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Suburban sprawl, the Bush-Kerry race, city investments

Reader feedback 9.29.04 


CHICKENS, EGGS, AND SUBURBANIZATION

In his letter "Wilmot and Smart Growth" (The Mail, September 15), Joseph M. Young engages in broad, stereotypical rants and swipes against my family and me --- and all business people, for that matter. He blames real-estate developers for the demise of urban America, but in truth it was average, white, middle-class citizens who vacated our cities for the lily-white pastures of suburbia, in response to their often irrational fears of post-war integration.

I guess it's the chicken-and-egg problem: Did commercial and residential development lead homebuyers to suburbia, or was it the other way around? A little of both, I'm sure.

Mr. Young tries to stereotype me as just another typical capitalist fat cat, "consumed with personal economic gain... (in public office) to serve only one person." I guess Mr. Young forgot to look at my legislative record when he categorized me as some self-serving bottom feeder at the public trough.

I am the only MonroeCounty legislator to propose racial and economic integration of all our public schools in Rochester and MonroeCounty. In fact, my 1996 legislative proposal caused such a stir that it inspired the GRACE lawsuit, of which I am a founder. While we ultimately lost in state court, we probably indirectly assisted in the positive ruling on the CFE suit.

I am also the only county legislator in recent memory to call for a study of smart growth, countywide. My legislative proposal four or five years ago asked for a countywide plan that would direct development to the area of MonroeCounty that needs it most: the City of Rochester.

What saddens me most about Mr. Young's letter is his complete misreading of my interview in City (Say What, August 25). Until Mr. Young takes off his green-colored glasses, he won't be able to see that Democrats can be pro-job and pro-diversity.

There is one aspect of Mr. Young's letter I do agree with. The Monroe County Green Party is most likely growing stronger, since it has nowhere else to grow but up.

Christopher J. Wilmot, East Avenue, Rochester(Wilmot is assistant Democratic leader of the Monroe County Legislature.)


SKIMPY COVERAGE

The cover of City's September 8 issue said: "Seeking New Leadership in the Land of Amo." I expected to find an article detailing the issues and the candidates in the Democratic and Republican primaries for the 29th Congressional District. The election of a member of Congress to an open seat is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the people of this area. And with Congress and the nation so narrowly divided, it is an event that is critically important to the future of our community.

I was, instead, disappointed to read an article that covered only half the election. It covered the two conservative Republican candidates as if they were the entire race. The article completely ignored the Democratic primary, even to the point of only telling Republicans where and when to vote. Samara Barend has the support of Democrats from throughout the district and is endorsed by national Democrats like Howard Dean, local officials like Sandy Frankel and Joe Morelle, and the Working Families Party. She has the background and expertise to win this race and serve the people of the 29th, but for some reason City ignored her and all the Democrats in the District.

Sam Barend is the founder and executive director of Minds of Steel in Corning, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to fighting mental illness through exercise. As head of the I-86 campaign and recipient of an Eisenhower Fellowship, Sam was the catalyst for the conversion of Route 17 across the Southern Tier into Interstate 86, an economic-development success vitally important to that part of the 29th District.

Sam is committed to drastic reform of the Patriot Act, while ensuring that the nation's homeland security is still secure. She would continue to lead the fight for economic development in Western New York, to keep current workers employed and to give our children the option to stay in the region rather than continue the brain drain when the best and brightest of our youth leave, never to return.

Sam Barend is the true heir to the moderate and passionate tradition that Amo Houghton has represented for the 29th District. In the days before the general election, I trust that City will give its readers the chance to read much more about Sam Barend and the real choice they have for Congress in the 29th District this year.

Bill Moehle, South Landing Road, Brighton

The editor's response: We traditionally select a few of the more hotly contested races for our campaign coverage, so that we can give more extensive coverage to them. We'll be covering Barend next month.


WHY KERRY?

Two editorials by an intelligent, informed editor in two consecutive City issues heavily favor the Democratic presidential candidate, without one, single, solitary syllable of specific, reasoned support of that candidate! Why should we vote for John Kerry? Because he isn't George Bush. That's been the standard Democratic rant since Day One, and Ms. Towler adds little to it.

Both editorials disinter what must by now be the deadest of all dead issues: We shouldn't have gone into Iraq. Enough, already. I agree. Most people agree. Probably in his secret heart, Bush agrees. I wish we hadn't gone there, too. I also wish the World Trade Center were still standing, that Charley and Frances had veered sharply out to sea, and that the Bills had made the last few Super Bowls. But since these have not happened, the only critical question is what we do now. And who should lead us in doing it.

"Republicans say John Kerry is not fit to serve," Ms. Towler writes. "He is, of course." Of course, my fanny. Kerry may conceivably make a good president, but there's nothing "of course" about it. If she really believed her own remark, Ms. Towler would have had something ---anything! --- positive to say about Kerry. Instead, it's the old, familiar liberal lullaby: Bush is the Anti-Christ, the Arch-Fiend, Attila, Hitler, and Darth Vader all distilled into a single Apotheosis of Evil.

