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Links of the Day:

– The new train station design is a throwback. The city plans to replace the Amtrak station on Central Ave., which has long been an eyesore. The design released last night clearly tries to mimic the stunning Claude Bragdon station torn down in 1965 (Rochester Subway blogs about the horrific demolition.) We cannot replace that kind of building, but it’s high time we had something pleasing to welcome visitors to Rochester.

I’m not a fan of calling it an intermodal station, as the city desires. It’s a train station that happens to have Greyhound and Trailways buses.

The challenge is to better connect the Amtrak station to the rest of downtown. It’s isolated and not particularly walkable, unless you like walking over treeless overpasses.

Old Train Station

Old Train Station

– Rochester is rather fortunate compared to other metro areas. One-third of adults have college degrees. There’s a growing divide among cities that have access to a knowledgeable workforce and those that don’t.

– Next time New York State politicians say they want to be more business-friendly, don’t believe them. The state is eyeing a huge toll increase for commercial trucks.

 – Rochester was named the 5th “Most-Watched” city, thanks to the plethora of surveillance and red light cameras.

More Links of the Day:

– Data compiled by Zillow shows 12 percent of homes in Monroe County are underwater, meaning they’re worth less than the owners owe on their mortgages.

The figure seems high, because Monroe County homes didn’t depreciate that much during the housing bust. But zoom into the City of Rochester. Northeast neighborhoods and Maplewood are in big trouble, with a third of the homes underwater. Some zip codes of those zip codes in northeast Rochester emptied out over the last decade.

While not as bad as the housing crisis in Atlanta and Las Vegas, this is not a good situation for Rochester. Neighborhoods can be further destabilized and these houses can more easily fall into the hands of banks and absentee landlords. Properties can be abandoned, becoming targets for arsonists and vandals. Maplewood has so far been able to stave off blight. Northeast Rochester has been in decline for a long time.

– 19th Ward neighborhood leaders are frustrated with young families moving out because of the schools.

– See U.S. prisons from the sky. This is a stunning map.

– New York State has a new I Love NY campaign. You can draw a picture in place of the heart. Or just watch this commercial:

Lyell Ave. Wegmans

Links of the Day:

– What do you do when you want a Wegmans to move to town, but you don’t want more giant parking lots? Washington City Paper also hopes the chain is amenable to urban locations that might not necessarily be off highways:

Wegmans builds the way it has over the years because nobody’s asked it to do anything different. In the suburbs, everybody’s just thrilled to get their gourmet cheese bar. The District doesn’t have that kind of land to burn, but it’s also the most desirable urban market in the country, and it’s worth Wegmans’ while to make Washington their first experiment with an urban format store. If Walmart can learn mixed use, which it’s at least doing in some places, then anybody can.

Wegmans is experimenting with an urban model in Newton, Massachusetts. The City of Rochester took a lot of heat over pushback against the Wegmans East Ave. plans, but big box designs don’t necessarily fit into urban locations.

Meanwhile, Wegmans announced it is locating in Central Virginia for the usual reasons (emphasis added):

(Wegmans spokesperson) Colleluori said the company is concentrating on two markets — the Mid Atlantic and New England — and typically looks for two elements when considering new locations, a large piece of property and a strong, existing road infrastructure network.

There’s a reason Wegmans doesn’t have an apostrophe in its name.

– When a judge ruled against Kodak’s patent claim recently, the value of its patent portfolio may have fallen by more than $1 billion.

– Syracuse’s mayor has a shadow payroll to avoid civil service laws. She hides workers on the economic development agency payroll. Some of them are relatives and political supporters. The Post-Standard reports:

“I am proud that I’ve gotten the caliber of person who has wanted to be associated with me in this administration,” (Mayor Stephanie) Miner said. “And the fact that they are related to people who happen to be my supporters or my family, I will not hold against them. It’s the nature of living in a small city.”

– A Henrietta couple struggling to pay a subprime mortgage tried and failed to get help from federal mortgage modification programs.

Crossing the street just got more interesting in the City of Rochester.

