Saturday, December 14, 2013


Another Tax Commission Releases Report

Just weeks after the Tax Reform and Fairness Commission released its recommended reforms to the state tax code, another Governor-appointed tax commission released its findings. 

The commission’s recommendations included reducing corporate income taxes, eliminating the estate tax for most wealthy New Yorkers, and encouraging local government consolidation and shared services.

CSEA President Danny Donohue said, “It’s easy to promise more tax giveaways to the rich and powerful when they come at the expense of local government taxpayers and the community services they depend on. No one should be fooled by the election year rhetoric in Governor Cuomo’s Tax Commission recommendations – this is more of the same policy that will just increase the misery index for people and communities in the real “new” New York.”

Report Highlights Failures of Outsourcing Public Services

In the Public Interest, a group dedicated to studying privatization and responsible contracting, has released a report highlighting the failures of outsourcing public services to private, for-profit corporations. The report brings to light failures of transparency, accountability, competition, and shared prosperity by private contractors who take over public services.

Visit CSEA’s website to read the report.

Federal Budget Agreement Reached

House and Senate leaders have announced a federal budget agreement that will avert a government shutdown for the next two years. The House of Representatives passed the agreement by a vote of 332-94. All New York Representatives voted in favor of the proposal except for Reps. Louise Slaughter (D-NY 25), Yvette Clarke (D-NY 9), and Nydia Velazquez (D-NY 7) who all voted no. The bill will now be sent to the Senate for approval. 

The budget agreement repeals some of the pending sequester cuts scheduled for various domestic programs and replaces them with more targeted cuts. The specifics will not be available for several weeks. 

The agreement will not continue extended unemployment benefits for over 1 million Americans who will lose their benefits on December 31, 2013 and does not address benefits or eligibility for Medicare or Social Security. 

Year In Review 2013: Seasons of Love

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Rochester, NY-- CSEA Unit 7420 President and Monroe County Local 828 VP Ove Overmyer addresses the Monroe County Legislature at the public forum before the full session meeting, December 10, 2013. He did so on his own behalf. Here are his remarks:

After considerable review of Maggie Brooks’ Monroe County Budget proposal for 2014, it appears that this year’s misplaced priorities are just more of the same. Not honoring longstanding municipal agreements between Monroe County and the City of Rochester is no solution to creating a balanced budget that shares the pain. In fact, it’s reprehensible the County would even consider such a thing, knowing full well the City budget fiscal year is already in full swing. By not honoring chargebacks for pre-arraigned detainees at the downtown jail and for upkeep of traffic devices, in essence these longstanding binding written agreements are being ignored. Brooks is basically telling City residents you are disproportionately going to pay extra (2.5 million annually) for all these County services above and beyond other County residents.

Moving money away from public safety initiatives and social service programs like defunding child care is not only bad news for our poorest families, it does not make fiscal sense nor will it improve the local economy. In a rather ingenious and deceptive way, this budget shifts more financial burdens on City government and its residents while County government once again obfuscates its responsibility. Furthermore, city residents and businesses not only pay full county taxes-- they also pay the highest percentage of Monroe County imposed service charges over and above the county tax burden.

While we understand the stated goal of the County budget is to not raise County taxes, this plan would do just that. So please, stop believing the Brooks administration is holding the line on taxes. Nothing could be further from the truth.

You don’t have to be a mathematician to know every budget for the past 10 years takes it out on our working families and the most vulnerable citizens in our community, while at the same time, enriches the lives of a small minority of folks who are basically insulated from any financial harm. She uses the County budget as a personal strategic weapon—defunding anything and anyone who she sees as a political adversary and propping up the local GOP Party at the same time.

Budgets are basically moral documents—and once again, this job killing deceptively unethical budget fails to address our most pressing social issues in the most fiscally responsible way. This budget also comes on the heels of a study conducted by The Rochester Area Community Foundation which lists Rochester as the 5th poorest city in the United States. This outcome is no accident folks. This is the direct result of willful choices by lawmakers like you. And, if you haven’t noticed, Rochester is the epicenter of Monroe County. Our fates are inextricably linked whether you personally approve of it or not.

