As a City of Rochester resident and year-round walker, I increasingly dread the onset of winter, mainly because of the thick snowy blanket or icy veneer that often coats the sidewalks.
At least once every winter, I manage to fall on the sidewalk, so far avoiding serious injury to my already impaired body. I can only imagine how difficult it must be for those elderly and physically disabled without cars. As Jack Bradigan Spula has often pointed out, they are for all practical purposes homebound during the winter months.
I have seen people in electric wheelchairs stranded, spinning their wheels on a particularly snow-clogged sidewalk, and with my bad back, I couldn't help push them. The only other option is to walk in the street, which is more dangerous, but many do anyway.
Since most city home and business owners drive instead of walk, they neither notice nor seem to care that these dangerous sidewalk conditions exist. They apparently also don't know that according to the Code of the City of Rochester (Chapter 104-11), "property owners must maintain sidewalks adjacent to their properties free of obstructions and snow and ice. This responsibility may be performed by property owners, or, in the case of commercial properties, the first-floor tenants."
This code was cited in a Department of Environmental Services brochure included with a recent letter I received on this subject from Mayor William Johnson. Mayor Johnson wrote, "Several attempts have been made to provide the public education, including distribution of the enclosed brochure. You are correct that additional enforcement may be necessary and we will be reviewing our efforts in that regard."
I hope the City of Rochester follows through on its enforcement of the city sidewalk code. This is not just a quality-of-life issue, but a safety issue, and for the very frail and elderly, possibly a life-and-death issue.
Scott Fisher, East Broad Street, Rochester
I was in the only Combat Infantry Division to serve in both the European and the Pacific theaters of war. The infantry is the first to meet the enemy face to face. We are also the first to see the "collateral damage" of war.
Such an impersonal term to describe innocent women, children, and old men --- bloodied, wounded, cold, homeless, no shelter, no food, no water. Nothing but pain and misery. Innocent civilians. "Collateral damage."
We see the enemy close up and try to kill him before he kills us. We take and then hold the ground, and as the rear echelon moves up, we move forward. Always forward. The war isn't won until we take and occupy the enemy's territory. Our casualties are high, but we keep going, for we are fighting for our way of life: "the American way," where we are free to say what we want, to worship where and how we want. Where we are protected by our Constitution and especially by the Bill of Rights. We were young and patriotic then. And we still are patriotic, although old!
I'm afraid a change is starting to occur. Slowly, but inexorably, we are losing our civil rights. People are being held and in many cases tried without representation. Our e-mail communications and our bank statements can be scrutinized at will. Our telephone conversations can be monitored. Neighbors are being encouraged to report suspicious activities of their neighbors.
This so reminiscent of what was happening in Germany and to a certain extent, in Italy back in the '30s. Remember? When neighbors reported neighbors, and children reported their parents? Remember? If you don't remember, you'd better start reading and learning about it. And then do some serious thinking about what is happening here in our "Good old USA."
Frank Bellomo, Bay Village Drive, Rochester
Now that Jack Doyle has informed the residents of Monroe County that we are spared a third term with him, I would like to challenge him to ask the County Legislature to rescind the vote to expand the Seneca Park Zoo. And I would like him to also remove the lawsuit against the city that would allow the county to destroy Seneca Park. It is time to correct some of the shortsighted actions Doyle and his supporters have taken in the last few years.
The Seneca Park issue has been one of the most divisive processes affecting the city and county. To those who believe that the county executive and mayor have been equally at fault for our problems, I would like you to consider this issue. Jack Doyle has single-handedly pushed his idea for zoo expansion, which would irreparably harm a historic park located in the city. He also perpetuated a single-mindedness that left those asking for modification of the plan perplexed at how harshly the process was handled.
If Doyle himself will not take action, I ask any member of the majority in the County Legislature to step up and repair the harm done. Maybe one of the term-limited Republicans will be willing to take the risk.
Sue O'Brien, Thurlow Avenue, Rochester
Concerning Chris Busby's "If We Build It, We Will Pay" (December 31): It seems odd to worry about stadium debt. Why should county taxpayers be concerned? Why not follow the lead of Binghamton and Buffalo, who asked for and received state forgiveness for the debt on their new baseball stadiums?
What logic can the state use against forgiving Monroe County debt when similar requests were agreed to with our neighbors?
Is our Albany delegation being outsmarted by Binghamton? Have we asked?
Gerard Muhl, Rogers Parkway, Rochester
Chris Busby responds: The logic is that we don't owe the money to the state, so the state can't forgive the debt. As I noted in the article, the debt is owed to the people and institutions who bought the bonds that financed the stadium.
Regarding the arrangement of your music listings: I personally much prefer seeing that section arranged by type of music instead of by venue. I'm a musician, and I really do not care where a particular group or artist is going to perform. I am willing to travel to see a favorite musician; the better the musician, the farther I am willing to travel. I will go to obscure holes-in-the wall, if necessary, to see someone I like.
Great music can enhance any room, upscale or humble. I have been entranced and transported in a room surrounded by people I wouldn't want to meet in a lonely alley, with peanut shells beneath my feet. And I have been disappointed and distracted in slick or plush surroundings.
