April 30, 2009

Byron Brown Buffaloes Buffalo

An article in Wednesday’s Buffalo News by reporter Bryan Meyer contains some wonderful news: Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown has a plan to fix Buffalo’s poverty problem. It turns out that all that is necessary is “boosting literacy rates, expanding job training, reducing neighborhood blight and promoting affordable housing.” Wow. That’s some bold thinking. In other words, every Big Government solution offered since the Johnson Presidency. Maybe Byron could declare war on poverty in a Texas drawl while he’s at it.

But wait, it gets better:

“More than 15 months after Brown hired a deputy mayor to forge an anti-poverty strategy, administration officials released the long-awaited plan at a City Hall news conference. They were joined by more than 40 community activists and service-providers, some of whom provided input during the review process. Brown acknowledged that the 77-page report is ‘just a starting document’ that will require many collaborations and extensive work.”

Okay, so it took 15 months for the new deputy mayor, Donna Brown, to write a 77-page report that is “just a starting document.” And mind you, this deputy mayor’s whole purpose in life—the reason she comes in to Buffalo City Hall and punches the clock every day—was to “forge an anti-poverty strategy.” In case you’re wondering, that means Donna cranked out less than a quarter-page of his report per day since she’s been in office, give or take a noun and a couple adjectives.

Here’s a suggestion for that anti-poverty strategy, Byron. And ol’ Hobbes is gonna offer it to you free of charge: stop hiring bureaucrats who work at a snail’s pace and spit out platitudes.

But wait. It’s not done getting better:

“While the plan does not attach cost estimates to any of the initiatives, it mentions federal stimulus aid through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as a potential funding source for some anti-poverty efforts.”

Okay, so just to recap: Byron Brown hired a deputy mayor to come up with an anti-poverty plan. It took her 15-plus months to come up with a 77-page document. (The copy of “Everyday with Rachel Ray” I was perusing at my dentist’s office today had 168 pages—and the muffin recipe looked yum-o. But I digress.) Best of all, this slim booklet of platitudes doesn’t even offer any idea about costs or how to pay for them, except the brilliant, “Maybe we can get someone else to pay for it!”

Okay, the subject of the story was itself a bit irksome. But more irksome is the fact that “reporter” Bryan Meyer cranked his copy out without once challenging any of Byron Brown’s assertions. Didn’t a single penetrating question about this boondoggle cross his mind? Heck, couldn’t he at least have looked up Donna Brown’s salary? I mean, if she couldn’t tell us what her “plan” was gonna cost, couldn’t Meyer at least told us what SHE costs?

Whatever it is, I’m pretty sure it’s a root cause of Buffalo’s poverty.


Larry Castellani said...

This is bureaucratized government showing itself for the travesty of political leadership that it is. Donna Brown should be fired and then laughed out of town if this is all she comes up with after 15 months. Not that these suggestions, if carried out, wouldn’t help. However, given that these supposed solutions are obviously nothing new I wonder what makes them think this stuff will work now or even be effectively initiated now, even with more government money. But the point is not that it’s “big government.” It’s that its ineffective government. It’s government that doesn’t really represent these people. Brown & Brown, despite their color, don’t really represent the black community. They represent the black middle class who deal with black poverty with surgical gloves. The East side has been wholly objectified, turned into a specimen for experimentation, a plaything for the professional politicians and technocrats. Last I read Buffalo has a 60% illiteracy rate. They need political leadership that stays rooted in the community. They need literacy for political consciousness not for minimum wage job training. And secondary education as we know it will never provide that.

TheBuffaloFix said...

Great Article!