Links of the Day:

– Two New York State lawmakers want to police anonymous online comments. State Senator Tom O’Mara of the Southern Tier and Assemblyman Dean Murray of Long Island have proposed the Internet Protection Act. They say it would combat cyberbullying and not infringe upon free speech. If someone complains about a comment, websites would have to remove the offending post.

Not surprisingly, the proposal is getting a ton of heat. The New York Post writes:

These guys ever hear of free speech?

True, anonymous commenters can be obnoxious trolls. And sponsors say they hope to protect kids from cyberbullies and shield businesses from negative posts by their rivals — not that even those goals should be allowed to trump the First Amendment.
But as Assemblyman Jim Conte (R-LI) made clear, the bill will also ban “mean-spirited and baseless political attacks that . . . falsely tarnish the opponent’s reputation by using the anonymity of the Web.”

Forget the First Amendment — these guys are looking out for No. 1.

In the assembly, a bunch of GOP lawmakers have signed on. But the measure doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere. Who knows what may have happened if media outlets hadn’t discovered the bill’s existence.

– Canada stands to profit a lot more than New York State and Niagara Falls from Nik Wallenda’s wire walk. Oh darn.

– Rochester TV stations WROC and WUHF have shared a building, along with news and sales staff for years. The stations have different owners, however. These “covert consolidations” are becoming more common and the FCC is investigating.

– You can buy a 176-year-old building in Clarendon for $1. It needs a lot of work.

– The first few hot days of summer feel yucky, don’t they? Our bodies gradually get used to the heat.

Why is Photoshop evil, but Instagram gets a pass?

Links of the Day:

– Chuck Schumer sent newsrooms a gem this Memorial Day. He is warning the public about the dangers of cleaning your grill with metal brushes. This is the beginning of the press release:


Metal Bristles from Grill-Cleaning Brushes Can Break Off, Become Imbedded in Food and Then Accidentally Eaten; Two Men Recently Had Emergency Surgery After Ingesting Metal Bristles, and Many More Cases Have Been Reported Across the Country

Schumer, Joined by Consumers Union, Calls on Consumer Product Safety Commission and FDA to Launch Safety Review Into Whether Metal Bristle Grill Brushes Are Safe and to Warn Consumers About Dangers of Metal Bristle Grill Brushes This Summer

Schumer: Metal Bristles Are One Topping No One Wants on Their Burger This Barbecue Season

 U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today, joined by Chuck Bell, Programs Director at Consumers Union, called on the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to determine whether metal bristle grill brushes are safe for consumer use after Consumer Reports publicized reports of two serious injuries involving the brushes in the last week alone. Two men from New Jersey and Washington State were recently hospitalized and underwent emergency surgery after accidentally swallowing a metal bristle that had broken off their grill brushes and become attached to their food. According to reports, nearly a dozen people across the country have reported similar accidents to the CPSC over the last three years, and according to a study published by the American Journal of Roentgenology, six patients in Rhode Island alone, over an 18-month period, accidentally swallowed wire grill brush bristles. Schumer today called on the CPSC and the FDA to launch a review of whether the bristles are safe and also issue warnings to consumers about the dangers of ingesting these metal grill bristles.

Schumer’s involvement comes after recent news reports on the issue.

– The debate over ShotSpotter technology is growing. The New York Times says it can be useful in detecting shootings, but is it worth the cost? Rochester has ShotSpotter and out of thousands of calls, the technology led to only six arrests, according to a City report.

– New York’s doctors will soon have to participate in a prescription tracking program, designed to cut down on pain medication abuse.

– The New York Times takes a pessimistic view of Kathy Hochul’s chances of retaining her seat in Congress.

Should zoos focus more on conservation than entertainment?

– Parents, get a grip. Men are allowed to hang out in parks, even if there are children around.

This might be the first and last time I ever blog about fashion.

Last night in the East End, I saw a very large limo bus drop off about 30 young men and women. All of the women had on very short, tight, revealing dresses with towering heels. All of the men had on oversized, button-down, untucked shirts and jeans.

I was struck by the uniformity of the outfits, how much more dressed up the women were than the men and how out of place the bandage dresses seemed in casual Rochester. I was also struck by the reaction of male bystanders; their mouths hung open and their eyes popped out of their heads. I might have seen some drool.