But then again, you folks sitting on the GOP side of the aisle already know all of this.

I’m not foolish enough to think that this public forum will change your heart or your mind. I know that nothing I say, or for that matter, what any other citizen might say here tonight will change one single line item in this budget. That, above all else-- is the saddest commentary about our County government and local state of affairs.  But then again, you already know all of this—but thank you anyway for my 2 minutes.

Overmyer is a Monroe County taxpayer who happens to live in the City of Rochester.

Friday, December 6, 2013


CALL TO ACTION: We are asking all union families to attend MC Legislature Meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 5:30 pm MCOB, 39 W. Main St, Rochester, NY

Not honoring longstanding municipal agreements between Monroe County and the City of Rochester is Maggie Brooks' so-called solution to keeping a balanced budget. We are one community. Disproportionately taking it out on city folks (who happen to be County residents too) when all else fails-- move money away from public safety programs and social services that help the poor families while at the same time, enrich the lives of others who are basically insulated from any financial harm is a misguided solution. Is this the role of government? Is this the kind of County government you want for your community?

No other heartless politician is as spiteful and revengeful when it comes to making callous budget priorities and using these "choices" as weapons when things don't necessarily go her way. She needs to go. We've had enough.

Please stand up and speak your mind at the full session meeting, Tuesday, Dec. 10. Call 753.1550 to reserve a slot to speak at the public forum.

Say no to a job killing budget that eliminates middle-class jobs, attacks benefits of the elderly and County retirees, gives huge salary raises to her GOP friends, bashes poor people and leaves no one to care for them. Padding in-house GOP salaries is just one more way to keep our tax dollars supporting her "political" campaigns that attack working families. Support a budget agreement that tempers spending while at the same time leaves no one out in the cold and supports middle class values-- especially when it comes to the most vulnerable in our community. Rise Up Rochester and Monroe County!


New York-- Perhaps instead of a “‘New’ New York,” the tagline should be the “Two New Yorks,” one that holds promise for the very wealthy and well-connected, and the other that breaks promises to the rest of us – promises of more transparency in government, lower taxes and a government “rising” for everyone.

Unfortunately, New York does not seem to be alone it its willingness to widen the growing income inequality gap by giving our tax dollars away to corporations.

A New York Times editorial titled “Race to the Bottom” from last December points out that their investigation into corporate welfare found that state and local governments gave out $80 billion a year in tax breaks and other subsidies “in a foolhardy, shortsighted race to attract companies.”

“That money could go a long way to improving education, transportation and other public services that would have a far better shot at promoting real economic growth. Instead, with these giveaways, politicians and officials are trying to pick winners and losers, almost exclusively to the benefit of big corporations (aided by highly paid lobbyists) at the expense of small businesses. Though they promise that the subsidies are smart investments, far too often the jobs either don’t materialize or are short-lived, leaving the communities no better off.”



Rochester/Monroe County, NY-- Mayor Tom Richards recently issued a press release addressing what he calls "unannounced charges to city taxpayers" in the Monroe County Budget proposal. The charges, he says in the press release, include a doubling of the amount that Rochester pays to house city prisoners awaiting arraignment in the county jail, he says, and a charge for maintaining traffic control devices — which the county has done since 1971.

"Together, these charges would negatively impact the city’s 2014-15 budget and subsequent budgets by $2.5 million annually," Richards says in the press release. "When factoring in the mandated payment the city must give to its schools, the county plan would result in a 5.2 percent tax increase on city residents and businesses. While I understand the stated goal of the county budget is to not raise county taxes, this plan would do just that as city residents and businesses are also county residents and businesses.

