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Reader Feedback 8.24.05 

MISSING MAJ

Your recent dissing of Chris Maj as someone who "doesn't have the basic knowledge of how government works" was very disappointing. For a paper that for over 34 years has been an alternative voice for Rochester, you could have made a more reasonable excuse.

Do you really think that the other candidates have expert knowledge of successful governing? If that was the case, we would simply coronate them. But is that what we want? A basic mayor for a basic Rochester?

I am a registered Republican who grew up Democrat, then left when the party left the people. It sounds like your paper has decided to leave the people, too. We need a voice for the future, the one you built your reputation on.

Chris Maj has real energy and new ideas. Some of them are good, others questionable. But none are worse than those now being supported by the other candidates: casinos, the multi-billion dollar boondoggle aka Renaissance Square, and a publicly-funded trial balloon to tear down Midtown and build God knows what at who knows whose expense.

The middle class is going to be taken to the cleaners again to fill the pockets of Rochester's inner circle, and you question this kid's "basic knowledge"? Perhaps his ignorance would be a new kind of bliss for all of us!

Maybe it's time for the folks at City to think about retiring. If you are truly ready to leave Rochester's future to its past smoke-filled backroom practices, perhaps that should be your epitaph too.

Give this kid the same consideration you expect from your readers and let the voters decide, not your paper, your editors, or your advertisers. To not cover him side by side with the other candidates is an insult, something I'd expect of the D&C, not City.

Peter Allen, Brighton


LET DEMOCRACY WORK

I am disappointed by your decision to exclude Chris Maj from your coverage of the mayoral race. I would expect City, of all media, to accept a progressive candidate and allow the democratic process to work without fetters. Badly needed change will never occur in our society when we are not willing to even acknowledge its proponents. Maj is a legitimate candidate and the only one with any innovative ideas.

Yes, his platform is radical, but we're not electing him king. He will have to answer to City Council and the County Legislature, and I believe that his initiatives, tempered by others' attempts to soften them, would produce some very nice results.

Yes, he is naive, but one's liabilities are often one's greatest strengths. When compared to the pandering party politics and the same old tired "solutions" offered by the other candidates, naiveté seems downright appealing.

When the media automatically dismiss any unconventional candidate before the public has even had a chance to evaluate him, they encourage the "only back a winner" mentality and relegate us to an eternity of politics as usual.

Melissa Nicholson, Merchants Road, Rochester

Editor Mary Anna Towler's response: For 34 years we've tried to offer the region's most extensive, intelligent coverage of political campaigns. We're doing it again this year. Chris Maj is a young, enthusiastic candidate, but he simply does not have the knowledge and experience required for the job and it's a dereliction of journalistic duty to pretend otherwise. We did cover him in print, and we continue to have our interview with him on our web page.


What else can we expect?

"The Mayor and the Schools: Who's in Charge?" (August 10) is indicative of the real reasons why academic improvement hasn't occurred in the Rochester school district.

The first issue is to accurately identify the problem, which is not rooted in "tight finances, failing grades --- and tensions over school leadership." Those are mere symptoms of much deeper problems.

The argument about "tight finances" has become nonsensical; politicians always manage to magically produce money when they want to finance pleasure boats, build super-bridges, soccer stadiums, and renaissance centers, and of course, fund foreign wars. Finances only become "tight" when money is needed for decent education for overwhelmingly poor African-American and Hispanic students, and for services geared toward the basic human rights and needs of poor people: job training, decent and affordable housing, health care, child care, etc.

As for high numbers of "failing grades" --- what else is to be expected when generation after generation of these children are socially promoted in a system that churns out high school graduates who read and write at an elementary level (not to mention the thousands who never come close to graduating)?

What else is to be expected from a system that helps to ensure that large numbers of the neediest children walk out of the school-house door and right into the jailhouse? After all, if this particular group of youngsters doesn't continue to supply the "mules" for corporate-level drug dealers, and the bodies to keep the prison-industrial complex healthy and lucrative, who will?

With regard to "tensions over school leadership": Only those who know little about the decades-old, national urban-education crisis and scandal can believe that it matters whether the superintendent reports to a mayor or a school board.

As for producing change, the City article clearly demonstrates a very important point: the vital need to include a broader spectrum of people in discussions and decision-making. Look at those engaged in the discussion: a lame-duck mayor; an unnamed "spokesperson for the school district"; a disaffected state comptroller who seems only to have the power to report and recommend; the president of an organization that many refer to as being "one of the most sophisticated poverty-pimps in the region," the Center for Governmental Research, and, of course, the superintendent of schools.

Which of them has a personal stake in improving city schools --- not to mention the expertise to produce improvement?

Yet, mark my words: As soon as the November election fiasco is concluded, the cry will go out again regarding the need for the entire community to produce improvement. How hypocritical is it to expect people to contribute when they can't even join the discussion, much less participate in decision-making?

Howard J. Eagle, Riverferry Way, Rochester


The big show

Often quoted advice to artists is, "Make it good; if you can't make it good, make it big, and if you can't make it big, make it red."

As organizer of the 2005 Salon des Refuses, a response by artists whose work was declined by the Rochester-Finger Lakes Exhibition, I had to find a suitable venue. After much searching, I found that only one venue satisfied all my criteria, the soon-to-open Image City Photography Gallery, at 730 University Avenue.

The only drawback was that it was not large enough to house the anticipated Salon. I recommended that we limit the size of the artwork, but I was resoundingly outvoted by the Salon Committee. Their feeling was that no one likes to be rejected even once, let alone twice. In retrospect, I am glad I was overruled. However, we had to find other spaces to house some of the larger works.

Sally Wood Winslow, director of the Center at High Falls Art Gallery, and investment representative Tom Kroon of Edward Jones Investments (at 706 University Avenue) fortunately offered their spaces, and we are very grateful to them. Some stunning, very large pieces were displayed, showing that an artwork can be big and good. One of them was by Lynne Feldman, a well-established, highly regarded artist who, according to City's reviewers, should have been in the Finger Lakes.

Even though the Salon at ICPG, is over, it continues at High Falls till the end of the summer, and a few artworks (including Feldman's) will remain at Edward Jones for a limited time. Do go see them.

I am gratified that the Salon has accomplished its goals: complement the Finger Lakes by showing work that would not have been seen, assuage the great disappointment felt by many artists upon being declined by the Finger Lakes, and show the public that just because something was declined by two jurors, it does not mean that it is not excellent work.

A by-product of the Salon was that ICPG, of which I am a founding member, became part of the art scene, as over 500 viewers passed through on opening night alone. The grand opening of ICPG will feature the Members' Show on September 16, and it will be part of Gallery Night.

I want to thank City for the outstanding and even-handed coverage of the two major art exhibits: the venerable Rochester-Finger Lakes Exhibition and the upstart Salon des Refuses.

Dan Neuberger, Wendover Road, Brighton


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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