Rochester 10-72: is this the way it normally works?

As much as I think Officer Jeff McEntee ought to be raked over the coals for whatever the events of Black Friday morning turn out to be, another issue has my attention. According to Bob Lonsberry, the official response to one missing kid was 75 officers and a police helicopter. He doesn’t go on to say, but we may presume there were at least several black-and-whites, one or two special vehicles and maybe police dogs?

All this for a kid they found less than two hours later in bed.

Jeff McEntee will have to answer for his actions, soon enough. But can we talk about how completely unnecessary the police response was? I don’t pretend to know police procedure. Could it be that finding a kid in his own home only takes, say, 20 officers? Less?

I’m not seeing a lot of conversation to that effect in the local media. In fact, the D&C quotes the Greece Police Chief, saying that the incident “required a huge amount of manpower.” I call bullshit on the word required.

Back to Lons and his rambling, defensive blog post. He doesn’t question the response for a second. He praises it. And writing about the leaks he received from officers who were at the scene, he offers this self-conflicting claim:

That is a refutation of the belief that cops cover for each other. It is a demonstration of just the opposite, in fact. Each of these officers was willing to risk trouble from bosses in order to make sure the right thing got done.

I think the Rochester Police Department, whose officers thought to search the father’s home, was standup throughout this matter. RPD officers came in force and quickly when summoned. They worked hard and smart and they got the job done. The RPD has nothing to be ashamed of in this matter.

(emphasis mine) Again, I call bullshit. I’ll happily amend my statement if anyone can show me where a missing person call escalated to 75 cops and a helicopter in less than two hours – and critically, before anyone checked the missing person’s bed.

In fact, the whole affair smacks precisely of “cops covering for each other”. Officer Jeff McEntee kid is in trouble, no less than 75 officers from two precincts swarm to over-respond, McEntee turns out to be a drunk-ass dick, his kid is fine, and everybody goes home with no charges. Even with my limited white person interactions with law enforcement, I’m pretty sure I’d end up in the back of a wagon, bound for the Monroe County Bed and Breakfast were it I who misplaced my progeny.

How much did the people of Rochester and Greece pay for this fiasco? And just what is a normal response to a missing person? How does a person lose track of their kid whilst drinking and end up sleeping in his own bed the same night? And for fuck’s sake, why wouldn’t you check the kid’s bed first?

Politics Rochester

Top 5 Things That Don’t Last as Long as James Sheppard’s non-Voting Record

James Sheppard
James Sheppard, photo courtesy City Magazine on SmugMug.

I’m sure I’ve been slow-on-the-stick on this score, but it’s only just been made clear to me that James Sheppard, the former Rochester City Police Chief and current candidate for the Democratic nomination to Mayor of Rochester, didn’t vote for 32 consecutive years. Thirty-two years, between 1982 and 2013. Now, he’s asking for your vote. That strikes me as a profoundly cynical political move. He’s asking Rochester residents to exercise their franchise in favour of a man that, for all intents and purposes, has never demonstrated much regard for his own.

To be clear: it’s ok if you vote. It’s ok if you don’t. It’s even ok if, like I suspect a lot of Americans, you vote some years and not others. All of these decisions are yours to make as citizens of these United States. Entering public life however means making a commitment to work on behalf of voters. Having spent three decades of your life not voting for yourself doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence. In fact, it seems openly galling.

But how long is 30 years, anyway? Just how much time did he spend not exercising his sovereignty, leaving it for others to decide the issues of the day? Here, then, is an exploration of that span of time, set against other benchmarks. 5 things that won’t last as long as James Sheppard’s non-voting record:

5. All of your pets (except maybe your bird)

Your dog
Via the University of Liverpool on Flickr.

Sorry, Fido. But if you were waiting for James Sheppard to vote for stronger protections for your stray brethren, it won’t happen in your lifetime. In fact, not you, nor that asshole cat, nor the weirdo lizard in the cage nor even the damned bird will last long enough to see James Sheppard exercise his right to vote. The average lifespan of a household cat is around 20 years. For a dog, it’s more like 15. So, James might have owned two very healthy dogs that never saw him wear his I Voted sticker.

Maybe an particularly sagacious African Grey Parrot could have seen James Sheppard vote in their wizened latter years. But rumors of the longevity of pet birds is largely overblown, too. Most are dead in plenty of time to miss James’ suffrage.

