Archive for April, 2009

Byron Brown’s Poverty Plan

April 30, 2009
The mayor in his natural habitat -- behind a podium

The mayor in his natural habitat -- behind a podium

Byron Brown released his long-awaited poverty fighting plan yesterday.  You can download a copy of the 80-page report here.  You might say that the response has been less than rapturous.

Anyone who expected a radical reinvention of the way the nation’s third poorest city responds to poverty would be hard-pressed to find it in Mayor Byron W. Brown’s long-awaited “road map” for addressing the problem.

The centerpiece of the “Buffalo Poverty Reduction Blueprint” unveiled Wednesday in City Hall by Brown and Deputy Mayor Donna M. Brown is the establishment of a task force with four work groups, each charged with developing a five-year strategy for reducing poverty in the areas of jobs, education, neighborhoods and social environment.

Allison Duwe of the Coalition for Economic Justice had mixed praise for the mayor’s initiative.

“It really is laudable that we have a mayor in the city who is admitting we have a serious poverty crisis in this community and is looking to take that on,” Duwe said.

“The plan does a good job laying out programs currently in place and identifying the need to strengthen those programs. However, the plan fails to lay out a clear policy agenda for addressing poverty, such as reforming a broken economic development system that isn’t creating good jobs for low-income people.”

Allison is right that admitting you’ve got a problem is a necessary first step.  Unfortunately, she’s also right that the plan doesn’t seem to contain any policy suggestions at all.  In fact, it seems pretty generous to call this thing a “plan” at all.  It’s a plan for how to plan, a list of many of the groups that might be helpful to have around the table.  That’s distressing for two reasons:

1. This plan was more than a year in the making.  Donna Brown was hired as deputy mayor 15 months ago and tasked with creating a poverty-fighting plan for the city.  The plan, such as it is, has been late in arriving, promised first in January and then again in February.  Why should it take the city over a year to say the equivalent of “let’s form a taskforce to do the real planning?”  Could it be that all those taxpayer-supplied Blackberries and iPhones don’t actually increase productivity?  If it takes this long for the Brown administration to deliver this kind of flimsy product, we may be doomed regardless of what the taskforce decides.

2. The plan is remarkably uncritical and self-serving.  In fact, the largest single section in the report is dedicated to praising the Brown administration and laying out its poverty fighting efforts.  I didn’t find any mention of trying to fix City Hall’s continuing abuse and mismanagement of Community Development Block Grant money, for instance.

With its emphasis on bringing different community groups and agencies together, the plan effectively passes the buck and puts the onus of rebuilding the local economy on the community without acknowledging that City Hall is part of the problem.  Unless that happens, I wouldn’t expect anything significant to come of this plan.

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John Minus 9

April 30, 2009

Long-suffering John Gosselin has apparently been stepping out on his wife Kate, the original octomom, according to the always-reliable US Magazine.

Good luck, brother — that’s a lot of child support.

Ladies and gentlemen, can I please have your attention. I’ve just been handed an urgent and horrifying news story. I need all of you, to stop what you’re doing and listen . . .

April 29, 2009

cannonball1ye7

. . . I’ve started a blog.  Yes, in my grand tradition of being at least 3-4 years late to everything new, I’ve decided to grace the world with my thoughts.

At this point, loyal readers are likely asking “but Colin, don’t you already have a blog?”  It’s true, I’ve been known to write an occasional post over at the Rebecca and Colin blog, Buffalo’s leading source for news on vegetables in paper bags.  But that’s really a family blog, a means of keeping in touch rather than a vehicle for true bloggy spew.

So why a new blog?  Two reasons:

1. I’m entering the PhD program in history at UB in the fall, and will be called on to do a shit-ton of writing.  I’m a great writer (duh!) but also a very slow writer, so I’ve decided to make a conscious effort to write everyday in hopes of building up my writerly muscles.

2. Rebecca told me that Aaron Bartley suggested I should start my own blog.  And when the Wizard of the West Side (the Plymouth Poobah?) says jump, I say “how high?!”

So here I am.  If I’m true to my word, you can expect a daily dose of commentary on politics, typical Buffalo-style insanity, racial formation in the Jacksonian Age, my love of cellophane . . . whatevs.  Oh, dear reader, how I envy you . . .