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Reader feedback 9.11.02 

Our 'cheap shot'

Before I ride off into the sunset to enjoy my "comfy retirement," as you sarcastically stated (Metro Ink, August 14), I think you need to better understand the role of a public servant.

            I have spent almost 28 years serving all the residents of Monroe County, the poor as well as the rich. I was very fortunate to have been named the Social Services director in 1993, and I and my staff have worked very hard to administer the very complex federal and state regulations that govern the eligibility for public-assistance programs.

            There are in excess of 80,000 Monroe County residents who receive some type of government assistance, and my role as the Social Services director is not to advocate for one group or another but to provide professional leadership in carrying out our mission and serving all the residents and taxpayers of Monroe County.

            Richard Schauseil, director, Monroe County Department of Social Services

            Jack Bradigan Spula responds: Schauseil's claim that he couldn't "advocate" is shaky. He did usually sidestep questions about poverty and policy --- but as the saying goes, you can't stay neutral on a moving train. Omission benefits some and hurts others.

            One example: In a published sermon from 1997, Rochester minister-activist Richard Gilbert recounts an exchange at a Children's Collaborative event. "Having heard [Schauseil] assure us that children would not be hurt by the 5-year lifetime welfare limitation," said Gilbert, "I asked him what would happen to me and my children if I were a parent who had used up my five years? How does my cut-off not hurt my children? How much collateral damage to my children is acceptable in order to punish me? He didn't know - but thought they were good questions."

            Yes, great questions, but not a good answer from one in such a position.

Fast ferry to doom?

In all of the fevered discussion concerning the proposed ferry service between Rochester and Toronto, I have not heard a single argument that convinces me it is a good idea. In fact, my position is just the opposite.

            First, the monetary exchange rate favors the American dollar. On a bad day, the American dollar earns 150 percent in Canada. On a good one, our dollar goes nearly twice as far. On the other hand, Canadians could look forward to 60 cents on the dollar at best.

            Second, Rochesterians already travel to Toronto frequently. And why not? Toronto has "The Lion King," an internationally acclaimed film festival, great food, a world-class zoo, and major-league hockey and baseball teams. On top of that, a quick browse of the concert listings reveals acts such as Bob Geldof, The Who, and The Strokes.

            Don't get me wrong, I love the Rochester area. Living in the city, I can easily find an evening's worth of food and entertainment. But does anyone seriously expect the flow of trans-border traffic to be equal?

            Finally, the Canadians have not shown any interest. My wife is originally from Ontario and remains in contact with family and friends. Until very recently, most, if not all, of them had not even heard of the project. With the exception of her parents (who will have more immediate access to us), the consensus is that the idea is absurd. Fast ferry service will pull local residents (and their wallets) away from a city that is already hemorrhaging.

            Russell Garrett, Rochester

A social contract?

Mr. Spula's answer to Mr. Edes and Mr. Wojciechowski (The Mail, August 28) falls short on so many levels, I don't know where to begin.

            The premise carrying the largest amount of blame is that the system was designed to provide support according to a "social contract." There is no social contract. At one extreme, you have a large class of people who have no reason to even attempt to assure their retirement. At the other end, you have people who should never need the government's assistance, but take it anyway, protecting as many of their assets as possible in the process.

            Everybody wants a share of the swag. Those who get it are the ones with friends who are big enough to take it from whomever they decide to. The problem will be solved when everyone has to do their utmost to pay for what they use, make the hard decisions, and suffer the consequences when they choose incorrectly.

            It is up to the more fortunate to ensure that those who try and fail are not fed to the wolves.

            Michael LaMendola, Borchard Street, Rochester

Resisting the war

What will it take to spark the popular resistance so desperately needed to stop Bush's war plans against Iraq?

            • The specter of countless more dead Iraqi children and innocent civilians?

            • Images of a horrific Middle East conflagration this war will certainly ignite?

            • The tragic sacrifice of still more US soldiers and their families?

            • Bush's ugly contempt for international law and the United Nations?

            • Bush's imperious disregard of our allies and world opinion?

            • Bush's flagrant violation of Congress and the Constitution?

            • The escalating danger of new terrifying attacks on US civilians?

            • Renewed confirmation of US-led terrorism and aggression around the globe?

            • Deepening economic hardship for US workers and citizens?