4. One Saturnian Year

Image of Saturn courtesy NASA/CalTech on Flickr.

Our Solar System’s sixth planet lies 9.5 AU (Astronomical Units) from the Sun. That’s nine and a half times the distance between the Sun and Earth, or about 883 million miles (1420km) from the Sun. That’s a long way, and as you might expect, it takes quite a long time for the Kronian giant to make a single trip around the Sun. Twenty nine and a half Earth years, to be exact.

But as long as a year on Saturn is, it’s merely a large fraction of the time since James Sheppard engaged in our national plebiscite. Nor any other election. For a representative. For a County Executive. For County Dog Catcher or even – wait for it – Rochester City Mayor.

3. Your mortgage

Old, tumbled down house
House image courtesy Bambe1964 on Fickr.

I don’t know about you, but I very clearly remember the cold, dread fear that overcame me when I realized I was signing up for 30 years of payments for a home. “My god,” I thought, “What an insane risk I’m taking here. Am I ready,” I wondered?

Had I known there would be a candidate for the Mayorship of Rochester that spent more than thirty years not voting, perhaps I might have rested easier. Surely, if a man can spend that much time ignoring the call to the ballot box and still ask his neighbors for their vote, then thirty years can’t possibly be that big of a deal.


2. An entire human generation

Newborn Baby
Newborn photo courtesy Josua Rappeneker on Flickr.

Ecologically speaking, a “generation” is the time it takes for an individual of a given species to reach sexual maturity and reproduce. The length of a human generation has increased as the needs of our societies dictate. Currently, a human generation stands at 25 years.

But plenty of women have pumped out a rugrat or two in the time it’s taken James Sheppard to decide to give birth to an act of citizenship. Women born in 1982 have grown old enough to have had their own children. And then some. In fact, a woman born in 1982 and conforming to the generational gap would have a ten year old kid. And perhaps more.

Kinda makes you wonder at what point James decided that the futures of those 1982 babies or the futures of his prospective constituents mattered enough to him to pull a lever for any candidate, anywhere?

1. Twelve consecutive NFL careers

NFL Football game
Football game photo courtesy April Spreeman on Flickr.

We see superstar athletes in the NFL with long careers and think that of course, players last a long time in the game. But it’s simply not true at all. In fact, according to Sports Illustrated, the average span of a career across all positions in the NFL is a paltry 2.66 years. Given the sheer time, effort and parental income it takes to rise to the level of an NFL star, it makes you wonder why anybody anywhere even bothers. You’d be better off finding an indoor football league to play on and stay the hell out of what is obviously an incredibly hot, halcyon spotlight.

Regardless, James Sheppard’s non-voting record actually exceeds the careers of an entire NFL offensive team, consecutively. Twelve professional football players entered the NFL, played a few games and had their hopes and dreams crushed under the grinding boot of corporate indifference. Their jerseys are not available at any NFL outlet. Their names are barely remembered by any but those who know them.

But then, it’s no shame to not be famous. So go we all, but for a few exceptions. Will voters add James Sheppard’s name to the list of Rochester Mayors?

Health Politics Rochester

Just legalize it: tales from Wine Country

I have a good friend whose name you surely know if you live in the Rochester area: Evan Dawson. I met him when he worked for 13WHAM as a reporter on their nightly news, and he’s now moved on to host his radio show, Connections with Evan Dawson all week on WXXI radio. I mention him because, as you may also know, he wrote a book called Summer in a Glass about Upstate New York’s wine region and the men and women who shape that industry’s fate.

It is a book rich with poetic turns of phrase; it is a book filled with impressions of the country, the people, the history. Very clearly, Evan has a deep and abiding respect for the industry and the products of its labour. It’s a great book and you should definitely read it.

Flash back to a grown-ass adult trying to buy a goddamned bag of weed in the same state: sitting in the cigarette-reeking back of some asshole 20-something’s mini Toyota pickup truck – not the “back seat,” just a subwoofer he never bothered to plug in – waiting patiently among the food wrappers, old clothing and personal hygiene implements for an overpriced bag of agricultural product no more harmful than the stuff Evan waxes poetic about in his book.

