Nov 6, 2009

I guess the lecture points didn't stick

So much for that silly 'Creative City' idea

Since the Palace Theater's rehabilitation a few years back, the Cap City has one mighty fine entertainment facility. With the beautiful surroundings, cool vibe and cushioned seating, one could very likely drift into Sleepy Land while taking it all in.

Such might be what happened to the attendees at September's speaking engagement by Richard Florida : the audience must have been catching a nap instead of paying attention to their esteemed guest's talking points.

Mr Florida, of course, is the author of The Rise of the Creative Class and other books, essays and research that, in effect, offers a new theory of regional economic development to a discipline that had long wallowed in a "give em cheap land, cheap power and a whole menu of tax breaks" as means of industry attraction. Florida's view is that the more critical elements -- especially in the New Economy -- are the livability and cultural/social infrastructure features of any given area. Give the right people the right reason to come and LIVE in a region, and the development of the right kind of business and industry will follow thereafter.

Such was the message delivered at The Palace, at least, to a throng of public officials, business leaders and other community activists and interested parties. Hell, the Mayor even gave Mr Florida some sort of welcoming gift, as seen in the photo!

But Mr Florida's (very) hefty appearance fee has barely cleared the bank, and Albany is once again going into Old School mode. Hence the "must have been sleeping" explanation.

Case in point: some nonsense is now floating from the Albany Common Council about a plan to impose a "licensing fee" on any establishment that plans on ever hosting a live music event. Whether it's me and you plucking banjos at the coffee shop, belting some a cappela tunes at the diner, or kicking out the jams in the back room of our favorite drinking establishment -- if one of those events is ever going to take place in the upcoming year, that venue needs to write a $350 check to the City of Albany. Plus: it must fill out some insane paperwork pertaining to the details of all those 'planned' performances. Metroland attempts to explain the insanity in their current issue, here.

To those of us that buy into a good deal of what Mr Florida and his school of thought are preaching, this kind of stuff drives us nuts. While the region beats its chest expounding its ability to attract old line manufacturing and Low Road industry to the region -- mainly through the public feeding trough -- programs and policies designed to organically grow a thriving community that fits into the dynamics of what the 21st century workforce is looking for get (at best)lukewarm support and attention. And the occasional speech by Mr Florida every five years.

Instead we get actions such as this 'Albany Live Music Tax'. It is no mere coincidence that leading edge cities like Boston, San Francisco, NYC and Austin are both live music hotbeds and technology hubs. As I always remind people that brag about Albany becoming the 'Next Austin':

- When you get off the plane at Austin's airport, it doesn't say 'Welcome to the Chip Plant Capital of the US' -- it says 'Welcome to the Live Music Capital of the Universe.'

Meanwhile back in Albany, we somehow look for any reason possible to both keep the public pool filled with funds from any and all available sources and prevent a New Economy from having a chance of getting a foothold within.

Yes, there is some sort of rationale for this levy: something to do with "complying with a standing ordinance on the books". Here's my modest suggestion for rectifying this situation:

- Someone needs to simply stand up at the next Council meeting and ask for Unanimous Consent to strike the old ordinance in question.

- If anyone objects to the Unanimous Consent, allocate two minutes for debate. Any rational mind in the room would only need that long to hear all they need to hear.

- Take a vote.

- Forward the names, phone numbers and email addresses of any Legislator voting against the mesure here, to me.

I'll take it from there....

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Funny pic....Aw Geez!