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Men, women, and abuse; letters on the election

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The mail

MEN, WOMEN, AND ABUSE

Harold Jewell accuses radical feminists of moaning and groaning "endlessly" about the mistreatment of women (The Mail, October 11). Meanwhile, he states, the abuse of men is largely ignored.

It would be easier to give Mr. Jewell's portrait of anti-male discrimination more credence if he didn't distort some of the facts. For example, he says men "routinely lose in child custody cases." According to a Massachusetts Supreme Court Study of Gender Bias, about 30 percent of the men who actively seek custody lose. But the majority of men --- 70 percent --- win primary or joint custody.

Even worse, Mr. Jewell attempts to dismiss the billions of crimes committed against women and girls around the world as if they were a figment of the radical feminist imagination.

Well, Mr. Jewell, the facts prove that your "radical feminists" are right on the money. For example, the United Nations estimates that about a third of the world's women are physically or sexually abused. And the World Health Organization says that wife beating and sexual violence against women "are common, widespread and far-reaching."

Closer to home, a major 1998 study co-sponsored by the US Department of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention --- organizations that tend not to be viewed as bastions of radical feminism propaganda --- found that nearly 25 percent of American women reported being raped or abused by a partner, compared to 7.5 percent of men. About 5 percent of women reported being stalked compared to 0.6 percent of men.

Another report from the US Department of Justice estimates that a young woman in college today runs a 1-in-5 risk of being sexually assaulted before she graduates, a finding that should concern every father, uncle, and brother of female college students. Few college men have to contend with a threat like that in their educational environment.

Still another DOJ study, from 2000, found that 86 percent of all victims of sexual assault were female while 96 percent of the offenders --- regardless of the gender of the victims --- were male.

All of this proves one thing: Violent acts against women and girls --- usually committed by men and boys the victims know and often love --- is such a big problem that it should concern everyone, whether you're a radical feminist or Mr. T.

Unfortunately, too many men still feel, like Mr. Jewell, that radical feminists are making a mountain out of a molehill. But it's not a molehill. It's Mount Everest. And it's time for men to stop looking the other way.

In fact, men have a responsibility to take a leadership role in the fight against this centuries-old crime wave against women and girls by setting a new standard for men. Instead of condoning male violence and sexist attitudes with our silence or dismissing the problem altogether, we need to speak out about it and work to change the minds of men and boys who might otherwise become perpetrators. So that some day we can end the violence and discrimination that threatens the women and girls we care about.

Hank Shaw, Corwin Road, Rochester; Pete Navratil, Shallow Creek Trail, Webster (Navratil and Shaw are founding members of Stand-up Guys, a local organization working to raise awareness about male violence against women and girls and to promote gender equality in the community.)


SEEKING EQUAL CREDIT

I agree with the letter on men bashing. My wife and I are absolute equals in raising our three children, but boy, do I get sold short on a daily basis.

The teachers always refer to mothers. The nurses, the bus drivers, the mail sent from the school is to mom. My wife and I constantly have to let others know that there is a father in the house. I deserve equal credit; I work hard and have to suffer from not being able to spend as much time with my children.

I am not saying that if circumstances do not permit a father being in the picture that a single mother could not do the job. I am simply saying that with the two of us working as a team, our kids are happy and grateful to have what they have. It seems to be a rare thing these days: a mom and dad who get equal credit and who equally raise their children. Man and woman can be true equals.

Shawn Cudo, Edgemere Drive, Greece


WHERE ARE REN SQUARE'S STATS?

In the August 25, 2004, edition of City, Mary Anna Towler's column was titled Renaissance Square's a pig in a poke."

Over two years have elapsed, and that $230 million pig is still on the loose. I'm all for it --- if the economic benefits outweigh the costs. But if those numbers have been crunched, they're a well-guarded secret.

Arnie Mori, Fairport


'HONEST GRAFT' AND THE WATER AUTHORITY

The governance of the Monroe County Water Authority has been negatively evaluated by critics who apparently fail to recognize the distinction between Honest Graft and Dishonest Graf.

That distinction was defined in 1905 by Senator George Washington Plunkitt, a Democrat, of Tammany Hall. You can find his speech on the web under "Honest Graft." Honest Graft is obtained when a politician uses "foresight" gained from the job to buy advantageous parcels of land in advance of public knowledge, or by cooperating in a system of inflating government salaries in anticipation of an eventual return of favor.

Dishonest Graft is limited to acts of extortion of money from illegitimate enterprises in return for non-enforcement of laws, or acts of actually accepting cash bribes to influence legislation. The latter, of course, can be achieved "honestly" by accepting promises of future favors, or positions of lobbying, or consulting work for six-figure remuneration.

I encourage all to GooglePlunkitt's speech and read it for its eternal relevance. We are in his debt for these subtle distinctions. In the speech, he said that his epitaph could read: "He Seen His Opportunities and He Took 'Em."

Ron Johnson, Sutherland Street, Pittsford


ELECTION WRAP-UP:

FROM MARK JOHNS...

I am the only candidate that is 100 percent dedicated to "real reform." New York's budget is almost as large as California's, which has 75 percent more people. When you pass a $116 billion spending plan, there are plenty of special-Interest groups that want a piece of it. That is why approximately $140 million goes to lobby Albany every year. There are 18 lobbyists for every legislator. Clean Money Campaign Finance Reform is the best step to solving the problem. (See www.markjohns.org for further details.)

