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Bus riders and their needs
On "Transit Center: Positive Marks and One Big Problem" (news): I use the buses and transit center daily. There continues to be a need for a grassroots organization of bus riders who depend on the bus. These riders are most often those with the least power and live in the city. This would go a long way toward filling unmet needs, including those of riders from city neighborhoods. Those interviewed in this article do not represent this group.
I would also suggest that while there have been some incidents, I do not think that because a large number of students are there, that indicates frequent incidents. It is also my understanding that the reason for using public transportation for students was to save money. That decision-making was never shared with adult bus riders.
The number of students does affect the crowding on the buses. Using former school buses would help to secure students getting to their homes. I would hope, however, that racism was not the rationale.
There are other issues related to the transit center: More attention needs to be paid to clearing snow and clearing ice in the area from the outside stops on Mortimer to the front entrance. The center needs dollar money-change machines. Not all buses have stalls in the center. The route changes that began in January have caused fare increases. There's a lack of seating in some areas; because the center had to be placed in a small, narrow space, there was not enough space inside to accommodate seating in all the bus stall areas.
On "Are We Really Willing to Tackle Poverty"? Urban Journal: Depends who is meant by "we." The Fight for 15 group is ready. As you imply, the same people and institutions who have been running the community for decades are not ready. The advocates for a living wage are ready. The opponents of the Fight for 15 and a living wage are not ready to change. As a case worker for Monroe County social services, every client I met had a first priority of working at a living wage job.
I look forward to more on this from you in the weeks to come. I hope you write about the devastating loss of jobs perpetrated by the captains of industry and their willing accomplices in government. It is part of a deliberate policy of driving down wages and benefits to the advantage of the wealthy and the detriment of workers. That policy can be reversed.
The status quo must go!
Monroe needs a new name
What's in a name? And should we consider it a problem? What would the reaction be to change the county name to KingGeorge3ville, or Kaisergrad, or even Mussolinistan? And yet there doesn't seem to be any objection to the county being named after a president who not only owned slaves but was governor of a slave state.
Some time ago I realized that I didn't know very much about Monroe and did a net search. The very first hit was a report of him cheering on the whipping of an African-American woman — yes, a slave — but there hasn't been any other references to that incident that I can find. The rest is verified history.
Can't we do better? Perhaps we can begin by acknowledging the fact that most of the presidents from Lincoln to Johnson are generally the best politician for the job and not necessarily some greater-than-life figure.
Poverty war a waste
Your graph, "People in Poverty" (Urban Journal) exposes the abject failure of LBJ's "War on Poverty." Only government would continue and expand a total failure.
In 1970, only 1 in 92 city residents lived under the poverty-line, now almost 20 percent do. Why blame 60,000 people who moved out when bureaucratic programs are the problem?
Ever wonder if the War on Poverty was really designed to create cushy jobs for bureaucrats? Maybe there'd be less poverty if government eliminated wasteful programs and reduced taxes?
Are there answers to poverty and the growth of poverty? Yes! But those answers aren't the ones which haven't been working for 50 years of this "war."
Requiem for Andy Hammond
Hammond, a fixture of Rochester's café culture, died on February 6 (news).
I met Andy during Mercury Opera Rochester's production of "Showboat." He was just one of the nicest people I've ever met, very down to earth, very smart, and very talented.
I would see him whenever I went past Java's and I always worried if he had had enough to eat, was he warm enough? He would never ask anyone for anything, but sometimes I would get him a coffee and one of Java's jumbo-sized cookies. I have no idea if he even liked sweets, but he always graciously accepted it. I'm really sad to hear that he passed on.
Kudos on the evocative article about my brother Andy. He was indeed a unique and talented individual, and it would have pleased him very much to know that people are remembering his music and his stories.
I spent many mornings chatting with Andrew about music, theater, and toward the end, the maddening red tape he faced getting social services.
I loved listening to his accordion. My favorite thing he played was "Because" by The Beatles. Those harmonies were great and he played with a gentle, haunting feel. I'll miss him.