Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Why did it take so long to shutter 36 Woodward Street?

Rochester mayor Lovely Warren finally shuttered the notorious nuisance house at 36 Woodward Street.
It is not a case of better late than never.
It took yet another shooting at that address last weekend, at yet another late night party that left two people dead and four wounded that led to the mayor's action.
Two women were shot in March of this year at yet another party at that house.
It doesn't include the two other times the police had to respond to that address because of reports of gunfire. Or the number of times neighbors called to complain about that property.
What was so different now? What goaded the mayor into taking decisive action regarding 36 Woodward Street?
It might have to do with the fact that one of her political cronies has personal ties to this latest Rochester tragedy.
County legislator Ernest Flagler-Mitchell had kin involved in the shooting. One relative was killed; another is the accused shooter.
The ugly fact is that 36 Woodward Street had acquired twice the number of nuisance points needed to close it up a long time ago. That address had all the ingredients necessary for a disaster to occur. And it did.
City Hall is now producing wholly unsatisfactory explanations as to why it takes so long to do anything about nuisance properties.
City spokesperson and former Demogogue and Comicon news hen Jessica Alaimo kept referring to the process of dealing with nuisance properties and slumlords, and why it takes so long.
That is bullshit.
The property had twice the number of nuisance points needed to shut it down. It could have been shut down months ago..
The fact that the mayor boarded the property up immediately after the shootings this weekend puts pat to Ms. Alaimo's claims. But then, Ms. Alaimo is only repeating what she had been told to say. You shouldn't kill the messenger.
Mayor Warren is a busy woman. You can't blame her too much for not really knowing what's going on. She has entrusted the day to day operations of city government to her highly paid commissioners and department heads, who clearly goofed this time.
We can also excuse Deputy Mayor Redon from any responsibility in this mess. He really hasn't been seen out much in over a year, doing who knows what.
At fault are the Department of Neighborhood and Business Development and the Neighborhood Services Centers. It is their job to know about shithouses like 36 Woodward Street and act on neighborhood complaints about them.
There are probably dozens if not hundreds of such shithouses in Rochester that the people in charge of cleaning them up or closing them down are ignoring. They hope the problem will go away or neighbors will become accustomed to them and stop complaining. They fear rocking the boat at City Hall by telling the mayor the truth, being branded ineffective and losing their high incomes and pensions.
It is appropriate to note that a leader starts by not knowing the truth and in the end doesn't want to know it. The job of the mayor's executive staff is to keep her isolated and insulated from the truth, especially if the truth might anger her.
Then something like this happens. Their cozy little world is blown wide open with nobody knowing anything or being responsible for anything,  with corpses piling up like cordwood and hospital emergency rooms filling up.  Everyone at City Hall is probably pointing the finger at someone else. As in any other bureaucracy, a few smaller fry will be sacrificed, not the people who were ultimately responsible.
We know that the mayor summarily shuttered 36 Woodward Street. Will she do the same for all the other notorious shithouses in Rochester, process be damned?
And why does it always take a crisis to get the mayor to act decisively when her appointed staff have been dragging their sorry asses for years?

1 comment:

  1. One of the Mayor's first acts was firing the attorney who had been responsible for dealing with nuisance properties (violence, drug dealing, etc) for over 10 years. That attorney was dedicated to the issue of dealing with nuisance properties/businesses and going through the legal hurdles to shut them down, etc.

    The attorney is white. Because a lot of the businesses in the City that get nuisance points are black businesses (clubs, etc), they accused her of being racist.

    So, they got rid of the attorney dedicated to dealing with this issue and who had extensive experience in this, and as far as I am aware, did not replace her.

    That is likely the reason nothing was done about this property. The mayor doesn't actually want businesses/properties with this type of problem shut down.