If you heard me the other day on WDKX's WaterCooler, have been at the number of community forums I've been invited to, or talked to me one-on-one, you know that I like to talk about numbers: tax breaks, tax assessments, grants, loans, etc.
Generally, Green Rochester candidates don't worry about what other candidates are saying during election season. When the City is not going in the direction it should be, the incumbents will put their action (or inaction) in the light it needs to be for people not to rebel and vote against the status quo. But during a few of the Mayoral forums, Tom Richards has said that my numbers are wrong.
It is interesting that the current Mayor has started to question my numbers. It seems the City would like to dispute my facts. The problem is that most of my information is publicly available to everyone on the internet. I spend many hours looking at the City's own website in order to find the information that I cite. If you would like to look it up for yourself, here's what to do:
Perhaps the most startling facts I bring up are about taxes. A good example is Brooks Landing which is assessed at $1.5 million and paid $1321.70 in taxes last year. This information is available for anyone on the City of Rochester website. On the home page there is a link entitled Online Property Information. This is a great place to find out who owns a property, whether they are paying their taxes, when the structure on the property was built and when it was last sold. This page is a great place to start when you want to challenge the assessment of your property and as you can search by address, owner, or use a map to find properties, it is very user friendly.
Often I find a project and want to know more information about that project. The City maintains an interactive property map at http://cityofrochester.gov/properties.aspx?id=8589944885
Now this is not the most up to date information and seems to frequently miss things, but it does allow you to find many projects the City is spending our money on, see what is planned, who is building it, and what the City is providing to help the developer. I have never seen one where they oversell the city contribution but often this section is not complete.
To get the total story on corporate welfare, you often have to look at City Council. From the main City's web page, if you go to Meet The Rochester City Council, there is a section on the right called "Spotlight On". In this section, there is a link for City Council legislation, meeting minutes and proceedings. Every month there is a complete listing of everything the Council is considering, what the agenda is, and any legislation passed.
Finally if you need to look up the rules and laws of the City of Rochester, I use the City Code and Charter Online. If what you are looking concerns the structure of the government this is usually in the charter. If what you want is to see what the City laws are then you want the code.
With these you can check my work and keep yourself informed as to what the City is doing.
If my facts are wrong, then the current Mayor should look into that as I'm using his numbers.
When you elect me as your next Mayor, you can be assured that the City's website will be revamped to make sure it is easier to use and make our government more transparent.