And Kerry isn't. Presumably. Even though, from all one can deduce, he's not that far from Bush in the matter of Iraq. At the moment. I guess. Who really knows?

Ms. Towler might more usefully have isolated and defined and analyzed Kerry's positions, and she probably would have, if it were possible to have a clear notion of what they are. But Kerry himself has not isolated and defined his positions. Mostly, when they aren't bashing Bush, he and the vanishing John Edwards trot out the standard checklist of Things Everybody Wants and tell us they want them, too. What a surprise.

And then there's the identity thing. Conservatives complain that Kerry doesn't know who he is. It may be worse than that: A lot of the time, he doesn't even seem to know who he wants to be.

Maybe the president we don't know (and can barely hold in focus) is better than the one we do, but that case has certainly not been made.

Peter Dzwonkoski, Westmoreland Drive, Rochester

Mary Anna Towler's response: So far, I think John Kerry has failed to run a strong campaign. And I am dismayed, and have said so, with his vote to give George Bush permission to attack Iraq. His explanations and his evasion on that topic have been appalling.

Kerry painted himself into a corner on the Iraq issue, right from the git-go. We may never know whether he and his Democratic colleagues were spineless when they caved in and supported Bush, or they truly approved of the invasion. Or whether they naively thought that if they gave Bush the power to go to war, he wouldn't use it. And I don't know which is worse.

That said, two things:

1) I do think John Kerry is fit to serve. He might not be a great president, but in my opinion, he is competent. I hold views that are far more liberal than his on many issues, but I think his positions on health care, the environment, tax cuts, et al (which we laid out February 25 when we endorsed him in the Democratic primary) are far better than George Bush's.

(You might want to read "The Kerry I Know," by Tom Oliphant in The American Prospect --- www.prospect.org. Oliphant, a strongly liberal Boston Globe columnist, has known Kerry and followed his politics for years and thinks he'll make a great president.)

2) Either George Bush or John Kerry will become president next January. As much as we might wish there were another Democratic candidate, John Kerry is what we have. And to paraphrase your letter, the only critical question now is who should lead us.

I do not believe that George Bush is "the Anti-Christ, the Arch-Fiend, Attila, Hitler, and Darth Vader all distilled into a single Apotheosis of Evil" and have not said so. I do believe that George Bush is causing great harm to this country, that his policies have made us less safe, not more. And the more news I read about Iraq --- and the administration's response to developments there --- the more I am convinced that George Bush and several members of his administration are truly dangerous people.


TOUGH BUSH

The Bush administration has done an awesome job of backpedaling when it comes to George Bush's statements about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. I have been amused to Bush move from the statement that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and the use of them was imminent to saying that Iraq possessed the capability to produce weapons of mass destruction. Whatever the case, the United States invaded Iraq.

Now comes word of a massive explosion in North Korea. A South Korean news agency reported seeing a large mushroom cloud. Gee, might this have been the test of a weapon of mass destruction? Not according to the almost immediate reassurances of the Bush administration. Colin Powell said the explosion was not a nuclear weapon test, despite admissions from North Korea that they have been preparing to test nuclear weapons.

Is the administration now going to play a name game with weapons of mass destruction? Weapons other than nuclear weapons can be weapons of mass destruction, right? The 9-11 terrorist attack on the United States did not use nuclear weapons.

So why would our government make an effort to reassure us? Why isn't the Bush administration planning some sort of military action against North Korea? I thought George was tough on terrorists. Is there any oil in North Korea?

Thomas R. Janowski, Hazelhurst Drive, Gates


HEADING INTO FASCISM

I agree with Jeremy Glick that the current administration is moving us toward a fascist state (Say What, September 8). I had occasion to go to the Social Security office recently to get a Social Security card for my newborn son. I suppose as a law-abiding citizen, I didn't have to have it, but without it, I might not get the tax credits and deductions provided for in the IRS codes.

I learned that my infant now needs two forms of identification. Besides his birth certificate, how does a newborn child get a second form of identification, except from the Social Security office itself? Perhaps a statement from a doctor, the functionaries suggested. Excuse me? A birth certificate is signed by the birth attendant and filed with the countyVital Records department. In short, that is what a birth certificate is: a statement from a doctor. What more can a doctor or midwife attest to that does not abridge our right to medical-information privacy?

"How about a health insurance card?" they said. When did the Social Security department get the right to require my participation in an HMO, a PPO, or even Child Health Plus?

When I challenged these requirements, I was told: "Everything changed after 9/11." How or why should the processing of newborn records change? I'll admit that my son will probably terrorize my household in a few short years, but he is not a sleeper cell for Al Qaeda.

