NEWS BLOG: MCC: Afghanistan campus?


First, I need to set the scene: Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks met with the Democrat and Chronicle editorial board last week. Board members Tweeted choice nuggets throughout the meeting, including what they say Brooks said about MCC. The gist: If the project stays on its current course, it is likely doomed to failure, and that would throw the entire existence of a downtown campus into doubt.

Citing mainly safety concerns, the MCC board wants to move the college to Kodak’s State Street campus. Brooks supports that decision. But Richards wants MCC to stay at the Sibley Building as part of the revitalization of downtown.

I happened to be with the mayor when he was made aware of Brooks’ reported comments. He wasn’t happy, and he seemed to become increasingly upset as he let the information roll around in his head.

MCC belongs in the heart of downtown, he said, and it’s outrageous to suggest that if the college’s board doesn’t get its way, it’s game over for the downtown campus.

“I don’t know how this conversation got here,” Richards said. “I really don’t. The idea that, ‘if we don’t get our way and we don’t get to go to Kodak, we’re going to take our dolls and go home to Brighton’: Give me a break.”

City students often have limited choices when it comes to higher education, Richards said, and many wouldn’t be able to get to MCC’s Brighton campus. MCC has an obligation to educate these young people, he said.

“I’m sorry if it’s hard,” he said, “because it is. I’m sorry if it’s inconvenient — because it is. But it’s part of their job. The idea that they can somehow isolate themselves [and] that they shouldn’t be part of the milieu in which these kids operate is a little offensive.”

“They act as though this is a school in Afghanistan and they were doing us a favor: some kind of foreign policy thing,” Richards said. “It’s not a foreign policy thing. Is it harder? Hell, yeah, it’s harder. That’s the job. You’ve got to cope, you know?”

MCC recently signed a new lease to stay in Sibley for the next five years. That’s a long time for sanity to prevail in this squabble. Otherwise, I fear we’re watching the slowest train wreck in history.




  1. just fine · · Reply

    How in the world does Maggie Brooks think she can represent the City of Rochester in Washington when her record of neglect of the city is so apparent? Remember, Maggie Brooks is supposed to be the County Executive for the City of Rochester, not just the lost zones of Gates and Greece, but her contempt for city residents and ignorance about urban issues renders her useless. It is far too late for her to pretend otherwise. Thank you, Tom Richards. Keep fighting for what is right.

  2. Chris Reich · · Reply

    The city is run by the uni-party city council. There is precious little Maggie has to do with the running of anything in the city that is not directly related to Monroe County business. Like the MONROE COUNTY Community College, for example. She’s protecting resources of ALL county residents by keeping MCC where it is.

  3. Citizen Rochester · · Reply

    The only thing worthy of contempt here is Tom Richards’ blatant sexism. Look at his statement:

    “The idea that, ‘if we don’t get our way and we don’t get to go to Kodak, we’re going to take our dolls and go home to Brighton’: Give me a break.”

    Three things are notable in Richards’ (chauvinistic) response.

    1.) The commonly used saying invoked here typically uses “ball” or “toys”, where Richards instead injects “dolls”.
    2.) Richards’ comments are presumably directed towards the institutions of Monroe County and, separately, Monroe Community College – organizations that he has been at odds with over the selection of the new Damon Campus.
    3.) Both Monroe County and Monroe Community College are represented by women leaders – Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks and President Anne Kress, respectively.

    Now these facts, coupled with Richards’ evident emotional response, beg the question – Is Tom Richards upset because he feels so strongly about the Sibley location, or is he simply frustrated with the fact that these two “dolls” won’t let him play all alone in his Downtown sandbox.

    Maybe it is time for Tom to take his Monopoly Money and go home to his mansion.

  4. Peking Humonculous · · Reply

    Richards’ only concern is keeping tenants in the building so the buyers of the building from Boston have someone to overcharge for rent. That way the past four mayoral administrations’ major screw-up of not collecting taxes for the building from Wilmorite will have less of an impact and improve his chances for reelection. Stop pretending Richards cares about city residents. If he did he would have found a way to collect on some of that owed money. He cares about rich developers and political allies and that’s all.

  5. cliint · · Reply

    I believe that this reporting shows Tom Richards is actually a blowhard bully! Maggie is supporting a board decision. Richards is stomping his feet because he is, as many attorneys are, an elitist. If you look at the short period of time he has been Mayor, you see a sweetheart deal done with fellow Rump Group buddy, Dutch Summers, and nothing else.
    During his run for office, a commercial showing him as “Monopoly Man” was both funny and true. He has disdain for us as city residents…and with this kind of talk, Monopoly Man should go directly to jail!

  6. ” I fear we’re watching the slowest train wreck in history.”

    Sorry, but that title, at least locally, has already been taken by Bill Johnson’s Less-Than-Fast Ferry. A pity that his floating fiasco didn’t generate even a small percentage of the chest beating, hand wringing, teeth gnashing and knee jerking among the media pundits that has accompanied the selection of the future home for MCC’s satellite campus.

    Perhaps had City and their broadcast and print brethren spent more time examining the plans (to the extent there were any) for Bill Barge and had focused THEN on preventing that particular $80,000,000 train wreck, rather than acting as mindless cheerleaders, the tax payers NOW might not be so gun shy about expensive proposals for MCC that might actually benefit the community.

  7. sflesch · · Reply

    Mister Mayor,

    Let me start by saying that as a democrat, I voted for you. As a downtown MCC employee however, I must point out that you are the one acting like the child who can’t get his way. When MCC was ready to move to Kodak instead of signing an overly long, overly expensive new lease this spring, whether or not anyone will admit it, most of us know the city was the one who refused to give MCC the permits to do so, even though it was in its power.

    I have not heard anything about abandoning downtown. In fact, MCC has gone out of its way to encourage a downtown campus. They could have moved temporarily to someplace like Irondequoit Mall out of the city, but they choose to sign a lease at Sibley instead for longer than what they expect to need. Conceding that shows a strong commitment to downtown. If they were to consider abandoning downtown, why would they take this leap?

    That being said, safety, while currently the strongest, is only one factor of the desire for a different location. WinnGate likes to portray Sibley as an inexpensive option, but it really isn’t. The $20 million makeover they think MCC can get away with is a joke. Not much more than a paint and some walls. The equipment there is desperate need of repair (or replacement really). Whenever the AC or the escalators break down, they have to salvage parts or have them specially made.

    For the three years I worked downtown, other than a recent month, there has always been AT LEAST one escalator broken or shut down at any time. As you walk through a suite of offices, the shared space is uncomfortably warm and you never know what you will get in each of the offices. Two offices next two each other can easily have a 5 degree (or more) difference. During the warm spells, it seems to take a few days for the AC the really kick in and by then (its Rochester after all) it may not be needed any more.

    The amount of space in a Sibley campus that MCC would get is hardly more than what DCC currently occupies, and is significantly less than what Kodak would provide…and it would cost more.

    So, please Mr. Mayor, don’t play the part of the pot. The way you use the press to complain about MCC’s decision makes you seem to be the one who is going home and taking his ball with him. Maybe you should try to “incentivize” MCC into staying instead of bullying them.

  8. Peking Humonculous · · Reply

    Wow… once again it looks like the citizens of Rochester have a far better handle on this situation than the news media. Big surprise!

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