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If there was ever any question concerning Buffalo's problems, James Heaney, in his series on the state of the city, has provided answers. So what's truly at the root of our city's failing economy, dwindling population and crumbling infrastructure? Hint: It has nothing to do with the location of the zoo, the condition of the waterfront or the county's refusal to share sales tax revenue with the city. Rather, the story's bottom line is that Buffalo is the victim of failed leadership.

The Griffin and Masiello administrations have presided over some of the worst days in this city's history. Both mayors, and a slew of Common Council members, did their best to fill the pockets of their friends, family members and special interests. Never did effectiveness of their spending enter into the decision-making process. These people were interested in give-aways that would ensure votes. They simply weren't willing to make the tough choices.

It hasn't improved. In the second installment of his series, Heaney shows Mayor Anthony Masiello steeped in denial while sinking the city ever deeper in debt. Over recent months, County Executive Joel Giambra has revealed his own penchant for fiscal mismanagement, a habit he camouflaged with the Pollyanna of regionalism. Clearly, the political class of this city needs a face-lift. While changing the players won't provide instant relief, it would be a start.

David Hayes


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