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Monday, April 6, 2009 at 2:46 pm

Small business showcase

post by Billie Owens in batavia, business

Genesee County Chamber of Commerce is holding its annual Small Business Week Showcase from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, April 24.

It will feature a variety of merchants and various food vendors at Batavia City Centre, formerly the Genesee Country Mall.

The showcase coincides with the Jackson Square Inside concert at the mall, featuring the OHMS Band.

For information about exhibiting at the small business showcase, call Kelly Bermingham at 585-343-7440 ex. 26.

For more information about this and other downtown events visit the B.I.D. website at  HYPERLINK "http://www.downtownbataviany.com" www.downtownbataviany.com or call 585-344-0900.     

Event Date and Time

April 24, 2009 - 5:00pm - 8:00pm
Monday, April 6, 2009 at 1:23 pm

YMCA Healthy Kids Day

post by Billie Owens in announcements, batavia, health, YMCA

The Genesee Area Family YMCA is hosting its annual Healthy Kids Day Event
from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 18. It's free and gives families a chance to visit the YMCA and see all it has to offer children and adults. There will be a Bounce House and you can climb our rock wall, swim, prepare healthy snacks, play games and experience virtual fitness games.

The YMCA is located at 209 E. Main St. in Batavia. Phone is 344-1664.

Event Date and Time

April 18, 2009 - 1:00pm - 4:00pm
Monday, April 6, 2009 at 1:01 pm

YMCA Preschool Open House

post by Billie Owens in announcements, batavia, preschool, YMCA

YMCA Preschool is holding an open house from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 8.

Open enrollment begins for the fall semester. Class offerings include a playgroup for 2-year-olds (must be 2 by Sept. 1, 2009) and 3-year-olds' preschool (must be 3 by Dec. 1, 2009).  Please contact the YMCA if you are looking for a half-day program for your 5-year-old child in the fall. Phone 344-1664.

In addition, all parents of children aged 4 by Dec. 1, 2009 are encouraged to register their children for Universal Pre-Kindergarten through the Batavia City School District.


Event Date and Time

April 8, 2009 - 6:00pm - 7:30pm
Monday, April 6, 2009 at 12:29 pm

Getting to know Dharina Rathod

post by Tasia Boland in batavia, John Kennedy School

Dharina Rathod made sure to correct me right away, very politely saying everyone calls her “Simran.”  This was her grandmother’s favorite Indian name, which means "prayer."

Teachers at Robert Morris Elementary School say this 11-year-old is well-rounded, helpful and courteous. Not to mention energetic. She takes part in lots of activities, ranging from singing to student council secretary.

But the thing that sets her apart from many other fifth-graders is her initiative.

"She willingly helps students on their assignments in a productive and nurturing way," said teacher Carly Koopman. "She is a kind girl -- always on top of her assignments and projects."

Such kudos prompt big smiles from Simran and her parents, of course. The family, including three older brothers, moved to Batavia when Simran was three. She was born in England.

"She's always helping us out," said her father Ken, which her family appreciates.

Kids in the classroom seem to appreciate Simran, too.

After finishing an art-class project, for example, Simran helps the others clean up. When she's finished an assignment, she comes to the aid of classmates who might be struggling with their work.

Social studies is Simran's favorite academic subject and her class is currently studying America's neighbors Canada and Mexico.

Outside her regular classroom, Simran takes part in a tutorial-assistance program for students preparing for exams.

She also plays saxophone in the school band and sings in chorus, the latter being her favorite.

As student council secretary, she said she mostly takes notes.

This summer she will spend her time dancing and swimming as well as enjoying one of her favorite Indian dishes, chicken curry.

Simran is toying with the idea of becoming a professional choreographer. She memorizes the dance moves she learns on television then practices them.

This fascination with dance has put an earlier goal of becoming a teacher on the back burner. But there's plenty of time to change her mind.

Monday, April 6, 2009 at 10:10 am

City of Batavia could face big bill soon if arbitrator rules in favor of police union

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, police, union

Is the City of Batavia ready to pony up $288,000 in back pay to Batavia's police officers?

That could be the price tag on an expected arbitrator's ruling this summer.

Or the amount of back pay could be zero, or somewhere in between. Nobody really knows at this point.

In an e-mail request for comment, City Manager Jason Molino said, "Yes the arbitration decision will most likely come out this summer or fall.  There is no way of determining what the settlement may be.  This makes budgeting extremely difficult and no money has been budgeted for retroactive payments.  Any substantial retroactive payment would severely set back the City's attempt to minimize future costs."

Molino addressed the back pay issue earlier this year in his annual budget message, when he said that no money had been budgeted to cover retroactive pay.

