Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Home Leasing taking second shot at East Main housing plan

Posted By on Tue, Jul 26, 2016 at 11:48 AM

Hillside’s three-story Cotter Building on East Main Street will likely be part of Home Leasing’s new plan. - PHOTO BY MARK CHAMBERLIN
  • PHOTO BY MARK CHAMBERLIN
  • Hillside’s three-story Cotter Building on East Main Street will likely be part of Home Leasing’s new plan.
Leaders of the EMMA neighborhood association say that they expect to see a new concept for what has been a controversial housing project slated for East Main Street at a meeting tonight (Tuesday, July 26). The meeting is at 6 p.m. at the RGRTA building, 1372 East Main. 

Home Leasing originally proposed a 76-unit apartment complex on East Main between Mustard and Palmer streets in Rochester's East Main, Mustard, and Atlantic Avenue neighborhood. But many EMMA residents didn't like that 57 of the proposed apartments would've been one-bedroom units; the struggling neighborhood needs families, owner-occupancy, and stability to turn itself around, they said.

EMMA has its own plans for the project site that include development more fitting to a major thoroughfare that's an important gateway to downtown, they said. EMMA President Dorothy Parham cited clothing and shoe stores as examples. 

The original concept was unanimously rejected by the city's Planning Commission in June, but Home Leasing said it'd be back with a new design. Earlier this month, Home Leasing development manager Megan Houppert said that the new concept may consist of three buildings with townhouses. And there would also be more two- and three-bedroom units, she said. 

EMMA's leaders dropped off the following letter to CITY on Tuesday morning, prior to the meeting. This is not the entire letter.  

EMMA Doctrine




Monday, July 25, 2016

Week Ahead: Events for the week of Monday, July 25

Posted By on Mon, Jul 25, 2016 at 10:36 AM

The Education Committee of the Southwest Common Council will hold a meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 27. There will be updates on Schools 10, 16, 29, and 44, as well as the city school board’s review of the school choice policy. The meeting will be held at the Arnett Branch of the Rochester Public Library, 310 Arnett Boulevard.


The Rochester school board will hold a public hearing regarding PUC Achieve Charter School at 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 28, at the district’s central office, 131 West Broad Street. Details of the meeting haven’t been announced. The meeting will be followed by the board’s monthly business meeting at 6:30 p.m., which will be Interim Superintendent Linda Cimusz’s last public meeting with the board. BY TIM LOUIS MACALUSO


The Unite Rochester Community Response Panel, which includes Dr. Marvin A. McMickle, president of Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, will hold a public forum from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday, July 25, to examine how the Rochester community is responding to racial tensions.

The forum, moderated by Democrat and Chronicle Senior Engagement Editor Julie Philipp, will be held at the School of the Arts auditorium, 45 Prince Street. Blair Monique, School of the Arts graduate, is a special guest. No RSVP is necessary. BY CHRISTINE CARRIE FIEN 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

SUNY Geneseo may take control of School 19

Posted By on Thu, Jul 21, 2016 at 1:54 PM

The Rochester school board is working to establish a partnership between SUNY Geneseo’s School of Education and School 19 on Seward Street in Rochester. The agreement would mark the second time that the school board has looked to a higher education institution to assume the management and supervision of a city school.  The first was East High School, which is now managed by the University of Rochester. 

Letters were sent today to the teachers, staff, and parents at School 19, an elementary school, from school board President Van White and Interim Superintendent Linda Cimusz, informing them of the changes in leadership. Margaret Brazwell, a longtime district administrator, is now acting principal of the school.

The full transition at School 19 could take a year, White says.

The board has applied to the State Education Department for a $500,000, five-year grant to fund the transition, he says. SUNY Geneseo has agreed to assign a full-time professor, Jane Morse, to act as an adviser and develop and implement the transition plan.

The Rochester school district would be responsible for all financial costs associated with the partnership. 

The agreement will be similar to the one between East High School and the University of Rochester in that a School 19 superintendent will report directly to the school board. But it will different from East in that School 19 is much smaller, and, unlike East, teachers at School 19 will be directly responsible for developing a personalized approach to academic achievement that must involve the school community.

The State Education Department must approve the partnership application and authorize the grant, but White says that he is confident that the agreement will receive approval.

