• The Rochesterian in Your Inbox:

    Join 625 other subscribers

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


30 Responses to Mayor Warren’s First Year

  1. December 28, 2014 at 4:01 pm Ernest Paviour responds:

    Nothing meaningful can come out of these politicians as long as lobbying (Bribery) continues. The Federal Reserve has destroyed our financial future with long term suppressed interest rates. Defined benefit plans is another casualty and no one saves as they realize money cannot grow in these conditions. The 401K plans look appealing in some cases but the creation of funny money will eventually drop the markets 50% so as our criminal enterprise ( government) continues we all will become financial slaves.

  2. December 28, 2014 at 4:17 pm Digatelier responds:

    I like your journalism when it contains a healthy amount of opinion.

  3. Everyone should judge their government representatives on two basic principals……1-are they honest; do they posses a high level of integrity. 2-are their ideas on how to govern conform with your expectations. I think the facts speak for themselves on the question of honesty and integrity. As to governing, I believe she has demonstrated who she is. I don’t see any accomplishments that have improved the issues that cities have. My thoughts, and others can disagree, but I don’t know what talent or experience she has that would create expectations on improvements. Does she have experience on running a business? Does she have experience on being involved in any ventures that have overcome adversity and utilized some thinking or leadership that transformed this venture into a success? It seems to me, she was simply put in place by certain elements. It was not because she was qualified. Time will tell. If that is what the residents of the city want, then they got what they asked for.

    • December 28, 2014 at 7:53 pm lellingw responds:

      Could say several things but one really stuck out – Early Reading. The appropriate age to learn to read is about 7 years of age. That is the age where many European countries begin including the most touted Finland. The test scores and poor schooling city children receive is due to the dire poverty they live in. Other developed nations do not allow their citizens to live in such poverty or access to food and health care. There is 100 years of research that indicate that young children can’t be expected to read at an early age, language development through reading is fine as long as it is comprehensible. Preschool can be used for some preschool development but children develop at different rates and should not all be expected to master the same skills at the same time. Dr. William Cala recently wrote to the entire Fairport community about developmentally appropriate education. Pushing kids too young usually sets children up for hatred of school, avoidance and the general feeling at that young age that “school sucks.” The results of pushing “early reading” on impoverished kids isn’t a mystery and the approach is more politically motivated than being sound judgement.

      • December 28, 2014 at 9:28 pm Rachel Barnhart responds:

        My mother would agree with you 100 percent. I didn’t learn to read until I was 6. I think I’m doing just fine.

  4. December 28, 2014 at 7:48 pm Janice Giardino responds:

    I could comment on many of these things but I won’t take the time except for the Port Rollout. The statement “As a result of the outcry, the city later involved residents in the design and planning” it totally false. The city NEVER involved residents in the design and planning. The mayor promised the residents that they would be involved but she reneged on her promise. The mass majority of residents in Charlotte and throughout the city/county are totally against this project for many reasons. These reasons were all brought forward to the mayor and city council but fell to deaf ears. Mark my words…this will be another case of gross negligence of tax payer money spent. This project will fail and only the tax payers will be the losers. Vey sad how this administration works. I fully understand this project was passed down to her but she had the ability to do the right thing and she chose not to as she does with most everything we have seen since she became mayor. Not a fan and not happy my tax money is spent foolishly.

  5. Watching from afar, Warren’s miscues are disheartening and worrisome. However, I just returned to Rochester for the holidays. I always stay downtown by the Convention Center because it’s close to where my family lives off of East Main. For the first time in a long time, I felt safe walking both day and night around the area. I can’t say I’ve felt that since I was a kid. Not only was a friendly police presence evident, but the loitering had greatly decreased. My parents’ neighborhood was also somewhat less problematic. Warren must be doing something right.

    I also wonder how much any Rochester mayor will ever be able to truly succeed given how many of us 20, 30 and 40 somethings have left the area. I’m civically engaged, grew up in the city to parents who believe in city living and the RCSD, and if I could get a job in my industry, I would be back in a heartbeat. But jobs aren’t there, and I’m not the only one I know in that boat. I feel like any mayor will have their failures outweigh their successes until civic engagement among all generations, especially young people, increases in the city of Rochester.

    • December 28, 2014 at 8:21 pm Janice Giardino responds:

      I agree that vicinity of downtown is much better than it was but you are giving her way too much credit. Don’t fool yourself…other areas of the city continue to decline drastically. There are many poor people that live close to downtown that attend City Council monthly that are begging for help. Their roofs are collapsing but yet she choses to spend tax payers money on projects that are bound to fail instead of help rebuild what is already here. She gets caught in lies continuously and the media only reports on the ones that can’t be covered up. RCSD is in a very sad state. I moved back to the Rochester area after being out of state for 22 years and chose to live in the city only because I didn’t have to worry about schools because my children are grown. The City Schools only have a 38% graduation rate. I just can’t even believe this is the city that I was always proud to call home. This mayor is too inexperienced to have this position especially in a city that needs so much help and she has made way too many mistakes to be trusted on anything. What is the saying…Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Call me what you want but I’m not a fool and this mayor is toxic to our city.

