Democrat and Chronicle from Rochester, New York on January 23, 1992 · Page 78
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Democrat and Chronicle from Rochester, New York · Page 78

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Rochester, New York
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Thursday, January 23, 1992
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Page 78
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1 '1 5 ; . "-. t. t t : c ; . . . . ; '. - 4 ' ' " ' Vv; " - ' ." ' '. '? ' - ' ' ": NEW SUPERINTENDENT The Honeoye Falls-Lima School Board has named Diane Reed superintendent. Story, 3B. SECTION B BRIEFING DEATHS SUBURBS 2B FRONTIERS 4B 2B COMICS 5B 3B NEW YORK 6B Democrat an& (Cbroniclc THURSDAY, JANUARY 23, 1992 ROCHESTER, N.Y. i L1ICIIAEL ZEIGLER Judge skips and justice misses a beat Sooner or later, most of us are called for jury duty. We whine about the inconvenience. But we hunker down and do the job because it's the price we pay for living in a free country. Chances are, though, that six jurors in U.S. District Court in Buffalo are wishing that Judge John Elfvin had the same attitude. Elfvin is presiding over a liability lawsuit in which former Attica prison inmates claim state officials used excessive force and were negligent when the prison was retaken during the 1971 riot. THEY'RE DEMANDING $2.8 billion in damages. The jurors have heard 11 weeks of testimony from more than 70 witnesses in what has been called one of the most complicated civil trials in U.S. history. And when they began deliberating Jan. 9, Elfvin reminded them that the inmates who were suing hadn't surrendered their constitutional rights just because they were behind bars. OK. So much for upholding our system of justice. The jurors settled down to deliberate. Elfvin, meanwhile, skipped town. That's right. While the jury deliberated a case that has taken 17 years to creep through the legal system, the John Elfvin judge took off for a 3 '2 -week vacation on the sun-kissed Caribbean island of Barbados. He turned the case over to another judge and left a phone number where he could be reached, telling jurors to call him if they had any questions about testimony or his instructions on the law. When the jurors asked for help last Friday, they spent four hours on a ELFVIN COMING BACK 2B squawky speaker phone listening to comments they could barely understand. "I've never seen anything like it," ' Bruce Jackson, an English professor at the State University at Buffalo who is ', writing a book about the legal legacy of i the Attica riot, said yesterday. ' "IT'S LIKE A heart surgeon who has ; a patient on the table and says, ; 'Whoops, I have a golf appointment. Someone else finish this guy.' " Elfvin's absence has caused consterna-; tion not only among the lawyers in the ; case, but for his boss, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Telesca of Rochester, who is the chief judge for the Western District of New York. ' Telesca talked on the phone to Elfvin twice this week, urging him to come home and finish the job. "I assume he will return as soon as travel accommodations can be arranged," Telesca said in a statement Tuesday. Telesca assumed right. Elfvin's office said yesterday that Elfvin will be back in the courtroom at 9 a.m. today. Let's hope he picked up a good tan. ; ELFVIN'S BEHAVIOR is strange when you consider that he has handled the Attica lawsuit ever since it was filed in 1975 shortly after he was appointed by the federal bench. Gee, 17 years ago. Gerald Ford was in the White House and you could buy a ; new Ford Pinto at Judge's for $2,950. Twenty men who survived the 1971 riot demanded $100 million in civil damages from state officials. Eventually, their demand became a class-action lawsuit that included 1,281 inmates and demanded $2.8 billion in damages. Elfvin, 74, has been there as the law-' suit has made its interminable progress through the legal system. When the trial began in October, he impressed those in the courtroom with ; his intelligence and his tenacity at keeping the proceedings moving. And then he left at the trial's most crucial point, citing an unalterable commitment to an annual vacation. "I feel bad for him personally, but he has to consider his commitment to a 1 very difficult case," said Martin Adel-man, criminal justice chairman of the ' New York State Bar Association. AS A FEDERAL judge, Elfvin has a job for life. When he became a semi-' retired senior judge in 1986, he noted that he could choose his workload. "I'll be around for a long time," he said then. "Both my parents are 94." OK. Fair enough. Age should be no barrier to service on the bench. But when a judge thinks more about : the beach than the bench, it's time for v him to wake up, smell the cocoa butter, and decide if he's showing the commitment his job and justice demand. Mlrhni'l Zi'iulpr is the local news col