On January 20, while Bush caressed a Bible, touted the forceful spread of freedom, and then danced at a string of balls in his honor, bussed-in protestors stood on Washington, DC, streets in the cold, in mourning.
We had protestors at home, too. A group of about 15 people, representing local peace and social justice groups like Pax Christi, St. Joseph's House of Hospitality, and Metro Justice, gathered at 4 p.m. on inauguration day on the four corners of State and Main. Their fingers were frozen, but they held signs painted with "We mourn the victims of the Iraq War," "War is also terrorism," or just a white peace symbol (like 11-year-old Veronica Johnson's sign, pictured.)
Donna Walker, member of Catholic peace group Pax Christi, thought the protest was going well, despite the cold. "It would be nice if there were more, but it's important that we're a voice. It's important that we do something." As she stopped to talk, one person honked on their way through the intersection. "We're getting horns," Walker said. "Some lady walked by and said, 'I know why we're there.' I said, 'Why?' 'Oil.' I said, 'Absolutely!'"
Walker said she hadn't seen any news of the doings in DC. "I can't imagine watching that inauguration. It just turns my stomach."
Nazareth College professor Harry Murray was also out to protest Bush's re-inauguration, though he had heard parts of the President's speech. "He talks in his inauguration about freedom, and then he's doing away with freedom right and left here in this country. I think we really need a real dialogue on what we mean by 'freedom.'"
"Whatever he's saying is not freedom as I understand it."
--- Erica Curtis
It's that time of year again.
Earlier this month we heard Governor Pataki expound --- at least in theory --- about the state of New York State. February 2, we'll get to hear about President Bush's assessment of our union's state. But sandwiched in between the two, comes a political showcase that'll be a little less showy.
As Maggie Brooks finishes her first year in the county's top job, she'll be giving us her take on how things stack up here in Monroe County at 7 p.m. tonight (Wednesday, January 26).
While it's unlikely to prompt many broadcasters to preempt prime time programming, the 2005 State of the County Address will have the attention of a set of curious ears among the county's political set.
Though proving to be a popular and adept politician, Brooks has inherited a government in need of some work. Local government leaders and others who depend on the county financially will be listening for concrete clues about how her administration plans to address looming budget shortfalls, and not just about her campaign in Albany to reform Medicaid.
A preview of City Newspaper's coverage of the speech will be available later this week exclusively on our website, www.rochester-citynews.com.
If you're looking for good news for the Greater Rochester area, you're not going to find it in the latest info from Albany.
Last week the state's chief economist, Stephen Kagann, released a report on private-sector job growth between December 2003 and December 2004. Kagann boasted of "strong job gains in most regions of New York." "Most," of course, doesn't include us.
Greater Rochester was one of only three regions experiencing a decline. The drop of .9 percent tied us with Elmira. The Buffalo area did slightly better, declining only .6 percent. (Syracuse and Jamestown broke out of the Western-NY slump, with gains of 1.2 percent and 1.1 percent respectively.)
Kagann's boast for the entire state was a bit puffy. Overall private-job growth for the state was only .9 percent. Doing the best: little Putnam County, just north of Westchester, with 5.5 percent.
Taking care of business
It's time once again to give benefits to business.
Last week the County of Monroe Industrial Development Agency approved another slate of 10 local businesses to receive special rates, provided they create or retain jobs. Just like last month (See "Following the money and the benefits," December 29), the projects approved included a company that plans to double its size --- by adding a single new full-time equivalent position to its payroll. That qualified the company --- Ogden-based Davcon Hauling --- for breaks on the purchase of new equipment through the Monroe County Industrial Development Corporation.
If that doesn't sound like "industrial" development to you, you're not alone. COMIDA has been under heightened scrutiny from local groups like Metro Justice recently, specifically for reasons like that.
But creating a single job meets the requirements that businesses must meet in order to qualify for benefits. In fact, in December the COMIDA board voted to extend the deadline for creating a job from 3 years to 5, citing the difficult business climate in New York State in recent years.
The agency defends its standards in the "myths vs. realities" page on its website, pointing out that it works on more than simply creating jobs:
"While job creation is one very important objective, it is not the sole objective," the explanation reads. "Job retention is equally important. A job saved is, in effect, a job created."
Oh my Molina!
Rochester International Jazz Festival will neither confirm nor deny it, but a recent visit to www.pollstar.com showed Argentinian singer-songwriter Juana Molina playing the festival on June 11. Formerly a celebrated comic and television personality based in Buenos Aires, Molina turned away from all that to begin recording her deeply personal and experimental music. Merging electronics with acoustic instruments, Molina makes music of frequently overwhelming beauty and wry wit. And the possibility that she's been booked for Jazz Fest shows that producer John Nugent is going to continue to push the envelope while pleasing the crowds. Cheers to that. Meanwhile, we'll keep our fingers tightly crossed.