I agree wholeheartedly with Republican County Clerk/Executive candidate Maggie Brooks. "We've had enough studies, enough conferences, and enough meetings," Brooks has declared on several campaign occasions. "Now is the time to roll up our sleeves, bring people together, and get the job done."
Amen, Maggie. And to that, I would add that I've had enough campaign news conferences that are heavy on TV makeup and light on meaningful ideas.
So I passed on Brooks' May 22 news conference at Rochester Tech Park, at which she released "Real Leadership, Real Vision, Real Change," her 22-page "community action plan." Surely, I figured, Brooks will be eager to share her plan with journalists even after the TV news actors have left.
And sure enough, a two-page press release outlining the plan's key components arrived by fax later the same day. But despite several calls to Republican headquarters that day and the next, an actual copy of the glossy document was not to be had. Brooks calls herself "a pioneer in cutting edge technology" in the plan, but I was told that no electronic version of "Real Leadership" existed. Xerox machines are also apparently in short supply, as the secretary at headquarters told me there wasn't an extra copy around for any of the many media folk requesting one.
Luckily, the Democrats had a copy, and they were quite willing to fax it to me. After reading it, I know why.
There it was in black-and-white, concluding the introductory essay: "We've had enough studies...." But there on the next page was Brooks' pledge to form "the Monroe County Economic Roundtable," an umbrella economic development group consisting of the Rochester Business Alliance, the Greater Rochester Enterprise, local labor leaders, and "key employers."
OK, so maybe they'll have just a few meetings, and do one or two measly studies.
But wait. On page six, there's a pledge to "host a mandate-relief meeting" of our state legislative delegation to "raise [their] awareness" of burdensome state mandates and find solutions to the problem. This meeting is such a good idea that Brooks says she'll "ask my colleagues across the state to host similar meetings" with the goal of holding "a series of these summits throughout the state." Well, I guess a summit, technically, isn't a meeting or a conference.
Neither is a "task force," like the one Brooks proposes on page seven of "Real Leadership," this one to "bring people from the not-for-profit community together to study service delivery and..." --- whoops, another study session.
On page eight, there's the proposal to convene a "Legislative Delegation Summit," so "federal, state, and local governments can come together to create a list of community priorities and then draft a plan of action for implementation." That should be a short meeting.
The city school district "has been a dismal failure," Brooks tells us on page 11. Her first solution: Have a "Blue Ribbon Commission take a close look at the management, finances and structure of [the city schools]." In other words, she'd commission a study.
Like most of "Real Leadership," Brooks' education platform has as much action as On Golden Pond. Her second pledge is to "fight against any proposal to eliminate our suburban school districts." Malcontented suburban middle schoolers propose this idea all the time, but otherwise, it has almost zero public support. I assume she's also against giving authority over our schools to an interim Iraqi government.
Her third pledge: "Work to create a citizenship program to encourage young people to understand their roles and responsibilities to their nation and each other." One can only admire her restraint in not adding "to God."
And the fourth and final item: "Work to maintain and improve our high-quality parks system, improve our zoo, and encourage community groups to utilize the parks for fun, family-friendly activities" --- as opposed, one supposes, to those boring, family-antagonistic activities that bring down test scores.
I called Brooks' office to ask her about her plan, but was told she was "in a meeting." I feel bad for her. It must be a long one. It's been almost a week, and she has yet to return the call.