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It’s graduation week at local high schools! Families that have children celebrating the completion of high school and the beginning of the next chapter will have a range of emotions that might include: shock over how quickly the time went, inability to stop seeing the kids as younger version…

By now, many of us have grown accustomed to (and, if you’re like me, tired of) the nastiness that happens at City Council meetings. Grown men who should know better acting like poorly behaved middle-school bullies has become par for the course. But last week’s meeting rose to new heights of …

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For this installment, I’ve decided to try something new. Rather than writing one long column on a single topic, I thought I would instead look at a few issues that have been in the news recently.

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For those of us in Geneva who have to pay our property taxes in two installments, the final payment is due at the end of the month. I wrote my check Wednesday, the date of the City Council meeting. I planned to go speak about a few issues on my mind, specifically the many ways we could be ge…

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By now it is old news that the Geneva City Council rejected an offer of pro bono legal services from one of the nation’s most prestigious appellate legal departments to appeal the ruling that halted the Police Review Board. Their decision makes sense from the perspective of self-serving poli…

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In response to my last column expressing concerns about the city manager search, several people wanted to point out that Geneva shouldn’t hire a person from “somewhere else.” They reminded me that we aren’t Boulder, Boston or Baltimore (thank you for clearing up any geographic confusion), an…

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Geneva City Council has charged ahead with a solicitation for a new city manager. Despite the very competitive national hiring environment for city leaders and a hastily compiled advertisement, I don’t want to abandon hope that a good candidate can be found.

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My first column of 2022 celebrated Adam Blowers leading the city in regrouping, backfilling critical positions in planning and economic development that were lost to retirement and resignations, and giving Council time to get its act together. But then he announced he was leaving.

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It’s no secret that I was “scooped” by newly-named-and-then-nearly-immediately-outgoing City Manager Adam Blowers in my last column. Sometime between the time I turned in my missive (in which I thanked the sweet Heavens that we would have his steady leadership for the coming year) and the da…

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At first blush, it seems less than ideal to start the new year in Geneva with a vacant Council seat and a vacancy in the city manager’s position. I wish Sage Gerling well in her new position but believe this is indicative of city staff not being utilized or engaged as much as they should be …

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It has been a long year. Perhaps it is an unpopular view to wish for snow, but I am hoping that enough falls between now and Christmas Day to bring us the quiet and beauty that comes with a fresh snow (it also makes some of the Christmas carols we’ve been belting out around the house seem a …

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Interesting things happened in Geneva last Tuesday and Wednesday. At the time of writing this, I don’t know what the Geneva IDA will do in terms of the proposed PILOT agreement for the hotel and conference center development along Route 14, but I have faith that the public participation was …

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We are blessed to live in a place that is not homogeneous, not terribly suburban, not cookie-cutter, strip-mall, boring. Living in a place with lots of different perspectives means that there will sometimes be tensions that need to be resolved. Although I try to have conversations with peopl…

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For my Ethics classes, we’ve reached the point in the semester where the students are digging into current moral controversies. After spending more than a month listening to me lecture about the history and underpinnings of several moral theories (I try to make it more interesting and engagi…

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Whether you’re in Seneca Falls or Geneva or any other place with property taxes in New York state, you know that budget discussions and election time always focus on how much money local governments are spending and on what.

Earlier this year (the first week of June to be a bit more exact), Deb Hall of the Finger Lakes Landlord’s Association and I co-wrote a guest appearance in the Times about the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). The ERAP program is part of the federally-funded COVID relief package to…

By the time this column is printed, the commemoration and reflection of the 9/11 attacks will have passed. But what I hope has not yet passed is a commemoration of the spirit of Sept. 12, the day after our national tragedy, and the days that followed. The aftermath of the attacks saw people …

In recent months I’ve had several conversations with former city employees, trying to figure out what is happening here and what any of us who aren’t in City Hall anymore might be able to do to help get things back on track.

In an age of conspicuous consumption — when there is an expectation of society that your phone, television, computer, car, shoes, even hairstyle must be updated, replaced, changed, or just discarded frequently — it’s hard to come up with a list of things within our immediate reach that have …

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For these columns, I try to think about local issues that are moving this region forward. But today, I find myself stuck in the slowdown. With so much important stuff to talk about, like housing, taxes, the ongoing opioid epidemic, Geneva’s “breaking news” is sidewalk chalk?

This column will run two days after the Fourth of July, the day following the “observed” holiday. Maybe you’ll be reading it online, in bed, recovering from a weekend of celebration. Maybe you’ll be sitting on the couch after a long workout to burn off the calories from the four white hots y…

Last week, Frank Bruni announced that he was ending his stint as a columnist for the New York Times. He used his final column to apologize to readers for giving in to snark and soundbites in a way that might have contributed to, or at least encouraged, the breakdown in reasoned and reasonabl…

They say “all politics is local,” which has always struck me as both true and grammatically incorrect (I feel like it should be “all politics are local” but there’s another case where our feelings and the truth diverge — insofar as the rules of grammar are objective standards).

