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News briefs 9.17.03 

'Prime' numbers

A couple Monroe County towns fired their leaders last week.

            In Chili, incumbent supervisor Steve Hendershott lost to County Legislator Tracy Logel in the Republican primary, 1,207 to 815. Hendershott goes on to the general election on the Conservative and Independence lines, but insists he won't campaign.

            Likewise, Channing Philbrick lost his bid to remain Penfield supervisor. Legislator George Wiedemer took the Republican endorsement away from Philbrick, 1,556 to 1,446.

            A third legislator, Jack Driscoll, also sought to unseat a long-term Republican supervisor, but failed. Driscoll lost to Jim Breese, 1,449 to 1,066.

            In Hamlin, Republican Supervisor Austin Warner III defeated challenger Ed Evans, 472 to 334.

            There were four contenders for the Conservative endorsement in the race for two Chili Town Board seats. Michael Slattery and Virginia Ignatowski defeated David Burns and David Harris. The count was: Slattery, 69; Ignatowski, 60; Burns, 55; and Harris, 54.

            In the Democratic primary for City Court judge, John Schwartz and Jack Elliott defeated Marjorie Burns. By the numbers: Schwartz, 5,273; Elliott, 4,605; and Burns, 2,608.

            There are four seats open on the Rochester City School Board this year. Seven contenders competed in a Democratic primary. The winners were David Perez with 4,336 votes; Shirley Thompson with 4,226; Malik Evans, 4,086; and Willa Powell, 3,557. The nearest challenger was Glenny Williams with 3,060 votes.

            The election results will be finalized this week.

            Countywide, about 29 percent of registered Republicans voted in the suburban primaries. Approximately 12 percent of registered Democrats voted in the city elections.

Inquiry interrupted

The District Attorney's office has been granted a breather by the Monroe County Legislature.

            Two years ago, the Lej asked DA Howard Relin for a report explaining the alleged failure of his office to effectively prosecute more than 4,000 felony cases. The cases, according to Republican legislator Mark Assini, were subject to speedy-trial dismissals because they weren't prosecuted within the six-month time limit mandated by law.

            Assini and Relin clashed at a Lej subcommittee meeting earlier this month --- Assini calling the DA on the carpet for his failure to issue the requested report or even to keep the Lej updated. Relin accused Assini of trying to tarnish the DA's office in an election year.

            Assini's proposal to create a special three-member committee to investigate the DA's office was tabled by the full Lej in a party-line vote last week. The Democrats' vote against tabling the proposal was symbolic --- it should be permanently scrapped, they said. Democrat Stephanie Aldersley called Assini's gesture "gracious."

            Assini withdrew his proposal in order to give the Lej time to review a state commission report on the matter --- issued days before the meeting --- and because Relin has agreed to issue his own report to the Lej by September 21.

            Although the State Commission of Investigation said it "has not uncovered any serious misconduct in the handling of pending felony cases" by the DA, Assini says troubling questions remain about the management of the office.

            His motivation is not political, Assini says, and he will continue to pursue the matter, if necessary, beyond the November election --- regardless of the party affiliation of the office holder.

            "I just want to get this cleared up and there is a problem," he says.

            His proposal may be back in front of the Lej by October.

            Meanwhile, the Democratic caucus issued a press release last week, calling on Governor George Pataki and the state Lej to pass a law preventing the backlog of closed felony cases in district attorneys' offices.

            The state commission's report is online at www.sic.state.ny.us. Link to "public reports."

Fire sale

Monroe County will sell 28 acres --- two parcels --- of the IOLA Campus at public auction. The sale was approved in a party-line vote at last week's County Legislature meeting.

            The IOLA land, partially in the city and partially in Brighton near Westfall and East Henrietta roads, has strong potential as an industrial-commercial site because of its proximity to major roads and highways.

            Democrats blasted the sale, accusing the GOP of dumping two prime parcels at bargain-basement prices in order to caulk the county's fractured finances.

            "It's a one-time fix," said Democrat Stephanie Polowe Aldersley. "It's a way of avoiding making the hard choices we have to make to balance the county budget."

            Waiting for better economic times might help the county fetch a higher price for the land, Aldersley said.

            Republicans countered that the county has been planning to sell the land for several years, and holding an auction is the way to get the best price. The county will not accept a sale price below the appraised value. If bids come in below that value, it will not sell.

            The land that the current juvenile detention center sits on and a reserved site for a new juvenile justice center will be excluded from the sale.

Gotta run

Monroe County legislators know how to clear a room.

            After hotly debating dog parks, a land sale, and controversy in the DA's office at a meeting last week, the Legislature decided enough was enough and approved the remaining 20-plus agenda items in bulk. Moved, seconded, and we're-outta-here.

            The action was moved by Legislator Bill Smith, a Republican, and seconded by Democrat Stephanie Aldersley --- a bipartisan effort to get home in time to watch primary election returns roll in. Who says lawmakers can't agree on the tough issues?

            It's not a coincidence that it was primary election night and the political futures of legislators Tracy Logel, George Wiedemer, and Jack Driscoll were all being decided. Logel and Wiedemer challenged incumbent supervisors in Chili and Penfield, respectively, for the GOP endorsement and won. Driscoll lost the Henrietta primary to longtime supervisor Jim Breese.

            Early dismissal is not unprecedented, according to Lej President Dennis Pelletier, and the public isn't short-changed by this form of abbreviated democracy.

            "There was nothing contentious," he says. "The rest [of the agenda items] were pretty routine. They went through committee unanimously."

Correcting ourselves

In last week's Metro Ink, we wrote that Forrest Cummings' jazz show on WGMC (90.1 and 105.1 F.M.) airs on Saturdays from 5 to 7 p.m. The show actually airs on Sundays from 5 to 7 p.m.

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