These were get-ups designed to get attention. The women looked great. There’s nothing wrong at all with getting dolled up for a fun night on the town. There’s nothing wrong with being sexy.

But it seemed so fake, like a fashion show or a parade. It’s not even a style reserved for special occasions. Young women are wearing these outfits every weekend. This 30-something woman couldn’t help thinking about what made these 20-something women try so hard to be just like each other – and red-carpet celebrities. Perhaps they’re embracing the freedom to wear hot, sexy dresses. But I suspect there’s more going on. I had the same feelings when I read about the revealing prom dress trend.

I turned to Google to see if anyone shared my unease. I found only one article in the Daily Mail, which said the women who wear these dresses look like “life-size Bratz dolls:”

‘I wish girls wore a bigger variety of clothes going out,’ (club-goer) says. ‘That’s why I wear dresses — everyone else does, so I would look stupid if I wore a longer skirt or trousers. I do wish it was easier and that I could go out in less revealing clothes.’


The ubiquitous sky-high heels, fake-tanned legs and micro-skirts are about trying to create an illusion of perfection. With so many young women deep-down hating the way they look, provoking lust has simply become the easiest way they know to make themselves feel better. It’s about provoking a reaction.


Psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos, author of the Home Office Review on the Sexualisation of Girls, believes society has become so influenced by porn culture that no one knows where to draw the line any more.


‘Of course, there’s nothing new about wanting to be desired and complimented. But with these young women, it’s not just that they like compliments. They crave them.

‘The problem comes when your only desire is to be desired.’

That psychologist is most definitely not describing every woman wearing a bandage dress, but the overall trend does raise questions about peer pressure, self-esteem, sexuality and the objectification of women.

Links of the Day:

– Snitches get stitches. The Buffalo News did a maddening piece on the code of the streets:

“It’s not my business what happens. The police need to leave everyone alone and do their job. That’s what they get paid to do,” the 22-year-old woman said.

But when it was pointed out that police often need the help of witnesses to make an arrest because officers were not present when the crime was committed, Carson grew angry.

“We don’t have a badge,” she said.

– Many places claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, not just Waterloo, N.Y.

– Building new NFL stadiums makes no financial sense, cities are discovering. The Bills’ upgrade plan seems frugal by comparison, even though it has a $200 million price tag.

– Streetlights are important to cities. Detroit is about to turn off half of them.

– A girl who lost her arm to violence in Sierra Leone as a toddler is now a high school basketball player in the United States.

Was Dan Qualye right about unmarried moms 20 years ago?






Walking on Park Ave. yesterday, my friend was greatly perturbed by the street cleaning sign saying “MONDAY’S STREET CLEANING.”

She said the apostrophe is grammatically incorrect. I could see it being correct if one were to say, “Monday’s street cleaning means you can’t park here.” But she insisted the signs were messed up.

Clearly, there’s also debate over the apostrophe at City Hall. Within one block, we came upon signs written with and without the apostrophe. Which is correct?

Links of the Day:

– Assemblyman David Gantt faces what could be a formidable primary challenge from Rochester school board member Jose Cruz, who told the Democrat and Chronicle:

“This is the time,” Cruz said, speaking in the measured cadence that has defined his political career. “(Gantt) has served his 30 years. He’s done what he’s done. But I think this district deserves somebody who understands the issues, somebody who can articulate those issues, somebody who can have a conversation with somebody without flying off the handle and telling them to go screw themselves.”

ESPN is honoring the Upstate New York and Native American roots of lacrosse.

– Zip lines are becoming very popular across the U.S. How about one over the Genesee River gorge?

You can identify poor neighborhoods from space.

Now THIS is a public pool!

Everyone is saying “vagina” on TV these days. (Except TV newscasters.)

“Links of the Day” follows some pictures of long-ago Memorial Days in Rochester.

Memorial Day Parade, 1930

Civil War Veterans Marching in 1919

Airscouts, 1918 (note Sibley building in distance)

Memorial Day Gathering, Washington Square Park 1909

Memorial Day ceremony at Mt. Hope Cemetery, 1900

Links of the Day:

– Beware of creepy men in parks! Because any man sitting on a bench drinking coffee with kids around is clearly a pedophile.

