Municipal, City, and County elections will be held this Tuesday, November 5. Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. We implore our readership to exercise their right to throw the bums out.
Regrettably, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown expects his record, lackluster as it is underwhelming, to return him to City Hall for a third term. That our colleagues at The Buffalo News credit him for not “getting in the way” of urban revival (such as it is) is equally disappointing, if unsurprising. Mayor Brown and the News editorial board speak to the soft bigotry of Buffalo’s low expectations.
Though he has claimed the mantra of progress, (nakedly riffing off President Obama’s re-election campaign), we view Mayor Brown’s assertions of achievement as patently disingenuous. It is, in our view, difficult to divest His Honor of responsibility for the continued flight of Buffalonians to other locales, a figure that totals 20,000 during his tenure as of this writing. We are baffled that an alarming increase in crime could be characterized as anything other than a crisis. It eludes us that Mr. Brown is not regarded as incompetent in continuously presiding over the fifth poorest city in the nation, where joblessness sits at a 20 year high. He plays at the petty fief lord, deluding himself into a false sense of accomplishment. Even his claims to momentum on the waterfront are dubious; we wonder how useful a new building is in light of the aforementioned challenges.
Equally disconcerting is the unholy alliance between the Brown administration and powerful downtown developers, the constituency for which the harem of hacks at City Hall care most. In 2010 the mayor was named in a claim from the Cleveland based NPR group alleging the city had built a racketeering ring predicated on pay-to-play politics in awarding lucrative development contracts. In its endorsement of a third term for Mr. Brian, er, Brown, The Buffalo News conceded the decision to award prime inner harbor land on the Webster block to Ellicott Development was wrought with ethical questions. The scheme speaks volumes on Byron Brown; even Tea Party loyalist Carl Paladino knows his company is best served by playing ball with Buffalo’s boy king and his court of petty thieves.
What the Griffin finds most odious is Mayor Brown’s refusal to debate his general election opponent, or run any semblance of a campaign. Most politicians do voters the courtesy of asking for their vote. Mr. Brown however is unburdened with the demands of democracy. Thankfully Buffalo is afforded another choice on the ballot.
Sergio Rodriguez, the 33 year old college administrator and former Marine brings energy and enthusiasm to the streets of Buffalo that is desperately needed in the executive office. Though lacking in financial and institutional support, Mr. Rodriguez takes his appeal from street to street and porch to porch, in neighborhoods abandoned by all but the slumlords. Though we as a rule view populist politics with utmost skepticism, we cannot help but admire Sergio’s populist politicking.
Mr. Rodriguez runs an issues-based campaign that is not only impassioned but innovative. The Griffin particularly applauds his proposal to absorb responsibility for the schools into the mayoral portfolio. The model been successful in New York City and Yonkers; but moreso, Rodriguez’s call for authority here betrays a willingness to take responsibility for pressing issues where his opponent will not. His prescriptions to the high administrative overhead the Brown administration bears from Housing and Urban Development grants can only benefit Buffalo’s neediest. His multifaceted approach to job creation utilizes the city’s best energies and speaks to our college’s Jesuit identity; a citywide wireless network, a program for micro-loans to local entrepreneurs, harnessing international tourism from Niagara Falls, and empowering institutions of higher education (namely the University at Buffalo but presumably our college as well) as engines of economic growth. Remarkably, Rodriguez has 11 additional proposals as part of his jobs program.
Members of our community will also recall a recent increase in crime around Hamlin Park, an unfortunate development well documented in the pages of our rag. The Griffin so appreciates the fine work of our Public Safety officers under the direction of Gary Everett, but hope Buffalo Police will be part of the prescription. Mr. Rodriguez sagely observes city resources are better spent directing $11 million in overtime pay to dozens of new police officers, assigning the force to beat patrols, and adding dashboard cameras to city cruisers. We also agree that it is long past time City Hall adds a veteran services office.
While Mayor Brown has borne the brunt of our criticism, the Erie County Republican Committee, under the chairmanship of Niagara graduate Nicholas Langworthy, cannot be absolved of culpability. His tactical motives are understandable, but cynical. We understand that high turnout in the city risks countywide Republicans success. We submit that Langworthy should not abandon urban constituencies to the Democratic party. The rank cynicism is not borne of the conviction that all mankind is hopeless. His has the mentality of a beaten man, content to agitate voters in the outskirts rather than carry his message into the heart of the city. He should perhaps be known as Nick Languishworthy, as men of his persuasion are principally responsible for the milquetoast performance of the Grand Old Party.
If Sergio Rodriguez can bring his platform to City Hall’s second floor he is doubtless to secure the support of the disenfranchised across the city. He already has ours.