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News

Clifford and Sheppard: Leadership Needed To Fight Opioid Crisis

Friends of Molly Clifford

Citing the dramatic increase in overdoses and other drug-related activity on City streets, Rochester Mayoral candidate James Sheppard and Northwest City Councilmember Molly Clifford today called on Mayor Lovely Warren to step up, acknowledge the crisis, and bring every resource to the table to fight it.

“This situation is out of control,” Sheppard said. “The police and fire departments are overwhelmed.  Needles are everywhere.  Families can’t leave their houses.  Addicts can’t get help. And Mayor Warren cuts more ribbons.  Where is the outrage?”

At a press conference in Loewke Park, 485 Lyell Avenue, a place known for drug infestation, not recreation, Sheppard and Clifford called on Warren to take action, including:

  • Increase health services and needle exchange through Trillium Health, Health Care for the Homeless and other partners to provide care and access to treatment for users;
  • Install syringe disposal kiosks in high-risk areas, provided at no cost by the New York State Department of Health, to keep needles off the streets;
  • Require opioid overdose and harm reduction training and Narcan kits for RPD’s Patrol Division;
  • Put the Department of Environmental Services on “needle reduction routes,” to provide regular and safe clean-ups in the top 20 most hazardous blocks;
  • Add hours for the DES board-up crews to ensure that vacant houses used for drugs are secured immediately;
  • Pursue long-term neighborhood strategies that include elimination of problematic alleys in drug-infested neighborhoods;
  • Take a leadership role on the Monroe County Opioid Task Force to ensure the City’s voice is heard and countywide resources are directed where they’re needed most.

“Everywhere I go in Northwest Rochester and beyond, neighbors are begging for help,” Clifford said.  “They can’t understand how this level of drug abuse, violence, and deterioration can go on without any response. It’s as if no one cares.”

Sheppard and Clifford have been working with the Opioid Task Force over the past year, and have sponsored opioid overdose trainings and other outreach events.  They acknowledge that this battle needs to be waged on multiple fronts.  But this battle is missing one critical element: a general.

“Make no mistake,” Sheppard said. “In a Sheppard Administration, when we have a problem, I will be on the front lines to help solve it.  We owe it to our citizens, our staff and our community. That’s what real leadership is.”

Rochester Designated a Pilot Site in “Facing Addiction” Efforts

Friends of Molly Clifford

I was honored to work with Recovery Now NY on their successful application to have Rochester become one of 15 “Facing Addiction” pilot sites in the country.  Facing Addiction seeks to reform the public response to the addiction crisis via grassroots-driven campaign strategies.

Nationally, one in every three homes is impacted by alcohol and drug addiction of some form, and Rochester is no different. While the problem has grown exponentially, the response has not.  Last year, I became active with the Monroe County Opioid Task Force, and sponsored a community Narcan training to teach outreach workers, neighborhood activists and family members how to treat opioid overdoses until emergency responders arrive

In the weeks and months ahead, I will be working with the Recovery Now NY team to gather resources, strategize grassroots efforts, and bring greater awareness to the crippling addiction crisis

Molly’s Minute: Happy Spring in the Northwest!

Friends of Molly Clifford

Happy Spring!  Despite our light winter, it sure took it’s time getting here!  And our farewell windstorm and snowstorm helped us remember that Mother Nature is still in charge.  As we helped people as best we could who suffered damage during the storm, we were reminded of several things that are always good to keep in mind. Check out our Spring edition of the Northwest News to learn some new idea!

Hope everyone is back to normal – for those of you who might need help with serious damage, NeighborWorks Rochester is offering low interest loans.  Call 325-4170 to find out more.  In the meantime, spring will be bringing some fun events in the Northwest – hope to see you out and about soon!

Molly Looks Back on Her First Year as Your Council Member!

Friends of Molly Clifford

It’s hard to believe that my first year on City Council has come to a close!  It certainly was a whirlwind year, one in which I learned a lot and tried to make sure I was representing the Northwest District to the best of my ability.

 I took a moment to look back and wanted to share some of the highlights from my perspective.  One of my goals was to make sure I was as accessible as possible, and I enjoyed attending most of the monthly neighborhood association meetings as well as hosting my bi-monthly coffees and sponsoring the five mini-Clean Sweeps.  All really helped me stay in touch and hear what was on people’s minds.  I look forward to continuing these in 2017.

