Syracuse Stories Of The Year 2008

Joanie Mahoney kills Armory Square sewage treatment plant
In a blow for sanity, first year County Executive Joanie Mahoney came in and killed the planned sewage treatment plant in Armory Square. Joanie argued that the County could use newer and greener technology, eliminate the need for a plant in the middle of the city’s main economic and nightlife zone and still meet the mandates of the federal court decree requiring the county to clean Onondaga Lake. Oh yeah, the cost overruns and the toxic technology at the completed sewage treatment plant on Midland Avenue will not be effected. The community activists were right, Nick Pirro was wrong–remind me why the convention center was named for that prick again?

Jim Walsh quits
Jim Walsh decided to quit after 20 years in the U.S. Congress, no doubt aware of the perfect storm that would overwhelm the Republican Party and doom him to a long stretch in the minority. He probably could have eked out another close victory against eventual victor Dan Maffei, but why bother? The federal pork gravy train has a new conductor. Can Danny Boy steer some stimulus bucks to the ‘Cuse?

School makeover meltdown
It always seemed too good to be true–renovate all the city’s deteriorating school buildings in one shot–and have the state pay for most of it. Then the city’s politicians, school district officials and prospective builders got together in a group, the Joint School Construction Task Force, and fucked it all up. And you thought Albany was dysfunctional? Dreams of renovating Blodgett School on the near west side, as well as renovating the old Central Tech for a new vocational high school were tossed overboard when delays ran estimated costs sky high. Who knows when (or if) anything will ever get done.

Imani Jennings
A twenty month old infant is chronicaly beaten and eventually killed by her high school age mother and her 15 year old boy friend–while her day care provider, relatives, school officials and five separate government assistance agencies look the other way.

New grass field, new parent club–same old crap management
At the beginning of the season, the Syracuse Chiefs rolled out a natural grass turf field at Alliance Bank Stadium, making games much more appealing than watching games on the old artificial turf. At the end of the year, the team cut loose from its 30 year affiliation with the Toronto Blue Jays and courted the New York Mets. Syracuse was forced to go with the Washington Nationals when the Mets picked Buffalo. Why? Buffalo has a great downtown stadium, promotions galore and a sense of excitement totally missing from the Chiefs stale approach to franchise management. Oh, they also continued to lose, lose, lose.

State Fair agonistes
New York State Fair Director Dan O’Hara continued his reign of terror at Syracuse’s number one attraction. Moving the wine court from its prime front gate location to a hidden location behind the Horticulture building, evicting without notice or explanation a local bocce club, berating and threatening to fire an usher who refused to give preferential treatment to his kids at a Jonas Brothers concert (and then lying about it) and sending threatening memos to State Fair staff. However, it was the handling of concert booking that steamed most people. O’Hara gave a no-bid contract to concert giant Live Nation, spending $500,000 more in fees and preferential vendor contracts than they took in on a record sale of concert tickets. Please, someone, follow the money. This stinks to high heaven.

SU Sports are all great, except the one that pays for everything
Syracuse U. Athletic Director Darryl Gross came in with a mandate to modernize the Syracuse athletic department. He has been remarkably successful. He recruited star coaches for women’s tennis and lacrosse–sending their records soaring. The women’s field hockey team became the first S.U. women’s team to be ranked number one in the country. A new women’s hockey team has been launched. Traditional men’s powerhouses basketball and lacrosse have roused themselves from off years, the lacrosse team winning its 10th national championship. New
athletic facilities are popping up around campus. Seems great, huh?
Oh, but the football team sucks. The inept coach was canned after winning just 10 games in four years (at a cost of a million dollars per year). The Dome is hemorrahging fans (with the 50,000 seat arena less than half sold at most games). The recruiting pipeline is bare. Angry alumni and local fans don’t want to hear about field hockey. The new coach will have about two minutes to show improvement.

Person of the Year–Lisa Daly
In this horrible year of war, torture and financial collapse the one bright spot was the election of Barack Obama. In Syracuse, Lisa Daly helped organize Syracuse for Obama, the local volunteer organization that fanned out throughout the community and promoted Obama’s agenda for change. Her rise to delegate status said alot about the decentralized nature of Obama’s campaign and its success. Despite the support of all the local Democratic establishment for his opponent, Obama fought Hillary Clinton to a dead heat in the city and narrowly lost in the County. Daly works full time at a local internet consultancy firm and had none of the inside conections of many self-styled power brokers. Lisa Daly is a local blow for idealism and grassroots conviction.

3 thoughts on “Syracuse Stories Of The Year 2008

  1. Great observation about Lisa. She organized one of the best local campaign efforts I was ever involved with- and she did it in classic Obama style, meaning grass roots, people oriented politics. She’s an extraordinary woman and the face of the future of Democratic politics!!!


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