Opinion: Mindset of mayor speaks volumes, says Ogdensburg resident
To the Editor:
How is a significant loss of good paying jobs, “For a Better Ogdensburg”? Not a loss decided by a private company or organization, or a state or federal entity, which we’d all rail against, but cuts consciously made by four elected city officials. The same officials who are now threatening our public library.Ogdensburg taxpayers recently got, on average, a $100 a year tax cut (more for those who approved the cut). But at what cost to our community as a whole? The mayor callously compared the devastating job cuts, which damaged individuals, departments, and relationships, to the “demolition” phase of a “construction rehab project”. A mindset that speaks volumes.
To get the tax cut, more than twenty good paying jobs in the city have been lost; good employment opportunities here are now further diminished; essential city services have been cut or severely impaired. Sure, your personal bottom line may improve, but to what end? Will crucial, adequate help arrive if you have an emergency? Will big-money developers come just because taxes are lower, even with median family income reported to be rapidly decreasing here (good jobs lost), diminished city services, and embarrassing political dysfunction?
The city’s improved bond rating, said to be, in part, because of the tax cut, is nothing to be “elated” about, with all the turmoil and illegality created in the process. Our tax money is now unnecessarily going to high-priced lawyers and accountants who don’t live here. And if more money needs to be borrowed, even at lower rates, because of choosing to decrease tax revenue, are we really better off?
Ogdensburg will not grow and prosper simply because of a minimal tax cut and lower interest rates on borrowing. It will only happen if there’s good paying jobs here, which the four politicians, with their self- serving agenda, have decided to cut. Not gradually, reasonably, or even legally, but with reckless disregard for the effects.
Now they’re after our public library, of all things, just to preserve their 10% tax cut. What other reason would they have, as public officials, for opposing such a cornerstone of knowledge and community? One that’s faithfully served our city since the early 1800’s. One of the four “accidentally” posted on Facebook, their stance on library funding: “I hope it’s voted down. It would reduce our tax cut of 10 percent to 5.”
The mayor says, “the City of Ogdensburg will not close the Ogdensburg Public Library”, while actively campaigning to cut essential taxpayer funding. So it’s just another case, among many, of empty words used as cover for destructive actions; like, “For a Better Ogdensburg”, and the “survival...revival of the city” line repeated ad nauseam by the city manager.
A six-year-old, who lives in Ogdensburg, recently said to her father, “I bet he knows I use the library and he wants to break my heart.” An innocent comment that goes right to the heart of it; destructive, self- serving actions negatively affect people’s lives, which empty words don’t fix.
In a recent, scathing USA Today article, about the problems plaguing Ogdensburg, it’s stated: “When cities fail, it’s common to find local politics in disarray, says Don Carter, a senior fellow in urban design at Carnegie Mellon University...That kind of dysfunction takes years to heal, Carter says, with or without a pandemic.” The article also states: “Anyone reading local news about Ogdensburg might reasonably conclude the pandemic is driving the city’s political class insane.”
So not only did the pandemic set us back, dysfunction in our local politics is setting us back even further. We’re seeing a whole new level of fractured relationships, upheaval, and division. And the city manager has formed a protective alliance with the four politicians who hired him. He protects them at all costs and vice versa, because if he loses just one, he’s gone.“For a Better Ogdensburg”?
In closing, please vote yes on May 18 to fund our library and help keep it open. At least we still have a say in the matter, unlike most other issues here now, where we’ve temporarily lost that right.
In reference to managing the library, do you trust those who truly care and who commit their time and energy to keep our library alive, or someone who just wants to impose their will? Our library most definitely needs those who truly care about its intrinsic value.
The Ogdensburg Public Library is a vital part of our community and needs our support! If you don’t personally use it, please thoughtfully consider those who do and vote yes.