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Reader Feedback 7.27.05

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THE REAL JONES POND

We just read your article "Public Displays of Affection" (June 22) and were very disturbed by the following reference to Jones Pond Campground: "'Men with a gay identity will have some friends --- know about the bars, the jerk-off clubs, the bath houses, Jones Pond, and all that stuff,' says Kelly."

Perhaps Mr. Kelly and Mr. Macaluso have never been to Jones Pond and are only going on hearsay.

My partner and I bought JonesPondCampground & RVPark a year and a half ago, and we are currently in the middle of our second season. One of the reasons we bought the campground was the strong sense of community here and the fact that the campers come here primarily to camp and enjoy a sense of companionship in an all-male campground.

We resent the fact we were mentioned behind jerk-off clubs and bath houses when they were not named. And you were misleading your readers to believe that Jones Pond Campground is nothing more than a bathhouse in the woods. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We pride ourselves on the camping experience we offer the gay male camper, and we have had nothing but positive feedback on what a great social experience it is to camp here. We aren't saying that sex doesn't happen, but we do not allow public sex at the pool, showers, restrooms, or public areas of the campground. That is why there are tents, cabins, and campers. We offer a non-threatening environment where the camper is able to be himself without fear of retribution.

We are like most straight campgrounds, except it is all male; we have bingo on Friday night, potlucks, movie nights, bonfires, theme weekends, lounging by the pool, volleyball, hiking, DJ and dancing on Fridays and Saturdays, etc. And for 105 of our campers, it is a second home.

We would like for you to visit our web site at www.jonespond.com and visit Jones Pond Campground to see that there is another subculture out there: the gay camper and RVer. If you want to see how extensive gay camping is, visit the links on our website to see some of the national gay camping organizations.

Doug Bachman and Steve Allen, Angelica, New York(Bachman and Allen are the owners of JonesPondCampground & RVPark)


ADDICTION AND SEX

Regarding "Public Displays of Affection" (June 22): Another critical and untold aspect to the story is that many of the men who seek anonymous sex in our parks are very aware of the potential legal and health risks that stem from their actions. Many are also aware of other places to seek sex. They come to the park seeking sex because this has become their habit, a form of their sexual addiction.

Sexual addiction plays a powerful role in the seeking of sexual contacts and sexual arousal that put individuals at risk. Until they seek some kind of help, people find themselves powerless to not engage in their sexually addictive-obsessive behavior. It is the undercurrent of sexual addiction that is present in most, if not all, the newspaper articles about people arrested for downloading child pornography and other sexual offenses.

Then there are the men who are arrested for soliciting prostitutes and men being fired from jobs due to their sexual harassment of a coworker. Many people have been fired from their jobs for looking at pornography on the Internet during company time. They know the risks, but they are powerless to stop themselves until it is too late. Being fired or being arrested can be the bottom, or crisis, that causes someone to seek help with their addiction.

The problem of sexual addiction needs to be understood and addressed in the same way that alcoholism and drug addiction is. These addictions have caused the community harm. The Rochester metro area has a very high occurrence of sexually transmitted diseases, for example. Many people have co-occurring addictions, a drug or alcohol addiction and a sexual addiction. Each addiction can feed into the other. Both need to be treated.

Sexual addiction is prevalent within our community. People do not seem to want to discuss its presence, nor do they want to discuss how it affects the community. Every day, we are being triggered by media that is flush with sexual innuendo and display. For close to 100 years, sex has been used to call our attention to products in order to get us to consume. Our communities have been drenched by sex sold for its own sake (see the adult services page of City Newspaper).

CS Lewis said: "...we grow up surrounded by propaganda in favor of unchastity. There are people who want to keep our sex instinct inflamed in order to make money out of us. Because, of course, a man with an obsession is a man who has very little sales resistance."

We are now are paying the price. Many men will read the City article and this letter in City, and go out to practice their habit anyway.

Daniel Morris, LCSW, Alexander Street, Rochester


CRIME IS AN ISSUE

I must admit I am baffled by your Urban Journal column, "Issues? What Issues?" (July 13). Do you live in the city?

Have you heard the sound of gunshots ringing out in your neighborhood? Have one of the 125 assaults or one of the 24 homicides committed with a firearm in 2005 occurred near where you and your children sleep, work, and play? Have you ever had a drug house or an open-air drug market operating on your street or prostitutes plying their trade on your street corner?

If so, you wouldn't belittle crime's impact by referring to it as a sexy issue or to condescendingly ask: "Aren't we better than that?"

