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Readers feedback #1 - 5.5.04

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Missing Spula

There is disturbing silence about Rochester because one of our area's most able environmental reporters is not on the job.

            We cannot begin to fix the environment if we do not know what is going on. Most of us do not have the time, or the inclination, to monitor the health of our environment. We have to depend on the abilities of our best reporters. As most cities around the country have fewer newspapers --- due to media mergings --- we citizens are getting less objective news. This is especially true on the environment, where we need continuous good and competitive reporting in order to assess the health of our environment so we can make the best choices for sustainability. Jack BradiganSpula was one of our city's best eyes on the environment, and we cannot replace this loss.

            Frank J. Regan, Belmont Street, Rochester

Of the many services City Newspaper provides for the Rochester area, the greatest by far has been offering the weekly writings of Jack BradiganSpula. That Jack wrote in City seemed to put Rochester on the map. Though chaos, idiocy, narrow self-interest, and insanity might reign in local, state, and national political circles, one could count on a weekly dose of insight, perceptive analysis, and ideas for constructive action from Jack. Picking up a copy of City made Wednesday afternoon a highlight of the week.

            So it was with dismay and sadness that I read of Jack's departure from City. It seems inconceivable to lose this treasure --- a media tragedy. If there is any way to bridge whatever differences led to this split, you all should find a way to do it. For the sake of this community, bring back Jack.

            Paul Hetland, Alpine Street, Rochester

I was saddened and dismayed to learn from your all-too-brief announcement that Jack BradiganSpula was "no longer on our staff." Frankly, this is an insufficient explanation about why City would let such an outstanding, award-winning, progressive reporter go.

            Surely our community deserves more explanation, as we have relied on Jack's in-depth, insightful, and unafraid articles over his last nine years with City. If there were policy differences behind this, what new policy directions will City be taking after losing or firing the person many of us consider the best reporter in the local news business.

            I am sorry to have to criticize my favorite newspaper and your editorial decision-making, but we are left feeling that City has created an awful gap by the fact that Jack Spula will no longer be on the staff.

            Hugh P. Mitchell, Hillside Avenue, Rochester

            From the editor: There has been no change in our editorial policy or direction.


Nader and the Bush danger

While I share the sentiments of those who support Ralph Nader, I believe they are missing some essential points that make it unwise to vote for Nader.

            It is true that Nader's candidacy will likely keep Kerry from swaying to the right to "broaden his appeal." However, unfortunately it really doesn't matter what a candidate says before election. After all, candidate George W. Bush avowed to be a compassionate conservative, and to mend fences, and he made clear that he was opposed to nation building. What really matters is which candidate after the election will be most supportive of progressive goals. And we need to avoid wishful thinking that anyone besides Bush or Kerry has a chance of becoming the next president.

            While I agree that Florida, the Supreme Court, and Gore himself did more to defeat Gore than did Nader, we need to do everything we can to defeat Bush and avoid anything that has any chance of blocking that objective.

            And while I agree that it would be worthwhile and satisfying to announce to the world that we are not happy with the choices our system gives us, the danger of sacrificing a vote for Kerry is not worth that goal. Moreover, the message will be muted, because many who are unhappy with the choices they are given will have voted for Kerry for the good reason that we need to defeat Bush.

            It is unwise to believe that if all those who are dissatisfied voted for Nader, he would have a chance to win the White House. There simply aren't enough progressives in this country to elect a Nader. But there are enough moderates to overcome the growing number of right-wing radicals in what promises to be a very close election.

            It is a mistake to underestimate the danger of a continued presence of Bush in the White House. Nothing in this country has not been threatened by the Bush Administration except the corporate fat cats. From the environment to the economy to the poor to international relations and so much more, the Bush Administration has been an unmitigated disaster. But most chilling of all is a quote he is fond of using, most recently in his April 13 News Conference: "Freedom is the Almighty's gift to every man and woman in this world. And as the greatest power on the face of the earth, we have an obligation to help the spread of freedom." And we might add, God help those who get in our way.

