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Reader feedback 4.21.04

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Praise for Spula

With City Newspaper's firing of Jack Bradigan Spula the city's strongest voice of conscience has been lost.

            We've learned so much from him. His research is impressive, his reasoning fresh and true; and his absolute integrity cannot be compromised. With Bradigan Spula, City has provided the only real forum on progressive intellectual thought; and we have applauded City for its willingness to take strong stands on certain controversial issues.

            Our whole community will be the poorer now that his voice has been stilled.

            Gail and Peter Mott, Main Street, Pittsford

Don't just sit there,do something!

In September, 2003, I had dinner with a Spanish colleague during an international professional meeting in Australia. He blistered my ear for the entire meal with a rant against Bush, saying how angry the people of his country were about being boxed into a corner over the war in Iraq.

            But he really got my attention when he dismissed my angst over Bush; all he could see on CNN, he said, was how high Bush's approval ratings were.

            "I don't blame Bush," he said. "I blame the American people for letting him get away with it. What have you done to stop him? CNN isn't showing Americans storming Washington with their anger or filling town squares with protest rallies, and the meager anti-war rallies are pathetic. Instead, you give him record high approval ratings. You are responsible for this."

            (Imagine how the Spaniards and other Europeans feel now that Bush has been proven to be a liar by George Tenet's March 9 testimony).

            Thus I respond specifically to the writer of "Bush Abandoned US Veterans" (The Mail, March 31) as well as to the entire readership of City. While the writer predicts that Bush and the Republican Congress will be tossed from the White House by angry veterans, I reply that Bush is again rising in the polls, and if the election were held today would win 51 to 47 percent (Gallup).

            His most recent Gallup Poll job-approval ratings are 53 percent. He has a war chest so big he can afford to flood the airwaves with lies (see http://www.factcheck.org/) while he plays on fear and "patriotism." The problem is, those of us who see Bush for what he is are failing to reach the great center of this country, the very people who will decide the next election. Each and every one of us must stop fuming and do something!    If you are a veteran, I challenge you to organize your American Legion or VFW post to march around the Liberty Pole --- or better yet, contact your national organization and arrange for a march on Washington. Or reach back to your youth and "sit in" at the VA offices. Or pool your money to make some TV commercials.

            One thousand veterans marching in the middle of Rochester or 100,000 veterans marching on Washington will go a lot farther calling attention to Bush's policies.

            Can you join MoveOn.Org (http://www.moveon.org/)? Can you get everyone in your family and workplace and church to read the Pew Research report A Year After Iraq War (http://people-press.org/)? Maybe you can mail or e-mail a copy of it to all your friends and relatives, and ask them to do the same. (Its chilling, but almost no one has read it).

            Can you write or call your Congressional representatives and senators and urge them to censure Bush for lying to the country? Can you write or call moderate Republicans and ask them to do the same? Can you send money to the DNC? (Money wins elections.)

            Can you put up a sign in your yard that says "George Bush: Liar, liar, pants on fire"? Can you recruit 10 people to Do Something! ---and convince each of them to recruit another 10 (and each of them to recruit another 10)?

            We are fighting an uphill battle. If all we do is simply believe everyone else must be equally horrified by this president, we will surely get four more years of him. Incredulous as it seems, 53 percent of Americans currently state that they approve of the job he is doing. Bush holds all the money, and his rise in the polls and approval ratings coincide with his media blitz of lies.

            Our anti-Bush anger needs to be channeled into actions that build momentum and expose his anti-people policies and reach more Middle America voters than Bush's campaign ads. I urge you to Do Something! today to reclaim America!

            Susan Arnold, Brighton

Brockport's 'gorilla'

Thanks for Christine Fien's excellent article "Cops On Trial" about the heavy financial burden of the Brockport village police department (March 31).

            Brockport has its own metaphorical 100-pound gorilla sleeping anywhere it wants: the SUNY Brockport. Just a few weeks ago, college president Paul Yu was seen in photos in all the local newspapers presenting a check for $5,000 to cover two years' donation to the Brockport volunteer fire department.

            While a voluntary donation is nice, I have a question to whoever thought $2,500 a year was sufficient for fire protection for all the college's students, staff, buildings, laboratories, dormitories, etc. It seems a token, maybe to help pay for gas to drive the fire trucks to and from campus. And why no donation to the police department?

            The Brockport police spend a lot of time, especially on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights taking care of problems that students cause in the village as they pass to and from downtown taverns and off-campus house parties. The problems range from traffic violations, theft, vandalism, and assaults to littering, vomiting, and urination on the streets.

            The college does nothing to prevent or correct student misbehavior, leaving the burden entirely on the village police department and residents.

