Whose up for a trip to that Italian-themed Midtown Mall? Or maybe a float down the reflooded State St? Or maybe catch a cruise ship up in the Historical Fast Ferry District.. I’m sorry, the Port of Rochester? Well, two out of three of those projects never even got a single shovel-full of dirt moved and the third will not, either.

I’m sorry if I seem cynical and angry. But fuck everybody. Because if the buffoonery of projects we have taken on in the past are cringe-worthy, they are nothing compared to the complete dipshittery of the things we never did. But we did “study” them.

Where does that money go, exactly? When we spend $100,000 on a study – as Steve Orr notes, mostly on the Army Corps of Engineers’ dime in this case – who gets it? Because that money doesn’t just vapourize: someone’s getting paid every single time. Someone please give me some names. And then cross-reference those with the names of our esteemed political class’ list of campaign donors.

Of course we know some of that money goes to actual City employees doing studies. But my guess is that the lion’s share of the money goes to the people and businesses with the expertise to do the job.. that’s never actually going to get done. Just “studied.”

Without any commitment from anybody; without any input from local residents; without so much as a single shovel of dirt moved from one place to another, somebody’s getting paid. Nice work, if you can get it: writing book reports for do-nothing city government.

At least two journalists in town for whom I have great respect – Steve Orr and Rachel Barnhart – seem to be focused on the fact that this “isn’t the Fast Ferry.” They think the ire they’re reading is missing the point. I respectfully submit that it is they who are missing the point. Entirely.

In the year 2015, its worth questioning documents that come to you electronically.. scanned from their original print version. Today, the Rochester Police Department released documents outlining both RPD policy with and the effective use of TASER Electronic Control Devices (colloquially: shock-the-shit-out-of-you Tasers). The header of the doc (scanned for reading here) shows a publish date of 2015. The documents inside, however, seem to have been produced some time in 2012 and cite 2011 data as current.

View this document on Scribd

In the Executive Summary section, p. 4, pains are taken to demonstrate how little the RPD uses TASERs. It notes that only 8% of all “use of force” situations used the TASER and that less than 0.4% of RPD arrests involved them. Furthermore, it notes, Rochester’s Police Department only issues 18% of it’s total police force TASERs. This puts Rochester on the low end of NYS metropolises using TASER technology, according to p. 8.

Sidenote: what the fuck, Greece?

The problem is that this data is all 4 years old and the TASER program in Rochester is only 13 years old. If there were 0% of officers using TASERs in 2003 and 18% using them in 2011, are we to assume that now 29% of officers with TASERs? Because that seems to be the rate of growth, based on the data. That same page notes (see footnote) that the “current budget” in 2012 would have increased that number to 50%, do we know if that happened?

Every other statistic bulleted in this report or impressed upon the media when they released it is called into question by this fact alone. Sure, small numbers are small. But only if they stay that way. What changes about these numbers when we change – to say nothing of double – the scale?

This report is supposed to quell concerns in the media about the effectiveness of TASER equipment, but it leaves a lot to be desired, even if we overlook the antiquity of the data.

What stands out the most is that the bullet point the RPD wants to stress – that the TASER has been 89% effective in “use of force” situations – seems like the impressive way to say that the TASER has been ineffective another 11% of the time. By what benchmark were the other 11% ineffective? What was the next step in those situations?

Helpfully, the RPD also includes (p. 31) a “Use of Force Matrix,” which appears to be part of a training document showing the desired escalation of force by police officers in the field. As you might expect, the TASER appears near the very top of this matrix. Above that scale, officers are instructed that deadly force, “Impact Instruments” and the illustrative term “Groundcuffing” may be used.

But this just raises the question: if TASERs are only effective 89% of the time, are we given to understand that the ineffective cases graduate to lethal force? The report shows several cases of TASER use, but none of them deemed ineffective, so we don’t know based on the report.

I don’t think I’m looking too deeply into numbers and certainly, these are the sorts of questions that can be reasonably asked in a reasonable press conference and dispelled with reasonable answers. But how much of that will actually happen between now and when the story’s dead?

A study conducted by an umbrella of organizations including the Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project in New York concludes that there were additional pressures on black and Latino borrowers to take the high-risk subprime mortgages that have now become such a huge problem:

Report: Minority US neighborhoods have disproportionate burden of subprime loans – News Wires – CNBC.com

The survey focused on lending to minority urban markets in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Cleveland, Charlotte, North Carolina, and Rochester, New York. In six of these seven urban areas, high-risk lenders’ market share in minority neighborhoods was at least three times the share in white neighborhoods. . .Advocacy groups have said poor and minority borrowers who qualified for traditional loans were nevertheless steered into risky adjustable mortgages.

I don’t know the methodology of the study and I don’t discount the possibility that race may have played a factor in lending schemes for some companies, but I do note that there is no indication in this report that income levels were factored into the equation. Certainly in the City of Rochester, poorer neighborhoods have been more blighted by subprimes and foreclosures than, say, those neighborhoods bordering Brighton. And in many cases, those neighborhoods have a higher concentration of minorities. Since lower-income people were largely targeted for subprimes, once might draw the wrong conclusion unless income was taken into account.

In fact, the article seems to suggest that this study was based on communities rather than borrowers, which if true, is way off the mark scientifically speaking. To say that communities were targeted is different than saying race was targeted: that poor communities and minority communities tend to coexist in this country is another sin altogether.

And once again, we find that this report perpetuates the wrong-headed thinking that has predominated coverage of the ARM crisis:

Report: Minority US neighborhoods have disproportionate burden of subprime loans – News Wires – CNBC.com

This concentration means these minority communities will shoulder most of the negative impacts of the subprime crisis _ foreclosures, sinking property values, lower tax bases, abandoned homes and higher crime.

To re-re-reiterate the point, sinking property values are the reason that the current crisis is upon us, not the effect of said crisis. And lower tax bases are the inevitable result of lowering property values. Also, since the crisis is moving up the economic ladder, it’s probably premature to think that only those neighborhoods cited in the report will face increased foreclosure. There’s plenty of fancy homes sitting with for-sale signs out front, believe it.