The Cuomo Plan

Wilkommen in Buffalo

Governor Cuomo came to Buffalo yesterday to further outline his vision for moving Buffalo forward, and how the city can use the $1 billion the administration pledged.

The announcement has been met with all the hand-wringing, complaints, and angst that accompanies any sort of big news about Buffalo, with outside conservative commentators arguing that the money amounts to spending good money after bad.

But comparing the mistakes of the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s to our current state reveals little more than a prejudicial ignorance of what Buffalo is today. The city is financially sound, but politically broken and economically wounded. The most critical thing Cuomo said yesterday to the assembled Buffalonians was to stop looking backwards. Our nostalgia and t-shirt based economy is all well and good, but it’s not growing the city, educating our kids, reforming our government, keeping graduates in the region, or attracting business and industry here.

The key to the billion is that it’s not just a handout. It’s a line of credit that’s conditioned upon business, industry, and government agreeing on a plan – we’re not always good at thinking about the long game around here. Once we have an idea of what we want the billion to accomplish, we can set out to meet that goal through a specific plan.

We haven’t had city leaders express what they’d like Buffalo to look like in twenty or forty years, and it’s an important conversation to have, given the way in which our visionless city leadership is content to cut ribbons and tread water. The billion dollars here is a sort of Marshall Plan – it’s not, as the Wall Street Journal would have you believe, a welfare payment – Buffalo’s TANF for the year. ┬áIf we set up the right apparatus with the right people with the right vision and concomitant plan, this could really be something.

The problem now is pulling all of that together without the usual suspects getting all grabby.

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