September 6, 2023

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2 T he I T haca T I mes / s ep T ember 6 – 12, 2023

20 Years to Life for October 2022 Stabbing

After being convicted of seconddegree murder on July 20, Jeremiah L. Jordan was sentenced to 20 years to life in New York State Prison in connection with the fatal stabbing of Michael Monroe on August 25.

Jordan stabbed Monroe on the Six Mile Creek Walk in the City of Ithaca on October 28, 2022.

Jordan’s July 20 conviction also included a charge of tampering with physical evidence, which resulted in an additional term of one and a third to four years.

Sentencing was delivered by County Court Judge John C. Rowley, District Attorney Matthew Van Houten, who prosecuted the case, and Ithaca attorneys Michael Perehinec and Joseph Kirby, who represented the defendant.

In a press release issued by the District Attorney’s office on August 30, Van Houten stated, “Under the circumstances of this brutal murder, I strongly believe that Jeremiah Jordan should have received the maximum sentence of 25 to life. I was grateful that Michael Monroe’s mother and niece spoke at the sentencing hearing because the defendant needed to hear that

Michael was a kind and gentle person who was loved and supported by his family.”

He added, “Jeremiah Jordan’s unprovoked and senseless act of violence caused Michael’s family immeasurable pain that no court proceeding can ever come close to addressing.”

The press release continued saying, “The District Attorney’s Office recognizes and thanks the agencies who conducted the investigation and assisted in the prosecution of this case, specifically the exemplary work of the Ithaca Police Department and the New York State Police Forensic Investigation Unit.”

T ake N ote

X Tompkins County Invites Public to Strategic Operations Plan Forums

As part of Tompkins County’s first ever Strategic Operations Plan process, three community forums are planned to provide residents with updates on the process and an opportunity to share feedback. The Plan will ultimately outline clear goals and objectives while setting a direction for the County organization’s future. The Plan, while subject to adoption by the elected County Legislature, is slated to be finalized in 2024 following an in-depth community engagement, input, and analysis process. Each community forum will be similar, it is recommended that interested community members choose only one to attend to allow for the broadest possible input from across the County. Plan to arrive at the time listed when the forum will begin. Each forum will be facilitated by planning consultants from BerryDunn and will provide an overview of

data on the community and input received during the planning process so far, a small group discussion in breakout sessions, and an opportunity for community members to share their visions for the County and community.

Community Forum 1

Tuesday, September 12, 2:30-4:00 p.m.

Human Services Annex, (Enter on N. Albany Street across from Salvation Army)

214 West Martin Luther King Jr/ State St. Ithaca, New York 14850

Community Forum 2

Wednesday, September 13, 6:00-8:00 p.m.

Enfield Community Center

162 Enfield Main Rd, Ithaca, NY 14850

Community Forum 3

Thursday, September 14, 9:00-11:00 a.m.

Southworth Library

24 W Main St, Dryden, NY 13053

Individuals requiring accommodations or language translation services should contact in advance of the event.

In addition to the planned forums Tompkins County is inviting all members of the community to provide online input. A website has been published to collect ideas and survey responses from interested community members. Ideas are being sought in the areas of: sustainability and natural resources, economic opportunity and workforce development, community well-being and social services, transportation and mobility, and public safety. The community survey asks for the community’s perception of the County and its services, including what it does well and what improvements could be made.

VOL. XLIII / NO. 54 / September 6, 2023


Margaret Fabrizio and Nathan Sitaraman are leading two different groups that are advocating for Cornell to increse its contribution to the community.


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l u C y a llen , F ront d ES k F ront @ tha C a t MES C o M

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l arry h o C hberger , a SS o C iat E p ubli S h E r , x 1214 larry @ i thaca t im E s com

F r EE lan CE r S : Barbara Adams, Stephen Burke, G. M Burns, Alyssa Denger, Jane Dieckmann, Charley Githler, Ross Haarstad, Steve Lawrence, Marjorie Olds, Henry Stark, Bryan VanCampen, and Arthur Whitman


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The crime scene following the stabbing of Michael Monroe on October 28, 2022. (Photo: Tompkins County District Attorney Matthew Van Houten. (Photo: Provided)



City Considers Dissolving Board of Public Works

The City of Ithaca’s Board of Public Works has not met since the end of 2021 and many of the board's responsibilities have been taken over by city staff and the Common Council. Since the board of public works last met, there have been moments of contention between Department of Public Works employees and City Hall that some members of the Common Council say could have been avoided if the BPW had been meeting.

