Feedback 9/12 

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'The Best' accessibility

On a simplistic level, candidates running for election supply rudimentary information for voters so they can make an educated decision and choose the person best suited for the job. If I cannot gain access to what a candidate is selling, I'm not going to buy it.

The same holds true with The Best of Rochester primary ballot selection. On the surface, The Best of Rochester is a fun way to support local businesses by telling its readers that these businesses were voted The Best by consumers visiting those establishments. It gives the impression that the winners are the best Rochester has to offer.

I look forward to filling out the primary ballot for the choice of The Best of Rochester. I enjoy supporting city vendors. Unfortunately, some vendors will not be getting my vote – not because they are not a great music venue, or do not have the best hamburgers, or do not provide trendy boutique clothing. It is because they are not wheelchair accessible and I'm a wheelchair user. I cannot access their establishment.

There have been several inaccessible city businesses that I have not been able to access this summer. One offers a service I won in a raffle. I ended up giving the certificate to an able-bodied friend. The next two, a phenomenal music venue and a brand-new boutique, operate in locations that were "grandfathered in."

In the case of the music venue, I got my money back for the ticket I had purchased. Although I did purchase earrings from the boutique, it was outside the store on the sidewalk. The boutique owner tried her best to accommodate me, but I think Rochester can do better.

Surely, the City of Rochester can provide reasonably accessible options to new businesses and their potential customers who use wheelchairs. In the meantime, it would be fantastic if the final Best of ballot consisted of locations that wheelchair users can actually visit. Most inaccessible city businesses do not even supply a temporary or portable ramp or an entrance without steps, an accessible path, and a doorway wide enough for a wheelchair user to enter.

Shouldn't The Best of Rochester final selection reflect the businesses that go the extra mile to provide service to all customers inside the store? The winners should reflect businesses that actually act upon the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the civil rights act that was enacted in 1990 to prevent discrimination against persons with disabilities who want to access public accommodations and commercial facilities.

And by extension, the City of Rochester should assist these small businesses to become the very best that Rochester should be offering.

Should we, could we ban guns?

Regarding "Why Not Ban Guns?" (Urban Journal): We tried banning alcohol, and that led to the rise of the crime lords and the murder of innocent citizens. The "war" on drugs, terror, and poverty led to government programs that haven't made us safer or reduced drug use or its terrible consequences. And we still have people in poverty 40 years after the "Great Society" vision of President Johnson.

Both Chicago and New York City have gun bans that prevent law-abiding citizens from possessing that firearm. Neither city has effectively reduced the violence when a determined person wants a gun. Shutting down gun shops, gun shows, and firearm manufacturers will only repeat the failures of prohibition.

Wishing for a utopian society where guns don't exist except in the hands of the police or military is a waste of a time. Not all police or the military are squeaky clean. Look at all the abuse cases in the newspapers or on TV. Look at the reports of the Mexican police and military selling their US-supplied firearms to drug lords and terrorist gangs.

Maybe what's needed is a return to some age-old morals. Maybe society has to change and insist that we don't lie, cheat, steal, or kill our neighbors. Maybe we should crack down on the corrupt politicians, bankers, lawyers, and business "elite." Maybe society has to set a better example first.

That's a lot of work, and it's much easier to sit in front of the TV, computer, or Twitter and worry who's been bounced from the dancing contest or the loser house. Come to think of it, maybe that's what "they" want.

Why not just ban all guns altogether? Let me cite a few reasons.

1) Why not ban free speech so that all those people who have terrible ideas would no longer be heard? What constitutes a terrible idea? How about going against the Constitution? The Second Amendment does talk about the need for a militia to resist the worst of government. But read exact wording says "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

Seems as if the framers were being pretty specific, not about the type of guns (like muskets versus semi-automatics) but about the rights of common people to put food on their table or protect themselves from any threat.

2) Here's a great analogy to Ms. Towler's proposed gun ban: let's make drugs illegal. Then there wouldn't be any drugs available either, right? Forget about those pesky cartels in Mexico. They'd never sell drugs here in this country. The "War on Drugs" is over 100 years old. Anyone see an imminent victory?

3) New York City has the toughest gun laws in the nation, followed by New York State. But who obeys laws? Only law-abiding citizens. Those daily city shootings would continue because most of the people killing each other are doing so with illegal guns. Maybe after 100 years of a total ban, there would be no illegal guns. I'd have more faith in finding the tooth fairy or some unicorns or even the treasure of the Sierra Madre.

4) Hunters and target-shooting sportsmen and women would have to find some other hobby? New York State makes a lot of money from selling hunting licenses and from assorted taxes on ammo, equipment, etc. A good deal of that money goes to pay for conservation-related programs.

"Are those pleasures worth the cost of the repeated carnage - on streets, in homes, in offices, by mentally stable and mentally ill alike?" What if all law-abiding sportsmen surrendered their guns and target shooting was no longer allowed yet the carnage continued? (See Point 2 or 3.)

5) Rational discussions about gun bans generally miss the target. If someone has the mindset to do damage to others, there's little that can stop them. Instead of a gun, a car could certainly take out a crowd of people. Perhaps a law like the one that compels health-care providers to report child abuse could work in the mental-health arena. But I think right most psychiatrists and NP's are likely reporting to law enforcement if someone says they plan to harm themselves or others. Until someone does say just that, there's not much recourse.

6) This is a vexing problem. As a legal, law-abiding long gun owner, I'm sickened whenever one of these individuals uses a gun in pursuit of their demons. However, suggesting more feel-good laws that do nothing is a waste of time. This may be akin to asking "which came first, the chicken or the egg?" Around and around we go and never get anywhere close to the tail we so vigorously chase.

Wasn't the movie theater shooting a "gun free zone"? How did taking guns away from the law-abiding people make them safer?

And having the police protect us worked out so well in New York City, where all nine bystanders shot were shot by police. Do we take away their guns too?

And will Bloomberg give up his armed security guards? Or are some people more deserving of protection than others?
LANCER Posted on

Joe Biden's 'chains' comment

On a reader's web comment on a News Blog post: Bart speaks baloney. Biden spoke the truth when he said that getting rid of Obama's health-care reform would "put you back in chains" – as he spelled out, the old chains of health-insurance companies refusing claims, leaving millions more unable to afford health care. Of the four top candidates, Biden's the only one who tells the whole truth.


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