            And further, if Bush is elected again, God help us all.

            Bob Herzog, Rawson Road, Victor

RecentCityletters are solid evidence that a long-term Republican plan is working. That plan: to gut our educational system, ensuring their perpetual re-election by a populace that is incapable of critical thinking and is helpless in the face of fear-and-freed politics ("Spoiler or Salvation: Defending Ralph Nader," The Mail, April 7).

            No, Ralph Nader did not steal the election. He only made it possible for the Republicans to do so. If the election were a baseball game, the Florida state government and the Supreme Court were the closers. They could guarantee a Republican win if it was still close in the ninth inning. It was. And the reason was that a guy named Ralph, who should have been on the sidelines, reached in and interfered with the ball on what should have been the winning run for the Democrats.

            Say what you will about the philosophical possibilities of a third party. The bottom line is that we got Bush, and it could happen again.

            Bob Siegel, Penfield

It is disheartening to see that Ralph Nader and some of his supporters are still in denial about their role in the 2000 presidential election (The Mail, April 14).

            Dave Atias, chairman of the local Green Party, claims to have a "multitude of facts" proving that Nader did not cost Al Gore the presidency, but the only "fact" he cites relates to the number of Florida Democrats who voted for Bush --- which "proves" absolutely nothing, since there are crossover votes in every election. Vanessa Paniccia, in an even bigger non sequitur, declares that she would never have voted for Gore, thereby "disproving" the supposed assumption that all of Nader's votes would have gone for Gore if Nader had not run.

            It's really very simple, folks. In the official count, at least, Bush won Florida over Gore by 537 votes, while Mr. Nader received 97,488 votes in that state. If just 1 percent of Nader'sFlorida votes had gone to Gore, the Democratic candidate would have carried Florida by 438 votes, even without a recount, and Florida's electoral votes would have won him the election even if the results had not changed in any other state. (Actually, exit polls at the time indicated that up to 47 percent of Nader voters would have chosen Gore if Nader had not been on the ballot.)

            Of course, there is plenty of blame to go around. Gore could have run a stronger campaign, in which case Nader's votes might not have mattered. The incompetence (or worse) of some Florida elections officials, the unscrupulousness of the Bush campaign, the blatant partisanship of five members of the United States Supreme Court: In an election that close, everything makes a difference.

            None of that, however, absolves Nader and the Greens from their share of blame for the "election" of the most dangerously right-wing president in living memory. If not for them, Gore's campaign would have been strong enough, and Bush would not have had an opportunity to misappropriate the election by stonewalling a full and fair recount.

            Ralph Nader had a right to run for president, and people like Mr. Atias and Ms. Paniccia had a right to vote for him. But grown-ups accept responsibility for the consequences of their actions. Nader and his die-hard supporters demean themselves by pretending they had nothing to do with it; and they leave the rest of us with little hope that they are willing or able to learn from their mistake.

            John E. Theuman, Oakbrier Court, Penfield

The war and us

In an otherwise compelling article, Mary Anna Towler made a truly disturbing statement: "Mere citizens, overwhelmed by our own concerns, don't want the responsibility of wrestling with complex national issues" ("Bush's War," April 14).

            First of all, aren't national issues "our own concerns"? Certainly the ramifications of the war in Iraq could affect me personally, not to mention any number of national issues with even more direct relevance (universal health care, off-shoring jobs, standardized tests in schools, etc).

            Second, to anyone who can't be bothered with understanding complex issues, I ask: Please don't vote. The Iraq situation got the way it is because the people making decisions framed them in black-and-white, moralistic terms without fully understanding and accounting for the complicating factors.

            If we choose to lock our doors and bury our heads, things will only get worse from here.

            Melissa Nicholson, Merchants Road, Rochester

            Mary Anna Towler's response: Obviously, I agree with you that these are our own concerns. I was just stating what I believe is the unfortunate case: Most of Americans are caught up in day-to-day demands, and to keep up with national and international affairs seems overwhelming. (And worse, far too many Americans, I'm afraid, think they don't know enough to judge political leaders competently.)


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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