If ever there was a need for the alternative media, it is now. Yet City Newspaper --- once our oasis in a vast desert --- seems to remain silent as major shocks to our democracy are occurring.
If it weren't for e-mail, we wouldn't know that many thoughtful observers and writers in the international and even US media are seriously concerned about such potential disasters as:
• Life-threatening blows to our democratic ways by corporate domination and the USA Patriot Act I and soon to be II, with such increases in repression of protestors that many speak of creeping fascism;
• Illegal preemptive wars and more to come, perhaps in Syria, Iran, Cuba, North Korea --- where else?
And the real causes may well be a global US empire, with the way paved by US domination of the world's oil distribution. If this is a democracy, shouldn't the people have a say?
Corporate globalization (a.k.a. neoliberalism) is increasing poverty in all the poor nations of the world (with the push of the US Treasury Department and our dominant US votes in the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization). But part of this system means Kodak is down in Rochester-area jobs from over 65,000 to under 22,000, while it builds large factories in China.
Where's City when we need you most?
Peter Mott, South Main Street, Pittsford
Editor Mary Anna Towler's response: We've written several times about the Bush administration's shocking policy of preemption, the tragic error of the war against Iraq, etc. Our first responsibility, of course, is to cover what's happening closest to us. Numerous local challenges demand our attention --- the county's financial crisis, its particularly heavy impact on our poorest residents, the difficulties in the City School District, to name three. But we are committed to speaking out on the national and international issues you mention, and continue to discuss our coverage of them.
Less than a year ago, the president of the US sold the country on a war with Iraq, justifying it on the basis of data that was questionable, indicating that the oil would pay for it, and intimating that anyone who opposed the idea was, in essence, a traitor. Now it is becoming clear that the data was questionable, that the oil will not pay for it, that we have a colossal mess on our hands, and that maybe those who questioned it were right.
It is not hard to draw a parallel between the Iraq quagmire and the current effort to force a bus station on the City of Rochester. The data supporting the need for the station, particularly one as elaborate as Mr. Nojay wants, is questionable. The oil that is supposed to pay for its operation in this case is the tenants in the station complex, but it is certainly not clear that this will be sufficient. Anyone who questions the wisdom of the current approach or dares suggests an alternative is branded as turning down $30 million, in essence, a traitor to the city and county.
Let us not keep making the same mistakes. If a bus station is to be built, let us make sure that its need is justified by hard data. Let us make sure we know exactly what it will cost us to operate it once it is built. Let us encourage as much input as possible and as many alternative proposals as possible and then come up with a proposal that is economically viable, one that will be a true asset to the city and that can win broad support.
Robert Keck, Selden Street, Rochester
The recent blackout that turned out the lights from Detroit to New York City is a wake-up call: Our existing system needs to be updated. The best way to prevent energy bottlenecks and take pressure off the grid is to make our homes, businesses, and appliances use less energy, while still meeting --- or, gasp, even reducing --- our needs.
Some conservatives are again calling for opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge --- a ridiculous and irrelevant idea, because only 3 percent of US energy plants even use oil.
And the Bush Administration just weakened a standard that would have made new air conditioners nearly 30 percent more efficient. Taking this step alone would have saved as much energy as is produced by 204 power plants, helping take pressure off the electricity grid, keeping pollution out of the air, and saving us all money on our energy bills.
The solutions are out there that can help us avoid blackouts in the future, cut our energy bills, and protect the environment, but the Bush Administration is not putting them to work. Contact your representatives and let them know you want to see the government pursue and fund positive solutions to this situation.
Leigh M. O'Brien, Line Street, Pittsford
Why are we not shouting? Why are we not screaming? Why are our representatives not talking impeachment?
President Clinton was impeached for carrying on an illicit sexual affair and lying about it. George Bush has lied and caused the deaths of thousands of Afghans, Iraqis, and Americans, and yet no hint of impeachment!
Why is he allowed to continue to cause all this destruction, chaos, and carnage? Educational institutions, social services, and veterans hospitals are being denied funding so that he can fund his Iraqi fiasco at $4 billion per month, as well as his ridiculous $400 billion tax cut.
He acts as though he's playing Monopoly: When you pass "Go," you get to spend as much as you want and to cause thousands of "collateral" deaths.
George W. Bush is breeding terrorism, not conquering it. And all the while, local organizations are pleading for food and school supplies for poverty-stricken children, and veterans will soon be deprived of medical facilities needed for permanent wounds inflicted in defense of GW Bush's empire.
Don Franklin, Chelmsford Road, Brighton
Once again "Boss" Steve Minarik's Republican machine is trying to put a positive spin on a dire situation. Jack Doyle's has announced that the county will end the year with a surplus, thanks to the misappropriation of tobacco settlement funds.
What's going to happen when the tobacco funds are used up? Basic county services are already being stretched to their limits, and this so called balanced budget is not being managed or structured adequately to meet Monroe County's needs. To manage this mess, the Minarik machine is offering us Maggie Brooks. What is she offering Monroe County for solutions?
Brooks has rejected any consideration of metro solutions, erroneously referring to them as "big government," but she offers no viable alternative. Democrat Bill Johnson has the management skill and willingness to make the hard decisions, with the city continuing to show superior bond ratings to those of the county.
Rachel M. Boccheciamp, Dove Street, Rochester
While Bill Johnson campaigns for county executive on good ideas --- like cutting costs by exploring regional solutions --- the Doyle-Brooks-Minarik machine continues to try to instill fear in the hearts of Rochester's suburbanites by painting the word "consolidation" as some dangerous concept.
They keep threatening that school districts would be dissolved, and that is an outright lie. Not only has the mayor never proposed such a thing, it couldn't legally be done. It's time Republicans stop their campaign of fear.
Every municipality in our area is struggling financially. Johnson has studied the successes of cities like Louisville, Jacksonville, and Indianapolis, all of which have undertaken some form of consolidation, and he's ready to discuss the advantages of pooling our resources. Is that threatening? In reality, this message even sounds like a "Republican" proposal: It means less government and fewer expenses for our community. In fact, Maggie Brooks has basically stolen a lot of Mayor Johnson's ideas for her campaign because they just make sense.
Bill Johnson is by far a more qualified candidate for county executive than Maggie Brooks. The Rochester area deserves higher-quality discussions in this campaign. Brooks lacks the substance and leadership that Johnson offers so graciously to our community.
Joan Clawson, East Street, Honeoye Falls
From now through October, we'll publish readers' comments on candidates in the November election. Please keep your letters brief, and please be specific. Include your name, street name, city/town/village, and daytime telephone number. We'll edit letters to avoid excessive repetition. Our address: firstname.lastname@example.org or The Mail, City Newspaper, 250 North Goodman Street, Rochester 14607.