything would be the same, that development at Midtown would proceed according to plan. We now know that’s not true. The city has a dilemma on its hands with Parcel 5, which Larry Glazer had been eyeing. I suspect no one wants it now. Proposals are due January 15.

– Rochester Housing Authority: The mayor engineered the replacement of nearly all board members, who promptly fired the executive director and replaced him with a city councilman. The mayor claims she had nothing to do with this, though her associates were quietly warning the media weeks beforehand this would happen. Now the previous director has to be paid a yet-to-be-revealed sum that’s sure to be embarrassing. Councilman Adam McFadden was forced to resign as the new director when HUD started sniffing around. At any point during this process, the mayor could have roundly condemned these shenanigans. Instead, she protected her board members. This poorly-executed political patronage scheme has severely tarnished the agency.

– Staffing Problems: The deputy mayor was arrested for drunk driving. A city attorney with a previous DWI was promoted to a high-level economic development job, but got demoted after clashing with his superiors. The chief communications director, who clashed with reporters, was recently demoted to a job of “executive assistant,” but is still earning $98,000.

– Homeless Fight: The city ticked off a lot of bleeding hearts when it bulldozed the tents where homeless people had been staying. The city said the tents were not safe or sanitary and offered brick-and-mortar shelter to the residents. This kind of housing does not meet city code, nor is it appropriate to allow such a development on city land. But advocates claim they had no warning about the city’s intentions to plow the place down. In yet another City Hall “do-over,” the homeless have been given a short reprieve and their tents can stay up through New Year’s Day.

– “Stay in Your Lane”: People angry about how the homeless have been treated messaged the mayor’s Facebook account. A Facebook message sent from her account in return told people in the suburbs to mind their own business and “stay in your lane.” The city said Warren’s account was “compromised.” Here’s the big problem with that theory: Hackers don’t quote city talking points. The episode appeared to be another example of a City Hall that can’t get its story straight.

– Polarization: The mayor has become a polarizing figure. People love her and people love to hate her. Some of her detractors are very racist. Some of her supporters think she gets more scrutiny because of her race. Warren has fierce defenders and fierce detractors. Some of this is her fault, as this “bad” list contains entirely preventable situations. But some of the criticism against her is profoundly unfair.

It would be nice to see Warren become a more unifying figure in 2015. She can change the conversation and public perception by racking up wins and avoiding stupid mistakes. There’s plenty of time left in her term and I don’t believe we’ll see another year like this one.

 

Links of the Day:

 

– After major pushback in the Southern Tier, Cuomo is now interfering in the casino site selection process. (Does anyone believe he didn’t before?)

– “Gov. Andrew Cuomo is now muscling in, promising to save New York’s deficient school system…”

– This story of a Buffalo start-up needing venture capital from Buffalo to stay in Buffalo comes across like a shakedown. I realize VC is hard to come by in Upstate New York, but nothing suggests they have to move if VC comes from elsewhere.

– Finger Lakes wineries are fighting a gas storage plan.

– This makes me not want to see “Selma.”

– Guidance counselors are not a priority in many high schools.

– Let’s help out the historic train room in Rochester, a hidden gem.

– Will the ice bike be the next iconic Buffalo thing? Its developer hopes so.

 

Pedestrians are People, Too

 

McFadden

Adam McFadden Facebook Page

 

Adam McFadden wasn’t the only person to question whether Bob Duffy’s appointment to the CEO position at the Rochester Business Alliance would get as much scrutiny as McFadden’s appointment to the Rochester Housing Authority.

Supporters of McFadden and Mayor Lovely Warren have repeatedly said black politicians get more heat in the media than white politicians. I vehemently disagree. Ask Maggie Brooks, whose husband is under indictment, if the media has been soft. If you don’t want the media breathing down your neck, don’t do questionable things. Better yet, don’t run for public office.

But while there are many difference between the RHA and RBA sagas, McFadden is right that the Duffy appointment should raise our collective eyebrows.

First, let’s talk about the differences.

RHA is a government entity, thus the public has a huge right to dissect its dealings. RBA is not, though it has close ties to government. At the RHA, someone was fired before McFadden could get the job. RHA insists Alex Castro was terminated because of wrongdoing. Until they spell out Castro’s failings, it looks as though Castro was pushed aside so McFadden could step in. Castro’s firing could be very costly to taxpayers.

Now let’s talk about the similarities.

