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Wednesday, May 6, 2015


I am not an expert by any means, but I do have opinions on the challenges that face my hometown. As we get ready to enter the most important election year Lockport has faced in a very long time, I kind of wanted to start the conversations about what I feel to be the important issues so that we can at least start a dialogue that hopefully the Internet-fearing candidates can get involved in.

NOTE: I am not a political expert and I do not know the inner-workings of the Lockport political scene. This is a column written by a common man for the common folk who are concerned about what happens to our city. For example, I am not intimately aware of how the GLDC budget affects the city’s ability to do anything.

So if you intend to rip this column apart by showing us all how much you know about all of the little deals and scenarios within the city, then don’t waste your time. What you should be doing is offering solutions on how to fix these problems instead of showing everyone how smart you are about Lockport politics. Petty bickering and people with their own agendas have put us in the situation we are in and now we need to work together to find a way out.

CRIME:

I put crime first because, to me, this is a serious issue that hurts Lockport on many levels. The worse crime gets around here, the lower our property values go. A rise in crime also means a decrease in the number of businesses that would want to come here.

In my opinion (and I could be wrong), a lot of our crime issues stem from the complete disintegration of the housing situation in the city. Absentee slumlords rent out apartments and houses at rock bottom rates just so the houses generate revenue. If these slumlords were forced to keep their houses up to code, then the rents would go up and the scumbags would look for someplace else to live.

I am not saying that everyone who lives in a low-income apartment or home is a scumbag, because that is absolutely not true. Besides, I grew up in one of those situations and I know how tough it can be. But growing up in those situations also showed me what really happens in low-income housing and when you put it in the middle of your city, then you start to have problems.

CITY GOVERNMENT:

The city has been so mismanaged over the years that we are struggling just to avoid going bankrupt. The police are cut as thin as they can possibly be and there are very few people actually working in City Hall to help solve some of our problems. For example, it is difficult to get slumlords to fix up their properties when there are almost no housing inspectors to do the inspections and very few police officers to enforce the laws.

The problems in our city are so pervasive that people are now robbing homes in the middle of the day. That, to me, is a turning point that cannot be ignored. The government needs to be reformed and we need people in City Hall who actually care about getting the city right again. Everyone from the Mayor to each member of the Common Council needs to put their personal agendas aside and start working together to get this city back on its feet.

INFRASTRUCTURE:

To fix our infrastructure we need tax dollars and we won’t get those tax dollars if we keep giving companies the equivalent of $2.4 million in tax breaks per job just to set up jobs that go to people who do not live in Lockport. Our water distribution system is shot and our roads are impassable in many places. I see we have been working on both, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

I don’t think people realize just how damaging a bad infrastructure is to our city. Lousy roads mean that less people come to visit Lockport to see our locks or take in a show at the Palace. Businesses leave Lockport, but then those businesses are rarely replaced. As long as the roads all over Lockport continue to damage vehicles, then it will be almost impossible to grow the tax base of this city.

TRANSPARENCY:

When the city rolled out the new garbage program, there was a Facebook page started that instantly became a valuable resource to everyone in the city who had questions. I know I beat this subject to death, but why can we not communicate with our own government online? Why is Lockport still in the 19th century when it comes to communication?

You will always have Internet trolls who make transparency through social media difficult, but that does not mean that the government should just hide from the people. Why aren’t there any Lockport government officials online utilizing social media to keep us informed and answer our questions? And why do we STILL not have a single candidate for mayor at least offering a website or something we can read to help us understand their stance on the issues?

Why are government officials and candidates in Lockport so afraid of the Internet? I mean, if the city doesn’t want to give us access through social media to the people who run the government, then we should at least be able to read what the candidates intend to do about fixing the city. It is beyond frustrating how anyone involved in government in the city of Lockport is so afraid of the Internet.

Well, there you go. Yes, these are simple issues that will hopefully spark some real discussion. No, these are not the down and dirty issues that people may know about, but I would imagine that the solution to many of these issues lies in those detailed conversations that I am not qualified to start.

Don’t show us how smart you are by trying to tear this apart. Instead, show us how much you care by trying to engage in a conversation that can help to educate the people of Lockport on what really needs to happen to fix this city.

We need to do this together because, as anyone who has lived here for a few years knows, no one else is going to help us.

+George N Root III  is a Lockport resident and NOT a political expert. You can follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3 or you can email him at georgeroot@verizon.net, but don’t bother if you feel like you know more about politics than he does, because you probably do.



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