My husband and I have a combined 47 years of service to the United States Army. My husband has already served in a foreign war and is on his way to serve in this one. I have sworn to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America against all enemies foreign and domestic" more times than I care to recount. Yet, I left the Social Security office feeling like a subversive or a criminal.

We serve this country to protect democracy and individual rights, especially the right to privacy. I am not comfortable with the direction the federal government is going, and this is only one small example of that direction.

Frankly, this is the enemy within. When two US citizens with verifiable credentials of their own, birth certificate in hand, cannot get a required document for their newborn child without giving up their right to privacy, then it is clear to me that the government is at war against its own people.

Willa Powell, Canterbury Road, Rochester


BUSH LETS THE POOR PAY

Controversies over service records of the presidential candidates are useless and delay discussion on the real policy issues. But we can learn from basic facts about their service histories.

Both are rich.

President Bush used power and connections to avoid combat.

John Kerry volunteered, and saw what war does to both combatants and people in the war zone. A person who has seen this horror will not send our military to war except for serious, legitimate reasons.

John Kerry's example reveals that he believes both rich and poor should share the dangers for the protection of our people in wartime.

President Bush in National Guard service was able to delegate dangers of combat to someone else. Evidently he believes that the power of the rich and connected social elite qualifies them for decision making and generous tax breaks, but poor Americans should pay the taxes and do the fighting.

His arrogance in saying "Bring 'em on" was especially repugnant but true to these beliefs.

These distinctions qualify Kerry and disqualify Bush for re-election.

Donald Miller, Marquart Drive, Webster


SHARING?

How many of the foreign countries that are readily accepting our industrial migration, along with our trade secrets, are supporting us in Mr. Bush's Mid-East venture? All take, no give?

Don "Barefoot" Post, Clarkson-Parma Townline Road, Brockport


JFK IS KFC

Prince George writes that the Republicans' negative ads launched against John Kerry won't change hearts and minds of independent voters ("Time for Bush to Go," The Mail, September 1). News flash! The Dems have been giving as good as they're getting.

Prince George complains that Kerry's good reputation is being sullied by negative ads of the opposition. Well, what did the anti-presidential forces do for nearly a year with their 527s running $63 million worth of ads trying to tarnish the president's good name? What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

Politics is a game of sharp elbows. If the troops of the president's opposition can't handle the heat, they should stay out of the kitchen. And what of CBS' Dan Rather not doing his homework and running with a recycled story citing possibly doctored documents about the president's National Guard service? Yet another attempt to cast aspersions on the president's reputation.

Like KFC, JFK's goose has been cooked.

Oliver Glover, Rochester


JOHNSON AND BUSINESS 101

And now for the most recent news on the Mayor's pet projects.

First, HighFalls: $24 million and another failing entertainment complex, while privately funded areas such as the East End and St. Paul District maintain themselves or thrive. Jillian's couldn't be sold by its parent company in a bankruptcy sale because of such woeful underperformance, and the building's owners have put it up for sale at a mere 46 percent loss. Nothing like trying to create a market where no one wants it.

Next, PaeTecPark: What was originally to be a stadium paid 50 percent or so by public funds is now a 78-percent publicly supported project. And the result will be a second, open-air stadium less than one block from Frontier Field. Who is the planning brain behind this move?

What a deal --- at taxpayers' expense --- for the Rhinos, on top of their 45-year lease for a dollar per year. Wasn't the Sports Authority removed from oversight for asking the tough questions?

And, last but not least, $40-plus million --- some of it city funds --- on the fast ferry, which may be dead soon. Funny how the Transit Authority was hung out to dry by the media and the mayor for demanding the finances on this project, and was then removed as the project was pushed through. End result: 80 days, and business suspended. No warnings. Seemingly no contact with the officials that pushed the business.

Wouldn't it be nice if government officials put as much support behind privately funded projects --- like a new Wegmans in Henrietta or on Elmwood Avenue, or a downtown casino --- as they put behind taxpayer-funded fiascos like the fast ferry and High Falls, which should have been toe tagged years ago, and would have been without endless taxpayer subsidies?

Well, maybe they can all discuss it over a drink at Empire Brewing. By the way, how many hundreds of thousands of dollars did that cost the taxpayers?

Bernard LoVerde, Webster


FERRY, DETAILED

"Ferry Tales" (September 15) was the best explanation of the current problems bedeviling the ferry that I have seen. I learned a lot, more than I would have ever learned from the Democrat and Chronicle. I liked specially the interview with Ken Lundy, which gave me the Canadian slant, or at least the Port Authority slant.

I will be sending the article to my daughter at college, who thirsts for local news. Keep up the good work on this issue.

Scott Forsyth, Douglas Road, Rochester


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, 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. 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.

  • Suburban sprawl, the Bush-Kerry race, city investments

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