Here are a few of the top news stories that broke in our community in the past week:
Will RCSD reform finally arrive?
Many years of dysfunction and stagnation can make it easy to be skeptical about whether reform of the Rochester City School District is possible. Even the Distinguished Educator Report released last November seemed like it might end up being just another horrific – and true – assessment of the RCSD that ultimately had no effect.
Yet something feels different about the news we learned this past week that a plan is being discussed among state education and other leaders that calls for removing the elected RCSD board and “temporarily” (for at least 5 years) replacing them with an appointed board reporting to the state Board of Regents. That plan would also enable the state education commissioner to appoint the RCSD superintendent.
Circulated in a May 16 email from Regents Vice Chancellor T. Andrew Brown, the idea has the enthusiastic support of Mayor Lovely Warren – as well it should.
We are by no means at a point where the enactment of this proposal is a sure thing. First, Brown has already indicated that an alternative proposal is likely to be released by the state in the near future; and reform is often stopped when multiple proposals and amendments need to be negotiated into a cohesive whole. Second, there are of course already fierce opponents of a state takeover plan, like teachers union head Adam Urbanski and Assemblyman Harry Bronson (D – Rochester), who likened it to “throw(ing) democracy out the window.” Such committed opponents – backed by political and financial muscle – can certainly scuttle or endlessly delay reform.
And, third, there is the issue of timing. Ousting a school board requires state legislative action, and the 2019 state legislative session is scheduled to end on June 19. That is little time to iron out and vote on a somewhat complicated and controversial plan. If it’s not accomplished in this session, the current sense of urgency may dissipate by the time the legislature reconvenes in 2020. And who knows if and when the right moment returns.
Still, despite the remaining obstacles, we appear – for the first time in a long time – to be witnessing the possibility of significant change. Buttressed by the thorough and devastating facts outlined in the Distinguished Educator’s Report, key local and state education leaders appear ready to do something unprecedented to fight for Rochester’s children. The coming two weeks could prove crucial.
Will others be tarnished by Bob Morgan’s fall?
As Rochester continued to digest the charges against its largest private property owner, new questions began to emerge in private conversations around town. Most notably, given the scope, frequency and duration of Morgan’s misdeeds, were there outside professionals that Morgan worked with – accountants, lawyers and bankers – that should have figured out what was happening, had they been diligent?
Such factual determinations are by no means easy to ascertain. But at least one local law firm – Santiago Burger LLP, which has previously been involved in pursuing those involved in Ponzi schemes – has begun investigating whether some other companies that worked with Morgan may be liable for any financial losses incurred by individual investors that put tens of millions of dollars into Morgan’s “Ponzi scheme-like” funds.
The Rochester Beacon is also continuing to investigate the potential fallout from Bob Morgan’s indictment. If you have information to share on this matter, please email us at [email protected].
Abby Wambach – an all-time great – is elected to Hall of Fame
Our area has had its share of superb athletes. From Hall of Famer Al Cervi (basketball) to six-time All-Star Johnny Antonelli (baseball). From the 11 professional major wins of golfer Walter Hagen (behind Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods) to Carmen Basilio’s boxing title win (against Sugar Ray Robinson). From Ryan Lochte’s 12 Olympic swimming medals (2ndbehind Michael Phelps) to the six world billiard titles of Irving Crane.
Yet in Abby Wambach, Rochester may have its first undisputed “GOAT” (Greatest of all Time). With 184 goals in 256 games, she had more career goals than any woman (or man) in international soccer history. Among her numerous achievements, she won two Olympic Gold medals and played in four World Cups, and is the all-time U.S. scorer in both the Olympics and World Cup. And her miraculous late-game goal during the 2011 World Cup is credited – according to Sports Illustrated– with reinvigorating women’s soccer in the United States.
This week, in her first year of eligibility, Wambach has been elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame. It caps off one of the greatest athletic careers that a Rochesterian – or anyone – has ever had.