You say: "Crime is important. But it is incredibly complicated. What are we going to do about crime's causes?" I'd say the new mayor has a much greater ability to impact crime by increasing the number of police on the street and improving how they respond to city residents' concerns than he does to eliminate the socio-economic root causes of crime.

Through his management of the police department's resources and how he sets its priorities, he can increase the number of arrests of criminals, reducing the opportunities for repeat felonies. The engine that drives most crime in Rochester is the sale and purchase of illegal drugs. Selling drugs, protecting drug turfs, stealing drugs, stealing drug money, and committing crimes to support drug use constitute the majority of crimes in the city.

A new mayor can also more actively pursue the enforcement of lesser laws that impact the quality of city living, such as noise and littering ordinances.

What we cannot realistically expect is for the new mayor to solve long-existing socio-economic problems that dwarf the powers and resources of his office and defy unilaterally imposed solutions.

The new mayor cannot be expected to stop the 70 percent dropout rate in city schools, which leaves city children incapable of getting jobs that pay a decent wage. The new mayor cannot be expected to change the culture of sexual promiscuity that encourages young girls to become unwed teenage mothers and school dropouts, with few parenting or life skills.

The new mayor cannot change the culture that allows children to be out running the streets late at night, often involved in illegal activities. The new mayor cannot change the state's inequitable education funding formulas.

The new mayor cannot force the other school districts in MonroeCounty to form a countywide school system, breaking up the concentration of student poverty within city schools. The new mayor cannot force the sharing of the suburban districts' more-abundant educational resources.

The new mayor cannot force suburban towns or county government into partnerships that might lower the cost and improve the delivery of government services for all county residents. The new mayor cannot stop employers' flight to suburban towns, lower-tax states, and Third World, low-cost labor centers.

What we can expect from the new mayor is what Mayor Johnson has done during his three terms: use his office as mayor and civic leader as a bully pulpit to encourage personal responsibility, community involvement, personal values of self-respect and respect for others, and respect for education, the value of honest work, and self-sufficiency.

What we can expect from our mayor is a continued effort to get county and state governments to equitably share resources among all county residents. We can expect our new mayor to continue to encourage suburban towns to think regionally rather than parochially. We can expect him to visit Albany and Washington often to secure a fair share of funding.

We can expect the new mayor to support financial investments by the city in initiatives that have the potential to generate good-paying, accessible jobs for city residents as well as growth in property taxes. Hopefully, we can count on the new mayor to promote cultural projects that will bring a sense of community and neighborhood pride and improved quality of life to city living.

All of this we can and should expect from our new mayor. Without a safe environment, however, there can be no increase in middle-class home ownership, jobs, businesses, or cultural and recreational events. The primary need for city residents is to have a sense of being safe in our homes, safe on our streets, safe in our schools, city parks and playgrounds.

The most immediate, practical way for the new mayor to have an impact in this most vital area is to reduce crime and remove the current generation of criminals from our streets.

The longer-range goals of eliminating the causes of crime, while noble and admirable, are more philosophical, more theoretical, and much less immediately achievable. As with a doctor attempting to cure a patient's cancer, you must first attack the existing cancer. Then you try to change the patient's lifestyle choices that may have contributed to the cancer's origin, so that it doesn't reoccur.

Nathan A. Brightman, Albemarle Street, Rochester


WHICH CRIME?

Thank you for: Issues? What issues? (July 13). Maybe the whole thing can be summed up in a word: JOBS. (Schools, housing, health care all depend on the economy.) Paul Craig Roberts, assistant secretary of the treasury during the Reagan administration, says that there has been a zero net gain in high-tech or manufacturing jobs in this country this century.

What can the mayor do to bring enough good jobs back to Rochester so that everyone is employed? Not much. Maybe nothing. It will take national protectionist legislation. When other countries do it, they are praised as economic miracles.

What can the mayor do to provide quality health care to everyone? What can the mayor do to stop spending billions on a war without end and start spending it on veterans benefits, jobs, and housing?

What can the mayor do about state and national governments that cut taxes on the wealthy and cut aid to cities and schools?

Talk about crime!

Who are the criminals? Is it corporate executives who send all the good jobs to Asia? Is it insurance executives who take multi-million dollar compensation packages while millions of people have no health insurance? Is it a national government that promotes the export of thousands of manufacturing jobs while COMIDA subsidizes a few restaurants and law firms ?

Is it a state government that promotes the privatization and commodification of health care?