Local garden centers are a pretty great place to be this time of year: beauty all around, the promise of plants that will thrive under the care of a green thumb (which I do not have), long lines of happy customers ready to get flowers and vegetables into the ground. And then, from the back o…

Last week, the police had to be called to a Webster school board meeting to try to restore order. It seems the adults there to discuss that their children were unable to behave as ... adults. We remember a few years back when the same had to be done at a Seneca Falls Town Board meeting, when…

I was driving in Seneca County the other day, and saw a sign that caught my eye. I admit I didn’t think all that much about it until I saw another one in Geneva, another in Victor, and another in a Buffalo suburb. The signs are blue, with the words: “Hate Has No Home Here.” In the upper left…

The federal and state eviction and foreclosure moratoriums, in place throughout the pandemic, are coming to an end. The moratoriums, which protected people struggling to keep up with rent and mortgage payments to keep them from ending up homeless, were a good thing, but the situation is one …

In March 2010, the Geneva City Council considered a proposal for two new entities: a Local Development Corp. and a Board of Ethics. The city was in the middle of an economic and social rising tide and the proposals were meant to usher in a more focused, professional government operation. It …

My family’s musical tastes are ... eclectic. You’re just as likely to hear classical music played after dinner as Motown; my grunge roots are tempered by a new fascination with Taylor Swift’s pandemic releases; and the kids and I appreciate the authenticity and style of country and rap. We a…

Social media, 24/7 television, and partisan politics are all recipes for people talking a lot without really listening to others. But elected officials who get so caught up in trading verbal jabs with one another and getting soundbites into news stories lose focus on the actual public servic…

I certainly didn’t expect the first Wall Street shakeup of the year to involve GameStop, and I really don’t understand what that was all about anyway, but I do follow local politics and therefore I feel a bit more comfortable making some predictions about how Geneva City Council might behave…

I belong to the group of people now allowed to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, the “1B” crowd, but maybe putting an ethics professor into this mix isn’t the best idea.

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After the year we’ve had, which in many ways felt like one long shouting match, you might wonder why I am wishing for 2021 to be the year of real arguments. Most people believe arguments are to be avoided (even people who seem to always be arguing about something) and when we reach a point o…

The news came this week like a bright light cutting through the darkness — amidst reports of rising COVID cases, decreasing compliance with public health suggestions, higher rates of homelessness and lower amounts of government support — one woman’s 384 acts of kindness done all at once. Mac…

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J.D. Vance’s autobiography, “Hillbilly Elegy,” which took book clubs by storm, is very different from the movie version that Ron Howard just produced for Netflix. Both are based on Vance’s childhood experiences in Ohio and trace his “escape” to his current life in the high-flying world of ve…

I was doing some grocery shopping at a Seneca County establishment the other day and overheard a conversation in the parking lot that stuck in my head. Two older women were discussing the “COVID scare” as just a hoax of a heavy-handed government. The language used was a bit more crass, but t…

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Let me say right off the bat that I do not like the phrase “defund _______,” whether it’s teachers, police, social services, or any other way people fill in the blank. It’s clumsy and unnecessarily inflammatory. Using it in the title of this column was sure to rankle a few people, but that i…

Given all that’s happening in the world right now, I could have dedicated this column to the power of a single vote or the importance of down-ballot elections in a Presidential election year.

COVID-19 has certainly brought trying times to all aspects of our lives. With no help forthcoming from the federal government, we are left — as small-business owners, families, seniors, taxpayers — to fill in the economic cracks opened up by the spreading virus. And of course we are seeing t…

In a strange coincidence, this column will run on my birthday. That won’t happen again until 2037 (by which time a new and better columnist will have surely replaced me here).

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As if Mother Nature somehow knows the Upstate New York calendar, the passage of Labor Day ushered in cool evenings and cloudy days — giving us the “back to school” fall feeling even though there are still a few weeks before the season is truly upon us. The abrupt closing of schools in the sp…

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A recent radio show discussed research findings from the insurance industry that showed people who receive an apology after an accident are less likely to sue and more likely to accept small settlements. As a result, some insurance companies are training their representatives and attorneys i…

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On Friday night we lost two giants of civil rights, Congressman John Lewis and the Rev. CT Vivian. By the time this column runs, you will have heard about their good works, if you didn’t already know (and if you somehow still do not know, please search out the history). These men put their m…

Family Counseling Service of the Finger Lakes has been awarded a large grant in support of its Resiliency Center. This project was a finalist for the Downtown Revitalization program but ultimately was not selected. The mission and structure of the center are being worked on right now, but as…

Much like the homeowner who knows of a small plumbing leak and tries a temporary fix to put off addressing the underlying issue (which often backfires when something happens-like a pipe bursts — when it’s even less convenient and even more expensive) we are seeing the culmination of long-ign…

A bad penny? A broken record? Take your pick, I am it. This is the fourth time in as many years that my column is about police accountability. If you think it’s a new idea, you certainly haven’t been paying attention — but with everything going on lately, I hope you are now.