Chipping Away at the WNY Status Quo

12 Feb

It has much more impact when a Larry Quinn says it, and what he says is beyond perfect.

Jim Heaney explains the background of this letter:

As I report in today’s paper, a committee of mostly former City Hall insiders has been meeting since last fall to consider ways to fix City Hall’s cluster-you-know-what management of its economic development and block grant programs.

As I reported in October, the group is populated with a lot of the same folks who had a hand in creating the problems they are now being asked to fix.

The results are predicable — hire better people, get the bureaucracy working better and address the obvious problems.

In other words, blah, blah, blah.

Here is Larry Quinn’s letter in response:

City administration after city administration has failed.  State government has failed.  County government has failed.  They have failed to address the root problems in favor of doling out patronage and – well, favors.  They choose to argue over insignificant crumbs rather than band together to make actual progress or address genuine problems.  Doing so would buck the status quo, and we can’t have that.  To be conscientious and competent in government here in WNY is rare, and oftentimes punished.

But the same can be said of what passes for a fractured and broken “business community” here, where the predominant chamber of commerce can’t get out of its own way, and makes decisions that largely help entrenched power players.  Our local chamber of commerce is so tone-deaf that it makes, arbitrary suggestions with no foundation behind them regarding reduction of the state budget, but in the next breath fights vehemently for billions in state funding for pet programs.  The business leadership in this community is as insular, as parochial, as racked with self-indulgent failure as are our governments.

Of course, the two are so inextricably linked, and so driven to preserving everything just the way it is, playing a game of “it’s 1955” make-believe, that only microsurgery could separate them.

Larry Quinn’s letter is focused on one specific issue – the management of block  grant programs and economic development entities in the city of Buffalo.  But its message extends to the management of any and all programs funded by outside money, and to all economic development entities in Erie County.  Hell, you can throw in the local old money and their foundations to that frothy cauldron of failure that regular people are saddled with here, locally.

A revolution is definitely in order around here.  Not some half-assed ideological tea party revolution, because these problems far transcend party politics.  A revolution where entrepreneurship is encouraged, mentored, and assisted.  A revolution where entrenched interests and old money no longer control pursestrings or narratives.  A revolution where government is a meritocracy rather than a deadly sludge of patronage and payback.  A revolution where favoritism is no longer tolerated, and where decisions are not made based on who knows whom.

Then again, the overwhelming majority of people in this area either don’t care, or else derive a direct or indirect benefit from the current system – from the status quo.  So, don’t hold your breath.

HT Jim Heaney at the Buffalo News, and @braybc on Twitter.

7 Responses to “Chipping Away at the WNY Status Quo”

  1. Richard Kern at 9:27 am #

    Let’s have a hearty AMEN to Quinn’s letter. But I would make one addition. In his “alphabet soup” of costly failure, Quinn fails to add the ‘flagship’ of Bflo’s booming poverty industry, BMHA.

    It would indeed be helpful to tally up the true costs of all these so-called “poverty” & “economic development” agencies. The costs have been staggering . . . but not the sesults!

  2. Mike at 9:42 am #

    Mr. Bedenko sounds like a true TEA Party patriot…

  3. peteherr at 10:13 am #

    I have never been a real fan of Larry Quinn’s. I don’t think highly of the way he ran/runs the Sabres (that’s of course a fan and not an educated hockey guy talking) and I have found the floundering around and let’s make a plan, let’s change the plan mentality of the ECHDC to be mindnumbing at times and aggravating always. That said…..I like what he says here. Way to go, Larry, however I believe you are right when you say “I’m sure these comments will have no weight”

  4. Andrew Kulyk at 11:53 am #

    Lots of Sabres followers, fans and media members like to bash Larry Quinn (re: Briere and Drury) and some of the criticisms are justly deserved. Yet I’ve always liked Larry. His passion for Buffalo development is real and palpable, and he clearly gets it when it comes to the challenges that face us and what needs to be done to get us there.

    As a member of the media, whenever I talk to Larry about Inner Harbor plans, to share an idea about something we’ve come across in our sports travels, or to fire off a question for a story relating to something about the Sabres, he is always kind, gracious and accessible. No attitude or haughtiness or ego about him that I ever saw. A true gentleman.

    Now that I am going to be living downtown in the dynamic neighborhood around Delaware and Chippewa, I can’t help but think that if it weren’t for Larry, none of this would have ever happened. There would be no Chip Strip, and therefore no Avant. You should have seen Chippewa and the Theatre District circa 1980. It was like wartorn Beirut down there and no I’m not exaggerating. As a young Comm Dev Director he almost singlehandedly brought that area back to life.

    Me a Larry Quinn fan? Hell yeah!

  5. mark at 1:11 pm #

    gee i wonder why mr.quinn left his position at city hall?

    i wish quinn would be the voice of rational reform in buffalo instead of paladino pumping up all the teabaggers. larry seems like he was worn out from the bullshit and does what he can do to help buffalo in his own way (sabres, ECHDC) w.o having to put up with too many layers of stupidity in his face everyday.

  6. Adam K. at 11:27 pm #

    Larry Quinn is the reason that Canalside will exist; hell, if you look at the side of the Arena, you can see that he made sure they built storefronts in to it 14 years ago for when this project, then not even public, would someday come to fruition.

    But I have to wonder, if he’s such a reformer, how the hell can he work for Tom Golisano?

  7. Jackstraw at 10:43 pm #

    “City administration after city administration has failed. State government has failed. County government has failed.”

    I’m starting to see a pattern….hmmm. Maybye the next guy or the next guy or wait….it’s defenitely the next guy who will get the square wheel movin smooth.

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