Urban: October 2007 Archives

Escape from Rochester


Senator Trujillo: Commissioner Sorenson, let me be blunt. This committee has lost its patience with your dissembling and that of the Governor's office. The news from the Greater Rochester Correctional Facility continues to get worse, despite the many promises your office has made.

Commissioner Sorenson: Apparently you aren't reading the statistics we have been producing at your request.

Senator Trujillo: Reading, yes. Trusting, no. In a period when we know that there is open warfare among prisoner factions, you show substantial declines in prisoner against prisoner violence.

Commissioner Sorenson: The prisoners are more organized than they used to be, more disciplined. They do a better job of killing each other because they want to, but less killing because they had nothing else to do at the moment.

Senator Trujillo: When we established this new concentrated prison twenty-five years ago, we were assured that prisoners would never be allowed to organize militarily...

Commissioner Sorenson: I can't speak for promises made by previous administrations...

Senator Trujillo: Perhaps you shouldn't, as prisoners hadn't organized in this way until well after you became commissioner. You promised cost-cutting, but we've seen an increase in state incursions into the prison, and more casualties among guards as a result - leading to some pretty incredible costs.

Commissioner Sorenson: Those costs are not the responsibility of my department, Senator.

Senator Trujillo: But they are of your making. Worse than the costs you are creating, however, is the apparent failure of your incursions to establish order.

Commissioner Sorenson: It's no worse than the previous order, Senator. Yes, there's damage and death. There always has been damage and death. But when the State created this prison, we did so to save money, not to be kind to criminals. That said, this new regime may even be helping prisoners to develop clearer social structures than they've had before, something we hope will lead to a more stable prison environment in the long term.

Remembering 2012


[by Steve Balogh.]

I just renewed our lease on our apartment for another year, at a 15% increase. Demand for quality rental property, inflation, and my unwillingness to start a relationship with a new (and possibly shady) landlord made the decision to re-sign easier. I am hoping that my efforts to help our landlord renovate the home and bring up its energy efficiency will pay off in defrayed costs. Jim and I replaced the dinosaur of a boiler in the basement last fall, after I talked him into a pellet/biomass boiler with the capability to burn wood pellets, corn, or recycled paper. Jim had to move back in to his rental property after he could no longer hold on to his mortgage on his primary residence. Given the property tax increases we've faced to keep the schools running, I'm not sure that my monthly rent will help defer even half of his current payments on the 2 family house - so, again, I don't begrudge him the bump in the rent. Another 15% next year, and we'll be considering "consolidated housing" ourselves. Many of our friends and family have had to do the same, moving in together, or back in with family to help keep a roof over their heads.

It's amazing how quickly public perception can change. After the "consolidated housing" meme hit the cover of Time and Newsweek eight months ago, the stigma was lifted, and what was a terrible housing market became even worse as a flood of young professionals, families, and struggling friends gave up their homes and moved in together. Aging baby-boomers welcomed their families back in with open arms, as their meager retirement savings are now a shell of their former selves. (A good number of privileged people are also a "shell of their former selves" as well, as dreams of 5 day a week golf and winters in Florida have faded...)

Our winter preps are nearly complete, many of the changes pragmatic rather than aesthetic. Windows with no appreciable solar gain have been taped off, packed with old newspapers and draped with heavy blankets. We keep at least one window in each room uncovered for natural light, but keep furniture and beds against inside walls to fend off the cold. We could afford to heat the home to 68 degrees all winter, but we decided as a household that daytime heating would be keep at 65 degrees and nighttime temps allowed to drop to 62. The little things like sealing out all drafts, additional insulation on the windows, and our project this winter to seal around all pipes and insulate electrical outlets will allow our house to hold onto that heat longer and reduce the heating portion of our budget. We also fill large bladders of hot water at night and keep them below (and sometimes in) our beds to stay toasty at night.

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This page is a archive of entries in the Urban category from October 2007.

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