"Furthermore, city residents and businesses not only pay full county taxes, they also pay the highest percentage of Monroe County-imposed service charges over and above of their county tax burden," he says.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Penfield Town Board Dumps Privatization Resolution; CSEA In The House

CSEA WNY Region 6 President Flo Tripi (at left) addresses the Penfield Town Board on Dec. 4, 2013. Photos by Ove Overmyer
Penfield, N.Y.  In an unexpected twist, the Penfield Town Board decided to strike a resolution (Public Works 13T-219) from the written record awarding a contract to outsource snow and ice removal on residential roads. More than 50 people shuffled in to the auditorium at Penfield Town Hall on Atlantic Avenue on the evening of December 4. Not having any preconceived notions about an outcome before the meeting, most of the attendees were visibly startled by the news that the resolution was being removed from the agenda. The motion was delivered emphatically by Councilwoman Paula Metzler.

In a 4-1 vote, board members refused to take up the issue of whether residents should be paying for privatizing work details that are already performed by CSEA unionized public employees in the Department of Public Works.

According to the Penfield Town Board Meeting Agenda, elected officials selected A.P. Property Services, 1653 Woodard Road, Webster, NY as the contractor to provide snow and ice removal. The Voice Reporter searched the NYS Board of Elections File Disclosure Reports and found the owner of the company, Sean Fico of Webster, NY, to have no reporting data filed or any political donations listed on the website. In a related search and even more curious to interested observers, there was no record of the Penfield Town Supervisor ever filing a financial disclosure report with the NYS Board of Elections.

Bess Watts, President of CSEA Monroe County Local 828, told the Voice Reporter the privatization fight is far from over. “While we are pleased the board took this action tonight, we still have a tough fight ahead to fend off elected officials who demonize public services and the workers who provide them,” said Watts.

“Some local government leaders like to take credit for cutting public payrolls. They think this a good thing,” said CSEA activist Ove Overmyer. He added, “They are the same elected officials who create unholy alliances with political cronies and donors and weaken middle class working families. Never mind that the extra cost to provide outsourced services simply shift dollars to a different, often hidden budget line-- and sometimes at greater expense. There is no savings for taxpayers by outsourcing public services. Privatization will always be a threat as long as unscrupulous politicians know there is money to be made in the public services sector.”

CSEA would like to thank our union brothers and sisters from Ontario and Wayne County for their show of support and solidarity at this meeting. CSEA would also like to publicly thank board members Kohl, Metzler, Moore and Quinn for their due diligence and vote of confidence in their existing workforce. Town Supervisor Tony LaFountain was the lone dissenter.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


On Nov. 21, 2013, Local 828 Next Wave Chair April Buckley (left) delivers holiday goods to the Blue Star Canteen.
(photo provided)
Canandaigua, N.Y.-- On Thursday, November 21, Monroe County Local 828 Next Wave Chair April Buckley dropped off a holiday donation supply of food, money, toiletries and personal items that will be delivered to overseas troops for the upcoming holiday season via the Blue Star Mothers of America, NY, Chapter #1, Canandaigua, N.Y.  CSEA donated more than 100 lbs. of goodies this year. From their own pockets, CSEA Local 828 members also made a substantial financial contribution to the organization this year.

Blue Star Mothers are Moms of military personnel. They are a non-political, non-profit and non-sectarian organization. Their Chapter was started by five Moms back in 2004. They join over two hundred other chapters around the nation to carry out the mission statement of serving our deployed troops, our veterans and the families on the home front.

The Blue Star Canteen is located on the beautiful grounds of the Canandaigua, New York Veterans Administration Hospital in an old white farmhouse they have rehabbed into their HQ.

The mission of this maternal organization is to meet the needs of our deployed soldiers with boxes full of a touch of home, cards and letters. If they get a special request from our troops, they attempt to fill it. New York # 1 is full of Mothers who are doing their best to make a difference while their child is deployed.

CSEA Next Wave was proud to be a collaborating partner with the Blue Star Mothers and looks forward to more projects in the future.


