A Story About Syracuse

(SUN handed out this flyer at the city of Syracuse’s Public Hearing on the 2004-05 Community Development Block Grant budget on Wednesday March 10, 2004)

A city and its residents are often compared to a family. This is a story about the family of Syracuse.

Syracuse’s ex-husband was a gambler. He gambled on wild economic development schemes that promised big payoffs. He hired an employee to locate these crazy schemes. He built a new building for a company that promised to make plastic toe-caps for work boots (and then diversify into medical eyeball implants!) He bought a big building and fixed it up with all kinds of high tech gizmos to lure the local power company as a tenant, going deeper and deeper into debt.

These high risk gambles were big failures, leaving the family of Syracuse with large debts. The ex-husband left town and ironically wangled a job with the city’s largest creditor.

The city’s new husband has taken responsibility for paying off the loans. He called a big family meeting. He told everyone that times are tight and that all the funds for services for the family would have to be cut–the fund for house repairs and the funds for services for the kids would all have to be sacrificed. “Don’t worry,” he assured the family, “we’re all in this together.”

When the family got a look at their new budget they were amazed to find that not everyone was sharing in the family’s sacrifice. The new husband had increased the salaries for all the household’s servants, as well as the fees paid to the family’s accounting firm–the same group that had advised the spendthrift ex-husband. The family begged the new husband to go to the creditor and negotiate a better deal on the loan terms. He said he’d get around to it–but he never did.

Unfortunately, this is a true story.

Cast of Characters

Ex-husband–former Syracuse Mayor Roy A. Bernardi (current Assistant Secretary at HUD in Washington, D.C.)

New Husband–current Syracuse Mayor Matthew J. Driscoll

Boot Toe Caps/Ocular Implants–Spectrum Med Systems
(Defaulted on $2.5 million loan)

Big Building w/ high-tech gizmos–Addis & Deys Building
(City took out $18 million loan to purchase and rehab.)

Household Servants–Dept. of Community Development
Administration and Technical Services:
(2004-05 Community Development Block Grant budget increase: $127,629 Total budget allocation: $2,337,664–6% increase)

Family Accounting Firm–Dept. of Economic Development Technical Services:
(2004-05 Community Development Block Grant budget increase: $58,163 Total budget allocation: $518,163–11% increase)

Family’s largest creditor–HUD Section 108 Loans ($6.2 million in repayments out of CDBG in the last decade, $2 million this year alone).

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