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Oh, SmAlbany!

Daily posts and occasional longer essays about politics, culture, and life in the Capital Region...updated M-F, midmorning


"I write this not as a booster of Albany, which I am, nor an apologist for the city, which I sometimes am, but rather as a person whose imagination has become fused with a single place, and in that place finds all the elements that a man ever needs..." -W. Kennedy, from O Albany!

More on Jennings...

Speaking of DIA...: I got in a bit of a tiff with him/her yesterday after DIA posted this response to my recent post about Jennings' plan to step down after the next term.

Backfill
: I casually remarked that I "was no Jennings-hater" and that "It's hard to see Albany as worse off than it was 12 years ago." This unleashed a torrent of attacks on my point of view from the DIA faithful, some legitimate and some a bit ad homenim. Read through the posts, it certainly reveals how deep the Jennings hatred is among some.

In my defense, a few points:

point #1: Even if it is true that Jennings is only helping out certain parts of the city, that would still mean that he's doing something for the city. This goes counter to the notion that "he's done nothing for Albany." No, he has done something, he just hasn't had the agenda that some people want him to have. I don't think anyone honestly evaluating Albany can say the city as a whole has gone backwards in the last 12 years. If you want to argue that certain parts of the city have been neglected, fair criticism. I'll even back you up on it. But remember - 20 years ago those same parts of the city were being neglected and the city as a whole was going the wrong direction.

point #2: I never even meant to light the fire I did. Truth be told, I don't think Jennings is a particularly good mayor. I simply think he'll be hard to run out of office because he's done enough good things to keep him in there. And that's the truth of city politics - to beat an incumbent takes either a firestorm of political activism or a really bad screw up from the man in office. The main point of my original post was that Jennings was getting out of the way in four years. Maybe because he sees the firestorm coming. Maybe not. But either way, 2009 is going to be a grand opportunity for those seeking change to achieve it.

point #3: The class warriors are out in full force! At various points in the post and comments I'm told that a) I couldn't understand the problems of the city because I was from the suburbs, b) that obviously i held my point of view because of my socioeconomic class and c) everyone who doesn't live in the city supports Jennings, ostensibly because of (a) and (b). I think all three of these statements are rather rash and opportunisitic - would they really be said if I hated Jennings and was pontificating on that? I can understand and discuss city politics without living there. People without kids discuss education policy and people without houses discuss property taxes. Why? It directly affects their lives! The same with Albany city politics - it directly affects my life! Sure, I can't vote in the city elections and I don't live downtown, but Albany - believe it or not - is a metropolis, and city politics is crucial to everyone in the metropolis. That city politics should somehow be the domain of people who simply live downtown is silly. You can't simply exclude people who disagree with you from the debate. It's hackish. P.S. Be careful what you wish for! Class warfare is often not the best dimension to fight politics along. Pretty soon you might get what you perceive - no one in the suburbs will support you! And that simply isn't the case right now...

I hope our little tiff results in some more debate, of the constructive kind. God knows we don't get it in the newspapers...
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At 9:23 AM , Blogger democracyinalbany said:

no one is saying that only the people that live in downtown albany should be able to have input on city politics. My point is that those that live downtown are different from those that live in the suburbs. They have different issues. You are misrepresenting what I said.

You are discussing the discussion with your post. My post mentioned your comment as one part of my discussion, that was not my focus. If you want constructive debate please comment on the main content of my post which was about the issues facing Albany.

Also, I was hoping you could read this and give me your perspective on whether or not a convention center is the best thing we could do for Albany. My Mayor thinks so. http://www.brookings.edu/metro/pubs/20050117_conventioncenters.htm


I don't think Albanians need to give much thought to those who don't live in the city. To quote Mayor Jennings "you're from Cohoes, I don't care what you think". (he said that on his radio show, he doesn't accept criticism well). But while displaying an amazing lack of diplomatic skills he did say something that I agree with to some degree. The people that live in the city have very different needs than those who simploy visit. If we take care of the issues that affect our lives and our homes, trust me, you'll be more likely to visit. Until then, you can discuss how you think I should think all you want, but until you live here don't expect me to pay much attention. Just as I wouldn't expect you to listen to me if I told you how you should live in your neighborhood.    



At 9:39 AM , Blogger Matt said:

Hi DIA:

I don't mean to misrepresnet what you said - i think i was very clear in my post that it wasn't simply you i was responding to, but some of the comments on the thread. I apologize if anyone thought i was attributing it all to you.

I'll leave many of the issues you present aside for now - i don't really know how to fix up central avenue, but guess what, no one does. And it's certainly not going to get fixed up simply because of a change in the mayor.

But as for the convention center, that's an easy one. I'm against it, and I think the mayor is wrong on the issue.

I agree that people who live in the city have different needs than those who visit. But i disagree somewhat with the idea that the two sets of people are not inherently interrelated. It's true that the visitors will be more likely to come if home issues are taken care of first. But it is also true that attracting more visitors will increase the ability of home issue to be taken care of. it's clearly a dynmaic process.

If you think we need to dump the mayor because a change will give people real hope of a better city in the future, fine. Someone who can change the tenor of debate, and get started on things, fine. That counts for a lot. But i don't think you should put a whole lot of faith in any one individual - Archie Goodbee no less - sweeping into office and fixing all the cities problems in a few short years.

mg

mg    



At 9:57 AM , Blogger democracyinalbany said:

Mayor Jennings has told the city we are experiencing a renaissance. Many of us disagree.

I know one thing that won't fix central avenue for sure. A $225 million convention center downtown. How about we look at ways to use that money to help Central ave and the rest of the city? Jennings won't.

The proposed convention center would be the largest investment in the city since the Plaza. You agree its a bad idea. Can you see why it might be a good idea to get rid of the Mayor that thinks its the BEST idea?

I have not said someone else will solve the city's problems in a few short years. What I argue is that we need someone that will even acknowledge the problems. If you don't acknowledge them, you can't fix them. And Mayor Jennings won't acknowledge them. Archie Goodbee, Alice Green and Joe Sullivan all will and do. Its a choice between more of the same (plus a money losing convention center) versus someone new that will start to address the problems we face.    



At 10:26 AM , Blogger Matt said:

Well said, and point taken. Obviously, the convention center money could be better spent, and it would certainly be nice if the mayor admitted that the city had many pressing problems.

On the ohter hand, if someone were to beat him this year, I wouldn't expect that person to be singing the blues four years from now, either. Challengers are inherently negative and pessemisitc; incumbents the opposite.

But your points are well taken. And certainly you have personally gone a long way toward making someone acknowledge the problems.    



At 11:32 AM , Blogger democracyinalbany said:

If someone beats him and they aren't facing the facts in 4 years, we'll be be happy to show them the door as well.    



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