Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Seeing the world through rainbow-colored glasses

Posted By on Tue, Jul 22, 2014 at 9:56 AM

I say this every year, and every year I mean it. But last Saturday’s Pride Parade really was one of Rochester’s best. There could have been more floats. And sure, there could have been a few more bare-chested male dancers. But what made this year’s parade so interesting was the huge number of straight families, friends, and allies who lined the street to watch and share in the fun. 

There were dads lugging the outdoor folding chairs and coolers, mothers toting newborns, and grannies and grandpas waving their gay flags. A family with four kids camped next to me. Mom and some of the kids were sporting rainbow-colored wigs and socks, and having a great time.

The first gay parade I went to was in New York City during the late 1970’s, and it was huge. Thousands of marchers went on for blocks. But it was much more of a protest than a parade — a confrontation instead of a celebration. And looking back, it was missing a key ingredient: pride.

That’s not meant to disparage those early efforts; the country was indeed rife with discrimination and injustice toward the LGBT community, and there was plenty to be angry about. But Saturday’s parade in Rochester, a mid-size city with some Midwestern values, was proof that the world has changed a lot since the ‘70’s when the gay movement began.

Instead of heterosexual parents thinking they need to protect their children from the LGBT community, they’re teaching them about diversity. Instead of local businesses ignoring the LGBT community, they’re developing marketing campaigns to increase LGBT customers and to sell products and services. Instead of politicians reflexively condemning the community, more are marching in the parades and soliciting the LGBT community’s support.

City Council members Elaine Spaull and Matt Haag, and State Assembly member Harry Bronson were among the pols in this year’s Pride Parade.

Yes, discrimination still haunts the LGBT community. Our youth are often bullied, beaten, and traumatized. Trans people especially face housing, health care, and employment discrimination. And many states are still blocking marriage equality. But look how far we've come.

Maybe I’m seeing the world through rainbow-colored glasses, but at this rate, Pride celebrations could someday be more like St. Patrick’s Day when just about everyone is happy to be a little bit Irish. I’m looking forward to the day when everyone is just as happy to be a little bit gay. 

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Week Ahead: School board meeting; events mark anniversary of riots

Posted By on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 9:28 AM

The Rochester school board will hold its monthly meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 24. Some questions about the effectiveness of the district’s summer supplemental learning and extended learning programs could be discussed.

The board will also vote on agreements involving architects for phase two of the district’s facilities modernization project.

The meeting will be held at the district’s central office, 131 West Broad Street. BY TIM LOUIS MACALUSO

The City of Rochester continues its observance of the anniversary of the 1964 race riots. A number of activities and events are taking place:

• Through July 31: Now and Then - Remembering the Race Riots/Rebellion of 1964 - An exhibit, created by St. John Fisher College students and funded by the New York Council for the Humanities, that chronicles the local, national, and global impact of the July 1964 riots and rebellion. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Local History and Genealogy Division of the Rundel Memorial Library, 115 South Ave.

• July 7, 14, 21 and 28: Retrofitting Rochester - Remembering the Race Riots/Rebellion of 1964 - Staff from the Office of the City Historian will explore the July 1964 rebellion in a four-part series of articles in the Democrat & Chronicle's weekly "Retrofitting Rochester" column throughout the month of July 2014.

• July 11 through Aug. 1: July 64 Rochester Remembers - An exhibit of photographs from the archives of the City of Rochester and Gannett Rochester to commemorate the events before, during and immediately after the rebellion of July 1964. Presented in association with the Democrat and Chronicle UNITE Rochester. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. City Hall Link Gallery, 30 Church St. A Curator's Reception hosted by Mayor Warren, the City Council and UNITE Rochester will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 22 in the Link Gallery.

• July 15, 17, 29 and 31: Walking Tours of Joseph Avenue. The Lincoln Branch Library will host a walking tour with Monroe Community College Professor Verdis Robinson. He will highlight significant points of interest in the northeast neighborhood. Tours start at 4 p.m. Meet at the Lincoln Branch Library, 851 Joseph Ave.