 Public safety was a big issue in 2016 and I appreciated the cooperation of the Rochester Police Department when I called for increased focus on the Lyell-Otis area in the wake of the homicide in front of School 54.  We also worked together to increase enforcement on Lake Avenue to address speed and safety issues, and to add a meeting for Northwest residents to comment on community engagement when the original one was scheduled for a Friday night.  Public safety will continue to be a top priority for me in 2017.

 I was able to help Northwest neighbors in a variety of ways in 2016 and this will always be my #1 priority.  I’m hoping that none of you have water problems like the Clematis Street residents, or mosquito problems like those on West Boulevard Parkway, or illegal dumping on Rogers Parkway – but if you do, I’m here to help.

 Thank you all so much for your support over the past year, and I wish you and your families a very happy and healthy 2017!

 Molly

 

Rochester Animal Services: Saving Our Pets!

Friends of Molly Clifford

    RAS Director Chris Fitzgerald has reported a great achievement to close out the year.

   Rochester Animal Services on Verona Street has attained a 92.7% save rate for the month of December. 

   For calendar year 2016, they ended up at 85.69%, which marks another milestone as they continue to reduce shelter casualties through pet reunification, retention, and re-homing.  They’ve come a long way in these last few years and they plan to build on their achievements in 2017 as they expand their pro-active outreach efforts to help residents make healthy choices for their pets.

Alternatives needed to help fight crime

Friends of Molly Clifford

Note: This Guest Essay appeared in the Saturday, June 25th issue of the Democrat and Chronicle

http://on.rocne.ws/298cUGu

by Councilmember Molly Clifford

While it may be too early to decide the effectiveness of the Rochester Police Department reorganization, one thing is for sure: Rochester’s level of violence is too high and our neighborhoods do not feel safe.

Nowhere is this felt more keenly than in northwest Rochester.

Since January of this year, the list of shootings in the northwest has included: the on-street gun battle outside the Mexican Village bar; a Sunday afternoon car chase with shots fired on Driving Park Avenue; a man shot in the parking lot of an establishment on West Ridge Road who later died from his injuries; and now, a homicide a few houses away from School 54 on Otis Street.

Signs of the drug trade are everywhere, from corner stores to vacant houses to human trafficking in the heart of our city.

No one should blame the hard-working officers of the RPD for this situation. They are working against the rising tide of societal breakdown and doing the best they can. Four of their own have been victims of violence just this year.

While I am happy that the 2016-17 city budget included funding to fill 19 police officer positions formerly budgeted but not filled, it still included $2 million in police overtime to cover vacancies and administrative reassignments.

With a 10-month training program for new officers, we are now too far behind to increase coverage while keeping up with police retirements, vacations and various reassignments. RPD is left to deal with only the most violent of crimes and struggling to provide the kind of community policing we all want to see more of.

We must start talking about alternatives that will put more personnel on the street without breaking the city’s budget. We could allow an “overhire,” for example, hiring a few additional officers so that we can meet retirement, sick leave and vacation demand without relying on overtime.

We could temporarily reassign officers from administration to patrol during the busy summer months. We could hire more Pathways to Peace outreach workers. These steps would help give our neighborhoods more of the protection our residents expect and deserve.

As a member of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, I look forward to working with my colleagues in government and our community partners to get ahead of this violence so we do not fall further behind.

Councilmember Clifford's Reachout to Senator Schumer Results in Action on Mosquito Problem

Friends of Molly Clifford

After neighbors on West Boulevard Parkway including John Coleman, Nancy Owens, Cory Tylenda and Chris Gold asked Councilmember Clifford for help with CSX, Molly reached out to Senator Chuck Schumer for some assistance in Washington.

Schumer did one better -- he came to John Coleman's backyard to see the problem firsthand.

Here's a link to a Democrat and Chronicle blog post talking about the problem: 

http://on.rocne.ws/28IZXpq

Senator Schumer had a lot to say about the situation.

He is urging CSX to immediately help clean up the swampy, mosquito-breeding property behind homes in Charlotte. Schumer said standing water is public enemy #1 in the fight against mosquito-borne disease.

