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News Briefs 12.4.02 

Bridge to this century

The US Army Corps of Engineers considers the Hojack Swing Bridge a "hazard to navigation" and wants it removed. But the bridge, which once carried trains across the Genesee River near Lake Ontario, has defenders who rightly view it as a work of art.

            On Wednesday, December 11, at 7 p.m., at the Dugan Center (15 St. Mary's Place), there'll be a public discussion on ways to save and re-use the bridge. (The discussion is sponsored by the Allan King Sloan Family Fund, the Bridge Project, the local Landmark Society, the Downtown Community Forum, and the local chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers.) Advocates point to examples elsewhere: For example, several steel bridges in Cleveland's harbor area function as decorative elements in what's now an entertainment district.

            Speaking of spans: The City of Rochester is looking for someone to buy (for $1!) the Electric Avenue pedestrian bridge, providing the buyer will put it to good use somewhere. This steel bridge, which carried walkers over a track bed, is in good shape, says the Landmark Society. Interested parties should contact City Hall project manager Thomas C. Hack, e-mail

Eden on Thurston

The Rochester Presbyterian Home is newly proud: It's now the only adult home in New York State's to be certified as an "Eden Alternative."

            "Edenization," says an RPH news release, means re-envisioning adult homes as "habitats for human beings rather than facilities for the frail and elderly." Besides good old-fashioned caring, Edenized homes have lots of plants, animals, kids, and other everyday things that make a house a home.

            There'll be a reception to mark the achievement on Friday, December 6, 6 p.m., at the home, 256 Thurston Road. Info: 235-9100.

While you were out

Other than the mass death and dismemberment of hundreds of thousands of turkeys, it was a relatively slow news week in the Rochester region. Health insurance costs are still skyrocketing, the state Legislature is still a smug country club, and the city school board is still a den of vipers. Oh, and Tom Golisano still ain't governor.

On December 2, Golisano submitted updated campaign finance reports to the state Board of Elections. The tally for his self-financed 2002 gubernatorial run: more than $73.9 million. The Independence Party candidate and Paychex CEO beat New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in the race to spend the most cash on a non-presidential election. Of course, unlike Bloomberg, the G-man lost his election, big-time, for the third time in a row. Nevertheless, Golisano's not ruling out a fourth quixotic bid in 2006, and says he'll continue pushing for an initiative and referendum process in New York (though he hasn't pledged any cash toward that end, yet). Such a process would allow citizens to bypass the state Legislature by collecting signatures to get measures on state-wide ballots, which would then be voted on by the people and, if passed, made law. Governor Pataki embraced the idea during this year's campaign, but Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver still doesn't like it. And without his support, it's a dead duck.

Speaking of the state Lej, the Senate and Assembly proposed that taxpayers give them $206.7 million next year for legislators' staff, travel costs, office space, and other expenses. While that sum isn't an increase over last year's Lej budget, it also isn't a decrease in the face of an overall state budget deficit that may reach $10 billion for the fiscal year beginning next April. The state budget director has already called upon state agencies to cut their budgets by five percent. Meanwhile, a roughly $4 million remodeling and renovation of legislative chambers, lobbies, and offices is underway, including new paint jobs, carpeting, and floor tile.

BlueCross BlueShield of the Rochester Area announced it was increasing its premiums an average of 12.9 percent next year, the fourth consecutive year of double-digit increases for most Rochester-area residents.

Feeling sick yet? Well, try digesting the fact the city school board is still preoccupied with a nasty internal dispute over proposed bylaw changes that could oust the current president a year before her term is up and strip the position of what little meaningful authority it has. The details of this flap aren't nearly as compelling as, say, the district's finances, which are still a mess, and the reality that most students still aren't learning too good. The board has scheduled a "discussion" and vote on the bylaw changes for December 5.

--- Compiled by Chris Busby from news reports, interviews, and wishbone fragments.


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