A Tale of Two Cities the First 100 Days

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Since the great reformer F.D.R. ushered in the New Deal, the first 100 days of an administration have become a benchmark for any newly elected, reform-minded official to set in motion the vision upon which they campaigned. While no F.D.R., Rochester’s newly elected mayor spoke at length of bridging the divide between what she called the two Rochester’s during her campaign. The tale of two cities, one for the rich and one the poor, is not unique to Rochester and a number of democratic mayors used this narrative in their campaign. With the first 100 days now behind them, let’s look at how two mayors who campaigned on these ideas from two actual cities spent their first 100 days. New York City’s new mayor, Bill De Blaiso ran on the narrative of a divided city. Since taking office, he has ended stop and frisk policing, opposed retroactive tax breaks for condos, started a conversation on universal pre-k which led to the state funding the program, ended the free use of city resources for charter schools, appointed a reformer as commissioner of jails and began a campaign for affordable housing in NY. Sure his fights with the governor over taxing the rich have led to some negative press, and his dislike of carriage rides in central park is odd, but when it comes to working to bridge the divide, it has been quite the successful beginning. By contrast, Rochester’s new mayor, Lovely Warren, who also vowed to bridge the divide, seems to have spent much of her first 100 days, when not out-of-town, dealing with scandals and settling old scores. Since taking office, the one Rochester of public schools has seen teacher layoffs and school closures, while the other Rochester of wealthy boat owners has seen plans for publicly-financed condos around their new marina. The one Rochester of local businesses has seen increased harassment, while the other Rochester of out-of-town big box stores has seen concierge treatment to tax breaks. And, of course, the one Rochester of soaring murder rates still has stop and frisk, while the other Rochester can now apparently blame diabetes for their drunk driving. Not a good start. When it came to bridging the divide, voters were told that policy, not just personality, would change in city hall. With the first 100 days now behind us, how much longer must Rochesterians simply “believe?”


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