With apologies to Evan, we live in a state that doesn’t just allow you to make wine, beer and now hard alcohol: it fetishizes those things as though they were some noble thing. “Uncork New York,” as they say. Every festival in Rochester has a wine tent. There are stores throughout the Finger Lakes that don’t even sell wine, just all the wine accessories you could possibly want including tee shirts, bottle openers, earrings. Evan’s is, as you might suspect, hardly the only written document on the subject.

Matter of fact, there is a comfort care home down the road from me that can’t house more than five people; they’re having a wine tasting in a couple weeks. A home for five people, all of whom must certainly have been told to stop drinking alcohol thirty years ago, and they’re having a wine tasting.

I don’t begrudge the alcohol industry’s success in New York State. Hell, I even used to write a column for (585) Magazine called Over Drinks, dedicated to the topic. But as silly as it’s ever been for weed to be illegal when alcohol is legal, that goes doubly and trebly for a state that makes such a farcically big deal out of hootch. There are those who want or need marijuana for medical use, recreational use and research, but even attempts to make medical weed available have stalled.

If any state in the union ought to have promotions all summer long for it’s Marijuana Region, it is a state as hilly and sunny as New York. We have conditions to make beautiful, award-winning ganja to suit every palate and preference. Setivas. Indikas. Candy bars and sodas. And sure! Why not a weed-themed New York State tee shirt?

“New York State of Mind,” or “We Came, We Saw, We Smoked,” or “My Parents Went to Weed Country, and I Had to Buy This Shirt Online Because They Forgot.” Just as suggestions. Perhaps there could be a “Toke New York” campaign with billboards on the 90?

Either way, while half a dozen other states have a referendum on the ballot this November to legalize weed, our silly-ass pols sit in Albany trying to figure out which universities are going to get weed in pill form. And then get a drink of wine with dinner. Because thank you, New York.

Politics Rochester

Donald Trump vs. Water Street Music Hall

It’s hardly the most important issue in the campaign. I doubt we’ll see national press coverage of the issue. But it strikes me as ironic that in the same week that the Water Street Music Hall gets shut down for violence that happens outside of it’s walls, Donald Trump fully expects to take zero responsibility for the violence that has happened in the same room in which he was speaking.

It isn’t at all surprising given the primary season so far. Even less so as he’s in the midst of a press conference called for the sole purpose of bullying Marco Rubio.

In fact, based on the below quote, he can’t manage to get his head out of his own ass long enough to realize what is a shocking problem with the optics of his campaign. Also: his bully supporters see no problem with it, either.

Trump on the Crowd Melees | Talking Points Memo

TRUMP: Well, I have nothing to do with it. When you have 25,000 people in a building — you know, today we had to send away so many thousands of people, we couldn’t get them in. If you have that many people, if you have four or five people or ten people stand up out of 22,000 that are in this building that I’m speaking to, a very great entertainer said, Donald, you’re the biggest draw in the world without a guitar, which is sort of an interesting —

Source: Trump on the Crowd Melees


Port of Rochester: want money in Rochester? Write a book report.

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.

Health Rochester

How healthy is Monroe County? New U of Wisconsin study reports.

The University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute has just released it’s 2015 report on the rankings of each county in the US on the basis of several health factors and results. Looking at New York State’s counties, we find Monroe County smack-dab in the middle of the pack, with a “health outcome” ranking of 38 out of 62 counties. Other local counties like Wayne and Genesee followed suit, ranking 39 and 40 respectively.

A heat map of health by county.
A heat map of health by county.

This outcomes ranking is based on a number of quality-of-life factors such as sick days and overall length of lives within the county. According to the report, Monroe County health is dragged down by two major issues: low birth weight babies and the reported overall healthiness of individuals living in the county. The study shows 8.4% of babies born in Monroe are underweight and that 17% of respondents report bad health.

Interestingly, our southern rural neighbors fared much better in this study. Ontario and Livingston Counties ranked in the top 10 healthiest counties with Livingston topping the charts for best quality-of-life. The deciding factor for Livingston County’s high ranking appears to have been a lot less reported sick days and mental health days, though across the board, they appear to beat the NYS average in every rating category.

It’s worth noting that reported numbers are not as accurate as tabulated ones. For a start, people don’t necessarily remember exact numbers and may therefore misreport the number of sick days they’ve taken. Additionally, my experience is that people in rural areas tend not to under-value mental health as a legitimate reason to take a day off work. That may skew the numbers a bit as well.

