Monday, August 9, 2010

An "Obstructionist Manifesto"

I've been very busy of late, and not following the news or posting as often as I would like. I apologize. The short version of the news in Buffalo is that Bass Pro, the long-proposed anchor tenant of the Canal Side project, pulled out, and CBA supporters are getting a lot of blame. (The mayor called them "obstructionists" and the Buffalo News called the CBA a "job killer.") Mark Goldman, a business owner who has written several books about Buffalo, wrote an "Obstructionist Manifesto" in response to the CBA-naysayers, and it's well worth considering. Some excerpts:
I believe that the Hippocratic Oath, “First do no harm,” while it applies to medicine, also applies to city planning.... As an obstructionist, I believe that all plans that cause harm must be stopped.

As an obstructionist, I believe that when a small group of tightly connected political insiders hijacks the city planning process, it must be stopped.

As an obstructionist, I believe that when these same insiders, for reasons unknown to most of us, are given tens of millions of dollars of the public’s money to spend without the public’s consent, they, too, must be stopped.

As an obstructionist, I believe that when that same group makes plans to turn our city’s splendid waterfront into a big-box retail mall surrounded by surface parking lots, it should be stopped.

As an obstructionist, I believe when the entrepreneurial instincts and desires of our people are stifled and undermined by the lavishing of tens of millions of public dollars on failing retail chains, that must be stopped. As an obstructionist, I believe that all these old and failed ways of planning for our waterfront must be swept aside.

As an obstructionist, I believe that unless and until city planning reflects the values, ideals and aspirations of the people who live and work here, it cannot work and therefore must be stopped. Only when public projects have the credibility of being created by the people directly involved in their use can they succeed.

...

As an obstructionist, I believe in a truly democratic and public planning process that is embraced by our whole community....

.... Only this kind of process can produce a plan that is real, authentic and sustainable. Once these plans and ideas have been clearly articulated and carefully studied, we should, following a real competition, turn them over to the best design professionals who would help us realize our waterfront vision.

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