• July 15: "Race, Riots and Roller Coasters: The Struggle for Integrated Recreation in America" - Victoria W. Wolcott, author and Professor of History at the University at Buffalo, SUNY, will speak on the history of segregated recreation in America, exploring how spaces of public leisure - parks, pools, and playgrounds - were important, if overlooked, battlefields in the wider struggle for racial equality during the civil rights era. Wolcott will follow her talk with a Q&A session. Noon in Kate Gleason Auditorium of the Central Library, 115 South Ave.

• Monday, July 21: "There's a Riot Going On: The Current of Race Relations Since the 1964 Riots" - Rochester native and national author Bruce A. Jacobs, whose latest book is "Race Manners for the 21st Century," returns to his home town to discuss how racial dynamics have changed since the riots of 1964 and how they have not. He will follow his talk with a Q&A session. Jacobs has appeared on NPR, C-SPAN and elsewhere. He and writes, travels and speaks about race and social justice. 1:30 p.m.in Kate Gleason Auditorium of the Central Library, 115 South Ave.

• July 22: Screening of July '64 and Teen Discussion with Darryl Porter - July '64 tells the story of three historic days in two African American neighborhoods of Rochester. Darryl Porter, former president of the Rochester City School Board and gang leader in his youth, will lead a discussion with teens after the screening. 2 to 4 p.m. in the Teen Central area of the Central Library, 115 South Ave.

• July 23: Screening of July '64 and Panel Discussion. Documentary Producer Christine Christopher and Director Carvin Eison will join a panel discussion with Darryl Porter and media professor Tom Proietti on insights and experiences to be gleaned from the documentary. 2 to 4 p.m. in Kate Gleason Auditorium of the Central Library, 115 South Ave.

• July 23: City Proclamation of Days of Remembrance and Recommitment: Mayor Warren and City Council President Loretta Scott will issue a proclamation to remember the events of 1964 in hopes that the work that was started during those events will soon be complete. The reading of the proclamation will coincide with a ceremonial lighting of the High Falls to commemorate the Rebellion of 1964. 8:30 p.m. on the Pont de Rennes Bridge. Details to be announced.

• July 24: Civil Rights Talk with Ruth Holland Scott - Activist, author, politician and teacher, Ruth Holland Scott was the first African American woman elected to the Rochester City Council. She will discuss civil rights in Rochester in the years following the events of July 1964. Her book will be available for purchase. Noon in Kate Gleason Auditorium of the Central Library, 115 South Ave.

• July 24: City 12 TV Broadcast of the Documentary July '64. - 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. Visit www.cityofrochester.gov/city12 for viewing information.

• July 25: July '64 Revisited: Rochester and Race Relations with the Black Storytelling League of Rochester - Hear accounts of local storytellers about what happened in Rochester during the race riots of 1964. 11:30 a.m. in the Kate Gleason Auditorium of the Central Library, 115 South Ave. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

New semiconductor lab's other benefit: reuse

Posted By on Thu, Jul 17, 2014 at 9:41 AM

Yesterday's announcement that the state is going to build a next-generation semiconductor research and development facility in Greece is important.

Yes, it'll create jobs. Yes, it'll help companies build better, more efficient technology (and for an idea of just how important that is, consider the research showing that certain electronic devices, including cable boxes, waste a global total of $80 billion in energy a year).

But there's another easily-overlooked upside. The new operations at 115 Canal Landing Boulevard, which is now owned by the state, replace similar activity from Kodak. In fact, that's who the state bought the building from.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

State building semiconductor lab in Greece

Posted By on Wed, Jul 16, 2014 at 1:03 PM

This is an example of what a semiconductor wafer looks like, though it's not exactly what will be produced in the SUNY CNSE facility in Greece. - FILE PHOTO
  • This is an example of what a semiconductor wafer looks like, though it's not exactly what will be produced in the SUNY CNSE facility in Greece.
The state is building a next-generation semiconductor facility in Greece that'll be shared by approximately 100 tech companies. Officials say the facility should create at least 500 jobs in Rochester. 

The facility will be located at the SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering Rochester Facility building in the Canal Landing Office Park in Greece. The state and college are constructing clean rooms in the building, which will also house a previously announced solar cell research facility.

Governor Andrew Cuomo and college CEO Alain Kaloyeros announced the project this morning at the Canal Landing building. 

Kaloyeros said the project is the second part of the New York Power Electronics Manufacturing Consortium, which state officials announced yesterday at a General Electric facility in Niskayuna in Schenectady County. The idea is to advance the development and manufacturing of next-generation computer chips in New York, he said. 

