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The challenges of building affordable housing

I read Tim Louis Macaluso's article, "New Housing Fuels Hope and Fears" – about the Pueblo Nuevo housing slated for Rochester's Near Northeast – with an appreciation for what The Ibero-American Development Corporation is trying to accomplish.

I grew up in a circa 1895 wood frame house in this neighborhood in the 1950's. By the time we were there, its time had passed; now the entire block is city-owned vacant lots.

I ask critics of this development to support their arguments against it with facts and figures. The cost of building new housing makes subsidies necessary for anything less costly than mid-to high- market-rate units. As for excoriating developers: They are essential in an age when publicly built housing is not possible.

Commenters would prefer less density; one called for "one- and two-family dwellings with driveways." Even with the support of non-profit organizations, it is not possible to build such dwellings at a cost the intended residents can pay.

Adding density will make it possible to support neighborhood grocery stores. When we lived near Joseph and Clifford Avenues, we walked to the A&P at the corner of North Clinton and Clifford with our wagon to bring the groceries home. Adding density will support transit, perhaps to the level where not everyone has to own a car.


The problem in the RCSD: the teachers union

The city can change the governance of the Rochester school district to the mayor's office or some other entity. It can replace the superintendent one million times. It won't matter for one reason, in my opinion: the teachers union.

The union makes it difficult to get rid of bad teachers and to reward good teachers with more pay. Money and tenure should be earned with good teaching, not tied to a union schedule. Money and tenure are signaling mechanisms. Good teachers get more money (a signal that they are actually helping), mediocre teachers less (a signal that they need to do better), and bad teachers get fired (a signal that they shouldn't be a teacher). But the union impedes all that.

The union also makes school choice more difficult. Families that care about education will appreciate the opportunity to get their children into better performing schools. Families that don't care: There is nothing to be done about that.

And, yes, there is no doubt that concentrated poverty is a huge contributor to the problems in the Rochester school district. But just throwing more money isn't the answer either. There's plenty of cash.

Nothing will change as long as an entity that cares more about itself than it does the children is allowed to block change. Break the power of the unions.


Trump's real obstruction of justice

As soon as the president stepped off Air Force One after the announcement of the Mueller report's findings, he continued his attack on the investigation. Trump claims that Mueller's work was a witch hunt. If it was, why should Trump care what Mueller said? If there was nothing to hide in the first place, what is so significant about Mueller's work in the end?

And regarding whether Trump obstructed justice: Ask Muslims who were temporarily banned from traveling back to their home country, job, or university, just because they practiced a certain religious faith. Ask the 12-year-old Guatemalan girl who was taken from her mother and detained in a warehouse for months just because she wanted to escape being raped and forced into a gang.

Ask Khizr Khan whether he believed justice was obstructed when Trump questioned his son's loyalty to the United States. Would the family Otto Warmbier say justice has been obstructed by a president who is unwilling to say the North Korean dictator was responsible for their son's murder? How about the countless victims of Putin's regime?

Ask a transgender soldier. Ask the family of Charlottesville victim Heather Hyer if justice was obstructed when the president gave cover to white supremacist hate groups. Or ask the family of Jamal Khashoggi. Ask all of those innocent children who have been killed in Yemen by American-manufactured bombs.

We do not need Mueller to tell us that Trump has obstructed justice. Everything that Donald Trump stands for and is making America fall for is an obstruction of justice.


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