            Will anything less than a reintroduction of the draft, potentially costing the lives of middle-class sons and daughters, rally decent Americans to resist this imperialist, genocidal frenzy? Or will we simply be "good Germans," "willing executioners," leaving it to future historians to wonder how we could all participate so easily in such atrocity?

            There are other options. MetroJustice is coordinating a coalition of resistance, including local activist organizations and churches. Their number is 325-2560. Call now.

            Doug Noble, Werner Park, Rochester

Looking for leaders

When Woodrow Wilson first campaigned for president, he promised to keep the country out of World War I. He reneged, prompting the journalist John Reed to ask where the democracy was in the "war to make the world safe for democracy," as Wilson called it. Opponents of the war, such as the socialist Eugene Debs, were jailed.

            Today we are asked to invade Iraq, an event that would probably trigger World War III. This is being done by an administration that did not win even a plurality of the vote. We may not even be a republic now, much less a pure democracy.

            Ayn Rand wrote that no novelist or motion-picture producer could get away with the foreign policy of the United States. Only a politician would think that he could. The worse its results, the louder our pundits yell that it is "bipartisan."

            And it most certainly is. Democrats do not oppose an invasion of Iraq. They merely want to hold hearings to convince the American people to go along with an invasion.

            There are good people in the Republican and Democratic parties. But the leaders of those parties have us engaged in a "perpetual war for perpetual peace."

            I for one will support the nominees of the Green Party, which has nonviolence as one of its 10 key values. Hopefully, it will stand on principle. A large vote for it may show the powers that be that the American people will not stand for another war.

            Greg Stark, Savannah Street, Rochester

Jazz at Verve

I was extremely pleased to see WGMC receive such great press in "Smokin' Signal: WGMC Comes of Age" (August 21). Certainly, the current staff of the station has done a great deal to improve the quality of programming and increase the audience and the profile of the station in the community.

            I am in contact with the music director, Tony Gasparre, on a weekly basis and am glad to see his hard work (and that of others at the station) prove fruitful. There were, however, some quite troubling remarks made about the company I work for, the Verve Music Group.

            First, I am confused about why Ron Netsky would choose to editorialize about a record label in an article about a radio station. It doesn't fit. To say that Verve Records was "at one time a great jazz label" is absurd. We are a great jazz label. Our roster includes artists such as Diana Krall, Michael Brecker, Charlie Haden, Natalie Cole, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, David Sanborn, Roy Hargrove, Danilo Perez, Claudia Acuña, George Benson, Regina Carter, John MacLaughlin, Dee Dee Bridgewater and John Scofield.

            Mr. Netsky should be familiar with some of these artists. I am positive that WGMC listeners are familiar with them; they are played quite frequently on the station. In fact, Dee Dee Bridgewater's new record, This is New, is currently in heavy rotation there.

            Second, I am confused as to why Mr. Netsky would not check a title of a record he intended to criticize in print. The record is called Verve Remixed, not Verve Remixes.

            Furthermore, the remix in question, Billie Holiday's "Strange Fruit," was done by Tricky, solo artist and former member of the seminal trip-hop group Massive Attack. Anyone who is familiar with Tricky (I am assuming Mr. Netsky is not) knows that he often concerns himself with the problem of racism: He is Jamaican and grew up in Bristol, England, a well-documented hotbed for the white-supremacist movement in that country.

            Given his own personal experiences, Tricky's choice of song was appropriate --- even more so when you consider that 200,000 people worldwide have purchased the record and therefore have been exposed to "Strange Fruit's" message --- many of whom have probably never heard the song before.

            Finally, I am confused as to why Jason Crane's comment about the remix of "Strange Fruit" was used to mislead the reader into believing that Jason was condemning the entire project. He was speaking only in reference to that particular track.

            In addition, WGMC has never been sent a copy of the record. Mr. Crane may have his opinion; however, those of us at the Verve Music Group certainly don't agree. I invite him to listen to the record in its entirety; a copy is currently on the way to the station.

            If the Verve Music Group has arguably the strongest roster of any jazz label, is a strong supporter of WGMC, and wasn't the subject of the article, why go out of the way to criticize us? Mr. Netsky has marred what could have been a descent article about one of the best jazz radio stations in the country.

            Regardless, we'll support WGMC during its upcoming fund drive. Radio stations like WGMC are rare. The city of Rochester has a treasure; I hope the community realizes that.