The moment of contention in question occurred in November 2022, when dozens of DPW employees voted down the contract that was offered to them and confronted the Common Council over issues with low wages and contract negotiations. Since then, Alderperson George McGonigal has been appointed as a labor liaison to improve communication between public sector labor unions, and DPW workers have voted to approve a new contract including an 18% increase in pay.

The Board of Public Works consists of 6 city residents that are appointed by the Mayor. The Board is mandated by the city charter and has authority over the following items subject to the direction and review of Common Council: Water, Sewers and Drains, Streets and Sidewalks, Creeks and Bridges, Street lighting, Parks, Cemeteries, Garbage, Public Buildings, Property and Parking Management.

While the relationship between DPW workers and the Common Council has improved over the last year, First Ward Alderperson Cynthia Brock recently said, “Our community has been at a huge disadvantage over the last three years because our commissions are not meeting…Our Board of Public Works has not met in almost three years.”

Brock said that board members, “intimately understood where our taxpayer dollars were going, and how our services were being provided.” She continued saying that they also “get to understand how

all of our functions work.”

According to Brock, if the BPW had been meeting over the last several years, moments of contention like the one mentioned above could have been avoided. “I'm absolutely convinced that if we had had a functioning Board of Public Works, all of us in the city would have known of the difficulties that we were facing in our labor and staffing shortages, much earlier than when our employees had to come out in mass and basically demand attention,” Brock said.

Brock added, “Had there been a functioning Board of Public Works, we would have been able to address those issues earlier on and not allow things to get to a crisis mode.” She continued saying, “I don't think that our infrastructure would have gotten to the condition that it is now had we had an operating Board of Public Works for the last three years.”

Republican Mayoral candidate Janice Kelly recently confronted the Common Council regarding the fact that the BPW has not met since 2021 saying that “Neither Mayor Lewis during her time as mayor, nor council member Robert Cantelmo, who is long Chair of the City Administration Committee has bothered to restore this important public board.”

Kelly continued saying, “The failure of this administration and of this common council to do that has made city government less transparent and less accountable.”

According to Kelly, “Prior to the current administration, the Board of Public Works included commissioners from different parts of the city and residents could contact their commissioner from their area easily with problems or with suggestions. That ended after the term of all the Public Works. Commissioners expired at the end of 2021.”

Kelly added, “decisions by the Department of Public Works while there was no oversight might be subject to legal challenge.”

Chief of Staff Deb Molenhoff has said that the BPW has not met in several years because the city had problems achieving a quorum for the BPW during the pandemic, resulting in time sensitive administrative items being delayed “to a point where it was creating problems for DPW staff.” In order to address the issue Molenhoff said that “staff started sending approval items to Common Council, which has been a more reliable approval process.” She added, “This practice will continue until the city has a chance to analyze the best organizational structure moving forward.”

In response to concerns that the BPW not meeting has had negative impacts on city government, Molenhoff said that “nearly all items that would have been brought to BPW were handled in a more timely and efficient manner by staff coordination and approvals or bringing those items that required approval to Council directly.”

Molenhoff says that this process works better because “In most cases, BPW approval would have been a redundant step, requiring redundant presentations and

4 T he I T haca T I mes / s ep T ember 6 – 12, 2023 N ewsline
“ Hopshire Beer.” – Stan P. “Ice Tea, plain, straight up with nothing in it.” – MaryJo G. “Lemonade.” – Marcus T. “Ice Coffee.” – Elizabeth T. “Unsweet Ice Tea.” – Vicki; “Pepsi Cola.” – Paul
Continued on Page 10
Chief of Staff Deb Molenhoff says that the city will be having discussions about dissolving the Board of Public Works sometime in 2024. First Ward Alderperson Cynthia Brock says that the inaction from the Board of Public Works has negativly impacted city government. (Photo: Matt Dougherty)
“I don't think that our infrastructure would have gotten to the condition that it is now had we had an operating Board of Public Works for the last three years.”
— Cynthia Brock
“DPW operations have been more efficient and streamlined without the BPW.”
— Deb Molenhoff

County Considering Renovations to Public Safety Building

Tompkins County is currently in the discussion phase of making renovations to the public safety building, which houses the county jail. The facility was constructed in 1986 and Tompkins County Sheriff Derek Osborne has said that “[It] has taken a lot of abuse over the years.”

