Herewith, my take on the top stories in my hometown over the past year. If you think I missed something, I’m getting older and my memory’s pretty much shot.
Update #2 check out Josh Shear’s compilation of the
Top 10 local new stories at Syracuse.com
Update: After an exchange in the comments with Ellen of NYCO’s Blog, my memory has been jogged and I’ve added a 10th item. Please check out NYCO’s NY State stories of 2009
1. Stephanie Miner Elected mayor. In a three-way race with a white Republican and a black Conservative, Stephanie Miner won over 50% of the vote and became the first female elected mayor in any of the Big 5 cities of the state. Hey Bob Congel, get ready to pay your freakin’ taxes!
2. Speaking of Bob Congel: Destiny USA is officially a pipedream as Congel and Citibank fight in the courts over whether the bank should continue to fund a mall expansion that is over budget and has signed no new tenants. Meanwhile, the city will forego 30 years of property taxes for an expansion that doesn’t have the faux Erie Canal, golf courses and hotels, but rather looks like a cinderblock minimum security prison.
3. Five Years of meetings. They’ve Fixed 2 Roofs.
FAIL. The Joint School Construction Board, created to utilize an innovative funding scheme from Albany, was going to repair all the schools in the city, as well as magically remove the crabgrass from your yard. Endless bureaucratic wrangling has resulted in no schools being repaired. It is unclear if the school district will rehab either the Blodgett School on the near west side or the new Technology HS in the old Central Tech building–the district’s top two priorities.
4. Nick Pirro. Sewage Treatment Plants. Over!
For years, former Onondaga County Executive Nick Pirro refused to admit that his plan to treat sewage overflows with toxic chemicals in huge sewage treatment plants and then dumping the mess back into Onondaga Creek was wrong. The alternative envisioned by neighborhood activists of storing overflows of storm/sewage runoff underground and then piping it to Metro Treatment facility is cleaner, cheaper and fairer for neighborhoods and taxpayers. Last year, new County Executive Joanie Mahoney changed course and this year the federal courts overseeing the clean up agreed with her. So why did we name the convention center after that dumb asshole Pirro?
5. P & C: First the Southside–Then All Of Syracuse.
P & C started the year by abandoning its store on the Southside’s Valley Plaza, leaving thousands of elderly and poor folks without a full service grocery store. This went so well, P & C decided to close all of its stores–declaring bankruptcy at the end of the year. Price Chopper and Tops Markets are fighting over the carcass.
6. Shaq Interviews Greg Paulus? Shaq came to town to take a summer course on broadcasting at S.U.’s Newhouse school and notched the first interview with former Duke point guard and eventual S. U. quarterback Greg Paulus. What’s wrong with that picture?
7. S.U. Sports: The Most Exciting Teams In America
If the six OT period Marathon Men victory over UConn in the Big East tournament wasn’t enough for you, how about the rat-tat-tat, bouncing ball pass for a goal in the final seconds of regulation as S.U. lacrosse won another NCAA lacrosse championship. Oh, and the football team under its new coach didn’t suck–it improved to mediocre.
8. For years in the New Times, former columnist Walt Shepard used to ask the question “can we survive economically in Syracuse by selling each other cheeseburgers?” We thought we were going to find out–Syracuse China and New Process Gear being the latest manufacturing casualties. Then a company announced that they had chosen Syracuse as the site for the manufacturing of a new electric car. Soon we may be making more cars than Detroit–under their new mayor, S.U. hoops legend Dave Bing.
9. “I Have Seen Rock ‘N’ Roll Future . . .” and its name is expansion. At least in Syracuse. Onondaga County has decided that at least two rock concerts a year at the county-owned ballpark will be a welcome revenue stream. Dave Matthews sold out in about 3 seconds. There was a little less interest in the Dylan/Willie Nelson show. We’ll take what we can get in an area that has been passed up by national traveling shows for years because of poor facilities (need I remind you of the 4 separate Springsteen/E Street Band tours that have dissed the ‘Cuse in favor of Buffalo, Rochester and Albany?)
10. Person of the Year In this year of raging tempers and fear of the future, Syracuse’s person of the year is the anonymous person who posted more than 200 orange flyers on lamposts hammering Syracuse’s “Mayor Do-Little” Matt Driscoll. In a fit of pique, Driscoll had the DPW go out in crews trying to scrape the signs down–while ignoring many other obvious quality of life problems around the city. Thank you, whoever you are, for making us face the future.