WHY NEW YORK COSTS SO MUCH
Shame on Jennifer Loviglio. Her column "They Will Come" (July 5) is another example of why progressives have a hard time getting the story to the public. As a journalist who describes herself as having "knee-jerk lefty impulses," where is the investigation, the search for the truth? Her article indicates that she is buying the corporate-Business Alliance agenda that we have been victims of for a quarter century.
She laments the high property taxes, the cost of workers compensation and Medicaid, the second-highest energy costs in the country, and powerful public employee unions. Let's see: could high property taxes and regressive sales taxes have anything to do with the destruction of progressive and corporate income taxes at both the federal and state level?
Industrial Development Agencies like Comida helped to create three times more poverty-level jobs in New York than there were in the 1970's, according to the Fiscal Policy Institute. Comida tax breaks have cost over $13 million in school taxes alone, just during the period 2002 to 2004, to create poverty-level jobs or no jobs. And 27 percent of this money went to businesses that eliminated jobs. Those who tout the magic of the free market seem to have no problem grabbing our tax money to make their business viable.
Workers compensation: let's see. Some of us believe that in a state that pays workers the second lowest workers compensation benefits in the country, other factors have something to do with the high cost. The insurance companies that underwrite workers compensation pass on the cost of attorneys that litigate and try to deny every claim. And they make a higher profit than they do in any other state.
Add the astronomical costs of health care and you have part of your answer on workers compensation, Medicaid, and the exit of good-paying manufacturing jobs, over one-third of them lost in less than nine years.
Of course corporate trade and tax policies are innocent. In the auto industry alone, companies have a $1300 competitive disadvantage --- not against the Third World but against First World democracies that all have national health insurance.
We can not forget the second-highest energy costs in the nation, where New York bought into deregulation after Enron and their corporate buddies almost bankrupted the seventh largest economy in the world, California, with energy deregulation.
As for those powerful public unions --- teachers, city workers, CSEA, firefighters, postal workers: public-employee union jobs have declined by hundreds in five years. In my own union, the loss of postal jobs here since 2000 --- all to subsidize the rates of corporate mailers --- has taken $20 million out of the local economy per year.
Come on, Jennifer, come clean: is Jennifer Loviglio really a pen name for Jay Gallagher of Gannett News Service?
Jim Bertolone, Shady Creek Road, Rochester(Bertolone is president of the Rochester Area Labor Council, AFL-CIO, and the American Postal Workers Union Local 215.)
BLAME THE SYSTEM
I'm fed up with men thinking they know so much about women and their bodies ("Why We're There," The Mail, July 5). This guy talked about women who get abortions because Planned Parenthood never gave them another option. What about options for women and girls who are raped by strangers, friends, and family members? What options did they have?
Most of the protesters out in front of clinics don't want women to make their own choices. And yes, it is about choice. I wouldn't want to bear a child that was conceived by a man who forced his primal units inside me. The truth is, women are the victims, and the protesters are close-minded people who don't want to give women havens.
Women and girls are still going to abort pregnancies, with or without clinics, so why not have a safe alternative instead of coat hangers? He talks about teenagers coming out of clinics scared, but what's the root of teen pregnancy? Slutty role models on TV. MTV, cable... all these media sell and promote sex. Why do you think 12-year-olds dress like hookers? Because of what's on TV, in magazines, and in schools. There is peer pressure to look like pop stars and models.
Don't blame the youth, the clinics, or the women. It's the system, the mainstream media, MTV, and the male-dominated world.
Olga Tzogas, Meigs Street, Rochester
¡Viva La Marqueta! Sujata Gupta discussed a great and necessary idea in "North Clinton Rising" (June 28), but as it's playing out, another failure appears to be on the horizon. The primary mystery is this: Why in 2006 are we not able to do something that we did so easily in 1906?
Back then, Rochester was expanding. People were organizing themselves into ethnic neighborhoods and establishing community resources. Rich, middle, or poor, they all created what they needed within a short walk. Churches, clubs ... retail --- exactly the retail they required, appropriate to the cultures of that area. Financing for a modest storefront building with an apartment above wasn't hard to come by. The bank was local, or the builder had his own profits to reinvest.
Have things really changed that much? From the suburban point of view, yes. The automobile has changed everything and made that population's tastes and lifestyles generic. It centralized and supersized retail, making buyers dependent on developers who operate at a large scale with huge investments. Having so much at stake in each new mall/box/strip, an inevitable homogenization rules the design and content.
But a city neighborhood is different. Built for a pre-automobile pattern of life, an urban street doesn't need malls, boxes, or strips. It functions best with the various services built on a small scale, and then replicated many times, all over town. You don't have to jump in the car to get a loaf of bread, which is great if you don't have a car. (As Gupta's story mentioned, that's the case for many city-dwellers.) Though it's not exactly thriving, we that pattern is still alive all around town.
Family-owned shops and traditional building types allow for infinite variations and adaptations. If one store or restaurant fails, it's not a tragedy; someone else will try again in an easily reusable space. Contrast that with the corner Eckerd. When it fails, you usually have to rip it down.
This is also the scale at which smaller builders can be brought into the picture. Aren't there Latino construction companies that can build a building? And African-American, Asian, etc. community-based entrepreneurs who can restore neighborhoods as years ago the Italians, Germans, et al built them? They understand the needs, can build what is appropriate, and can enrich and lead their own communities.
Maybe the most important element of all is the sense of identity and belonging that such neighborhoods give to their inhabitants. Not sealed in a vehicle or isolated behind lawns and hedges, people live in community rather than exist in a place. That very thing was supposed to be celebrated on North Clinton.
So, what about La Marqueta? Where a simple collection of storefronts surrounding a little plaza would be just fine, here we have another "development," laden with inflated expectations, that requires a big developer to finance. And among all the grandiosity, the original intention is lost. What was supposed to serve the neighborhood is now expected to serve suburbanites, too, as if the locals don't deserve it on their own.
But that's not bad enough. What kind of ethnically inspired marketplace are we actually being offered?
A strip mall.
Strip malls do not build neighborhoods. Strip malls destroy neighborhoods. Nobody loves a mall or feels at home in a parking lot. Replacing a field with a parking lot will do nothing to heal the fabric of North Clinton or make the people around it feel valued. No matter how gaily you paint the building, whatever Latino elements you paste on it with all the authenticity of a Taco Bell, it will still be an insult to the community. Yet another blemish, another missed opportunity.
Turning the city into suburbia destroys the city. How many times must this be repeated? Why is Rochester so anxious to allow this to happen? Who benefits from this?
Given the eventual implosion of hyper-suburbanism, the cities will save our society. In the meantime, we have to save our cities. To do that, we have to restore rather than redevelop. It's the traditional neighborhood and street-scrape design that is the magic.In 20 years will we let the suburbanites visit our urban utopia? Maybe, if they're nice. And contrite.
Carl Pultz, Redfern Drive, Rochester
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