Transcript: Need to Know Rochester for May 28, 2010

Associated Show Highlight: 
Lakefront Properties Have International Appeal

(Julie) Coming up on Need To Know Rochester, Mayor Robert Duffy is running for Lieutenant governor. What's next for Rochester? Also, who is buying lakefront property these days? A surprising report from WXXI senior correspondent Peter IGLINSKI. And metal sculptor Albert Paley in the classroom.



(ANNCR) Rochester's news magazine since 1997. This is Need To Know Rochester.




(Cuomo) I promised people on Saturday when I was announced that I would attract the best and the brightest to state government. I'm pleased and proud to be able to say I start that today.


(Duffy) I'm leaving a job at some point. I won't say that. I think, first of all, I'm going to be going through the process, but if we are successful, to step away from a job next year that I love. I love the job that I do now and the only reason I would conceder ever stepping away is to work along side somebody of the caliber of Andrew Cuomo. Again, it's a very proud moment for me.  I'm humbled by this, but I'm not in any way awed by this challenge ahead.




(Brancato) On days like this, I don't think you can find anything prettier. The lake, the quality of the water, just the environment around it. It's just a very peaceful and enjoyable place.


(Peter) Bob Brancato recently sold a family cottage on Canandaigua Lake, but only after spending five decades of summers swimming sailing and water skiing. During that time, he saw his share of changes.


(Brancato) Originally when I was a kid on the lake all of these places that you see around here were primarily cottages. People used them just for the summer. People came down and usually used them on a fairly regular basis. As the times have grown some of these cottages have been replaced by other more permanent homes and some have been replaced by very large homes.


(Peter) Other changes along the lake are less apparent. The impact is more acute. Just ask Marty Mendola. He's been a full time realtor for the last 20 years.


(Mendola)  You take a metropolitan area as close as greater Toronto or New York City and folks come up here. I remember a number of years ago I had a client call and he told me he sold his studio in Manhattan for a million one and he asked if he could get anything on the lake for that. This was maybe 15 years ago and I said, sir, come on up. I think you'll be elated on the selection you'll have available to you for lakefront homes.


(Peter) Property values are certainly driven by supply and demand. No one is about to add to the lake shore footage. But there is another factor at play and that's the Internet. In the past, buyers would largely come from the Rochester region. Now, thanks to the internet, there is growing interest from over seas. Places like Europe, China, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Because buyers from overseas conceder prices in the Finger Lakes as a bargain, they're paying assessed value or more, driving up the property values for everyone.


(Moore) There's only so much of it and when one of those people come in to purchase a piece of property, for example, if they're coming from California with the prices there they may look at a million dollar purchase here as a very reasonable purchase and there we go. The price has gone up. And the assessment on the rest of us goes up.


(Peter) When the assessment goes up, so does the amount the property owner pays in taxes. And Putt Moore has been seeing the impact of those increases.


(Moore) Are some people moving out? Yes. If you drive down this road, West Lake Road, you would find a few for sale signs where for some reason or another, people have left. Some of my friends along this road have decided that they were spending too much in taxes and just decided to sell and go to a different location.


(Peter) A half million dollar property can carry a tax bill of about $10,000. Despite the rising prices and high taxes, people are still buying. As realtor Nick Mendola explains, when people buy lakefront property, the last thing they are buying is the house.


(Nick Mendola) When people come to Canandaigua Lake what they have to remember is what they are buying one I would say is a lifestyle. It is a nice lifestyle. The second thing that they are buying is the lake itself. What does that mean? It means they can come here and swim, fish, boat or just sit and watch the sunset or a sunrise.


(Peter) That lifestyle and sunset are available at a variety of prices. A check of the listings for Canandaigua Lake this week found a tremendous range. The low price was $62,500. That will get you 1200 square feet of living space and one foot of waterfront. The high price, 3.2 million. That gets you more. A lot more. If none of the 47 properties listed this week is right for you there are still public parks and beaches. Different lifestyle, same sunset.




(Terreri) Thanks for having us.


