MINDS MADE UP?
Was the fix in? After the fact, I discovered that some members of the School Community Advisory Committee wanted to discuss the possibility of using underutilized school buildings as multi-purpose facilities. They were told they could only focus on criteria to decide which city schools should be closed; not if they should be closed, but which ones. These people were chosen for this committee because of their experience and dedication to the community but were not allowed to draw on either to solve this "crisis."
Without knowledge of this, the Green Party created an innovative, alternative proposal, spelling out why schools should not be closed and how we can use schools as multi-purpose facilities. An op-ed was published in the Democrat and Chronicle and the proposal was given to Superintendent Rivera, all board members, the hundreds of people who showed up at the community forums, and the countless people who downloaded it from our website. Community members loved it. Some at the forums called for the board to adopt some version of it.
At the February 17 School Board meeting, Dr. Rivera presented his recommendations to the board. Commissioner Shirley Thompson asked him if he had considered the Greens' proposal. He said that he had not "studied the details of the proposal."
The fix was in.
Will the board rubber-stamp Dr. Rivera's recommendation, or will they call for a more innovative approach as they were told to do at the public forums? Either way, people who believe in our community are not finished fighting for our neighborhoods. A number of community groups have come together to conduct an education charrette on March 5 to create a solution that addresses our community's problems, not add to them (see www.gpomc.org for details). It does not matter if your neighborhood school is being closed; this is everyone's problem. Be part of the solution.
Dave Atias, Rowley Street, Rochester
In his column "The Invisible Elephant" (February 9), Laurence Britt asks, "Was the 2004 election stolen?"
Is a canary yellow?
This past fall, I worked as a volunteer in the Palm Beach County, Florida, election-protection program, assisting voters who experienced difficulties in exercising their voting rights. From the very first day of Florida's early voting period, we were flooded with calls from distraught voters who had tried to vote for John Kerry, but the Sequoia touch-screen machines kept registering their votes for George Bush. In some cases, it took five or six tries to correct the problem, but many gave up after two or three attempts.
In some of our heavily Democratic communities, door-hangers were distributed on election eve telling voters that their polling places had been changed when they had not been, and in other cases --- also in heavily Democratic areas --- voters reported to their usual polling places only to find them closed without prior notice.
Many voters were made to stand on line in the hot sun for more than eight hours, while in some traditionally Republican districts, lines were non-existent.
According to media reports, machines in some Florida counties registered more votes for Bush than there were voters. And in neighboring Broward County, the voting machine software could handle only 32,000 votes, and then it started counting backwards.
Thousands of provisional and absentee ballots in Florida never were counted, and in some cases, as in Seminole County, many completed but uncounted ballots were simply thrown away.
Despite all of the voting irregularities we witnessed, all of the election-night exit polls in Palm Beach County indicated a decisive win for John Kerry. Yet the morning headlines declared Bush the winner.
As Britt correctly states, "Exit polls are almost never wrong." They are, in fact, the most reliable source of election verification yet known.
So was the 2004 election stolen? You can bet it was! And if you don't believe that, you probably believe that Iraq had WMDs and that our Social Security system will soon be bankrupt.
Wake up, people!!
Vicki Ryder, Cornell Street, Rochester
GREENS, LIBERTARIANS LED THE FIGHT
I would like to thank City for Lawrence Britt's article "The Invisible Elephant" (December 9). The battle is still going on in the courts of Ohio, New Mexico, and elsewhere. The FBI has been called in to investigate election tampering; hundreds, maybe thousands of depositions have been filed; and it's high time people started reporting on it more extensively.
My only regret with this article is that the author, like many others, seems to be ignoring the "other" invisible elephant that happens to be in "his" room. He stated that Representative John Conyers led the charge finding the "disturbing collection of irregularities." To my knowledge it was David Cobb, presidential candidate from the United States Green Party, who led the charge, with Michael Badnarik of the Libertarian party. Conyers and Democrats joined up well after the initial fight had been started by the Greens and Libertarians.
While I'm very grateful and give much credit to the Black Caucus and Barbara Boxer, let's please start giving credit where credit is hugely due: to the US Greens and Libertarians for fighting for Democracy in America. In addition to the websites Mr. Britt listed, you can read more info and see videos as well as a daily progress blog at votecobb.org.
Deborah Magone, Snowy Owl Ridge, Greece (Magone is vice chair of the Green Party of Monroe County.
FOXES ON GUARD
Thanks to Laurence Britt for summarizing the unease many of us felt after this past election. To ignore both the widespread voting discrepancies and the fact that foxes are guarding the chicken coops is to ignore the erosion of trust that is developing in our voting process.
To say that those with well-deserved suspicions are paranoid is to ignore the healthy skepticism needed for critical thinking. When a computerized voting machine's results are not verifiable, or irregularities are not looked at with an honest attempt to evaluate them, democracy is done a grave disservice. A voting process that ensures voters that their votes have been accurately counted is the foundation of American democracy.
Being satisfied with our current system, including the technologically deficient Diebold computers, is a mockery of American democracy. "We the people" are capable of and responsible for making choices that guide the direction of our society. We need to know that every vote is respected by those involved in the voting process at every level. Valerie Coushaine, Pittsford
Laurence Britt's excellent digest of the voting problems in the last election was very welcome. The list of highlights from "a disturbing collection of irregularities" was especially helpful.
Thus far, those who have benefited most from the Help America Vote act are the manufacturers of electronic voting machines and perhaps the "winners" of the election. As for Republican remarks about conspiracy theories after 34 Democratic Representatives challenged the Ohio electoral vote, we hark back to your August 4 article by Ron Netsky, covering an interview with an expert on such theories, Michael Barkun of Syracuse University.
Barkun stated that of course, some so-called conspiracy theories are eventually proved to be true.
Bryna Weir, Brighton
NUKES AND US
North Korea announced that they are building nuclear weapons, and don't intend to negotiate them away. This announcement was met with dismay by the US.
The US has nuclear weapons, and doesn't intend to negotiate them away. We are also the only country to ever have used nuclear bombs to kill people in another country. We spend some $400 billion per year on militarism, not counting the cost of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Iraq, it could be argued, was invaded by the US precisely because it did not have nuclear weapons. Why should Iran and North Korea, specifically threatened by the US, make the same mistake?
Hank Stone, Route 64, Ionia
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