In 2005 Bob Duffy was elected by a considerable margin to become Rochester's 65th Mayor to much fan fair and dreams of hope and sugar plum fairies dancing in people's minds. Duffy had just come off a contentious election against one of Rochester's political darlings, Wade Norwood, whose popularity sank once anchored to the tenuous history of his then boss David Gantt.
Duffy represented everything that Rochestarian's wanted, a straight shooter, a man of the people, of Rochester, one that would not fall victim to cronyism and political opportunity. Everything that his opponent Wade Norwood wasn't.
Norwood's connections to controversial Assemblyman David Gantt, who he openly identified as a mentor, was an albatross around the Councilman's neck. Norwood would struggle to overcome this obstacle and Duffy's star power would never wear off, but only rise. This ultimately led to Norwood's loss and Duffy becoming Mayor.
However, Duffy would not be the Mayor we all thought he would be.
Duffy's First Sale of Rochester: Mayoral Control
During the 2010 State of the City Address, then Mayor Bob Duffy proclaimed that he would make a play towards a full takeover of the Rochester City School District (RCSD).
"There is a saying: 'Pick the hill you want to die on,'" Duffy said. "Well, I have, and education is that hill" (Rochester Business Journal)
This would mean a full absolution of the Democratically elected School Board and full implementation of Mayoral Control.
The announcement sent shock waves through the entire community, no one saw it coming, not the School Board or then School Board President Malik Evans, who was sitting in the first row during the address. Though Duffy's announcement was news to everyone, Duffy managed to gather the support of City Council President Lovely Warren, Rochester Business Association President Sandra Parker and Assemblyman Joseph Morelle.
In one fail swoop, Bob Duffy sought to take away the Democratic voice from the very citizens that had elected him to two terms in office.
In the end, Bob Duffy would lose this battle horribly. Education advocates rallied behind the school board and school district, Bob Duffy got taken to school in a live televised debate on WXXI by then School Board President Malik Evans and the Assembly legislation Duffy sought never garnered the support of Republican Senators Joe Robach and Jim Alesi.
Duffy's first sale was DENIED.
Duffy 0, Rochester 1
Mr. Duffy heads to Albany
Less than a year after submitting the Mayoral Control legislation, Bob Duffy was named the Lieutenant Governor Candidate and running mate of then New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. Duffy was also less than one year into his second term as Rochester's Mayor.
Citizens in Rochester felt let down, they were hoping that the slayer of the fast ferry would stick around to see his ambitious agenda achieved from the first term and to help a struggling Rochester continue to come back.
Duffy sold citizens on the thought that he could be a better champion for Rochester in Albany, bringing Rochester’s voice to Albany. Liking Duffy, people took him on his word and supported Mr. Duffy heading to Albany.
Bad from Day one
During Duffy's announcement as Cuomo's running mate, things started off, let's just say less than ideal. While Rochester was used to the Duffster making positive statements out loud with less than ideal verbiage and Dr. Seuss language, the downstate media, not so much. It did not take long (right after the announcement of him as a running mate) before Duffy was pulled from reporters and ushered into the backroom with the not so subtle slamming of the door. It was pretty clear he were not in Kansas anymore.
To fit in, Duffy had to do whatever the meticulous, micromanaging Cuomo and his political agents wanted him to do, which included, putting Rochester on the back burner. This included less attention to Rochester and watching Syracuse and Buffalo outpace Rochester in support and funding. For Rochester, it took till year four of the Cuomo/Duffy term before the Rochester Region won an upstate economic development competition, the same year Duffy was told that he would not be Cuomo's Lieutenant Governor.
As one member of the RBJ put it in their article on this topic,
"Mr. Duffy was a good police chief and mayor in Rochester. I am less enthralled with his lieutenant governor position. I had hoped he would be more visible to upstate folks and more influential with the governor on modulating his arrogant agenda and style."
Another promise unfilled, but Duffy did not make out too bad. He ditched Rochester and landed on his feet as the new head of the Rochester Business Association making close to $500,000 a year.
If you are keeping score that’s, Duffy 1, Rochester 1
Photonics Wishes and Albany Dreams
Outside of the Governor’s office and in year two of Bob Duffy's new term as head of Rochester Business Association (now the Rochester Chamber of Commerce), Bob Duffy no longer is being coy about his all in for Bob Duffy mentality. This was apparent in his power play during the recent photonics fight. While using the University of Rochester and Eastman Business Parks’ photonics prowess to help Rochester win favor with the Governor's office to land the large Photonics project, Duffy then turned against Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle, University of Rochester Joel Seligman and the rest of Rochester. What Duffy failed to tell us, was that he was using Rochester to make a deal with Governor Cuomo to have the influence all to himself. Duffy was even willing to overlook local control and push out local University President Joel Seligman in favor of downstate SUNY Polytechnic President Alain E. Kaloyeros and of course himself. The ultimate sellout/slap in the face to Rochester's largest employer and sixth largest employer in the state.
Duffy 2, Rochester 1
Finger Lakes Economic Development Council
Duffy's attack and selling out on our local leaders and interests did not stop there. The fight over where the home base of the photonics headquarters was going to be left a bad taste in the tyrants of Albany's mouths. Seligman and Morelle decided to fight back, when they should have known their place, and so someone had to pay. Given that Morelle is Majority Leader, there is only so much they could aim his way. The full brunt seems to be, being applied to University of Rochester President Joel Seligman. In the last few weeks Joel Seligman has been replaced as head of the Finger Lakes Regional Development Council. Citing his busy schedule and need to focus on other things, Seligman was let down nicely.
The bull shitter-n-chief, Bob Duffy has been seen in the media providing graceful reasons for why Seligman stepped down, while fighting talk that he will one day become the chair of the Council, much like he has taken over the Photonics council and how he denied being the inside man for the Rochester Chamber of Commerce job. The trust factor continues to wear off of Duffy’s image.
Duffy 3, Rochester 1
Deja Vu All Over Again: Duffy, Warren and controlling education
At this point Duffy's mojo is moving and to him, he believes he is on top of the world again, or should we say on top of the "hill". Everything is going Duffy's way, so why not go for broke huh? Well, that is what one could characterize his latest foray into the Mayoral Control arena again by supporting Mayor Warren’s receivership push.
Like all poorly planned Warren and Duffy things, they must come to a crashing end. This one seems to be happening in record breaking time. No less than two weeks after the Duffster introduces Mayor Warren at the State of the City Address where she announces this ill-conceived plan (approach sound familiar? If not, go back and read the first part of this article) do we have the State Education Commissioner questioning the validity and approach of the idea and why it has been directed to her.
The problem with the approach this time, is that Mr. Duffy has burned all the friends who came to his aide the last time he pushed this idea and so there is no coverage for the tweedle dee and tweedle dumb show. It’s a lot harder taking advantage of Rochester’s good will without friends covering the mistakes.
Duffy 4, Rochester 1
Bob Duffy was once the poster child of hope and decency in the Rochester community. We believed in what he stood for and who he was. As with a lot of things, we find that power corrupts and it seems Rochester favorite boy scout has been corrupted by power like a zombie infected from the Walking Dead.