Platform: How to Improve Rochester

The primary function of government is to improve the lives of their constituents.  In Rochester perhaps the best way to do this is to reduce poverty and empower them to take control of their environment. As such there is much which I would like to do as a city council member.

Fight for lower rents
Rochester spends millions of dollars every year on housing and for the most part this raises the rents by replacing rental units with high priced units.  This needs to end. After all lower rents will increase the amount of money people have and help reduce the sting of poverty.
  • start using the City Medium Income (CMI) rather than Area Medium Income (AMI) as a measure for affordability. 
  • stop giving money to others to build housing but instead start building public housing ourselves using either Rochester Housing Authority, the Land Bank, or another government agency and then selling this housing to the renters.
  • Change Zoning to allow smaller houses which would have lower prices.
  • Require all new units to be 100% handicap accessible. 
  • Convert public housing into housing cooperatives where the tenants will become the owners of the property.
  • End tax breaks for housing or at the least stop giving them out to large properties.
  • Limit no fault evictions
  • Set limits for rent increases
  • Give tenant a right of first refusal for all housing sales. 
  • Enact strong retaliation protection.
 Support our Children
Instead of talking about who controls the schools the city can do many things to help all children succeed.
  • Increase library hours so they are open every evening till 9 and on weekends.
  • Increase recreation hours to include weekend hours at every rec centers and some late night hours at, at least one, recreation center per quadrant.
  • Increase the summer of opportunity jobs for student program from 900 to 3500.  
  • Reduce speed limits around parks
  • Put public water in neighborhood parks and public bathrooms downtown
  • Greatly increase anti gang activity through Pathways to Peace and Teen Empowerment
  • Work with schools to improve education results
Empower Neighbors
 In our city neighbors are often helpless to affect change in their neighborhood or to stop unwanted development.  City Hall is all to willing to seek out their help but too seldom willing to work on the initiative that matter most to neighborhoods.  This needs to change.
  • Work to create neighborhood council.
  • Empower neighborhood councils with some money to decide what they want to do with it.
  • Give neighborhood councils the power to approve zoning variances and building plans
  • Empower neighborhood councils to negotiate Community benefit agreements with developers
  • Engage neighborhood councils in the zoning revisions to be done as part of the Vision 2034 plan
Reduce Poverty
The problem of poverty is one of a lack.  This can either be addressed either by reducing costs for people or increasing their resources. These resources can be community, family, education, training, or money. Many of these will be increase by supporting our children or empowering our neighbors but their is still much we can do.
  • Change living wage legislation to apply to all vendors who work with, contract with, or receive money from the city
  • Raise wages to for city employees so all are making a living wage
  • Support existing programs for job training like OACES, or apprenticeship training program
  • Increase funding for the Coop Business initiative and create more businesses
  • Restore the we got you covered roofing program and use all local labor to do the work
  • Change zoning to allow for agriculture in the city
  • Encourage community gardens particularly if they grow food
  • Give preference to local business for RFP (Request for Proposals)
  • Change banking to allow deposits for the city in credit unions 
  • Move banking to credit unions and have them create a fund for local microloans
Improve Policing in our city
While the city claims crime is at a 39 year low we are surrounded by crime in Rochester.  Whether it is a drug house in our neighborhood, vandalism, prostitution, or petty crimes city residents make 179,000 calls for police service and yet the police only find 10,000 crimes.  To fix this there is much we can do.
  • Help get the Police Accountability Board passed in the November referendum
  • Get some officers out of their cars doing foot patrols on a regular basis
  • Help people get into job training programs
  • Improve police community relations
  • Start charging security monitor companies for false alarms 
  • Improve police record keeping 
How to pay for it
 Every good idea has a cost in dollars and sense.  Too often we are told that the city can not do something because it does not have the money.  The problem is while they are refusing to help the residents they continue to spend money on a wide variety of projects. To change this we need to do the following things
  • Too many city departments are management heavy with as many as 1 in 5 employees being managers.  Reducing this ratio will save millions.  Aim for a 1 to 9 in all departments.
  • Since 2014 the city has added over 200 positions.  Examine all these positions to see if they are valuable or just patronage.
  • Stop giving out building subsidies particularly for luxury apartments and stop giving out tax breaks for housing or retail.
  • Start fighting back on both the assessment of the large buildings and the tax breaks.  There are many in which the builder has failed to hold up their part of the bargain. 
  • Close the municipal violation bureau and let the Rochester city court handle these cases.
  • Change zoning to complaint driven and use local coop labor to do repairs for landlords who fail to keep their housing in good condition.

Listen to Alex...

...on Transforming Rochester on Rochester Free Radio. You can see when it's on at the Rochester Free Radio show schedule.

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