Schumer was joined by Rochester City Councilmember Molly Clifford, City of Rochester Engineer Jim McIntosh, and Boulevard Parkway residents John Coleman, Nancy Owens, Cory Tylenda, and Chris Gold.

DSC_0152.jpg

Rochester City Councilmember Molly Clifford was excited to have the Senator join in the fight. “I want to thank Senator Schumer for his efforts to help us resolve this problem,” she said.  “It has been plaguing the residents of Boulevard Parkway for over a decade. It is frustrating to have our calls for help ignored, but thanks to Senator Schumer, I am optimistic that we will be able to take care of this issue once and for all!”

Senator Schumer was forceful in his call to action.

“With mosquito season in full swing, the people of Rochester are rightfully concerned about the threat posed by the stagnant water pools along CSX’s tracks, which could be a breeding ground for mosquito-borne illness. We need to take care of this public health risk before potentially diseased mosquitoes have the chance to breed right here in Rochesterians’ backyards,” said Schumer. “The City of Rochester already has a plan in place and is willing to do the work to fix this problem – but we need CSX’s cooperation right away. CSX has been responsive to the concerns of New Yorkers in the past, so I am asking them once again to step up to the plate and be the responsible corporate citizen and give the City of Rochester the permission it needs to move forward with this project.”

Schumer explained that, for years, the residents of Boulevard Parkway, located in the neighborhood of Charlotte within the City of Rochester, have tried to get CSX Railroad to mitigate the pooling water in and around its rail track’s right-of-way section. Schumer said these water pools, which are located right behind residential homes in the Boulevard Parkway neighborhood, are a result of the debris, brush, tree limbs and other materials that have accumulated in the gully area along the CSX tracks blocking a drain in-take, and preventing the water from flowing naturally and dissipating from the area.  Instead the water pools and stagnates, creating a hazardous mosquito-breeding area.

“The mosquitos brought by the stagnant water along the railroad tracks and are a concern for my family’s health and makes it unbearable to spend time outside during the summer. Our neighborhood needs CSX to grant clearance so that the City of Rochester can clear out the debris,” said Boulevard Parkway resident John Coleman.

Schumer said Boulevard Parkway homeowners in the area have reported that the debris have gone unaddressed for months, and even years. As a result, the problem has only gotten worse. While residents have tried to contact CSX, their requests have not yet gotten CSX to act. Schumer said this has resulted in some homeowners resorting to hiring companies to spray their properties every few weeks during the summer to try and control mosquitoes, while others have simply avoided going outside. Schumer said this is unacceptable, as residents should be able to enjoy their own backyards in the summer months. According to the NY State Department of Health, members of the public can protect themselves from creating mosquito-breeding areas by eliminating standing water in their yards.

Schumer said the fact that diseases like West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) have been found in mosquitoes in the Rochester region, means it is especially important these stagnant water pools be addressed as soon as possible. In order to clean up these water pools and rid this neighborhood of a potentially hazardous mosquito breading ground, the City of Rochester has said it is prepared to conduct the necessary work that would remove the debris along the gully, as well as unclog a drain in-take that is making the pooling worse. However, Schumer explained that the City is required to get CSX’s permission before it can gain access to the right-of-way track.

Therefore, Schumer is urging CSX to work swiftly and cooperatively with the City of Rochester to support the successful completion of this work. In addition, Schumer said it is imperative that, with the start of the summer months, CSX take proactive measures in the future when maintaining the railroad embankment to safeguard against stone or other debris from sliding down into the gully.

According to a 2015 report from the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, the mosquitoes that carry West Nile are considered endemic now in New York State. According to the report, there have been 643 cases of West Nile in New York, and 47 deaths as a result of the virus. In Monroe County there have been nine cases diagnosed in the past 15 years. A separate report from the Democrat & Chronicle cited the fact that EEE, a rare but dangerous mosquito-borne infection, has popped up in the Rochester region the last two summers.

 

Pam Postgate: NW Community Champion!

Friends of Molly Clifford

Congratulations to Pam Postgate, named Northwest Community Champion by NeighborWorks Rochester!  Pam was cited for her work creating the Stutson Street block club, organizing beach and overlook clean-ups, and helping to start the Lakeside Farmers Market.  We’re lucky to have you, Pam!