Who started a war without end and cut funding to schools and public safety?

Maybe this is about crime.

Bill McCoy, Magee Avenue, Rochester


THE CHOICE

FOR DEMOCRATS

In trying to defend "pragmatic" strategies that lead the Democrats to endorse candidates who do not represent the values of their party, Joe Morelle says: "You can't have any influence over government if you can't get elected to office" ("Divide or Conquer?" June 29).

We've heard the refrain before: "Once we get some good people into office, they'll be able to do good things. But while they're campaigning, they shouldn't talk about gay rights, a woman's control over her own body, the creation of affordable, accessible housing, or universal health care."

In Monroe County, a lot of Democrats have taken Morelle's strategy one step further to get into office. In Greece, we call them Republicans. Joe Robach was only the highest profile of many who defected from the Democrats --- in part because, as Morelle would point out, you can't influence if you don't win.

But where does Morelle's strategy leave his party? Pragmatism does not work when you're telling your members to hold their nose and vote. They won't show up when they lose no matter who wins the election.

When the Democratic leadership selects candidates who are ardently anti-choice and oppose the birth-control pill, who are rank-and-file Democrats to vote for?

When the Democratic leadership replaces a term-limited conservative incumbent with his wife, who are the progressives in our community left to choose? When the Democratic leadership endorses a candidate who fully supports faith-based funding regardless of church discrimination against minorities, where can a liberal turn?

In my race, there is a clear solution. Democrats and progressives throughout Greece and Charlotte will have the choice to vote for an independent, progressive candidate who has been endorsed by the Green Party and Working Families Party and approved by DFA, Democracy for America. This coalition of progressives offers a strong choice. But across the county, Morelle's strategy will leave many Democrats in the years to come with the choice of a Republican or a Republican who is registered as a Democrat.

It's time for something much better. Democratic Party leadership is far off base when it criticizes DFA, the Green Party, or Working Families Party for endorsing candidates who are true to the progressive ideas that used to matter to the Democrats. Instead of seeing the young, independent, progressive reformers as the enemy, let's look at innovative progressive reformers as partners in a coalition leading to a future with a progressive, reform-oriented majority.

Chris Hilderbrant, Greece (Hilderbrant is a candidate for CountyLegislature in the 6th district, which represents Charlotte and part of Greece.)


IMPACTING POVERTY

Thank you for the excellent feature "Confronting Poverty with Surround Care" (July 6). It is critical that urban public schools seek innovative ways to address the impact of poverty on the ability of children to learn when they arrive at school.

We appreciate Superintendent Rivera's effort and call upon the larger community to join the conversation about this. This concern is central to our candidacies for Rochester School Board.

Tom Brennan, LakeviewPark; Jeff Henley, Westmorland Drive, Rochester(Brennan and Henley are candidates for school board in the September primary.)


ORIGINAL CAST

One of my finest summer memories of 2005 will be of being in Highland Park and seeing the Shakespeare Players' production of "Comedy of Errors." This presentation was totally in sync with one of the most beautiful summer nights in this idyllic city park. The set, costumes, and players were all inspired. Many thanks to the director for making possible this brilliant rendition of this play.

In her City article about this adaptation of the play with music, Erica Curtis says: "You probably wish you thought of it first." Actually someone else did: George Abbott, Lorenz Hart, and Richard Rogers in "The Boys from Syracuse," the Broadway musical and a movie.

Michael Stern, Roxborough Road, Rochester


LIES AND

DISTORTION

Depressing as it was to watch President Bush address the nation, it was encouraging to add Mary Anna Towler to a growing list of writers who found nothing but the same old same old in Bush's speech ("More Lies, More Deceit July 6). The ability of this administration to confuse the public through the use of the media is its one true accomplishment. The deference (fear?) shown George the Lyin-Hearted --- especially by the so-called liberal media --- is breathtaking.

Contrary to communications director Dan ("the past is the past") Bartlett, the president's speech brought front and center the lies of "fighting them in Iraq versus fighting them in New York" (or London), the blending of 9/11 with Iraq, and the March to Democracy. There has been a near-criminal lack of discussion, including the oh-so-under-reported Downing Street Memo. Note to main stream media: Reporting that it exists does not qualify as reporting.

While death and dying cannot be spun as being untrue, soon there will be a concerted effort to say that our perception of the war is distorted, due to the media's selective reporting of only bad news. The true delusion in this war is the self delusion by the people conducting the war.

Tim Shea, Nelson Street, 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 --- 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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