Dark numbers for Monroe:

Even if Monroe County out performs a lot of other counties – including neighboring Orleans County, which looks like it could use a stern talking too – some of the numbers are just depressing. Monroe absolutely dwarfs other local counties for sexually transmitted disease infections, which is no surprise. Not unrelated, Monroe County also has among the highest teen pregnancy rates in the state, except for some especially hard-bitten downstate counties.

Here’s a cross-tab view of Monroe County health, along with other local counties – you can add other counties to the comparison of you want. Lots of excellent reading, here.


My bright idea to solve the “parking problem” in Rochester? The Jazz Festival.

I can hear the collective groan from here. Our floundering Mayor, already on the hunt for someone who can do government, now seeks “input” on how to solve this most pressing of issues: parking.

Most of the groaning comes from people already sick of Amateur Hour at City Hall. But the other half comes from people tired of the conversation about “lack of parking” in Downtown Rochester. It is, after all, demonstrably untrue as indeed Rochester Subway has pointed out many times.

But as a country kid who lived in Rochester for ten years, learning its byways, who then left to start a family, I can actually see where people who complain about parking downtown are coming from. Or rather, I can see that they’re misdiagnosing a real issue. Rochester is a very driveable city, it’s just not a very stoppable one.

Our Drivable Downtown

Main Street is a four lane highway, built to be traversed. Downtown is bookended by the Chestnut St and Plymouth Ave deadzones, where speeds easily top 40 mph. Confused visitors are overtaken by commuters for whom Downtown is an afterthought. If they blink, they’ve overshot their mark. Our poor confused visitor will have to turn around and try again.

And as RocSub notes, who the hell wants to park their car on Plymouth and take their chances walking into Downtown? It’s cold, windy, potentially dangerous (who knows, if you’re not from around here?) and oh, shit! What if you were wrong and have to walk back?

So you can park where you damned-sure don’t want to stop, and you want to stop in places where there really is no apparent place to park. Or you can just leave. And many people choose to just leave. Because there’s “no place to park.”

What, then, is the answer? I don’t recommend more parking downtown and don’t hold much hope for deadzones and parking lot landscape transformation. Part of the solution might be to adopt the same shuttle lines that the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival employs during it’s brief two week stay.

No, I don’t mean the Resurrection of the EZ Rider.

EZ Rider was a lot like many of the big projects under Mayor Johnson: a great idea – maybe even the right idea – but terrible execution. EZ suffered from two principle flaws that the XRIJF shuttles did not: first, that it was one continuous circuit and second that it billed itself as a way to get around to see night life, then shut service down at 11pm.

It was great that one continuous loop of busses went around Rochester if you were waiting for the bus: one would be by in the next twenty minutes or less. But once you were on the bus, you weren’t getting off any time soon, depending on what side of the loop you were on. The Jazz Fest bus routes were split into two separate routes, which meant that you didn’t have to sit on a bus all night long to go home.

I can certainly understand the City not wishing to take on the extra liability of driving drunkards to their cars. But the EZ Rider made a specific claim about being able to go see shows, then shut down at 11pm. That left a whole lot of stranded, confused party-goers in it’s wake. If a Downtown shuttle system was implemented, it wouldn’t need to be associated with night life. The focus would be on daytime park-and-ride access to Downtown for convenience sake.

The key, for both the Jazz Fest shuttles and a hypothetical Downtown Shuttle, is focusing on transferring people from large parking locations into a few key locations in our very small Downtown.

Yeah, but who’s paying for it?

I don’t begin to know what it would cost to setup a shuttle service – either through RGRTA or some other means – in Downtown Rochester. If you told me “a lot,” I’d probably take your word for it.

Whatever the cost, it has to be compared against other options, all of which will have their own price tags. And unlike other options, you might be able to recoup some if not all of the cost with a modest rider fee. Would people pay a few bucks to go Downtown? As someone who has done quite a few baffled laps around the Inner Loop in his teens, I think it would be worth a few cents to avoid the hassle.

If not a shuttle, what would those other solutions be?

Better signage for downtown parking would be a good idea. But we’ve had color-coded signs Downtown for decades.

New parking is just a non-starter. The last thing we need is more holes in the skyline, such as it is.

I can almost guarantee that a new solution that involves a lot of expensive construction is waiting in the wings. But costly new contracts and years of disruption are probably not any more cost-effective over ten years than a park-and-ride shuttle service.