NextWaveLogoYoung union members are the future of CSEA. CSEA Next Wave is a community of members 35-and-under dedicated to empowering, activating, and developing leadership among the future generation of union leaders. We respond to issues that affect our members, take an active part in the labor community and ensure that every voice is heard.
Next Wave activists with CSEA President Danny Donohue during a Next Wave retreat held in Rensselaerville, NY.
Since 2008, an enthusiastic group of young CSEA members have been working alongside seasoned union members to develop this new generation of union activists. With support from CSEA President Danny Donohue,  Next Wave activists have worked at the grassroots level in the six CSEA regions and at statewide CSEA events to be a voice for young workers and grow young worker involvement in the labor movement.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Maggie Brooks: Tightrope

Published on Nov 23, 2013
(For best viewing results, select 1080p HD full screen.) The career and legacy of the Brooks administration is hanging in the balance. As far as we can tell, the Brooks legacy will go down in history as one that afforded opportunities to those who are financially insulated from any harm while the disabled, middle-class, poor and working poor were left with higher fees, limited services and a lower standard of living. This year's budget is more of the same-- less money for child care for poor families and plenty of perks to keep the wealthy supporting her personal agenda.

It wasn't that long ago Maggie Brooks tried unsuccessfully to take money away from our schools with her FAIR plan-- a deal the taxpayers are still smarting from. She also eliminated funding for the Center for Disability Rights, nixed a joint public safety agreement with the City of Rochester and hacked away at lead paint funding which would make our children less safe.

Tax levies have risen eight times since she has been in office, despite her attempt to paint another picture. If you want bigger income inequality, under performing schools, less regulatory controls on the water we drink, in the air that we breathe, or tainted meat for that matter, Maggie Brooks is exactly who you want as your County Executive. If you want your government to put personal profit of a few insiders before the common good of the taxpayers, than support her agenda. With the advent of her most trusted circle of friends being indicted on felonious crimes, these developments have moved the conversation from unethical to criminal. When will the average citizen say, enough is enough?

Putting it mildly, Maggie Brooks is a divisive, anti-worker and anti-equality law maker. Despite all the turmoil that surrounds her, the media throws her softballs and holds her to a different standard. She hires Dennis Vacco at taxpayer expense to hold a press conference to tell the community she did "nothing inappropriate" with respect to the LDC fiasco. This is the behavior of someone so removed from the public she can't even understand how arrogant and galling this behavior might be to most learned observers.

However, sooner or later the Teflon will slip off the ol' frying pan. She is walking a narrow tightrope right now.

And, lastly, if you cannot make the connection between local GOP policies and child poverty rates in Rochester and Monroe County, you are living in a fantasy world.

Saturday, November 16, 2013



You have to admit the ACA is a step in the right direction for America. Although there are logistical problems rolling out the delivery of plans and services, the fact remains the common good is being served and nearly 71 more million Americans will receive preventive care. Imagine if we didn't have to endure the obstructionism for the GOP and misinformation of the insurance companies plus the monied elite-- we would be a lot farther down the road.

Most GOP'ers hate Obama more than they love America. The ACA proves that. In case you can't remember or just don't know, the GOP lead House has tried to undo the act by passing 34 meaningless bills to dismantle affordable and accessible healthcare for the most marginalized citizens in the United States of America.

There are currently 27 federally-facilitated exchanges, 17 state-based exchanges, and seven state-federal partnership exchanges, including Washington, D.C. In California, a state-run exchange, more than 35,360 individuals have enrolled.

Health care registration numbers fell far below the 500,000 individuals the White House expected to register during the first month of the rollout. Between 40,000 and 50,000 Americans completed applications or registered for insurance plans on since Oct. 1.

The president on Thursday took responsibility for the problem-plagued rollout. 

The House passed Republicans’ answer to Obama’s health care fix, allowing insurers to continue offering plans that don’t meet the standards of the Affordable Care Act.

Too Much Corruption in Monroe County, N.Y.

Friday, November 15, 2013


Cuomo Pays Millions to Recruiting Company

November 15, 2013-- The Cuomo Administration has signed a contract to pay over $20 million in taxpayer money for “talent acquisition services” over the next five years. The contract will pay Rochester-area company Datrose for each public employee hired through the company’s recruitment efforts.

CSEA President Danny Donohue blasted the plan, saying, “They are laying off and undercutting frontline state employees in nearly every agency claiming that taxpayers can't afford necessary services anymore. But money is apparently no object when it comes to filling their political patronage positions."