– This is bizarre. An Albany Times Union editor thinks police conducted a prostitution raid on his wife’s spa because of articles the paper wrote. The story involves a detective who stripped naked for a massage, too.

– Tissue Alert! A young Central New York with terminal cancer had one final request.

– That guitar man by the Inner Loop is playing a Guns N’ Roses tune.

– Ithaca’s mayor gave up his parking space for public space!

Tactical Urbanism Facebook Page

Links of the Day:

– The journalism world was jolted by news the Times-Picayune in New Orleans is cutting staff and publishing only three days a week. Newhouse Newspapers announced the same move for papers it owns in Alabama. The company also owns the Syracuse Post-Standard, a foreshadowing of things to possibly come for that organization.

The news was startling because the Times-Picayune won a Pulitzer for its coverage of Hurricane Katrina (much of that coverage was online). The outlet led national coverage of the disaster. More recently, I’ve been awed by its amazing and disturbing coverage of the state’s for-profit prisons.

Of course, Newhouse is spinning this as a positive thing. Online coverage will be beefed up! We’ll bring you more news! Erik Wemple at Washington Post points out:

Bolded text added to highlight Latin-rooted corporate nonsense. Strikes me that if you reallocate to accelerate, you necessitate more people, not fewer people. The memo rhetoric is just another variation on the we’re-going-to-do-more-with-less cant that fools no one and insults everyone, every time.

While I agree with the assessment that cutting journalists does not lead to a better product, I don’t mourn the loss of print. I haven’t read a printed newspaper in a long, long time.

A newspaper doesn’t go away when print goes away. I often wish print would go away now. Print can force reporters to write a certain length. Print can force newspapers to hold stories because of space needs and the needs of the front page. Print can force reporters NOT to write as much as they would and could because of false constraints.

But a lot of people still read print and it’s paying a lot of bills. For now. Not publishing every day doesn’t have to be the end of the world.

– I bet a lot of newspaper reporters are sending their resumes into Warren Buffett-owned outlets.

– After reading this column in the Buffalo News, I’m convinced I’m the only person who’s not excited by the prospect of a death fall into the Niagara River.

– This is a little scary. Ohio’s governor is letting businesses draw a lot of water from Lake Erie.

 – When should a students off-school-grounds conduct be punished in school?

More Links of the Day:

– It’s official. The dream of a law school in downtown Rochester is dead. In 2008, St. John Fisher College announced it was exploring the possibility. Initial surveys indicated it’s feasible. Then the recession hit, a lot of lawyers couldn’t find work and raising capital became difficult.

Mayor Tom Richards told 13WHAM News a law school here would have to be different:

“I think what they (Fisher) found in the study, because I actually read it the work that they did, is they would have to find a way to have something about the law school that was unique,” Mayor Richards said. “So you weren’t just another law school because the other was sixty miles away or ninety miles away, I don’t think that’s enough.”

Communications Bureau, City of Rochester

Saying the law school idea is dead is stating the obvious. However, the college hasn’t been very transparent throughout the process. While Fisher is a private institution, it was allocated state dollars for seed money. Those dollars have been diverted to other things at the college, with the state’s blessing.

It’s frustrating Rochester’s college students don’t have more of a presence downtown. Many people were excited about the possibility of a law school. I always thought the Sibley Building looks very law school-ish.

It wasn’t meant to be, at least for now.

– Washington, D.C.’s mayor wants a Wegmans. The chain, which is developing an urban model, is exploring several sites, including the Walter Reed army hospital.

– Check out Buffalo’s superintendent finalists. One of them is the interim superintendent. The other two are current or former assistant superintendents in large urban districts. Buffalo’s pool makes Rochester’s argument that highly qualified people were scared away by a public process look specious.

City News did a piece on the downtown housing tax credit, looking at the pros and cons. As I’ve pointed out, the stats prove it’s a lousy program.

– Putting a Tim Horton’s on the city-bound side of East Henrietta Rd. is considered by one town official to be “urban renewal.”

Links of the Day:

– Why did the Rochester City School District, when approached by a benefactor, choose an already-successful high school for more help? A Wegmans executive wants to assemble a community advisory board for Northeast College Prep. The students there will have a longer school day and year and exposure to new activities, such as yoga.

