"I happen to believe in the people and believe that the people are supposed to be dominant in our society. That they, not government, are to have control of their own affairs to the greatest extent possible with an orderly society." - Ronald Reagan

Reduce, reuse, recycle?

Posted: July 17th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Buffalo | No Comments »

Approximately one in five properties in this city is vacant, or about eighteen thousand homes going to waste and often to ruin. Walk through the city and you will pass through a sobering number of neighbourhoods strewn with trash, neglect and apathy.

It is with some curiosity, then, that I regard the news that the non-profit organization Heart of the City Neighborhoods has won a $1.5 million development grant from New York’s Housing Trust Fund Corporation for the construction of eight new rental units in the heart of a city. That comes to $187,500 per unit.

Consider that the median sale price of a home in the region is less than a hundred thousand and that prices in the city are lower still. Homes with no fundamental problems can be found for as little as twenty or thirty thousand at city auctions and in distress sales from mortgage holders.

Construction costs only reflect a portion of the ultimate costs. Project development will be done in conjunction with several government agencies including the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal, the New York State Housing Trust Fund Corporation, the Urban Renewal Agency. Securing the grant was a five year process, which doubtless represents countless hours of time spend by the organization, the housing trust and district assemblyman Sam Hoyt, who is said to have championed the project.

In the end who really profits from a housing project the city doesn’t need and the residents don’t want? Politicians, bureaucrats and builders.

We got the beat.

Posted: July 13th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Buffalo | No Comments »

Buffalo is launching a pilot expansion of its foot and bicycle patrols today, focusing first in commercial districts and parks. Initially two additional officers on two shifts in each of five districts will be assigned to the program.

I’m glad to see the city utilize the additional manpower they’ve added to the police force in this way. Though arguably effective, some of the crime initiatives introduced by Mayor Brown run the risk of reinforcing perceptions of law enforcement as an adversarial presence. Surveillance cameras might have a net positive effect on crime rates, they put people in mind of “big brother”. Raids might be necessary, but people should see cops when they aren’t brandishing guns and kicking down doors.

Sizing up the locals.

Posted: July 2nd, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Buffalo | 1 Comment »

I have to confess, my grasp of regional politics leaves something to be desired. To some degree, my ignorance reflects the greater indifference of the community.  National issues tend to crowd out local ones – in conversation, in news, in radio – even when they pale in actual impact.  Not that I excuse my own shortcomings, mind you.

The challenge now is finding trustworthy news and commentary, and I have to admit the task is somewhat daunting.  Not only are there far fewer sources, but my own lack of knowledge hinders my ability to evaluate commentary.  What sounds plausible in ignorance is not always reasonable.

Recommendations are appreciated, of course.