Tax Commission Releases Report

The New York State Tax Reform and Fairness Commission, established by the Governor in 2012, released its recommended reforms to the state tax code this week. Among its recommendations were a reduction of tax credits in areas such as film production and the financial sector, providing property tax relief to low-income families, and reforming the state’s corporate and estate taxes.

Even before this commission released its report, Cuomo had already called for the creation of a new commission to study taxes, making it clear that the Governor is only interested in recommendations that fit his political priorities.

Despite facing a nearly $2 billion budget deficit in the upcoming fiscal year, it is expected that the Governor will propose a tax cut in the run up to his 2014 re-election campaign.

Legislative Update

There are still 79 bills awaiting action from the Governor including the Veterans’ Employment Act that is strongly supported by CSEA.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Work Connects Us All

Work Connects Us All

Rochester, N.Y.-- A video public service announcement brought to you by the Voice Reporter, CSEA Monroe County Local 828 and the AFL-CIO. Images Credits: AFL-CIO NOW, CSEA, Uni. of Rochester, N.Y., Annette Lein and Ove Overmyer. Sterling Comfort Productions, © 2013.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Rochester, N.Y. -- The gloves are off, it’s time to mix it up. We need you to donate a few hours to our political action efforts to get our labor friends elected to local office. Here are some details:

RALLY – Saturday, November 2nd, 10 am 

Greece Campaign Headquarters, 2888 Dewey Avenue, near Stone Rd. Come and enjoy a rally with coffee & Donuts then hitting the streets to get out the vote!

·         Light canvassing (no persuasion, simply remind voters about Election Day and ask what time they plan to be at the polls)

·         Lit Drops (If possible come, with a team!)

·         Phone Banking begins at 11 AM (Bring your own phone if you can)

·         2:00 PM Lunch for Volunteers

Sunday, November 3rd, 12 Noon - 6 pm

Greece Campaign Headquarters, 2888 Dewey Avenue

·         Light canvassing (no persuasion, simply remind voters about Election Day and ask what time they plan to be at the polls)

·         Lit Drops (If possible, come with a team!)

·         Phone Banking  (Bring your own phone if you can)

·         3:00 PM Lunch for Volunteers

Monday, November 4th, 1 pm - 7 pm

·         All Day Phone Banks for Dick Beebe, Joe Morelle,Jr. and Mike Bertolone. Please come when your schedule permits. Lists will be available by 1:30 pm. CSEA Satellite Office, 3495 Winton Place Bldg. E Suite 3, Rochester, N.Y. 14623.

·         Greece Campaign Headquarters, 2888 Dewey Avenue (near Stone Rd). Light canvassing, lit drops, phone banking are on the agenda.

Tuesday, ELECTION DAY November 5th

·         Greece Campaign Headquarters, 2888 Dewey Avenue (near Stone Rd)

·         Pre-Dawn Commando Lit Drop -- 5 am at Campaign Office

·         Phone Banking (Bring your own phone if you can) 12 Noon - 8 pm

·         Door-to-Door  1 - 7 pm

·         Rides to the Polls 11 am - 8 pm

For more information about CSEA Monroe County PAC information,
please call Ove at 585.754.8933

Friday, October 18, 2013

An Open Letter to Rochester, N.Y. Area Tea Party House Republicans Tom Reed and Chris Collins

l to r: Reps. Collins and Reed
October 18, 2013

Dear Mr. Reed and Mr. Collins:

First of all, I am extremely disappointed that you could not muster up enough personal courage to vote for ending the government shutdown or raise the debt limit. I'm afraid your actions might haunt you in the days to come and more specifically, Election Day 2014.

In any event, $24 billion dollars is the price we've paid because of your inability to do your job. That's how much this shutdown cost our country. 

And now we face yet another opportunity for you to cost Americans billions of dollars and the security of benefits we've earned.

As the fight on the debt ceiling emerges, and as the battle for the budget begins, I want to make clear that I am going to hold you accountable to the middle class in America.