When an Assembly race can cost a half-million dollars, the politician's loyalty will be to the party bosses who provided this money, rather than to the voters.

Legislators are paid almost $100,000 per year plus benefits. They also retire with multi-million dollar New YorkState pensions. They will vote themselves another big pay raise after this election. And they get re-elected almost 100 percent of the time. These Assembly positions are part-time jobs (January through June).

No wonder my opponent went to Albany promising "term limits," and now he's against them. Vote for "real reform."

Mark Johns, Webster (Johns is the Republican candidate for State Assembly, 125th district.


FROM WILLA POWELL...

As Joe Robach's political opponent, I was very interested to read his position on reform in City Newspaper. At the Messenger Post, where he and I were interviewed jointly, he openly scoffed at the idea of non-partisan redistricting; now he says he has an open mind. On the issue of campaign finance reform, he could have voluntarily limited his spending to $100,000 and still out-spent me 25:1. I've signed the Citizen Action Clean Money Clean Elections pledge (www.citizenactionny.org); Robach has not.

I agree with Blair Homer, legislative director for the New York Public Interest Research Group, who said, "The Senate has been an obstacle more often than a help to the reform movement" (Albany Times Union, October 26).

Robach and his party had an obligation to reform the budget process via constitutional amendment by affirming the vote passed by the previous Senate. Instead, he and his party conspired to kill the initiative.

They had an opportunity to update the education funding formula. Instead, we got a cynical one-time "bail-out" that allows the incumbent to take credit for the rescue, while preventing any future entitlement.

In 2004, Pataki vetoed library aid increases, then urged the Senate to fund library aid through member items, rather than override his veto. This "bait and switch" amounts to vote-buying with taxpayer money, when incumbents use that member item to demonstrate how they can "bring home the bacon," while communities with minority representation go without aid for libraries.

I represent the values that this district holds dear, and have a track record of reform (on the Rochester School Board). I have a clear sense of what reform looks like. My opponent does not.

In addition to reform, I care about social justice, lower property taxes, job creation, improved health care, and education.

I am a progressive Democrat with real-world business experience and military leadership. My opponent is not.

Willa Powell, Canterbury Road, Rochester (Powell is the Democratic candidate for New York State Senate, 56th district)


FOR MASSA...

What turns off many voters in the political process is unfortunately starting to happen in the Kuhl-Massa race in the 29th Congressional District.

Instead of debating the issues on their merits --- issues our country badly needs to solve --- Kuhl is starting to air negative ads that distort his opponent's positions and cover up his own voting record in Congress. In many instances, he has supported the very positions that he wrongly accused Massa of supporting.

Now that the Kuhl ads are claiming Massa to be weak on terrorism, I am reminded of Kuhl's Town Hall meeting in Brighton last year, when he did not even know about the Nunn-Lugar program, which is gradually removing loose nuclear fuel from the former Soviet Union, a vital part of any fight against terrorism. Later, at the RushTown Hall meeting, he said he was not in any position in Congress to do anything to protect this country from nuclear terrorism.

On the other hand, Massa served as an officer in the US Navy's nuclear division. He is well aware of the loose nuclear fuel and bombs in open fields in the former Soviet Union and how these could be used against us. With his strong military background, he would know exactly what needs to be done to protect this country from nuclear terrorism. And from his time on the Armed Services Committee as an aide, he would know how to do it.

Donna Mummery, Village Trail, HoneoyeFalls(Mummery is a volunteer with the Eric Massa campaign for Congress.)


FOR KUHL

Why is the New York State Communist Party, whose official color is red, interested in seeing the 29th Congressional District go blue?

On March 30, Elena Mora, state chairperson of the Communist Party, wrote in the People's Weekly World online newspaper (http://www.pww.org/article/view/8856/1/315/) that winning the 2006 midterm election "means electing Democrats."

Why does the Communist Party support the Democrats and Eric Massa? Is it because Massa supports more government control and believes that the federal government can decide on how best to spend your hard-earned money? Is it because he supports a socialized health-care plan that will cost $1.8 trillion dollars and increase your taxes?

Why should the voters of the 29th Congressional District trust this outsider to the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier regions?

Steve Barnhoorn, Big Tree Road, Hemlock


FOR MASSA...

At a news conference in Corning, Randy Kuhl called ads by MoveOn.org "absolutely outrageous and unfair," then targeted Eric Massa with the same kind of ad.He has voted against veterans six times. At the press conference announcing that the Canandaigua VA was staying open, he could not answer questions about funding. The VA had to borrow money last year to make it through the year. Kuhl could not even get his good friend the president to stop at the VA hospital or drive through it during his visit here. He approved allowing the government to obtain a person's reading material from libraries and bookstores.

Eric Massa is very knowledgeable about the issues. He has the intellect, the morals, and the ethics to bring a fresh start to Washington. He has more experience in coming up with solutions to problems than Kuhl has.

Sue Kaszynski, Pleasant Street, Canandaigua


WRITING TO CITY

We welcome and encourage readers' letters for publication. Send them to: themail@rochester-citynews.com or The Mail, City Newspaper, 250 North Goodman Street, Rochester14607.

Our guidelines: We don't publish anonymous letters --- and we ask that you include your street name and city/town/village. We don't publish letters that have been sent to other media --- and we don't publish form letters generated by activist groups. 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 about once every two months.

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