School 19 is not a receivership school, but it is a school that the SED has identified as a “priority school” – one that has been consistently among the lowest performing in the state. 


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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Reform proposals aimed at COMIDA, county

Posted By on Tue, Jul 19, 2016 at 5:09 PM

The Monroe County Industrial Development Agency's board didn't instigate the I-Square controversy which engulfed the early days of County Executive Cheryl Dinfolo's rookie term.  And yet, the board is now stuck between dueling reform proposals. 

One set of recommendations comes from Dinolfo; they aren't really recommendations so much as directives, but the board does have to adopt them before they become standard policy. The other proposals come from the County Legislature Democrats; caucus leader Cynthia Kaleh presented the proposals during today's COMIDA meeting.

The reform packages differ substantially; Dems have slim odds of getting their proposals through the Republican-controlled County Legislature.

Here's a quick rundown of Dinolfo's recommendations, per a press release she sent out last week:
  • Requiring unspecified training for new COMIDA board members, as well as unspecified annual training for all COMIDA board members, COMIDA staff, and county employees who work on economic development ;
  • Requiring any business that receives more than $1 million worth of incentives to increase its workforce by 20 percent;
  • Changing COMIDA's bylaws to require that board members receive information on matters they'll consider no less than one week in advance of a scheduled meeting;
  • Posting all agreements, including payments-in-lieu-of-taxes agreements, on the agency's website, growmonroe.org;
  • Changing COMIDA's bylaws so that board members are term-limited.
Dinolfo made the recommendations in response to the fallout from I-Square, yet her proposals don't really get at the heart of the problem. In case you don't remember: one of Dinolfo's now-former top aides shared information about the I-Square development in Irondequoit that wasn't really secret, but wasn't really public with county Republican Party chair Bill Reilich. And in doing so, he mischaracterized the information. Reilich used the information, which turned out to be wrong, by the way, in a clumsy political attack, which blew up in his face.

In their proposal, Democrats largely target administration officials and the overlap between COMIDA and county government. The Dems also incorporate some proposals they've been pushing for a few years. Here are their proposals:
  • Prohibiting county employees from taking jobs at firms they work with in their official capacity, or with county contractors when the employees were involved in awarding the contracts;
  • Barring COMIDA board members from having contracts with the county (Kaleh didn't say whether any current board members are in this position);
  • Establishing a new local law that prohibits the disclosure of proprietary or insider information for non-governmental use;
  • Prohibiting management and professional employees from serving as elected or party officials;
  • Separating COMIDA's executive director position from the county's director of planning and development. The jobs are currently vacant, and the county is searching for someone to fill them.

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GOP shenanigans live!

Posted By on Tue, Jul 19, 2016 at 4:38 PM

Listen, this election is weird, this Republican convention is weird. The only sane way to consume it all is through the slightly twisted take of an alternative newsweekly. Our sister alt, Pittsburgh CityPaper, is doing a thorough and flat-out hysterical job of live blogh-ing (the "h" is silent) the GOP jamboree in Cleveland. Trust us, you need this in your life. 

http://www.pghcitypaper.com/Blogh/archives/2016/07/19/pittsburgh-city-papers-republican-national-convention-live-blog-day-2

Monday, July 18, 2016

Nuns on the Bus to make stop in Rochester

Posted By on Mon, Jul 18, 2016 at 9:41 AM

Nuns on the Bus will come to Rochester on Wednesday, July 20. They will visit St. Joseph’s Neighborhood Center, 417 South Avenue, at 3:30 p.m. The nuns will also attend the 7 p.m. program, “Caucus to Mend the Gaps” at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, 1100 South Goodman Street.

Twenty Catholic nuns from around the county will visit 13 states and both major political party conventions. The nuns are pushing for economic policies focuses on tax justice, living wages, and family friendly workplaces, according to a press release. 


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Eastman Museum preps another preservation push

Posted By on Tue, Jul 12, 2016 at 5:00 PM

The George Eastman Museum is in the business of preservation -- preservation of 400,000 photographs, 28,000 movies, and photographic technology. Now it needs to address the preservation of some parts of the house that Eastman himself lived in, which is part of the museum complex on East Avenue.