(Julie) Let's start out with just the initial reaction. What kinds of things did you hear when you woke up Wednesday morning, we sort of suspected Tuesday night. I know some of the reporters were camping out at the airport.


(George) Most people that we talked with, either people who were huge duffy supporters or those who have recently come out against him regarding Mayoral control like school board member Van White, Adam Urbanski, all very proud that he was nominated. Some actually hopeful that this might actually mean mayoral control is dead. So for various reasons.


(Terreri) I think people in city hall were pretty surprised. I think this came as a surprise to them. He kept it very quiet. Even Andrew Cuomo during his acceptance speech yesterday apologized to Mayor Duffy's daughters for keeping the secret from them. I think this had a tight lid on it. I think people were suspicious. The mayor had been sort of sounding different in his comments to the media over the weekend which was sort of suspicious. I think all signs at one point pointed to that eventuality. On Wednesday we woke up and heard the news.


(Julie) Monroe County democratic chair Joe Morelli in fact said he's a police chief. He was a police chief and he's really good at keeping things secret and he did a really good job. Even Joe Morreli did not know until very near the end.


(George) The background check had been going on for quite some time, but apparently those who are inside city hall say Duffy is like clockwork. If he has some place he needs to be, he is there. There were some dignitaries in town the day before this actually came out and apparently he wasn't there so people knew something was up.


(Julie) I also got a sense when we talked to just people on the street that they feel a little betrayed. That they really have a lot of faith in him and he had just started a second term. People elected him. The poll that we did in the fall showed 80% popularity. Did you get a sense that some people are really worried that he's leaving?


(Terreri) We interviewed, 2 of our reporters went out. We talked to 13 people and universal, they were very proud. I know that WXXI talked to some folks and they were a little mixed. I don't know. I think it's a very proud moment for people in the city. I think there is a sense of disappointment among some people but here is a leader who is well respected and he's leaving. I think the future is very uncertain and there may be some worry over that, but I don't know I think it's a proud moment and I think it's also a moment where folks are concerned for the future.


(George) Not just respected, a lot of big projects on the table, on the cusp of happening. Midtown, the transit center, the downtown theater. A lot of these things were spearheaded by Duffy and his administration. What happens?


(Julie) We'll get to those in a second, but getting back to the point about Rochester being proud, Cuomo when he was introducing Duffy really made Rochester sound like a very strong place.


(Terreri) What is this place that he's talking about? He's very much glowing. I think that if you went into some of the neighborhoods and talked to some of the people, people might have a different opinion of that, but I'm sure that's expected and I'm sure the city it probably going to come under more scrutiny by a broader array of media now that Duffy is in the spotlight. I think we can expect that.


(George) It's true. The crime rate has gone down, development is happening. Things have happened over these last four years. Carolee Conklin, long time member of Council, city hall insider has said that Rochester is bigger than just one person and it's more than just the mayor. It's his entire cabinet its Council working together in tandem that has made these things happens.


(Julie) So there might be some hope for us if he leaves. So who would our next mayor be? There's a whole process and I know you did a lot of reporting on the process of replacing Mayor Duffy if he goes to Albany.


(George) Somewhat confusing for city Council members at first. I think they thought, if this was a possibility that under city charter they'd be able to say, "Hey. one of the nine of us is going to do this, we can appoint ourselves. Let's figure out who it's going to be and make this happen."  Well, apparently, state law and case law supersede the charter. So, under state law and case law, it can't be any city Council member if they are to appoint once that resignation is submitted. Not only can it not be one of them, a sitting member of Council, they can't even resign with the intention of being appointed. So right now all nine members of city Council are out if council chooses to appoint. But apparently, there's 30 days once that resignation is handed in for them to make an appointment. If no appointment is made, that forces within 90 days a special election. That opens the field to anyone if a special election occurs. That person, if elected, would fulfill the last 3 years remaining in the term.


(Julie) And when would the special election occur?


(George) Within 90 days of his resignation.


(Julie) If he were to resign right after the election we are talking early 2011 there could be a special election. Now there seems to be some mixed feeling. We spoke to Carolee Conklin yesterday and she said I think we should appoint somebody to stay there and be an interim. Keep Duffy's staff in place and follow through on some of the things he started and then have a regular election. It would cost less and all of that. What are you hearing out there in terms of what the next step should be?