Other city unions have given at least one year of zero-percent adjustments over the past four fiscal years (including 2009-2010), with other annual increases ranging from 1.5 percent to 2.85 percent.

If the the arbitrator finds in favor of the police union, the city could be on the hook for five years of back pay. It could be less, and it may not be as high as 3 percent.

But if the officers are awarded a 3-percent increase, it would be compounded for two years. That second-year rate would also apply to any additional annual pay increases for three years.

Frank Klimjack, president of the Batavia Police Benevolent Association, e-mailed us this explanation:

As per the Taylor law, an arbitrator can only impose an award for two years, therefore, that would only get the contract situation to an expiration date of March 31st, 2007.  Whatever award is imposed, a ?% for March 1st, 2005 and ?% for April 1st, 2006 would be granted to the PBA membership. Then you would have to readjust the amount of earnings beginning April 1st, 2005 through the present day 2009 based upon those percentages to determine back pay due the PBA membership. Then it's back to the negotiating table.

That's a big question mark in Klimjack's statement -- we don't know if it is 1 percent, 2 percent or 3 percent or more.  If the arbitrator imposes a rate as high as 4 percent, and five years of back pay, the total would be $317,800.  Two percent would be $258,000.

The BPA has been without a contract, and its members have not received a raise since 2005. Batavia police officers earn from $32,942 to $48,406 (most officers make $48,406), with detectives earning $53,164, sergeants $55,552 and lieutenants $63,775.  Two years of consecutive 3-percent raises for police officers earning $48,406 would bring their annual salaries to $51,354.

By comparison, the starting pay for a Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy is $47,798, and a typical deputy with three years on the force is earning about $52,832, according to Sheriff Gary Maha.

Unsure if the Batavia officers could really get a full five-years worth of back pay, I asked Klimjack to clarify and he replied: "Five years of back pay is correct.  Then beginning April 1st, 2007 through the present is negotiable."

I take that to mean that any additional annual increases from 2007 would be negotiable.  While, a total of five years of back pay for PBA members could still be award at whatever rate the arbitrator sets, per the Taylor law for the covered two years.

For a cash-strapped city, six-figures in back pay is a significant chunk of change. Asked where that money would come from, City Council President Charlie Mallow said, "I’m going to wait for the arbitration to be completed before I speculate on what steps the city will need to take to lesson the impact on our future tax burden. It is clear to me that it would be impossible to pass on a substantial tax increase to city residents at this point. I am confident Council as a whole will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure a stable tax rate."

You may remember that earlier this year the city decided to use $425,000 in Video Lottery Terminal to help land $4.5 million in Federal stimulus funds. Could that money have been better spent on police officer back pay?

"VLT aid was one-time revenues," Molino said. "Funding operational annual expenses with one time revenues would leave the City with significant shortfalls once the revenue stops."

Monday, April 6, 2009 at 7:05 am

Teacher killed in Binghamton was born in Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

Roberta King, killed in Binghamton on Friday, was born in Batavia, but grew up in Syracuse, according to Syracuse.com.

King, 72, was a substitute teacher that day.

People who knew her in Binghamton talked of her extensive doll collection and how she generously donated them for the annual Hanukkah museum at Temple Concord in Binghamton. Some of her dolls are on permanent display there.

On the Binghamton newspaper's Web site, many of the people commenting had her as a teacher and substitute teacher, and spoke glowingly of how she touched their lives.


Syracuse classmates from Roberta King's high school and college years in Syracuse were shocked Saturday to learn the gentle, sweet woman they remembered died Friday at the head of a classroom in the American Civic Association in Binghamton.

Monday, April 6, 2009 at 6:43 am

Police Beat: Alleged robbery at target, man threatens mother and reported forged checks

post by Howard B. Owens in Basom, batavia, crime, Oakfield, Stafford

Marcos Juan Gomez, 31, of Rochester (pictured, right), is being charged with robbery in the 1st degree after allegedly being caught shoplifting at Target, and when security personnel there tried to stop him, he reportedly pulled a knife and fled. He was subsequently apprehended in the Home Depot parking lot. He is being held in Genesee County Jail in lieu of $20,000 bail.

Michael F. Geer, 18, of Batavia, is in jail on $5,000 bail and charged with harassment in the second degree and menacing in the second degree after allegedly wielding a knife and threatening to kill his mother. He is also charged with possession of a controlled substance He was taken into custody yesterday at around 5 p.m.

Benjamin Muntz, 20, of Oakfield (pictured, left), is accused of forgery after allegedly trying to pass forged checks at a local bank. He was arrested Thursday by a Sheriff's deputy while at Batavia City Court. He allegedly possessed two forged checks while at a Batavia bank in September. He is held in custody in lieu of $5,000 bail.

