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Reader feedback 8.6.03 

Republicans and metro, public broadcasting's decline

Metro works

Once again county Republicans are showing their disingenuousness and ignorance. Eight town supervisors demonstrated on the steps of City Hall on July 24 in an effort to discredit Rochester Mayor and County Executive candidate Bill Johnson, and confuse the voters about his position on metro government.

                  Greece Supervisor John Auberger's remark that metro government "doesn't work" is the epitome of this ignorance, because in fact it does work. It works in Nashville. It works in Indianapolis. It works in Miami-Dade. And it works in Louisville, just to name a few places where it has brought down taxes and the cost of government --- two issues these hypocritical Republicans like to champion.

                  Ironically, in most communities where some form of metro government has been adopted, including Louisville, it's been Republicans who have championed the cause. Metro government is in fact not "bigger" government, it's less government, a concept that a true conservative would embrace.

                  What these town supervisors are really afraid of is losing their power and their little kingdoms. They're afraid that any form of metro government will eliminate the need for them and their inefficient, taxpayer-gouging administrations.

                  In reality --- and this, I think, is the source of what some people perceive as an inconsistency on Johnson's part --- consolidation, i.e., metro government, would likely best be accomplished by keeping the towns and villages in place, but with a much smaller role limited to the more local concerns. A majority of municipal functions would be turned over to the metro-level government, where they can be done at much lower operational, capital, and administrative costs.

                  The consolidation of local government services recommended by Center for Governmental Research, and adopted by the Council of Governments, essentially is metro government, or at least the start of it. But it was backed into without a well-thought-out plan. The hope of these Republican supervisors is that they would get some of the money-saving benefits of metro government while saving their less needed jobs.

                  What they fail to see, however, is that this is just a bass-ackward approach to the metro-government model, where their role and function would gradually diminish while their salaries stayed at the same high level as long as they could get away with it.

                  Louis T. Amico, Bardin Street, Rochester

Public broadcasting is in decline

Money may not be the root of all evil, but it's the root that's strangling public broadcasting. As a fan of both PBS and NPR and as a current member of WXXI, I feel frustrated at this steady decline.

                  Over the years, the number of original quality programs has decreased while the number of repeat broadcasts has increased. The number of fund drives, fund programming, and fund appeals has increased to the point where it seems as though we have short periods of uninterrupted programming sandwiched between relentless appeals for money.

                  I thought NPR had escaped this decline, but now both AM and FM have begun to show signs of erosion: repeating shows in place of original ones, constant musical fillers in the middle of talk and public affairs programming, and of course the disturbing increase of commercials.

                  What started out as commercial-free television and radio has become anything but. If it looks and sounds like a commercial, it is acommercial. Even if it's short and "tasteful," it's still a commercial interruption. Superficial marketing is superficial marketing, whether the slogan is "Rochester Made for Living" or "Dare to Be Interesting."

                  Stations like WXXI shouldn't take most of the blame for this decline. They're trying to survive in tough economic times. As the Democrat and Chronicle's John Pitcher pointed out recently, the federal well has been drying up for some time. State and local subsidies are flat. More than ever, the (economically insecure) public is asked to help foot the bill. The dare-to-be-digital campaign is knocking at the front door.

                  It's a sad commentary on our society that our elected representatives do not give greater financial support of public broadcasting and its ability to enhance the cultural life of this country.

                  Perhaps the best we can hope for is that voters will remember this at election time.

                  Rick Taddeo, Irondequoit

Why we watch

I don't think George Grella's frothing vitriol is remedying the situation he complains about --- a pop culture he sees as hollow and as contributing to the world's downward spiral. What I'm more angry about is his scathing condemnation of the average filmgoer as a mindless puppet of the whims of movie CEO's. Grella's disdain will deter people from doing something about the problems with pop film culture he aptly points out.

                  I agree that pop film culture needs to be reformed: to do more to let budding independent directors with new fresh talent add their creative juice to the popular consciousness, and to not let a film's sensation potential, rather than its quality, determine whether to release it. But Grella doesn't take into account why people go to see these films.

                  I like to watch action-adventure, sci-fi, and other blockbuster movies. I get plenty of intellectual questioning, emotional stimulation, and philosophical debate from real life. I watch media to escape my arduous everyday life, not to have its hard edges bite into my mental flesh.

                  Grella criticizes modern-day everyday life, but alienates and blames the victims of it --- the very people needed to counter it. I don't need a movie that has earned Grella's seal of approval to tell me the world's going to hell in a handbasket.

                  Phillip Miner, Cullens Run, Pittsford

                  George Grella's response: It seems that when I analyze a movie that falls into the category of art, foreign, or independent film and suggest something negative, I am accused, usually with the addition of personal insults, of being a slobbering, stupid barbarian, and probably unwashed at that. When I analyze some popular film, using the same standards, I am accused, again with some personal touches, of being an effete snob. It's not easy being George Grella, but I hope to continue all the same.

Writing to City

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