It's the music, not the place, that counts, at least to those of us who truly appreciate and encourage quality musicians and the art they create.
Thank you, City, for helping to keep live music a vital part of Rochester and its surrounding areas.
Lisa Toth, Artistic Director, Avon Symphony
It seems obvious that GW Bush's sole purpose as president is to avenge his father's humiliation, at least one of them, at our expense. I am embarrassed that he and his administration made up lies and spread them regarding Iraq.
Saddam Hussein may not be a benevolent leader, but would we allow another country to choose our president? Would we allow the UN to explore every nook and cranny of our country, including the White House and the Crawford ranch, looking for weapons of mass destruction? Are we claiming that we do not have them? It's no wonder there is such hatred toward our wonderful country at this time. Our current administration is hypocritical and dangerous.
Carolyn Swanton, Sackett Road, Avon
I finally saw "8 Mile," the Eminem movie, and reluctantly have to admit that I enjoyed it. I would describe it as being like a National Geographic documentary about a strange and unusual culture. I understood about half the dialogue and less of the rap words, but the actors were very good, and they created interesting characters.
I wish the movie had lasted long enough to explain how he became so famous and popular.
Harriet Stark, Bennington Hills Court, West Henrietta
For the past several weeks, I have followed the Barfly narratives by Chris Busby. His attempts at what I can only presume to be wit fall far short. His commentary tends to be crude and insulting, both to owners and patrons of the establishments he critiques. And anyone as familiar as he with the characters in a barroom video game frightens me.
Chris, stop trying so hard to be Dennis Miller. He had his own television show; you don't. And he's funny; you're not.
John M. Ventura, Brighton Street, Rochester
The Barfly article about the new establishment at 187 St. Paul Street ("My Name Is...," December 31) is poorly constructed and mean spirited. I recently returned to Rochester after having lived in New York City for a few years; there seems to be a tug of war between people who see Rochester as a great city and want to improve it, and those who could care less.
The bar that Mr. Busby "critiqued" is a very classy place, with beautiful decor and a variety of artwork. So what if the plants are plastic? Apparently Mr. Busby's eye for detail cannot rise above the obvious. Did he notice that Mr. Rebis (the owner) always treats the patrons with hospitality and warmth?
This bar is comparable to many places I have frequented in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Mr. Busby's jokes and pot shots at Mr. Rebis were not funny. He should do City readers a favor, and reacquaint himself with the craft of writing. Give readers information we can use, and try uniqueness instead of bitterness.
It is a credit to Mr. Rebis that he has run a successful bar on Monroe Avenue for more than a decade. I have no doubt that this venture will be just as successful.
Ayette Jordan, Strathallan Park, Rochester
Mr. Busby's attempt to be funny or clever at the expense of a city businessman is troublesome. In today's business environment, it is very difficult to operate a business in New York State. The start-up costs, insurance, products, and workers-comp rates are the highest in the country.
It would seem that a newspaper with a city focus would try to encourage and support a new business. Your newspaper survives on city-run businesses advertising in your newspaper. The article did little to encourage people from Monroe County to come to a vibrant area and spend money in a safe, clean, and exciting new bar-restaurant.
Mr. Busby's opinion of Paradise Alley is just that: his opinion. But you do not stay in business over 10 years without knowing what you are doing.
Yes, I am a friend of Mr. Rebis. And I do support and will encourage my clients to frequent his new restaurant. And by the way, 90 percent of my clients are from corporations all over the world.
Frank J. Paparone, Shuffles Limousine Service Inc., Lyell Avenue
Perhaps Mr. Busby was trying to be clever and humorous but he was neither. For some reason he chose to mock John Rebis, mock his customers, mock the Monroe Avenue area, mock anything he could.
John runs honest, legitimate businesses. He is investing his own money in Rochester. He has made an attractive restaurant-bar in an area that is developing with both residential and business investment. What is the point of ridiculing this man?
Mr. Busby seems to have a vendetta against John. I believe that your newspaper was diminished by Mr. Busby's article, and I do not think he is good for your paper.
John Hudak, Plant Designs, Inc., Linden Avenue, Rochester
I like your paper, but are you sure the Barfly on the Wall isn't a cockroach? "My Name Is..." reads like a cockroach, sounds like a cockroach... so must be. He probably couldn't get a free drink.
Lena R. Doyle, High Bay Village Drive, Rochester
Chris Busby responds:I've seen this kind of thing before: Some minor slight or insult gets blown out of proportion, the aggrieved party cries foul, friends rush to the rescue, and next thing you know, there's a brawl in front of the sausage cart. My advice: Take it easy, drink another Zima, learn to laugh at yourselves.
Mr. Rebis can rest assured I have no personal "vendetta" against him. He may be less comfortable with the fact that being a local bar owner subjects him to the often irreverent opinions of a nightlife columnist. I respectfully remind him that it's not my job in these columns to comfort egos or promote businesses. My job is to inform, entertain, and drink beer. I usually manage at least two out of three.