I find myself in the rather unusual position of defending County Executive Jack Doyle in regards to the commentary by Chris Busby, "Mr. Doyle's Neighborhood" (December 31).
First, I am naive enough to think that Mr. Doyle, even as a public figure, should be allowed to have a private, candid conversation outside his home with his neighbors without it appearing in newsprint.
Second, what positives did Ms. Andrews and her companion expect Mr. Doyle to express regarding the City School District? This is a school system where the majority of students routinely fail to meet minimum requirements set by the state at every grade level. The dropout rate or non-graduation rate of students is higher than the graduation rate, even with dumbed-down requirements.
The district's financial ledger is buried in red ink, and the School Board is too busy with petty infighting to help right the sinking ship they're supposed to be captaining.
Most of us who have had experiences with the City School District beyond grade school are equally as frustrated as Mr. Doyle. If Mr. Doyle had painted a rosy, positive image of city schools, we'd be castigating him for being insincere or for being out of touch with reality.
Third, Mr. Doyle's long-running feud and contempt for Mayor Johnson is a matter of public record and is no shock to anyone who hasn't spent the past eight years living in a cave. Obviously Mr. Doyle felt his was a private conversation between neighbors in which he was allowed to let his guard down and speak candidly as though among friends, without those words being repeated to the media.
While I may not agree with much of what Mr. Doyle says or believes in, I do think he's entitled to have private conversations with neighbors and friends without those conversations appearing in newsprint.
Nathan A. Brightman, Albermarle Street, Rochester
Chris Busby responds: First, candid comments by public officials, especially those of Mr. Doyle's stature, should be part of the public discourse when they illuminate the official's honest opinions on relevant issues. Second, given Mr. Doyle's take on the state of the city, the "Rochester: Made for Living" campaign the county helps fund with our money seems insincere.
I had a good laugh reading your angry diatribe about the new (Oh no! Conservative!) columnists for the Democrat and Chronicle (Metro Ink, January 8). I mean, are you upset because this infamously liberal Gannett paper is more fair and balanced than it used to be?
Read the letters to the editor over the past few years; people are sick and tired of the D&C's mainly one-sided op-ed section. Finally, the paper is giving the people what they want. Since God knows when, the D&C has been top-heavy with liberal columnists who did not reflect the beliefs and values of many people of this area.
Its liberal whiners and fearmongers include Deborah Mathis, Molly Ivins, William Raspberry, Marie Coco, Richard Cohen, Maureen Dowd, Leonard Pitts, Mary McGrory, and Camille Paglia, as well as the consistently liberal D&C editorial-page staff. You are having a cow over Bill O'Reilly. Bill O'Reilly has a combination of liberal and conservative positions. Does his not being an ideologue upset you?
I am a Republican with moderate beliefs, who supported John McCain initially and voted for Bush (although he is not impressing me lately). I viscerally dislike Jack Doyle and resent his arrogant, unaccountable way of governing.
By the same token, I think Bill Johnson is a befuddled, lousy mayor presiding over the Fall of the Rochester Empire (cursed with poor diction). Louise Slaughter is a totally useless congresswoman who always seems like she is going to blank out on TV.
I was a rabid liberal for many years, and thought Reagan and Bush #1 were the worst and most despicable presidents ever because of their lack of compassion for the poor. Then in 1998, I witnessed the hypocrisy of the left during Lewinskygate. I saw the mean-spirited nature of liberals, and the pure hate on liberal sites like bartcop.com and democrats.com. I became disgusted. Almost simultaneously, my whole family, Democrats since the 1890s on some sides, became Republicans and have not looked back since.
Although I almost never agree with your positions, I thoroughly enjoy your paper and look forward to every issue.
Michael Meggison, Rochester
Thanks to Susan Herman for the excellent coverage of end-of-life issues in "Midwives to the Dying" (December 31). I have cared for dying people in both a personal and professional capacity, and I found this commentary sensitive, insightful, and accurate. I particularly appreciated the author's inclusion of a registered nurse among those interviewed; nurses are systematically underrepresented in the media, despite the fact that they are the backbone of effective health care.
My excitement about your article was tempered by a moment of disappointment. I have spent the past decade serving childbearing families and working toward becoming a midwife. When I saw the word "midwives" on the cover of your paper, my heart leapt at the thought of a sensitive, insightful, and accurate City Newspaper story about midwives --- and then sank when I realized that story had not been written.
Like hospice nurses, midwives care for families in hospitals, homes, and dedicated facilities. Midwives give expectant mothers twice as much time during visits as obstetricians. Midwives' holistic, hands-on approach includes a focus on nutrition, education, and emotional support. During labor, midwives provide continuous, one-on-one care, and encourage techniques such as walking, positioning, and hydrotherapy rather than relying exclusively on drugs and technology.
Women who use midwives instead of obstetricians are much happier with their birth experience. Studies also show that midwives are safer, as well; for healthy mothers, midwifery care results in fewer low-birth-weight babies and fewer neonatal deaths.
Compassionate, holistic care at the beginning and the end of life can ease these difficult passages, and foster a sense of meaning, humanity, and growth for everyone touched by the event.
Thank you, Ms. Herman, for drawing your readers' attention to some of these vital issues.
Alyce Adams, RN, Brighton
"Midwives to the Dying" (December 31) was most interesting. Many of us have had experience with the death of a loved one. A few of us have been fortunate to have some time before the death occurred. In our case, my dear husband of 48-plus years was able to be in the hospice unit at St. Mary's under the care of a compassionate and caring staff. It was a peaceful place for all of us to spend those weeks.
After his death, I was helped through the dark tunnel of grief by members of the GRHC Bereavement Services staff. Without their assistance, coming through that tunnel would have been much more difficult. The group meetings, the seminars and workshops all provided insight into the emotional roller coaster I was on.
I am wondering if you might publish an article on Hospice care available in this area. Then, follow up with information on how folks do get through the hard work of grief with assistance from those trained to assist us. Because I had known for so long that my husband could die at any time, I did not believe that I would have any trouble adjusting to his death. But life challenges us even when we think we are prepared.
Perhaps you can help others to understand that, by reporting on the work going on by trained persons who help us all.
Thank you for opening up this subject to public discussion. Maybe you have started the discussion for many. I hope so.
Jann G. Packard, Latta Road, Rochester
Much applause for the cover story on dying and hospice care ("Midwives to the Dying," December 31). Such articles are like candles lighting the way out of the darkness of ignorance. As a volunteer at Isaiah House, I've experienced the gentle, calm, and positive spirit that can permeate a comfort-care home.
When someone discovers that you volunteer at a hospice facility, they sometimes express misconceptions about hospice and its care providers. The gap between myth and reality can be large.
Myth: These places must be depressing. Reality: They're quite upbeat; people laugh, share stories, and learn stuff.
Myth: It must be so difficult to care for the dying. Reality: Usually not; there's always a nurse present or on call should a volunteer need help.
Myth: Dying is a wrenching ordeal. Reality: Dying often involves stages of denial, agitation, and acceptance but usually becomes calm and peaceful.
Myth: It must take a really special person to be a hospice volunteer. Reality: Not really, unless "special" means man or woman, black or white, young or old, college educated or not, churchgoer or not.
The fact is, as long as one is reasonably compassionate and is willing to help a fellow human take the last earthly journey, one could become a good hospice volunteer.
Giving is a two-way street, never more so than in hospice care. I have yet to meet a hospice care provider who has not felt that he or she has learned and benefited immensely from the experience.
Rick Taddeo, Irondequoit