To Andrew Cuomo, with apologies


In the past few years The Buffalo Chronicle has taken a decidedly anti-establishment perspective, rooted in my own world view and my experiences growing up in this city.  If you were raised in Western New York, are a student of its history, and take more than a passive interest in local politics, then you, too, are likely to share my view.

That tone may have been unfair, particularly to Governor Andrew Cuomo.

For more than 60 years, Buffalo has been a victim of federal policies designed to destroy it; in a State whose power structure didn’t care; and in a region whose politicians were too stupid to know what to do about it.

World War II ended, and left the radioactive remnants of the Manhattan Project littering the landscape of the region with toxic dumping grounds and decades of government efforts to hide the impact on public health. To this day, the water is toxic, the ground is contaminated, and the people are sick.

In the early 1950s, when the Schoelkophf hydroelectric power plant was destroyed in a natural disaster, marked the loss of the region’s capacity to govern itself. The privately owned power plant was rebuilt by the New York Power Authority. The dealings of the powerful bureaucrat Robert Moses stole the region’s most valuable natural resource and put it in the hands of powerful bankers and politicos from New York City.

In the 1960s, federal urban renewal policies decimated a city that has been stolen from my generation, destroying architecture that was far richer and an urban fabric far more dynamic than today. Highways were built that destroyed beautiful parks, demolished vibrant neighborhoods, and utterly severed a city from its waterfront.

At the national level federal fiscal policies began massively redistributing resources from the northeast and industrial midwest to less industrialized states in the south and west, which already enjoyed lower taxes and easier regulatory environments. That we would lose jobs and industries to these states was the intent of the federal government.

In the 1970s, liberal judges pushing school integration and citywide bussing sparked the population implosion of the inner city, and instigated decades of white flight to the suburbs. At the same time once mighty industries like steel, automobiles, and chemicals struggled to cope with industrial restructuring, the vertical disintegration of manufacturing, and a culture of militant labor unions — pushing jobs to other states.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the region’s economy would endure foreign competition allowed by Reagan-era trade policies and were exacerbated by the Clinton administration’s North American Free Trade Agreement.

More than 65 years consecutive years of decline, decades of hemorrhaging job losses, rising rates of violent crime, persistently underperforming schools, and an endemic housing crisis — unabated.

It all left the city without the means to support its own fiscal economics, especially carrying the baggage of a Democrat-dominated patronage machine that has been profiting at the trough long since the days when the city could afford such squander and largess.

Like peasants our local governments are left to the limbs of an Albany dominated by elite interests from New York City who care little for Buffalo or its people, left to squabble over the crumbs that fall from the table in Albany.

As such, The Chronicle has taken a posture with the Cuomo administration that has been been less than warm. When I came across an article in last week’s Buffalo News titled “Cuomo on his father, Tim Russert, and his affinity for Buffalo,” I began to wonder if The Chronicle’s posture has been wrong.

I worry that our stated commitment to “expose corruption in our government, incompetence among our elected officials, and pettiness in our politics” prevents us from being collaborative and constructive at a time when Albany has made unprecedented efforts to revive this region.

While I, like most The Chronicle’s readership, see so much in the Cuomo administration’s economic development programs that can be improved, I want so much for this publication to be a productive force in the turnaround of our region.

So to Governor Cuomo, my apologies. Your unprecedented commitment to Buffalo and Western New York is deserving of applause.

With thanks,

Matthew Ricchiazzi


1 Comment

  1. Dear Mr. Ricchiazzi:

    I have read this and I have a few thoughts, not as criticisms. Take them for what they’re worth.

    1) The post could have been strengthened by linking to the article from the Buffalo News.

    2) I think you are right in your assessment of the direction of this site. It seems to me that it has become more like a tabloid at times. That is not necessarily bad, but it does make me scratch my head when this originally had thought-provoking pieces.

    On this day of Saint Francis de Sales, patron of journalism, I pray that you and this publication may continue to grow.

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