    • December 28, 2014 at 9:30 pm Rachel Barnhart responds:

      Hi Kat –

      The Rochester area job market leaves much to be desired. However, the brain drain is a myth.

      Here are some blog posts I’ve written showing the proportion of young people has remained steady. There are some indicators that our young people are doing better than young people elsewhere.





    • Kat, your feeling of safety walking in the area is by no means a result of the closeness between the mayor and the police force.

  6. December 28, 2014 at 7:52 pm lellingw responds:

    Could say several things but one really stuck out – Early Reading. The appropriate age to learn to read is about 7 years of age. That is the age where many European countries begin including the most touted Finland. The test scores and poor schooling city children receive is due to the dire poverty they live in. Other developed nations do not allow their citizens to live in such poverty or access to food and health care. There is 100 years of research that indicate that young children can’t be expected to read at an early age, language development through reading is fine as long as it is comprehensible. Preschool can be used for some preschool development but children develop at different rates and should not all be expected to master the same skills at the same time. Dr. William Cala recently wrote to the entire Fairport community about developmentally appropriate education. Pushing kids too young usually sets children up for hatred of school, avoidance and the general feeling at that young age that “school sucks.” The results of pushing “early reading” on impoverished kids isn’t a mystery and the approach is more politically motivated than being sound judgement.

  7. I’m hopeful year 2 will see something done on her schools promise. The city can’t grow without some meaningful reform to the RCSD, we’re hemorrhaging families because parent’s are afraid to send their kids to city schools and it is hurting the ones left behind.

  8. December 28, 2014 at 8:02 pm RaChaCha responds:

    “I don’t believe we’ll see another year like this one.”

    Quoth the Rochesterian, “Nevermore.”

    I wouldn’t be so sure.

  9. When a leader continually lies to the people, the leader loses credibility on all fronts. The parade route change real reasons have never been reported. There is just too much “stuff” to have any credibility left.

    Not all people, who are not happy with the Mayor are racists. Claiming that some are, puts an unjustified tint on all. I would suspect there is “some” racism or racists on both sides of the Mayor.. whether they be for or against her. There certainly has been a strong anti burb sentiment expressed by this administration. That certainly does little to “unite rochester”. County taxpayers do not vote for the mayor but their tax dollars support the city and their opinions should matter to the Mayor vs the constant .. stay in your lane mentality that has been expressed.

    • And city tax dollars support a vast number of tax exempt organizations that benefit the whole county. Look at all the real estate taken up downtown by the County, wonder how much that would contribute to city tax rolls? If the ‘burbs don’t want a hostile attitude from the city, maybe the towns should stop trying to lure business and people out of the city and COMIDA should stop subsidizing it.

    • Orielly is right about the race issue. Yes, there are racists on both sides, but that does not mean every issue is race related. Too often black and white are the issue instead of right or wrong.
      In the mayor’s case, I think that credibility is a big problem. She has been caught being untruthful numerous times. That causes distrust. As we all know, once trust is lost it is hard to regain. For that reason, she should be much more careful of who she delegates to, be it people using her social media account, board members, agency directors, etc. She should also have the courage to be able to say, “I was wrong”.
      A person who admits a mistake and honestly tries to not repeat it is more trustworthy than someone caught doing wrong and refusing to admit it. Once the dog eats your homework, you keep the homework away from the dog.

    • Non profits of which this city has many…too many for a city our size IMO,. do take up taxable city land …but they also for the most part benefit city residents, ie the poor, uneducated, broken families, welfare recipients etc of which this city is home to most of those “victims”. I would support turning over a city high rise into a free home for non profit administration offices.
      Non profits however, who occupy many former Mansions on east ave, our most expensive address in the city, speaks volumes about the true mission and lack of financial integrity by the six figure, some multiple six figure “leaders” of those nonprofits. Leaders who have no problem getting paid 200k plus with plush private offices on east ave and memberships in local high end clubs..while they preach about the plight of the poor …and then live themselves in Brighton ……are typical of non profit management hypocrites.

      Businesses move to the burbs for a variety of reasons including safety, easier shorter commutes, free parking, close by shoping etc. The burbs aren’t luring the business., businesses moved there or a varity of logical reasons.

  10. Our neighboring city to the north had a bad mayor his name was Rob Ford. Lovely Warren is no where as bad as rob ford.

  11. December 29, 2014 at 11:18 am Marty Forken responds:

    Time after time the mayor’s go to crisis management move has been to lie and/or obfuscate the truth. This is just unacceptable and needs to stop.

    I believe she could be a good leader for our city but not unless and until her and her office start being more transparent and truthful with the public.

  12. December 30, 2014 at 8:45 am Monkeytoe responds:


    How do you include “transgender benefits” in your “wins”? How much is that going to raise taxpayer costs for gov’t employee health insurance so that a few people can have sex change operations? Is that really what gov’t is for? Do we as a community really need to be required to pay for that?

    In fact, most of your “wins” appear to be “stuff the left wants” rather than anything that has produced results.

    I suppose you can always claim a “win” when you got some leftist thing passed, regardless of results? Is that how we define “win” for the City now?

