Stephanie A. Miner: The Price of Politics as Usual

Stephanie A. Miner is a leading national expert on public finance and infrastructure and served as the 53rd mayor of Syracuse, New York, from 2010 through 2018. Currently, Miner is a visiting distinguished urbanist at New York University's Wagner School of Public Service and a member of the board at the Volcker Alliance. She previously served as a member of the Syracuse Common Council from 2001 through 2009 and is a graduate of Syracuse University and the University of Buffalo School of Law.

During her time in office, Miner put a focus on innovation. Through a partnership with IBM Smarter Cities, she developed one of New York's first land banks, which has since put hundreds of previously delinquent properties back on the tax rolls and increased the city's tax collections. She brought Bloomberg Philanthropies' innovation team to the city, which sought creative solutions to infrastructure and economic inequality issues.

Miner has emphasized building not only physical infrastructure but the "infrastructure of opportunity" in the city of Syracuse. She led the successful Joint Schools Construction Board program — a nearly half-billion-dollar project which fully renovated four schools and is still performing smaller renovations throughout the Syracuse City School District. She led the charge to implement and fully fund the Say Yes to Education nonprofit program, which provides full tuition scholarships to students graduating from city high schools along with academic and social supports for students and families from pre-K through 12th grade. On her watch, the city saw a nearly 10 percent rise in the high school graduation rate.

Miner fought large tax breaks for developers without the promise of community benefits. She implemented a local hiring policy for projects funded by the Syracuse Industrial Development Agency and negotiated job training programs as part of the city's support for rehabilitating the historic Hotel Syracuse.

Abstract:

We find ourselves in an environment where people on all sides of the political spectrum believe elected political leaders have systematically sacrificed the interests of the common good to the interests of discrete vested constituencies. This has resulted in a wholesale distrust of our political system, deteriorating public services, and a seemingly universal agreement that our government can no longer solve problems. Our system is rife with examples of partisanship triumphing over principles, patriotism, and propriety, and self-dealing and the use of public office for private gain reaching unprecedented levels.

While citizens are hungry for constructive change, strong entrenched forces make that change difficult. Mayor Miner will address the actual results of a system accepting the "the price of politics as usual," as well as the requirements to change the current political culture and dynamic to one where substance trumps soundbites.