(Terreri) Well, I think it depends on the Democratic Party and it depends on sort of where if they are feeling unified behind somebody. A special is the most democratic way to go about doing this. To have an appointed person be in there for an entire year before there's another election would certainly give that person a leg up if they were interested in running for the job.



Julie: So let's talk names.  I know its pure speculation at this point, but what names are being thrown around out there?


Jill: Well, the first name I heard was the council president, Lovely Warren, and then today she apparently, or yesterday, she said she wasn't interested.  I don't know if that, you know, if that will hold.  But she says she's not interested.  I know that, you know, Molly Clifford said that she was a possibility.  County Legislator Willy Lightfoot said that he was a possibility.  Council member Dana Miller said that he was a possibility. 


Leah: I mean, Van White, Wade Norwood, even, don't forget about him.  Did we say Malik Evans, City Council President, not City Council, and School Board President?  I mean, Elaine Spalding.  I think initially they were thinking it would be Lovely Warren or Elaine Spalding.  They can appoint 


Julie: We've been hearing.  We've heard Joe Robach's name even, you know, he could once again switch parties, move in.  So there's a lot of speculation out there, but these are some pretty big shoes to fill, aren't they?  To kind of bring the administrative experience to carry out what he started. 


Leah: Yeah.  And remember, once you elect, you bring in an entirely new cabinet.  I mean, will Tom Richards, Corporations Council, Economic Development Commissioner, Carlos Carballada; these are big names, big players, who have tried to stay off the radar, but are pretty responsible for a lot this stuff that has been happening good within the city.  Do they go away?

Jill: Right.  With Duffy's term having just started again, and, you know, pulling together this team, and I don't know if that team holds.  I don't know what happens to them.  I don't know, you know, he pulled people out of retirement, even.  I think the future of, sort of, the day-to-day work that goes on in City Hall, you know.

Julie: It isn't really clear right now, hence the apprehension that people have.  Well, let's talk about a couple -- we have about five minutes left -- a couple of the big issues that are out there.  You mentioned Mayoral control of city schools.  One, will it happen with him out of the way?  Two, will people believe in that as much, if the mayor is not Mayor Bob Duffy?

Jill: I think that's a big question, I think that's a very big question, I think.  It wasn't a sure thing with the mayor being the mayor.  So, with him out of the equation, I don't know how you tell parents, how you tell people in the city, to sort of put your faith in a system without a face on that.  They've always said that the mayoral control is not about the mayor, but if the mayor's approval ratings was at 40-percent, and not 79 percent, I don't think we'd be talking about mayoral control. 

Julie: He probably wouldn't even have brought that up.

Leah: A lot of members of council, specifically Adam McFadden, said that he dragged some members of council, kicking and screaming up that hill, he said he was going to die on, with him.  And now he's not going to be there.  So without someone like him at the top, I don't know how you persuade everyone who's kind of on the fence already, that this is a good idea. 

Julie: But on the other hand, it is not up to a vote, really, so it may be him being in Albany.  He said "I'm going to push this.  If I'm elected Lieutenant Governor, I'm going to push this up until that day, and then I'm going to push it some more when I'm in Albany."  So, whether or not he has popular support, might not, in the end, mean

Jill: I think it means a lot to people on the legislature, to know if their constituents support it, because whether their constituents support it, is a reflection on whether they're going to support that person in the next election.  I think for the senators and assemblyman and woman, who represent Rochester, I think knowing that your constituents are comfortable with the proposition of mayoral control, makes it easier to cast that vote in Albany.  And I, so I do think that popular support matters. 

Leah: On all these issues, you know what I'm interested in, as a reporter, is what my access is going to be to the mayor, now that he is a potential candidate for Lieutenant Governor.  Because, all the reporters, who are in, who are in New York, doing the convention, are saying that someone who was so easily accessible, over these last few years to us, is cloaked with the Cuomo people. 