But NE has one of the highest graduation rates in the city – 74 percent. Of those who graduate, many go to college. At 500 students, it’s a very small school. What’s more, NE gets a lot of help already from the College Board. (I imagine the successful students will balk at the proposed mandatory 11-hour school day, even if that time includes extra-curricular stuff.)

It’s also odd that Northwest College Prep, housed in the same building, with the same program and a similar student body and similar academic results, is left out.

Board member Cynthia Elliot smelled a rat, according to the Democrat and Chronicle:

“It seems to me that the people who have the money are going for the superficial,” Elliott said.

Still, (Wegmans executive Paul) Speranza and Superintendent Appointee Bolgen Vargas said they need to start somewhere. The hope is that ultimately they will be able to replicate the model at other schools in the city.

“What we’re trying to show is that this can be done in one school,” Speranza said. “You have to start with one school and have really good results. It’s something we do in business all of the time.”

Update: I visited the school today and the feeling is this intensive program would not work in a school that did not already have buy-in from parents, students and staff.

– Why did the Rochester school board and/or the superintendent want to oust Vanguard principal Carol Jones? In the face of opposition from students and staff, the district backed down. What prompted this. Misconduct? Internal politics? The school has only been around a couple years; it was one of Jean-Claude Brizard’s experiments.

– Bolgen Vargas laid out his cabinet reforms in a great slideshow presentation. After years of controversy and some abuses, he is asking board approval to reduce the size and benefits of the group.

– A local man’s fight with Huntington’s Disease is very sad. He’s only 22.

Is Nik Wallenda drawing more suicide jumpers to Niagara Falls?

– Would journalists publish a seriously flawed poll with a huge margin of error? Perhaps they shouldn’t publish deeply problematic teacher ratings, either.

 Links of the Day:

– Rochester is issuing so many red light camera tickets, the mayor proposed hiring a $29,000-a-year clerk to handle the workload. The information is his 2012-13 budget proposal.

The program is expected to net $1.7 million in fines next fiscal year, but will cost $688,000 to add more intersections. The city has about a 55 percent collection rate and is exploring sending unpaid fines to a collection agency.

Rochester has issued more than 50,000 tickets since the cameras were installed in late 2010. The police department says it’s too early to know if the program is impacting safety.

Update: The amount of money the city expects to collect next fiscal year would double.

– Shortly after Monroe Community College announced its decision to move its downtown campus to Kodak, County Executive Maggie Brooks said she supported the college’s right to determine where it wants to locate. So I don’t understand why the county’s inclusion of the plan in its capital projects came as a surprise to the Democrat and Chronicle. The big hurdle, of course, remains in the legislature. Democrats will be under huge pressure not to support MCC’s request for money for a new campus at Kodak.

– Sanity prevails! ABC and other sponsors are demanding Nik Wallenda wear a tether during his wire walk over Niagara Falls. Politicians only cared about filling up hotel rooms, not whether the man falls to his death. (Wallenda’s wife acknowledges that’s a real possibility. “If we fall, we die.”)

 The New York Times featured the photographs of a woman who lived in Rochester. Myra Greene is black and the pictures are of her white friends, many of whom still live here.

– Cable companies are banding together to offer Wi-Fi to subscribers. I love this!

– The woman who had sweat-reduction surgery says the ads that air during Sabres games ruined her life.

This is a very, very unfortunate typo in a commencement program.

The mayor’s proposed 2012-13 budget lays out how much taxpayers subsidize public facilities. The total comes to slightly more than $2 million, relatively flat compared to this fiscal year. Is that too much money for the quality of life we get in return? Which places you think are most worthwhile?

Riverside Convention Center – $642,800

This amount includes the operation of Pier 45 at the port. The county’s subsidy of the convention center, through the hotel/motel tax is $795,000.

Pier 45 – $178,384

Otherwise known as “Convention Center North,” Pier 45 is run by the convention center as a restaurant and event space. Mayor Bob Duffy wasn’t comfortable leasing out the facility to a private entity, a costly decision. On the other hand, it’s not clear if anyone could have made it work without a subsidy.