umnist for the Democrat and Chronicle. Morelle pleads By Emil Venere Democrat and Chronicle Assemblyman Joseph Morelle, D-Irondequoit, told a judge yesterday that he was sorry for violating the state's Election Law and pleaded guilty to two counts of disorderly conduct Irondequoit Town Justice Franklin D Aurizio accepted Morelle's plea, then sentenced him to hours of community service and ordered rum pay a court fee of $25. Morelle s day in court marked the culmination of allegations going back two years accusing him of violating the law. Seven names were signed improperly on an elections petition to secure an independent line on the ballot for his 1990 Assembly campaign. Morelle improperly allowed family members sign the names of other relatives and also did not witness the signing of some of the seven signa tures, he said yesterday. RedistirBGtooio How Assembly districts would be redrawn Under the plan unveiled yesterday In Albany, two veteran GOP assemblymen from west of Rochester would be placed in the same district. A third, James Nagle, would : have his seat shifted from being strictly In Monroe County to straddling the Livingston County line. A fourth, Michael Nozzolio, would have his district cut In half. The other districts In the area, particularly those centered in the city of Rochester, would change little. Monroe County 137th Adds five Monroe County towns, loses two Orleans County towns i riamiin . i S. Rochester ' S Irondequoit- Clarkson Lm GreeceW JfZt y137 VVUTSA. Webster 1 Sweden 1 33rdjggjJ ''TT, ogden lIVrECfcrC Penfie,d 135th iisrJ'S f iioetu Much like old r bLi-- Gsxesy yjr TO QUI ; 130th without 1 33rd 0T' Brighton"! 3 f cuntV Little change. fW Chili f " T1 ,0ns a"d, 1 Rfca i?1:tf7 V ad'in9Nlctor 131st TWheatland Tifith w f r ' . Different portions XJ lUUl 4jeh WhSnderAddS I jKMhUeriol?Mm I wneatiano. . , suburbs and adds SJii'' '- most of Livingston ! 11 -i ami County J r fm'Tv 1126T Current Assembly districts :; I Wyomng Livingston Qntano Seneca ; yjl Allegany" 130 jsdurrtor f )wX36hir V I 4Afth I I Steuben Isi .."si;. ': Hf T Keeps Wyoming II I r I I i 127 h t County and picks I f I I j up northeastern I """ -v.-.v.v.-.vv. 1 ' ' ' ' j Allegany County. Rivera revises his budget-cut list 20 school jobs spared; knife hits central office By Linda K. Wertheimer Democrat and Chronicle Heeding previous pleas, Rochester schools Superintendent Manuel Rivera last night proposed sparing nearly 20 school positions and cutting 10 central office jobs instead. School board members plan to vote today on Rivera's proposal, which would trim $4 million of the district's $8.5 million 1991-92 budget deficit. Rivera's proposal last night reversed some of the cuts he suggested last week. The jobs Rivera took off his cut list included six elementary physical education and music teachers. At public hearings, parents, children and teachers lobbied heavily for the restoration of those teachers, along with other cuts in schools. 'They have restored some instructional things, and that's good," said Adam Ur-banski, Rochester Teachers Association president. "But they have not restored all instructional cuts, and that's bad. They have cut a tiny bit deeper into centra! administration, but not very deep." Rivera's newest proposal means jobs spared for some speech, language and hear Hearing on handicapped accessibility of Hyatt By Sherrie Negrea Democrat and Chronicle A hearing scheduled for today on whether the Hyatt Regency Rochester meets accessibility regulations for the handicapped has been postponed and may not be held until after the hotel officially opens. The Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association, which has 2,200 members, has filed a complaint with the state, charging that the bathrooms in guest rooms designated for the handicapped do not meet state or federal standards. The city, however, maintains that the $45 million hotel on East Main Street complies with all the codes. The 340-room, 27- story hotel is scheduled to open March ,i. guilty in election-law violations But Morelle noted he was not entirely familiar with the law's provisions that govern the signing of names on petitions. "I certainly did not intend to violate any provisions of the law," he said. Morelle originally faced charges of misdemeanor fraud. But the lesser charge of disorderly conduct is a violation, meaning the charge will be purged from Morelle's record. The maximum penalty for disorderly conduct is 15 days in jail and a $250 fine. The misdemeanor fraud charge carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. If Morelle had been convicted of a misdemeanor, he would have had a permanent criminal record. Morelle told the justice that he does not condone violating any provisions of the elections law. "He's certainly sorry that he put his family and , the community through this," Morelle's lawyer, Lawrence Andolina, told the judge. Meanwhile, Monroe County Republican Party Chairman John Stanwix renewed his accusation 32 to to 134th Keeps Greece. Less of Rochester. 