While about $4 million has already been approved to update the building's HVAC system in addition to other minor repairs, the county is considering spending an additional $10,750,000 to design and engineer major renovations that would make the building more efficient. These numbers do not include construction costs, which will be discussed once

funding for design work is approved.

Tompkins County Legislator Rich John has told the Ithaca Times that a joint meeting of the facilities and infrastructure committee and the Public Safety Committee will take place on September 12.

According to John, “this project has been kicked down the road because it's so complicated and expensive, but I think we're moving towards making a decision that would get it into our capital plan.” In total, John said that

Independents Continue Third-Party Campaigns for Common Council

Another big election day is approaching in the City of Ithaca, as every seat on the Common Council is up for grabs on November 7.

Several candidates who lost in the Democratic primary on June 27 have decided to continue their campaigns as independents, including current First Ward Alderperson Cynthia Brock and Fifth Ward candidate Jason Houghton.

Brock is running for re-election to the four-year term to represent the First Ward, and Houghton is running for the two-year term to represent the Fifth Ward.

The duo has decided to run on the third-party independent line called Ithacans For Progress. They hope to pool their resources to compete with candidates that have been endorsed by the Working Families Party and Ithaca Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).

The primary saw Brock and Houghton


Six Schools in the Ithaca City School District will be participating in a program that will allow students to receive free universal school meals for the next four years through a federally funded program.


On September 1, a burglary took place at the West Village Apartments. The suspect was stabbed after forcefully entering an apartment and was charged with Burglary in the second degree following treatment at the Cayuga Medical Center.



the total cost of making major renovations to the facility could range from $35 to $50 million.

This is coming as the county is working simultaneously to locate an adequate location for the much anticipated center of government. The project will likely be located on county owned land on the 300 block of North Tioga Street in downtown Ithaca. The cost to construct the center of

Continued on Page 19

The Ovid Fire Department will be holding its 22nd annual September 11th March of Remembrance to honor first responders and all those who lost their lives on 9/11/2001. The march will begin at 7 p.m. at the South Seneca High School.


The nationally ranked No. 9 Ithaca College football team fell to No. 18 Johns Hopkins University, 27-17, in the 2023 season opener.

IF YOU CARE TO RESPOND to something in this column, or suggest your own praise or blame, write news@ithacatimes. com, with a subject head “U&D.”


lose to first-time candidates Kayla Matos and Clyde Lederman. Matos received endorsements from the Working Families Party and the DSA and currently serves as the Deputy Director at the Southside Community Center. Lederman is a sophomore at Cornell University — making him the youngest candidate in the race. He has also received an endorsement from the Working Families Party.

The outcome of the race between Houghton and Lederman was decided by a margin of just eight votes, while a margin of 88 votes separated Brock and Matos.

It will be interesting to see how the races play out in the general election this November. The upcoming election will likely see a much higher turnout among student voters than the primary over the summer — especially in the fifth ward.

Houghton has said that his 17 years of experience living in the City of Ithaca gives him an advantage over Lederman, who recently moved to Ithaca to attend

Cornell University in 2022. He has made advocating for an increased contribution from Cornell to the City of Ithaca and the Ithaca City School District a key pillar of his campaign.

Houghton has told the Ithaca Times that the city needs to “reset the financial relationship with Cornell so Cornell can be a more equitable partner to help make

Continued on Page 19

Do you want the Cayuga Lake Salt Mine to shut down?



Do you think the county should spend $30-$50 million to renovate the county jail?

