Less than a year ago, the president of the US sold the country on a war with Iraq, justifying it on the basis of questionable data, indicating that oil would pay for it, and intimating that anyone who opposed the idea was, in essence, a traitor. Now it is becoming clear that the data was questionable, that the oil will not pay for it, that we have a colossal mess on our hands, and that maybe those who questioned it were right. And the blame game has begun.
It is not hard to draw a parallel between the Iraq quagmire and the effort to force a bus station on the City of Rochester. Once again, the data supporting the need for the station, particularly one as elaborate as Mr. Nojay wants, is questionable. In this case, the oil that is supposed to pay for its operation is the tenants, but it is certainly not clear that this will be sufficient. Anyone who questions the wisdom of the current approach or dares suggests an alternative is branded as turning down $30 million --- in essence, a traitor to the city and county.
Fortunately, we still have time to avoid the blame game. Let us not keep making the same mistakes. If a bus station is to be built, let us make sure that its need is justified by hard data. Let us make sure we know exactly what it will cost us to operate once it is built. Let us encourage as much input as possible and as many alternative proposals as possible and then come up with a proposal that is economically viable, that will be a true asset to the city and that can win broad support.
Robert Keck, Selden Street, Rochester
The renovated FlatironBuilding at the corner of University and Atlantic Avenues is a magnificent centerpiece of a city success story, the ArtWalk neighborhood.
Paul Kramer, the owner of the Flatiron and other property in the neighborhood, has demonstrated, through his stewardship of the historic building, the profound effect that caring, responsible property owners can have on a community and neighborhoods.
Kramer recently received a richly deserved award from the Arts & Cultural Council for Greater Rochester for championing ArtWalk and the Neighborhood of the Arts. Kramer and his hard work deserve to be held up for all to see. We are richer for having a neighbor, and property owner, of such high quality in our community.
Richard Zitrin, Rochester
Did anyone else hear the esteemed director of our Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra on a recent Saturday night praising electronic organs as being better than pipe organs? He must have been drinking something more potent than apple cider.
I have always regarded every word from Christopher Seaman as the word of God from MountOlympus, as during the recent Symphony 101 concert at Hochstein. Now we know that Christopher Seaman will fortunately be with us for a long time, because he is human and subject to an occasional human frailty.
Electronic organs are not "better than pipe organs" when the organ is in tune.
Watch out, woodwinds; your voices too can be synthesized and made "better."
John O. Brostrup, East Avenue, Rochester
I noticed a bar advertisement in a biweekly activities magazine for a "Pimp 'n Ho Party" on Halloween. Pimping and whoring is all about using people for money and being used for money. Doesn't the bar realize how dehumanizing (not to mention immoral) these two professions are? They are part of what's wrong with Rochester, and to have a party with these professions as a theme is disgusting.
Dan Quilty, Kosciusko Street, Rochester
Why is it we can't recognize and appreciate a great and capable person like Mayor Johnson? Yes, he goes around the country attending legislature meetings, promoting the city and northern New York, and speaking at big affairs. We benefit from this capable ambassador. The mayor knows how to delegate and keeps up to date even when he is away.
We need Mayor Johnson as our county leader. It would be foolish to pass up this opportunity to benefit from his experience, knowledge, and wisdom. He is a likeable gentleman who listens.
The mayor's opponent is a capable lady. It's a great pity she could not keep the auto-license bureau in a permanent location downtown.
Peter A. Plummer, Buell Drive, Rochester
Many people have been made to fear that a vote for Bill Johnson will bring the city's problems to their door. The hard news is that those problems are already there.
The Republican administration, in a desperate attempt to balance the county's budget, has truncated the Department of Social Services. This "welfare reform" only means pushing the poor further out into the cold, literally freezing the homeless.
Nearly any of us could, through loss of job, spouse, health, or health insurance, be thrust into the ranks of those needing social services. Beyond that, there is the ultimate social cost of abandoning the poor: prisons. The last figures I read indicated that it costs about $50,000 to build a prison cell and $20,000 a year to keep someone in it. With the federal and state governments in financial disarray, who is going to pay these costs?
Some US cities are already closing hospitals, schools, and fire stations. Will we be forced to choose between prisons and garbage collection?
We need someone who will bring the county together to seriously address our problems. Bill Johnson has been doing just that since 1993. Please take a minute to think about what "united we stand" really means.
John Kastner, Ericsson Street, Rochester
In the MonroeCounty executive race, comparing Rochester Mayor Bill Johnson and County Clerk Maggie Brooks is like comparing apples and oranges.
Bill Johnson has been Rochester mayor for the past nine years. Under his leadership, there has been the development of HighFalls, the Rochester MusicFest, and new housing on the east end of the city, and the fast ferry is becoming a reality. The city has a balanced budget and sound fiscal management.
Bill Johnson has used his position as mayor to network with national government officials and members of the corporate sector across the United States. His stature has benefited the city. He is admired and respected by many because of his ability to govern. In 1999, Governing Magazine named him one of the Top 10 Public Officials in America.
Maggie Brooks has been a television personality and a MonroeCounty legislator and currently is county clerk. She has not had the political experience to allow her to effectively govern the county. Being in charge of the clerk's office is not in the same league as managing the county.
Francine Conwell, Morven Road, Rochester
The VeteransAdministrationHospital in Canandaigua must not be closed. Rather, it must be kept open to care for the psychological problems of veterans of past wars and the veterans-to-be who now serve our country in Iraq. Many of the latter will need post-traumatic stress treatment when, and if, they come home from that war. I applaud Senators Clinton and Schumer for promising legislation to derail the proposed shutdown.
The Canandaigua VA Hospital is needed in addition to the possibility of reusing the GeneseeHospital in Rochester as a full-service VA hospital. Rochester is the only major city in New YorkState without a full-fledged VA facility. The clinic on Westfall Road is inadequate, especially given the advancing age and ills of World War II veterans. We need to add more VA facilities, not less, in New YorkState.
As part of my platform as a candidate for the Rochester City Council, South District, I propose creating dual community-veteran use of GeneseeHospital. Part could be used as a biotechnology research facility. Stem-cell research and tissue engineering could work side by side in a marriage of veterans' care and state-of-the-art research. Veterans have asked many times for a VA hospital on the GeneseeHospital site. They deserve our best support, not a decrease.
The closing of GeneseeHospital in 2001 and the shutdown of St. Mary's emergency room in 1999 has stressed the local health-care system. Now Park RidgeHospital is asking for $27 million for expansion of its emergency services. Let us seek to rehire those who were laid off due to the unfortunate demise of the GeneseeHospital and put them to work creating new possibilities for all of those around us.
Harry Davis, South Avenue, Rochester (Davis is an independent write-in candidate for Rochester City Council, South District.)
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