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Reader Feedback 10.9.02 

Fields of dreams

After reading Chris Busby's article, "Rhinos and Red Wings and Rattlers, Oh My" (September 18), I've come to the conclusion that former County Executive Tom Frey has no clue whatsoever. His moronic statements about a proposed retrofit of Frontier Field prove that he and his so-called Sports Authority are completely out of touch with local sports and the average sport fan in the Rochester area.

                  Frey and the Sports Authority have a very low opinion of Rochester and its sport fans. I guess they are just too high-brow for the rest of us. No wonder Bob King won that election. Too bad Jack Doyle and Mayor Bill Johnson are clueless also.

                  Frey asked: "How do we build a separate stadium for a team that has 14 dates, 18 at most, and expect that not to lose money?" This year alone, the Rhinos had 20 dates played in Rochester. One game had to be played in Webster because of a scheduling conflict with the Red Wings.

                  The Rattlers played seven home games at Frontier. The Rochester Ravens, the women's soccer team, played six home games. The Rochester Raptors, the women's football team, played three home games. By my count, that is 36 potential dates where the proposed Pae-Tec Park could have been utilizied. That's not counting Section V high school games (football, soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, etc), marching-band competitions, concerts, or many other community events that could take place there.

                  Frey is quoted as saying that big rock shows and the like "never showed up at Frontier." Does this guy even live in Rochester? BB King's Blues Fest and WPXY's Summer Jam were staged at Frontier. Wouldn't Pae Tec Park be a great place for Mayor Johnson's Rochester MusicFest and the JazzFest? There are fewer concerts at Frontier because of the few dates are available. Plain and simple!

                  Build this new stadium, and all the things that I've mentioned will happen there. It is very simple: build it and they will come.

                  The Sports Authority is trying to blackmail both the Rhinos and the Red Wings into accepting deals that are bad for both teams.

                  Warren V. Wind, Close Hollow Drive, Hamlin




Chained to Gannett

The comments of my colleague, Democrat and Chronicle spokesman Tom Flynn, in City require a response ("Decade of Indecision," Metro Ink, October 2).

                  Tom, in the story about the Newspaper Guild of Rochester's protest, said that the D&C is "autonomous" in its negotiations with the Guild. The statement is complete --- excuse me as I pause for a family-friendly word --- hokum. Tom knows that Gannett's corporate pooh-bahs, ensconced in their sparkling new $300 million Taj Mahal headquarters in Northern Virginia, handle contractual bargaining with unions.

                  If the D&C were autonomous, there would be no need for Gannett's corporate lawyers to regularly travel to Rochester and to handle all the decision-making at our bargaining sessions. (I might concede that the management at the D&C determines the refreshments for bargaining meetings between the Guild and Gannett. But, even on that point, I'm not sure that the D&C officials are allowed the choice between doughnuts or bagels.)

                  The fact is, we're lucky at the D&C to have a decent publisher like Dave Hunke, who cares both for his workers and for this community. And we all know that if Gannett allowed caring folks like Dave to have a say in bargaining, we wouldn't have this endless silliness that has caused negotiations to drag on for a decade.

                  Gary Craig, secretary, Newspaper Guild Local 17 chapter




War and peace

Jack Bradigan Spula's article "Example for the Nations" (September 11) misses a number of the essentials. The civilian casualties cited in Afghanistan are much smaller than the gains modestly expected by an influx of staying-alive technology. The New York Times' Nicholas Kristof estimates about one million lives saved over the coming decade as a result of medical-care improvements following our intervention (www.nytimes.com/2002/02/01/opinion/01KRIS.html).

                  The use of US casualties (about 3000) as some measure of the threat posed by our enemy misses the intent. Al Qaeda would like to kill a lot more. Analogously, the limited Israeli civilian deaths are no measure of the intent of Palestinian terrorists or more generally of their many supporters in the Arab world. Underlying both are people --- more strongly men --- feeling like losers and escaping that through the "empowerment" of hatred, to the species-old tune of "wipe out the jealousy-invoking group." That's why they hate us and furthermore why they apparently don't care about violence perpetrated upon their brethren by Hindu mobs.

                  The select sweep through casualties in the region doesn't mention any indigenous violence. A recent report had Pakistan missing 5 to 7 million women. This past year saw an estimated 3.4 million additional HIV infections in Africa, most to women and many of these under imposed circumstances (Scientific American, May 2000). The "brutal" US client state Indonesia in a classic colonial move ended tribal warfare in Irian Jaya. Traditional violence is the relevant default when critiquing interventions.