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Was it a rebellion or a riot? And does it matter?

Posted By on Mon, Jul 14, 2014 at 3:41 PM

I’ve been mulling over the correspondence I've received from the City of Rochester about upcoming events marking the 50th anniversary of the 1964 race riots.

Except the city doesn't use the word “riot” exclusively. It calls the events of 1964 the “Rochester Rebellion” or the “Rochester Rebellion/riots.”

Does it make a difference? After initially dismissing the idea, I've come to believe that it does. Maybe the terms have been used interchangeably in the past, although I've only ever heard what happened that weekend called a riot.

A “rebellion,” in my opinion, is a more benign term and suggests an uprising against injustice. You can get behind a rebellion — a riot, maybe not so much. Whether or not you agree with the ideas behind the rebellion or the way it’s carried out, there’s a sense that somewhere, an underdog is fighting back against an oppressive power.

Of course, that’s exactly what residents of Rochester’s inner city were doing in 1964: simmering in a hot soup of deplorable housing, lack of jobs, and the obliviousness of people who were in positions to do anything about it, until the whole thing spilled over onto the streets, causing about $1 million in property damage, four deaths, and approximately 800 arrests.

But a rebellion also suggests a coordinated, pre-planned action. And though I wasn't there, what happened in 1964 feels more like an explosion – an episode of mass projectile vomiting in an attempt to alleviate a long-festering sickness.

But you can’t fairly argue that everything done over that weekend was understandable or justified. Hundreds of stores were looted and-or damaged by rioters — rebels? — over that weekend. These were people that were invested in the neighborhoods; who knows how many left the city as a result? And a man was attacked and killed at Clarissa and Atkinson streets.

I’m not saying that there’s a campaign under way to recast or justify the events of 1964; maybe it’s just about recognizing the conditions that lead up to the riots — and that's important because, look around, not much has changed. Blacks in the inner city still struggle with joblessness and poor housing conditions, not to mention broken schools, violence, the scourge of drugs, and more. 

WEEK AHEAD: Maye tries again; Highland expansion meeting; atheist speaks

Posted By on Mon, Jul 14, 2014 at 9:30 AM

Marvin Maye wants to tear down this vacant church on West Main for an unspecified food store. The application is in front of the city's Zoning Board this week. - FILE PHOTO
  • Marvin Maye wants to tear down this vacant church on West Main for an unspecified food store. The application is in front of the city's Zoning Board this week.
The City of Rochester’s Zoning Board will consider an application from Maye Development to demolish a vacant two-story house and a vacant church at 660-668 West Main Street. The company wants to put an unspecified food store on the site. The meeting will be broken into two sections. The section that includes Maye’s application begins at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, July 17, in City Council chambers at City Hall, 30 Church Street.

Developer Marvin Maye tried to get permission from the city in 2012 and 2013 to tear down the church for a Dollar General store. But the application faced strenuous opposition from area residents and neighborhood groups who said that the store would be a poor fit in the newly revitalized area.

The church is also a Designated Building of Historic Value in the city. It is the one-time home of the German Liederkranz Club, one of only four surviving buildings "associated with the cultural history of Rochester's large German-American community in the 20th century,” according to the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

Representatives of Highland Hospital will hold an open meeting tonight (Monday, July 14) on the hospital’s planned expansion. The meeting is at 5:30 p.m. in the Olmsted Lodge in Highland Park, 171 Reservoir Avenue.

Highland plans a two-story, 30,000-square-foot expansion off the back of the hospital on what is currently a hospital parking lot at the end of Bellevue Drive. The addition would house six larger operating rooms and allow the hospital to expand its current, cramped operating rooms, officials say. Observation beds will also be added.

The hospital also planned at one time to use 27 Bellevue Drive, a vacant house, for office space. But that plan met resistance from residents of the close-quarters neighborhood, and the hospital appears to have backed off. BY CHRISTINE CARRIE FIEN

A Hamlin man, also an atheist, will deliver the opening invocation at Tuesday’s Greece Town Board meeting.

Dan Courtney says his invocation will center on the need for local governments to be inclusive and to focus on what brings people together, not what divides them.

