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Pesticide notification, the school district’s failure, gender-neutral options|gender-neutral bathrooms|federal budget

Reader feedback 4.6.05 

PUSHING PESTICIDES

Thank you for noting the opt-in provision of the state neighbor-notification law (Metro Ink, March 16), which would require application companies to notify neighbors 48 hours before applying commercial pesticides to next-door property.

            The "turf wars" are often portrayed as arguments between equals. Although City correctly states that both sides claim to have science on their side, it should be noted that those requesting notification can point to scientific evidence that was first made public in Rachel Carson's Silent Spring (1962). That evidence has since been corroborated and expanded in hundreds of credible peer-reviewed studies connecting pesticides to the health of humans, pets, and the environment. The University of Rochester is just one of many research facilities that have been finding strong cause-and-effect pesticide relationships to Parkinson's disease and other illnesses.

            A multi-million-dollar industry with no scientific credibility supports the other side. Companies such as Dow, Syngenta, and Scotts make their corporate interests heard through a trade association known as Project Evergreen. Feeling threatened by an increasingly aware public eager to protect itself from pesticide exposure, a Project Evergreen member group inaccurately named Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment (RISE) has recently launched a national public-relations campaign to extol the benefits of chemically-treated lawns.

            The "green industry" (as they call themselves) encourages local pesticide-dispensing businesses to describe themselves with environmental euphemisms. At two recent County Legislature public forums, local lawn-pesticide spokespersons boldly declared themselves to be "the true environmentalists."

            Companies using pesticides routinely also misuse the term "integrated pest management." IPM was originally intended to help farmers phase out pesticides gradually while adopting sustainable farming practices that eliminate the need for chemicals. But IPM is not a legitimate excuse for cosmetic pesticide use in urban and suburban yards.

            Local campaigns to fight legal measures such as neighbor notification get their inspiration from RISE. The public needs to keep in mind that the strategy to defeat this legislation originates at the top.

            Audrey Newcomb, Landing Road South, Brighton (Newcomb is a member of RAMP, Rochesterians Against the Misuse of Pesticides.)


DISTRICT FAILS

Recently an educator revealed to me that only 10 percent of Black and Latino kids in the City School District were receiving an education.

            The president of the School Board and the superintendent have stated that the state approved the district's budget and that demonstrated that they were more or less fiscally responsible. We disagree with the district and the state when too many educators are being paid over $100,000 and they aren't able to educate more than 10 percent of the kids.

            Rochester isn't the only city that has failed Black and Latino kids. All of the major cities above the Mason-Dixon Line have failed these kids. New York City, Syracuse, Buffalo, Yonkers, Boston, Jersey City, Newark, etc., are all in the same boat.

            The School Board president and the superintendent sent an offensive letters to those who protested at the School Board meeting a few weeks ago. The public has a constitutional right to protest. In light of the poor education the district offers the minority kids, there ought to be a protest every week. In fact, the entire school system should be shut down and reorganized by people who really care about those neglected kids.

            Raymond L. Graves, Henrietta (Graves is president of the North East Non-Partisan Political and Social Action Committee.)


GENDER-NEUTRAL OPTIONS GROWING

As a transgender activist and a former Rochesterian, I greatly appreciated your article on the struggle that trans people often face simply to "pee in peace" ("New Battleground for Human Rights," March 23). But the writer should not have measured the extent to which colleges are providing support to trans students solely by the progress made at Rochester-area schools.

            A growing number of colleges are creating gender-neutral restrooms and locker rooms, as well as developing gender-neutral housing options, creating trans-inclusive forms, enabling trans students to change their names and genders on records, and providing trans-supportive health care.

            More information on college policies and practices can be found on the website of the Transgender Law and Policy Institute: www.transgenderlaw.org.

            Brett Beemyn, Columbus, Ohio (Beemyn is coordinator of GLBT Student Services at Ohio State University and is a board member of the Transgender Law and Policy Institute.)


FIGHT BUSH'S BUDGET

How can our government continue to cut programs for the poor and middle class while giving the wealthiest Americans permanent tax breaks? In all the years that we have gone without an increase in the minimum wage, the cost of everything has continued to rise.

            I can't claim to understand how Bush was re-elected, given all the questionable things he did in his first term, but I do know that having him in office, especially now that he doesn't have to worry about getting re-elected, is dangerous.

            Republicans are trying to push the budget, before we realize what's going on. On top of giving tax breaks to the wealthy, the proposed budget will dramatically cut funding for health care, especially Medicaid, which principally serves senior citizens and the working poor. Pell Grants will be drastically cut, making it even harder for those of us with low-paying jobs to get a college diploma.

            This further impacts women, especially single mothers, who make up a majority of the working poor due to our society's unequal pay practices. Women need a college education to earn what the average male high-school graduate would earn. And if you're a minority.... This budget is an affront to every hard-working American, to those of us who keep the economy going despite the increasing prices and our stagnant incomes.

            Don't let the Republicans pass this budget. Get information, get involved, get the real story, and fight for our right to do more than survive in this country.

            Marie Starr, County Road, Farmington


WRITING TO CITY

We welcome and encourage readers' letters for publication. Send them to: themail@rochester-citynews.com or The Mail, City Newspaper, 250 North Goodman Street, Rochester 14607.

            Our guidelines: We don't publish anonymous letters --- and we ask that you include your street name and city/town/village. We don't publish letters that have been sent to other media --- and we don't publish form letters generated by activist groups. While we don't restrict length, letters of under 350 words have a greater chance of being published. We do edit letters for clarity and brevity. And in general we don't publish letters (or longer "op-ed" pieces) from the same writer more often than about once every two months.

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