Visit to submit your response.

s ep T ember 6 – 12, 2023 / T he I T haca T I mes 5 N ewsline
ext W eek ’s Q uestio N :
Yes, the mine is an environmental hazard.
No, we need salt.
N ext W eek ’s Q uestio N :
11.1% I don’t care.
Fifth Ward Common Council candidate Jason Houghton. (Photo: File) The Tompkins County Legislature is considering making renovations to the public safety building that houses the county jail.
“This project has been kicked down the road because it's so complicated and expensive.”
— Rich John

Collateral Damage

As the holiday weekend approaches, I’m reminded that I’m on the eve of the anniversary of my minimedia-melee. In the infinite words of Rod Stewart, I wish I knew then what I know now.

From the well -meaning government officials smacking me on my snoot and putting me in my kennel so I’ll learn my lesson, to the heroes that broke me free and put a harness and leash on me and paraded me about, it’s safe to say I’ve learned a lot in the last year. Most importantly, I take with me the lesson that one must be wary of powerful men with agendas.

I would become known as collateral damage. That’s a phrase I used in reference to what I feared I would become. The Collusion Club adopted it as an endearing moniker. It became the selfrighteous catch phrase and an ethical magical wand that absolved them from what they were doing with me. One government official that fancied himself a writer whimsically told me how I would be immortalized on his blog

as such. Gosh...lucky me! By all means gentleman, carry on with the dismantling of everything I hold dear so you can get that three to four minutes of additional air time.

I’m hoping there will be money in the budget to paint the dumpster that’s on fire now known as Ithaca. Perhaps in the true spirit of the city we can hold a contest to see which theme fits best. Submissions open to all, with special consideration to participants who have been victims of violent crime.

Only in a town this inefficient and self-focused would someone like me be penalized for a job well done.

As I sit here like a mistreated, poorly paid, DPW employee, I grab my metaphorical broom and my flimsy emotional bag and try and sweep up the only thing left of the situation I’m in. Sadly as the parade of horror marches on, the only thing left is trash.

The refrain I hear as I attempt to reassemble my life is the squawking jabs that the cops are my friends or the politicians are my friends. As I muddle along, I

Continued on Page 19

One Day for Labor Day Is Not Enough

The state of labor this year is so fraught, so weighted with issues and problems, that a single day of homage and reflection doesn’t seem enough. It’s as if a year or more is needed to engage the issues, challenges, and possibilities facing American workers today. Consider the following:

Some 37.9 million Americans, about 11.6 percent of the population, live in poverty. But as sociologist Matthew Desmond has noted, about one in three Americans lives in a household with an income of $55,000 per year or less, an income barely enough to cover the rising costs of rent, health care, and food. Some 10.2 percent of American households (13.5 million households) have been food insecure, lacking access at one time or another to an adequately nutritious diet.

At the same time, organizations that best represent the material interests of working people — labor unions — are at an all-time low in membership (10.1 percent), down from 20.1 percent of working adults in 1983, when comparable data was first available. As studies have shown, unionized workers tend to make wages higher than those of non-union workers, and they tend to be less vulnerable to such corporate labor strategies as outsourcing.

But outdated labor laws and weak enforcement continue to hamper the efforts of thousands of workers seeking to organize unions and achieve fair collective bargaining agreements. Despite some important successes (e.g. the wage raises and safety provisions recently won by UPS workers), major employers like Starbucks and Amazon stonewall negotiations, and union busting remains a lucrative enterprise: a highly effective instrument deployed by many companies.

To complicate matters, AI has entered the workplace, threatening jobs in call centers and other places of employment — and remaining a contentious issue in ongoing strikes by screenwriters and actors.

Recent polling indicates that public support for unions (71 percent) is the

highest it’s been since 1965. But it’s one thing to indicate approval on an opinion poll; it’s another to express that support in concrete ways.

One way, of course, is to continue educating oneself about labor issues and the way they’re played out in public discourse. With the 2024 election 14 months away, for example, one can scrutinize the words and actions of candidates who profess to care about working families.

Consider, for example, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott’s declaration, at the recent Republican presidential debate, that “the only way we change education in this nation, is to break the backs of the teachers unions.” What does it mean to represent unions in this way – to erase any consideration of teachers as both parents and as members of a community?