Julie: Right.  Right.  And I know they're, the public relations people for the Cuomo campaign, have already talked to the communications people in this city, "We've got to start coordinating," so we're already talking about a different level there.  The other big issue before go, I want to make sure we hit on it, is the development of the former Mid-town Plaza site, and downtown development in general, that he has really started all of these projects, and he's to leave in the middle of them, what happens? 

Leah: Well, I mean, City Council has had a big part in those.  Economic Development Commissioner has had a big part in those.  I don't think that they stop them, for all intensive purposes.  And people that we've talked to, they've said there's no reason they would stop or not move forward.  Those are bigger, again, than just one person.

Julie: Yeah.  The Paetec CEO, Arunas Chesonis, told us that, you know, he has this great team in place, and they've been doing all the ground work anyways.  And that the major is the one that comes in when they need intervention, with the federal government or the state government, and having him in Albany is only going to help with that.  So the concerns about the downtown development, you think those, that's one of the lower concerns right now? 

Jill: It depends on how the staff in City Hall changes, if it does at all.  If Duffy brings someone with him, brings people with him, if they leave because he's no longer there, I don't know.  But, you know, in some sense it is the staff that carries out a lot of the day-to-day work around those projects. 

Leah: He has someone in particular, Carlos Carballada, had said we pushed this through, we took a team of people, representing each city department, and we said, let's make this work by this deadline.  Sure, the major approves it, but he wasn't the one behind the scenes, yeah.

Julie: But that team is in place, so depending on what happens.  Not too much time left, but I want to ask, Do you think this is good for, if he's in Albany, is that good for Rochester?

Jill: That is a big question.  That is the big question, I think.

Leah: Depends how much Cuomo lets him do. 

Jill: Yeah, it depends on how much he's empowered to do, how much he's able to be affected, and work with the state agencies, and the people in the legislature that he needs to help upstate. 

Julie: Okay, so thank you both very much, we'll have a lot to talk about in the coming months.  I appreciate you coming in.  Jill Terreri is a reporter with the Democrat and Chronicle and Leah George is from YNN Rochester.  Now it's time for the Business Section with the Democrat and Chronicle.


Julie: Democrat and Chronicle Business reporter, Matt Daneman, joins us, as he does every Friday.  Good to see you, Matt. 

Matt: Julie, its D and C week.

Julie: Yes it is.  I want to start out with the big news this week, and what business people are saying, and particularly what's going on with Paetec moving in, and how that is affected by the mayor's decision to run for Lieutenant Governor. 

Matt: The business community's consensus, in general, seems to be that what's good for Rochester, might be Bob Duffy in Albany.  Meaning, that have a strong voice, from, who understands upstate issues, understands city issues, might be a good place for somebody from upstate to be down in the seat of power, in Albany.  Obviously, we've got, like, a really big test of Rochester's pull in Albany right now.  Arunas Chesonis, head of Paetec, is making some strong noises that he's not going to do anything towards building the headquarters down at the Mid-town Plaza complex, until all the i's are dotted and t's are crossed.  All the funding is put together. 

Julie: Which is what he said all along, but I don't know that he expected to wait this long for the state money to come.

Matt: Definitely so.  We've been talking, what? three years this has been going on, Asbestos is still being removed, so it's definitely sort of behind schedule, as far as the original time frame.  And here's a company, when this was first announced, you had all the time in the world to build this headquarters.  Now they're looking at, well, the leases they have for place such as WillowBrook Office Park, where they have a lot of operations.  Those leases come in due and you have to renew. 

Julie:  Hint.  Hint.  Time to move, right?

Matt: Exactly.

Julie: Okay, let's talk about Harris RF, there is actually some positive notes coming out of there.

Matt: Definitely so.  You had a bunch of top company executives from Harris Corp., the parent company, and all sorts of Wall Street executives, in town this week in Rochester, for Harris Corp. to sort of lay out a "Here's where the company is going."  It's really interesting, and telling, that they used Harris RF as the backdrop for that, because Harris RF is really very much, the pressure's very much on Harris RF to be, to continue to be a big driver of profits and revenues for the company.  And Harris Corp. is expecting big things from the radio manufacturers.  They're looking at Harris RF doing something like six percent revenue growth in fiscal year 2011, which is pretty sizable.  Harris RF, still a very big part of this local economy, 2300 workers, and obviously, a lot of money is being put into Harris RF.  They're moving a lot of manufacturing operations to bigger, much bigger spread of Henrietta.  A lot of growth potential at least.

