Sunday Mind Bend

A lot on mind today so apologies for the long, disjointed post.

The Recorder editorial calls out the disconnect on the issue of codes between deeds and demagoguery (here):

What happened between the time that Common Council members Gina DeRossi, Joseph Isabel, Richard J. Leggiero, Julie Pierce and William Wills were campaigning and promising to improve code enforcement and June 1 when they passed a budget weakens the Codes Department?

Hmm, that’s not a tough one to tea leaf at all.

As far as the budget, I find it interesting that any cuts were directed at appointments made by the mayor. So while large blocs of the many — from the golfers to the retirees — face no incremental burden, it’s considered budget tough-mindedness, nee fiscal responsbility, to chop a few positions with no basis other than politics.

And exactly who owns and champions the budget under the committee structure? Certainly no one.

As a last budget point, I love the meme that the city budget shortfall is in fact driven by spending. Ironically the school budget, at two times larger, had a sizable spending jump with a large use of fund reserve to offset with less than transparent presentation of the true tax hike to the city. That garnered a yawn on the financials yet a cheer for modified sports. Yet the city budget somehow gets framed as totally a spending issue when, even to a casual observer, you realize that the economy nationally and locally has been in a bit of a downturn. But hey, don’t mention the downturn in revenues when you can frame it for a political advantage. Why work on a budget when you can play politics to your advantage? Especially when you can make the other guy or gal own it instead. A wonderful charter change indeed.

Moving on, a hilarious post by Tim Becker (here), referring to the Flippin’ Amsterdam site as ” once a mammoth mill of socio-economic commentary, it now stands abandoned, bitterness still tangibly hanging in the air….” . Fear not Tim, while some posts have disappeared , they will be returned zombie-like from the Google cache graveyards to feed on the brains of the unsuspecting. The bitterness will stand however.

Moving from bitter to sweet, I had a chance to visit Dolce, the new pastry shop on the South Side. I ordered a broad assortment of sweets all of which were quite good. I have to say it was a wonderful thing to see and experience the joy of an Italian pastry and a cup of espresso amongst the throng of people inside and outside the shop in a historic part of the city. I always wonder as I drive to the Italian delis and pastry shops in Schenectady why I have to drive to Schenectady and not here. If you visit, I think you will see the glimmer of potential in what the South Side’s future holds. (PS I do have a fear of what will become of the Chalmers site but let me hold off on that for now)

The broader point of late seems to be a number of business startups taking hold in the city. I have no basis to proclaim a trend or upswing but I’d much rather see startups, small as they might be, than box stores.

I managed to get myself thrown out from the garden centers at Lowes and Home Depot yesterday. I saw a number of people buying flowers and roses well in excess of 1/10,000th of their salary. Why one woman had nearly $100 dollars of flowers, and even roses!, in her cart and given my fiscal responsibility to the community and my penchant for financials, I quickly calculated that she would have to make $1 million dollars or more per year to buy that! I found such spending outrageous and quizzed her post-haste on her financial management, finding it all a grave concern. But what did I get instead: an ungracious exit. Imagine spending on landscaping when you could be buying a new roof or putting your kids through college. I know it’s only $100 but if you don’t spend that for 150 years or 2000 years, you can fund your roof and your kids education , respectively. Why don’t people get that!

As a footnote to the story, I happened to see the very same woman and her husband planting their flowers in their front yard a while later. Why can’t more people in the city take pride in their homes like these people, it looked so nice while the house next door had no landscaping at all. We have to do something about the blight.

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