                  The politically correct bias against investigating and reporting on violence in indigenous societies is very strong in the social sciences (see the book "How the Mind Works" and the article on cannibalism in Scientific American, August 2001). This leaves us with academics like Marc Herold out counting bombing victims while not reporting on any of the larger traditional (and historically displace-able) violence scenarios.

                  Beyond all of this, though, is population numbers. Iraq through the '90s was averaging 7 kids per couple and had dropped to 30 percent food self-sufficiency. Following the same fertility tract --- and minus US/UN sanctions --- the oil-richer Saudis have seen per-capita income drop 260 percent in the last 20 years, almost exactly mirroring the 271 percent population increase (www.nytimes.com/2002/02/20/opinion/20FRIE.html). The humanitarian impact of the sanctions are potentially minute compared to those associated with doing the right thing --- getting off their oil. Afghanistan is also well beyond food self-sufficiency and is still averaging 6 kids per couple.

                  We should stay within the UN-framework on Iraq for now. If we really want to leverage Saddam et al, we should move aggressively to get off Mid-East oil. The issue of humanitarian aid for the region is not simple; perhaps at best we can encourage countries to meet their own basic needs. The countries there --- as well as our own --- have serious sustainability homework to do.

                  Ted Christopher, Lilac Drive, Rochester

Jack Bradigan Spula responds: Readers should check out Kristof's column and see how it distorts history and shows deep ignorance of the realities of war.

                  "Ever since Vietnam," Kristof writes, "the West has been deeply squeamish about the use of force... But Afghanistan shows that guns and bombs can save lives as much as scalpels and IV tubes do." This fails --- and shocks --- on two counts.

                  First, the "West," which since World War Two has meant mostly the US, has applied force numerous times post-Vietnam, usually through surrogates and with exceptional brutality. A few examples: Guatemala's misnamed "civil war," with 200,000 dead or "disappeared"; Nicaragua's Contra War, with thousands of civilian victims; and yes, Afghanistan 1979-1989, a Cold War battleground with perhaps a million dead.

                  Second, compounding his error or omission, Kristof ignores what would have been possible had the use of force been rejected. In Afghanistan, for example, think of what a little joint US-Soviet decency could have done. The rich nations could have funded extraordinary humanitarian efforts --- food and medical aid, education, peaceful economic development --- to raise the quality of life there. Who knows how many millions of lives would have been spared over the years?

                  Yes, intent does count. But different levels of incrimination exist, as recognized in law and moral codes. The US bombed Afghanistan knowing full well the strategy would kill large numbers of innocent people. That was "depraved indifference" or worse.

                  The same judgment applies to pundits who now do riffs on destroying the village in order to save it. Dropping high explosives on or near civilian areas and then claiming the innocent had to die so humanitarian efforts could save others --- well, that boils down to War is peace.




After the victory

When we, the American people, get our way and we oust Saddam Hussein, the easiest part of the "war" will have been done. After the hurrahs have died down, after the slaps on the backs by those who think being strong is everything, and after some deeply moving graveside memorials attended by politicians speaking about sacrifice, then we will be hit with an even bigger problem than "what to do about Saddam." That is, "What do we do next?"

                  Do we leave Iraq in turmoil and chaos? Do we put in a weak puppet leader? Do we set up a so-called democratic election that will be a joke? Better yet, do we just annex Iraq and take the oil?

                  It would be a great comfort to many, and especially those who will have lost loved ones, if we had a fully expressed and well-articulated Phase 2 to study. Getting rid of Saddam is not a plan. It is just a reaction. A plan would have ideas, goals, and strategies for stability in the aftermath of victory.

                  It would be nice if Saddam were to go for humanitarian reasons, but he isn't the menace to the world he is made out to be. His influence is very localized.

                  We are propelling ourselves toward a tragic end. Without a total plan, the push to overthrow Saddam looks like just another politically motivated scheme wrapped in the flag and stained with blood.

                  To our leaders making the moves toward war I say: Don't give us the hype, or the spin, or the BS. Don't tell us that a SCUD that can fly only 500 miles is a major threat to the USA. Our homegrown terrorists are much more of a threat than Saddam Hussein.

                  Don't try to make us think that Saddam is Osama. We know the difference between a strutting peacock dictator of a fourth-rate country and a leader of a fanatical terrorist organization. Please don't gives us those scary words in their many variations that sound like "Trust me." Give us the real facts, and tell the American people and the world where we are heading after the victory parade.

