CEDRIC IS BACK
Cedric is back.
Cedric Alexander, a very popular former Rochester police chief, starts work as the city's deputy mayor this morning, signaling a new day for the city and a new beginning for the mayor.
Alexander will function as the city's chief operating officer -- overseeing all city departments and running the day-to-day operations of city government. While the mayor will be the mayor, and set broad policy objectives, Cedric Alexander will be in charge of making the city work.
And that could be a very promising arrangement.
It also could finally get the Lovely Warren administration into a comfortable groove.
In its fourth year, this mayor's term went from cursed to competent, but hasn't yet broken into impressive. Overcome by the perqs and powers the first year, it was a crap storm of nepotism and arrogance. It didn't help that the deputy mayor -- another strong leader meant to run the store -- got a DWI.
A communications director was brought in, to help keep the mayor on track, but that kind of went nowhere. Then there was a switch to a new deputy mayor, a man in his ninth decade, and that kept the train on the tracks, but didn't turn any heads.
And then there launched a mayoral campaign.
And then there came the announcement that Lovely Warren, who couldn't lure Cedric Alexander away to be her police chief, had gotten him to be her deputy mayor.
That could be a game changer.
Perhaps this arrangement, with a very strong and dynamic leader running the city government, will give Lovely Warren the comfort and space she needs to become the mayor she probably has it in her to be. As a daughter of the city's Southwest, a true product of the historic influx of African-Americans to Rochester in the 1940s and 50s, she can be an empowering example for young people growing up where she grew up. She hasn't yet found the voice that allows her to speak to 10-year-old girls on Genesee Street -- or to major policy makers in Albany or Washington.
She is historic thus far for her race and gender, not for her accomplishments as mayor. With Cedric backing her up, she's in a better position to change that.
And her administration is in a better position to build bridges to places from which it's currently estranged.
In the police department, for example, the mayor and her chief are not well regarded. The chief has lost the union, and that is never good, and the chief is regarded as a puppet of a mayor who many officers are still wary of. Cedric Alexander's unique background can change that quickly. A long-time officer and administrator himself, he has a credibility and fondness with the officers who know him that will prove invaluable.
When he was chief, Alexander trained with the SWAT team, and even sat with them after, cleaning his weapon. That sort of stuff buys cop respect.
Cedric's social skill will also allow him to comfortably connect with community groups or political factions or media members who have been frozen out of the Warren administration. This is a man who was recruited into city government the first time by Bob Duffy, and who in the chief's office brought in Todd Baxter as his right-hand man.
And this is a man who goes on CNN to explain police work to them when they need an expert.
And who lights up every room he enters.
Cedric Alexander is a dynamic, intelligent, capable leader, and thus far in his career everything he's touched has turned to gold. So this new beginning is auspicious, and promises much good.
Where it takes Lovely Warren, or where it eventually takes Cedric Alexander, is anybody's guess.
But it's safe to say there's a very good chance it will take Rochester someplace good.
And that's worth getting excited about.
- by Bob Lonsberry © 2017