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News Briefs 4.9.03 

They came, they didn't saw

Calls have been trickling into the City Newspaper office about an obsession of ours: the future of the city-owned Hemlock-Canadice lakes watershed, a source of Rochester's municipal water for more than a century.

            Based on what's been said at some recent public forums, rumors are circulating that city crews may soon start cutting timber near Hemlock Lake. (A year ago, city foresters and environmental managers proposed some selective cutting high above the lake's western shore. No cutting took place, but some preparatory work was done, including the construction of a gravel access road for taking in heavy equipment and carting out sawlogs.)

            Nothing is happening now, and won't for some time, if at all, says local Sierra Club activist and open-space watchdog Hugh Mitchell. Last year, says Mitchell, city officials adopted a two-year moratorium on any cutting at Hemlock-Canadice. So spring 2004 is the time to watch.

Giving sanctuary

Folks from all over are gearing up for a major event at Crowfield Farm, a combination organic-bison ranch and not-for-profit education center in the town of Arcadia, Wayne County. (Crowfield also hosts the independent Peacework organic farm, associated with Genesee Valley Organic Community Supported Agriculture.)

            The "Sense of Sanctuary" workshop, scheduled for May 23 to 26, will cover a lot of ground: workshops on things like Sufi and international folk dance, aromatherapy, animal tracking, tai chi and chi gong; and "youth activities" like puppet-making and nature walks. The Sanctuary project aims to "enlighten and enrich" all people and build "community and natural creation."

            Registration fees, including the cost of meals and materials, are $130 for adults and $100 for those under 18. The registration deadline is May 1. For information: Mary and Steve, 315-331-8128; Corrie and Becky, 315-331-6873; e-mail; or visit

Back from the war zone

When US forces rolled out against Iraq, local schoolteacher Tom Little-Moore hopped on a plane bound for the Middle East. His was a spur-of-the-moment, one-man mission to be a counterweight --- however small --- to the military machine and massive human suffering.

            Today, Little-Moore's back in Rochester, having not quite made it into Iraq. But he did get close enough to meet and work with victims of war, and do some good. And while he was there, he e-mailed home, sharing his thoughts and experiences with friends and groups like Metro Justice.

            In a March 25 e-mail from Amman, Jordan, Little-Moore tells this anecdote: "A rambunctious little boy named Mustafa lives at my hotel. Whenever he sees me he wants me to swing him around or give him a ride on my back around the hotel lobby. He seems oblivious that he has tiny bits of shrapnel in his back moving slowly through his tissues toward his spine. When this happens his playfulness will cease. He will be paralyzed. And having only half his left hand does not stop him from grabbing hold of me as he climbs up onto my back. Mustafa sustained these injuries when the bombing resumed in parts of Iraq back in the late 1990s. Washington had called the [weapons] inspectors out, just before the bombing was to begin and just before [the inspectors] were able to conclude that there were no weapons of mass destruction..."

            The e-mail has a mostly upbeat coda: "I did not come here to test the hospitality of the Middle East. I didn't know what to expect. I only wanted to give them the message in the flesh that there are many of us who cannot bear that they must endure more war and suffering. And that we are sorry we could not stop this madness... I have received countless expressions of appreciation which I shall try and pass onto you here. These people are truly touched. Graciously I have been given food to eat, places to sleep, free taxi rides, free coffee, tea, bread, and countless hugs and handshakes. Oh yes, and the twinkle from Mustafa's eyes. More than I expected in a time when the death toll continues to rise."

Alliance appeals

Members of the Seneca Park Alliance recently filed a notice to appeal a State Supreme Court ruling that paves the way for the construction of a 600-car Seneca Zoo parking lot in historic Seneca Park.

            The Alliance, a group that formed to oppose Monroe County's plan to expand the Seneca Park Zoo, filed its appeal on April 10. In it, the Alliance argues that the county "Failed to take the required hard look at the irreparable harm [its] project would cause the Frederick Law Olmsted-designed park." The Alliance also asks that the county scrap its plans for a zoo expansion and redo the planning process.

            "We feel that planning for the zoo must be redone with a new plan that will support the twin goals of improving the zoo while enhancing the beautiful and historic landscape," writes Henry McCartney, executive director of the Landmark Society of Western New York, in a press release. The Landmark Society is one of the parties filing the appeal.

            The county recently announced plans to build a new animal hospital and veterinary classrooms within current zoo boundaries. McCartney says this appeal does not affect that project, which he calls "important."

            Because the county's expansion plans are now tied up in court, and because the county is facing a fiscal crisis, the expansion has been stalled indefinitely.

Casting calls for Otto and Bob

Rochester already has a Todd Solondz connection, via Philip Seymour Hoffman's performance in Happiness. But that link might just be getting a little cozier this summer. Solondz, the indie filmmaker who has won awards from Cannes and Sundance, could be shooting his latest project in and around the Rochester area, according to the Rochester/Finger Lakes Film and Video Office.

            His latest --- titled Palindromes --- is about an awkward 13-year-old girl (a la Welcome To the Dollhouse's Dawn Weiner) named Aviva. No stranger to pushing buttons, Solondz's production is also looking for children with both physical disabilities and experience in music. There is also a fairly major role to be filled by a vision-impaired actress.

            Hopefully Solondz will carefully consider the Rochester option. After all, our track record in hosting films that feature physically challenged acting talent (remember After Image and Terrylene?) isn't too spectacular.

While you were out

The fun continues in the controversy over the closure of FunQuest Roller Sports and Family Recreation Center in Henrietta. FunQuest co-owner Ross Catalano has filed a lawsuit against the town, the town fire marshal, and Henrietta Supervisor Jim Breese. The federal suit, which seeks $90 million in damages, claims that town officials forced the club to close because too many black kids were shaking their booties there. As City reported in March 2002, the club became overcrowded the night of March 9, and was evacuated with the help of sheriff's deputies and scores of cops who responded to a call for backup. Minor melees erupted in the parking lot outside before patrons were readmitted. In a letter to FunQuest's owners sent shortly after the incident, Breese criticized the dance club for attracting "teens who live within the city limits." He based this claim on pictures taken during the evacuation. How did Breese know the teens' addresses based on their pictures? Good question, and one that raised allegations of racism at the time. "I was stating that the owners were targeting populated areas," Breese told City last year, and added that he was concerned the club didn't have enough security to handle the crowds it drew. The lawsuit alleges that Breese also made racist remarks during a meeting between town officials and the club's owners --- an allegation Breese denies.

This year's race for Monroe County District Attorney features more party hoppers than a crowded suburban dance club (but, thus far, no black people). Republican Mike Green is seeking the Democrats' nomination to fill the post being vacated by his boss, Democrat Howard Relin, a former Republican. The Elephant Party's likely candidate, Republican Family Court Judge Ann Marie Taddeo, used to swing with the Donkey Party, too. Green will be challenged for the nomination by another Green, Scott Green, who is not a Green, but a Democrat. Which raises a key question: Who the hell cares what party the DA represents so long as he or she puts bad guys and gals in jail? Answer: political party animals.

--- Compiled by Chris Busby from news reports, interviews, and color photos of prospective district attorney candidates.

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