In your endorsement for the Rochester School Board, you mischaracterized my statements about the district's budget. I stated that I have pored over the budget report that is made available to the public. It is impossible to identify waste in spending when the district refuses to allow the public to see the entire budget. It appears that your expectation is for me to develop solutions to problems without having all the facts.
My opponent has stated publicly that the budget is too complicated for anyone but an "insider" to understand. In my interview with City, I guaranteed that once I had the complete budget at my disposal I would have concrete fiscal solutions. Until that time, I have been calling for district finances to be completely transparent.
To dismiss my ideas because I am not an incumbent is not just illogical, but irresponsible. My platform is based on 15 years' experience working with children in the city. My opponent has offered no solutions to our problems, because he claims the RochesterSchool District is on the right track. Ask the students, parents, and teachers in the city if they agree. Your own editor has stated that she does not.
Also, to include race as a partial reason to endorse a candidate is a dangerous precedent to set. One thing you neglected to mention is that it is the non-Latino candidate who has been advocating for the AHORA report to be dusted off and implemented. (The AHORA report is a host of suggestions presented by members of the community --- mostly Latino --- to spur greater achievement among Latino students in the district.)
While I have always been a supporter of City Newspaper, I am concerned that its editorial view has become, like the Rochester School Board, stuck on one party.
Dave Atias, Rochester (Atias is the Green Party candidate for Rochester School Board.)
As if issues decided political campaigns, KrestiaDeGeorge, in common with the Democrat and Chronicle, continues City's longstanding tradition of writing naive and even shallow analyses about politics (29th Congressional District coverage, October 20).
The two newspapers' political analyses as well as their editorials almost totally overlook the most significant matters in all political campaigns --- districting and funding.
Outside of one clause, where is the analysis of which counties in the Kuhl-Barend race vote Republican and which vote Democratic? And are there any that swing, or stray from party loyalty?
And, even more significant, where is the analysis of funding? If DeGeorge had researched his article adequately, he would have learned that a national millionaires' organization, the Fund for Growth, has declared publicly it will fund Kuhl up to the legal maximum.
That, as well as registration and party loyalty, will determine the winner in the 29th District, because money permits a candidate to get his or her message out and keep voters from straying, no matter what the candidate's position is on the issues.
Mitchell Kaidy, Crittenden Road, Brighton
KrestiaDeGeorge's response: The primary purpose of our political coverage has never been to accurately guess a winner. It's to educate voters on some of the issues we believe to be important. We assume our readers cast their votes intelligently and our goal is to help them do so. As for fundraising, Barend's campaign has raised slightly more money, but has more than double the amount of Kuhl's cash on hand.
There is no doubt that the war in Iraq, national security, our economy, and the loss of jobs must be debated before the electorate. However, these issues should not completely eclipse our attention to our life-support system: our environment.
The tragedy of the Bush administration --- beyond its deplorable record on the environment in the last four years (see Sierra Club's "Keeping Tabs on George W. Bush, http://sierraclub.org/wwatch) --- is that they have created an atmosphere where serious debate about pollution and global warming does not exist. And sadly, taking their lead from the administration, the media have stricken most of the news about our environment from this year's election coverage.
The Bush administration does not get it. They do not get that corporations' short-term needs cannot take precedence over our need for a stable environment. When our environment collapses, so will our way of life. Regardless of one's political beliefs, pollution and global warming have a way of getting in your face. For example, global warming may have influenced the four major storms that just hit Florida, but there is no political courage to fund the studies to find out.
Moreover, there is no indication that four more years of the Bush administration will change this hostile attitude toward our environment, even though (according to the Union of Concerned Scientists) most scientists do not agree with Bush's environmental science.
Regardless of the attitude of the Bush administration, the media, or the public, the environment will go on. We just might not fare so well if we do not react to our environmental problems with reality. A world where you can pollute as much as you want and survive, or where you can make a compromise with nature, is a world that does not exist. Fashionable or not, environmental concerns should be nonpartisan and a top priority for the media.
Frank J. Regan, Belmont Street, Rochester(Regan is conservation chairperson for the Sierra Club's Rochester Regional Group.)
In 1970, when my son was 17 years old, he announced that if his draft number was called, he would become a conscientious objector. Although moved by and proud of his decision, my heart sank. I remembered reading a novel by Ring Lardner, Jr. about the harassment of conscientious objectors in World War II, and was sickened at the thought of him having a similar fate.
At about the same time, I was visiting my mother in Toronto with my then 14-year-old daughter, and by chance, a parade was scheduled that weekend by Canadians on behalf of the Vietnam draft resisters in their midst. I took my daughter, and we marched along with thousands of others through the city. For political and security reasons, the young Americans there were not allowed to participate officially, but they ran alongside the marchers on the sidewalk, shouting their heartfelt gratitude for this demonstration of support.
This was the state of the world back then --- a world abased by such Orwellian terms as "gooks" and "being wasted" and "collateral damage" --- when a decorated young soldier came back from Vietnam to speak before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee of his wartime experiences and electrified the country.
