31 October 2011

Rochester Mayor Tom Richards Complains that Issues of Poverty and Democracy Fall Outside his Job Description

So, having already arrested nearly three dozen OWS-Rochester protesters, the Rochester Police Department is ticketing such violent and destructive actions as affixing signs to lamp posts. Heinous crimes! And, as the Democract & Chronicle also reports, at the same time, Rochester Mayor Tom Richards complains that the OWS folks are raising issues beyond his remit. Well sure, world peace is beyond his control, but how about the central issues of economic mal-distribution, poverty, unemployment? Mayor Richards ought to look at this recent Brookings Institution report that find the poverty rate in the city hovers at approximately 30%. As I noted here a couple of years ago:
In Rochester, the city where I teach, 29.1% of the population lives at or below the poverty rate. Of children in the city, the rate explodes to 48.7%. The percentage of families in the city subsisting at half the official poverty rate is just over 17%. The rates vary, but not by much for the other upstate cities I mentioned above. (The national poverty rate for the entire U.S. is 12.4%, surely bad enough, but it is less than the rate for New York as a whole and nothing compared to Rochester or any of the other upstate cities.) You can refer to this report from the Fiscal Policy Institute in Albany for figures. And this study by The Brookings Institution shows that the rate of concentrated poverty among the working poor in Rochester is not only deplorable but increasing.* During the period 1999-2005 the rate of concentrated poverty in the city increased more than 13%, the fourth highest increase in the nation. The impact of such poverty, as political scientists Michael Dawson and Cathy Cohen established a decade and a half ago, extends beyond its dire direct effects on the health and well-being of individuals to collective consequences, especially a pronounced dampening of political participation.
Hey Tom! Why aren't poverty and democracy your concerns?

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Blogger mattilda bernstein sycamore said...

Scary statistics, indeed – and, I hadn't heard about the Rochester arrests – thanks for the report…

Love –

06 November, 2011 22:07  

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