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Worst Public Speaker EVER Award, Goes to Me

June 15th, 2010

24 citizens spoke regarding the Mortimer Street Bus Terminal Tuesday night at City Hall in front of Council members, the media, and a standing-room-only crowd.Tonight was the City Council’s final public hearing and vote on whether or not to release a portion of Mortimer Street (in the heart of downtown Rochester) to the transit authority to build a 26-bay bus terminal. I used the opportunity not to denounce the bus terminal but more so to point out that the City of Rochester has no transportation plan. Also to sharpen my public speaking skills, which, after tonight I realize can only get better. I stumbled, I was shakey, I lost my place several times, and my mouth was so dry my tongue kept making this annoying clicking sound with every syllable. But, I delivered my message and that’s what counts. Anyway, here is the text of my statement:

I am a 33 year old design professional, originally from Long Island and a graduate of RIT. After graduation I could have easily left Rochester. I could have left for New York City, Seattle, Portland or Austin, Texas. And although thousands of young people leave every year, I chose to stay. My wife and I often discuss the possibility of leaving for a more vibrant city, but for the time-being we are lucky enough to have good jobs here in downtown. I will tell you though… Rochester will never see true growth if we cannot attract and keep young professionals. These people are looking for cities where car ownership is not a requirement. Cities with well connected neighborhoods and transit options that include convenient bus service, rail & streetcars, bike lanes & amenities, and streets that favor pedestrians over automobiles.

Let me be clear, I am not against a bus terminal, I am FOR a transportation plan. Tonight you are voting on a very costly and isolated transit project with a questionable future because our city has no plan. It is up to you address this missing puzzle piece.

GTC and RGRTA serve 7 counties. The specific interests of this city are not—and cannot—be priority #1 for them. But you are not at the mercy of the regional MPO when it comes to transportation planning in the City of Rochester. There is no law that says the City of Rochester cannot have a transportation plan or transportation advisory board. You have at least 20 City boards & commissions to help advise you — and not a single one focuses on transportation, transit, or neighborhood connectedness. This is why we lost federal T.I.G.E.R. money this year and why we will continue to lose out if you do not act.


Rochester needs a transportation advisory board.
  1. This body should consist of representatives from the City as well as Rochester’s immediate ring of suburbs
  2. This body must work to develop a long range plan – one that includes pedestrians, bikes, buses, rail transit, AND transit oriented development
  3. This body must represent our community but also work closely with GTC/RGRTA, the county, state, and USDOT to ensure that the City’s plan is carried out

Tonight I am not asking for a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ vote on the bus terminal — I’m asking for you to do something great. Do something that will place Rochester in the same circle as Austin TX, Portland, Denver, Charlotte and Seattle. Beginning tomorrow, push for a plan that clearly defines how all forms of transportation fit into the City’s master plan. Without this important tool you’re voting with your eyes closed.

You have many people who are willing to set everything aside to discuss a transportation oriented plan for Rochester. My group Reconnect Rochester, the Rochester Community Design Center, Rochester Cycling Alliance, Rochester Rail Transit Committee, Louis Slaughter, the USDOT, and on and on and on.

I know you understand this most urgent need. Transit is not a luxury item. Transit is not buses only. Transit is not isolated. Transit is woven into the fabric of every great city.

Council later voted to release the land to RGRTA. The vote was 7 to 2 opposed.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 at 11:14 pm and is filed under Opinion, Rochester News, Transit + Infrastructure. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

7 Responses to “Worst Public Speaker EVER Award, Goes to Me”

  1. Harry Davis says:

    Mike, you were excellent!

    9-2=RGRTA Rules=We Lose=Duffy tells me the RGRTA is too powerful for him & city council.

    http://www.harrydavis2010.com/node/295

    The problem with this stupid city is it is stupid. “Well, were’re not perfect.” some will say. I say, “You don’t even have a clue how to TRY to be perfect!”

    D&C, that means YOU! Idiots. Tell Tony DiMarzo and his Warner tenants to skip out on the multi-million Warner building, residentail development in downtown to make way for a bus barn? This city, well, I left in the 80′s cause of this foolishness & I should have stayed away.
    ……………………………
    “Rochester City Council Should Vote Yes to keep Transit moving”
    http://www.democratandchronicle.com/article/20100615/OPINION04/6150301/1
    …………………………….
    Rochester City Council voted 7-2 to abandon Mortimer Street for the bus barn. I spoke with Beth Osborn today, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy for Livability projects in DC. Ms. Osborn had attempted to arrange a conference call today with all ROC city council members to show them how they can support President Obama and build an inter-modal transit station in Rochester. This conversation did not occur because Senator Chuck Schumer, who holds the purse strings to the $52million for Mortimer, made sure Ms. Osborn would not have her free speech and talk to Rochester’s “leaders.”

