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Reader feedback 9.10.03 

Forget Wegmans

Wegmans has announced it will close its Mt. Hope Avenue store before Thanksgiving. The space is outdated and small, and although management considered expanding the site, Wegmans spokewoman Jo Natale said the cost of expansion and renovation is too high. When the store closes, Wegmans will have only two supermarkets left in the city.

                  The reason for this closing is not lack of demand. Thirty percent of Monroe County's population lives in Rochester, and the Mt. Hope store, although it is a dog, is always busy. Actually, this is prototype behavior for Wegmans and other big-box developers --- build a store, run it into the ground, and abandon it for pristine green space when it becomes dated and starts to "lose money." The build-use-abandon business model may be the cheapest and easiest, but it is illogical and unsustainable. Before long, the suburban stores that replaced city shopping will be abandoned for exurban stores.

                  While I would support an effort to intercede and keep a local institution like Wegmans from moving to greener pastures, I think the city should use this disappointing news as an opportunity to grow a new business. I believe that, just as we should stop throwing money at Kodak and use our resources to strengthen small- and medium-sized photonics and optics firms in the region, we should create incentives to rehabilitate existing buildings and trade balking businesses like Wegmans for small business owners who are more loyal to the city.

                  Tanya Mooza Zwahlen, South Wedge Rochester

Paving paradise

Just this past week, I noticed that two hand-laid red brick walkways bordering the corners of Park Avenue and Oxford Street had been graded and spot-patched with black asphalt. How can this happen? It seems that Rochester is "Made for Living" with a blindfold on.

                  Mark Mason, Oxford Street, Rochester

Hamlin politics

Regarding "Primary Personalities," August 27: Hamlin Town Supervisor Austin Warner's contention that the new Hamlin Tel Code was the product of "intensive research by town officials" is a glaring misrepresentation of the facts.

                  The "research" started almost instantly after Austin and Canandaigua Broadcasting tried to schmooze the town in a January 2002 informational meeting. I organized and guided the Hamlin "No Radio Tower"(FM-WMJQ-350 ft.) revolt, which featured a town-wide sign campaign, door-to-door informational handouts and legal petitions, and most importantly, strong and sometimes spectacular protests of 200 outraged citizens at three consecutive Hamlin Town Board meetings.

                  Fear of facing an angry crowd that would not go away finally made Austin give up. It was not easy or pretty, but we saved the town from a nasty "done deal" that had all kinds of disastrous ramifications.

                  The new code was the logical extension of the protest movement. My neighbor Dennis Roach and I did the primary research on 11 surrounding town codes (we read them all --- 275 pages), which resulted in a massive 2'x3' spread sheet highlighting the salient features of those codes.

                  Neither Denny Roach nor I were town officials. We were the representatives of the "No Radio Tower" Committee. Although there were some very helpful and contributing Zoning and Planning Board members on the Rewrite Committee, I was the primary author of the new Telecommunication Local Law No 11, and was acknowledged as such at more than one Town Board meeting by Austin himself.

                  Most of the various drafts (red, blue, green marked for cross-critiquing) as they were developed along with the Final are still on my computer. The countless e-mails with large attachments to and from our advisors in Albany as well as between the Town attorney and myself are still in my e-mail log.

                  Austin sensed a good thing and went along for the ride, and the ride was provided by ordinary citizens, not town officials as he is quoted saying in your article. Sadly, dissemblance has become the standard rule of behavior for Austin Warner's administration, not just in this instance but concerning many other vital Hamlin issues as well.

                  This shameful distortion of honest government has driven me to join the political fray and run for the Hamlin Town Board as a Democrat this coming November.

                  James B. Martin, Martin Road, Hamlin

                  Writer Jack Bradigan Spula comments: In his 2003 State of the State, Warner credited a "nine-member committee" for drafting the Code with the help of a corporate consultant. Most members held town posts (zoning, planning, etc.), but three, including Martin, came to the committee as Hamlin residents. The phrase "intensive research by town officials" was mine, not Warner's, and the residents obviously weren't officials in any usual sense.

Rockin' and ragin'?

On reading Vicki Lewin Ryder's letter (The Mail, August 13, "Liar! Liar! Pants on Fire!"), I was reminded that wisdom is supposed to have arrived with age. In Ms. Ryder's case, rage seems to have arrived instead. Furthermore, her shrill remarks about President Bush call into question her commitment to justice.

                  George W. Bush warned Saddam Hussein time and time again what would happen to him and his evil regime if he failed to comply with 12 years worth of UN resolutions. When Saddam failed, President Bush made good on his threat.

                  When George Bush is re-elected in 2004, I suspect that the Bushwhackers will continue counting their curses and searching for clouds among the silver linings. The rest of us will move on, thankful that we live in the strongest, most generous nation on earth, led by a president who speaks plainly and acts decisively.

                  (On a lighter note, can't you just see a row of raging grannies rocking so hard their rockers are smoking?)