A 17-year-old girl from Stafford is in custody and held on $1,000 bail after allegedly entering a residence and taking $300 worth of property. She is charged with burglary in the second degree, a felony, and petty larceny. An order of protection was also issued.

Clint L. Stafford, 27, of Basom, was charged with DWI and felony unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle early Sunday morning. He was also ticked with an improper left turn and an open container.

A 17-year-old from Bergen is being charged with possession of a controlled substance in the 7th degree. A K-9 reportedly found hydrocodone in the teenagers possession in November and a subsequent lab test confirmed the substance was hydrocodone. The teenager was issued an appearance ticket.

A 17-year-old girl involved in a motor vehicle accident in Stafford last week was allegedly found with a switch blade knife and several marijuana pipes. She is being charged with criminal possession of a weapon in the 4th degree and unlawful possession of marijuana.

Saturday, April 4, 2009 at 4:18 pm

The man who tore down half of Old Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, mall, urban renewal

I wish I could find David J. Gordon, if he's still alive, and interview him. On video would be especially good. I wonder if he would squirm at all?

Gordon is the City of Batavia's former Director or Urban Renewal.  If there is one single person responsible for tearing down half of downtown Batavia and building that brutal mall, it is Gordon.

We could give Gordon his due and excuse his enthusiasm for destruction and reconstruction to youthful folly and the trends of the time. Or could we see him as a locus for change that not many Batavian's wanted (it's very hard to find any long-time residents who say they support (or should I say, "admit" that they supported) the city's decision at the time).

C.M. Barons, loyal reader and commentor on The Batavian, interviewed Gordon in 1973. He e-mailed me a copy of the article.

Reading the Q&A is nothing less than infuriating.

Gordon started his young adult life pursuing study in social sciences and then flirted with becoming a priest, but wound up in Washington, D.C. where he got involved in urban renewal, a particularly flatulent excess of federal largess aimed at destroying city blocks and replacing them with anything, anything at all.

Urban renewal was all the rage in the 1960s and 1970s.


Urban renewal is extremely controversial, and typically involves the destruction of businesses, the relocation of people, and the use of eminent domain as a legal instrument to reclaim private property for city-initiated development projects.

In the second half of the 20th century, renewal often resulted in the creation of urban sprawl and vast areas of cities being demolished ... 

Urban renewal's effect on actual revitalization is a subject of intense debate. It is seen by proponents as an economic engine, and by opponents as a regressive mechanism for enriching the wealthy at the expense of taxpayers and the poor. It carries a high cost to existing communities, and in many cases resulted in the destruction of vibrant—if run-down —neighborhoods.

If you're a fan of The Kinks, you might be familiar with the 1971 album Muswell Hillbillies, which was Ray Davies scathing and often witty polemic against urban renewal. Long before I came to Batavia, it was one of my favorite LPs. Now it often strikes me as especially poignant.

I got a letter this morning with serious news that's gone and ruined my day,
The borough surveyor's used compulsory purchase to acquire my domain,
They're gonna pull up the floors, they're gonna knock down the walls,
They're gonna dig up the drains.

Here come the people in grey they're gonna take me away to lord knows where,
But I'm so unprepared I got no time to pack and I got nothing to wear,
Here come the people in grey,
To take me away.

Gordon was very much one of those people in grey, judging from the picture with Barons' article and his attitude toward the city that was nothing more than another notch on his resume.

At the heart of the article is Gordon's complete lack of respect for the small business owner. Without that respect, it is easy to see why he had no qualms about dislocating businesses that had operated in the same locations for decades.

What I think personally and I was brought up in a small business man's type home -- I'm talking experience not theory, is that unfortunately business has become that which is owned by bigger and bigger conglomerates. The day of the small business, I'm sorry to say, has become more and more a less intricate part of the American scene. It's another one of the changing aspects, one of the reasons, and there are many, that in the old days when a man ran a business he whole family went in there and helped him. His wife went in there and more important -- his kid. But today his kid wants to go to college and rightly so. And he wants the 35 or 40 hour work week with fringe benefits and vacations; he doesn't want to work all hours of the day as he did before. The small business can't compete (for labor) with the fringe benefits offered by the larger companies.

As a Brit like Ray Davies might say, "What rubbish."

I, too, grew up in a "small business man's type home" and my decision not to become a baker had nothing to do with an unwillingness to work hard and put in long hours, or a desire to seek fringe benefits. I simply preferred to pursue a life involving words and thought (I set out to be a writer) rather than dough and icing.  It's impossible to pigeon hole the mass of humanity as nothing but 40-hour-week seekers. Some people have the entrepreneurial drive and some don't, and we need communities that meet the needs of both types of people.  Gordon's statement strikes me as rather myopic.

