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Reader Feedback 11.5.03


Doyle budget taxes the poor

Jack Doyle has done it again. Of all the ways to raise revenue, Doyle has chosen the one method that hits working families and the poor the hardest. City Newspaper writer Jack BradiganSpula is absolutely correct: low-income New Yorkers pay more of their income in sales tax than the wealthiest New Yorkers pay ("Follies 2004: Hard Sell for the Sales Tax," October 29). If you are making $9.50 an hour, that extra 6/10 of a penny on the dollar hurts you more every time you get in the checkout line than if you are making six figures a year.

            Jack BradiganSpula is also correct that an income tax would be the fairest way to raise the necessary revenue. The Metro Justice Revenue Fairness Plan calls for instituting a temporary county income surcharge of 1 percent on the tax that we already pay to the state. Since the state income tax is already progressive (the more money you make, the higher your tax bracket), the surcharge would be progressive. Our Revenue Fairness Plan would also attach an additional 1 percent surcharge on people earning over $150,000 and another 1 percent on incomes over $200,000.

            Under the Metro Justice plan, a household with the median family income in MonroeCounty would pay just an additional $16.68. That's almost 10 times less than Doyle would take with his increase in the sales tax. Under our plan, a household with $80,000 income would pitch in $163.20 to help balance the budget. Doyle would charge those folks four times that amount.

            The Metro Justice Revenue Fairness plan is designed to capture a part of Bush and Pataki's tax windfalls. Since the wealthiest people in MonroeCounty received the bulk of Pataki and Bush's tax cut, our plan is designed so that MonroeCounty can take a portion of that money to balance the current budget deficit. The Metro Justice Revenue Fairness Plan would generously allow the wealthiest people in MonroeCounty to keep most of their tax windfalls from the past three years. In fact, somebody earning $625,000 would still be ahead by $14,254 after they paid their $9,953 to the county. (Bush and Pataki's tax cuts enriched people in this income range by about $24,000 since 2000.)

            A local income tax is not a new idea in this state. Yonkers and New York City have income taxes. All that is required is for our local assembly members and senators to sign off on it. Nor is a tax surcharge a radical idea. Last year the state Assembly and Senate (with full Republican cooperation) instituted a temporary tax surcharge to balance the state budget.

            The MonroeCounty legislature overrode Doyle's budget last year, and it can do it again this year. This time, let's make sure we don't balance the budget on the backs of working families and the poor.

            Jon Greenbaum, St. Paul Street, Rochester (Greenbaum is an organizer with Metro Justice)

Doyle's sellout

The old saying "sold down the river" is what comes to mind when I think of Jack Doyle and the Republican Party in MonroeCounty.

            As a registered Republican, I am heartsick to see what Doyle's terms in office have done to our county. The County of Monroe has been sold right out from under us and behind our backs.

            Do you suppose he was farsighted enough to realize that by flat-taxing us for all these years he has forced the collapse of county government as we have known it?

            When a person and party that supposedly represent the best interests of the people sell us down the river, can we hold them accountable and take them to court? Now that might be a way to fix the deficit!

            Muriel Hill Albright, Manitou Road, Spencerport

Johnson's record

Thank you for the thoughtful article endorsing Mayor Johnson (October 22). You make a number of valid points. A few other points should be taken into consideration, however.

            Rochester is the most violent city in the state. If Giuliani can dramatically reduce homicides in a city of 8 million, why can't Johnson in a city 1/20 the size? The schools, over which he certainly has some influence, face a huge deficit and have the worst test scores in the state. Rochester has the 11th worst child-poverty rate in the country.

            One would think that having been in office 10 years, Johnson could do something to alleviate this situation. Mayor Johnson has been the leading advocate of metro government (D&C July 27: "in Nashville saving money is a no brainer"). When he runs for exec, he says either:

            1) I never said it;

            2) I didn't mean it;

            3) I couldn't do it anyway.

            If Mayor Johnson thinks it's a good idea, he should stick to his guns and stop back-pedaling. We all know Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, etc. ignore facts that don't fit their ideology. Apparently City Newspaper does the same thing.

            Eliott Spencer, Henrietta

Lucky 13

So, a lenient judge has voided the prosecutions of 13 demonstrators who were, after all, simply exercising their constitutional right to block access to public buildings and impede traffic on the public highway, to get their little show on TV ("Not Guilty Verdict," Metro Ink, October 22). I mean, who else were they trying to impress outside Rochester's anonymous FederalBuilding? The local FBI agents?The US Attorney? Some overstressed INS clerks? Yes sir, those folks deserve a kick in the pants to send a message to the White House.

            The whole point, of course, was to get arrested and get on TV. It's not like handing out leaflets on the sidewalk will make the 6 o'clock news. The dust has settled and the prosecutions are pointless anyway, so I guess wiping the slate clean is good for everybody. Let's keep the "civil" in Civil Disobedience. Never mind that Gandhi, Jefferson, King & Co. believed in accepting the consequences of their actions, no matter what.

            But here's an idea to save us all this grief. Create Designated Militancy Zones (DMZ's) at all local media outlets (City Newspaper included) where the keepers of the nation's conscience can sit, squat, march or chant to their heart's content, under the watchful eyes of our great Free Press. If some in the assembly feel inclined to block access to these facilities to make their point, well, it's just democracy at work. They get on TV, the media get content, and we get on with our lives.

            David Jones, Rochester

            Jack BradiganSpula responds: As defined by Gandhi, King, et al., civil disobedience aims not at martyrdom (though sometimes that follows) but at putting the law, government, or social system on trial --- opening the courts and media to views the powerful want to suppress. The "Ash Wednesday 13" may or may not have sought arrest as individuals, but they were united in petitioning their government to stop a war of aggression. Ultimately they were exonerated because the prosecutor could not show they disrupted operations at the FederalBuilding, the most logical place for a local demonstration against national policy. Time will tell if the demonstration, along with many others worldwide, disrupted the illegal war-making.

On the road

Jean Considine wants RTS to "buy new buses that are clean and comfortable" (The Mail, October 15). On long-distance buses and trains she would like clean comfort and, on the buses, also blankets, pillows, snacks, and soft drinks.

            In my limited experience, RTS buses were very satisfactory; if buses on some routes are dirty inside, passengers are responsible. My concern is what the buses do to the outside air. Why hasn't RTS begun to switch to biodiesel? Surely planning for an underground transit center, with indoor air pollution problems, calls for using biofuel. Buffalo already has about 140 public buses using it, while thousands of places in Europe do so.

            Train service may vary, but I've had no complaints on round trips to Miami, Washington, DC, and Toronto. While trains may be better not only in Europe but in Turkey, India, Japan, et al, government support is the ticket.

            For me, long-distance buses have been clean, comfortable, punctual, and often full. Business has really increased since 9/11. For a trip to Kentucky last April to attend my brother's funeral, no bereavement air fare was available, and the regular fare was three times the bus fare.

            On a Maine trip this fall, I flew US Air to Boston and took a Trailways bus to Bangor and a Cyr bus 130 miles north. The Concord buses on this route are very popular. They even have free snacks.

            Blankets and pillows on long-distance buses are hardly necessary, as the temperature is comfortable and passengers dress for the ride. Occasionally someone carries an inflatable cushion or light throw. Surely individuals can best take care of their own needs.

            Chance encounters with people from other places and walks of life make bus travel exciting. Of course, having time to enjoy the view, think, read, or write is nice, too.

            Byrna Weir, Brighton

Writing to City

We welcome and encourage readers' letters for publication. Send them to: 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. 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 once every three months.

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