Upkeep and restoration of the 112-year-old house has occurred in waves over the years. And as anyone who walks around the building can't help but notice, it's time for another one of those waves.

During a public forum last night at the museum, curator Kathy Conner outlined the work that needs to be done, including restoring 68 windows, adding 79 storm windows, restoring 43 shutters, and adding 16 collapsible screens.

Partially rotten windows on the historic mansion are part of the reason behind Eastman Museums's most recent preservation push. - PHOTO PROVIDED
  • PHOTO PROVIDED
  • Partially rotten windows on the historic mansion are part of the reason behind Eastman Museums's most recent preservation push.

The estimated cost for the project is $650,277, and the museum is preparing to request $426,880 in grants from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. To help secure that, the museum is seeking public support-- asking for testimonials, in effect, about the museum's importance to the community and how the condition of the historic mansion directly impacts individual people.

The museum's request: that its supporters send those statements to city, county, and state elected officials by July 25. More information is available from Ruth Wagner, rwagner@eastman.org. And museum officials are asking supporters to also send copies of their letters to Wagner.

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Friday, July 8, 2016

STORIFY: Black Lives Matter rally, Dallas police shootings

Posted By on Fri, Jul 8, 2016 at 3:46 PM

A collection of news about the Dallas police shootings and the local Black Lives Matter rally

Violence against black men, against police, rocks country

Posted By on Fri, Jul 8, 2016 at 11:21 AM

Slideshow
Black Lives Matter rally 07.08.2016
Black Lives Matter rally 07.08.2016 Black Lives Matter rally 07.08.2016 Black Lives Matter rally 07.08.2016 Black Lives Matter rally 07.08.2016 Black Lives Matter rally 07.08.2016 Black Lives Matter rally 07.08.2016 Black Lives Matter rally 07.08.2016 Black Lives Matter rally 07.08.2016

Black Lives Matter rally 07.08.2016

Members of the activism and black leadership group B.L.A.C.K. organized a rally to show solidarity with the people of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Falcon Heights, Minnesota, and to protest police violence against black people. Organizers planned to march through the city throughout the late afternoon and evening. Before the rally and march started, approximately 700 people had marked themselves as attending on its Facebook page; the number later surpassed 800.

By Jeremy Moule and Josh Saunders

Click to View 21 slides



The national psyche is reeling from the violence of the last few days. Two black men have been killed by police in two cities, and last night, five police officers were killed and seven others injured by a sniper at a Dallas Black Lives Matter demonstration. The incidents are already shaping national conversations about race, race relations, and the often-strained relationship between police and the black community. 

Unfortunately, the turmoil is also an opportunity for unscrupulous people to indulge the red-meat brigade. Republican Wendy Long, who is challenging US Senator Chuck Schumer this fall, tried to link the Dallas shootings with the Black Lives Matter movement, although police have not made that connection. Police have only said that the suspect wanted to kill white police officers.

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, the Rochester Police Department, and local clergy held a moment of silence this afternoon for the Dallas victims. 

"It is so easy to tear each other apart, to tear each other down," Warren said. "We are one Rochester. We are one America.” 

And Black Lives Matter will hold a rally later today in response to the recent police shootings of two black men. 

In Baton Rouge, police pinned Alton Sterling to the ground and repeatedly shot him at point-blank range. Philando Castile was shot and killed by police during a traffic stop in suburban St. Paul, Minnesota. He was behind the wheel of his car, reaching for his license and registration, when an officer shot him several times; his girlfriend — who livestreamed the immediate aftermath on Facebook — and her daughter were in the car. 

The Rev. Lewis Stewart - PHOTO BY MARK CHAMBERLIN
  • PHOTO BY MARK CHAMBERLIN
  • The Rev. Lewis Stewart
"These killings were unjustified and horribly demonstrated the use of excessive police force, which was unreasonable," said the Rev. Lewis Stewart, president of United Christian Leadership Ministries of Western New York, at a press conference this afternoon. "How is the black community to trust law enforcement?"

Part of United Christian's message is that Rochester needs a revamped civilian review board with subpoena power to conduct independent investigations when police officers use force. The review board is a tool, Stewart says, and it would help build community confidence that officers who use undue force are held accountable.

