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America is the Heartland

A society that can't agree on the meaning and purpose of its bedrock institutions may have reached a point of no return. Your editorial (Urban Journal, June 30) attempts to "otherize" the "people of the Heartland," but the "Heartland" is everywhere. We're the people next door and in the checkout line. We're not about to roll over and give up the freedom of conscience upon which this country is founded.

Elections aren't going to resolve what is fundamentally an irreconcilable divide. The suggestion of looking to politicos and the media for leadership frankly sounds like a punchline, given most people's low regard for both.

Reconciliation certainly isn't going to come from the likes of Barack Obama, who never passes up a chance to insult and impugn anyone who takes exception to his obnoxious ideology. And just when Americans seemed to have reached a consensus that public buildings are no place to display divisive symbols, what does Obama do? He emblazons a rainbow flag on the White House.

Meanwhile, if by "Heartland" your writer means everyone who recognizes the natural and unchangeable definition of marriage, then you're talking about the overwhelming preponderance of the earth's seven billion inhabitants — across societies, faiths, traditions, creeds, languages, cultures, races, colors, nationalities, and political and legal systems. Try explaining to them that America has magic judges who can rewrite the facts of life.


Stop RedFlex and red-light cameras

As most drivers in the City of Rochester have probably discovered the hard way, Rochester has a local law allowing for automated traffic ticketing at 32 intersections, mostly downtown and in certain targeted city neighborhoods. Rochester City Council hired RedFlex, a foreign corporation with US headquarters in Arizona, to operate the system in 2010 and recently renewed the RedFlex contract for five more years.

The city expects to collect approximately $4 million, according to the mayor's most recent budget, from this program. Neither Monroe County nor the State of New York operates red-light cameras locally, despite much heavier traffic volume and higher speed limits.

Rochester City Council member Adam McFadden is now calling for an investigation, since the former CEO of RedFlex pleaded guilty to bribing City Council members in Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio; entered a notice to plead guilty in Chicago; and is being investigated for similar bribery in at least 12 more states.

The camera system in Rochester automatically issues $50 tickets to the registered owner of the vehicle — not the actual driver, like a regular traffic ticket.

The Rochester law is wildly unpopular with drivers of every description.

The "gotcha" aspect of the local law is the reason I brought a lawsuit in 2013 challenging the legality of this robo-ticketing on constitutional grounds. The NYS Supreme Court determined that the Rochester law met "minimal due process" requirements and let the city law stand.

Since that ruling, the city has ramped-up the program, adding more cameras, sending unpaid tickets to collection agencies, aggressively booting cars, and reporting information to the NYS DMV, which will prevent drivers from renewing their licenses and vehicle registrations.

The mayor and City Council have defended RedFlex and are now digging their heels in to stick with the contractor.

I believe that the City of Rochester is foolishly shooting itself in the foot for tourism, economic development, and people wanting to live, work, shop, or play in the city with these red-light "gotcha" tickets. Not to mention this city program mostly results in people having disrespect for the law and City Hall.

Time for City Hall to boot RedFlex and not its own citizens.


Attorney, Krieger Law

Some Jazz Fest advice

1. Yes, to a third show and matinees. DO NOT TICKET KILBOURN. A three-hour line is a terrible thing! (I do enjoy reading peacefully in line, however).

2. Get Abilene back.

3. Children ... YES! Indoctrinate the young that JAZZ is the future.

4. The one thing I miss was when we had African dance on Gibbs Street while waiting in line for Kilbourn. How about those buskers, conga lines, New Orleans-style FUNeral marches? Light up the streets with jugglers, unicycles, anything.

5. Get more African /blues, Son House Delta ... the story of the ROOTS of jazz.

6. Definitely BAN KHAKI! Hey, retired people: dye your hair green, dress like a movie star, get hip to the scene. Rock it, BABY! This SMUGTOWN stuff's gotta stop. It's hip to be hip!

Thank you so much John and Mark. You guys ROCK!


No demand for performing arts center

About a study for a new downtown theater: Despite the chattering of the RBTL, if the area wanted a new super-duper stage, the money would have appeared. Waste of cash for a study that will produce nothing other than a consultant payday.


Think through murals

WALL\THERAPY 2015 kicked off with the installation of a large mural, "Bollywood Sugar," on The Playhouse/Swillburger building on South Clinton.

I live in the neighborhood and I LOVE this mural. But I felt a little sad for all the Christians, especially the African-American Christians, who had worshiped in that lovely old church for more than a century.

To have a 20-foot-tall Hindu goddess and $100 bill plastered on their church has to be a grievous reminder of their displacement by modern economics. I think a little more awareness about the context and history of the locations of these murals would not be amiss in the future because WALL\THERAPY is such a marvelous cultural endeavor for our city.