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US soldier deaths mount; local Republicans flex their muscle

Reader feedback - 10-18-06 

The mail

BODY COUNTS

A neighbor of mine keeps a small sign in his front yard with a running tally of the war dead in Iraq. It's now at 2700-plus, of course.

I can't avoid the sign, but I react to it differently, depending on my mood. You know how it goes: sometimes the number is a distant abstract, other times annoying, then again depressing, grieving, frightening....

Maybe it's only the childishness of the heart that keeps track of the number in a meaningful way, that knows what the number really means, what all such numbers really mean.

Maybe it's the heart that jogs my imagination to picture a mother somewhere, watching a coffin descend into the earth as young men fire rifles at the sky. A folded flag sags down in her pale hands.

Tomorrow, as Washington yaks its way through another day, there will be more numbers on my neighbor's sign. Powerful men who haven't smelled a lot of dead bodies will chase their visions.

And the mother in my imagination will wake up, and wish she hadn't.

Gary Gray, Penfield


KEEPING CONTROL

On September 12, RepublicanMonroeCounty legislators prevailed in their efforts to push back the county's budget submission deadline. The aftermath of this vote, in which two Republicans voted no to this proposal, was more dramatic than the meeting itself.

Weeks after the meeting, Republican legislators Robert Colby of Ogden and Ciaran Hanna of Perinton were stripped of their leadership roles in their committee assignments. Comments by Republican Majority Leader Bill Smith reveal that he doesn't believe individual legislators should represent the people who put them in office. Instead, Smith admits that leadership roles are given to legislators who fall in line with the Republican caucus. In other words, Republican legislators are rewarded if they kiss the butts of Steve Minarik and Bill Smith but not if they bravely serve the citizens of MonroeCounty.

Minarik and Smith are grasping for control that is obviously slipping away from the Republican Party. From the Bush administration's highly unpopular occupation of Iraq to the Mark Foley-Dennis Hastert-Tom Reynolds page sex scandal to mediocre statewide candidates such as Jeanine Pirro, the Republican Party is giving voters reasons to vote for Democratic candidates in November. Maybe the Republican leadership has even given Republican county legislators reason to change their party affiliation.

I hope constituents of Robert Colby and Ciaran Hanna thank their legislators for exhibiting courage and voting with their minds and for not caving in to pressure from the control freaks in their party.

Thomas R. Janowski, Hazelhurst Drive, Gates (Janowski is a member of the Gates Democratic Committee)


COMEDY CENTRAL

Several years ago my dear friend, Jonathan DelArco, played a character named Hugh in the television show "Star Trek." Hugh is one of the Borg, a species that lives on hive mentality where all share the same thoughts. Among the Borg, it is a sure sign of blasphemy if individual thought is acknowledged. To be an individual is to break from the strict commands of the Borg credo. Hugh does just that and shares his desire to break from the Borg with the support of the Enterprise crew.

Jonathan made a nice income off Hugh's character and all of the paraphernalia it produced. We laugh about it now.

Borgs are no laughing matter when they control the CountyLegislature. Not so funny when people are punished for having individual thoughts and the audacity to act on them.

Legislators Robert Colby of Ogden and Ciaran Hanna of Perinton had a bit of Hugh in them and dared to think an un-caucus thought and vote against their Borg party line. Both of them were stripped of their positions, and Colby lost out on a few dollars.

The most Borg-like thing about the situation is this quote from Joseph Spector's Democrat and Chronicle article: "But neither Colby nor Hanna seemed angered by the change." How sad. Colby chalked it up to, "If you don't want to play the game, don't get into politics." I was under the impression that CountyLegislators were put there by the voting members of their constituency. I also thought that legislators were accountable to those voters and acted on their behalf. When people are punished for having their own ideas and for voting with their conscience tuned to the voters, this is one big, buzzing beehive. And we even have a Queen Bee presiding, so the metaphor is complete.

The window into the machinations of the county's governing body grows more opaque. I wish we could just change the channel or submit a new script. I say we need a few more Hughs who act on their own integrity and are not afraid to admit it. Until then, we all get stung.

Mary Ellen Blanchard, Elmore Road, Brighton (Blanchard was a Democratic candidate for the CountyLegislature in 2005.)


CAN BATISTE HELP

MOVE THE NATION?

Thank you to City and to Tim Macaluso for the fine interview with General Batiste ("Prepare for a Long War, Click here for article!) As a pacifist and a retired United Church of Christ minister, I would never have thought I'd be commending you on an interview with a general, but this is the first reasonable criticism of the "war" in Afghanistan and Iraq that I have seen.

I was opposed to our entry into Iraq from the beginning, as were most of the leading religious leaders of our country, but the objections were not heard by the president and his decision makers. Although many people were quiet when we moved into Iraq "preemptively," many of them are now expressing their opposition. Since General Batiste is now a resident of the Rochester community, it seems to me that there might be an opportunity for him to meet with citizens to discuss ways of moving the country in a better direction.

The general says: "In reality, we are mortgaging our future. No one is seeing this except military families." I agree with the first sentence, but not the second. I am not the only one who has been complaining about the waste of lives and money, and the fact that our children and grandchildren will be paying for it. That makes it not only a very long war, but the longest and stupidest war in the history of our country.

Although I am 84, I would try to join in a citizens' group to deal with these questions if that could be organized.

Rev. Bruce S. Dean, Stony Point Road, Spencerport


WRITING TO CITY

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