But not to fear, Mayor Byron Brown is on it, what with his third reorganization of City Hall's economic development operation in four years. Never mind that the first two didn't pan out and that the third one now underway involves employees sitting around with little to do because the city has stopped taking loan applications or making grants, effectively getting out of the economic development business for the time being.
People used to criticize then Mayor Anthony Masiello for "economic development by press release." Well, folks, what we have now is "economic development reform by press release."
The mayor has long said economic development is his priority. What he has to show thus far are boarded up buildings, a growing number of unemployed city residents and an economic development agency on life support.
Oh, and criminal investigations. Let's not forget about the investigations.
I wonder how that national job search for a commissioner of economic development is going. Have they so much as placed an ad yet?
Look, I don't expect the city's economy to be flourishing, given the recession. But City Hall needs to do the best it can with it has control over. And it's not.
You can't even get the mayor to show up on time for BERC board meetings, if he shows up at all. What kind of message is that sending?
I've been in several Rust Belt cities the past month, including Rochester and Akron, Ohio. I've ridden and walked their downtowns, and what's struck me is they don't have nearly as many boarded-up buildings as Buffalo.
In fact, their downtowns are in noticeably better shape.
People, I'm talking Akron. Frickin' Akron.
Akron and Rochester have been hammered just as hard as we have over the past generation, but their downtowns don't have expanses that look like Beirut, circa 1980. We've gotten more block grant aid and other economic development assistance than either city -- hell, we may have gotten more than the two of them put together over the past 30 years - and conditions here underscore how badly we've squandered the money.
I don't foresee anything changing soon, given City Hall's continuing ineptitude.
As Sonny and Cher once put it, the beat goes on.
Hit it, kids.