(The longtime leader of the Niagara Falls block clubs, Roger Spurback, has chosen to step down. Here is his exclusive statement to the Niagara Falls Reporter.)
My time is up.
I probably got 14,000 emails in my mailbox, complaining about drugs, prostitutes, high grass, streets and sidewalks, everything. I can't even keep up let alone solve the problems.
Between that and the fact that we have built a city for the poor and that city is not going to go away- that is why I am stepping down.
With the poor, and I hate to say it, comes addiction, alcohol, drug abuse and a lot of things that we don't want.
Drug dealers, the Bloods and the Crips are starting to get out of prison from their incarceration in 2005 and starting to graffiti the area. The police are aware of it. They are getting out of jail and coming back to their old haunts.
Then there is a new problem. They can't get the pharmaceuticals like they once did and now they are relying on heroin sales.
Overall, I'm frustrated with the vision of city leaders. It is ok to take care of downtown and tourism and build hotels, but when you let the neighborhoods fall down, nothing else will work. No matter how many hotels you build.
When you fail to demolish that abandoned house, used for prostitution, for drugs and used to store stolen goods, you get what I call the broken window theory: one leads to others; you let one house fall down and you don't take care of it, you soon have two, four, six.
Then a whole street, next a neighborhood crumbles.
My vision of the city, when I looked at it 20 years ago, is completely different than what it is today. Somewhat, we made a difference, but not the difference I wanted to make.
As far as the neighborhoods are concerned, the city is putting in newly paved streets, but one thing we're forgetting is that, as the neighborhoods are crumbling, the people who can afford it move - drive right out on the newly paved streets, and the people coming in have no discretionary income. Sooner or later the businesses will follow the exit signs.
Sure, we put in nice hotels. What about putting people in nice houses?
I am frustrated.
But that doesn't mean I don't love this city. I will love this city until the day I die.
I don't know if I ever had the answer. I could have got a lot more done if the city worked with us, worked and listened to the residents, and stopped bringing in low income housing which brings people from all over the country for a welfare check.
What public housing is doing is making landlords compete - and they can't compete - with public housing, so landlords have to reduce their rents and you hurt them as investment professionals and, when they can't make a profit, they walk away from the property, or they keep their rents down which brings in more poor people.
I have nothing against poor people, God bless them. I came from a poor family of 10 brothers and sisters. But you can work your way out of poverty. But some of these poor people are in public housing for 30 years.
I'm not on city hall's page on this at all. I won't go along with being forced to say that everything is good and great - as they bring in one low income housing project after another -when it is not.
Everybody thinks they have the answer, but city hall doesn't communicate with the people who are actually fighting the battles.
Sure, there's a lot of money in housing sex offenders and other recipients of public money. It's lucrative. But that doesn't mean we ought to make it our industry here.
Sure, I have a big mouth and tell it like it us. They will probably be having a champagne party because I'm leaving.
They don't want to hear about garbage, or rats, or putting 40 people on the floor, homeless people, that they are bringing in from other areas.
Niagara Falls has become a motel/hotel for the homeless and the very, very poor, not the good poor but the poor that make a lifetime achievement of not working and just sucking off the public dole.
But when I say this, they say 'Roger Spurback is doing it again. He is a racist; he is against the poor."
I fought my way out of poverty and so did my brothers and sisters and none of them are on welfare and so nobody can tell me they can't get out of welfare.
Some people just don't want to.
And when you have a government that keeps handing out everything you could possibly hand out, then what you get is you keep them poor. Niagara Falls is the city of enablers, enabling the poor to stay poor and to come here and be poor.
They are hurting not only the poor but hurting the people who live here and work.
But they're never going to listen to me.
They think I'm just another nut case in the city and they believe everything is fine and dandy.
It is not.