This letter-writer may have it exactly right that increased crime in the city is due to the elimination of the housing police. But in identifying himself as a "Displaced Housing Police OfficerBuffalo", the smell of sour grapes suddenly overwhelms his argument.
Michael Barone, who, for my money, is one of America's best political observers, writes today about the population shifts taking place in the United States. He's trying to discern what those movements of people may mean to the future's political landscape. And fear not, intrepid readers, our fair burg gets a mention.
about the old Rust Belt, which suffered so in the 1980s? The six metro
areas here--Detroit, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Buffalo,
Rochester--have lost population since 2000. Their domestic outflow of
4% has been only partially offset by an immigrant inflow of 1%. If the
outflow seems smaller than in the 1980s, it's because so many young
people have already left. Natural increase is only 2%, lower than in
Orlando or Jacksonville in supposedly elderly Florida. Their economies
are ailing, more of a drag on, than an engine for, the nation. They're
not the source of dynamism they were 80 or 100 years ago. They continue
to vote Democratic, but their 54% for John Kerry was much lower than
the Coastal Megalopolis's 61%. Their states are projected to lose six
House seats in the 2010 Census.
Emails to Barone asking if he thought that curbing urban sprawl and building more museums might help went unanswered.
It’s the late 19th century, and Buffalo has become an industrial
and commercial powerhouse. So much so that it has become the gateway to
the rest of the nation, and earned its title as the Queen City
of the Lakes. This title has earned it the right to demonstrate to the
world what the future can become, and it does so by hosting the Pan-
American Exposition. It is an exposition to show everyone what the
future of this country will be. Buffalo is to play a major role in this
Fast forward to the 21st century, and Buffalo
continually drops the ball. The waterfront, from Buffalo to Hamburg, is
littered with obsolete, crumbling buildings that no one can
realistically use. Get rid of them.
Parks, as nice as they are,
don’t pay taxes or create jobs. Unless preservationists, politicians
and activists stop looking out for themselves and allow Buffalo to
become the City of the Future that it once seemed destined to be, we
will continue to die a slow, painful death. At one time we looked to
the future; now we are mired in the past. Build what we need, be it
Bass Pro, a new bridge or whatever, before it’s truly too late.
Be careful where you park in downtown Buffalo because it may cost
you. Recently, I attended an event at Shea’s and parked in a Standard
Parking lot nearby. In absence of attendants, I put $5 in the automated
machine, but it provided no receipt. When I returned after the event, I
discovered that all of the cars had been ticketed and mine had been
towed and impounded.
This was only the beginning of a
nightmare, which convinced me that downtown Buffalo is a good place to
avoid. The auto shop gave me the runaround and charged me a $25 daily
storage fee while doing so. I was finally able to pick up my car at the
cost of $244, including $150 for the tow. After contacting Shea’s, the
person said he wasn’t surprised but was unable to help. Shea’s
suggested I complain to the city’s licensing department and then the
mayor’s office. All I got was a juiceless suggestion that I take
Standard Parking to small claims court.
No wonder so many suburbanites avoid downtown, where highway robbery seems to flourish and officials are too impotent to help.
It would seem to be a relatively easy task for Standard Parking to reconcile their evening's take at the ticket-machine against the number of tickets issued. And I hope that, after seeing this letter, any other customers similarly affected would come forward, too. If the story's true, then the city can't afford to just ignore it.
In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes,
the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the
nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power
and status. As a child of the academic middle class, I learned to look
on the commercial middle class with loathing and contempt. Then came
the triumph of Margaret Thatcher, which was also the revenge of the
commercial middle class. The academics lost their power and prestige
and the business people took over. The academics never forgave Thatcher
and have been gloomy ever since.
Hmm. Sounds a lot like Buffalo -- except that our Margaret Thatcher hasn't shown up yet. Dammit, where is she?
Three words of advice for those of you who insist that Buffalo must improve it's image. GIVE IT UP! The Buffalo News featured a few of the comments from out-of-towners here for the basketball tournament and the reviews weren't good. Here's one example.
“Weather: Highs in the 30s, partly cloudy, chance of snow. Non-tourney activity: Snowball fights. Plus: Niagara Falls, casinos across the border and the birthplace of hot wings. Minus: The weather; it’s always partly cloudy, chance of snow.
“Travel tip: Skip it, unless you’re a real diehard.”
If we really were the "beautiful Miami of the North" with a prosperous economy and thriving downtown, people from the South and the West would still look down their noses at us. It will always be cold, grey and slushy here in March and unless you're one of those (like me) who likes cold-weather big northern cities, you won't ever appreciate Buffalo.
Buffalonians need to finally "man-up" and get over our neurotic need to be popular, the city that all the big cities like. We should simply labor on making Buffalo into a city that we like. And, of course, we need to continue to make Buffalo into a city where you can make a living, but our image has nothing to do with that.
Economies don't prosper because a city's popular or attractive -- look at New Orleans. Even before Katrina it had been dying for decades. Despite mild weather, gorgeous architecture, great jazz and art and an unmatched party reputation, its corruption, crime and business climate were slowly killing it. And don't forget -- all that New Orleans' tourism wasn't nearly enough to support its people.
Pittsburgh's been trying to improve its image for over 50 years and while I happen to think it's a beautiful town, most of the country still lumps it right down there with, well, us. And like us it can't see its way straight to taking the one action that actually might fix its withering economy -- lower the taxes and make doing business there a profitable possibility.
Mom always told you to stop trying to be popular (usually just made you look foolish in the end.) And come to think of it, lack of popularity never really did affect your ability to get good grades or a decent job or build a family for that matter. And what was good advice for one kid is true for a million of us.
So let's please stop worrying about our national image and just get back to work making a living and a nice home. The popular cities may never like us, but it doesn't matter.
Rod Watson has a novel theory. If the police unions can't convince the control board to give them a raise and if they can't win one in court -- they might behave irrationally; so we should give them what they want now.