AmeriCorps praise

Through your newspaper, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Rochester AmeriCorps for giving me an opportunity to attend a five-week summer program on political science at Monroe Community College. I did not know I would have such an educational incentive to pursue the career I would very much like to achieve.

I joined AmeriCorps in 2002 to offer volunteer services to the community. After a two-week training program on different areas of interest, I was assigned to Threshold for tutorial services.

Besides a living allowance and an education award, AmeriCorps members have the opportunity to learn new skills. A former AmeriCorps member told me had it not been for an AmeriCorps education award he received, he would not have had an opportunity to further his education in college. "Indeed, it pays to serve one's country or community," said the friend.

Anyone considering joining AmeriCorps should not hesitate to do so.

Prince D. George, Lake Avenue, Rochester

Car culture's costs

The cost of driving our private vehicles isn't truly reflected in what we pay to purchase, operate, and maintain them. Government estimates indicate, for example, that the average suburban commuter pays only 25 percent of the actual cost of road construction and maintenance. Federal, state, and local governments pay the rest. These dollars could be better used on developing effective public transportation systems, with some left over for tax incentives to draw jobs to our area.

Good public transit requires a community transportation hub, which becomes a natural center for commerce. Such a center would help restore our city's commerce and bring jobs to both urban and suburban youth. This might reduce the violent crime rates.

Public health might improve, as more people walked some of the way to their destination. In addition, more people on the streets provide more "eyes on the streets," making them safer.

And imagine the money saved if the average household didn't need to finance two automobiles. More people could become homeowners, further improving our communities.

Then there's the air we breathe and environmental issues. And, oh boy, what about our dependence on foreign oil for fuel to drive these cars? Furthermore, doesn't the military play a part in securing foreign oil resources, and isn't that costly?

Then there's the cost of auto accidents in terms of medical fees and damage to public property. And isn't suburban sprawl a result of the automobile?

We are a brilliant nation, a depository of the world's most ambitious and gifted. Why do we not stop and consider the dangers of our auto-centric culture? This should become an issue in upcoming political campaigns.

Mike Henry, Henrietta Street, Rochester

Friendly Fair

Adam Wilcox bemoans the loss of Balsam Market, saying, "there really isn't anything else like it" (Gut Instincts, July 23). I live on the Brighton-Penfield border, and I too was sad when Balsam closed its doors. But I have good news: I discovered Village Fair in East Rochester. It is like stepping into a 1960's village market, complete with a staff of knowledgeable, friendly butchers.

I don't go often enough for the butchers to welcome me by name and know my favorite cuts, as I see them do with so many other patrons. But I love waiting my turn (without taking a number) and listening to the gossip passing back and forth across the counter.

The only thing better than the great meats (and pies from Leo's!) and friendly service is their prices, which are consistently lower than Wegmans or Tops.

So, Adam, on your way to Pittsford Dairy, stop by Village Fair!

Erin Dwyer, Alaimo Drive, Brighton

Liar! Liar! Pants on fire!

George Washington/ Never told a lie..../ Chopped down a cherry tree, And told his father "It was I!"

Those were the words I chanted while jumping rope on a New York City sidewalk back in the 1940s. Our president then was Harry S. Truman, known as "a man of the people." A placard on his desk proclaimed, "The buck stops here!"

How far we have come in these intervening 50 years. We now have a president who openly lies to the people, and then pins the blame on someone else.

One thing is clear: the George in the White House is no George Washington. And while we may have a liar in the White House, America still does have some genuine heroes:

There are heroic men and women in Congress such as Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), who raised serious questions when our president first attempted to manufacture the justification for this war that has killed thousands, cost us billions, increased the probability of future terrorism, and produced nothing but chaos and misery in Iraq.

There are heroic journalists such as William Rivers Pitt, author of War on Iraq, who reported that the Bush White House was informed as far back as October 2002 that the Iraq-Niger claim was false; and Harley Sorensen of the San Francisco Chronicle who wrote on July 7:

"Bush is a good salesman, which is almost certainly why his father's friends chose him to be the front man for the Republican Party.... He was able to convince most Americans that war with Iraq was a necessity. But America needs more than a slick salesman to lead the world."

Sorensen is right. We need folks who are willing to see beyond our nation's current flag-waving frenzy, willing to work to support fair elections in 2004, and willing to demand that someone of true decency, humility, and integrity be seated behind the desk in the Oval Office.

The "little girl in me" still believes that that can happen --- IF we all do our part. Let's not be fooled by "smoke and mirror" theatrics, faulty intelligence, and a pretty face. Let's all work together to vote the liar out of office --- if we don't impeach him first! Visit and become a hero now!

Vicki Lewin Ryder, Cornell Street, Rochester (Ryder is a member of Metro Justice and founder of Rochester's Raging Grannies)

Writing to City

We welcome and encourage readers' letters for publication. Send them to: or The Mail, City Newspaper, 250 North Goodman Street, Rochester 14607.

Our guidelines: We don't publish anonymous letters --- and we ask that you include your street name and city/town/village. While we don't restrict length, letters of under 350 words have a greater chance of being published. We do edit letters for clarity and brevity. And in general we don't publish letters (or longer "op-ed" pieces) from the same writer more often than once every three months.