            Garrett Shelton, associate manager, National Jazz Promotion, Verve Music Group

Double standards

Recent reviews of the movie "Tadpole," including, of course, that by Jon Popick (August 14), have a common thread: the complaint that society views an older man as dirty and sick if he dates a young girl, but the reverse is a display of an empowered woman.

            The reason it is not empowering for a middle-aged male to date an 18-year-old female is that men always had that power. A woman doing the same with a boy was robbing the cradle.

            Men were, and still are, cheered on by peers for attaining a hot young "chick." Women were called desperate because they couldn't find a mature man (preferably older than the woman) and had to settle for a boy. It was the male who was successful for landing himself an older woman.

            Today, despite movies, little has changed. If society moves toward the idea that a woman should be seen as strong and successful for finding a young man, I call it advancement.

            Kieni Schneider, Honeoye

Hands off our parks!

Regarding your article on Doyle's budget gap ("Have You Had Enough," August 21): We should consider ways to eliminate or amend existing maintenance contracts the city has with the county. Specifically, contracts affecting the right of access to parks and beaches.

            Sure, it may be financially feasible to allow the county to maintain them for us, but it is intolerable that county government can just close them down to satisfy a budget gap.

            As concerned Rochesterians, we need to not allow this to happen. The city parks belong to us, and they are ours to enjoy and do with as we please. They exist for our children and our senior citizens.

            Many of us remember a time when Rochester was a vibrant wholesome city, a city that attracted suburbanites and tourist alike. A city where families could come and have fun. We also remember how one day that changed.

            Now is the time to oppose county government in its decisions affecting our quality of living. Now is the time to keep county government in the county and out of the city.

            Thank God for Bill Johnson, "the people's mayor." Many of us believe that if it were not for his vision and his call to fight the evil of racism, Rochester would not be the city it is today.

            Can you not now smell the food and hear the music of diverse cultures? And as long as we Rochesterians continue to exert our sovereign right to self-government, we will continue to smell the food and hear the music.

            We all know that Doyle attempts to infringe on our right of self-government. He has in the past and will do so in the future. Next time around, will he threaten to deprive us of pure water? Doyle's true colors have surfaced. Hopefully, we will see him for what he really is and will not re-elect him for another term.

            As for Seneca Park: Maybe the county should consider selling the city the zoo. It's about time Rochester had its own zoo: a city-owned zoo we can call our own. Imagine the city jobs and revenue it would generate for Rochester and its citizens.

            Jose Zayas, Lake Avenue, Rochester

Rochester stories

The City issue of July 24 that a friend sent to me was truly a trip down memory lane for this ex-Rochesterian. Jennifer Loviglio's "Hidden and Forbidden" brought back a lot of memories.

            After many years of work in Sibley's advertising, I have felt saddened by the loss of this remarkable store, and the pictures of those barren rooms took me back to my first stint there, when I went to the store as a novice copywriter.

            The women on the advertising staff were allowed to eat at the "buyers' table" in the Tea Room and watch the strolling models without having to wait in line. Mrs. Anne Kamps, who had hired me, usually presided there, as merchandise manager for fashions. In those days, we wore our hats and gloves. The area at the far left of the diagram you printed was, in those days, a men-only restaurant, later a smoking area.

            The unique grocery store, about which I still tell unbelieving friends here, had all the posh wedding-cake business in town, and the green Sibley trucks delivered even the minimum telephone grocery orders of customers. I used to have occasional calls from friends who asked me to bring them some unusual spice or grocery item unavailable anywhere else. It all met an untimely end when more money-oriented management began figuring the per-square-foot cost of such an operation.

            Regarding the picture of the catwalk above the Eastman Theatre, where some disgruntled students were said to have loosed the contents of a feather pillow on the audience below during the cannon discharge in The 1812 Overture. Itwas a protest to a town-and-gown squabble over traditional music vs. newer programming, and the story was true. The ping-pong ball episode was also true --- a mere prank, as I recall.

            While I do not remember when the subway operated with tracks and trains, I do remember when it became a roadbed for a new and welcome way to get downtown by car from the east side and was the genesis for the Inner Loop and Outer Loop that brought traffic relief to Rochester.

            So thank you, City, for the memory jogger. I am grateful for the friends who send me clippings and, in this case, the whole issue of a great Alternative Paper.

            Nancy Robb Tobin, Savannah, Georgia

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