1. Both of the appointments raise ethical issues.

As lieutenant governor, Duffy was in charge of the economic development councils, which awarded grants to the very businesses for whom he will now lobby. Duffy tells Gannett he recused himself. There’s also the matter of the Public Officer’s Law, which has varying interpretations of whether Duffy can lobby for two years after leaving office. Duffy says he’s cleared by JCOPE, the state’s ethics commission. Duffy should release that JCOPE decision, and if one is not in writing, he should get one in writing.

The Rochester Board of Ethics is looking into whether McFadden can serve on City Council and run the RHA. Council has very little to do with RHA, as the ethics board is discovering.

2. People lied.

George Moses, the chairman of the RHA board, lied to the media the day after Castro was fired, saying the board still had to interview candidates for interim director. He did not disclose that McFadden was hired at the same meeting Castro was fired.

Sandra Parker, whom Duffy is replacing, told me last year she was delaying her retirement because there was more she wanted to get done at RBA. She said she wasn’t involved in the search for a new CEO and didn’t know if Duffy was in the running. But yesterday she admitted she delayed her retirement so Duffy could get the job. Her statement calls into question whether Duffy really withdrew his name from consideration, as he asserted last year.

3. McFadden and Duffy both got the jobs because they hold elected office and have friends in high places. Putting aside whether they’re qualified, they got these top jobs because of who they know.

There’s no way McFadden, the head of a $1 million nonprofit, a man with no experience working in housing, would have been appointed to lead a $62 million agency if he was not a councilman with close ties to the mayor.

There’s no way anyone would delay their retirement for a year for someone who was not a friend. There’s no way a search committee would decide not to do any interviews for anyone other than the lieutenant governor, a former mayor who decided he didn’t like state politics and needed a job.

This last point is why we should care about both of these stories. The media – and the public – is a check on power. You can decide how much you care, but you can’t decide if we don’t tell you what’s going on.

Update: I deliberately did not discuss the qualifications of McFadden and Duffy to perform these jobs. But someone pointed out to me that I’m implying McFadden cannot do the job. I do not want my statement interpreted that way. I was only saying he got the job because of his connections, not that he isn’t capable of performing well in the post. McFadden has as many – if not more – credentials as other people placed into city and county management jobs over the years.

 

Tweet of the Day:

 

tweet

 

Links of the Day:

 

– Remember when the state promised no one would ever be stranded on the Thruway again? Yeah…

– What it’s like to be stuck on the Thruway for 24 hours.

– Ban the Box law went into effect this week in Rochester, but many employers were not aware.

– Blacks are arrested at far higher rates than whites in Monroe County.

– Turning Stone plans $100 million expansion, including upscale stores, movie theater and dining.

– Boston’s charter schools have high suspension rates.

– There’s a growing movement to make sure students accused of sexual assault have due process and representation.

WarrenThe annual Voice of the Voter Poll, a joint project by WXXI, the Democrat and Chronicle, 13WHAM News and WDKX, reveals Mayor Lovely Warren has low approval ratings.

The poll found 63 percent of Monroe County voters have a negative opinion of Warren, rating her job performance as “just fair” or “poor.”

The mayor’s office slammed the poll, releasing this statement:

“If a poll is going to be conducted about the City and its Mayor, then they should poll actual City voters. If a poll is going to ask about race relations in our City, then it should be more inclusive of minority voters. This poll, as always, is not reflective of the electorate in the City of Rochester.  The Voice of the Voter partners should be ashamed to release a poll with a 78 percent white and a 73 percent suburban sample size. Polls like these are flawed, and only perpetuate the feelings of disenfranchisement among City voters.”

I believe mayors should value what suburban voters think of their performance. They work in the city and play in the city. Mayors should want more of them to work and play in the city. They should want more of them to invest in the city and move back to the city. They should recognize that suburban voters have a stake in the city’s future. If suburban voters think you’re doing a bad job, their perception of the city as a whole may be negative. The bottom line is that mayors are important regional voices.

A poll like this could also shed light on whether Warren could run for higher office.

But the fact this poll doesn’t break down how city residents feel about the mayor’s job performance is a glaring omission. These are the mayor’s constituents. She is directly responsible to them. They’re the ones who hold her accountable. The poll’s crosstabs break down responses by demographic for all questions except ones on the job performance of politicians. This is blatantly unfair to Warren and gives city residents less importance than suburban residents. The breakdown should have been included – and reported by the sponsoring outlets. I’ve gotten no response to my tweet about this:

 

 

The mayor’s other beefs with the poll are less convincing. The county is made up of about 72 percent suburban voters. The county is also nearly 80 percent white. If you’re going to do a countywide poll, the demographics of the sample line up.

