Thank you for your article on the invisible homeless and the Rochester Area Interfaith Hospitality Network, RAIHN ("Life on the Edge," September 29). Joseph Sorrentino's words and pictures help us to see beyond our stereotypes of the homeless and to overcome apathy and intolerance.
I do want to make one correction: The article states: "Families move to a new host church every Sunday." Indeed, RAIHN is supported by many generous churches, but a Jewish synagogue also hosts families for four weeks each year. In addition, the program receives support from the Religious Society of Friends and Rochester's Zen center. RAIHN is truly an interfaith effort.
Rob Shumsky, Beresford Road, Rochester
Thank you for introducing your readership to City Councilmember Bill Pritchard. It was refreshing to find such clear-headed thinking about downtown development from a local government official.
It often seems like we never learn. No mega-project in recent memory has lived up to its promises. Yet as a community we continue to be lured by the siren's song of any powerful individual with a clever proposal. A discussion with a public official who can articulate what is good and bad in downtown projects, solely in terms of their contribution to the community, is quite welcome.
Of particular interest are Pritchard's comments about the hollowness of large, publicly funded projects. The city needs to get out of the business of picking winners and losers: what to fund, what to destroy. Instead, City Hall should adopt a facilitating role, as with the zoning reforms, to steer private investment to where it is needed, and to encourage city residents to participate and become stakeholders.
A short list of reforms should include knocking down barriers between departments and agencies, becoming a service broker instead of a service provider, focusing on infrastructure and streetscape, and relentlessly pushing real --- assisted, funded, and accountable --- control of revitalization into the neighborhoods. The era of big government is over, but City Hall has still not gotten the message.
Bill Pritchard's willingness to take a well-considered stand on the merits alone is the stuff of real leadership. If he can adapt his guiding principles for downtown development to the issues of city neighborhoods --- safety, housing, schools, jobs, and the like --- he could well be a strong candidate in the upcoming mayoral election. To do this, he will need to place individuals as fully enfranchised participants in civic life on a par with individuals as investors.
Jim Fraser, Evergreen Street, Rochester
TALK RADIO WORTH LISTENING TO
I love talk radio. There's nothing better than familiar voices giving you your local news on your way to work. More importantly, talk radio provides a venue for opinions to be heard, whether rational or irrational. Unfortunately for those of us living in the Rochester area, our choices have been limited to the right-wing conservative shows on WHAM or the somewhat dull National Public Radio programs on WXXI.
What a pleasant surprise to find out that WROC-950AM has started broadcasting the Air America Radio programming. Finally, those of us who consider ourselves to be "left of center," who are disenchanted with the way Bush has led the country over the last four years, and who crave an alternative to the twisted diatribes from the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage, can find refuge listening to bright, entertaining, critical thinkers who share our beliefs.
With shows such as the Al Franken Show, the Randi Rhodes Show, and the Majority Report, Air America Radio and WROC-950AM have brought balance to previously lopsided options.
Thank you, WROC-950AM! My love for talk radio has grown tenfold because of you. Keep up the good work!
Craig P. Ephraim, Fairport
I am from Irondequoit, but currently I am living in Santiago, Chile, and the date September 11, 1973, not 2001, is the date I refer to above. On this date a military coup, with tacit US support, ended the rule of Chile's democratically elected leader and put into place AugustoPinochet's brutal military dictatorship.
We welcomed Pinochet's government because he overthrew a government from the extreme left and as such was helping us in the war against communism. In time, democracy returned to Chile, with some assistance by the Reagan administration in the late '80s, but as with the war on communism, we now continue to support many non-democratic regimes as part of our war on terrorism.
To the citizens of many countries, we appear to be hypocrites in stating the importance of building democracies in Iraq and Afghanistan while we quietly strengthen ties with the Saudi monarchy, the military dictator of Pakistan, and the strong-man despot of Uzbekistan among others.
By supporting such leaders, we risk losing the moral high ground that our nation traditionally has occupied. President Kennedy spoke of America as a beacon to the world, a shining city on a hill, but from my perspective in South America, it seems many people have mixed feelings because of our support for non-democratic regimes.
It is clear that because of the war on terror it has been necessary to work with many regimes that normally would not be viewed favorably. But we must also be aware of the impact of these alliances on the image of our nation abroad.
Peter Johnson, Santiago, Chile
WHAT IF OUR GOVERNMENT FAILS?
I do not envy John Kerry's position. Should he win the election, he will inherit a mess, and in all likelihood he will be blamed for a lot of it. If he loses the election, the mess will be even worse. I hope he wins, and I bless him for trying.
I would like to suggest a campaign strategy for Kerry, a way to communicate with the American people as he makes his case. Our government is a business of the people, by the people, and for the people. The masses of us pay for this business (with our taxes). Many are employed by it. And most expect and need the benefits our business offers (education, unemployment insurance, social security, health care, infrastructure, protection, and a fair hearing).
Our government is a cooperative. We all participate, we all have a voice and vote, and we all should expect to benefit from our contributions.
Why, then, are so many Americans seemingly willing to vote against their own best interests? Why are we allowing the Bush Gang to pull an Enron on us? By every possible indicator, our government is under attack. A corporate raid is afoot. We are heading for bankruptcy.
Our executives are spewing myths for truths. They are purposely using personal and religious preferences and freedoms as the main issues while blatantly dismantling the corporation. As a people, we are angry, divided, and misinformed to such a degree that we cannot see that the king has no clothes. By the time a unified outcry begins, it may be too late. I hope it is not too late already.
Why are we giving away the corporation? Where will we all turn if our government fails?
Tom Policano, Hillbrook Circle, Pittsford
WRITING TO CITY
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