This Letter to Editor was published today – October 2, 2014 – in Shawangunk Journal.
Does Anything Matter In Rochester?
After serving four years as Councilwoman — and being recognized for my dedicated service — you’d think I was the best qualified applicant for a 4-month appointment to the Rochester Town Board. And so begins the latest episode in the “how to get rid of Manuela” saga — which started with the infamous porno rumor in 2007 and continued with a residency non-issue in 2009.
The filling of this town board vacancy required two steps: (1) a town board appointment for the rest of the year, based on applications and interviews, and (2) the nomination at the parties’ caucuses of candidates for the November special election.
As reported in the September 4 issue, I was among the three candidates interviewed for the Rochester councilperson position left vacant by the resignation of councilman Tavi Cilenti.
To see why people consider the town board’s decision “outrageous” and “beyond logic” you must compare my 9-page application — including the reasons why I am the best qualified, my resume, quotes from newspapers expressing praise regarding my work as councilwoman, most from supervisor Carl Chipman himself, proofs of my accomplishments and of my success in building a positive image for our town — to the one submitted by Cindy Fornino, the chosen applicant: three meager lines showing interest in the position, not one word regarding her education, her experience or her record.
I commend the journalistic objectivity of reporter Terence Ward who mentioned the key point: “Fornino …spouse to the chairman of the town’s Conservative Party.”
I found it disturbing that supervisor Carl Chipman and councilman Brian Drabkin bought their spot on the Conservative line in next year’s elections by appointing the wife of Gerry Fornino, the chairman of the Rochester Conservative Party. If cultivating connections didn’t play a role, then the reasons for rejecting me — the best qualified applicant — are painfully obvious: I always speak my mind, and I do it with a foreign accent.
Reporting on the Rochester Republican Caucus (September 18), Terence Ward nailed it again: “What neither Fornino nor her nominator mentioned was the fact that she is registered as a Conservative, the party that her husband chairs in the town. It was only brought up because Michailescu forced the issue on procedural grounds.”
The 2014 Republican Caucus was the most staged event I participated to in my entire life, and I’ve spent thirty years in Europe’s worst Communist dictatorship! The new Republican Committee chairman Danny Aversano didn’t utter the word Republican; fellow Republican Committee members used all the tricks in the book to sabotage my nomination, and they succeeded. But while these were expected Republican Committee shenanigans, no matter who the chair is, our town leadership’s decision is most troubling.
What is the message we convey to our residents, to women, to our youth? That nothing matters except marrying the “right” man? That education doesn’t matter, experience doesn’t matter, a stellar record doesn’t matter, involvement in town’s life doesn’t matter, doing an excellent job, accomplishments and volunteering do not matter?
I am struggling hard to believe that Rochester is still a place where — in John Adams’ words — “to be good, and to do good, is all we have to do.”
Something is really wrong with the governing body in your town. How can the Town Board justify the appointment let alone the Republicans nominate from outside their party?