January 27, 2011

"They" Are Not the Problem

I really can't stand whiners. In fact, when I whine, I can't stand myself. What really gets me is when people whine about things that didn't turn out the way they'd have liked, despite the fact that could have influenced the outcome.

Take for instance this article in yesterday's Niagara Gazette. The piece is intended to encourage residents of Niagara Falls to go to last night's public forum before the Niagara County Redistricting Committee, the group charged with redrawing legislative districts as the county legislature is reduced from 19 to 15 members. That's all well and good - the public should be encouraged to express themselves in public forums as much as possible.

The piece goes awry when Legislature Minority Leader Dennis Virtuoso enters the discussion. Now, it's no secret that Niagara Falls, the area that Virtuoso allegedly represents, has lost population over the past 10 years (or 50 years for that matter). In the article, Virtuoso is quoted as saying, "They are going to try to take representatives away from the city of Niagara Falls." What a dolt.

First of all, no one is "trying" to do anything except draw the legislature lines based on federally-generated population numbers while reducing the number of legislators by four. By the way, the directive of reducing the legislature came from a public referendum on November's ballot that passed with a resounding 87% of the vote. So who is "trying" to take representation away from the Falls - the people who sent a clear message that they want less government? It's certainly not the five volunteers who were chosen to donate their time and expertise to ensure a fair redistricting process.

But what truly galls me is that Virtuoso has the audacity to whine about a problem that he has been in a position to rectify for decades. Now, there are many factors that have contributed to the decline of Niagara Falls over the years, and there's certainly enough blame to go around. That being said, few can argue with the perspective that the massive decline of the city's housing stock has been the single largest contributing factor to the city's current deplorable conditions.

Virtuoso has had 20 years to enforce laws on the books specifically created to prevent exactly what has transpired over the past two decades and he has failed to enforce those laws. No one wants to live in a shit hole. No one wants to live next to a shit hole. Nobody wants to live in a community that's become a shit hole. That type of environment breeds an influx of transient residents who have no interest in keeping up their neighborhoods while chasing out contributing members of society who refuse to be subjected to that type of influence. Thus you get a loss of population. Thus you get a loss of representation when census number are released. It's not freakin' complicated and there's no conspiracy theory behind it.

The bottom line is that Virtuoso has been two things for 20 years: a Niagara County Legislator and a Niagara Falls building inspector. No one has been in a better position to stem the tide of poverty that has overtaken the city. For him to once again claim that "they" are trying to do harm to Niagara Falls is baseless and irresponsible. For once in his life, Virtuoso needs to man-up and take responsibility for his role in the community. Unfortunately, that's not the type of man he is - it's easier to blame everyone else. That, my friends, is the epitome of what's wrong with Niagara Falls and the number one reason it will never crawl out of its own hole.

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