                  Charles White, LeRoy




Irondequoit pick-up

At an Irondequoit Town Board meeting on March 19, a proposal to change the leaf pickup program was introduced. Councilman Michael Garbin asked that the responsibility be transferred from the waste haulers to the Town of Irondequoit at a cost of approximately $15 per year per taxpayer. The plan is to have residents rake their leaves to the right of way, and a vacuum truck will periodically be dispatched (two or three times each fall and spring) to pick up the leaves. The program's start-up cost is estimated at $475,000.

                  Since 1989, when the town asked the waste haulers to accept the function of leaf pickup, things have worked out excellently.

                  The main objection to the present policy is that the bags in which the leaves are placed are causing an ecological problem because they are not biodegradable. On investigation, I found that the DEC inspectors at the dump sites have no problem with the present procedure of leaf disposal. If necessary, the town can mandate the use of biodegradable bags, and residents can get biodegradable bags at several outlets at minimum cost.

                  Why would the town want to take on the problems of the leaf disposal program, when it has been working so well for so long? If we are dissatisfied with our waste hauler, we can just engage another company. If we are not satisfied with the town's performance, can we contract with a waste hauler? I did a survey and found that 9 out of 10 people indicated that they were satisfied with the present situation.

                  At several town board meetings regarding the leaf proposal, there was much controversy regarding the change. The board agreed that a referendum would be included in the November 2002 election, giving residents an opportunity to resolve this controversy.

                  It is important that readers understand that a change in the leaf program is not a prudent thing to do at this time. Remember the quote: If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

                  David Winterman, Coronado Drive, Irondequoit




Wilmot on Busby

In response to Chris Busby's "Wilmot Waves a Tiny Flag" (September 25): It appears that City had better treat Mr. Busby well. With the kind of cynicism he displayed, he seems to be bucking for a job with the Democrat and Chronicle's editorial board.

                  My proposal before the Monroe County Legislature --- and the subject of Mr. Busby's editorial --- to provide for a state take-over of the Rochester School District will not pass the legislature. In fact, the Republican majority deemed my proposal a "memorializing resolution," meaning that it was not assigned to a committee, but legislators from both sides have the opportunity to sign the non-binding resolution, and once signed, the resolution will be sent to Jack Doyle, Mayor Johnson, and Governor Pataki.

                  I have been in the County Legislature for nearly seven years. I have never passed a single piece of legislation, which puts me in good company with the majority of my Democratic colleagues. Perhaps four or five out of hundreds of Democratic referrals have passed the full legislature in the past seven years. The successful referrals dealt with flag poles and tax breaks for seniors. I applaud my few-and-far-between colleagues who have passed less than 1 percent of all Democratic referrals offered over seven years.

                  With no disrespect to my Democratic colleagues (and with a little professional jealousy, I suppose), I am the kind of legislator who chooses not to put forth motherhood and apple-pie legislation. I represent a very troubled urban district; my conscience and my constituents dictate that I take on the tougher issues. Hence my passion for urban education, housing, and jobs.

                  Mr. Busby intimates that because the D&C chose poor placement and coverage of my idea, somehow the idea is diminished. He claims that my press conference was littered with TV cameras mostly photographing other TV cameras. He also claims that the TV version of the story received scant coverage that evening. These are purely editorial comments by Mr. Busby, masquerading as hard news. Every local TV news department was present at the press conference, and most if not all featured my legislation in the first 3 to 5 minutes of their broadcasts, coincidentally where hard news is found in a TV news broadcast.

                  But what most disturbed me about Mr. Busby's piece was its naiveté. He seems to have fallen into the trap that too many journalists are falling into when covering politics and government: Busby seems to be saying that since a minority party in a legislative body often has little chance of passing legislation, perhaps the minority party should refrain from such.

                  Whether minority-sponsored legislation passes or not is hardly the point. Are Busby and other journalists of his ilk really suggesting that we Democrats pack up our legislative tent and go home?

                  My constituents elected and re-elected me three times to do my best. A state take-over of the Rochester school district may never work. But my primary focus on offering urban-based legislation is to always point out the tremendously debilitating effect poverty has on all facets of the lives of low-income people --- especially children --- in the City of Rochester.

                  Snide, sarcastic editorializing by City Newspaper about the woes of urban education are hardly in keeping with what I thought was a progressive editorial agenda on the part of your newspaper. If City has changed its editorial position, then I must say to your new civic perspective, and to Mr. Busby: no thanks, Chris.

                  Christopher J. Wilmot, East Avenue, Rochester (Wilmot is assistant Democratic leader of the Monroe County legislature.)

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