There are a number of family owned businesses in Genesee County, many of them in their second and third generations of ownership.  The family-owned business never went out of style.  There have always been people more interested in working for a family owned business rather than a conglomerate, fringe benefits or not.  There's more to a good work life than an extra week of vacation. Gordon's assertions were based neither on experience nor theory, but merely wishful thinking.

Prophetically, with a bit of wisdom Gordon may not have realized he possessed, he did note how important a strong downtown is to a vibrant community.

Remember this is a big tax producing basis for the city -- the business district. If the business district goes to hell, the economics of this town go to hell.

I shared Barons' article with Batavia loyalist Bill Kauffman, who's anti-urban renewal writing is known the nation over. Bill's response: "The arrogant bastards who knocked down Old Batavia ought to have been tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail back to whatever unplace they came from."

Fortunately, whatever damage the bastards who tore down Old Batavia did to the business community, it is receding ever more into history as the local business community recovers. It didn't really take another government program, either, to turn things around. It is a combination of community effort and free enterprise, good small-town American values. It is a credit to the local merchants (which includes businesses in the mall) and property owners who have stuck with downtown and formed the Business Improvement District.  The BID has made great strides in revitalizing downtown, and the work continues.  Downtown Batavia's success is important for the entire community (at least Gordon got that much right). It sets the tone and the pace for the rest of the county.  The folly of David J. Gordon aside, there is no reason Downtown can't thrive for decades to come.

Friday, April 3, 2009 at 5:58 pm

Accused tire thief uses The Batavian comments to tell his side of the story

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime

We often remind readers -- and often they have reminded us -- that just because somebody is arrested and their name shows up in the Police Beat doesn't mean the accused committed a crime. Everybody deserves the right to a fair trial and due process.

This morning, we posted an item about the theft of some tires that were reportedly chained to a tree and marked for sale.

Gorgon L. Montgomery, 50, of Batavia, was charged with the reported theft.

A bit later, a G.L. Montgomery popped on the site complaining about our post on that item. After a few more comments and a couple of suggestions that Mr. Montgomery tell his side of the story (assuming that G.L. Montgomery and Gorgon L. Montgomery are the same person), G.L. left the following version of his side of the story (once before, we had a person come on and say she was the accused and didn't do the crime, but this is the first time we've gotten an explanation).

Here's G.L's story:

My side of the story? What the heck? You guys can yuk it up just like BPD did. Please refrain from eating or drinking anything that you could choke on while reading this...

I will keep it short and to the point.
The night of 4/1 or early morning of 4/2 I returned home from shopping for a few necessities at Wal Mart. Parked and locked my truck in my driveway, as usual. I retrieved my 2 bags of stuff from the store out of the back of my pickup. No tires present at this time. Proceeded to my apt., put my stuff away, brushed my teeth, said my prayers and hit the sack.
(Okay, okay! The teeth and prayin' thing was stretching it, just a bit.)
Next morning 4/2, late morning, I receive visitors from BPD. They requested my presence down in my driveway.
Got dressed, did say my prayers (sorta, in my own way) and went to see what they wanted. Walk out the door and I saw some tires heaped and sorta covered with something in the bed of my truck.?! I can't really explain what that was I was feeling, but it quickly evolved into fear then anger. Then to the realization that I wouldn't even buy this story! Four really nice truck tires and a couple of floormat carpet/rubber thing like in the entry to almost every business around... had found a place to spend the night! BPD says their city is missing 4 tires and these look like they could be the ones? I pretty much agreed that that may be so because "I ain't never seen those tires before!" And... "They were NOT in my truck when I got home! The rest is just what I expected that truth would get me. I just couldn't believe what I was seeing!
BPD couldn't have treated me better, well, consideration of my side of the story may have helped?
Really now!(directed to BPD & Co.)I could not make up a lie that lame?!?
Where would a vehicle leave tire prints on East Ave? Anyhow that was not mentioned to me?
I had no reserves about giving the tires to the Cops, or consenting to the search of my truck! (but that body cavity thing!) Just bustin' em! Like I said, They were very plesent.
You know, those was some real sweet tires, but 17" tires would fall right off my 16" rims!

I can't forget my "Secret Santa", who made this a nightmare-come-true... you know you lost something when you were here? Stop by and introduce yourself! I'll treat ya to coffee, and INTENSIVE CARE!

So, stupid as it sounds...
That's my Story and, I'm... Oh nevermind.


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