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Reader feedback 8.20.03


Council priorities

It's business (actually funny business) as usual for the Rochester City Council.

                  After pleading poverty as the excuse for declining to spend a few measly thousands to keep several acres of Pinnacle Hill woods out of the hands of potential developers, the Council has now miraculously found that it can afford to plunk down 100 grand of our tax dollars to hire a bunch of lawyers to defend their hissy-fit attempt to deny city school employees the right to serve as Council members.

                  How sad that our elected officials view their vendetta against Tim Mains as more important than preserving the city's green space for future generations.

                  Michael J. Nighan, Rochester

Bring on the heat

As a reader of your newspaper, I feel the need to discuss my disappointment with most of your articles. It seems Rochester is behind in the times, or even scarier, perhaps afraid to go near the edge of writing something remotely close to interesting.

                  I have yet to read something that pisses me off, makes me think, or makes me realize even further that most human beings are shallow, empty-headed idiots. This, my City Newspaper friends, makes for a damn good read.

                  The local band-schedules-restaurant-review sections are wonderful and all, but it doesn't make me want to run to the newsstand every week.

                  I'm under the assumption that you have writers on your staff. I have found that most writers have something to say, something worth writing about. Why do you not allow these talents to shine through? I want to hear the anger, the rants, the sarcasm, and the frustration of a lone writer drinking his seventh whiskey and smoking his last Camel as he writes his internal fire on paper. What is writing without fire?

                  I am going to make another assumption here and say I think you are trying to reach a younger reading audience. Why else would your circulation be in urban neighborhoods, bars, and corners where our very own pierced, tattooed, and smoked-up Rochesterians hang out? Maybe I have it all wrong in what your newspaper is trying to produce, but if I had the audience, the resources, and a valuable opinion to voice.... goddammit,

I would use it. Often.

                  Give us 20-30-somethings some credit here. We can take the heat; we can think; the real question is: Will your newspaper ever bring it?

                  Amy Restivo, Dartmouth Street, Rochester

                  Editor Mary Anna Towler's response: Thanks for your comments --- and I agree with you that journalism ought to be interesting, and to have fire when it's appropriate. I disagree with one of your assumptions, though: I'd rather have writers who are in control of their faculties when they're trying to analyze public policy, quote news sources accurately, and write clearly. I'm not sure how much trust I could place in writers whose work is done when they're on their seventh whiskey. This is journalism, not fiction. It doesn't have to be boring, but it's tough work, and readers deserve competence as well as flair.

Inspired by Williams

My heartfelt thanks for Ron Netsky's excellent article on John A. Williams. As a young man, I always anticipated finding the next Williams book, but I lose track of him after Jacob's Ladder. How wonderful to learn that he's still writing, and I can't express how excited I am to learn of Clifford's Blues.

                  I attended the inspiring UR exhibit, and I was very moved by the obvious respect shown to this great artist. This is something you don't normally see in Rochester.

                  My thanks go out to the UR staff as well. Please continue with more of the same.

                  Ronnie Ronson, De George Circle, Greece

Power points

In June, RG&E's parent company, Energy East Corp., reaffirmed its plans to sell the Ginna nuclear-power plant. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is accepting public comments through September 16 regarding relicensing the 30-year-old plant. This is a great time for the ratepayers to find out how this will affect them and their economy.

                  Ginna is slated to close in 2009 under its 40-year federal operating license. In addition to getting a 20-year extension on the license from the NRC, to attract a buyer, Energy East may need to replace the head of Ginna's reactor vessel. That major maintenance outage could easily cost over $200 million for parts, labor, and replacement power during the long shutdown. RG&E will most likely not recoup that amount in the sale, and the ratepayers will make up the difference.

                  A March 30 Democrat and Chronicle article noted that the high cost of energy is one of the main forces driving businesses out of Upstate New York. Businesses here pay up to three times more for energy than competitors in other areas of the country.

                  The same article reported that there are plans to create enough wind power in New York State to generate more electricity than Ginna does within a few years. Since Upstate New York generates about 50 percent more power than we use, which is 11 times more energy than Ginna can generate, closing the plant would be insignificant.

                  RG&E and the PSC say that a sale would bring competition and benefit to ratepayers. The truth is much different. Since New York's other reactors have been sold, electric rates have gone up and workers have lost their jobs.

                  It's time for Upstate New Yorkers as a community to come together and demand an end to the corporate greed that will do nothing but feed our spiraling economy. Contact the Public Service Commission and your local representatives and let them know that this sale is not in the best interest of the region and that cleaner and cheaper alternatives will provide a better future.

                  Syd Southworth, Syracuse (Southworth is a native of Rochester and is a member of the Central New York Citizens Awareness Network)

The tax-free life

Remember Leona Helmsley? Ten or fifteen years ago she became notorious for saying, "We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes." She was immensely wealthy, owning hotels and real estate in Manhattan, and thought that paying taxes was beneath her social position. But the IRS caught up with her, and she was sentenced to 18 months for mail fraud and tax evasion.

                  Her sentiments outraged the public and were condemned as selfish, antisocial, and elitist. Whoever imagined that her sentiments would become the policies of the Bush administration?

                  Immediately upon taking office in January 2001, Mr. Bush proposed to eliminate the estate tax. In June, Mr. Bush signed into law a bill to phase out the estate tax, which applies only to estates worth millions or billions of dollars. Immense and growing aggregations of capital will pass from generation to generation untouched by the estate tax, as the very rich get very richer, merely by holding on to their property.

                  By 2002, the effect of the tax cuts of 2001 (and of other factors) threw the US budget into deficit, and in July Mr. Bush signed a bill to raise the limit on the national debt in order to authorize further borrowing.

                  Ignoring the rising deficit, in January 2003 Mr. Bush proposed to eliminate the personal income tax on most stock dividends. In May he signed into law a bill to terminate the income tax on most stock dividends and the capital gains tax in 2008 (along with other tax cuts). Most stock is owned by, and most dividends are paid to, the very rich. Thus, the income obtained by buying, holding, and selling stocks will be tax-free. In tax parlance, this is called unearned income.

                  Obviously, abolishing the estate tax, eliminating the tax on dividends, and eliminating the capital gains tax will cause huge reductions in the revenues of the federal government. The wealthiest citizens, who have benefited the most from American society and American capitalism, will be charged little or nothing to pay for the society which enables them to prosper.

                  Who will be charged for the expenses necessary "to establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity"? The people who work for a living will still be paying taxes. They are the employees and small-business people who manufacture the products, provide the services, and staff the institutions of society. Their wages are called earned income.

                  The policy of the Bush administration is to abolish taxes on unearned income and maintain taxes on earned income. Just as Leona said, only the little people will pay taxes.

                  Paul D. Van Ness, Rugby Avenue, Rochester

Writing to City

We welcome and encourage readers' letters for publication. Send them to: or The Mail, City Newspaper, 250 North Goodman Street, Rochester 14607.

                  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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