                  David R. Lyddon, a Flagwaving Pittsford Patriot

Range fire

George Grella has outdone himself, again, with his review of "Open Range" ("We Need Some Real Cowboys Again," August 20). With nary a word regarding the movie (although I think he really liked it), the review struck me as more of a political diatribe, a virtual editorial masquerading as film commentary.

                  In place of a pertinent critique of the elements of the picture (script, performance, cinematography), we are treated to Mr. Grella's views on environmental purity, class conflict, the progress of civilization, and his apparent problem with "western" presidents.

                  It's just a movie, George! To try to make this particular example of an iconic genre stand in for a factual political statement is probably not what Kevin Costner had in mind.

                  I know that elitist cinemaspeak is a highly prized art form these days, and Mr. Grella is certainly adept at it, but it seems like something is stuck in his craw, and it ain't the popcorn, pardner.

                  Marcia DeCesar, Penarrow Road, Brighton

                  George Grella's response: If Ms. DeCesar really wants to enlist in the ever growing but not terribly exclusive club of Grella bashers, she should first make sure of the facts.

                  Contrary to her statement, I did indeed review Open Range (favorably) the week before the piece she objects to so strenuously, which she apparently mistakes for a review. The movie inspired me --- if that is not too pretentious a term --- to write an additional essay on the Western, particularly on its social and political relevance for our time; I have taught a course in the genre many times and have read a good deal about it and written about it in other venues.

                  I do not need instruction in "what Kevin Costner had in mind," since I was discussing the form in general, not reviewing his picture (again, I had done that the previous week), but I imagine that all he had in mind was the desire to make a movie.

                  I have no idea what "elitist cinemaspeak" is, but usually try to write clearly and intelligently about film and related matters, which is difficult enough. I gladly stand by all the assertions I made in the essay; further, I firmly support class struggle and indeed strongly oppose the views and practices of those two presidents.

What's the need?

Regarding your article on the possible shutdown of the VA hospital in Canandaigua ("Vets: Wounded Once More," August 20): Why can't veterans receive services at local hospitals and other providers?

                  I would hope that the VA would offer an insurance plan for free care if there is not a local VA health-care facility. My guess is that this (health insurance) would be significantly less expensive than operating the present facility and that care would be at least as good.

                  I realize that this doesn't solve the question of the potential layoffs of hospital personnel, but I don't think that the government needs to keep open facilities that are no longer needed.

                  Jerry Cheplowitz, Chadwick Drive, Brighton

                  Jack Bradigan Spula responds: I sort of, almost, don't quite agree. Since VA hospitals address everything from outpatient needs to long-term residential care, it would take a lot more capacity in the rest of the US health-care system to make up for the closings. Ideally, a universal, comprehensive health system would take care of everyone's needs, regardless of prior service. (A peaceful nation wouldn't generate so many wounded and injured, either --- and here I'm not thinking only of the US military.) However it's structured, the system must be exactly as large as the population needing care, and distributed according to need. Anything else is austerity --- just what's hitting every part of the system today and making the VA cutbacks even more painful.

Brooks and budgets

Once again "Boss" Steve Minarik's Republican machine is trying to put a positive spin on a dire situation. Jack Doyle's has announced that the county will end the year with a surplus, thanks to the misappropriation of tobacco settlement funds.

                  What's going to happen when the tobacco funds are used up? Basic county services are already being stretched to their limits, and this so called balanced budget is not being managed or structured adequately to meet Monroe County's needs. To manage this mess, the Minarik machine is offering us Maggie Brooks. What is she offering Monroe County for solutions?

                  Brooks has rejected any consideration of metro solutions, erroneously referring to them as "big government," but she offers no viable alternative. Democrat Bill Johnson has the management skill and willingness to make the hard decisions, with the city continuing to show superior bond ratings to those of the county.

                  Rachel M. Boccheciamp, Dove Street, Rochester

Waiting at the DMV

I was in the Henrietta DMV recently, and the line and number of people constantly waiting in that place baffles me. I found myself in a seat that, more than anything else, reminded me of a pew --- which was appropriate, because I also found myself praying that the anticipated 2-hour wait would transform itself into something reasonable --- say, an hour or something. Those who chose to sit on the uncomfortable benches all facing the same direction stared blankly at the flashing board, waiting for their lucky number to appear. Some, like myself, had been there for hours.

                  I am not entirely opposed to our county clerk and county-executive candidate Maggie Brooks, but I find myself asking a question as election day approaches: How can we expect someone who cannot efficiently run the DMV to effectively head an entire county?

                  It really irks me that she allowed the state to close a much-needed venue for a DMV in the city. I realize that it was not completely in her hands, but she presumably could have had a major impact on the decision if she had, indeed, seen the problems with shutting down this location.

                  Maggie Clifford, Superior Road, Penfield (Clifford is related to Monroe Democratic Party Chair Mollie Clifford)

Writing to City

We welcome and encourage readers' letters for publication. Send them to: or The Mail, City Newspaper, 250 North Goodman Street, Rochester 14607.

                  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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