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A note to readers: No CITY next week
Last year at this time, the CITY staff took a week off to recharge and refocus. It worked so well that we're doing it again. CITY will publish its next print edition on Wednesday, January 8. In the meantime, we'll continue to publish relevant breaking news on our website at rochestercitynewspaper.com. Enjoy the holiday season, and, as always, thank you for reading.
THE CITY STAFF
County clerks should reverse course on Green Light Law
I strongly urge county clerks across the state to re-consider their position on the Green Light Law, which allows undocumented migrants to obtain drivers licenses ("Undocumented immigrants can get driver's licenses," December 18).
These licenses are marked "Not for Federal Purposes" and cannot be used to register to vote, obtain passports, or apply for social service benefits. License applicants have to show documented proof of age, identity, and New York residency. Then they must pass the same written and road test anyone else applying for driver's license would take. Only then, can they obtain the license, register their car, and obtain insurance.
By some estimates, half of New York farm laborers are undocumented migrants. Without them, the working farms across the state that are critical to our economy would fail. That is why the Business Council of New York, the state's largest business lobbying group, supports the law.
Yet, the state association representing county clerks, who oversee the issuance of driver's licenses, is urging the state to stop the program, citing concerns over safety and implementation.
The law will make it easier for farmworkers to participate in their communities, their schools, and churches. Forcing people to be isolated from their community and limiting their economic opportunity by law (or because of personal preference in the case of some county clerks) is a form of institutional racism.
WILLIAM FINE, BROCKPORT
Gym made me more tolerant
I was thrilled to see the front-page story, "Fitting in — A gym for people who feel uncomfortable at 'the gym'" (December 18).
I am a married "senior" who has been working with Christine Walker as a trainer, first in another location and since the spring at Positive Force Movement. In addition to working on my primary goal of getting healthy and physically feeling better, I have learned so much from both Christine and Lore about understanding gender and the obstacles many individuals face. I still have much to learn but know already that I am working harder at being more tolerant and accepting of all people, regardless of gender or sexuality.
Christine and Lore's studio is indeed welcoming and they are remarkable, talented people!
KAREN ALLEN, FAIRPORT
Rochester needs a theater etiquette lesson
I have noticed that it has become more difficult for me — a reasonably educated and culturally-aware older man — to enjoy being part of a theatre audience in Rochester.
Can it be that we are such country rubes as to not have basic knowledge of how to look, listen, and react attentively to accomplished professional performers?
At the December 12 performance of the Moscow Ballet's Nutcracker at the RBTL Auditorium Theater, there were the invariable bright glows of cell screens of the time-checkers and texters in the audience. Particularly distracting was the raised phone a few rows up from me as a woman recorded a particularly lovely, in real-time pas de deux. Did she want to enjoy it again over breakfast?
Finally, there was the obligatory RSO — Rochester Standing Ovation — which, I kid you not, occurs after at least 95 percent of all performances I attend. First there are the sentinels, who pop up because they need to give some love. They're followed by the opportunists, who see it as a chance to make for an early exit. And finally, they're joined by anyone else who just wants to see.
New York Times theatre critic Ben Brantley has noted the perfect appropriateness of the "sitting ovation." Do we not, as a Rochester audience, limit our vocabulary of response to a performance if we stand and clap for each and every one? I doubt that the performers even "buy it." Remember, too, that etiquette also accepts and allows for a robust "boo." Some performances might call for it.
One does not need a degree in the arts to be receptive to the arts. Our brains are wired to know them and experience them. But each of us has the opportunity for ballet, for music, for contemplation of any kind to happen only when the rest of the world kind of melts away.
And when we can share this transport among our fellow, well-behaved wanderers in this world, we have experienced something wonderful indeed.
JOE STRUBLE, ROCHESTER
Why I voted "no" on the P.A.B.
As with any new legislation, the devil is in the details. That is why I voted against the referendum to establish a Police Accountability Board that was recently passed by voters. ("PAB hits first milestone as applicants pour in," December 11.)
To whom would such a board be accountable? Would it be City Hall, the NRA, Moms Demand Action, the religious community, law enforcement agencies, or some other special interest group? The credentials of members holding seats on the board will determine what, if any, credibility its decisions and judgments might have. Members of this board would do well to take the course offered by the Monroe County sheriff to all pistol permit holders. It instructs attendees under what circumstances discharge of their firearm might be warranted.
The term "deadly physical force" is a key phrase in any discussion regarding actions between individuals and police. Although the use of such force by civilians is never authorized, at times it is legally justified (home invasion, defense against assault or robbery, etc.). In New York state all civilians have a "duty to retreat" when threatened, as opposed to the "stand your ground" option allowed in others. Actions taken by authorized law enforcement agencies should be not judged by these rules alone, as they have the additional responsibilities incidental to their duties.
A civilian sitting in judgment of an officer of the law without knowledge of the rules and the responsibility to which he or she is sworn to uphold strikes me as unwise at best. To whom this panel is responsible is just one of many questions to be answered.
TODD CLICKNER, ROCHESTER