To be clear, there is as yet no evidence of criminal activity in the PAETEC / Windstream deal. Which is not surprising. There is also nothing in the deal which, in terms of gross corporate governance, violates any maxim of ethics. Also not surprising.

But is that and should that be the limit of our concern? The Rochester Business Journal seems to think so:

After Paetec, Rochester Business Journal:

But either way, the first obligation of Paetec’s board is to its shareholders. Anyone who thinks otherwise has forgotten that Paetec is publicly held-and has not been paying attention to what Mr. Chesonis has said a number of times since 2007.

This same basic idea is echoed, ad nauseum, by Rochester’s own Corporate Council Mayor Tom Richards. But is that and should that be the limit of our concern? I’ve made the point in the past that getting indignant about the situation isn’t going to make it any better. But somewhere between screeching about Bob Duffy needing to get involved and the bland corporate boilerplate response is what is probably a better position for the leader of a city about to lose its shirt. Again.

No, there may in fact be nothing wrong here, in terms of the rules of the game that lawyers and judges have setup for lo this many centuries. But this is somebody’s home. This is Rochester. And if Midtown wasn’t what we remember its former glory to be, prior to being knocked down, it is still our pride and the center of the town we call our home… even if we’re really from East Rochester or Gates. Business is not just business for us.

We do not need to be told that we lost fair and square. We don’t need “funeral chatter” about how Midtown “isn’t suffering anymore” or “has gone to a better place” or that the result was always a risk with such a tricky procedure. We need someone to stand up with an ounce of pride and, without groveling and insisting “we’ll do all we can to keep them here,” get in the game and find out what it takes to make the sale. Are we really going to beg a company from fucking Arkansas to stay in New York State? Is that the level of pride we’ve been reduced to? Because our leadership can’t come up with anything better?

And lets be fair: I’m not talking to Mayor Richards myself. I’m not a journalist; I’m not interviewing him or watching him be interviewed or editing interview film. I have no first-hand knowledge of how he feels about anything. Perhaps the news media, in its panic to cover such a big story, is missing the nuance of the Mayor’s position. Maybe the effervescent positivity corporate lawyers are so famous for isn’t coming through.

But then, the news media is hardly anyone’s only outlet, is it? Pretty sure that, even in these hard economic times, Blogger accounts are free.

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?

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.

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.