            In my view, the 100-pound gorilla should help out more --- pay a fair share to the village for the fire and police services it relies on.

            Daniel Hopkins, Brockport

Paying for police

Support for a village police department in Brockport is not an issue of patriotism as some of the trustees and the chief would, apparently, have us think.

            Board member Wexler and others have asked for a cost-benefit study of reducing staffing as a way to control costs; that is the right thing to do. It is the duty of the village board to consider all options, not just cave in to pseudo patriots who think fiscal responsibility when it comes to the police force is unpatriotic.

            Some members of the group advocating the elimination of the police department fail, ever, to mention that they are owners of multiple rental properties in the village and may find the tax burden of maintaining a police force a bit heavier than single property-tax payers.

            Landlords who profit from student housing are another source of controversy in the village. Maintenance and code violations routinely come up and are even now the subject lawsuits.

            Rod Llmar, Holley Street, Brockport

Give us the basics

A few things were left out of the article by about Brockport's police department.

            The new chief, who was hired about two years ago, began his tenure belly-aching to the press about being short-handed. Why did he take the job if he thought he had insufficient resources to do it?

            He also immediately began a propaganda campaign about the terrible drug trade in Brockport. This allegation was dubious at best. Brockport is not, nor has it ever been, a center of drug activity. He also wanted to send an officer away for training and then placement on a countywide drug force.

            It may be sexy and exciting to be a Miami Vice-type police chief, but that's not what Brockport's village residence need. Better they should do something to keep the binge-drinking students from peeing and puking on our porches.

            It's not glamorous. But it's what we need.

            Elizabeth Taylor, Utica Street, Brockport

Liberal debate

I commend Mary Anna Towler on her mature and reasonable response to ItaloSavella's letter (The Mail, April 7). While Savella's letter started off levelheaded (I agree with his health-care ideas more than hers), it quickly turned sarcastic and presumptuous. Ms. Towler took the high road. It was a refreshing change from a lot of what we see and hear.

            And to Mr. Savella: I've seldom met a man or woman who didn't work as hard if not harder than their superior. And why should we supplement the rewards already inherent with success when most times it is based on whom you know not what you do?

            Stephanie Benvenuto, Oxford Street, Rochester

Health care for all?

President Bush recently announced that the United States will be working to establish a universal health care system in Iraq. This endeavor will cost $950 million. Yet nothing is being done about the 44 million Americans who are uninsured. Currently health insurance premiums are rising faster than inflation, which will force many more Americans to drop their insurance in the next few years.

            Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson claims that all Americans have access to health care. I guess he doesn't know that uninsured Americans have been denied care in emergency rooms because their conditions were not life threatening. Emergency rooms should be used to treat life-threatening conditions. Doctors have to prioritize.

            For those who are uninsured, however, the emergency room is the only source of medical care. Most primary-care doctors do not accept patients without insurance, unless they can pay for treatment up front. Thus, the uninsured are forced to go to the emergency room for any medical problem from an earache to unexplained chest pains.

            Erin O'Dell, West Gibson, Canandaigua

Winning, losing

If the terrorists' threat causes the Bush administration to invoke the Patriot Act and Patriot Act II, causing us to lose our freedoms, the terrorists will have won. We will no longer have a democracy. What better ally for the terrorists than the Bush administration?

            Don Franklin, Chelmsford Road, Brighton

Film's 'reality'

Regarding Andy Davis's review of Elephant (March 31):

            While his assessment of Gus Van Sant's film is not exclusively laudatory, the impression conveyed is that Elephant could be that profound "thing at the end of the trail" alluded to in Van Sant's previous movie Gerry. While Harris Savides' cinematography is in its own right stunning, the overall effect undercuts rather than enhances Van Sant's attempt at social commentary.

            I am not suggesting that all cultural products must answer unsolvable questions. In fact, ambiguity is much more powerful than the anxiety-inducing murder-mystery programming dished out by CBS, NBC, and ABC, which legitimizes violence by including a moral message. Indeed Van Sant succeeds in illustrating the devastation of senseless (but not unmotivated) violence.

            However, his experiment with temporality and reality ultimately results in a mere re-enactment of the Columbine incident (or any other occurrence of school violence in the US, for that matter). My point is that we should be looking for answers, and Van Sant's film merely aestheticizes the issue.

            Has everyone forgotten that our country is at war? We don't need the "reality" that Elephant depicts. Van Sant's attempt to bring to the screen his personal view regarding teen violence is therefore political; as cultural consumers we are morally obligated to engage critically with such representations.

            KJ Tinney, Pinnacle Road, Rochester

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. 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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