Q&A with City Council candidate Jim Rosenbeck
Three at-large City Council seats are up for election Tuesday. There are eight candidates. We asked each candidate to answer five questions and we are publishing the answers verbatim.
Here is the Q&A with Jim Rosenbeck.
If elected, what’s your #1 priority? My first priority will be to observe and learn. My next priority will be to replace the current City Manager. This is not personal. It is strictly business. If the city were a private business, the city manager would have already been replaced based on performance. The incumbent council members at large rate the manager’s performance highly and have lobbied to raise his salary. I disagree. Here are the facts; In 2005 the property tax levy in the city was 3.4 million dollars. In 2017, that levy is 5.2 million dollars. This represents a 52% increase in the property tax levy on property owners. During this time, we lost trash services and saw more vacant storefronts appear on Main Street. Taxpayers spent untold dollars on mall litigation and assumed ownership of several parcels within the mall due to delinquent taxes. We have failed to maintain that infrastructure and have no plan to exit the mall business. Indeed the City’s agreement with the Mall merchants calls for doubling down on the taxpayer’s investment. A new Comprehensive Plan (available on the City website) calls for adding a second story on the mall. Batavians are best served by council hiring a new city manager who better understands the needs of the community.
There has been great progress in the city toward revitalizing the core downtown business community. What will you do to accelerate the revitalization process? I question this premise. There is an old saying. It goes like this; “In God we trust. Everyone else should bring data.” Where is the data? There has been great promise of progress…most of that is unrealized. Economic Development programs have been a failure locally and statewide. The city now owns nine properties inside the Genesee Country Mall in addition to the concourse that we have failed to maintain. We have embraced bad economic policies which shuffle taxpayer money from one hand to another in a zero-sum game. The devil is in the details with this smoke and mirrors economics.
What services currently provided by the city should be cut or eliminated, if any? How and why? l will start with this basic premise; People know how to spend their hard earned money better than government. What are the basic functions of a city government? Better yet, what do the people who pay the bills want from city government? I have been knocking on doors in the city since mid-July. Not a single person has told me they want an electric car charging station. The current leadership is out of touch with the people of Batavia. They are too busy trying to remake Batavia into a city like Saratoga. Real people want our infrastructure maintained and public safety provided at the lowest possible cost to taxpayers. Given that government has proven over and over again that it doesn’t understand basic supply and demand economics, it should refrain from anymore shameless meddling. Avoid unnecessary entanglements with Albany. Reward efficiency and look for ways to share services. Ask where we can utilize a volunteer component to help offset costs. I am not on a mission to eliminate any services. I am committed to delivering services more effectively and efficiently.
What business, leadership, or economic training and experience do you have that make you more qualified for a job on the City Council over other candidates? One of my first economic lessons was as a paperboy delivering the Buffalo evening news. There I learned that if a customer paid for the month in advance I couldn’t spend that money without consequences later on in the month. I had to learn to live within my means. City government should similarly learn to live within it means. But it doesn’t. it just keeps on returning to the customer and asking for more money. I could roll out a simpler answer here citing a handful of college degrees and my career accomplishments. But why pander to a handful of elitists who think that only a privileged few are qualified to represent the people? I run for office as a friend of the common man and woman. I am not beholden to any special interests or political parties. My promise is to exercise common sense and serve the interests of the people of Batavia.
What one, two, or three books first published within the past 250 years has most influenced your thinking about society and government? Henry Hazlitt’s “Economics in One Lesson.” has been a big influence on my economic thought. I wish this book was required reading for those serving in public office. Here is a quote from Hazlitt that summarizes the one lesson that public officials should humbly understand;
“The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.” -Henry Hazlitt
Hazlitt states this perfectly. Government fails to get the big picture. Our representatives often fail to understand that they can’t use the people’s money to do one thing without there be a corresponding disincentive for someone else. Let's elect leadership that gets the big picture.
I for one do not want to own a mall !
With my vote I'm changing the direction this election voting Libertarian.