Buffalo is my hometown (well, the rich suburbs anyway).
So I’m interested in Steven Malanga’s “How Stimulus Spending Ruined Buffalo” in the The Wall Street Journal.
Back in 2004, the Buffalo News estimated that the city had garnered more federal redevelopment aid per capita than any other city in the country, a total of more than half a billion dollars since the 1970s.
Color me unsurprised.
Then there’s the subway from nowhere to nowhere:
… In the 1970s, the federal government decided to invest $530 million to build a 6.2-mile light-rail system through downtown Buffalo. It was supposed to further spur redevelopment, of course.
Opened in 1985 and anchored by a transit mall that banned cars, the rail line fell well below ridership projections—and downtown businesses suffered mightily from the lack of traffic. As Buffalo landlord Stephen P. Fitzmaurice wrote in 2009: "Walk down Main Street on the transit mall; aside from a few necessities like drug and cell phone stores, blight dominates." …
That light rail system tore up Main Street for all of my teenage and college years. That was after the building of the Kensington Expressway had torn up a stretch of the city one mile to the east for most of the 1960’s.
Here’s the kicker:
… Last month the city received a $15 million federal grant to restore traffic to Main Street.
A former student’s wife was a top aide to this man, and assured me he was a good guy:
Even former Mayor Anthony Masiello described the federal government's redevelopment funds as "a politically motivated system trying to please everybody."