That soldier, of course, was John Kerry, and I remember hearing him give his soon-to-become-famous line: "How can you ask somebody to be the last man to die for a mistake?" and feeling as though a window had opened and hope again wafted in the air. Hope not only for the Vietnamese people and those thousands of young men still in Vietnam whose lives might be spared, but also for those who were peripherally affected like me, whose son would not have to make the choice between love of country and love of humanity.
Alas, Richard Nixon did not share my enthusiasm; he directed Charles Colson and his cohorts to find another Vietnam veteran to discredit John Kerry. And find him they did in the person of spick-and-span John O'Neill. From their point of view, it was a great choice. John O'Neill was everything that John Kerry wasn't; his short hair as neatly cut as Kerry's longish hair was disheveled, his clothing as starched and tight as Kerry's was rumpled and loose, his viewpoint as programmed and misleading as Kerry's was nuanced and sincere.
John O'Neill didn't get very far at the time; the audience on the Dick Cavett Show, for instance, clearly preferred Kerry. Who would have imagined that O'Neill's vendetta would reach its apogee over 33 years later, under the aegis of another Dirty Tricks contingent, with his Swift Boats for Truth campaign? If Kerry loses the election, this will certainly be one of the major reasons why.
Ever since that first introduction to Kerry, I've watched his career closely, and found that he represented my own views in just about every issue of the day, be it health care or the environment, civil rights or foreign relations, domestic security or campaign finance reform.
I travel widely, and all across the country I've heard people talk about ABB --- Anybody But Bush. That isn't the reason I'm voting for John Kerry. I'm voting for him because I recognized his integrity over three decades ago, and time has only served to strengthen that conviction.
Like many Kerry supporters, I listened to that first presidential debate with apprehension, for I feared that he'd been Dukakisized by the ferocity of the smear campaign launched against him. Not only by the major efforts of O'Neill, Limbaugh, O'Reilly, and their ilk, but in the minor ones as epitomized by the Band-Aids worn by delegates to the Republican Convention decorated with a Purple Heart.
To see John Kerry come back in that debate against all odds, like the great warrior he is, was as electrifying for me as that first time I heard him speak. Hope again has wafted in the window.
Marianne LangnerZeitlin, Warren Avenue, Brighton (The writer is a novelist and literary critic.)
This election is not about who you'd rather watch Sunday football with, not about who has better hair, not about who seems more natural in front of people, not about who's better in front of a camera, not about the candidates' Vietnam War record or National Guard service, not about whether the candidate uses simple sentences or complex ones, not about whether the First Lady is proper and traditional or outspoken and exotic.
This election, first and foremost, is a referendum on our nearly unilateral, preemptive, ill-informed, and speciously justified invasion of Iraq. It is about whether this administration has demonstrated intelligence, creativity, and flexibility in stabilizing Iraq, whether the continuing loss of life is justified, whether its plan to make our country safer is the most effective plan. Our invasion of Iraq and its countless ramifications for our national economy and safety and our relationship with the world is the most important issue about which we are voting.
The current climate of polarity is unsettling and usually engenders more heat than light. Typical is a recent letter to the Democrat and Chronicle in which a woman suggested beheading a Muslim prisoner each time a terrorist beheads an American. This mentality makes us as depraved as the terrorists.
Though we keep hearing that this is a new kind of war with a new kind of enemy, we keep fighting in the old-fashioned way. It's ironic that a country so adept at advertising doesn't do more to sell its way of life to the people likely to become America-hating terrorists. Until their hearts and minds are won over, terrorism will continue.
A final thought on character and intellect: These are complex times and call for a leader with the intellect to see complexity, the courage to not turn his back to it, the humility to admit error, and the flexibility to change. We are not well served with a zealot in the White House. Emerson warned us that consistency is the hobgoblin of a foolish mind. If we want to climb out of the hole we've dug, the White House needs a little more Hamlet and a lot less John Wayne.
Zealots can be terrifying, regardless of their religion or politics, because for them faith is more important than facts, pride more powerful than humility. Ignorance might be bliss for some, but it's hell on earth for the rest. I hope we elect a president who isn't adverse to seeking the truth, wherever it leads.
Rick Taddeo, Irondequoit
Four years ago, I did not vote in the presidential election because I was too busy to buy stamps for my absentee ballot. Besides, I did not see how politics could affect my life. Watching the events of the past four years, I came to realize I was wrong: Politics has everything to do with me and my life. I was angry with myself for being so apathetic, and I promised not to repeat my mistake.
Today, I am still angry. I am angry at all the people who haven't educated themselves on the issues and candidates' stances. I know how easy it is to be apathetic: Not so long ago, I didn't know Enron from a flavor of Perry's ice cream. My fear is that many undecided voters are similarly intelligent but indifferent people who plan to sit down at some point and study as if cramming for a test.
The truth is, an individual's vote is not weighted according to how much information went into the decision-making process: My supposedly educated vote holds just as much clout as a ballot cast on the flip of a coin. It is not enough just to get out and vote. You need to vote responsibly.
I beg all the undecided voters: Please, start your study session now. Politics is not static; it does not stand still. You need to base your decisions on perspectives across a broad span of time, and there is precious little time left. Read. Think. Listen. Pay attention and ask questions. Don't let yourself be bullied by those of us with strong opinions. Challenge us.
Then, get out and vote.
Harmony Button, East Avenue, Rochester
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