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Going Dutch 

Sugar, spice, everything nice, and a tendency to break into cartwheels, song, and dance... that's what the girls in the after-school double Dutch program at School 30 are made of. And maybe a little more spice than most.

A group of about 15 first to fifth graders gather in the School 30 gym at 36 Otis Street to practice double Dutch every Wednesday. Annie Pride, assistant director at the Edgerton Community Center, turns the ropes.

As the workshop begins, girls sit in small clusters and count while their friends take turns trying to out-jog personal records. And Pride reminds the girls to encourage each other.

Ten-year-old Jabri Bost is the other designated twirler.

"My record is 175," she says. "I want to be a cheerleader, the flexible kind."

Fifth grader Gina Lapiana admits that she is new to the sport, but she has goals to get better: It allows her an hour between the end of school and the start of homework.

"I want to learn how to jog, and then heel-toe," she says. "That's when you dance on your heel and then go to your toe," and she demonstrates.

Eight-year-old Noriena Parlipiano says, "I like to do double Dutch. And run. And play. And scream. I can do a headstand. Watch!"

Price used to coach a double-Dutch league at Avenue D Recreation Center. And she has been calling the girls' parents to drum up interest in renewing it.

"[At Avenue D] we used to have world-class double Dutch," she says. "And I do have some of these young people interested."

Sure, they're interested. But who has time to sit quietly and wait for their turn at the ropes when there are dances to create and songs to sing? For a little while, jumping rope takes a backseat to determining who can do the best handstands.

Info: There are double Dutch programs at School 30 (call Edgerton Community Center, 428-6769) and Campbell Street Community Center (524 Campbell Street, 428-7860).

--- Rebecca Shore

Wage raised

New York's lowest-wage workers are getting a raise. After dragging their heels for more than three months, the State Senate voted 50-8 on Monday to override Governor Pataki's veto of a minimum-wage increase. The minimum, now $5.15, rises to $6 on January 1, 2005, to $6.75 a year later, and to $7.15 in 2007.

In July, both the Senate and the Assembly approved raising the minimum wage; when Pataki vetoed the increase, the Democrat-dominated Assembly quickly voted to override. But the Senate, ruled by Republicans, stalled, afraid that their support would jeopardize re-election chances for some senators. They were also afraid that supporting a bill business groups opposed would embarrass President Bush right before the Republican National Convention.

The minimum-wage increase was supported by state Democrats and labor unions, among others, but the win was particularly sweet --- and significant --- for the Working Families Party, which had mounted a massive, grassroots campaign throughout the state.

What casino?

The rumor mill began churning overtime last week after Rochester Mayor Bill Johnson announced that he was scheduling a public forum on casino gambling for Thursday, December 16, at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center from 7 to 9 p.m.

Is he trying to get gambling aboard the struggling ferry? Are there more proposals for a downtown casino?

Well, apparently none of the above are true.

As far as the ferry is concerned, Johnson said casino talks and the ferry negotiations are "totally unrelated." The forum is something Johnson says he's been promising for months so "if discussions [of casino gambling in Rochester] resurface, citizens will be well-armed with information."

For more information on the public forum, contact Alinda Drury in the mayor's office, 428-7045.

As for the ferry, developments seem to be changing by the day. As of press time, the mayor's proposal to create a state authority to issue tax exempt bonds is dead in the water, thanks to an Albany delegation that's not at all big on state authorities. So the city is busy working on other purchasing options that could meet the approval of city council, which was expected to make an announcement just as City Newspaper went to press.

Meanwhile, negotiations between the city, CATS, and CATS' senior lenders have gone nowhere, and foreclosure proceedings on the boat are underway. So if the city wants to purchase the ferry, it very likely will have to do so in a competitive environment when the ship goes up for auction. Also, the Toronto Port Authority has suspended construction of the nearly-completed Toronto terminal until ferry service is certain to resume.

Generally displeased

Most folks would be flattered by the prospect of an international figure speaking at a Rochester gala.

But that's not the case for one local resident. After the Lakeside Foundation announced that retired US Army General Tommy Franks would address the group's annual gala dinner Friday, December 10, on the theme "Volunteerism...Caring Hearts Change the World," volunteer and supporter Dale Carselli soured on the organization.

Lakeside has a reputation for attracting distinguished guests, including Generals Colin Powell and Norman Schwarzkopf, and (mainly Republican) politicians, most notably Presidents Bush and Ford.

But for Carselli, Franks was the final straw.

In a letter addressed to the Lakeside Foundation, and printed in the newsletter for local activist group Metro Justice, Carselli outlined his objections to the choice, especially Franks' statements that the Constitution might be suspended in place of martial law in the event of another terrorist attack.

"This man would have us believe that to save our democracy we have to destroy it," writes Carselli, before adding that he changed his will to no longer benefit the foundation, and that he will no longer volunteer there.

In a twist of irony for a volunteerism-themed event, Carselli closed his letter with the following: "I understand that this will have as much effect as a pebble thrown in the ocean, but that said, I still hold on to the belief that one person can make a difference."

On the house

The causes are different: age, race, income, children.... The list goes on.

But the result is the same. Despite a glut of housing in the Rochester area that has prices down, many people struggle to find a home.

Whether through racial discrimination or because of a simple lack of affordable housing in their neighborhoods, finding shelter is often an overwhelming challenge, sapping time, energy, and resources from the poor, the elderly, or the working parent.

"People should be aware that there are still some of those obstacles out there," says longtime housing advocate Bill Selke, of Greece.

That drive to expand awareness of the problem is one reason why the theme for this year's local celebration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is "Adequate Housing for All."

Selke and other representatives from the non-profit and advocacy communities will be on hand Friday, December 10, to share their experiences and strategies.

The event begins at 5 p.m. Friday with a candlelight vigil and reading of the Declaration outside City Hall, followed by a potluck at 5:45 at the Downtown United Presbyterian Church, 121 N. Fitzhugh St., and a program of speakers at 6:30.

Jazz dates

The next installment of the Rochester International Jazz Festival will take place this coming June 10 through 18. And while no acts have been announced or even hinted at, the popular Club Pass is on sale at a discounted rate of $59 plus service charge until January 1. The charge will go up to $69 plus service charge after that date. Info:

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