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Reader feedback 2.18.04 

Remembering the Democrats

I have a different memory of the Democrats than Nicholas Hogan has ("Bring Back the Democrats," The Mail, February 4). He is correct in noting that the Democrats presided over a massive economic boom and brought a budget surplus that has disappeared into massive deficits. However, my memory of that boom is slightly different.

            I am only 22 years old, but I remember a boom that didn't include most working people. I remember a boom where CEOs' salaries went from 50 times the average worker's salary in 1994 to about 400 times the average worker's in 1999.

            I remember my parents' wages not going up a dime. CEO's got rich, while working people stayed where they were and are now suffering in a recession.

            I remember a shift to 401k retirement funds that has left seniors with little or no savings.

            I also remember Democratic promises of a national health-care package, and a re-enforcement of a woman's right to choose. I remember a pledge to further gay rights in the military and marriage.

            I remember movements of the 80's and early 90's, right here in Rochester, demanding these things, and then Mr. Clinton promising the world and delivering nothing.

            We had two years of a Democratic Senate, House, and White House, but what we got was a disastrous Don't Ask, Don't Tell Policy, the Defense of Marriage Act, no legislation defending a woman's right to choose, and a Welfare Destruction program that even Regan couldn't get through Congress.

            Ask the parents of city school children who are losing their school nurses and have no health care how much they miss Mr. Clinton.

            Ask the manufacturing workers who have no jobs because NAFTA has sent them south.

            While all this doubly applies to Mr. Bush, my memory of the last Democratic president leaves me sour. It's sad the limited choices we are presented with.

            Anyone want to take up real workers issues this fall?

            Brian Lenzo, Broadway, Rochester

Locke on GMC

The second paragraph of my recent letter regarding Tom Pethic needs clarification (The Mail, February 4). When I spoke of unknowledgeable presenters in jazz radio, I was not talking about WGMC. I was referring to certain rare experiences I've had listening to jazz radio while on tour.

            Let me say for the record that the vast majority of jazz radio hosts in this country are extremely knowledgeable about the art form of jazz, and are dedicated to their work for the same reason I am --- because they love the music. In my letter I was trying to say that Mr. Pethic is one of these dedicated professionals. I am sorry the intent of my words was so unclear. The programming and presentation at WGMC is, in my opinion, the best in the business.

            WGMC has been an ally to me since its inception. There have been countless times when I have come from my home in New York City to visit Rochester, tuned into WGMC, and found my music being played. That's what I call hands-on support, and for it I am grateful.

            As a result of the incredible work station manager Jason Crane and his staff are doing, WGMC is a shining example of what jazz radio can be. And with the advent of their newly-acquired power, this music we love is getting out to more and more people --- good news for us all, musicians and listeners alike.

            Joe Locke, New York City

Locke on 'Trane

Although it's always great to hear from a native son, vibraphonist Joe Locke, I did want to correct one item in his letter in the February 4 issue. I'm sure Joe meant "no disrespect for this art form" in his oversight.

            John Coltrane, while best known for the tenor sax, did indeed also play alto sax, as well as soprano sax -- check out his classic My Favorite Things -- flute, clarinet, and bass clarinet. Coltrane played the alto sax in his stint in the navy, and continued it as his primary instrument until joining altoist Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson's band in 1947.

            After that, 'Trane still played alto on rare occasions throughout his career, including on a few recordings. Live in Japan, recorded in July 1966, just about a year before his death, included Coltrane on alto.

            Ed Trefzger, Margaret Street, Rochester (Trefzger is editor of JazzWeek, which publishes a national radio airplay chart for jazz, and is an afternoon host on WGMC.)

The GMC mix

Several comments have appeared recently in this newspaper regarding the on-air staff at Rochester's jazz station, 90.1 WGMC. As a volunteer member of that staff, I wish to respond.

            Everyone at WGMC has a love for jazz and a desire to keep it an option on the radio airwaves.

            Aside from a handful of modestly paid staff members, the on-air staff that brings jazz to WGMC listeners 24 hours a day is volunteer.

