Of course we knew: this thing was going to look a whole lot uglier once the SEC filings came out. And indeed it does:

PAETEC, Windstream Agreement Has Headquarters Out – Rochester, News, Weather, Sports, and Events – 13WHAM.com.

One of the principles in the demolition of the Midtown Plaza site says in the article that he doesn’t believe there was any deception. Funny: I wasn’t told, were you?

So, how many other people were so forthcoming without telling us?

As the facts roll in on the PAETEC / Windstream buy-out, the thing that keeps getting under my skin is: Rochester is almost completely devoid of financial or economic news in any real sense.

PAETEC to be sold to Windstream | Democrat and Chronicle | democratandchronicle.com.

The CEO of Windstream says they’ve been looking at PAETEC for “a long time,” and both CEOs seem to know each other. I’m not saying that this deal absolutely would have been sniffed out with a better economic journalism team, but certainly, it would have been less of a surprise. Instead, we have people at the D&C and elsewhere who normally cover completely different topics struggling to understand and digest the details of the merger. That doesn’t bode well for an informed electorate.

What passes for economic news in this town ordinarily is the Rochester Business Journal and the D&C’s Business sections: two resources that might as well be RSS feeds for local company’s press releases. That’s when they’re doing good work. When they’re doing bad work, they’re producing dating videos for local businesses. “NonDescriptCompanyX enjoys long walks on the beach, hot cocoa and providing innovative, customized service solutions to its valued customers.”

But in this deference-rich, politely conservative Hobbit culture of Rochester where nobody’s allowed to ask difficult questions without being branded as a kill-joy, is it too much to ask that someone specialize in picking apart the details of the financial underpinnings of our economy? Maybe.

This was an old blog post, but I’d missed it. Rachel Barnhart ( @rachbarnhart ) flagged it this morning while discussing the Johnson presser about Midtown:

5 Things About Midtown Project You Didn’t Know – Rochester, News, Weather, Sports, and Events – 13WHAM.com.

The thing that really grabs me is the first bullet: that part of the PAETEC deal is to construct a tunnel directly from the parking garage to the office building.

Wasn’t the major selling point of the project supposed to be revitalizing downtown? Everyone generally agrees that the tunnels that used to connect Midtown to its neighboring buildings were major setbacks for foot traffic on Main St., but at least they were above ground. This new tunnel system goes underground and right past all the businesses that might have sprung up in the wake of this new influx of money and opportunity. Its almost like you could work there every single day and never admit you worked downtown.

It raises the spectre of the siphoning of money out of Rochester that many residents complain of: relatively wealthy suburbanite people build businesses downtown and take their money right back to the ‘burbs. In this case, that spectre is rather a lot like a ghost, passing in and out of the city with barely a notice.

Whoa. Puff, puff, puff.

I’ve been working on my news feed this morning, and there’s enough news for the day that I almost won’t need to fill up the feed with anything new for a while. But here’s a few stories I’m watching right now:

  • Sad news for all those poor suckers who got taken in by the Gen-See Capital Corporation. They won’t probably be getting any money back, and if they do, it won’t be for years.
  • the D&C is reporting this morning that Wilmot owes the city $18 million that the mayor says they will need to find “options” to recoup. Sounds like a lawsuit to me. And here they are, also asking for money to renovate East View Mall. Ain’t that some shit?
  • Double-banger, here. While the stimulus package reaches a whopping $850 billion dollars, a recent WSJ/CBS poll shows huge, unprecedented support for both President Elect Obama and the stimulus package which has grown so gargantuan. Hey, maybe this president will actually ask us to ante up and kick in this time, instead of telling us to go shopping like on 9/11.
  • And just because I think it’s interesting, it seems that the recession is starting to hit the fine dining establishments of New York and Chicago. I find this interesting in particular because I suspect this wouldn’t have been the case twenty years ago. My suspicion is that The Food Network and Bravo have created a new “foodie” culture of middle-class food enthusiasts who now make up more of the customer base of such restaurants than they ever have in the past.

Today is Midtown Mall’s final day before getting leveled for the new office building.  It’s hard letting this place go, but it seems like the right choice.

I used to go down to Midtown every Christmas time to go shopping.  But all the places I used to go to, both in Midtown and out on Main Street, have long-since vanished and there seems to be no particular will to get them back again.  This feels a little like when a long-suffering, sick family member dies, when everybody agrees that the fight probably wasn’t worth it any more, even if you’re going to miss them.

On the bright side, bringing low-to-mid-grade wage earners in the white collar service industry back downtown on a regular basis is precisely what Rochester needs.  It’s this demographic unit that is primarily responsible for the flight to the suburbs and more importantly, the alienation of relatively wealthy people from our urban center.  So if we can convince these people that there’s things to do downtown (we’re working on the “things to do” bit), maybe we can get the community to reinvest in it’s center again.

But I’m still going to miss that dear old, stinky mall.

The RBJ is conducting a snap poll which asks the question:

In your opinion, what impact is Spitzer’s resignation likely to have on plans for Midtown Plaza and efforts to revitalize the upstate economy?

Ugh.  Hadn’t thought of that: all that money to tear down MidTown Mall and put up the Paetec.  Crimeny.