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Bolgen VargasRochester Superintendent Bolgen Vargas has a short memory.

He plans to sue the school board over its vote to strip him of some hiring and firing powers related to the Superintendent Employee Group. This group is made up of highly-paid at will managers, including deputy superintendents, numerous chiefs and a few confidential secretaries. The SEG is also known as the “cabinet.”

Here’s why we care about SEG. These are the folks running the district. The payroll for this group exceeds $3 million, not including benefits. There have been numerous abuses by superintendents of this classification.  Under former superintendent Clifford Janey, SEG members were given golden parachutes. Under former superintendent Manny Rivera, SEG members got secret side deals in which taxpayers paid for their PhD’s, with no requirement they continue to work for the district. Under Brizard, the SEG had a record payroll and open records showed he gave SEG members large raises, including a $10,000 one for his secretary. Under Vargas, some SEG members were given secret contracts guaranteeing salary, no matter the performance.

Under a state law championed by Assemblyman David Gantt to shield Janey from a meddling school board, superintendents have the right to choose their cabinets. This law had an unintended consequence. It’s been used by RCSD superintendents to making quiet and dubious decisions. The board only has the power over the budget line and job titles – and history shows the media often has to tell the board what’s going on with SEG.

Right now, there are 32 members of this group. That’s down from the days when it exceeded 50. Former interim superintendent Bill Cala got it under 30, but his successor, Jean-Claude Brizard increased the ranks to more than 40.

Board member Willa Powell said the major reason the board has concerns with Vargas and his cabinet is turnover. Vargas fires people and other people leave. It’s a revolving door. Here’s the short list of people who have left in the past few years: Beth Mascitti-Miller, Shaun Nelms, Anita Murphy, Tom Petronio, Kim Dyce, Jeanette Silvers, Anne Brown, Jamie Warren, Jim Fenton, John Scanlon, Laura Kelley, Leslie Boozer, Bethany Centrone, Jackie Polito and Gladys Pedraza.

Fights between the board and the superintendent over the size and makeup of SEG are not new. This comes up every few years. But Vargas’ decision to sue the board is shocking for one reason. The board easily kick him to the curb and buy out his contract tomorrow.

Vargas should know. He was on the school board that bought out Janey.




The City of Rochester does zero enforcement of the code saying property owners have to clear their own sidewalks. Meanwhile, New York City issues thousands of tickets.




6 Responses to Vargas Has Short Memory

  1. March 4, 2015 at 8:43 am monkeytoe responds:


    Can you cite me the City Code regarding clearing sidewalks – I can’t find it. I’m not sure if it is an owner duty or a City duty to clear the sidewalks.

  2. Section 104-11 of the City Code – Responsibility for Maintaining Sidewalks Free of Obstructions and Snow and Ice

    A. The person occupying the ground floor of a building and the owner of a building or lot must keep the sidewalks adjoining such building or lot free and clear from all obstructions and from weeds and rubbish.

    B. All sidewalks located within the Central Traffic District (as defined in § 111-2) must be swept daily at or before the start of each business day and must not be swept later than said time, so as to remove dirt, dust and other accumulation therefrom.
    [Amended 9-28-1982 by Ord. No. 82-445]

    C. The person occupying the ground floor of a building and the owner of a building or lot must keep the sidewalks adjoining such building or lot free and clear from snow and ice and must not suffer or permit snow or ice to collect or remain on such sidewalk later than 9:00 a.m. if such snow shall have fallen or collected after 8:00 p.m. of the previous evening; or later than 8:00 p.m. if such snow shall have fallen and collected after 9:00 a.m. When the snow is removed from sidewalks by City contractors or City employees using plows, it shall be the duty of the occupant and owner to remove the snow and ice remaining after such plows have gone through. The portion of the sidewalk required to be kept free from snow and ice is the portion thereof which is paved, if any, and if no portion is paved, a space at least four feet in width shall be kept free and clear as stated above.

    D. No person shall remove snow or ice from private property or structures and deposit it on the sidewalk or roadway of any street or against a fire hydrant or on the loading or unloading areas of a public transportation system, nor shall any person authorize or permit such removal and depositing. No person shall remove snow or ice from the sidewalks and deposit it on the roadway of any street, nor shall any person authorize or permit such removal and depositing. These prohibitions shall apply to any means for removing and depositing snow or ice.

  3. March 4, 2015 at 11:27 am monkeytoe responds:

    Thanks. I always thought clearing the snow from sidewalks was a City responsibility since it is considered City property.

  4. March 4, 2015 at 12:49 pm theodore kumlander responds:

    what a surprise that the SEG group is out of control. this is why Albany had to pass a special law because everybody knew this what would happen. but take heart this is running government more like a business.

    the whole problem is the students they refuse to learn , just ask Newark NJ even the charter school companies are folding their tents packing their carpet bags and slipping away into the night because they can not show positive results no matter how much they fix the numbers.

    • March 6, 2015 at 7:32 am Josh J. Porte responds:

      I just figured out why the education system is failing the urban population!

      It’s the sidewalks! How can these kids get to school? Yah,….yah,….that’s it, the answer to the poor graduation rate.

      Actually the RCSD’s management “team” is the problem. They can’t, are incapable of managing themselves.

      You can bet that they will cash their checks in an orderly fashion and right on time though.

      These people have no conscience.

      The RCSD failure is beyond belief. You can’t make this stuff up.

  5. March 7, 2015 at 11:49 am Orielly responds:

    The RCSD is not a failure in and of itself. The RCSD is a failure of the city voter, who votes for one party to run city government and the RCSD year after year decade after decade. Does anyone really think the RCSD would be as it is today if there were two parties competing to run it? Would the RCSD Superintendent have a cabinet larger than the POTUS?

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