THE NEXT MAYOR
I took Mary Anna Towler's suggestion and thought about what I would like in a mayor ("After Johnson," Urban Journal, November 24). I would like to see a mayor who is young, under 50. Baltimore, San Francisco, and Chicago have all shot ahead because they have young mayors who think fresh about urban challenges.
Second, the reason that there is a building boom in places like New York, Portland, and Austin is that the city governments there facilitate real estate and business development. Any mayor to come must bend over backwards to make real estate projects happen.
Real estate developers or anyone opening a business are putting massive amounts of capital, time, and faith in their projects. They must be supported logistically and morally; no environmental red tape, no red tape from Albany should be allowed to get in the way.
At the same time, the mayor must have an able-bodied administration: people who will be as motivated and knowledgeable as she is. The mayor must be prepared to search the country for people to comprise his staff who are passionate about making a difference in urban neighborhoods. I've met plenty of them throughout my career, here in Rochester and elsewhere.
Most difficult of all, the mayor must be able to talk straight about racism. The shifty divide between Caucasians in the suburbs and minorities in the city can no longer be tucked away: We're talking about the life of our city, that is all. Our future mayor should have the gusto to lead with forthrightness into this admittedly thorny subject. Talking plain about such matters might lead to more cooperation all around, whether that takes the form of metro government or something heretofore not thought of.
Mayor Johnson has done a good job, especially when it comes to grassroots outreach in the neighborhoods. He has created a foundation by allowing each of us who care about the city, from whatever walk of life, to speak. The next mayor can bridge these conversations and place us squarely on the road to a city that is equal to and better than any in the nation.
Mitch Stern, North Goodman Street, Rochester (Stern is a Rochester developer)
SAVING THE FERRY
I was greatly encouraged to read Mary Anna Towler's column ("Save that Ferry," December 1) expressing such clear and civic-minded conviction. Of course, we should be "beating down the doors of City Hall to offer to help get the ferry back in operation."
A simple, quite possibly simplistic idea arose: a Citizens' Fast Ferry Fund. I sent Mayor Johnson a check just before writing this letter. The idea is to create a positive statement, to applaud the actions of the mayor and his supporters, and to demonstrate simple encouragement --- "to vote with dollars," so to speak. Money is a simple language. We can not lose by sending some money. We shall, at the very least, have spoken. If as a people, we can demonstrate our belief, good. And if our demonstrated belief attracts needed significant funding, the entire community will win.
Mayor Johnson's address is City Hall, 30 Church Street, Rochester14614.
Tim Sullivan, St. Regis Drive, Brighton
Believe it or not, most of the time conservatives and liberals want the same things for their community; they just believe in different means to arrive at these ends. What citizen wouldn't want a regional ferry service, indicative of a robust local economy, thriving in entertainment, tourism, and commerce?
The way to arrive at this end, though, is not with an artificial propping up of the Fast Ferry through an injection of public or private funds with acceptable losses, as Ms. Towler proposes ("Save that ferry!" December 1). Under that scenario, over time our community would have fewer and fewer people paying more and more tax or earnings revenue for the continued operation of a ferry service with decreasing ridership, as people and companies leave New York because of the taxes required to maintain such expensive projects.
Rather, we should strive to increase business incentives and lower the state and local taxes responsible for the current hemorrhaging of people, jobs, and companies from our beloved region. When it becomes attractive for more people to live in Rochester and for companies to thrive in New YorkState, the natural demand for services such as the Fast Ferry will find more than adequate funding through free-market forces.
Joel Wojciechowski, Lilac Drive, Rochester
I am middle-of-the road about the war in Iraq, but as for the way it is being planned and carried out, there is so much wrong. How in the world did this happen? And even more important, why is it continuing?
Not enough troops to carry out missions? No plan in place for dealing with the captured enemy? An enemy tortured by other countries for us, and by us? Troops not given the proper equipment for protection? Wrong spy information constantly relied on? National Guard and Marine Reserve troops kept past their let-go date, and recalled after discharge?
So many questions, no answers given.
I am a disabled seaman, not a general or a strategist. But I see that we can't win and won't win against an enemy who's willing to commit suicide.
Why can't anyone in government see that and start planning to win? Or is the war only made to go slow, with no win strategy, just to enrich the companies of war and boost our economy?
As a local member of the Selective Service Board, I pray the board's work never resumes. But at this rate, it just might.
Citizens need to raise more concern!
Richard Goode, Alexander Street, Rochester
George Grella's review indicates discomfort at the portrayal of Alexander as somewhat less than heroic in the Hollywood sense ("Conquering the World, Ruining a Movie," December 1) --- but he questions "Why brave men should follow him and sacrifice their lives for his generally incomprehensible dreams...."
Saddam bin Laden Iraq Afghanistan Iraq Drilling for Oil in Alaska National Wildlife Refuge Cutting down trees to make the Forest Healthy Terrorism Mandatory Democracy Subpoenaed Library Reading lists Saddam Iraq Bombing insurgents 100,000 non-combatant deaths....
R Rapport, Rush
George Grella's response: I am fully aware of the allegorical relevance of the movie, but I still stand by my comments.
WRITING TO CITY
We welcome and encourage readers' letters for publication. Send them to: firstname.lastname@example.org 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. 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.