Saturday, April 28, 2007

Hell's Grannies

And now for something completely different.

Rochester Turning, a diligent voice on the left, reminds us in a recent post of the "Rochester Raging Grannies," a group of painfully earnest socialist ladies of mature years.   They perform labored satirical ditties of hatred toward Republicans and similar infidels.   Recently they turned up to screech abuse at Randy Kuhl in one of his Town Meetings.

We recall seeing them at the Park Avenue Festival a few years ago and were reminded instantly of the Monty Python sketch about "Hell's Grannies" -- "...these old hoodlums; these layabouts in lace ..." -- who terrorize a provincial English city.

Check it out.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

It's Koon

David Koon will be the Democratic candidate for Monroe County Executive this year.

This was the price Democratic Chairman Joe Morelle extracted from Koon in exchange for full funding and support for Koon's son, Jason, to run for Mayor of East Rochester, according to a source close to the situation. Koon had brought his son to a recent East Rochester Village Board meeting to see what village trustees do.

Jason Koon will be running against popular incumbent Mayor David Bonnacchi, a bodacious campaigner by all accounts. With the resources of Democratic headquarters behind Jason, his race for East Rochester Mayor promises to be a lot more interesting than dad's race against Maggie Brooks.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007


On the local political scene there's been heightened interest in the last year or so in the town of Pittsford .   Commenting on it recently, we noted, by way of background:

Two years ago, convinced they'd win the Pittsford seat in the county legislature, Democrats ran a limousine liberal dabbler so clueless he couldn't get the Democrat and Chronicle endorsement (practically a birthright for Democrats in competitive races). . . . No doubt they'll try again with a more realistic candidate.
We called it wrong. It looks like the Democrats are running the same candidate in 2007. Democrat Ted Nixon announced his candidacy for the Pittsford/East Rochester legislative seat on April 12.

The announcement sparked an interesting revelation, courtesy of a press release from County Republicans. According to the Brighton-Pittsford Post's report, Nixon ran afoul of a body called the Fair Campaign Practices Commission in his last campaign by trying to create a false impression of his opponent's stand on an issue. (The opponent was Republican Bill Smith, currently the County Legislature Majority Leader.) The article doesn't give much additional detail, other than Nixon's attempt to explain it away and Republican Chairman Steve Minarik denouncing Nixon for "lying on his campaign mailings."

It would be interesting to learn more of the details.   We'll keep an eye on this race.


Monday, April 16, 2007

Smart Buffalo

Thanks to that solid citizen the Water Buffalo, we've learned about a site devoted to protecting community heritage and way of life in Geneseo and other small towns from destruction by big-box development.   It's called "Preserving Small Towns" and has a lot to offer, not only to we few eccentrics who think there may be more to life than what we're going to buy next, but to anyone who seeks a balance between growth and the need to preserve the quality of life of our communities.   Don't miss the write-up at Water Buffalo Press.

And despite our general rule here on the Street of concentrating on local topics, for the single best comment we've seen on the relentlessly unfunny Don Imus, turn also to the Buffalo.   We think he's a little too easy on Imus, who deserved to go.   But we share Water Buffalo's libertarian concerns and especially his "problem with some characters who have once again taken center stage in this drama."


A Disappointment

Back from Spring Vacation, we were expecting to savor the "very pleasant, spicy smell" to be found here on Mustard Street in springtime, only to be disappointment by more snow.

But if we went on further about obvious meteorological phenomena, we'd run the risk of being hired to write headlines for Rochester's Newspaper of Record.

So it's time to check on local doings the past week or so.


Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Ferry Finale

It's a welcome relief to Mayor Bob Duffy and his administration that the Ferry is sold at last. It's relief at having accomplished a worthwhile mission. And maybe it's mixed with relief of a different type -- relief that the Mayor no longer has to take heat for the length of time it's taken to sell the ferry.

Any such criticism of the Mayor was unfair. Cutting the cord on the Ferry to stop the hemorrhaging of money was his first significant policy decision, made only a few days into his new administration.

You don't put a $40 million ocean-going boat in the front yard with a "For Sale" sign. It's a complex process if only because of financing arrangements and detailed legalities involving ships.
So the first deal fell through. It wasn't Duffy's fault, or his administration's. They were right to stick with the first buyer as long as it looked like the buyer could pull it all together. A classic example of the "bird in the hand."

When it turned out the bird was dead, they acted promptly. In short order they got a real buyer with money in hand.

Well done, Mayor Duffy. Both on your initial decision and on your sale of the ferry.

What worries us still are the events and transactions involving the Ferry during the pre-Duffy era.

Griping the other day about the closest thing to a real newspaper we have in Rochester, we took the old rag to task for failing to follow up on its own story on the Ferry Scandal. Even after Duffy's success, City taxpayers are left holding the bag for $20 million in debt. And that doesn't include long-term obligations to the Port of Toronto or the costs and opportunity costs of the dollar-a-year lease of the Rochester ferry terminal to the ferry's original promoters.

But at least somebody out there gets it. This morning's Democrat and Chronicle included a letter to the editor from a Rev. Bob Snover in Penfield. It's well worth reading. Among its observations:

Should I expect to see some indictments for misappropriation of funds by the powers that ran this scam? . . . I would hope that a complete investigation into the circumstances surrounding this debacle would be warranted and conducted. Something's fishy.