132nd Little change. All of Brighton, Irondequoit and eastern part of Rochester. Region Democrat and Chronicle ing teachers, social workers, elementary librarians and high school administrators. It means cutting the district's public affairs officer, staff development director, a human resource director, a senior accounting clerk and other central office positions. If approved, most cuts would be effective Feb. 1, officials said. "He's being forced to make cuts as cuts of financial desperation rather than cuts that might be something he really should do or would want to do," said Richard Stear, president of the administrators' union. Stear's union represents about 250 members, including the staff development director who would lose her job after about 12 years in the district. "What can you say about cutting somebody who has been doing this kind of thing for years and years and doing it successfully?" Stear said of the director. "When we lose their expertise, we lose an investment we've been making a long time." Rivera's changes to his proposed cuts translated to a $545,000 cut to schools and programs versus almost a $1 million cut. He added $173,244 to $1.5 million in central office cuts. . The central office cuts mean other workers will take on more responsibilities, Rivera said. Parent negotiator Hans DeBruyn, who represents parents in contract talks, said he The hearing will not be held today be cause the city did not submit a revised set of hotel floor plans to the state in time, said Raymond Andrews, an associate architect with the state codes division. He said he did not know if the matter could be heard at the Feb. 27 hearing because several cases have already been scheduled for that date. "If we lose it's no skin off our nose," said Brian Black, regional advocate for the Buffalo-based veterans group. "But if we win, it's certainly going to be to Wilmorite's advantage to have had the hearing (today) as opposed to next month." Wilmorite Inc. is the construction manager of the hotel, which was begun in 1985. Although the group wants the hotel to remain closed until the matter is resolved, stars that political favoritism by District Attorney Howard Relin," a Democrat, allowed Morelle to reduce his plea. Stanwix said Morelle should have had to stand trial on misdemeanor charges. The freshman assemblyman's decision to plead guilty to disorderly conduct weakened his integrity, the GOP chairman said. "All I can say is, I think the DA copped out on us," Stanwix said. "With a Democratic district attorney and a Democratic state assemblyman, I don't think that any of us ever felt that true justice would come out in this case." But Relin said politics had nothing to do with the case. In December, Relin had refused to offer Morelle the plea until the assemblyman admitted that he violated the election law. "When I look at a case, I don't look at it from a Democratic or a Republican or a Conservative perspective," Relin said. "In this case, Mr. Morelle admitted that he had violated the law." Senate, Assembly announce proposals for redrawing lines By James Goodman Democrat and Chronicle Republican Assemblyman R. Stephen Hawley of Batavia has a problem. He might no longer live in the Assembly district that he has represented since 1974. It's not that he has moved, but rather that the proposed boundary lines for Assembly districts announced yesterday would no longer put Batavia in the 137th District. And that's just one of the political headaches caused by the release of the Assembly and Senate redistricting plans. In Monroe County, the plan drafted under the direction of Republican Sen. Dean G. Skelos of Long Island puts two Democratic incumbents Sens. John D. Perry and Ralph Quattrociocchi in the same district. By grouping the two Democrats together, the Senate plan creates a district without an incumbent. Monroe County GOP Chairman John A. Stanwix plans to run for the open seat. "It's obvious that what the Republican Party did was create a district for the Republican chairman," said Monroe County Democratic Chairman Fran Weisberg. "That's a new low, even for John Stanwix." Under the Senate plan, Quattrociocchi, a Democrat from Greece who has represented the 55th Senate District since 1985, would be in 17-year incumbent Perry's 54th District. The new 54th would cover most of Rochester, and the towns of Brighton and Greece. At present, the 54th includes Brighton, Henrietta, Irondequoit, Mendon, Rush and the eastern half of the city, while the 55th spans the other half of the city and towns on the west side of the county. The new 55th Senate District would, according to maps released yesterday, include a stretch of northwest Rochester and approved of the restorations. "They definitely had to keep programs in place for