So what are we to make of the bit of political theater that played out yesterday over the Sibley building? For starters, I feel sorry for the mayor. He’s from the private sector, after all. He’s used to accomplishing things. In government, everything takes longer, costs more, and has a way of pissing everyone off.
Quick recap: Mayor Tom Richards says the county is purposely delaying a vote on a tax abatement for the buyers of the Sibley building because county Republicans want to pressure Democrats to go along with their plan to move MCC to Kodak's State Street campus.
I think the media’s rush to label this thing a Renaissance Square repeat is overblown. I was there. I remember the multiple hours-long, closed-door meetings, RGRTA director Mark Aesch basically demanding that City Council approve the project, and County Executive Maggie Brooks’ surprise press conference declaring Ren Square dead. No, this isn’t that.
But if the mayor has to have a press conference because he can’t reach the county executive, it’s obvious that communication is a problem. Return the mayor’s calls, Maggie. Good grief.
I left my time machine in my other pocket so I have no idea who promised who what and when, but partisan shenanigans certainly aren’t a new trick for the county GOP. The latest example is when they rammed through a big, last-minute raise for Sheriff Patrick O’Flynn, a Republican, so that his salary matched the Democratic DA’s. Why? “Why not?” seems to be the best answer we got.
But I do think Brooks was caught off guard by the mayor’s press conference yesterday. This isn’t former Mayor Bob Duffy, whose need to be the nice guy and to make everyone happy often ended up creating more problems than it avoided. I don’t think Duffy would’ve held a press conference to call out the county, like the current mayor did yesterday.
The situation makes everyone look bad, especially our county executive, who's gunning to take over Louise Slaughter's Congressional seat.
My bet? The Sibley project gets put on COMIDA’s October agenda after all and approved with no more nonsense.