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Credit: City of Rochester

Credit: City of Rochester

The Democrat and Chronicle released a poll showing three of four people in the Rochester area don’t know about the Rochester Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative.

Despite the D&C’s constant attention to the RMAPI, few people are interested. In addition, the group has done very little marketing. Actually, RMAPI hasn’t done much.

RMAPI’s goal is to reduce poverty by 15 percent in five years, 30 percent in 10 years and 50 percent in 15 years. The group also wants to increase the number of families that are self-sufficient, though it admits it has no idea how it will measure success.

Already, one full year has been spent assembling numerous committees and sub-committees, developing strategies and simply taking stock of the problem. There’s still no plan to reduce poverty. There’s barely a plan to come up with a plan.

That said, placing special focus on poverty is a very, very good thing. It’s wonderful there are so many stakeholders from all segments of the community at the table. I know many people involved and they are taking this very seriously. They are giving their time and expertise. It’s great people are talking more about poverty. But as the poll showed, no one is listening.

At least not yet.

I’m cautiously optimistic about RMAPI. But I’m also worried this is already a vanity project for politicians including Governor Andrew Cuomo, Assemblyman Joe Morelle, Mayor Lovely Warren and everyone involved in the Finger Lakes Economic Development Council. The United Way also stands to benefit, as it’s steering the $500,000 initial grant. There’s already a staff, including the $95,000-a-year director. The city obtained $6.5 million in additional funding to the project. RMAPI could end up being a nice vehicle for officials to say they’re doing something without really doing anything.

There’s reason to be cynical. The governor says he’s duplicating the RMAPI in other areas of the state, using it as a model. That is ridiculous, because RMAPI hasn’t accomplished one stinking thing yet. RMAPI doesn’t even have a road map for tackling poverty, but it’s already a model? This kind of work will take undoubtedly take time.

Here’s what is happening: Elected officials are jumping on the solve poverty train because they think this will make them look good to voters. The D&C poll showed it won’t. DO something to make the lives of poor people better, and they might start paying attention.

 

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