I demand an end to job-destroying austerity—the repeal of sequester. I demand there be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid benefits, period. And I demand an end to the $600 billion in tax breaks we are going to give companies for going offshore over the next ten years. That’s real money that can fund the investments we need to make to rebuild America’s competitiveness and put our people back to work.

My family and I need you to focus on policies that actually help working people, not punish us further. We've already been punished to the tune of tens of billions of dollars, and we need you to stand strong against taking away the benefits we've worked hard for, benefits that we've earned with our work.

There is a good reason why you and your House GOP colleagues have a lower approval rating than head lice, cockroaches and the legacy of Genghis Khan. Please temper your rhetoric and start collaborating with other lawmakers in Congress. That is what Western New York's middle class families want. And, by the way, when did the common good become such a bad idea?


Ove Overmyer
Rochester, New York

Thursday, October 17, 2013

CSEA Activists Head to Lake Placid for 103rd Annual Delegates Meeting Oct. 20-25

CSEA heads to Lake Placid, N.Y. for ADM 2013 the week of Oct. 20-25.
photo provided
Lake Placid, N.Y. – Thousands of CSEA officers, activists and staff will converge on the tiny Adirondack resort village to attend to the business of New York State's largest public employee labor union. This year's theme is, "Leading Together Facing the Future."

A message from CSEA President Danny Donohue:

“The future is under assault for working people and their unions. Years of propaganda from right wing politicians and the corporate elite has given unions a bad name and painted unionized workers as selfish and greedy. Contract negotiations have become an excuse for management to demand givebacks while holding the threat of layoffs over our heads.

Although the public relies on the work we do and the services we provide, it’s getting more and more difficult to win the support of people who are also struggling. Our health and pension benefits have become a point of envy that has been used to pit other workers against us. Today, some working people, who would benefit from having a union of their own, have been convinced that unions are the enemy.

Meanwhile, courts and politicians are making it harder for unions to represent their workers and making it easier for corporations to outspend us in our fight to protect and preserve the middle class.

The theme of this year’s ADM is Leading Together Facing Our Future because we need to use all of our resources — everything and everyone — to ensure a future where unions like ours remain a strong voice for working people.”

Friday, October 11, 2013

CSEA and Rochester Labor Community Flexing Its Political Muscle

Left to Right: Dick Beebe, Joseph Morelle, Jr & Mike Bertolone
photos provided
Rochester, N.Y.-- CSEA and the local labor community realize the importance of selecting the best public officials possible who will champion the tough issues and challenges facing our middle class working families. This year is no different—CSEA members will be out in force knocking on doors and talking to voters about the importance of public services and electing the most qualified candidates. Election Day is Tuesday, November 5, 2013. For election details and voter information, you can contact the Monroe County Board of Elections here.

This election cycle, CSEA is proud to endorse three local races:
  • Dick Beebe, Supervisor Town of Greece
  • Mike Bertolone, Monroe County Legislature 19th District (Greece)
  • Joseph Morelle, Jr., Monroe County Legislature 17th District (Irondequoit)

CSEA will be joining other local labor unions with these initiatives:

Saturdays October 12th, 19th, 26th and November 2nd: Labor walks and literature drops for Mike Bertolone and Dick Beebe -- convene at 2888 Dewey Ave. in Greece. Start time at 9:00 am. 

Saturday, October 12th: Labor walk for Joseph Morelle Jr. -- convene at Uncle Danny's Restaurant at 555 E. Ridge Rd. in Irondequoit. Start time is 9:00 a.m. (lawn signs and lit drop)

PHONE BANKS: Start September 30th and run through November 4th: -- NYSUT Building located at 30 North Union Street. (Phone banking will be for Mike Bertolone and Joe Morelle Jr.)

ALSO: CSEA will also be holding dedicated phone banks for Joseph Morelle, Jr., Dick Beebe and Mike Bertolone. Date, time and location to be announced soon. Stay tuned to the Voice Reporter for further details.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Brothers and Sisters,

This morning at 12:01 a.m. the federal government shut down.

The actions taken by Speaker Boehner, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and their allies in Congress took us over a cliff. Their tactics are reckless and irresponsible because they put people out of work and our economy at risk.

