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Fleeing to the 'burbs, judging the candidates

Reader feedback - 9.13.06 


I have noticed, more and more frequently, a contemptuous attitude toward suburban citizens from City Newspaper's urban letter-writers. Authors of these submissions often blame urban flight and its resultant suburban residents for many of Rochester's economic problems.

One letter's author half-joked: "will we let suburbanites visit our urban utopia? Maybe, if they're nice. And contrite."

The Greater Rochester community as a whole, however, must consider a variety of factors when pontificating on the reasons for the city's current economic difficulties. If people are "fleeing" to the suburbs, there must be a reason. Very few families have the time, energy, or money to simply up and move to the 'burbs to have the privilege of spending valuable resources on transportation to and from the employment and entertainment offerings of downtown Rochester.

One of the most glaring factors that is likely influencing homeowners' decisions is the state of the RochesterCitySchool District. Despite the achievements of the district's charter schools and specialized high schools, other schools are struggling with violence, low attendance, and poor test results. Any Realtor will tell you that if you want to profit from an investment in a home, you must buy in the best school district possible.

As long as the CitySchool District allows its schools to suffer, parents will continue to try to relocate to better districts. If we're serious about reviving Rochester, we will invest in youth and make every institution in the CitySchool District attractive to parents and students. I'm certain that this would bring back the homeowners --- and their tax dollars.

Melissa Schoenberger, Pennicott Circle, Penfield


I haven't decided whether KrestiaDeGeorge's article "Reforming the Governor's Mansion" (August 23) is disappointingly naïve or a straightforward challenge to the reader and voter to demand more. I've learned a few harsh realities about political campaigning. One fact of life is that a candidate has to stop talking (or writing) when the candidate and the voter agree. Anything the candidate says after that point can only erode support.

Krestia writes, "Maybe it's just that websites aren't conducive to complicated policy pieces." I think websites are ideal for going as deep as a candidate is willing to go. Websites can also be stratified, so that the soundbite or "elevator speech" can be presented at the entry level, and a determined voter can drill down to detailed policy white-papers if they wish.

To win a voter, though, a candidate must start with "what," not "how." Seldom does the political marketplace offer such similar candidates that both agree on the "what" and must present competing "how's" to win over enough voters.

My race for the 56th New York State Senate district may be a prime example. This district is a progressive, Democrat-friendly, pro-choice, pro-responsible gun control, pro-social justice, anti-death penalty district --- all positions I embrace. My opponent has not answered the fundamental "what" of his value system since he first ran for the Senate seat four years ago. In fact, his voting record indicates that he holds an opposite set of values.

I'd love to talk about "how's" in my campaign, and I will use my website ( to go as deep into the issues as the voters demand. I have a contact page, where folks can ask questions, and a FAQs page where I will respond to frequently asked questions as they come up. But we need to be clear on what we value before we get into how we would solve the pressing problems of the district. Otherwise, the "how's" can't possibly be satisfactory.

Willa Powell, Canterbury Road, Rochester (Powell is a Rochester School Board member and is the Democratic candidate for the State Senate from the 56th district.)


It is good news that the city's teen pregnancy rate is dropping (August 23). However, I question the real success of the position held by so many agencies and people: "since many teens are going to have sex, let's show them how to have it safely."

Programs promoting so-called "safe sex," especially among teens, are a travesty. Sexually active people face odds four times higher for contracting STDs than getting pregnant; 3 million teens contract STDs annually, 25 million Americans are infected with the herpes virus (which is incurable), and one in every 250 Americans has the AIDS virus (also incurable).

Getting pregnant as a teen is a sad event, but it's swiftly becoming a "least of your worries" diagnosis compared to the STD rates. Additionally, it seems very few of these programs track or address the warping of sexually active teens' minds about sex, marriage, love, children, and family. How do you track many "safe-sexually" active teens who think "dates" are dinner-movie-and-sex or who later in life embrace a series of live-in lovers based on the fallacy that co-habiting will increase chances of a successful marriage?

According to an article in the journal Demography, 1995, "couples who cohabit before marriage seem to end their marriages at significantly higher rates than couples who never lived together before the wedding." And of course children keep appearing out of these alleged "safe sex" relationships, who end up in single-parent households, joint custody, at grandma's house, or in some other lesser arrangement.

When will we learn that as bad as teen sexual activity rates are, teaching teens to have sex "safely" is a doomed plan. Teaching children who can barely keep their room clean, do their chores and homework, understand their changing bodies, and a host of other confusion is crazy!

We don't allow children to buy cigarettes and alcohol or to be soldiers because of danger to the immature. Why would we try to teach them to handle one of the greatest powers God gave man, to share loving physical intimacy with the opposite sex, concomitantly the power to reproduce another human being?

Many of us adults have been able to handle this power. They are children and should not be encouraged in this, and providing them with pills, condoms, and "safe-sex" talks primarily emboldens them to think that they can take fire into their laps and not get burned.

There's a record number of people shoplifting; it drives up product costs and ties up the legal system. Would the answer be to accept shoplifting and teach people: "We don't want you to shoplift, but if you will, let us teach you how to do it and not get caught." Let's really deal with the root of the fruit of sex outside of marriage as somewhat suggested in the article: morality, self worth, parent responsibilities, realities of sexual activity, and the great benefits of marriage.

J. Demitrius Robinson, Rochester


We welcome and encourage readers' letters for publication. Send them to: or The Mail, City Newspaper, 250 North Goodman Street, Rochester14607.

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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