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Mayor Bob Duffy
Rochester, NY / Pop. 208,123 / Elected 2005

“Our cities across this country are proud. They have a great history. But like a boxer, they've taken one knee, and they have to bring themselves back.”

— Mayor Bob Duffy
Comments

Alon Levy on 12.13.07:

I think you're reversing cause and effect. Most Northeastern cities began losing population in the 1940s or 50s, before deindustrialization started to set in. The loss of whites was even more staggering; Newark lost 54% of its white population between 1950 and 1970, and the blacks who replaced them tended to be poor, unskilled, and marginalized.

Inigo on 12.14.07:

Another casualty of the "War on Poverty". When government tries to entitle people with incentives to not work it usually has this outcome. The stats mentioned in the article are not caused by Kodak's failure, they are caused by a liberal thought process that keeps people depending on the welfare state instead of creating incentives for job creation. Tax the devil out of corporations and business and see where they go........Mostly out of New York.

Elana on 12.14.07:

Without taxes how do we pay for roads, how do you pay for education for the students who will one day mix the chemicals at a Kodak lab? Anti-tax absolutists are like children who demand toys without understanding that they cost money. Taxes didn't push out Kodak, the reduction in manufacturing jobs is a product of technical advances that reduced the number of workers necessary to do a job and because of anti-American attacks against unions.

Hey look where Kodak moved its factory-- one to Germany (a country with high taxes that pay for great healthcare so that employers don't have to waste money paying off insurance companies to cover their workers), and Mexico where workers don't have rights. They didn't move to they Cayman Islands.

Inigo on 12.14.07:

Elana,

How many of those 61% dropouts in Rochester schools are going to be mixing the chemicals for Kodak??? Sounds like your going to need a lot of tax money to support all of them. You might need to pick up a little part-time job to increase your personal taxes to care for those folks. Yeah, more taxes is really the answer. It's worked so well so far!

Kodak Park is gone because they didn't want to "Pay Taxes" on empty buildings anymore. Kodak the company is going (almost gone) because they slept for the last 50 years and didn't invent anything digital. Just lived off of the silver halide profits that George Eastman started 100 years ago. The War on Poverty has been going on since 1964. Shouldn't it have been won by now?

Elana on 12.14.07:

You don't think that attacks on workers rights, unfair trade deals like NAFTA and lack of infrastructural development to create jobs has something to do with poverty?

Inigo on 12.14.07:

Poverty is caused by un or under educated people who have grown up in an environment that fosters reliance on someone else providing for you. The illegal Mexicans that come here find a way to work and build a life. The Koreans that move here usually end up owning cleaners or donut shops. Two jobs that are very demanding but they succeed with hard work ethic. Not many original Vietnamese boat people are here that rely on someone. Now some of their offspring have learned to sit back and take the government dole but the original immigrants usually are pretty successful people because if they didn't work at something, they didn't eat in Vietnam. Likewise Mexico, Korea, China etc. Look at Africa and the Middle East. Keep your people poor, un-educated and with a tribal mentality that teaches only the leaders can give you a life.

That is why the US grew to be the major economic power in the world. It's a constant battle to keep the liberals and socialists from turning us into Africa and the Middle East by making everyone dependant on the leaders. Socialism doesn't work. Look at France and the old Soviet bloc. No incentive to work as the government will keep you if you choose not to work.

Alon Levy on 12.14.07:

The War on Poverty has been going on since 1964. Shouldn't it have been won by now?

In a sense it was. In 1964, 20% of Americans were in poverty. In 1971 it was down to 11%. Subsequently the poverty rate stagnated, reflecting first stagflation and then the rise of Reaganite conservatism. Now the poverty rate oscillates, rising a bit in bad times and falling a bit in bad times, with no clear trend despite vigorous economic growth. Even the middle class isn't sharing in the gains: median real wages peaked in 1973 and have been going down ever since, with a brief increase in the 1990s.

Socialism doesn't work. Look at France and the old Soviet bloc. No incentive to work as the government will keep you if you choose not to work.

France has its own problems, which have a lot less to do with welfare than you think. Many of the problems in France have the same cause as in the US and Britain: severe deindustrialization, leading to the formation of ghettos. French welfare has helped create insane levels of youth unemployment, but it's not the primary cause, or else you'd see the same problem crop up in Scandinavia, where welfare is even more generous. Instead, Norway and Denmark's unemployment rates begin with a 3.

Nobody likes being unemployed. You can wring your hands all you want about the culture of poverty, but the unemployment rate still depends mostly on the availability of work. In Sweden and Norway you might get a guaranteed minimum income that's higher than the US minimum wage, but you'd get paid a far higher wage if you were working.

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Mayor Bob Duffy: “Like a boxer on one knee”

Bob Duffy is a tough guy with a tough job. He's the mayor of Rochester, NY, a city of 208,000 grappling with some tough statistics. A few stand outs:

- 39% high school graduation rate
- 57% of adults read at 6th grade level or below
- 38% child poverty rate, the highest in the state
- a population decrease from 332,000 in the 50s to 208,000 today

And then there's the stat that underlies all the other stats -- a 41% drop in manufacturing jobs over the last few decades.

Rochester is not a big, glamorous city like LA or Miami. But the story of Rochester is one that must be told. Mayor Duffy speaks incredibly eloquently for the hundreds of small and mid-sized America cities that grew up around a strong manufacturing base, and have struggled for survival as that base drops out. For Rochester, that base was Eastman-Kodak.

"Eastman Kodak, when I was much younger, employed 65,000 people here in Rochester," said the 53-year-old Duffy. "Today, it's 11,000 to 12,000. That gives you a sense of the changes that manufacturing has had here, and across this country."

Before becoming Mayor, Duffy was Rochester's police chief for seven years, and a lifetime cop before that. It show in his neighborhood-centric, pragmatic, non-partisan (actually more like anti-partisan) approach to governing. And also in his metaphors.

"Our cities across this country are proud. They have a great history. But like a boxer, they've taken one knee, and they have to bring themselves back."