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Metro ink - 11.23.05


'Gotta do something'

Driving down Alexander Street, it's impossible to miss the emerging mural of random images and implied figures on the side of Boulder Coffee Co. The bright acrylic paint of this giant pastiche stands out from the dull brick and faded wood that pervades the neighborhood. Come spring it will cover the entire outside of the building. | But this is just one of the many projects hiding behind the self-taught Rob Jensen's contagious grin. He's already forming ideas for another mural on the side of Masline Electronics on South Clinton Avenue and maintaining a rigorous schedule of working, drawing, painting, and writing songs on his guitar. | "I gotta move, gotta do something, gotta keep thinking," he says. And he's not lying. After graduating from FairportHigh School, Jensen lived in Hawaii and Sacramento, selling his paintings and t-shirt designs, before moving back to Rochester. | "I love the seasons here," he says, "and Rochester has a huge potential to become an art city." | Jensen and Lyjha Wilton, co-owner of Boulder Coffee Co., came up with the idea for the mural in early September, and he's been working on it since. He's painting as much as he can outdoors while the weather is good. This winter he's going to focus on his canvas paintings and an illustrated coffee table book. "Finally I'm doing something that I love, something that I will always do until the day I die," he says. | Eventually he'd like to become an art professor. "I was put on this earth to inspire people as a facilitator of positive energy," he says. "I wake up happy everyday knowing that I will paint or play my guitar." | Boulder Coffee Co. is at 100 Alexander Street. 454-7140

--- Alex Frissell

Duffy likes biz

When he was running for Rochester mayor, Bob Duffy said that economic development would be important. He planned, he said, to form "an economic-development impact team of business leaders, community leaders, and labor leaders." And, he said, he would examine City Hall practices, looking for things that "could inhibit business growth and development."

The people heading the committees of his transition team certainly bear the mark of a business-friendly administration. Of the 20 chairs and co-chairs, eight have ties to local business or development companies. (The next biggest representation: colleges and universities.)

Here's the full list:

Economic development committee, Wayne LeChase, LeChase Construction, chair; Christine Whitman, CSW Associates, vice chair. Education, Sam Walton, St. JohnFisherCollege, chair; Peter Otero, MCC, vice chair. "Engaging youth," Elaine Spaull, Center for Youth Services, chair; Keenan Allen, Pathways to Peace, vice chair. "Fiscal health," Rump Group leader Tom Richards, chair; Robert Hurlbut, chair of the nursing-home firm ROHM Services, vice chair. Housing and neighborhoods, William Clark, Urban League, chair; Pat Tobin, Christa Development, vice chair.

"Information and communication systems," Arunsis Chesonis, Paetec, chair; Dawn Tobin, Tobin & Associates, vice chair. Public safety, John Klofas, RIT Criminal Justice professor, chair; former District Attorney Howard Relin, vice chair. "Reengineering government," Julio Vazquez, Ibero American Action League, chair; Andrew Turner, RIT, vice chair. Volunteerism, former Excellus CEO Howard Berman, chair, Jean Howard, WilsonCommencementPark, vice chair. Community and intergovernmental relations, Assemblywoman Susan John, chair, and University of Rochester President Joel Seligman, vice chair.

Lagging behind

Speaking of economic development: there's still no good news on the employment front locally. The latest report from the state's chief economist says there's been modest growth almost everywhere in New York except here. Leading the field: Glens Falls, with a 3.3 percent growth in private employment from October 2004 to October 2005, and Ithaca, with 2 percent. Private employment in Syracuse grew by 1.4 percent, and in "Western New York" (not including Rochester) by half a percent.

Private employment declined in three regions: in Binghamton and in Elmira, by .6 percent in each. And the Rochester area brought up the rear, with a decline of 1 percent.

Department of idle speculation

Heard on the street:

Question: Who'll the Republicans really run for governor?

Answer: New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

(Well, the idea's not all that nutty. He's got money, too.)

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