Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Politics in the City Doesn't Matter

The City matters a lot.   But politics in the City of Rochester doesn't matter.

Just suppose.   Suppose Mayor Duffy and City Council succeed brilliantly.   In the next four years, business moves in and thrives, refurbished neighborhoods attract thousands from suburbs, restaurants and night life flourish, crime is negligible, taxes are cut, the budget's in surplus and there's loads of free parking.

Result:   Duffy and Council get re-elected.
Now suppose the City's next four years make the last four look like the Golden Age of Pericles.   Taxes compete with the murder rate as to which jumps higher or faster.   Big business exits.   From new headquarters in Birmingham, Kodak orders its State Street building dynamited, rather than pay the property tax.   Small business collapses.  Restaurants shut as crime drives remaining patrons away from the City.   The School Superintendent quits, finally acknowledging, "It's hopeless."
Result:   Duffy and Council get re-elected.
Analyzing the death of Renaissance Square in September, we noted, "Once cities degrade to permanent Democratic rule, decay accelerates without political consequence."

A letter to City News recalled the idea.   In the issue of October 21-27, a Tom Elston, recently moved from the City to Georgia, responded to a City News essay comparing Rochester to Austin, Texas.   Among Elston's points about Rochester:   "... [T]he city school system is seen as an intractable failure and waste of money."

We take exception only to the "seen as" part.  

It doesn't make one bit of difference who is elected to the City School Board.   You could have all Cynthia Elliots, or all people of wisdom and vision.   The State wouldn't allow either group to change any one of the fundamentals that need changing to make the schools work.   The result's the same:   another generation of illiteracy and failure.   Moreover, whether wise or clueless, the Democratic candidates get elected regardless of outcome.

With the School District as with the City government.   Each a sanctuary for policy failure free of consequence to elected officials.   Unchallenged by an opposition party, because it's pointless, or by press scrutiny.

An e-mail asked us yesterday, "Why don't you follow politics in the City like you do in the Towns?"

This is your answer, Heather:   because politics in the City doesn't matter.   That's why.

It's why people vote, instead, with their feet.


Anonymous said...

You are bright enough to know that Republicans long ago abandoned the City. Your arguments fall flat on their face.

Philbrick said...

It's much more complex than that. We're considering a "Part II" of this posting, to explore that side of it. (This post was already long enough.)

For now, recall that Republicans held County legislative districts in the City as recently as 4 years ago and made fully-funded efforts to hold them.

Understand also that not opposing Duffy this year was a tactical decision, to forgo contesting a seat they knew they couldn't win anyway, in order to depress the Democratic vote in the City, which could have affected the County-wide races adversely for the