I’m not sure why the mayor’s office singled out asking about race relations. The poll found 69 percent of whites and 62 percent of blacks said race relations were “just fair” or “poor.” Both groups appear to have identified a racial divide.

 

Links of the Day:

 

– Governor Cuomo admits his Ebola quarantine policy could be unenforceable.

– A Former RCSD administrator and Razorshark player finds his leadership challenged in Erie County district.

– Support for marijuana legalization is rapidly outpacing opposition.

– The law lets the I.R.S. seize accounts on suspicion alone, no crime required.

– “The United States and Great Britain deserve badges of shame for the resurgence of measles and whooping cough.”

– A Rochester homeless man forgot his identity. It was a huge undertaking to solve the mystery and get him the identification he needs for basic services.

Skyline - featured 220X165Rochester is being left out in the cold.

Governor Andrew Cuomo went to Onondaga County on Wednesday to award $100 million in state money for waterfront development, which includes a $50 million performing arts center.

As Syracuse, Buffalo, Albany and even Utica get millions of dollars from the state, Rochester doesn’t even get a mention in the State of the State Address.

As Greater Rochester Enterprise’s Mark Peterson said, “I don’t know what’s going on.”

Could it be that the governor is not happy with his number two, Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, who secretly applied to the top job at Rochester Business Alliance? Could it be our local elected officials are doing a poor job? What is it?

Keep in mind Rochester gets less state aid per capita that its Upstate counterparts. It’s also forced to give the City School District $119 million a year, more than Syracuse and Buffalo give their schools.

Let’s talk about a theater.

Syracuse gets money for a theater while our last two mayors haven’t been interested in such a project. “If the Rochester Broadway Theater League can raise money first, then we’ll help,” said Duffy and Tom Richards. That kind of attitude won’t get anything built. In order to build something with public and private dollars, you have to have an elected official as a champion. Mayor Lovely Warren has promised to be that champion for a performing arts center at Midtown. If she wants a theater downtown, she’ll get her state money for a theater downtown. RBTL’s current partner, Scott Congel at Medley Centre, does not have anyone fighting for him in Albany.

I like the idea of a downtown Rochester theater a lot better than the taxpayer-backed sports stadium projects for the Bills and SU. A theater would require less public money. Theater patrons spend substantial money in the community, at hotels and restaurants. The arts create a vibrancy in a community that sporting events do not.

Whatever dream project Rochester decides it wants, it seems now is the time to go after it, while Cuomo is in a generous mood.

Assuming he’s not mad at us.

Lovely WarrenThere are two big issues concerning the mayor’s security detail: Nepotism and excess. (Now there may be a third: abuse of authority. The security detail was stopped by state police going 97 miles an hour on the Thruway.)

No other Rochester mayor has had a security detail. Bill Johnson drove himself around. Bob Duffy and Tom Richards often had the Director of Security drive them places in a city vehicle. (That’s akin to what other Upstate mayors do. They use either security director or police officer for this function during business hours.) County Executive Maggie Brooks has no driver.

The city’s Director of Security remains on the job, but he’s no longer tasked with driving the mayor around. 

Warren created two new positions, Director of Executive Services ($80,000) and Associate Director of Executive Services ($60,000). Her uncle, Reggie Hill, fills the $80,000-a-year job. A former Kodak security man, Caesar Carbonell fills the other job. The positions were not advertised. Warren said they are temporary and she will post the jobs and go through civil service. She said the men will be on call 24-7 and will not earn overtime. They pick her up at home every morning and drop her off at night.

In what’s now become a locally famous quote, Warren said, “We don’t do anything for no reason.”

The mayor said she needs the security because she’s a woman, she has a small child, people are bigoted, people write hateful things about her online and the former police chief said all mayors need security. She said she hired her uncle because she needs someone she can trust and he’s the most qualified person for the job.

Here are the questions that still need to be answered:

1. What do Hill and Caesar Carbonell do all day? Warren likely spends a good chunk of her day at City Hall. Are they standing guard outside her door? If so, what are the regular City Hall security guards doing? Are Hill and Carbonell providing security at her house? Are they doing any personal business for Warren? What are the precise”executive services” are taxpayers providing the mayor?

2. How much security is too much? Just because the former police chief said she needed some protection, did that extend to two armed bodyguards? Could this service have been provided by police officers? Could this service have been provided at a lesser cost? Does the mayor need so much protection she can’t drive herself to and from work? What makes women politicians and black politicians more vulnerable to attack? Violence against local elected officials in the United States is extremely rare.

3. What are the ancillary expenses? Duffy shelved a Tahoe because of controversy over the cost. It appears the vehicle, or one like it has been unearthed. Who is driving what and what is it costing taxpayers? Are these environmentally-friendly vehicles?

4. Why didn’t the mayor go through civil service to hire these men? If Hill and Carbonell are truly the most qualified, let them go through the same process as other citizens trying to get jobs.

5. When will the security detail jobs be advertised?

6. Will Hill get a waiver to collect his pension and work this job? He doesn’t have one right now, meaning he will max out at $30,000 of earnings.

7. Where is the money coming from to pay for this security detail? We are in the middle of a budget year.

8. Are Hill and Carbonell contract employees or on the city payroll? If it’s a contract, City Council has to approve.

9. Are Hill and Carbonell legally allowed to carry their weapons into City Hall and other government buildings where civilians cannot carry weapons?

10. Will the mayor voluntarily bring this matter before the City Ethics Board? The ethics board exists to issue opinions about conflicts of interest, such as hiring relatives. City Council has the authority to ask the ethics board for a decision on the security detail. (City Council will likely do so in the matter of Corporation Counsel T. Andrew Brown wanting to retain a stake in his law firm.)

The hiring of her uncle could fall under Section 4 of the Code of Ethics:

No City officer or employee, acting in the performance of his official duties, shall treat, whether by action or omission to act, any person more favorably than it is the custom and practice to treat the general public.

It’s important to note no one can discipline the mayor, except voters four years from now. But going before the ethics board voluntarily could show good faith. A City Council vote demanding a ruling sends a strong message to the mayor and the public.

These 10 questions should make it clear why this is still a story – and why it’s not going away.

Update: We did not get answers to all of these questions and the mayor’s spokesperson said this blog angered Warren. I was frozen out of her press conference. City Council has now requested an ethics investigation. – RB 1/14/14

 

Links of the Day:

 

– Portland and Rochester have similarly educated populations. So why is one city better at the start-up game?

– The mayor of Syracuse is begging the state for money to pay for things like repairing water mains and buying police cars. But it appears the state is more interested in a new sports stadium for Syracuse University.

Scranton ponders bankruptcy.

– In Kansas public buildings, either everyone can have guns or no one can have guns. Guess which is winning?

– Actual headline: “Oklahoma bill would ease school policies on imaginary, toy guns”

– “It’s been my whole life, downtown.” Great profile of 85-year-old Rochester barber.

4b51f4aa-f527-4184-b647-0a3fb726dc8cThe New York Times says Lovely Warren is part of a new wave of progressive mayors who want to address inequality:

Lovely A. Warren won election as mayor of Rochester last month with a campaign lamenting what she called the “two Rochesters,” challenged by crime and poverty, but also boasting prosperous neighborhoods.

onecityWhile the attention to this issue is extremely welcome, Warren won’t be the first mayor to talk about “two Rochesters.” Bob Duffy’s inauguration speech discussed the importance of creating “One City.” In fact, “One City” was incorporated into city marketing materials.

Here is an excerpt from Duffy’s 2006 speech, in which he talked about poverty and crime plaguing poor neighborhoods:

We are a community of great wealth and great poverty. Our future success depends on our ability to connect our great assets with our greatest needs. We are two cities today. In the future, we have to work and commit to be one. One city.

Hope – Unity – and Commitment

This city is my responsibility. It is your responsibility as well.

Duffy wanted to unite the “two Rochesters,” rich and poor, city and suburbs. Warren’s approach has been a bit more divisive. Her campaign said the city wasn’t doing enough for one Rochester, and doing too much for the other.

(Bill Johnson, Bob Duffy and Tom Richards all spent considerable tax dollars on housing, street maintenance and services in poor communities. It will be interesting to see how Warren’s approach differs.)

Duffy and Warren both pointed out the differences between the “two Rochesters.” But Warren issued a loud battle cry – and it was heard by voters.

 

Links of the Day:

 

There is a huge shortage of mental health professionals in the United States.

– A Syracuse hospital is greatly expanding its methadone clinic because of heroin and painkiller abuse.

– At what point are the giveaways to corporations so great the economic benefits of having them in your town are erased? See Lockport’s deal with Yahoo.

– Good for Atlanta’s mayor for refusing to subsidize a sports team’s stadium with dubious promises of economic development in return.

– Recreational pot will be legal in Colorado on January 1. The law is fascinating.

– “Medical abuse” prompted a Boston hospital to get custody of a girl – and keep her locked up for 10 months. Hard to believe so many people could fail this child.

– A “cookie lady” gets shut down and no one knows why. She suspects it has nothing to do with kid allergies.

– People getting Rochester logo tattoos. It’s a thing.

– Vanessa Williams approached a guy in a Sabres jersey during a trip to Egypt. She and the Buffalo man are now dating.

4b51f4aa-f527-4184-b647-0a3fb726dc8cWhen 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.

Ginna is considered at risk of closing.

– 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:

Bike

 

Tom

 

Tom Richards is either thanking or cursing his friends right now.

Sunday night, the Independence Party announced it wants people to continue to vote for Richards in November, even though he dropped out of the race for mayor. Richards will still appear on the Independence and Working Families party lines. The press release to newsrooms included a link to a website, TurnoutforTom.com.

Tom RichardsMonday, the Independence Party wouldn’t return phone calls. Richards said in a statement he never talked to the Independence Party about this announcement. (He also didn’t say he would refuse the job if elected.) The effort appeared dead on arrival, but there were questions about who was behind the sudden stealth campaign.

It turns out, the Independence Party had some help. In a stunningly embarrassing move, the chairperson of the party sent the Democrat and Chronicle an op-ed about his support for Richards. He accidentally included an email chain that revealed the true author of the op-ed: Gary Walker, Richards’ spokesman. Walker crafted the message with assistance from fire administrator Molly Clifford and her partner, UNICON’s Ken Warner.

Walker, Clifford and Warner are Democrats who support Richards. Walker and Clifford were going to lose their jobs in a Warren administration. With this move, they certainly lit a match and torched the bridge on their way out.

Now, Richards will be immediately asked to renounce their effort. He will be pressed into saying what will happen if he wins. The longer he goes without discouraging people to vote for him, the wider the rift in the Democratic Party will grow.

4b51f4aa-f527-4184-b647-0a3fb726dc8cThis effort could damage Warren, who is already under fire for dodging questions. It is the first sign that not all Democrats were good soldiers and lined up behind Warren. If the Richards “not-campaign” continues, Warren risks losing the 70 percent vote total she’s likely trying to capture on Election Day to prove she has a mandate.

I believe a Richards third-party win would require much more effort than a last-minute campaign in which he’s not a participant. Even if he had been actively campaigning, he faced long odds. Aaron Wicks, the only blogger who predicted Warren’s win, breaks down why Richards can’t win on a third party line.

But thank you, Gary, Molly & Ken for spicing up what had turned into a rather dull post-primary run-up to November.

 

Bob

 

Let’s talk about Bob Duffy’s giant mess. When Sandy Parker announced Monday she is staying on at Rochester Business Alliance, I thought she would be paving the way for Duffy to take over once his first term as lieutenant governor is up next year.

DuffyBut a source points out Parker might have to stay on because Duffy bowed out of the job. He’s now facing ethics questions related to his reported application for the job. RBA is a lobbying group and state law places lobbying restrictions on former elected officials. Duffy also has a conflict of interest if he’s applying for a job with a lobbying group while serving as lieutenant governor. Then there’s the matter of the unlisted Keuka Lake house Duffy bought from Parker without disclosing. Furthermore, Duffy has another connection to RBA: As mayor he helped orchestrate the $1 sale of a Plymouth Ave. lot to John Summers, Parker’s husband and RBA board member. With the Moreland Commission now investigating all kinds of Albany political dealings, why take any chances? Give up the RBA plan and move on.

It’s also very possible Duffy seriously angered the governor if he didn’t see this coming.

Today, Parker denied any and all knowledge of Duffy wanting her job, calling it media speculation.

Duffy has not made similar denials. He won’t comment on rumors he sought the RBA position or that he might not want to be lieutenant governor for another term. He and Cuomo say they’ll talk about his political future next year. 

What a disaster for the once-rising political star. Nazareth College’s Tim Kneeland calls Duffy “damaged goods” because of this fiasco. Wicks declares him dead.

Skyline - featured 220X165With Tom Richards bowing out of the mayor’s race after his primary defeat, the Bob Duffy era has come to an end at City Hall.

What was the Duffy era, anyway?

Let’s look at the stuff that happened (and didn’t) over the eight years those gentlemen ran city government:

– Killing the fast ferry: Ten days into his administration, Duffy ended his predecessor’s pet project and Richards later engineered the sale of the boat.

– Tearing Down Midtown Plaza: Duffy took the struggling shopping mall through eminent domain, closed it and tore it down. The public price tag will top $100 million. The pace of the tear-down, rebuild and redevelopment has been glacial through the Duffy and Richards administrations. The decision could end up being a wonderful thing for downtown. The Seneca Building has been refurbished and Midtown Tower is next. The problem is there’s no plan for the remaining parcels.

– Killing Renaissance Square: Duffy’s hemming and hawing, and demands for last-minute changes sent the project into a tailspin. He never bought into the plan to build a performing arts center, MCC campus and bus terminal at Main and Clinton – even though much of the project was funded. Today, the bus station is under construction, MCC plans to ditch downtown (Big box Kodak complex doesn’t count), and the theater could go to the suburbs. Oh, and Main and Clinton is still a mess.

survillance-security-camera2– Red Light Cameras: They bring in millions of dollars to city coffers, along with the ire of thousands of citizens. They only marginally increase safety in a city with very, very, very few fatal accidents. (The speed limit is 30 miles per hour.)

– Reorganizing the fire department: Duffy reduced trucks and personnel. The union claims this has made it harder to respond to fires.

– Developers were friends: From the $1 land sale to Dutch Summers to build $200,000 condos on Plymouth to a Restore NY grant that paid one-third the cost of two East Ave. condos to a $20 million city loan for College Town developers – City Hall was super-friendly to developers. 

– Killing the High Falls laser light shows: Duffy also sold off the equipment, making the likelihood they’ll come back slim to none.

– Killing the East End Festivals: Richards and company allowed the snooty new East Ave. residents to throw their weight around. The festival came back for one night only this summer.

– Killing NET offices: The city used to have mini-City Halls in neighborhoods. Duffy consolidated them. They are no longer the neighborhood forces they once were.

– Ruining Party in the Park: It now charges admission and is held in a parking lot.

– Selling Hemlock & Canadice lakes: The state has promised to keep the area around the source of Rochester’s drinking water pristine. It was a nice cash windfall. But we lost control of this beautiful and vital resource.

– Brooks Landing and Corn Hill Landing: Wait, those started under former mayor Bill Johnson.

– West Main Street revitalization: Also started under Johnson.

– Jazz Fest: That started under Johnson, but grew with huge Duffy support.

– Put port development on hold: The developments planned for the port right now, including a marina, were planned under the Johnson administration. Duffy put the whole thing on hold, only to resurrect it years later, with some tweaks.

– Turning Mt. Hope into the new West Ridge Rd.: College Town is supposed to be like a village for students. Now it appears even more scary to cross. Access for pedestrians and bicycles was sacrificed for cars. I bet it will be as congested as ever, meaning this widening of the road will not have accomplished its goal of smoother traffic. (It never does, according to many non-DOT traffic experts.)

– Going to war with the school district (and then backing down): Duffy wanted mayoral control. Richards put a stop to such talk and decided working with the school district was best. (Warren will bring back the war with her charter school agenda.)

Here is a list of city projects under way and completed.

 

There was a change when Duffy took over City Hall. There was a corporate mentality. Citizens were referred to as customers. Men (yes, men) from the private sector were brought in to run the economic development and the law departments. Duffy sent the message that City Hall was in the “right” hands and the city was “back.”

Duffy fought the establishment to become mayor and quickly became the establishment. City Hall clammed up. Department heads were no longer free to take my phone calls. I couldn’t poke my head into the mayor’s office. There was a much tighter control on information. There was far more spin and messaging. The mayor often traveled with an entourage of department heads, security and communications staff.

Did Duffy and Richards bring more development into the city? It’s hard to say what would have happened anyway. The South Wedge experienced a renaissance all by itself. The downtown housing boom started during the Johnson years. In fact, cities and downtowns across the country are seeing renewed interest. The city’s population decline reversed during the ’00s; Johnson was mayor for much of that time.

Duffy, Richards and Johnson all left the city with a good credit rating. All three mayors warned of structural problems. All three seemed to manage it well.

Duffy will be remembered for three things: Killing the ferry, killing Renaissance Square and killing Midtown.

It will likely be Warren’s task to see what rises in their place.

Tom RichardsThoughts about the biggest upset in Rochester politics since Bill Johnson won the 1993 mayoral primary:

1. Grassroots campaigns win primaries. Tom Richards spent tens of thousands of dollars more than Lovely Warren. But he spent it on television ads. Too few people vote in primaries for television to be effective. Meanwhile, Warren stuffed mailboxes, put up lawn signs and went door to door. The Democratic Party, which backed Richards, took this race for granted and it showed throughout the campaign.

2. Polls can be wrong. The Siena College poll showing Richards with a 63-27 lead turned out to be preposterously wrong. The sample was made up of 60 percent white people and 37 percent black people, which offers some explanation. But seriously, this poll BOMBED.

