Thursday, May 8, 2014

Bob Duffy's mythology doesn't always stand up to scrutiny

Posted By on Thu, May 8, 2014 at 10:30 AM

Well, well. The prodigal son and all that.

In an announcement that surprised exactly no one, Lieutenant Governor Bob Duffy says he will not be on the ticket when Governor Andrew Cuomo seeks re-election this fall. Duffy is reportedly having some health issues, but scuttlebutt is that the lieutenant governor’s job didn’t live up to the hype. (The hype being that he could do more for Rochester from Albany than the mayor’s office. I always thought Duffy was a little gull
click to enlarge Bob Duffy. - FILE PHOTO
  • Bob Duffy.
ible here. Lieutenant governor is not a position known for great legislative accomplishments.)

Duffy always claims he’s not a political being, but you don’t rise from police chief to lieutenant governor, especially in the span of time he did, without harboring at least a smidgen of ambition.

Now he’ll presumably ride out the rest of his term until he can slide into the top job at the Rochester Business Alliance next year. The job could be a good fit; Duffy certainly knows the city’s business and political climates, and his considerable charm and nice guy-ness are valuable currency. 

There’s a glossiness to Duffy, and kind of a mythology that doesn’t always hold up to scrutiny. Downtown began getting its mojo back when he was mayor – but was that due to him, or larger trends? Or both? Downtowns nationwide are on the rebound. Renaissance Square fell apart on Duffy’s watch; whether or not that’s a good thing is a matter of opinion. He pulled the plug on the fast ferry, which made him a hero in some circles. He launched a failed bid for mayoral control of the city school district. And in a moment of pique, he instituted an expensive police crackdown called Zero Tolerance — which seems to have accomplished very little.

But Duffy’s gee-whiz comportment and relentless optimism about the City of Rochester make him the quintessential front man. I don't expect him to disappear from the public eye anytime soon.

UPDATE: Duffy's letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo is available here. And Cuomo has released this statement on Duffy:

“Over the course of his distinguished career, Robert Duffy has shown an unparalleled commitment to improving the lives of those around him. A longtime police officer, he climbed through the ranks to become Chief of Police for the City of Rochester and worked tirelessly to keep communities in his hometown safe. After being elected to serve as the Mayor of Rochester, he continued to fight crime while also taking steps to improve the city’s education system. And over the past few years as lieutenant governor, Bob has carried the mantle of progress and opportunity to every corner of this state. From bringing new focus to the upstate economy to leading the Regional Economic Development Councils, few people have traveled more miles, heard from more New Yorkers, or had a greater impact on this state than Bob Duffy. My administration and all of New York owes him a tremendous debt of gratitude.

“Bob has not just been a great partner in governing our state – he has also been a true friend. I have said repeatedly that asking Bob to be New York’s lieutenant governor was the first and best decision I made since running for governor, and that statement remains true today. I am deeply grateful for his service and friendship and I look forward to working together in the years ahead. I wish him and his family all the best.”

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