In Syracuse and Onondaga County he will always be known as cop-killer Billy Blake. In 1987, while under arrest and being escorted into court in Dewitt, he grabbed a gun from an Onondaga County Deputy Sheriff and started firing. He killed one of the deputies and injured another. Blake was sentenced to 77 years to life in prison for the murder.
In December, the Yale Law Journal gave him an honorable mention in their annual prison writing contest. On Saturday, the NY Daily News ran a storywith a brief interview with Blake about his essay and its topic–long-term solitary confinement. A brief Google search shows that the site Rap Genius has posted the essay online. Continue reading
Just this morning, I asked a question in a live on-line Q & A with David Cay Johnston. The session is being hosted by Syracuse.com, the Post Standard, “the-whatever-the-hell-you-call-the-local-newspaper” these days. Mr. Johnston was a reporter for the NY Times, where he covered tax issues. He is the author of an in-depth look at how the tax system exacerbated inequalities in our society in the fascinating book “Perfectly Legal.” Mr. Johnston is currently a visiting instructor at Syracuse University. Continue reading
Syracuse Common Council Bob Dougherty recently went to a Planning Commission hearing to oppose an application to combine two lots into one. The application came from Syracuse Habitat for Humanity. Habitat builds homes for low income families–without taking a dime of government funding. However, Councilor Bob doesn’t like the ranch houses that Habitat builds. He wants a different style. He thinks Habitat houses ruin the character of the neighborhood. What a dick move.
As I read the Sean Kirst article in the Post-Standard today about the development of the old Dey’s department store, I wondered if anyone remembers the history of this building . . . not the department store, but the more sordid recent history. Check the records.
Over the years, the city has taken over $8 million out of the CDBG budget to repay the HUD loan. This is money that would have gone to help low income families repair their homes, fund agencies to fix up vacant houses and provide a limited amount of social services like the local community centers. In addition, the city also took money out of proceeds earned by the Syracuse Industrial Development Agency (SIDA) and sold city assets ($1 million for a city-owned parking lot.)
Four white, east-side liberal candidates for School Board? Sounds OK to me. But then, I’m a white, east-side liberal! According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Syracuse’s population is 30% African-American and 8% Latino. The school district’s student population is 50% African-American and 13% Latino. Only one out of the seven Commissioners on the school board will be a person of color. That’s the best we can do?
It’s simple to explain, if hard to swallow. Syracuse is a highly segregated city. Our metro area has the 11th worst pattern of segregation between African-Americans and whites in the entire country.
The Democrats run their party through a ward committee system. African-Americans can only hope to control 4-5 wards out of the 19 in the city. In addition, the ward votes are weighted by turnout in prior gubernatorial elections. The wards containing African-American population have low levels of registration and voting.
The Republicans are less structured, but the members of the city GOP African-American and Latino caucus could all travel to their meetings in the same car–even a Cooper.
Everyone sings that sappy song about the children being our future–but the white, east-side liberals own the songbook and manage the choir.
How The Deficit Got This Big–NYT
With President Obama and Republican leaders calling for cutting the budget by trillions over the next 10 years, it is worth asking how we got here — from healthy surpluses at the end of the Clinton era, and the promise of future surpluses, to nine straight years of deficits, including the $1.3 trillion shortfall in 2010. The answer is largely the Bush-era tax cuts, war spending in Iraq and Afghanistan, and recessions.
(image: thanks to Matt Langer)
Green Hills Farms Market used space in its weekly circular to raise questions about the Syracuse Industrial Development Agency (SIDA) (as well as the NY State Healthy Food, Healthy Communities Fund) for approving tax breaks for the developer of the Valley Plaza in an attempt to bring the Tops Markets supermarket chain to the Southside of Syracuse.
1) Established businesses like theirs aren’t getting tax breaks.
2) The developer and Tops Markets are receiving tax breaks even though they are not local concerns.
3) Tops Markets’ tax breaks allow the chain to sell products at artificially low prices–funded by the taxpayer and local companies.
While Seneca Falls is hoping to increase tourism and generate more revenue by claiming to be the inspiration for movie director Frank Capra’s fictional Bedford Falls in the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life,” the city of Syracuse is following the development model seen by the fictional George Bailey after being granted his wish of never having been born–the good times city of Pottersville.