Currently, complaints against Rochester police officers are handled by the department's Professional Standards Section. If the complaints involve the use of force or potential criminal behavior by a police officer, the PSS investigations are then reviewed by a Civilian Review Board, which is run by the Center for Dispute Settlement. But many critics say that the process isn't good enough because in the end, the police chief can overrule the board's decisions. 

Rochester Police Chief Michael Ciminelli said earlier today that lack of community trust is discouraging. People don't see all the time and effort that police put into trying to build camaraderie with the community, he said, and many times, those efforts do pay off. 

"It's very, very troubling to hear people say they don't trust the police," he said.

Stewart also said at yesterday's press conference that police officers need racial justice education and anti-racism training, as opposed to the diversity training they currently receive.

The Black Lives Matter rally is at 4 p.m. Friday at the Liberty Pole in solidarity with the people of Baton Rouge and Falcon Heights, the St. Paul suburb where Castile was killed. Organizers also want to bring attention to the death of Richard Gregory Davis, who died after he was Tased by police last May, and the death of Rochester native India Cummings in February, while she was an inmate at the Erie County Holding Center. Erie County officials haven't offered any explanation for her death, says Adrian Elim, one of the head organizers for B.L.A.C.K., a Rochester activist and black leadership group.

Adrian Elim - PHOTO BY JOHN SCHLIA
  • Photo by John Schlia
  • Adrian Elim
Elim says organizers demand an end to what he calls state-sanctioned violence against black people. Police keep using force and then investigating themselves, only to conclude that they didn't do anything wrong, he says. People are hurting, they are fed up, and they running out of patience with a system they don't believe in anymore, he says.

"It doesn't matter with black people, we could have our hands up, they shoot us; we could be pinned to the ground, they shoot us; we're walking down the street, they will shoot us; we'll be playing in the park, they will shoot us; calling for help, they will shoot us; sleeping in our beds, they will shoot us," Elim says.  "It doesn't matter if we're 5 years old, 12 years old, 80 years old, or 22 years old, nothing seems to stop them. "

Around 600 people have said that they plan to attend the rally, according to the Facebook invite. 

"We, as black people, do not get to live what is considered a normal American life," Elim says. "We are continually traumatized and re-traumatized again and again and again. No longer is this community just going to act like this is just another day at the office, under any circumstances. When our lives are continually disrupted on the daily, we are going to disrupt, we are going to stop everything until this stops."



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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Child lead numbers up from last year, but down overall

Posted By on Tue, Jun 28, 2016 at 4:56 PM

This post has been corrected.

More Monroe County children tested positive for exposure to lead last year than the year prior according to results released today, but the numbers are far below where they were a decade ago. 

Children under age 6 are routinely screened for elevated lead levels in their blood, which indicate exposure and which can lead to several learning and behavioral problems. Public health researchers say that there is no acceptable level of lead exposure, but concentrations greater than 5 micrograms per deciliter put children at increased risk of complications.

In 2015, 206 Monroe County children were found to have blood-lead levels above 10 micrograms per deciliter, compared to 139 in 2014. By comparison, 1,019 children had blood levels above that threshold in 2003. No reason for the increase was given. 

An additional 782 children tested between 5 and 9 micrograms per deciliter in 2015.  The county started tracking children testing within that range in 2013, after the CDC revised its threshold for what it considers an elevated blood level. That year, 689 children had blood test results that fell within the 5 to 9 micrograms per deciliter.

Child lead exposure is a particular problem in city neighborhoods, many of which have older houses with layers of lead-based paint. But it's a problem in some parts of suburbia, too.

Child health advocates credit the long-term decrease in child lead poisoning to city laws requiring landlords to get all rental properties inspected for the presence of lead. 

"In the past year, 988 Rochester area children had unacceptably high blood lead levels—enough to fill more than 40 kindergarten classrooms," said Mel Callan, co-chair of the Coalition to Prevent Lead Poisoning, in a press release sent out this afternoon. "Children are particularly susceptible to the irreversible and devastating effects of lead poisoning. We must raise the awareness of families to get their homes tested for lead hazards and get their children tested at ages 1 and again at 2 to avoid any possible developmental damage.”

2003_2015 Blood Lead Screening Data by jmouleatcity


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  • Re: Reform proposals aimed at COMIDA, county

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