Tell it, Reverend.

Or maybe do better than tell it. File a Freedom of Information Act request to see who did what and when before Duffy came on the scene and cleaned it up. Most of the people responsible still sit on the City Council.


Tuesday, April 3, 2007

First Day Off the Job

Two-party government got off to a shaky start in Pittsford, according to people on the scene last Sunday.

That's when Mayor Bob Corby and Town Supervisor Bill Carpenter held a press conference with concerned residents to oppose the State's plan to widen the intersection at Jefferson Road and Route 65. Corby, Carpenter and the leader of the community group opposing the project all stressed significant adverse impacts to Pittsford Village if it were to go forward.

They were supported by a broad representation of the local community, including Republican politicos, Democratic activists, including one of the Democratic candidates in the recent Pittsford Village election, local business leaders and other residents.

Notably absent, however, was Mary Beth Cleary, who squeaked through a few weeks ago to win a Village Trustee seat for Democrats.

Sunday, the day of the press conference, was April 1.

The eve of the first day of her term as Trustee.

The new Trustee may have a steep learning curve.   Lesson One: if you want to be a decision leader, decide to show up.


Monday, April 2, 2007

Blowing Up the Bathtup

A trenchant take on Governor Spitzer's humbling by Silver and Bruno this week, courtesy of The New York Sun.

The governor may have to lower expectations, but he doesn't have to wait until next year to begin round two. He could make it his permanent policy to undermine the power of the 1199 SEIU hospital employees union one step at a time. The administration doesn't have to wait until next year to try to cultivate coalitions of support within the majority conferences, particularly the Assembly Democrats. As long as Mr. Silver has a monopoly of power in the Assembly, Mr. Spitzer will never be able to pass a meaningful budget.

Read the whole thing here.


Sunday, April 1, 2007

Newspaper of Record

he good folks at Rochester Pundit have a great take on the problem of a one newspaper town like ours.

Here's an example:   the Democrat and Chronicle obsesses over a scandal caused by a renegade, long-gone President of the Monroe County Water Authority that involves about $500,000, but sweeps under the rug the $70 million loss to taxpayers from the High Falls and Fast Ferry debacles brought to us by the all-Democratic City Council whose members are still in office. The sweetheart, One-Dollar-a-Year lease of the Port of Rochester to the original ferry promoters, the undisclosed subsidy to the port authority of Toronto, the off-the-books transactions in support of the ferry -- these reflect institutional problems of a one-party city regime that lacks even a single minority-party member to call it to account.

In fairness, the Democrat and Chronicle ran an in-depth piece on the ferry situation, in which it was the first to disclose the Toronto deal and the port lease. But that was it. No steady drumbeat of follow-up articles and editorials probing the matter further or demanding action. When troubles carry the big political "D" label, this newspaper isn't interested in doing more than the minimum necessary to say that they actually covered it.

The D&C pontificates routinely about "accountability" of Town governments and the County government -- which has a vocal and active minority party contingent that constantly questions majority initiatives and motives-- yet remains silent about any kind of accountability of the single-party City Council.

We'll start taking the D&C seriously when it starts taking some of these issues seriously.

Until then we'll have to put up with our newspaper in the form of a comic book. Or is it our comic book in the form of a newspaper?


Out-of-Steam Roller?

"Spitzer said, 'On Day 1 everything changes.' What he didn't say was, 'On Day 38 it all changes back.' "

That's how a hard-core Republican friend teased us in February when the State Assembly broke its word to Governor Spitzer and elected Assembly hack Tom DiNapoli as Comptroller.

Our Republo-pal's criticism is unfair, as even he acknowledged when plied with enough Guinness. The Assembly elected DiNapoli in spite of Spitzer's wishes and efforts, not because of them. The Governor denounced the choice without mincing words. Nevertheless, at that point the score was: Albany Culture - 1; Governor - 0.

Since then, we've noted the extremely encouraging indications of the sincerity of Governor Spitzer's commitment to reform.

It's therefore that much more disappointing to contemplate how much the Governor yielded to the worst legislature in the country in this year's proposed budget.

  • Wins for Spitzer and the people: increasing the number of charter schools to 200.
  • Losses for Spitzer and the people: nearly everything else.
The state still spends too much. Its debt is at $48 billion. The Wicks law remains in place, increasing the cost of all public construction projects from 10% to 30%. The Governor's proposal for a tax deduction for school tuition went down. Enumerating the rest, point for point, would be too long for you to read and too depressing for me to write.

And the much touted reform of Worker's Compensation law announced a few weeks ago? Unmistakably a step in the right direction. But only in the same sense that the cardiac patient feels better when they've cured his sore throat.

The fact remains: the high profile reform elements Spitzer pushed were the right ones. Like the Comptroller appointment, the disappointing results are occurring in spite of Spitzer, not because of him.

Our criticism of the Gov. is that, after stating the opposite, he seemed to think, after all, that an on-time budget was more important than a good budget.

Elliot Spitzer is the last, best hope of this state. And of upstate in particular.

He's shown us that he knows what needs to be done. That he didn't accomplish it in his first budget agreement isn't his fault. But it must be a sobering realization for a leader of his intelligence, stature and drive.

What we have to say is: keep the pressure on, Governor Steamroller. If you can't do it, then the prospects for this most backward and dysfunctional State in the country really are hopeless.