|Thomas J. Mazur - District 8
MAY 12, 2009
GOOD NEIGHBORS NEED CITY, ALL IT OFFERS
On Mother's Day, my wife, daughters and I returned from our weekend trip after seeing our son Luke graduate from law school. While unpacking our car, our neighbor Stacey came out and we chit-chatted about the graduation. And afterward Stacey asked if I had happened to hear about the young UB grad that had been shot to death.
I replied no, because I wasn't listening to the local radio stations while on the way home. So, later I checked the computer and became stunned by the seemingly tragic and senseless loss of an aspiring young individual (not to mention the perpetrator whose life will be forever changed by a senseless and thoughtless moment). This morning though, I read the account in the newspaper and was able to piece together more pieces of this tragic puzzle and actually put a face to the victim.
By this afternoon, I began to think about a whole host of other things. I thought about how this great city of good neighbors has historically done everything humanly possible to make it more difficult for us to be user-friendly as a community. When I say "City of Good Neighbors," I actually mean the region of Erie County. We may live in Amherst, Clarence, Cheektowaga, Evans or Sardinia, but because we took a dynamic university and we hid it from the city, or we built an expressway that divided neighborhoods, or we built a subway that suddenly stops, when we travel from this area, most of us generally refer to ourselves as Buffalonians and we boast of our chicken wings and beef on weck and our sports teams.
But the real Buffalo that I love to remember is a shell of its past greatness. But it is not helpful to play the blame game. A lot of the things we've done over the last thirty years have contributed to making Buffalo (city proper) a little more extinct. But that doesn't mean the city of good neighbors is dead. It just needs a boost.
A good boost may be this $5.2 million nuisance tax that the county executive and the legislature are currently at odds on. This fee was implemented in 2006 to help Erie County climb out of its financial crisis. Currently, our County is financially healthier, but our executive would like to hang on to that revenue to keep the property taxes stable or use it for infrastructure repairs. I would say: use it for something more spiritual like a dedicated source of funding for our cultural institutions instead of building better roads to take us further away from our center. Use the money to attract people to come see us as the good neighbors we are.
It won't stop all the violence, but it may begin to make us believe we're good neighbors after all. In the meantime, may Javon Jackson rest in peace.
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