students. Physical education and libraries are important," DeBruyn said. At noon today, the board will consider the proposed cuts at district headquarters at 131 W. Broad St. Around 50 people would actually lose their jobs in the proposal, which cuts school psychologists and middle and high school teachers. Left unresolved last night was how the district would trim the rest of its deficit. District officials have attributed the budget gap to getting less state aid and fewer retirements than expected, as well as receiving no Medicaid reimbursement. Rivera has proposed a second list of more than $4 million worth of "forced reductions," including all elementary art teachers. He has said wage concessions could help make up the gap and save jobs. The district's civil service workers union will tell the board today that it would give up 1 percent of its salary benefits if the other unions do the same, said A.J. Sutera Sr. Sutera represents the district's 1,400 civil service workers, which includes most non-teaching positions. His plan would be contigent on the restoration of jobs. Stear on Tuesday also proposed wage concessions in exchanged for restored cuts. Andrews said the complaint did not request the certificate of occupancy be delayed. The veterans group, however, believes that until the rooms can accommodate people in wheelchairs, the state should not allow a certificate of occupancy to be granted for the hotel. State law requires that 5 percent of the hotel's 340 rooms be accessible to the handicapped. "If there was a restaurant on Monroe Avenue that categorically denied access to blacks, I hope the city would not hesitate to shut that place down," Black said. "I don't see any difference here." To bolster its case, Black asked a subcommittee of the American National Standards Institute to determine whether the hotel complies with accessibility standards. Library Democrat and Chronicle Joseph Morelle was sentenced to community service, fined $25. the towns of Mendon, Rush, Pittsford, Pen-field, Perinton, Henrietta, Wheatland, Chili, Irondequoit and East Rochester. Stanwix, a Monroe County legislator from Mendon, would live in the proposed 55th. Perry said he would definitely run for reelection, and he raised the possibility of a court challenge if the Senate redistricting plan is enacted, on the grounds it would dilute minority voting strength by combining a small part of the city with outlying towns in the proposed 55th District. Quattrociocchi said he is considering several options: He might run against Perry in the 54th; he could still challenge Stanwix in the 55th, although he'd eventually have to move into that district; or he might run for town government in Greece. Beginning in late January, the Assembly as well as the Senate plans will be aired at public hearings across the state, with a vote by the entire Legisla Hawley ture to follow. The seats of the four Democratic members of the Assembly from Monroe County David F. Gantt. Susan John, Joseph D. Morelle and Joseph Robach did not significantly change under the proposed Assembly. Gantt was in charge of drafting the Assembly plan. Another major change under the Senate plan would be the extension of the 61st Senate District to western Monroe County. At present, the district, which is held by Sen. John B. Daly, R-Lewiston, covers Niagara and Orleans counties, as well as the town of Grand Island and part of the cit of TURN TO PAGE 2B Csnt2n.ir.2nts fcund Low-level contaminants have been discovered in a landfill off Browncroft Boulevard in Brighton. Suburbs, 3B. Parks planning Some Pittsford officials and residents think it's time to update the town's plan for future use of parks and open spaces. Suburbs, 3B. The cost cf help Many technological advances have been a boon for the disabled, but the cost of the best equipment is too high for many. Frontiers, 4B. More involvement All of the state's school districts will have to write plans to get parents and teachers more involved in the decisionmaking process, the Board of Regents has decided. 6B. postponed In a Jan. 3 letter, the ANSI A117 committee said that because there is not enough turning space in the bathrooms, a handicapped guest would have to transfer to the toilet in reverse, or from the front of the wheelchair onto the front of the toilet. "For a person who does not have use of hiser legs, it would mean that they would need the significant upper body strength of an acrobat in order to make the transfer." City officials were not available yesterday to comment on the letter. Black said he has submitted the letter to the state Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code Boards of Review, which will hear the case. If the board cannot hear the case in February, the next available hearing date would be March 2(5. Hire 3 l.iia..U . - - -A -a j 8 v- 4. ,J J. . .. . J

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