I agree with Joe Nacca (“The losing streak continues,” Messenger, May 4) that Mayor Ellen Polimeni and five other Canandaigua City Council members erred when they voted to act as a conduit to obtain $100,000 worth of Community Development Block Grant Program money to enable The Pickering Pub to be transformed into an upscale bar focused on specialty and craft liquor cocktails and higher-end wines.
I, too, agree with Councilmembers Renee Sutton, Stephen Uebbing and Karen White who voted against the grant request, because the grant program is supposed to assist people to move out of poverty. As Nacca pointed out, “Ontario County has approximately 9000 residents who live in poverty. Ontario County schools report 345 students as homeless. And we take HUD (the Federal Housing and Urban Development Agency) money for restaurants and resort centers!”
Nacca shared with us his frustration from being on what he describes as “an unbroken losing streak. I’ve spoken at a dozen or more public hearings in recent years and have come out on the losing side every time.” Besides his opposition to the grant on behalf of the Pickering Pub, Nacca unsuccessfully — but rightfully — opposed a similar grant for Nolan’s restaurant and the long-term property tax break for Pinnacle North.
I hope Nacca won’t give up. In my own life, as an advocate for vulnerable people, animals and our environment, I need to always be mindful of the adages “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again” and “Pray as if everything depended on God, but work as if everything depended on you,” as well as the prayer, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Disappointments and frustrations are inevitable when we deal with all the obstacles that stand in the way of those of us who just want to make our communities, states, countries or planet Earth better places for everyone.
It also helps when I don’t worry about the outcome of my endeavors, but instead focus on doing the best I can do and leaving the outcome to God and Jesus. And I’m grateful to live in a country where I can support causes I believe in, and where I have the freedom to publicly express my opinions on controversial issues.
Many years ago, the U.S. Senate commissioned a major survey of citizen feelings towards our governmental institutions. The majority of those surveyed were disenchanted, feeling “profoundly impotent to influence the actions of their leaders.” To some extent, Nacca’s May 4 essay expresses such feelings.
I know what Nacca is talking about. For example, in my dealings with state Senator Pam Helming I have been on a “losing streak.” When Helming served on a Senate panel on Lyme disease, I advised her that unregulated killing of foxes and opossums by hunters and trappers from late October until mid-February may be part of the problem. Opossums eat the ticks that spread Lyme disease; foxes eat tick-infested rodents. I received no reply.
On another occasion I spoke with Helming regarding my concerns about how equines were treated prior to and during local Livestock Exchange horse sales. Helming referred me to one of her aides who told me that he was raised with horses, that he respected them, that he would spend that afternoon reviewing various reports describing abuse and neglect of the horses, and that he would get back to me soon. I heard nothing further from him or Helming. My phone calls to Helming’s Geneva office were not returned.
At such times I ask myself, Why bother? Why bang my head against the proverbial stone wall? I have tried unsuccessfully for 25 years to prompt state officials to ban the cruel force feeding of birds victimized by foie gras production in New York. I just have to keep trying. Why? As then state Senator Nellie Santiago-Fernandez, who co-sponsored a bill to ban foie gras production, wrote to me 24 years ago, “Like you, I am greatly disappointed that this heinous act has yet to be determined illegal by New York State law. …. I strongly believe that in the interest of humanity, we, as individuals blessed with voices and the ability to communicate, must protest for innocent creatures unable to cry out for help. I offer my sincerest encouragement to you in this most noble effort to cease the continuation of foie gras production, truly a vicious and heartless act unsympathetic to the plight of man’s fellow creatures.”
There have been — and I pray that there will continue to be — times that I succeed or at least partially succeed in helping people, animals and our environment. And even on the many occasions I don’t accomplish what I want to accomplish, I can still get a good night’s sleep knowing I tried.
If the spirit within you moves you to do something you feel, from a moral standpoint, ought to be done, you need not attempt to predict the success or failure of your endeavor. Success must be measured in terms of your efforts as well as accomplishments. If the voice of your conscience dictates that you embark on a difficult journey, then “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.”
As for Joe Nacca’s crusade, I believe he has accomplished more than he may realize. In my travels around Canandaigua, I have heard many people discussing his Daily Messenger essays, and agreeing with or at least debating his viewpoints. Nacca is paving the way for changes he hopes will happen. Who knows what tomorrow may bring?
Joel Freedman of Canandaigua is a frequent Messenger Post contributor.