Mayor Miner: In a democracy, there’s more than one voice

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Syracuse Stephanie Miner has taken a hard line on the need for more solutions for struggling municipalities, and she’s butting heads with the state’s top leader: Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Miner makes no apologizes for her outspokenness on the issue, or her scathing op-ed in the New York Times today that knocks Cuomo’s pension-smoothing plan and calls for him to do more to solve local governments’ woes.

“I’m the mayor of the city of Syracuse. I live here. I see every day the importance that services provide to the people of our city, and we struggle every day with how to afford them as state mandates, like pensions, crowd our ability to pay for services,” Miner said in a telephone interview with Gannett’s Albany Bureau this afternoon.

“This is not something I can look past. I have a responsibility to represent my people and I have a role to play to talk about that.”

Miner said she’s not concerned about potentially crossing the de facto head of the Democratic Party — which she happens to co-chair at Cuomo’s behest.

“I think that’s a democratic process, to have a discussion about policies and if we get into a position where only one person’s views in our party or in our state are allowed, I think the people of the state are going to suffer for that,” Miner said.

She said she hasn’t spoken recently with the Cuomo administration. When asked she thinks they are unhappy with her, she said, “I don’t think that they are pleased.”

But she added, “We’re professionals. I’m trying to solve problems for the people of Syracuse and the people of Syracuse are New Yorkers and he’s the governor of New York state.”

Syracuse, like other upstate cities, is struggling with growing costs, a decline tax base and poverty. Half of the city’s properties are tax exempt.

Miner, who is seeking re-election this fall, said she’s worried about cities in New York becoming like Harrisburg, Pa., the bankrupt state capital that can’t even fix its sinkholes.

She said Cuomo needs to convene city and state leaders to dig deeper into ways to help the state’s municipalities. She said reforms to arbitration laws should be considered, as should allowing governments to recoup fees for services from tax-exempt properties.

“I think that the governor should exercise the leadership, which he has done before with other intractable problems, get everybody around a table and say, ‘Okay, let’s everybody start to figure out how do we get to a solution that puts municipalities on stable, financially responsible footing.'”

Earlier today, Cuomo’s top aide Howard Glaser said the Syracuse mayor shouldn’t look for state hand outs and should find ways to balance her books.

Earlier this week, Cuomo said he has done more to curb state mandates than any governor in recent history.

“We have even more mandate relief in this budget. We have done more mandate relief over the past two years than government has done in decades, literally,” Cuomo said in Poughkeepsie.

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3 Comments

  1. “He who has the authority has the responsibility”

    Unpaid state mandates have to be financially supported by the state. They exist because of the state’s authority to create and impose them. Simply to say, “Sorry the cupboard is bare” is not good enough! Cut out elective state programs, raise taxes, do whatever has to be done to meet the obligation’s incurred by local governments. It is not only good policy, it is a matter of honor and respect. Why not give the big 5 cities the ability to tax the incomes of people who work within their political boundaries?

    Mayor Miner, a Democrat, seems to have more moxie in her veins than all the rest of the big city mayors of New York, combined, especially the other Democrats. She would have my vote in a heartbeat if it were possible. Perhaps, in the future she may seek higher office. Do ya think, Mr. Jennings?

  2. Yes, New York is no longer the “EMPIRE STATE” we are the “SCANDAL STATE”

    And it has to “CHANGE”

    We need to elect a 21st Century Governor in 2014 one who will turn Albany The Scandal Capital of The World into The Nanotechnology Capital of The World.

    We need a governor who has a “VISION” of the Future not the “PAST”

    The “Great Cities” of Upstate New York are dying and we need to change that and create 21st Century JOBS.

    So I say “WATSON” for Governor

    “WATSON” and his “ILK” are the answer and so is “FRACKING” and the good paying jobs that it offers “NOW” and we need them “NOW”

    Lets return New York to that “EMPIRE STATE” and elect “WATSON” as our next Governor.

    Before there was the “Oracle of Delphi” there was Count Vampire J. Machiavelli

    VJ Machiavelli
    http://www.VJMachiavelli.blogspot.com
    To The Moon, Mars, and Beyond

  3. SyracuseNative on

    What people outside of Syracuse do not understand is that Mayor Miner is extremely unpopular there. She has been in one political scandal after another, from hiring a deputy mayor at a $100K salary who was also double-dipping the state pension system, to using her PAC to circumvent campaign finance laws to fund the campaigns of several hand-picked candidates for city offices, to eliminating positions at city hall to create new ones at higher salaries in which she then hired children of campaign supporters, to claiming city poverty while using staff and city funds to arrange city grants for real estate developers in the city who also all happen to have contributed to her political campaign, to handing exclusive city contracts to newly established companies that were founded by campaign managers. There is a reason why city residents think she is corrupt, and there is a reason why Mayor Miner is riding the wave of the public dislike towards Cuomo’s gun control initiatives in order to distract from her mismanagement of city resources. Residents were shocked when Cuomo picked her to be co-chair of his party given her history.