3. Polls can keep people home. The Siena College poll showed Richards with such a huge lead, his supporters may have driven right home after a hot day at the office. On the flip side, that poll did nothing to discourage Warren’s supporters.

4. The special election showed signs of doom for Richards. The mayor did not get 50 percent of the vote in the 2011 special election, despite having the backing of the Democratic Party and black leaders. The vote was very much along racial lines. A special election is different than a primary. All parties can vote in a special election. It’s very possible – even likely – Richards was bolstered by blanks and Republicans. The first sign the Democrats backed the wrong horse came in 2011.

5. Low turnout matters. In primaries, every vote counts. Warren clearly got her base to the polls. Only 15,000 people voted. That compares to 21,000 Democrats in the 2005 mayoral primary and 25,000 voters of all parties in the 2011 special election.

6. Does Richards even have a base? (See #4.) Many voters have told me they just didn’t connect with him. They saw him as aloof and distant from their problems. Having covered Richards for years now, I don’t think that’s true. But he failed to communicate his message to the public. The Duffy machine set Richards up as mayor, but Richards never had Duffy-like charisma or widespread support.

7. Warren did a superb job connecting with voters and pressing the need for change.

8. The Bob Duffy era is dead.

9. The David Gantt era is still alive.

<Watch my interview with Richards after his defeat.>

<Watch my interview with Bill Johnson.>

<Watch my interview with Alex White.>

<Siena admits poll was messed up.>

Cuomo - 220X165As Governor Andrew Cuomo tours the state touting his Tax Free NY plan, it’s worth noting nothing is ever free.

His plan would allow private start-up companies that locate at select colleges to pay no income, property or sales tax. Cuomo believes this would spur investment and create jobs.

There are several problems with this approach. First, the rest of us will be paying the taxes these companies are avoiding. Second, the plan hurts municipalities desperate to fill vacant office space and generate property tax revenue. Third, competing businesses get no such benefits, creating an unequal playing field. Fourth, the program could invite abuse. 

A report out this week claims doling out tax incentives in the name of economic development has had dubious benefits in New York State, but has cost taxpayers $7 billion. Critics say trying to lure jobs from other states is nothing but a costly shell game.

Economists across the political spectrum are extremely skeptical of Tax Free NY. The Post-Standard reports it’s unprecedented:

(Tax Foundation’s Scott) Drenkard said such targeted tax breaks make the tax system unfair and ultimately hurts, not helps, businesses.

“Carving out special tax breaks for certain favored businesses is destructive to the economic playing field,” Drenkard said. “A much better option in the long run is to go with broader tax bases and as low a tax rate as you can make while still maintaining necessary government services.”

The right-leaning Empire Center in Albany criticized the program for similar reasons.

(Syracuse University Professor John) Yinger says virtually all the research he has seen, and that he and his students have conducted, on targeted tax breaks shows they simply don’t work — especially those that hope to attract businesses in from other states.

“In New York we have a dizzying array of tax breaks with no evidence they help, and now here’s a new version,” said Yinger, who teaches courses in public budgeting and researches the effect of taxes upon behavior. “I think it would be just be another source of inequity in our tax system and would do nothing to help promote economic development. You’d do much better improving our schools and infrastructure than giving tax breaks to businesses who would be in the state anyway.”

 

Links of the Day:

 

– New York found “shocking” violations at Rochester area daycare centers.

– “In Monroe County, the media coverage of trials is a patchwork, depending to a degree on the whims of a judge.” 

– ABC News profiled a tough school in Philadelphia. This could have been written in many urban schools across the country, including Rochester.

– A teacher was reprimanded for telling students they have a constitutional right not to fill out a school survey on their drug and alcohol use.

– Another sign the U.S. war on drugs is a big failure is the falling price of illegal drugs on the street. 

Immigrants subsidize, rather than drain, Medicare.

– This is surprising. More people are cutting the cord on home Internet than television.

Garden Aerial is for real.

 

Cuomo - 220X165Several very critical stories were published this weekend about the Cuomo administration:

– Is Empire State Development a patronage mill for Cuomo?The New York Times looks at the appointments of people connected to the governor’s friends and donors. A former Monroe County Legislator and aide to Assemblyman Joe Morelle was listed. Here’s an excerpt:

Since taking office in 2011, Mr. Cuomo has repeatedly pledged to bring a new approach to Albany, where politicians of both major parties have long rewarded supporters with jobs that are not open to the general public.

