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Readers Feedback 1.21.04 

the city's landlords

I'm not an absentee landlord, but I used to be, and I know a lot who are and belong to the New York State Property and Business Owners Coalition. I take exception to Councilman Ben Douglas' statement blaming the "high concentration of poverty mostly on absentee landlords" ("Busting Up the Ghetto," January 7).

            I do not deny the existence of slumlords, but they do not typify the majority of rental housing owners in the City of Rochester, most of whom only have a few units and do their best to maintain their properties and screen out drug dealers and drug users as tenants.

            In an ideal world, the proportion of owner-occupied housing in the city would be much higher than it is. However, until that worthy goal is achieved, much of the current housing stock will continue to be owned by absentee landlords.

            I am an owner-occupant in the city. Contrary to the popularly held stereotype, the homes on either side of me and across the street are absentee owned, but as recently as 2 years ago, those owners were themselves owner occupants. They left the city for a variety of reasons --- declining public school standards, crime, and employment and retail more available in the suburbs.

            The city must be made more attractive to all classes of people. To stigmatize landlords and paint with a very broad brush is counterproductive to the economic and social health of this city.

            Larry Viggo, Selye Terrace, Rochester

Johnson's message

Jack Bradigan Spula comments that apartheid will continue in the area ("Backwards and Forwards: One Helluva Year," December 30). The African-American candidate failed; therefore the electorate is racist.

            Has it occurred to anyone that perhaps Mr. Johnson had the wrong message? I believe my dog could have beaten any candidate with a well-known metro-government slant.

            Randy Fredlund, Greece

Follow through

At a candidates' forum this past October, I had the opportunity to ask Maggie Brooks to consider the issue of children's health services if she were elected county executive. I clearly recall that she gave me an affirmative answer.

            I hope that she will now be able to do so.

            Bernard A.Yablin, MD, Jewish Home of Rochester, Brighton

Put 'em in Charlotte

If Rochester wants to see the economy, the ferry, anythingsucceed and move forward we need to:

            1) Close High Falls and move it to Charlotte.

            2) Take the money that would be wasted on the aqueduct project and spend it in Charlotte.

            3) Take the money that would be wasted on the Corn Hill waterfront project and spend it in Charlotte.

            4) Move what's left of downtown Rochester to Charlotte. (There isn't much left to move.) Start with the old Changing Scene restaurant (the one where you got to see all the air-conditioning units as you dined.) If it had been built in Charlotte, it would still be operating.

            5) Build the bus terminal in Charlotte.

            6) Build the Megacenter in Charlotte.

            7) Save the railroad bridge in Charlotte. It would attract visitors if it was a restaurant and street of shops. And yes, have it rotate, for god's sake!

            8). Tell the Mayor that downtown Rochester died over 20 years ago. It's time to give "No Man's Land" a decent burial!

            9) Rename Charlotte "Rochester North."

            Dave Kaspersin, Dewey Avenue, Rochester

On the road

As an avid cyclist, I, along with several other cycling friends, was very much offended by the picture used for the article "Roads to nowhere?" by Christine Carrie Fien (December 30).

            The bicycle on the ground surrounded by vehicles suggests that there is some kind of accident. After reading the article and finding that it has nothing to do with bicycling --- in fact, the bicycle is not mentioned once --- I feel the picture is very unfair and in poor taste. That's especially true since this comes so soon after the commotion Clear Channel stations created when some programs urged listeners to "attack" bicyclists with their vehicles.

            Karen Managan, Martinot Avenue, Rochester

            Editors' response: The illustration --- which also showed automobiles and trucks in an accident --- was intended to suggest confusion, not attacks on cyclists. And the object to which you refer was a motorcycle, not a bicycle.

'Reality' ethics

Sometimes little things are telling --- such as what is shown on television, and what we watch. Fear Factor is a popular reality show pitting people against each other in various trials to compete for a cash prize. One of the standard trials is to eat something considered revolting. Often this means devouring living creatures --- for example, a large sack of writhing worms, or 20 large African spiders --- within a certain time period.

            The contestants see this as an obstacle to overcome to win the money. "They are just worms," the contestants assure themselves. "If I'm tough, I won't let them make me sick!" But the contestants overlook something: They are trying to profit from the pain and destruction of innocent and relatively harmless creatures.

            We viewers, too, miss the point that we are willing to watch killing for amusement. We condone the expression of loathing for other members of the natural order --- ironically, through consuming them. This is a far cry from the hunter who kills in order to bring food to his family.

            Isn't it arrogant to assume that the earth's creatures are here for us to torture for our profit and amusement? Contestants who make it through this trial see themselves as brave, fearless, and heroic. The African spiders, I can only guess, must see these human beings as monsters.

            Sometimes we need to pause, assess what we are doing, and make a choice. Perhaps the Fear Factor contestant who ate the spiders felt that the act was worth the $50,000 because he really needed the money. The larger choice is: Is it worth it to us viewers to watch it?

            James Thompson, Cutler Street, 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. 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 once every three months.

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