Regarding Sujata Gupta's "Emptied Out" (May 17 and 24): In my opinion, there are many more dimensions to this issue. One of those is the current level of planning throughout the county.
Why, for example, are permits still being issued to builders for erecting new, speculative housing tracts on virgin land? Why not require builders to focus on tracts of vacant housing, thus rebuilding the existing infrastructure rather than accelerating the abandonment of existing neighborhoods? Yes, it would cost the taxpayers a little more up front, but this kind of refocusing creates opportunity rather than blight. Perhaps a concerted effort to change the culture from "ugh" the city to "chic" the city?
According to your article, we have 10,000 vacant housing units in Rochester. We have declining population. We have a seriously weakened economy, with many formerly working people now without jobs and stripped of their hard-earned pensions. Who is buying all these new, expensive houses for which the various townships keep issuing permits? At what rate does the purchase of a new house cause the abandonment of an existing house and some part of a retail space?
You cite 300 miles of new roads having been built in the county, while the average price of a new car approaches $28,000. What percent of the average annual salary in MonroeCounty does it cost to buy and operate that new car? Wouldn't restored city or town neighborhoods and decent public transportation be a better plan than the current growing "doughnut?"
It seems apparent that, for whatever reasons, we no longer have appropriate land-use planning. The planning processes that we do have evolved years ago when the underlying assumptions and expectations were very different. And now our politicians are as invested in the way it was as are the executives of formerly strong regional businesses.
In all situations like this, someone makes out well at the expense of the public. Who gets the benefits from the current situation? Given the rampant corruption and incompetence in this country, no quarter should be exempt from scrutiny in dealing with large problems like this.
Please consider continuing your investigations. The discoveries are not likely to be pretty, but the problems can't be fixed until they're clearly identified and described.
Bill Crocca, Penfield
IT'S NOT JUST COMICS
In response to Edward P. Curtis Jr.'s letter regarding the reduction in the comic section of the Democrat and Chronicle, I should like to call his attention to the missing editorial page in this Sunday publication.
Talk about missing comics!
As I recall, this gentleman was once an outstanding Republican.
Perhaps he still is.
But there aren't many left.
Vincent A. Palmer, Lake Road, Pultneyville
DECLINE AND FALL
Edward P. Curtis urges us to contact several relevant people at the Democrat and Chronicle about the page reduction for its Sunday comics (The Mail, May 24). Yet as you note, Mr. Curtis himself first wrote to the D&C, and they rejected his letter.
I have written about the comics to various D&C editors over the years, and what comes back (not always) is a thank you. The unwritten message seems to be that they have far more important things to do at Gannett than give attention to the comics.
Daily newspapers are right in line with such institutions as passenger trains, which decades ago began taking away such features as quality dining-car service and then wondered what happened to the customers.
Comics, especially in color on Sunday, made newspapers special, for readers of all ages. The cost cutters, I imagine, have wanted to kill them for decades.
Martin Fass, Linden Street, Rochester(Fass owns a copy of a 1942 D&C comics section, which he says contains 16 pages.)
THE WRONG CHOICES
In response to Thomas Janowski's letter "Courage to Choose" (The Mail, May 17):
While I agree with the overall call to some sort of action by our fellow citizens, I think Mr. Janowski is looking in the wrong place.
Part of our high-school education in this country is a class called "civics" where the point seems to be to make you feel guilty that you aren't excited about caucuses and the inner workings of our gigantic American bureaucracy.
The elevation of voting to some sort of homage to our founding fathers covers over the more important issue: the content of who is being elected.
As a local activist, I talk to many people each week, and the most common response to questions about politicians is: "They are all crooks. What's the point?" And you know what, they're right!
Let's stop pretending that there actually is a choice between candidates. A choice between whether to use napalm or nuclear weapons on the people of Iraq is not a choice for a population where over 60 percent think the war is a mistake. It is a rational decision to conclude you have no horse in that race.
And what are we voting for? How big a tax cut we want to give to the rich? How big a cut we want in our Medicaid or college financial aid? The real issues in our life are never up for a vote: whether we should help the children of our inner city instead of imposing a curfew to criminalize them. Whether we should let corporations pack up and move over the border for cheaper labor.
Ask people what pisses them off, and you will find the issues people want to get active around and then build a community group to help solve those grievances. History shows that what ordinary people want, they have to fight for themselves. Let's stop beating people up for the sins of those who actually have the power: the CEO's, politicians, and silver-spoon trust-fund babies who run this country.
Brian Lenzo, Monroe Avenue, Rochester
WHICH ROLE MODEL?
To the pro-lifers on University Avenue:
I want to make a few remarks about your strategy. Those huge pictures of aborted fetuses on your signs are hideous, which I suppose is the point. More importantly, they are violent. Every time I walk by, I feel angry. At you. Your position is that all life deserves respect. But what about the psychological trauma you cause children who happen to stumble across your protest? Do you think this tactic will change anyone's mind? And do you believe your role model, Jesus, would approve? Isn't he the one who said "He who is without sin, cast the first stone"? Jesus was the model of humility and compassion, not shame and indignation.
Which brings me to my second complaint: your constant screaming out of biblical verses and damnations. You claim that only God has the right to decide matters of life and death. So people are not allowed to "play God,'" which extends to not speaking for Him, and most importantly, not judging on His behalf. Jesus said, "Judge not, let ye be judged"?
Lastly, get some more women in your protest if you want to be taken seriously. There seem to be about half a dozen regulars in your group, and only one woman. The nature of men's role in conception leaves them with significantly fewer direct consequences should a pregnancy result. Women experience pregnancy.
I will accept the 5 to 1 ratio if each of those men wears a scarlet "V" (for vasectomy) to demonstrate that he has done everything possible to prevent accidental pregnancies.
Cynthia Boaz, Rochester (Boaz is assistant professor of political science and international studies at SUNY Brockport and is the Rochester-area coordinator of CODEPINK: Women for Peace.)
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