But an investigation by The New York Times into hiring by the agency, the Empire State Development Corporation, shows how Mr. Cuomo’s administration has engaged in some of the same patronage practices that have often prevailed here.

(snip)

While some of the new employees at Empire State had experience in economic development, others did not. Some of the jobs were not open to competition, and were filled with little input from the agency itself.

The Cuomo administration can be thin-skinned about negative press. A Cuomo staffer tweeted his displeasure with the piece:

– Cuomo’s popularity Upstate has been on a downward slide. Is it only about guns? The Buffalo News says fracking, the economy and Hurricane Irene cleanups are also to blame.

– New York’s minimum wage hike might be a “blank check” for businesses to spend our tax dollars on young, cheap labor. This article also implicates the state legislature for this law, which is universally panned by economists. Whether you are for or against a minimum wage hike, the way New York is implementing the increase is extremely concerning.

Other Links of the Day:

– Rochester area residents are listing their homes for rent during the PGA this summer. One family hopes to rent out a houseboat for $1,200 a night.

Terry Pegula is slammed over ticket price increases.

No rich child is left behind.

Frozen yogurt wars in Syracuse.

State Capital BuildingLieutenant Governor Robert Duffy came in last place in a newspaper’s ranking of Albany power brokers.

City & State ranked Duffy 100th in its “Albany Power 100” list. Here’s what it said:

The former mayor of Rochester is in a largely symbolic role now, standing in for the governor at ribbon-cutting ceremonies and serving as Cuomo’s personal cheerleader. But he could be the next David Paterson. You never know.

Ouch. Mayor Tom Richards said the characterization is not fair, as Duffy has steered the Regional Economic Development Councils. Richards also said Duffy is very involved in helping Rochester in any way he can.

Guess who is near the top of the City & State list? Assemblyman Joe Morelle, now the assembly’s second-in-command:

He doesn’t seek the spotlight, but he’s become a favorite of the governor and Assembly members on both sides of the aisle. If Shelly ever calls it quits, Morelle would be the clear choice to be the next Speaker if he weren’t from upstate New York. Chair of the Monroe County Democratic Party, he is a juggernaut in his area, even recently electing his son Joe Jr. to the county legislature.

Links of the Day:

The state is threatening to close a Buffalo charter school. This is the downside of experimenting with children’s education. When it doesn’t work, it’s very disruptive.

– When the president of the Auburn Teachers Association killed herself, the union found $808,000 missing.

-The Syracuse city school district wants to open a school for gifted students.

Remembering the days of the Kodak bonuses.

It’s been quite a week in Albany. A second major corruption scandal erupted. First, State Senator Malcolm Smith was arrested for allegedly trying to rig the New York City mayoral election. Then Assemblyman Eric Stevenson was arrested, accused of accepting bribes. A third sate lawmaker resigned and revealed he’d been cooperating with authorities.

Meanwhile, Rochester area state lawmakers insist they’ve never encountered corruption.

Twitter had fun with the scandal. Here’s how the day played out.

New York StateIn New York, voters don’t get to go to the polls and cast ballots on marijuana, gay marriage, and affirmative action.

State Senator Joseph Robach, a Greece Republican, has long wanted the state’s residents to be able to hold referendums. He submitted a bill outlining such a process. People would be able to propose laws and reject laws passed by the legislature:

For an initiative or referendum measure to appear on a
ballot, a petition setting forth the proposal must be filed with the
State Board of Elections and be signed by electors at least equal in number to 5 percent of the votes cast for all candidates for governor at the last gubernatorial election. Such signatures must include at least 5,000 signatures from each of at least three-fifths of the State’s congressional districts.

The measure passed the senate in 2011, and was referred to committee in 2012. Robach submitted his bill earlier this month and it was referred to committee and the attorney general for an opinion.

Supporters of initiatives and referendums say they encourage voter engagement and give government mandates to do the people’s bidding. Opponents argue they weaken the power of elected bodies and allow politicians to avoid making tough decisions. Another argument against them is they can be used by the majority to deny rights to a minority, as we have seen with gay marriage votes.

Do you think New York should allow initiatives and referendums?

Links of the Day:

– Federal probation and a Colorado contractor appear to share blame for an accused murderer’s dismantling of his ankle monitor.

– The Bills want 128 more Sheriff’s deputies on game days patrolling the stadium. 

– There seems to be more news coverage of the FBI dog killed in Herkimer than the people.

– A Tax Foundation study found New York has among the highest taxes in the nation in almost every category.

Check out this virtual tour of Rush Rhees Library.