The State of the City Address
by Geoff Kelly - posted 3:14 pm, January 30, 2009
I attended Mayor Byron Brown’s State of the City speech yesterday, and I thought it was reasonably good, as these things go. Whenever I hear the mayor speak, I am reminded how much better a face he puts on Buffalo than did Tony Masiello. Masiello, whatever his other virtues and failures, was not a great speaker. The first time I attended a Buffalo mayor’s State of the City address, Masiello opened by saying, “You know, I travel all round this country representing this city” and shoulders sagged despondently throughout the Harbour Club.
Brown, by comparison, makes us look good, so long as you don’t look too closely. I note that he is still claiming $4.3 billion in investment in the City of Buffalo, despite that April Buffalo News piece by Jim Heaney that deflated that number substantially. (I can’t find the link, but Heaney winnowed out the chaff and came up with $1.5 billion, of which $1 billion is publicly subsidized.) That $4.3 billion is puffery, and I wish he’d just be proud of the projects that are actually underway or completed, whether with public or private money, rather than include stalled and tentative products among his boasts. And I wish he wouldn’t claim so much of the credit for reaching a settlement on the Hickory Woods disaster, and for reclaiming the Broadway Market from its dysfunctional board. But I guess this was essentially a campaign speech, a running start at the coming Democratic primary against South District Councilmember Mickey Kearns, so what the hell.
I do grant the mayor this: His pride in running tight budgets is justified. The control board has helped his administration in this regard, but I don’t mind if the mayor crows about running regular surpluses and stashing money away in his rainy day fund. He should crow.
His closing left me curious:
“And to those who try to impede our progress, we will not be turned back, we will not be stopped, we will not be discouraged in our mission to keep moving our great city forward.”
To whom is this directed? Does the mayor believe that there is someone trying to sabotage the City of Buffalo? Is there someone he suspects of wishing our city ill? Is he talking about his political opponents?
ADDENDUM: I sat through the speech with attorney Peter Reese, who has a problem with the State of the City speech being a fundraiser for a private nonprofit that’s run out of City Hall. Reese was less satisfied with Brown’s speech than I. In response to Brown’s job-creation promises, especially those tied to the UB 2020 plans and investment in the medical corridor, Reese said, “I’m wondering if he lives in the same city as I do.”
You can get an official copy of Mayor Brown’s speech by clicking here.