            The staff includes a range of people, from professional jazz musicians with a vast knowledge of the music to those of us who simply enjoy listening to jazz. I fall in the latter category. I do not profess to be a jazz expert, but I am dedicated to volunteering my time to keep strong a station and a musical form that I appreciate and enjoy sharing.

            There should be room in any art form for both the "experts" and those with a less in-depth but still passionate interest. Long live jazz radio in Rochester!

            Tom Petronio, John Jay Drive, Irondequoit


I faithfully read your publication as the only local alternative to the D&C. Your piece on Tom Golisano and his contribution to WXXI was a waste of space (Metro Ink, January 28).

            I don't know Golisano. Apparently he has a lot of money. He contributes a lot of it to charitable and not-for-profit causes. In some instances he receives "naming rights." So what? If and when comparable non-profits get donations from people with smaller egos or who wish to remain anonymous, perhaps they won't need or want Tom Golisano's munificence; I doubt it.

            In the meantime, I think our community is the better for your newspaper and Tom Golisano, but the piece on his most recent contribution did nothing to enhance your paper's credibility, perhaps to the detriment of our community.

            Thomas C. Burke, Stonybrook Drive, Brighton

More on Hampson

One aspect of Tom Hampson's life that shouldn't be forgotten was his important contribution to the founding of the local American Civil Liberties Chapter ("Do You Know This Man," February 4).

            In the early 1960s, two Democrat and Chronicle reporters were arrested for urinating on a car after exiting a bar. The white reporter was released that morning, but the black reporter, Earle Caldwell, was detained for two days.

            As president of the Newspaper Guild (AFL-CIO), I called around trying to obtain a volunteer attorney to represent Earle (who later gained celebrity when, as a New York Times, he refused to give Attorney General John Mitchell his notes after interviewing the Black Panthers). Through the ACLU in Buffalo, I located Tom Hampson in Rochester, and he worked free, not only releasing Caldwell, but receiving assurance that Caldwell's record would be expunged.

            That incident contributed to the founding of the Genesee Valley Chapter, ACLU, principally by Joe Frank, an English professor at the U of R.

            Mitchell Kaidy, Crittenden Road, Rochester

On the waterfront

Two thumbs up to Dave Kaspersin on his "idea" list for moving Rochester forward ("Put 'em in Charlotte," The Mail, January 21). Most successful waterfront cities have their downtowns located at the waterfront.

            Even the small lakefront community of Skaneateles has more to offer than the present downtown Rochester and Charlotte combined. On any given day during the summer and on weekends in the winter, the town center is crowded, and more often than not, packed with people patronizing the shops and restaurants.

            What brings people of every demographic back to Skaneateles time and time again? It's definitely not bars. It's not just the town shops and restaurants. It's not just the lake. It's a combination of the town center being located right on the lake. The town even had the vision years ago to open the lakefront to the main street by creating two large town parks, one at each end of the business district.

            Maybe even Skaneateles can teach Rochester a thing or two.

            John Midavaine, Colebrook Drive, Irondequoit

News, balanced

When Lou Ruggeri asks City not to be "one-sided or liberal" (The Mail, February 4), does he consider those two things roughly equivalent? If so, perhaps he should stick to more "fair and balanced" news outlets such as Fox.

            I am also curious about this "widespread boycott" of City that he anticipates by himself and his staff. Does he know a priori that all his staff members share his political views? Perhaps it is a bona fide occupational qualification of working at Mr. Ruggeri's establishment, wherever that may be, at least to pretend to hold conservative political views.

            In fact, Mr. Ruggeri may find that the proprietor and the employee find quite differing political outlooks in each of their own personal best interests.

            David Frier, East Avenue, Rochester

Writing to City

We welcome and encourage readers' letters for publication. Send them to: or The Mail, City Newspaper, 250 North Goodman Street, Rochester14607.

            Our guidelines: We don't publish anonymous letters --- and we ask that you include your street name and city/town/village. While we don't restrict length, letters of under 350 words have a greater chance of being published. We do edit letters for clarity and brevity. And in general we don't publish letters (or longer "op-ed" pieces) from the same writer more often than once every three months.

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