Two Greece residents previously sued the town over its practice of opening Town Board meetings with prayer. Most of the prayers are Christian in nature, which gives the appearance that the town is endorsing a particular religion, they argued. But the US Supreme Court sided with Greece and said that the practice is appropriate.

Courtney signed up to offer the invocation immediately after that decision.

"I want to make it clear to the non-Christian community, the minority faiths, and nonbelievers in the Town of Greece," Courtney has said. "I want them to know that they can participate in the process."

The meeting starts at 6 p.m. at Greece Town Hall, 1 Vince Tofany Boulevard. BY JEREMY MOULE 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Daydreaming Dems better wake up for midterms

Posted By on Fri, Jul 11, 2014 at 10:39 AM

The 2014 midterm elections could be the most important midterms in decades, setting the stage for 2016 and well beyond. But Democrats are approaching them on tip toes when they should be wearing their iron-toed boots.

Wall Street has done well under this president. Last month’s jobs report capped several months of continuous growth. Almost seven years after a near financial collapse, the US economy is on the mend. Is everyone working who wants to work? Of course not. Millions of Americans are still enduring long-term unemployment. 

But the country’s economy is healthier than it’s been in a long time. 
President Obama - FILE PHOTO.
  • President Obama

What have Republicans done? Remember this was the party that was all about creating jobs and protecting upper income Americans, the so-called job creators. They've launched endless investigations and all but suspended governance.

But many Democrats have continued to distance themselves from President Obama as his poll numbers slide — as is the case for most presidents at this point in their second term. Some have been outspoken about women’s reproductive health, income inequality, comprehensive immigration reform, and climate change. But few speak with the kind of conviction and confidence heard in Senator Elizabeth Warren.

Many Democrats are sitting on the sidelines instead. And it’s hard to gauge how strongly Dems will head to the polls in November. Maybe some believe that Democratic control of the US Senate is already lost, so why bother.

If that attitude prevails, Dems are in for rough times. The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart warned in a recent column that Obama will almost certainly be impeached if the Dems lose the Senate.

But even worse than that, an era in American politics that permitted some collaboration and compromise between party leaders will end at a time when the country’s challenges at home and abroad are growing more defiant – some might even say existential. Just look at the responses from all sides to the crisis of Central American children crossing the southern border to escape violence in their own countries.

Democrats heading to the polls this November may be able to hold on to the Senate, and more importantly, give the country enough time to re-calibrate its politics of gridlock, bluster, and de-legitimizing elections. 

Several primaries possible this September

Posted By on Fri, Jul 11, 2014 at 10:04 AM

Local and state election petitions are in — mostly — and Rochester-area voters may have a few primary races.

The candidates who received their party's backing earlier this year don't have to worry about petitions. But the candidates who want to challenge them on those lines do. They have to collect signatures from people in their party, and those signatures have to withstand the inevitable challenges from opponents.

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

State approves UR-East High deal

Posted By on Wed, Jul 9, 2014 at 4:53 PM

The State Education Department has approved a plan submitted by the Rochester school board and the University of Rochester to improve East High School.

The intervention plan puts the UR in charge of the school and the university will report to the school board. A more detailed plan describing implementation has to be submitted to the SED for approval for the 2015-2016 school year.

The voluntary partnership between the UR and the Rochester school district to turn around a troubled school is the first of its kind in New York.

Germany gains in renewables

Posted By on Wed, Jul 9, 2014 at 1:13 PM

In the first six months of 2014, Germany got more than one-third of its electricity from renewable sources, according to a new report.

The country's solar power production was 28 percent higher over that time than it was during the same period in 2013, says a report from the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems, a German research organization. Its wind power production was 19 percent higher.

brief summary of the report on Yale Environment 360 says that on a couple of sunny and windy days in May and June, renewable energy sources generated 50 percent to 75 percent of Germany's electricity supply. The report also shows that Germany's solar power capacity exceeds generation capacity from any other source. 

American renewable-power advocates often talk up Germany's successes in boosting renewable energy production. They see the country as proof that the United States could boost domestic renewables.

But Germany, too, continues to rely on fossil fuels. Coal-fired plants are still the country's primary electricity source, though the amount of electricity that Germany got from coal was slightly lower in the first half of 2014 than it was in the first half of 2013, the report says.



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