One extra advantage for the entire community would be concentrating parking at the edges of Downtown and eliminating a lot of the side street parking congestion. Another would be relieving the driving congestion. Once again, visitors can concentrate on their destination, not the cars.

We can muster forth any number of solutions, and all of them may have some merit. In fact, many of them may have more merit in combination than a One-Size-Fits-All solution. But until such time as some declarative vision comes out of the Mayor’s Office – a blight therein for which Mayor Lovely Warren is far from the only culprit – we’ll likely just have a brief and animated discussion on social and nothing more.

Whatever the solution if there is to be any, my hope is that we can make small steps that add up to a large accomplishment. Our City has too often fallen victim to a dichotomy of “Big Thinkers” and “Penny Pinchers,” where someone dreams up something bat-shit crazy only to be chipped away at by the eternally pessimistic.

Rochester Technology

Dissecting a #fail: 7 questions about Lovely Warren’s “Stay In Your Own Lane.”

It seems a prominent politician’s Facebook account has been hacked, leading to an embarrassing series of screenshots going public. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Lovely Warren is in hot water, again. This time for allegedly sending out a scathing FU message to someone on Facebook – none of the reports are saying to whom the message was sent. The official response? Oh, man:

The mayor’s office says that there are several people who have access to Warren’s official and personal accounts, and she is working to see where the message in question came from.

Here is the portion of the conversation attributed to Lovely Warren’s account:

A portion of the conversation which has been attributed to Lovely Warren's account.
A portion of the conversation which has been attributed to Lovely Warren’s account.

She has since shut down both her personal and official accounts “until further notice.” So, let’s ask a few basic forensic questions.

7 Questions for Lovely Warren

  1. According to the screenshot, this appears to be a Private Message on Facebook. To whom was this message addressed?
  2. Let’s not assume anything. Do we even know that the offending message was sent from Lovely Warren’s account? Just because the Mayor’s Office says it is so? All that I see is a “chat head” with Warren’s picture on it?
  3. If indeed it was sent from a Lovely Warren account, from which account was this sent? Her personal account or the Fan Page?
  4. If it was her personal account, Facebook keeps a record of every IP address and login, including the “user agent,” or the software being used to access the account. Has this been checked? Or not?
  5. If it was her Fan Page, these types of accounts are not allowed to message someone directly unless they’ve been written a message by that fan first. Most Fan Page admins disable messaging primarily for this reason. Why was this option not disabled on Lovely Warren’s Fan Page?
  6. Fan Pages can also have multiple editors: any number of people can use the Page and post messages. Facebook has a good breakdown of which user roles can do what, and not all of them can send messages. Are all her editors administrators?
  7. Every editor’s activity can be logged, since they’re separate user accounts. Was none of this done with the Lovely Warren Fan Page? Was everybody just logging in as Warren to access her public page?

I could prattle on about the security aspects of this. Unsecured accounts and all that. Update: There are also legal questions, which I address here. How many more and how many mission critical accounts are sharing passwords? But really, this is just dumb, dumb, dumb social media flub for which the Mayor’s Office and Lovely Warren herself need some organized answers, soon.


Time-Warner Cable’s lamentable use of “Native Ads.”

You may already have heard of the trend. It’s been happening in one form or another for well over a decade: media companies large and small inserting articles into their regular content that look identical to everything else they do, but which is actually some form of advertisement. It could be for a pill; it could be for a service. But the point is that it’s an “informercial” without even the veneer of honesty, appearing seamlessly along-side legitimate news content.

Sounds pretty horrible, right? Sounds like a betrayal of journalistic standards and duties, doesn’t it? Yes, if they cannot at least identify adverts as such, it absolutely is. And I can’t say for certain whether any other news corp in town is taking part in this trend, but this morning’s RSS feed makes clear that Time-Warner Cable News absolutely is. Consider the following two articles:

Late Bloomers Learn to Code as Mid-Career Boost

They’re popping up everywhere and serve as a sign that you can teach an old dog new tricks: computer coding schools designed to teach everyone from 9 to 99-years-old. Some are non-profit; others are traditional businesses, like one in the Big Apple.

At The New York Code & Design Academy, there was a recent graduation ceremony for adults showing off websites they’ve created after a 12-week intensive programming course.

Common Back Pain Ailments and Treatment

If you have back pain, you’re not alone.

“Back pain is very common. It affects 90 percent of adults at some point in life. It’s actually the second most common cause of lost work among all medical conditions in the United States after the common cold,” said Dr. Colin Harris.

Right off the bat, they sound advertisement-y, don’t they? Besides that, everything about the first article concerns NYC and the second article is written by a journo from Syracuse, including quotes from three different Syracuse doctors.

Who else is using native ads in Rochester? I haven’t seen an example quite this blatant, so I have not been paying attention.


5 good reasons to lay off the dog-in-car vigilantism

Here we go again. Another dog in a hot car, another round of unchecked moral aggression. According to police reports, officers responded to the East Ave Wegmans, where a woman was upset because there was a dog in a car on a 90-degree day, all alone. By the time it was all over, she had smashed a shoe into one window hard enough to break it.

News 10 says they’ve learned the dog was in the car for less than a half hour, though they don’t cite their source. (Ed. note: @rachbarnhart points out that the police report said less than a half hour.) not Police report that the dog appeared unharmed, however, a suspiciously large number of people seem to have known someone who was there at the time, and insist that the dog had been in the car for more than 45 minutes.

To be clear, if you’re leaving your dog in the car on a day like those we’ve had this past week – even with the windows down a crack – you’re an ass. Things happen and life gets complicated from time to time, but whether you meant it to turn out that way or not, leaving a dog in the car is cruel, unthinking and irresponsible. Forget that the dog might die: your dog is roasting in your car.

But how did we go from moral reprobation of pet owner’s irresponsibility to active vigilantism? When did it become OK to smash private property because we disagree on animal ownership responsibilities? This isn’t a question of one unknown woman’s tirade in a Wegmans parking lot. Rather, it has turned into an open debate on social and news network forums, as to whether it is responsible to act similarly in such a situation. Here’s five good reasons that no, it probably isn’t.

5. Won’t someone please think about the dog??

Please, let’s do. Or rather, try to imagine what a creature whose species essentially co-evolved along side humans specifically to alert them to danger might feel in this situation. One in which a complete stranger with whom they cannot communicate and whose motives they cannot know starts banging their damned-fool shoe against the window.

If you answer is “freaked the fuck out,” then maybe you aught to do the poor fucking dog a favour and not stress them out?

4. You know, broken glass and shit.

Let’s say you successfully break open the window – this is not a guaranteed success, mind you, because automobile window glass is meant not to break – the result would be a hail of tiny glass shards. They’re not necessarily sharp, but that doesn’t mean they can’t scrape a dog’s cornea, lacerate their tongue or go into their lungs or stomach. And presumably, you’ve worked out a plan to extricate the dog from the car without dragging their belly across the broken glass that remains inside the door? Right? Oh, of course:

3. Good news! The dog’s free! And he’s pissed off.

I’m waiting for the news story. You know, the one where the vigilante “good guy with a brick” successfully smashes open the window and the dog, now feeling justifiably threatened and cornered in a small space, lunges directly at the throat of said vigilante. After suffering tetanus shots, stitches and a shockingly-large doctor’s bill, Joe the Hero sues the dog owner.

2. There are better ways.

If you had time enough to fruitlessly smack a goddamned shoe against a fucking window, maybe you should have used that time and your resources more wisely to cause a scene at Wegmans? If it is true that Wegmans employees chose to ignore the pleas about a dog in a car, that’s a damned shame. But nothing gets things done quite like making a big-ass scene in front of customers. Maybe you would have gotten the cops called on you, which is who you wanted in the first place?

I guess I’m not clear why all the people who supposedly stood around and bitched about the dog owner couldn’t have just called the freaking police themselves.

1. Vigilantism has a bad reputation for a reason.

I think one of the things that most surprises me about this issue is the number of my friends who are openly hostile to the idea of Florida’s “shoot first” laws because of the potential consequences, but are as openly willing to smash open a hypothetical other person’s property if they think a hypothetical dog is in danger.

Isn’t the supposed immanent threat to the dog precisely the same slippery slope as that if the immanent threat to some cowboy hat-donning, gun-toting douchebag in a bar? Pretty sure it is.

Whose car is that and whose dog? Are they armed? Are you absolutely sure you know all the facts? Even if you’re 100% right about everything – an unlikely case, let’s be honest – are you prepared to suffer the consequences of having inserted yourself into a complete stranger’s life? You’d better be sure.