Port of Rochester (Terminal Building) – $341,600

The city only collects $99,000 in rent from the tenants, not enough to pay for upkeep. It’s a beautiful facility and I love the clean bathrooms. Perhaps the city will be able to up the retail offerings and rental income when the area is further developed.

War Memorial – $491,300

I hope the budget includes money for new brass letters on the outside of the building. Since I took the picture to the right, more letters have disappeared. I suspect they were sold for scrap.

Soccer Stadium – $416,800

The hope is to have the Rhinos pick up more of the tab as years go by. Should we be holding our breath?

High Falls Center – $186,800

This includes a restaurant, museum and event space. At one point the city explored selling the facility, but that’s not mentioned anywhere in the budget.

(In case you’re wondering, Frontier Field is a county-owned facility not subsidized by the city.)

Finally, a video has surfaced of the Massachusetts high school play that actually has some music! It is nothing less than outstanding.

Thanks to Kathleen Dalgliesh who posted this in the comments of my original post:

Here are a few scenes from Wegmans… the Musical from the official videotaping of the show done by NCAT and Algonquin Student Television Network.

When Broad St. was a canal

Bringing the Erie Canal back to downtown Rochester has long been a dream for preservationists and urban planners. Mayor Robert Duffy loved the idea and his administration produced a master plan for the Broad St. corridor that would rewater the aqueduct.

The thinking goes like this: Waterfront property is more desirable, so investors will line up to build along the newly-watered canal. Restoring the Broad St. aqueduct would pay homage to city and state history. Recreation along the new canal, including boating and ice skating, would bring in tourists. Western downtown would come alive with development that goes from the Central Library all the way to the Susan B. Anthony neighborhood.

Many people think it’s straight up insane, especially at $23 million. The city has pushed off the project to at least the 2016-17 fiscal year.

Buffalo is well along in rewatering its old canal system downtown. The restoration of the Commercial Slip is now a focal point of the waterfront. Construction recently started on a system of downtown canals. The price tag is $23 million. Go figure.

Rendering of Buffalo Development

The Buffalo News reports:

The canals will start at Washington Street and empty out at the foot of the pylons supporting the Skyway, going along Marine Drive and mirroring the historic path of the old Erie Canal. The water won’t connect to the Commercial Slip.

Officials were especially excited about the prospect of turning the canals into a giant outdoor skating rink during the winter.

“It’s going to be three-and-a-half times the size of Rockefeller Center,” said Rep. Brian Higgins, a longtime supporter of Buffalo waterfront development. “That will draw people to the waterfront in December, January, February and March.”

Construction is expected to be completed in the spring of 2013.

The harbor development corporation hopes eventually to attract a mix of development, from boutiques and restaurants with patio seating to offices and possibly even lofts and apartments around the canal system.

Ice Skating on Exchange St. c. 1870-1880

Links of the Day:

– Minors in New York State can get body piercings in “places the sun don’t shine” without parental consent, reports the New York Post:

New York has a minimum age to receive a tattoo: 18. And to drink alcohol: 21.

You must be 18 to legally purchase a pack of smokes. At 16, you may apply for a learner’s permit to drive.

But the minimum age to get your skin, mouth or private parts breached by a potentially infection-causing needle:


State Senator Joe Robach referred to the report in legislation he submitted last week to require parental consent. Robach also supports a bill restricting minors from using tanning beds.

– Why do education reformers refuse to discuss integrating schools? It’s the only thing proven to help close the achievement gap.

– A Pittsford man’s cell phone won’t stop ringing. He is a likely victim of “spoofing.”

– Jim Boeheim earns more than Syracuse University’s chancellor and got a 33% percent raise in 2010.

Women basketball players earn 200 times less than their male counterparts.

– The Kennedy curse? It’s how they treat women.

Here come the Canada geese!

SNL says goodbye to Kristen Wiig.

City of Rochester Communications Bureau

Recently, I’ve had a run of meeting out-of-town visitors. Here are some impressions of Rochester:

1. Doctor Guy – I met him a few months ago at Tapas and I would have written an entire blog about him, but he wouldn’t let me. A single man in his 50s or 60s, he comes to Rochester a few days a month to volunteer at a local health clinic. His Southern Tier practice limits Medicaid and this is his way of giving back.