    My 7 years of hanging around Rochester politicians and knowing the current crop very well leads me to surmise that City Council President Lovely Warren called her mentor, NYS Assembly Member David Gantt, Mr. Transportation in Albany, and told him of the attempted conversation. Gantt said “NO!” and Gantt called Senator Schumer who told DOT & Ms. Osborn this conversation would stop.

    Again, Ms. Osborn told me three times today she was afraid of being fired from her DOT job because of her attempt to tell Rochester of it’s transportation alternatives. After the meetinmg tonight, Bonnie & I had a conversation with Mayor Duffy who essentially told us that the RGRTA is too powerful. It is an Authority and the Mayor of Rochester and City Council do not have the power to stop them from doing what they want. Again, three times Deputy Secretary Osborn told me she was afraid of being fire from her position.

    Oh, and Duffy told me “Tony DiMarzo & I are friends and we will continue to be friends!” WTF does that have anything to do with anything??

    I say, “Is that how friends treat friends?”

    http://www.harrydavis2010.com/node/291

  2. Tim says:

    Your thoughts are well written and appreciated by the rest of us Rochesterians. Your points are dead-on correct and thank you for voicing them to people that (might) matter. The rest of us complain to each other about these massive oversights and lack of vision all the time, you went out there and said it publicly when and where it mattered. Keep up the great work.

  3. You did great, Mike. Keep it up!

  4. Paul says:

    I agree with Tim. Thank you for speaking for those who did not, including myself.

    I was there last night and considered speaking. I had been thinking all day on what I would say that pretty much wasn’t covered at the planning commission meeting. I couldn’t think of a lot. It wasn’t until I got home last night that I realised, I was probably only one of a very few if not the only one that actually took the bus to the meeting.

    I could have discussed points of how the current bus system doesn’t not allow for easy travel for many riders due to the routes that end up on Main Street. Going to my sister’s (a 10-15 min car ride) takes 1hr 12 mins by bus. I could have spoke for the people who, especially during this economy, rely on the bus for travel because unemployment limits my income and the ability to repair my car. Rent and food come first.

    My God do I fee like an idiot. I am sorry for not thinking of this earlier! it may have made a bigger impact.

    According to the news last night, it’s still not finalised. Legislation is still pending an environmental study as well as a couple other things.

    I am going to send an email to all city council members, as well as the mayor with a more detailed explanation of what I have said.

    Good work for sticking up for Rochester, I just wished I would have!

  5. admin says:

    I really appreciate all the comments here. It really wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be. For example, Paul, I had the same concern as you. I wondered, would I just be going up there and stating the exact same thing that someone else may have already said? But it really doesn’t even matter. In fact the more people who stand up there and say the exact same thing the better! Of course it doesn’t hurt to bring a unique perspective either but again, it doesn’t matter.

    You know, I was filled with such mixed emotions after last night. On the one hand I was thrilled that I dragged myself up there and looked Council in the eyes and delivered my sh*t. But on the other hand it feels like trying to move an immovable object.

    The bottom line for me at this point in my life is this… my children are going to be the ones who have to deal with what we do (or don’t do). Time is passing us by quickly and Rochester is at least a generation behind other cities when it comes to planning and revitalization. I can’t watch this from the sidelines and feel good about myself.

    Anyway, enough ranting. I’d just ask anyone who reads this to consider setting aside some time to write an email or a letter and then follow it up with a phone call or a visit to City Hall. It doesn’t have to be this topic specifically. Anything. Hop to it.

  6. Ruth H Kelly says:

    I am inviting you to Speechcrafters #1044 Toastmasters Club. We meet at TC Riley’s at Park Point on Jefferson Road the lst and 3rd Tuesdays of each month from 6:00 pm to 8 pm.

    Toastmasters is an educational program that provides training to enhance speaking and leadership skills. Our club provides a laboratory experience (i.e. members get to practice) to develop these skills in a friendly, supportive atmosphere. It is the most cost-effective program there is that I know of to develop your speaking skills.

    Come visit us sometime. We love having guests, many of whom become members, at our meetings.

    Ruth H. Kelly

  7. Joe D. says:

    very well said sir…very well said indeed!

    Cheers!

    Joe


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