The Battle is joined! Battledish comes to Rochester Feb 8th, get your tix here!

It’s been a long time since competition cooking was something best enjoyed at 2am, besotted and giggling with your friends over strange Japanese cuisine. It’s been a while since Iron Chef was a cadre of amusingly-bad overdubs, severe chef smack talkers, strangely knowledgeable old men and alluringly beautiful if oddly demurring actresses. And of course, Kenji Fukui.

Fukui-san! (Go!)
Fukui-san! (Go!)

Yet that excitement for the exotic might be the single biggest driver of the food culture of modern America in the last twenty years. And in it’s place, a well spring of competition cooking shows has made it’s way all the way to the hallowed halls of network television. Iron Chef America, Chopped, Top Chef, The Taste. Best of all, competition cooking has now made it’s way to Rochester.

On February 8th, Park Avenue will be the ground for an epic battle of the chefs, as Battle Dish Rochester fires up the grills and the fryers and the ovens for a culinary bellum omnium in omnes. Six chefs from six restaurants will, in the words of Shakespeare’s fictionalized Henry V, “Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood, disguise fair nature with hard-favored rage,” and put their best forward for the judgement of experts, and if you come along with us, you.

Tickets for the event range from teaser packages to the full swag-bag treatment, and best of all, you’ve got yourself a discount code courtesy of DragonFlyEye.Net and Rochester’s Dishcrawl ambassador, Nicole Benziger. Get your tickets right now and use the coupon code “roc456” to get $10 off the price.

Get your tickets now!!

The Rochester Dish Crawl has been doing great things for Rochester neighborhood cuisine for the past several months, having done tours of Park Avenue, South Avenue and East End neighborhoods, as well as a “Bacon and Beer Extravaganza.” My wife and I were lucky enough to get to be at the first Dishcrawl and meet Nicole, so I am excited to again be able to offer my readers a special offer to try out Battledish Rochester. I think this is probably the coolest thing happening in Rochester food, right now.

I hope I see you there!

Politics Rochester

Honeymoon’s over. Lovely Warren has pushed post-election good will right off the table.

Every elected leader gets a bit of a honeymoon when they get elected to a new position, and so does Lovely Warren. Media outlets write articles praising said pol’s rise to power, fellow politicians speak glowingly of partnerships to come. Those who voted for the politician bathe in victory and the defeated sulk in silence. It is a time to do magnanimous if meaningless things. It is a time to make grand gestures about coming together and solving problems.

It is also, most critically, an opportunity to use the good humor of the media and the public to maybe make some important moves that will pay dividends down the line. Unpopular reforms might go less-noticed. People might be willing to go on record being more generous than at some later point in one’s administration.

All of this is especially true if you’re the first female mayor of the City of Rochester. Regardless of one’s personal political preferences, this is a big moment for Rochester. It’s a big moment for women in Rochester, if it is one far too long in coming. Now is a time to take the kumbaya moment of a great victory for equality and turn it into legitimate political capital.

This is really not a time to hire your uncle to an $80k job you invented for dubious reasons, then sneak out of a traffic ticket on vague grounds of executive privilege. And those are just the Clift’s Notes of the last few weeks. Instead of magnanimous, we are left with the ignominious.

Late Update: @rachbarnhart (Rachel Barnhart of Channel 8) reports via Twitter that there is in fact no such executive privilege:

None of this is really news, of course. Lots of politicians squander their goodwill moment with stupid things, but generally, they’re stupid political grabs. Typically, they’re efforts to thank campaign donors that could have waited a few months or hirings and firings that would have looked less political with less media attention.

This? This is just a Keystone Cops version of a transition to power, only uglier. Hardly Lex Luther territory; more like rotten groceries: unpleasant, disappointing and off-putting. Pure face plant politics, filled with exactly the kind of stupidly privileged acts that everyone is just waiting for a politician to commit. Well, two weeks in and the wait is over.

But I’ve been pretty harsh on Mayor Richards and ended up respecting him. Really, this fiasco will mellow out in months and everyone will forget about it. Assuming there aren’t more landmines in our future, this is not a debilitating controversy. In the meanwhile, if there was some less-than-popular decision Mayor Lovely Warren had hoped to sneak by while we were still bathing in the afterglow, she can forget it.