Coming to Rochester is like a trip to the big city. He enjoys staying in downtown hotels and going to local restaurants and bars. Every trip is an adventure. He follows local news and thought the Renaissance Square project would have benefited downtown. He’s also interested in what will happen to the Sibley Building.

2. Boston Guy – A single man in his 30s, he’s a frequent business business traveler. I met him Thursday at Matthews East End Bar and Grill, where the Inn at Broadway told him he could find a good meal and a TV to watch the NBA playoffs. He wasn’t in the mood for bar food (even though Matthews has good bar food). He wanted to go to a fine dining establishment with a TV and a Yelp score of at least 4 stars and 15 reviews.

“It’s a tried and true formula,” he said.

Needless to say, such a place doesn’t exist in Rochester. We found a lot of 3.5-star places, the kinds of restaurants I can’t afford on a regular basis. Not good enough for him.

“Rochester is not that great,” he told me. He described his rental car breaking down at Broadway and Edmonds St. and watching five drug deals go down while he waited for a tow truck.

Of course, I had to go about changing his mind. I convinced him to try a few places and end his night with a Garbage Plate.

He got into a cab with my itinerary and I am not sure how his evening turned out.

Update: I have been good-naturedly corrected to refer to Matthews as “standard American fare.” It is one of my favorite spots.

3. London Guy – I met this guy Friday in the sauna of the Maplewood YMCA. He told me he has family in the neighborhood and hadn’t been to Rochester in a few years.

“There’s not a lot to do in Rochester. I’m too old for the nightlife. It’s not safe to walk around,” he said.

I told him about local attractions. He already knew everything. It was getting too hot in there, so my pitch time was running out.

“I want to move to the states,” he said. “To Florida.”

4. Buffalo Couple – I noticed a man and his wife reading a downtown map at Tony D’s restaurant tonight. I asked what brought them to Rochester.

They hopped a train from Buffalo to Rochester to celebrate their 24th wedding anniversary. They had no specific plan. They just wanted to check out our city.

“We thought about going to Syracuse, but Syracuse doesn’t have anything on the water,” the wife said. “Rochester does. Took us a while to find it.”

They went to the Public Market and Lilac Festival. They ate at Dinosaur for lunch. In search of more waterfront, they found themselves at Genesee Brewery and made their way to High Falls.

“There’s nothing there,” the husband said. “And um, we have Niagara Falls.”

Did they have a good time?

“Now that we found our way back to civilization,” the husband said.

“I love the waterfront here, now that we found it,” the wife said, pointing to the Corn Hill boardwalk.

“Next year’s 25th anniversary deserves something better than Rochester,” my mom said.

“Better than Rochester? I don’t know,” the husband said. “You have a nice city.”

Links of the Day:

– Does Albany’s location lead to more corruption? A Harvard researcher, using mathematical formulas, found more corruption in capitals located some distance from major population centers. New York State is mentioned often.

The Daily News reports on the findings:

Lest you think that this is just a matter of corruption, the paper also notes, “We find that states with isolated capital cities also seem to spend relatively less on things like education, public welfare, and health care, and more on administrative expenditures… This seems to suggest that low accountability and corruption induced by isolation do have an impact in terms of government performance and priorities.”

Media matters too, Campante finds. The more isolated the capital, the lower the level of scrutiny (although I’m sure my colleagues in the political press corps here in New York would beg to differ).

The Joe Bruno scandal got less attention in the media than a similar scandal in Massachusetts, the authors found.

– Louisiana is the world’s prison capital. In an important and disturbing story, the Times-Picayune describes a for-profit prison system that treats inmates like commodities:

The hidden engine behind the state’s well-oiled prison machine is cold, hard cash. A majority of Louisiana inmates are housed in for-profit facilities, which must be supplied with a constant influx of human beings or a $182 million industry will go bankrupt.


If the inmate count dips, sheriffs bleed money. Their constituents lose jobs. The prison lobby ensures this does not happen by thwarting nearly every reform that could result in fewer people behind bars.

Baltimore has truly stunning murals painted on building walls. Rochester is getting more of its own murals this summer.