    Good to know. Also – filling the inner loop? She did not stop something that was already planned and that is a “win”? How low did you set the bar for this Mayor?

    Early reading? Again – another nonsense leftist program. It sounds good but accomplishes nothing. How is that a win?

    Mayor goes to Washington and met with people? Again, really? That is your “win”?

    Pretty sad. I can’t believe you honestly believe any of the nonsense you wrote as “wins”. A couple were good for Rochester – obtaining slightly more funding for example (AIM), but likely any Mayor would have done that. Bloomberg probably would have given money to Rochester regardless of who was Mayor.

    You had to be really creative here to come up with “wins” here to try and offset the bad.

    • excellent analysis.

      Ms Barnhart HAS to come up with positives on the Mayor as she needs to be “friendly” with the Mayor to be able to get access and report on her for Ms Barnharts job. With numerous and well known negatives on the Mayor, a reporter with a blog, has to come up with some positives and to do that obviously requires stretching the facts or digging under the rocks for a positive spin. Shown in a true light as you did, many of the so called positives fade with with logical questioning.

      The Mayor going to Washington for example numerous times to be in the same room with Obama likely was high on the Mayor’s personal agenda list. I believe it did result with a follow up visit to ROCH by Joe Biden and where would we be without that?

      At the start of the Obama presidency, Louise Slaughter brought to ROCH, then Congressman Jessie Jackson Jr (now in Jail) and Congressmen Clyburn. They all had a big meeting at a Downtown Baptist Church discussing as I recall inner city violence\ and RCSD education. We were told how great it was going to be for ROCH as a result of that meeting… it was bragged about by the D&C editor who attended. No doubt as part of the meeting there were cocktails and dinner all paid for by we the taxpayer. Now 6yrs later not one thing has ever been positively connected as a result of that big “meeting”. Ms Slaughter never seems to mention that meeting any more or hasn’t in years.

      Like the meetings in Washington with team Obama, besides getting to know big people, the benefits to ROCH are hard to define. But they make great press and spend / waste lots of Taxpayer money.

    • December 30, 2014 at 6:00 pm Rachel Barnhart responds:

      The “good” list are things the mayor has done this year that can be looked upon as good. That’s the reader’s call to judge the merits.

      I do think transgender benefits are a good thing. There are so few transgender people, this has an extremely nominal taxpayer impact.

      • January 2, 2015 at 8:27 am Monkeytoe responds:

        So, it makes sense to you to use tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to pay for optional surgery to change your gender?

        Why not have boob implants be taxpayer funded as well? Both go to “self esteem”. I can make a case that bigger boobs will help a woman feel better about herself just as “transgender” treatments help a man feel better about himself.

        So silly. but that is what passes for thought amongst journalists. If it “feels good” it is good, with no thought as to whether a) it is the job of gov’t or b) makes sense financially for gov’t.

        But I love how you make the decision that the funds spent by a struggling gov’t for option surgery are “nominal”. Sure – a few hundred grand here or there so that “transgendered” people can “feel better” is fine. As long as it makes you feel good.

        Big win for Warren! Good job Mayor. Really solving the City’s problems with that one.

      • January 2, 2015 at 8:29 am Monkeytoe responds:

        I also like how you pretend the “good” list isn’t a judgment by you. It is things that “can” be looked upon as good.

        Well – you could have put the bad with the good then. Some people might look upon some of the “bad” things as “good” things.

        At least take pride in the fact that you made a qualitative judgment and claimed those things are good. don’t rationalize. either you believe they are “good” and important or you don’t. Don’t try and have it both ways.

  13. The problem with any journalist in Rochester writing a truly candid analysis of Lovely Warren’s first year in office is that if the analysis was truthful and brutally honest, that reporter would no longer have access to Lovely Warren during the remainder of her first – and hopefully her last – term. The most disturbing aspect of Lovely’s personality that has surfaced over the past year is that she is prone to lying, and much of that lying is about relatively petty events and actions. The problem is that if somebody is motivated to lie about the small stuff, one assumes that they will do the same for much larger and more consequential things. This suggests an absence of integrity, and this is the core issue with Lovely Warren. Integrity is like virginity – once you lose it, it is gone. Now we were not quite sure what city voters gave us a year ago, but it is increasingly clear that we have a “leader” who not only lacks integrity, but also conducts herself with the maturity of a high school sophomore. This does not bode well for the near-term future of the city of Rochester.

    • January 2, 2015 at 8:31 am Monkeytoe responds:

      Don’t kid yourself. Warren will be Mayor for life. The dynamics in Rochester have changed, and just like in Detroit and DC, results don’t matter. Warren will stay Mayor as long as she like.s

  14. January 3, 2015 at 11:51 am Istvan Bathory responds:

    Most of what you have written has been insightful.
    On the other hand, you never mentioned what was “ugly” about the Warren Administration.
    May I provide that?
    The mayor and her administration have been pathologically unable to tell the truth about anything, even about unimportant issues. Since the uproars over such lies have never been enough to seriously threaten any of them with dismissal or lawsuits, they will continue to sally forth as they have done in the past.

    Steve Bathory

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *