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Links of the Day:

– Does Bolgen Vargas have the edge in the superintendent search? City Councilman Adam McFadden echoed the feelings of more than a few people with this tweet:

[tweet https://twitter.com/RUN_AMC/status/186562390605832192]

There’s no evidence that has surfaced to suggest the search process is rigged. Sources say the board simply didn’t get a deep candidate pool. Many people didn’t apply or dropped out late in the process. Part of the reason is their names will be made public. Concerns over whether Vargas is a shoo-in may have also swayed applicants.

Update: I confirmed a candidate pool and updated my earlier story.

Vargas has the advantage of incumbency. He’s had a relatively smooth year. He’ll likely announce a budget this week that avoids the chaos of his predecessor. People generally like him.

But there are worries he doesn’t have the leadership background or backbone to take on the district’s massive problems. They think he’s a pushover.

No matter which side people fall on, not one person I talked to today seemed “excited” about the candidate pool. I suspect the only way the board will ditch Vargas is if they’re “wowed” by someone else. I’m not getting the sense there’s a blockbuster challenger yet.

One thing’s for certain: Vargas will not go back to being a guidance counselor.

– It’s a sad day for Rochester news consumers. Eighteen Democrat and Chronicle employees with a collective 619 years of experience are accepting buyouts. Gannett says the move “strengthens” the company. It strengthens the bottom line, but not the product.

Bob Matthews, Bob Marcotte, Mark Hare and Michael Zeigler are among those who are retiring. You cannot replace that kind of knowledge and experience. Matthews is a household name and an institution. I’m glad they had a choice about their departure.

This is not an excuse to write off the paper. It’s still got the most journalists in town and serves an important accountability function. Let’s hope the ship can be righted. I’m not sure this is the best strategy.

– Erie County stopped giving out tax breaks to hotels for renovation projects. Why doesn’t Monroe County scrutinize this kind of incentive?

– We live in a rush-to-judgment society. David Carr takes the media to task in the Trayvon Martin shooting.

– Chances are you’re not watching broadcast TV at 10 p.m. Instead, you’re catching up on DVR’d programs.

11 Responses to Is Vargas It?

  1. I know Mr. Vargas, and while I am absolutely certain Bolgan is a very good human being (I have known him for at least 20 years), he is not a good representative to address the RCSD Board, nor to City parents, nor a proper symbol for struggling RCSD students: Why?

    Only one reason. Dr. Vargas has a poor command of the English language (at least in its spoken form), and while English is not, and never should be considered the “official” language of the U.S., English is absolutely the unofficial language of America. English is stil the dominant language in the U.S. in terms of business, culture, and education. Perhaps one day Spanish will become the unofficial language of America, but that day is very far off in the future.

    Suburban parents would not tolerate a school superintendent with such an incomprehensible accent to head their district, and neither should RCSD parents. Shame on the RCSD Board, and administration. You are fools, indeed.

    Christopher J. Wilmot
    Pittsford, NY

    • April 2, 2012 at 8:47 pm Rick Hannon responds:

      Why, it would be as outrageous as having someone with a profound German accent serve as Secretary of State in the Cabinet of the President of the United States, wouldn’t it? Like THAT’d ever happen …

  2. April 2, 2012 at 5:44 pm James Simons responds:

    Just what exactly is the D&C thinking? They continue to gut the journalist staff while coming to the bright conclusion they need a paywall? If they are trying to kill the paper they might be on to something. They are now losing some of thew few journalists left with name recognition and devoted readers.

    Not sure how they have the guts to charge for online content on one hand and cut jobs while claiming the quality is staying the same on the other.

  3. April 3, 2012 at 8:56 am PJ Birkman responds:

    You’re right Rick it would never happen. It would be like electing a President of the United States with an ACTUAL poor command of the spoken English language (as opposed to an accent that snooty Pittsford ears can’t understand). And then electing his son for 2 terms.

    Why that’s as unlikely as posting veiled racism thinly disguised as your personal observations based on your close personal friendship with someone and not even being able to correctly spell your “friend’s” name!

  4. April 3, 2012 at 3:56 pm lynn ellingwood responds:

    The city school district has a long history of choosing great interm superintendents and choosing permanent bad ones. Loretta Johnson, Bill Cala and Bolan Vargas are and were great. Let Vargas stay and stop picking losers who spout vile school reform and move on at the first chance they get with the school district being worse for it.

  5. To R. Hannon & Pj Birkman:

    First, I do know how to spell “Bolgen’s” first name; pardon my typo (on business in Europe, and I suppose jet lag has gotten the best of me). And secondly, perhaps Henry Kissinger’s accent was too great/incomprehensible for him to have been Sec. Of State? It’s a legitimate question.

    You can throw bigotted bromides at me about being from Pittsford, etc., and it does nothing to address a core question about a leaders qualifications: Are issues such as ones diction, the general ability to pronounce common English words, and a thick accent fair criteria when judging ones credibility to run a large school district? Clearly, the answer is yes.

    Please crawl out from behind your left wing, politically correct hiding places, and try not to be afraid to acknowledge the obvious. Thank you.

    Christopher J. Wilmot, (Proudly) Pittsford, NY

  6. April 4, 2012 at 5:32 pm PJ Birkman responds:

    Mr. Wilmot,

    I apologize if my response to your bigoted bromides against Mr. Vargas’ cultural background and accent crossed the line into geographical bigotry. It was meant to be simply sarcastic and insulting, not to convey any anti-suburban bias.

    What is necessary for a leader is the ability to communicate and command of the English language. There are plenty of politicians who lack that command, but it had nothing to do with accent. It has to do with their ability to communicate coherent thoughts in a complete sentence. Mr. Vargas certainly is on a comparable or superior level to most local politicians in that standard. I have no problem understanding Mr. Vargas on TV or the radio, except when he lapses into edu speak or political double talk.

    I am not afraid of acknowledging the obvious. It’s obvious that your comment was a combination of snobbery and bigotry, no matter how much you want to cry about political correctness. I would suggest you remove your head from your anatomically uncomfortable hiding place and try not to be afraid to acknowledge the obvious yourself. Thank you.

    PJ Birkman (Equally Proudly)Rochester,NY

  7. Birkman:

    You enjoy picking fights?! Okay, here’s one: I am a previous board member of Farm Worker Legal Services of N.Y. I have helped Latino/Hispanic farmworkers in Western N.Y. both directly and indirectly. I am also am also a lomgtime

  8. Birkman: I lost my web connection, so here goes again. I have worked with Latino/Hispanic migrant farmworkers, off and on for years (Farmworker Legal Services of N.Y., and briefly, with Ceasar Chavez’s neice in Washington D.C. ). I have given thousands to the United Farmworkers over many years.

    But I have nothing to prove to you. Would it surprise you to know that you are actually the self righteous bigot? You cover up for good, but flawed men like Dr. Vargas, when there are thousands of qualified candidates all over the U.S. that could lead the RCSD, who are more proficient in English than is Bolgen.

    What are you, the Uncle Tom of Latino/Hispanics? Grow up, and stop being an obvious and unimaginative apologist for smart, kind, yet unqualified minority candidates. I’ll have Bill Cosby give you a call.

    Chris Wilmot, Pittsford, NY

  9. April 5, 2012 at 4:48 pm PJ Birkman responds:


    I don’t enjoy picking fights. I’ve spent enough time fighting in my life – against people actually trying to blow me up or shoot me. But I will not back down from a fight and I will call out stupidity and provocation in the form of veiled racism.
    Self righteous? Sure. Bigot? No sale. And I’m not an apologist – Mr. Vargas should not be hired. He is too close to the current “leadership” of RCSD and has demonstrated a lack of the financial acumen and tough mindedness necessary to reform the district in his time on the board. But the idea that he lacks English proficiency because he has an accent or that nobody can understand him until we make Spanish the language of the US and therefore he can’t communicate is silly and insulting.

    I’m glad to hear about your work with migrant farmworkers. But it doesn’t mean that your original statement wasn’t insulting and prejudiced. It’s the classic “some of my best friends are” defense.

    I eagerly await Bill Cosby’s call. Maybe he can do a bit from one of his classic routines or we can just talk about Pudding Pops.

  10. April 5, 2012 at 4:54 pm PJ Birkman responds:

    Perhaps this Tucson, AZ school board member might earn your support for superintendent? He certainly has excellent dictation.


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