Monday, November 10, 2014

Week Ahead: Brooks budget; Comcast merger verdict; Slaughter-Assini decision; much more

Posted By on Mon, Nov 10, 2014 at 10:05 AM

Maggie Brooks. - FILE PHOTO
  • Maggie Brooks.
Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks will release her 2015 budget proposal sometime this week — possibly at Wednesday’s County Legislature meeting. The county charter says she has to present it on or before November 15.

Brooks has said little about the proposal, which is not unusual. It’ll probably account for around $1 billion in spending and it’ll almost certainly keep the county property tax rate at $8.99 per $1,000 assessed value — the flat rate has been Brooks’ signature accomplishment as county executive.

The big question is what changes, cuts, fees, or chargebacks might be included in the budget in order to keep the $8.99 tax rate.

Two big areas will also be under scrutiny by advocacy groups this year: funding for child day care subsidies and funding for homeless shelters.

The Legislature meets at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the County Office Building, 39 West Main Street.

On Wednesday, county elections officials will count additional absentee and affidavit ballots, including additional ballots in the 25th Congressional District. At last count, sitting Democratic House Representative Louise Slaughter led her Republican opponent, Gates Supervisor Mark Assini, by 651 votes.

That total includes poll results from Election Day as well as absentee ballots.

Slaughter has declared victory in the race, but Assini hasn’t conceded. The race’s results won’t be official for at least another week.

The State Public Service Commission will decide whether to approve or deny the merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable. The decision will come at a 10:30 a.m. meeting on Thursday, November 13.

Consumer groups, good government groups, and many members of the public, have urged the PSC to reject the merger. They say that the new mega-company would be too big to effectively regulate, would have too much market power, and could leave subscribers stuck with bloated cable packages and crummy broadband Internet connections.

But the PSC’s advisory staff has urged commissioners to approve the merger, albeit with conditions. They recommend requiring the company to retain Time Warner’s $14.99 a month Internet package, for example. And they also recommend requiring the new Comcast to commit to investing at least $50 million to extend cable service into unserved and underserved areas.

The meeting will be webcast and the feed can be accessed here.

During the same meeting, the PSC will discuss a request from the owner of the R.E. Ginna nuclear power plant. The owner, Constellation Nuclear Energy Group, is seeking a temporary contract for the sale of its power in order to keep the plant going for a few more years.

Rochester Gas and Electric formerly bought 90 percent of the plant’s electricity, until a contract between the utility and the power plant expired earlier this year. Since then, Ginna has been selling power into New York’s competitive electricity market.

But even before the contract was up, Ginna was losing money. A filing with the Public Service Commission says that Ginna’s losses have significantly exceeded $100 million over the last three years.

The contract that Constellation seeks – a reliability support services agreement – is different than the previous agreement. RG&E would buy power from Ginna at negotiated prices, but only on an as-needed basis.

Constellation’s PSC filing says that without the contract, the company’s management will recommend the plant’s retirement to its board of directors.

It’s not clear whether the PSC will make a decision on Constellation’s request at Thursday’s meeting. BY JEREMY MOULE

A series of open houses is scheduled for the City of Rochester’s new transit center so customers can learn about the center’s amenities and understand route and schedule changes. The center, located between St. Paul and North Clinton, opens on November 28.

Six open houses are scheduled between November 13 and November 20. This week, they are:
• 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, November 13;
• 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Friday, November 14;
• Noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, November 15.

The Rochester Direct Action Training Collective will hold a general interest meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, November 11, at the Flying Squirrel, 285 Clarissa Street.

The purpose of the meeting is to pool resources and knowledge to build a cross-movement network of trainers and skillsets around nonviolent direct action. That includes developing basic trainings curriculum, recruiting trainers, and planning training.

If you cannot make the meeting but are interested in participating or want more information, contact Ryan at

Charlotte Strong, the citizens’ group opposed to the current development proposal for the Port of Rochester, will meet at 7 p.m. today, (Monday, November 10) at the Roger Robach center in Charlotte.

According to an e-mail from the group, the meeting will focus on the marina project – which is separate from the development proposal — and why the City of Rochester is ending its contract with the Pike Company for the marina. Construction of the marina is under way. BY CHRISTINE CARRIE FIEN

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