A Syracuse woman left $50,000 in her will to care for her cats.

– Remember the $800 toilet seats? Now there are $17,000 drip plans.

The ancient Olympic games involved a lot of mud, sex and music.

Do you need a visa to come to the United States? Consider investing in Rochester projects developers can’t fund on their own.

Eager to help build student housing for the University of Rochester, the mayor is asking city council to approve a $900,000 loan for The Flats. It would be a $20 million high rise apartment building on the riverfront.

That’s up from the $750,000 city loan the mayor originally proposed to finance the project. The city would get money for the loan in part from the sale of property on Lattimore to the  U of R.

Here’s the kicker. City council legislation revealed the developer plans to get $12 million in funding from EB-5 visas. The Democrat and Chronicle explains how it works:

The program, possibly being used for the first time in Rochester, is one of several employer-based immigration options. It gives preference to these foreign investors, though other programs give higher favor to immigrants with special or unique job skills.

Immigrants invest at least $500,000 in a new or troubled U.S. venture that generates 10 new jobs, or in a regional center (Buffalo has one). They are granted conditional permanent residence for two years and then can petition for full citizenship.

This could be a very good project for the 19th Ward and the city. But the complicated nature of this deal and others shows how terribly hard it is to get anything financed and built in this town.

Something else in the legislation stood out. City council is being asked to approve the $900,000 loan on short notice to meet the “2013 deadline required” by the U of R. If the college wanted this so badly, why not put its own money into the deal? On both sides of the river now, city taxpayers are on the hook for big college development deals. And the deals are getting more complicated.

More Links of the Day:

– Sticky Lips BBQ is fighting the state. The restaurant website homepage details how the state insists Sticky Lips should have paid prevailing wages to contractors during its Jefferson Rd. renovation. Because it sits on Genesee Valley Regional Market Authority property, the state considers the renovation subject to public works projects requirements.

The GVRMA was created in 1951 to serve as a food distribution center. It now seems more like a regular shopping plaza, which is why the state wanted to raid its big surplus a couple years ago.

Sticky Lips leases GVRMA land, but owns its own building and says it hasn’t gotten any tax incentives or grants. A 2010 Democrat and Chronicle report shows GVRMA tenants actually do get benefits from being located on public land (link no longer operating):

The market is at capacity in part because its land leases and rents are far below market rates, a luxury the authority can afford because it pays no property taxes on its land or buildings. It is subject to special district taxes for fire, ambulance and light services. Buildings erected by private companies on authority land are on the property tax rolls, but they are owned by the companies.

Authority officials and their supporters contend that the lower rents have helped nurture small businesses in Henrietta, and that if the property were privatized and taxed, rents would rise to an unaffordable level for some businesses.

I called the owner of Sticky Lips earlier today to learn more about the dispute, but he has not called me back.

Update: Howie Nielsen, the owner called me back. He said this could, at worst, cost him $100,000 if the contractors are ordered to make up the difference.

“I’m putting people to work. I’m putting money back in the community. What did I do wrong?” he said. Nielsen added he didn’t know when he bought the property about the prevailing wage issue.

– The U.S. Census reported today there are more non-white babies than white babies. Non-Hispanic white births make up 49.6 percent of all births, reports the New York Times:

While over all, whites will remain a majority for some time, the fact that a younger generation is being born in which minorities are the majority has broad implications for the country’s economy, its political life and its identity. “This is an important tipping point,” said William H. Frey, the senior demographer at the Brookings Institution, describing the shift as a “transformation from a mostly white baby boomer culture to the more globalized multiethnic country that we are becoming.”

Locally, we are also on a path to reach the tipping point. A very cool map from the Wall Street Journal shows that in Monroe County, whites make up 72 percent of the population. However, 56 percent of children under 5 are white.

– Lieutenant Governor Bob Duffy said Medley Centre’s bid for state financing is a “stretch.” He said owner Scott Congel should go to the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council, but members say the project has never come up for discussion.

– “What’s Wegmans?” That’s what patrons of a northern New Jersey farmer’s markets asked upon hearing the chain is gobbling up a huge portion of a longstanding farm for a new store.