Julie: And really, they've been growing all along, even through the recession.  They did get affected, the bad, the negative impact that other companies did, so six percent is not necessarily a real lot of reach for them.

Matt: No, not at all.  Not at all.  And here's a company that's also been, even during the recession, has been diversifying its product stream.  You used to be the military radio manufacture, now they've got this whole new business line, about a year old, that does a first responder to emergencies, like police and fire, and that sort of thing.  So they really are, sort of, trying to diversify out of just being department defense company.  They're doing a lot more international work, so you're seeing a lot of hopeful signs, that even if one area of the economy gets shaky, there's a lot of other things to back it up, so that Harris RF could be a really strong company for many years to come.

Julie: Speaking of shaky, Wall Street.

Matt: Yeah, you know, if you look at what's been going on the last couple of weeks, with-- particularly with stocks of local interest, it's been very much roller coasterish.  You've got so much concern about things, such as what's going on with Greece and other European countries, and whether that's going to be a harbinger of what's going to happen with the United States.  You've got concerns about the economy in the United States, in general.  If you look at the S and P 500, last two weeks it's basically started out about 1100 some, it dropped down quite a bit, and it's been sort of slowing climbing back.  You that same, almost that exact same pattern, if you overlay what's gone on with Kodak.  What's gone on with Xerox.  You have other companies, like Paychex, which have the last two weeks, have just been sort of eking downward a bit.  You have companies like Munro Muffler, which this week had a jump, because they had, they've seen some really good sales.  It's really all over the board, but for a lot of companies and a lot of stocks, in general, it's just been this constant, sort of up and down, up and down.  One day's good news, next day's bad news in the broad economy, and they're just being snapped back and forth. 

Julie: Thanks so much, we're out of time.  Matt Daneman, business reporter with the Democrat and Chronicle.  I'm Julie Phillipp.  We close this edition of Need To Know Rochester with a video essay from Marty Kaufman.  He went to school number 52 this week to capture a fifth and sixth grade lesson in seeing, hearing and feeling art, from none other than Rochester's internationally renowned sculptor, Albert Paley. 

Albert: I'm trying to, the best I can, to access their minds, and what they're thinking about, so it's a magical journey.  Yep. 

What do you think you're drawing?  Maybe up here?

You went and you cut the music out, so now you heard the music, and now you can see the music.  And now, so, this was in our head.  And we made this.  So now what I want you to do is, we're, I want you to pick out a couple of pieces of cardboard.  And the people here are going to help you.  What we're going to do, is we're going to glue these pieces together, on the cardboard.  And then, as I'm standing here or you're sitting there, we're going to incorporate this music into this.  And that'll the basis. 

You can do it.  I saw you.  You were one of the fastest ones.  Yeah, let's see.  Watch out, this glue is hot, so don't touch it.  Okay.  Just hold that there, until the glue, don't touch it, yeah, just hold it there, so the glue, yeah, that's it.  Okay.

Now.  That's good.  Where do you think this should go? 

Tell me about the color of music.  Yeah. 

Kid 1: Emotions.  If you're happy.

Albert: Yeah, but what color?

Kid 1: I don't know. 

Albert: Now, you've heard of the blues.  And usually that's kind of blue and down and sad, okay?  And then, what do think yellow is? 

Random Child: Happy.

Albert: Absolutely.  All right, so what I want you to do now, is we started, we started -- now listen, follow me -- we started with music.  You had your eyes shut, you did the music.  And we saw the music, we made the music, so we could see the music.  Now I want you to do, is I want you to put the emotion and the feeling, in the music.  So I want you to put the color, of what you feeling, in your music.

Man: So do you think if it was a huge sculpture in a park, that kids could climb on it or anything? 

Kids: No. 

Man: No, you wouldn't want them to do that? 


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