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Rochester, bloated with ARPA $, enters realm of nonprofits, child care; what next?

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In 13 minutes earlier this month the City of Rochester bravely entered two new realms, the likes of which few cities would have ever considered prior to the pandemic with its free trillions of dollars of free money printed and spewed forth by the federal government to little governments all over the country.

The two realms include:

Services provided formerly by nonprofits - that of assisting those suffering from mental illness and drug addiction.

Services formerly provided by privately run day care centers.

Both of these gambits will have unintended consequences that no one brought up on April 5 when it was passed by City Council.

Let's take a closer look at the position quaintly titled "Community Outreach Facilitator Program," which passed unanimously.

The position, which will pay some $84,000 in salary and benefits, comes with a vehicle budgeted at $45,000, office furniture of $11,000 and other sundry expenses.

What they will do is basically what police and other first responders have been doing forever, like referring drug users to nonprofits like SOS, the homeless to Infinity and those suffering mental issues to Community Partners or other similar nonprofits.

Former Chief Toussaint spoke eloquently on the need for such a position, only he said at the time there was no way it was going to come out of his budget!

In fact Toussaint's biggest frustration was that his police officers were going back to the same addresses, the same drug users, the same folks with mental illness over and over and over and over and over again.

"One of the biggest things we deal with is welfare checks," he said. "Someone's acting like they're on drugs at the Common. Well, they're not acting, they are on drugs.

"So we go down there and tell them to stop the erratic behavior and move on."

Yeah, I get his point. He didn't want to have his officers wasting their days basically baby sitting transients who are behaving badly and acting out on the street.

So now we're going to have a city employee working out of the welfare department playing nursemaid.

Toussaint went on to lament the constant calls they get from people who just need help. Like this lady:

"I have a woman who calls me all the time," he said. "She calls me because she says she has no food for her dog. We need someone to provide services for this woman."

Yeah, I agree, but not by a city position that costs $140,000 a year.

So this is just city government drunk with ARPA funds.

Remember us poor peasants got a $1,200 check and a $600 check while we were locked down and unable to work or make a living.

Meanwhile, I would suggest you call up the city manager and ask him how much money the city got from ARPA funds. And how many of his employees never missed an hour's pay and got their stim checks, too.

Maybe they can use some of the ARPA money they got to reduce our property taxes. I mean our income was greatly affected by the pandemic. Sounds like pandemic relief to me!

But anyways, I digress.

So the Community Outreach Facilitator Program sounds like a bunch of hooey.

But that wasn't enough for this City Council on this night.

They also voted to authorize $1.4 million in ARPA money to establish an Employer Assisted Child Care Cooperative.

Just so you can really understand where the money is going, there's this clarifier in the preamble of this nonsense.

"To the extent not otherwise provided for in this Resolution, the Finance Director is hereby authorized to designate and/or establish such multi-year, non-lapsing accounts and/or account numbers as necessary to implement the transactions contemplated by this Resolution." Clear as mud, right?

And here's the summary statement, highlights of which I have bolded.

"Approval of this allocation would fund a facility feasibility study, capital and startup costs to establish a child care program. Program management analysis includes both developing an internal program as well as exploring partnerships with external providers. Program management will ultimately be determined based upon what is most sustainable and beneficial to the City of Rochester and greater community. This project would be intentionally designed to not compete with existing child care providers in Rochester."

Considering this last sentence, I don't suppose anyone has talked to child care centers, the real stake holders in this.

Several child care managers I spoke with had never heard of this program. Guess the stakeholders are always the last to know!

And by the way, for the city to open a child care center and say it was designed not to compete with present day child centers, well, it would have to really suck.

Because if it didn't the other competing private child care centers would surely lose some of their business.

Yet the city says this city-run day care will be intentionally designed not to compete with existing providers.

So here we have the city getting into both the nonprofit and day care realms.

So what's next.

Well, I know that the trucking industry is having a hard time rebounding from the pandemic, That's part of the reason why we have supply chain issues.

Maybe the city can start a trucking company with ARPA funds.

Maybe the city will start a food coop to help feed us all.

I'll tell you this. If you like Big Government, these are the salad days, boys!

When all this money hits the streets inflation will be ten times worse. And it will be our own doing, cause we elected these folks.

Speaking at the April 19 City Council workshop, perhaps Carol Petrusewicz of Rochester put it best.

"Nothing is free," she said.

Ain't that a natural fact.

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