A funny thing happened while we were getting this week’s edition of North Coast ready for publication. While scanning local news sources for likely subjects to write about, we chanced upon a City of Rochester press release on their website concerning Mayor Lovely Warren’s Summer Learning Challenge.
It contained a quote from the Mayor:
“I challenge our kids to plug the summer brain drain and have some fun by taking advantage of the free programs our libraries and R-Centers have to offer,” she said in the release. “Making sure our children have access to safe, engaging activities over the summer months is key to our efforts to provide better educational opportunities for our citizens, which leads to more jobs and safer, more vibrant neighborhoods.”
Now that’s funny, we thought … where have we heard that before?
Deja vu? Or just plain Voodoo?
A search through a pile of City Newspapers in the corner revealed a story in their May 6th edition on the kick-off for Rochester’s famed Lilac festival.
“The first weekend of the Lilac Festival is off and running, complete with fried Oreos, carriage rides and a 1,000-tree giveaway. ‘Festivals like this allow us to bring people to our city,” said the city of Rochester’s communications director, James Smith. “It allows us to realize more jobs for our community, and have safer, more vibrant neighborhoods and better educational opportunities for our children.’ ”
Catchy, huh? It was very helpful when the videos of the gang violence started showing up on U-Tube. But wait, there’s more.
Going all the way back to January 20th of this year an article about the Port of Rochester entitled Operator chosen for Port of Rochester Marina the Mayor says:
“…SG Marina has a proven track record and a reputation for operating high quality marinas," Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren said in a statement Tuesday, "so I am proud to call them a partner as we transform Rochester's lakefront into a true Port of Opportunity. With their help, the Port of Rochester Marina will help us create more jobs, safer, more vibrant neighborhoods and provide all children with a quality education”
Create more Jobs? Well, there are two I guess, so that makes some sense. It’s not Eastman Business Park, but it’s still jobs. But Education? Safety in our streets? Not sure about that connection.
Even the City’s “Press Officer”, Jessica Alaimo is in on the act.
Back a year ago, in a story about putting two old Rochester City School District buildings up for sale, she says:
"Schools have closed in the past and we have found ways to put the buildings to good use," says city spokesperson Jessica Alaimo. "The mayor's top priorities are to improve access to jobs and a quality education, and make neighborhoods more vibrant. These priorities will be the top consideration as we review the proposals."
It turns out that in fact, almost every press release churned out from the massive City Hall PR team includes those words or something very close to it, being “said” by this person or that person about all kinds of things.
So much so that its repetition starts to appear at the very least disingenuous … but at its worst, insulting to the citizens of Rochester.
Clearly, this has become a mantra, developed from focus groups and polling that can serve to be Rochester’s own version of the “Big Lie”.
It’s City “One-Speak”. Say it often enough and loud enough, and the people will begin to believe it.
By the way, it should come as no surprise that it’s a strategy right out of the County Republican Party’s playbook. After all, the City’s Communication Director is James Smith – an infamous Republican operative who invented the ROBUTRAD scandal where county workers did work on Republican donor’s homes for free. He came out of the County Executive’s Office and into the Mayor’s lap. He was Jack Doyle’s press guy and Maggie Brooks’ Deputy Exec. Now, he’s Mayor Warren’s “go-to” guy to keep her out of trouble. And he’s doing a good job, after all:
“Having him at City Hall allows us to realize more jobs for our community, have safer, more vibrant neighborhoods and better educational opportunities for our children.”
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~ Sidney Reilly is a freelance writer who lives in Rochester. You can contact Mr. Reilly at firstname.lastname@example.org