The Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo “went off” on Syracuse Mayor Stephanie A. Miner stating, “You’re going bankrupt. You are unsustainable.” There was a collective, “uh oh”. What has the Mayor done to anger the Governor? It is not normal for a chief executive of a state to publically reprimand an elected leader; Ms. Miner is mayor of one of the state’s largest cities. Her sin was to go off script and dare challenge the assertion that economic development jobs will fuel a city’s ability to fix infrastructure concerns.
According to the mayor’s office, The City of Syracuse had 391 water main breaks in 2014 and 2,109 breaks between 2004 and 2014. The mayor had the audacity to ask for infrastructure funds to stem the tide of excessive water mains breaks. We’re the little Dutch Boy with our fingers in the Dyke, plugging holes as they erupt under 25 square miles of road that make up Syracuse.
In her State of the City, the Mayor illustrated the magnitude of the problem rumbling beneath our streets. We don’t have funds to tackle a problem that requires massive capital expenditures. Otherwise, we’re broke!
Over that last year Governor Cuomo has come as a leader bearing gifts. The Amphitheater at Onondaga Lake, 50 million dollar make-over creating a year-round facility at the New York State Fairgrounds. Don’t forget the 444 million that was left on the table that would have built a new stadium that Syracuse University would lease instead of own. The project would infuse Syracuse with needed development, housing, retail and replacement of an ageing dome that’s out of date, and that’s being kind.
The governor has touted development projects that create jobs even using Buffalo as an example. However the Buffalo renaissance has been decades in the making. The turn-around of the auto industry included a billion dollar investment by General Motors in new facilities at this port city.
While the Regional Economic Council has done a fine job funding local area projects. When the governor looks at this state and makes executive decisions to hand out money he has to realize that each area of New York State has its own strengths and weaknesses.
We’re not Buffalo, we’re Syracuse. We lost our manufacturing base that paid decent wages to thousands of Syracuse area residents. Buffalo also lost manufacturing jobs, but due to its location, size and infrastructure they’ve managed to gain manufacturing jobs. Our manufacturing jobs are never coming back. The days of Carrier, GM, New Venture Gear, foundries, a street lined with candle makers, Syracuse China and many small manufacturers have gone forever.
Cities like Syracuse need more than massive spending on stadiums, hotels and horse barns. We have become one of the poorest cities in America. Our high schools are graduating barley 55% of their students. The fasted growing sectors of employment appear to be minimum wage retail, restaurant and service jobs.
We need more than rhetoric, we need an all hands on deck approach as if the boat was sinking, and it is. We need all elected leaders to focus on what’s right for Syracuse, without relying on handouts to wealthy developers. Governor Cuomo, your development policies are unsustainable, if we continue on this course Syracuse will become a cliché, “we’ve fallen and we can’t get up”.