After all the fretting that Renaissance Square was being rammed down our throats, the public is finally going to have a voice in the ongoing dialogue about the project.
At least that's the impression we're supposed to get from the well-promoted series of Renaissance Square Public Workshops. So far it's too early to tell whether that impression is accurate.
The first of these workshops took place June 14, a four-hour event without featured speakers, panelists, or any of the other trappings of the typical public-comment forum. Instead, the atrium of CityPlace was lined with easels that sported satellite photos of downtown, schematic plans, designs of similar projects, and blank paper. Yes, blank paper. In fact the stuff was taped to pillars and walls as well. With plenty of markers on hand, the idea was to let the visiting public stroll through the presentations and then jot down their ideas as inspiration hit.
True, some of the sentiments scrawled there were closer to protests than helpful input. Still there were plenty of thoughtful ideas written down. Among them: using "green" architectural techniques, bringing inter-city buses over to the project from the far side of Midtown Plaza, maintaining a connection to the river, incorporating some green space, adding a Wi-Fi hotspot, and recapturing design elements from the city's theaters of the past.
What happens to these ideas next is where proverbial rubber meets the asphalt of local politics. It's not clear how the project's group of planners and designers will absorb this collection of handwritten sentence fragments, how they'll pick and choose among suggestions, or even if they'll pay any attention. A call placed to the county's communications office didn't bring any clarity to these questions.
The next public workshop, which isn't scheduled yet, will likely take place sometime next month, county communications officials say.
After nearly six months of deliberating and hours of public testimony, Monroe County opted into the state's 48-hour neighborhood notification law. As the name suggests, the law requires lawn-care companies to tell neighbors of properties they plan to spray with liquid pesticide of their plans two days in advance.
The measure's been controversial ever since it was proposed by County Executive Maggie Brooks in her 2005 State of the County Address in January. Lawn-care companies have claimed repeatedly that the law won't work as intended and will ultimately hamper efforts to use best-practice tactics, "integrated pest management" in the lingo of the business.
Environmental and cancer groups have responded that the voluntary registry proposed by the lawn-care businesses is a toothless law.
"To render this law voluntary is to render it useless," said the Sierra Club's Frank Regan.
A few Democrats in the legislature, led by Fred Amato of Greece, proposed just such a registry at their June 14 meeting, but that referral was immediately tabled.
Lawn-care professionals who witnessed that --- and whose public statements alluded to candid private conversations with lawmakers --- have gotten an eyeful of the workings of local government.
"There is not one person in this legislature who can say that this law is a good law," Bob Ottley, an applicator. For some of those lawn-care pros, this has been a galvanizing experience.
"I am a Republican; well, maybe not for long, after the way our legislators have handled the 48-hour notification law," Brad O'Brocta told legislators. "FYI: We will do our best to raise this as an issue in the fall."
But it's not clear whether any legislator who voted for the law will reap any negative political consequences. Dems may be savoring such threats to Republican dominance in the suburbs --- where most of the lawn-care providers who spoke at the hearings operate --- but they were hardly united in their opposition to the law: An earlier version was introduced by Brighton's Linda Garner-Goldstein. In fact, the referral, which passed by a vote of 21-to-8, had supporters and vocal opponents on both side of the aisle.
Since spring 2001 the subversive oddballs in GAD and the folks behind the chain smoking pundit puppet, Pisspot The Rabbit have broadcast I'm Gonna Make A Drug With My Mindon RCTV Cable 15, Thursdays at 12:30 a.m. and Saturdays at midnight. The show features experimental video, old 16mm educational films, and Pisspot's interviews with local and national artists.
And now via www.gadtv.com, you can check out past and present episodes along with links to other weirdness whenever you please. Weird just got easier.
Bassist Bob Stata died last week at the age of 52. Stata was a ubiquitous presence on local bandstands with the Mambo Kings, the Bob Sneider Trio, and many other groups. He often got the call when greats like Marian McPartland, Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, and others were playing Upstate New York and needed a top-notch rhythm section. Stata taught music and led a variety of ensembles at the Allendale Columbia School since 1994.
A graduate of the Eastman School of Music, Stata appeared on many recordings and released two excellent albums as a leader: Solid State in 1999 and Get This last year. Even in his last year, while suffering from cancer, Stata composed some wonderful new tunes. Paul Hoffman, who worked with Stata, teaching him piano during his illness, has recorded a dozen of them and plans to record more.