Speaker John Boehner made good on his threat to shutter our government if President Obama did not defund his signature health care reform law. The Affordable Care Act is the law of the land. And the President and the Senate majority made it abundantly clear they will oppose any effort to stop the law from moving forward.

Social Security checks will go out, but seniors and people with disabilities applying for Social Security and Medicare will experience a delay in getting their applications approved. Veterans could see their pension and disability benefits delayed. A shutdown could force Head Start centers to close.

For too long, tea party extremists pressed their agenda to repeal Obamacare, slash Medicare and Medicaid, cut Social Security, education and other vital services, while refusing to make the wealthy and large corporations pay their fair share of taxes. Last night they tried yet again to advance their extremist agenda, jeopardizing our economy and our country. This must stop.

There is a time and place to debate and modify the laws that Congress passes. This is NOT that time, and this is NOT that place. It’s time for the extremists in Congress to stop the brinksmanship and stop holding our country hostage to radical demands.

We’ll update you as the situation in Washington unfolds during the next few days and weeks. And if you haven’t already, urge Congress to stop playing political games with our economy and country—tell them to end the shutdown and pay our bills.

In solidarity,
Lee Saunders Laura Reyes

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Richards era coming to a close; Time to support Lovely Warren

Tom Richards and Lovely Warren
photo provided
Mayor Tom Richards ends campaigning; Time to support Lovely Warren

By Ove Overmyer

Rochester, N.Y. -- Mayor Tom Richards has proven to be one of the best mayors we could have possibly hoped for. He was a reluctant mayor at first, but came at a time when we really needed stability, vision and a sure hand. In my humble opinion, and judged on the basis of his job performance, his ability to build relationships, bring diverse people together and assessing his overall governmental acumen, he should go down in history as one of our better mayors.

The fact is Mayor Tom Richards has been the total package and a role model for those who follow him. He is a class act and I share this with you speaking from a first-person perspective. As a LGBT city library employee and democratically elected union official who negotiates collective bargaining agreements between CSEA and the City Of Rochester, I have worked with four different mayors, plenty of bureaucrats and dozens of city council persons spanning 16 years. I represent thousands union workers who live and work in the city, and I can honestly say that in my opinion, when it’s all said and done Tom Richards will rank right up there with the best of them.

In a span of about two years as Mayor, Tom Richards constructed a great working relationship with both the business community and the private sector and public sector trade unions. Richards clearly demonstrated a vision and ability to improve public safety, balance budgets, create private sector jobs and improve our educational efforts through literacy, supporting our libraries and facilitating open communication with the RCSD. And, right now, he is still partnering with City Councilman Matt Haag to champion policy to improve workplace equality for all local workers. Every time I was around Mayor Richards, he is without a doubt always the smartest guy in the room, uses an economy of words and respects everyone at the table. He has really set the table for our next Mayor.

Time to support Lovely Warren

While the Primary Election was not the outcome most observers expected, I am still very optimistic about the future of our city. Democrats, Independents, Republicans and citizens of every political stripe need to put governing our city first as a priority and put politics on the back burner. We need to all collectively get behind our next mayor, presumably City Council President Lovely Warren. We realize that may be hard to do-- with the advent of a general election fast approaching on November 5.

After all, most Rochester residents have the same expectations from their local governments-- safe streets, good schools, fiscal responsibility, transparency and equal opportunity for all. It’s just that we differ on how to get there. We should openly welcome constructive debate too-- and stop the finger-pointing and bullying behaviors. It's time we start building bridges and stop putting up walls.

My job and my city colleague’s work remains the same no matter who is mayor-- to make Rochester, N.Y. the best mid-sized city in the U.S. in which to live, raise a family, visit and grow a business. We make it our mission to be renowned for our safe neighborhoods, vibrant economy, great libraries, educational excellence and customer service. City employees take personal responsibility for serving our customers - residents, taxpayers, visitors and investors and we do it with great pride.

With that in mind, I think it’s important for all communities of interest to rally behind Lovely Warren in her effort to lead our city forward. It’s just the right thing to do.