The mayoral primary is five months away. Candidates are lining up. The last thing we need is a battle of platitudes.
Buffalo is too far gone for its next mayor to be elected on empty rhetoric. There need to be standards. Ever helpful, we'll offer an unofficial application.
1. I want to be next mayor because:
We don't want to hear that you'll "unify" the community. That's what Tony Masiello told us 12 years ago. It wasn't good enough, and we shouldn't have settled for it.
No more hollow phrases. Yes, candidates, we know you believe in education and jobs and that "children are our future" (apologies to any prospective candidate whose slogan I've just stolen). But we want more than that.
We want principles, core beliefs, a resume of success and a plan of action. If it's too much to ask for vision, at least tell us what direction you want to go.
2. What I've done to show I deserve the job:
Most politicians around here care more about rhetoric than results. Memo: It's about deeds, not words. Substance, not stances.
How have you used your position to get things done -- whether you've been flipping pizzas, running a business or sitting in a public office?
Show us results. Ex-Assemblyman Brian Higgins made his case for Congress by breaking a half-century of inertia on the waterfront.
Henry Nowak Jr., unlike any judge before him, made housing court work for people it ought to work for -- decent folks whose lives and homes are stained by slumlords.
They didn't just say they wanted a better waterfront, or safer neighborhoods. They used the power of their offices to do something about it. I'm tired of politicians who talk a good game. We need somebody who has shown he can play.
3. Ten ideas to lift the city out of the muck:
We don't want platitudes, we want a program. We don't want generalities, we want details. The city is sinking. We can't give anybody a free pass on faith. Don't feed us pablum about getting more money from Albany or forming public-private partnerships. Snore.
What's your plan? What are your ideas? How do we turn this thing around? Have you got game, or are you just playing games? If you want the job, show us you're qualified. Tell us what you will do, if you get the chance. Because we can't take a chance.
4. Ten people I'll hire, or have on speed dial:
Ire with Masiello's lousy hires prompted the business elite to step in and force him to find a competent planning director. It was ridiculous, embarrassing and should've been grounds for a recall. Don't make us do it again.
I can name a dozen people who know more about housing, real estate, heritage tourism, streetscapes, brownfields or battling blight than most of the folks at City Hall. So should the next mayor. Name names.
5. Ways I've shown I can be the boss:
Amazingly, Democratic Party boss Len Lenihan said one mayoral candidate had an advantage because, in his current position, "he doesn't have to make the tough calls."
Excuse me? Making tough calls is what a good mayor does. Showing you've done it is an argument for the job. If you want to hide, go to Albany.
We need somebody who's comfortable giving orders and making sure they're followed. We need somebody with the smarts to hire the right people and the stomach to fire the not-right. We need somebody who acts like he's driving the bus, not just along for the ride.
If you can't do all that, then do us a favor: Don't run. You'd be wasting your time -- and our opportunity.