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RCSD's priorities are wrong
As we read about the problems facing the Rochester Anti-Poverty Task Force, we know that poverty, educational opportunities, and achievement are intertwined.
The RCSD is represented on the task force at the same time its proposed 2015-2016 budget seeks reductions in English as a second language for refugee-immigrant adults, TASC, and job-training services. (Note: A district spokesperson says that state funding cuts are a factor, too.)
Do we really want the school district represented on the Anti-Poverty Task Force? It's the Board of Education's responsibility to prevent the kind of administrative shortsightedness that has led us into the wilderness we are in now.
We need to build an educational system and population for our future. These district programs deserve the support they've earned. The Board of Education has a moral imperative to vote no to the budget and, perhaps, to ask that Superintendent Vargas and CFO William Ansbrow step down.
President Hillary Clinton?
Hillary Clinton may be far from the ideal Democratic candidate. However, if Hillary becomes the Democratic nominee, there is much that can be done to shape her candidacy.
It is not too soon to contact Hillary's campaign and let her know that without specific stands on specific issues, you will not cast a vote for her. For me, a candidate must support GMO labeling, a ban on fracking, an all-out effort to replace fossil fuels with wind and solar, American jobs over free-trade agreements, diplomacy over war, single-payer health care, equal rights for all, and an end to corporate welfare. The candidate must also uplift the middle class.
Then you have to follow through. If Hillary is not the candidate you want to support, then do not vote for her. Voting for second best or the lesser of two evils sends a signal to candidates that they do not need to aspire to be the best. Withholding your vote from a major party candidate and casting it for a third-party candidate that matches your ideals is the best use of your vote. And it sends a strong message to the main party candidates that they actually need to represent people, not big-money interests.
Ugh! In a country of 320 million can't we find anyone else besides the same old, same old? The office of president is not hereditary or dynastic. We don't need any more Clinton administrations, or Bush administrations for that matter. The office is not an entitlement, either, so it's not Hillary's TURN to be president, as she and the Democrats seem to think.
Whoever coined the term "Clinton fatigue" got it right. Won't they ever go away? The Clintons are of highly questionable ethics and character, in my opinion. Hillary will continue where the disastrous Obama administration leaves off: taking the country down the wrong path. We are overdue for some course-correction and Hillary is not the one for the job!
Invest in Genesee River corridor
Now that the money has been approved for the Upstate Revitalization Fund competition may I offer this suggestion: submit a proposal that directs spending a $500 million award on the Genesee River corridor from Brooks Landing to the Smith Street bridge.
Cities that have fully developed their downtown river corridors have realized huge sustainable economic returns on their investments. A visit to Milwaukee, Providence, Grand Rapids, St. Paul, Columbus, Chattanooga, Chicago, or San Antonio will prove this point.
The Genesee River corridor downtown and in adjacent neighborhoods is sadly underdeveloped. Many river plans and projects have been unveiled over the years but most have been shelved, primarily due to the lack of funds or the will to act. Here is how $500 million might be used to wake this sleeping giant and position Rochester out front in the competition with its rivals.
A public-private river planning-development corporation would be formed and a river "Vision Plan" created bringing together community-driven and private proposals to lead the development strategy. Complete cleanup of the several brownfield sites along the river's edge. Build the required segments necessary for an uninterrupted pedestrian walkway around the river downtown with strong connections to High Falls and Corn Hill.
Fully develop the historic Erie Canal aqueduct and surrounding urban fabric following the design scheme proposed by Cooper Cary in 2007. Rebuild Genesee Crossroads Park into a vibrant community gathering place. Operate a downtown circulator connecting sites along the river with downtown neighborhoods and Main Street. Finish creating a definitive High Falls District plan which would include saving and repurposing Beebee Station.
Create an effective method for public access to the river gorge floor and falls. Develop a fountain-water attraction along the river's edge. Identify and prepare development sites along the river.
Proposals for the Upstate Revitalization Fund competition need to demonstrate catalytic power to prompt large infusions of investment dollars from the private (and public) sectors. They also need to create good, long-lasting jobs; adhere to smart growth and sustainability principles; have vigorous tourism activity potential; be magnetic and transformative for the region; be inclusive for all; and be effective in reducing poverty in this community.
With this proposal, all of these goals would be satisfied to the greatest extent possible. The City of Rochester is the civic and economic heart of the Finger Lakes region — making it a strong vibrant place lifts up the fortunes and health for the entire region.