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Feedback 9/26

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The left has moved right

Mary Anna Towler's column "One Nation Indivisible?" (Urban Journal) cites a New Yorker article saying Congressional Republicans have drifted further right than the Democrats have drifted left. I share Mary Anna's worry about political gridlock. But the claim about Republican and Democratic parties' respective "drifts" is wrong on both counts.

The Republican "drift" is a mad dash into fiscal, defense, public welfare, and unsustainability insanity. This, while the feckless Democrats are sucked right by the moneyed interests that keep them in office. There is no Democratic Party drift left. Their drift is clearly right, and the Republican "drift" is the same accelerating mad dash that it has been for some decades.

Furthermore, the Obama administration is doing an admirable job of creating the tightly bound infrastructure necessary to the extremist Republican Party program of active defiance of reality and even life itself. This "accomplishment" is by means of executive overreach that even Bush and Cheney could only envy through enforcement of truly mind-boggling reversals of constitutional liberties.

Obama's continuing curtailment of habeas corpus, unparalleled prosecution of whistle blowers, indefinite detentions and renditions, and chronic stonewalling on important questions that the media does not bother to ask are examples that scratch the surface.

It is no doubt a radical belief that voting is the least qualified example of action that can promote democracy in this country.  But as the middle class evaporates, most people must by now suspect that purchased elections have already trashed actual democracy. This is just one in a very large array of tools in play from the toolkit of anti-democratic forces of a relentless corporatocracy that has rewritten the rules of the game.

Neither Obama nor his pathetic appointee as head of the Department of Justice, Eric Holder, is any more free of the financial and ecological derangement than Bain Capital's Mitt Romney.  But that's a letter for another day.
MIKE CONNELLY, ROCHESTER

Why not take the Sibley rent?

I concur with the skepticism of some City Council members regarding the proposed purchase of the Sibley Building by Winn Development.

What is particularly disturbing is the city's continuing reluctance to collect any of the $24 million in back taxes owed by Rochwil Associates, the shell corporation of the Wilmot family.

I can see why the city does not want to own the building. However, there is no impediment to suing Rochwil Associates, taking a judgment for the back taxes, and serving a garnishee on the building's tenants. It's my understanding that Monroe Community College pays almost $2 million in rent. With a judgment and garnishee, that money would certainly look good in the city's coffers. I can't, however, resist the conclusion that politics plays a large part in the city's reluctance to pursue this avenue.
JAMES R. BOEHLER, ROCHESTER

Editor's note: Several readers have raised questions similar to Boehler's. Why, indeed, can't the city at least get the money that Sibley tenants have paid in rent? The reason dates back to the original agreement with Rochwil. That agreement, says Mayor Tom Richards, prohibited the city from taking any kind of judgment – filing a lien, for instance – until the first mortgage was paid. It hasn't been, yet.

And even if that restriction didn't exist, the city was in a tough position. Being able to force a building's owner to hand over the rental income "doesn't change how much money's available," Richards says. Rochwil's only asset is the Sibley building. If Rochwil had used the rental income to pay the city rather than paying down the mortgage, the bank would foreclose on the property. And the city would be left with nothing.

The good news, Richards says, is that Rochwil has been paying down that mortgage and now owes only $2 million, making sale of the building possible. Initially, the first mortgage was for more than the building is worth.

And FYI, Richards says: Wilmorite, which created Rochwil, did put a lot of equity into the building and lost a lot of money. "Do I feel sorry for them? No," Richards says. "But it's not like they made out."

The purpose of guns

People who dismiss gun control usually offer the notion that cars, knives, or baseball bats can kill people, too. I suppose they could add nail files, anything glass, or perhaps chain saws. This, of course, misses the point that guns serve one main purpose, and that is to kill, and with today's technology, multiple killings.

And I wish people who say they quote the Second Amendment, as one of the City letter-writers did, would offer the entire "exact wording" and not be selective about the language. The amendment reads, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

If there were a period after the word "state," rather than a comma, as usually printed, the Second Amendment would be much clearer about the intent. If some people would seem to prefer an unregulated Militia, I suggest they go to Iraq, Mexico, or Afghanistan, places awash in guns, where people are never free of fear for their lives from terrorists.
WILL CONDO, ROCHESTER

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