And what kinds of legislation, what kinds of policies, best represent the interests of workers — like those at Starbucks and Amazon — who seek to organize and achieve fair contracts?

Consider the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which, among other things, would make it illegal for employers to force workers to attend anti-union, captive audience meetings. The PRO Act was passed by Congress in 2021, but it has since languished in the Senate. What will it take for basic legislation like this to become law?

Behind these questions lies the fundamental issue of accountability. How to hold candidates and public officials accountable for stances and actions that help or hinder workers? How to hold ourselves accountable as citizens, willing to take the extra steps to look beyond campaign rhetoric as educated and discerning voters?

And how to look around our own neighborhoods — informing ourselves of local labor issues, respecting (even joining) picket lines, and supporting workers’ rights to organize whenever possible?

The need for accountability applies to unions and union members as well. In my Continued on Page 19

6 T he I T haca T I mes / s ep T ember 6 – 12, 2023 GUEST OPINION

Al Davidoff: How It All Began: Unionizing the Ivory Tower

Al Davidoff grew up in Buffalo, in a mostly Polish and Italian, white “industrial suburb.” “It was working-class culturally, with few collegeeducated parents. Autoworkers and other laborers were moving into the middleclass through the working class.”

A lively, mischievous kid, Al read voraciously and was fascinated by political issues. Cornell was not too far from home and the Industrial and Labor Relations School was not too expensive, plus ILR students (in the state school part of Cornell) could take classes in the private part of Cornell as well. Al arrived in Ithaca in August 1976.

Before long Al was in the thick of troublemakers. “Students were frustrated and activated by the lack of Labor presence in the ILR offerings. “Let’s put the “L” back in ILR, we lobbied.” As he studied in class, Al was drawn into the fray. “Early on we participated in the boycott of racist and union-busting

JP Stevens Textile, handing out leaflets in front of Woolworths. The other major struggle of our time was the anti-apartheid fight, specifically pressuring Cornell

to divest from South Africa.”

Eventually, Al took a job as a custodian, cramming in his schoolwork around the job. “I found most of the workers were white, rural, with a socially conservative upbringing. But, as we began speaking about Cornell University’s exploitation of the lowest paid workers (disproportionately women and Blacks), we all became more open in our discussions about race and gender, equity. Many of the most effective organizers were Blacks

and women—Catherine Valentino, who launched the organizing, and worker leaders like Pam Mackesey, Carol Lane, Al Butler and Dave (Oze) Richardson.”

As workers’ wages lost ground against inflation, they began to question many issues. “The more workers spoke amongst themselves, the more convinced they became that it was wrong for Cornell to pay poverty wages to the essential people who kept Cornell going, that kept Cornell beautiful…The longer the organizing drive went on for better wages, better terms through unionization, the closer the workers grew with each other. Feeling like family. Feeling comfortable, we were talking about everything, Sexual harassment, favoritism, and unchecked power. Our discussions, our realizations were compelling, sometimes profound, but also scary…What if we lost? Cornell had tremendous power over us and fought the union tooth and nail.”

Over time, as activism for better wages and conditions spread from one worker to the next, a camaraderie of the workers, and some student activists and faculty created a close-knit subculture, which proved resilient throughout the pro-

tracted struggle to organize Cornell. “To see people coming together, overcoming pressure and fear, supporting each other, was magic. I knew I had found where I wanted to be.”

In February 1981, just a few days before the union vote, the Ithaca Journal’s editorial read “VOTE, NO!” Al: “But workers had organized far and wide across campus and believed they were entitled to a fair deal. Hundreds of workplace conversations and home visits with other workers built trust and confidence.”

“On February 24, 1981, a majority of 1000 eligible Cornell workers voted YES to forming a new union, Local 2300 UAW. The union went on to bargain many contracts, engaging in creative strikes and rallies in the fight for livable wages and respect.”

Al remained engaged with the Labor Movement in Ithaca as Local 2300 President for 15 years after he arrived here from Buffalo. Local 2300 helped many other workers organize at places like the Ithaca Housing Authority and Tompkins County Public Library. Others met Al through the Labor Coalition, or as Campaign Manager for mayoral candidate Cornell Engineering professor Ben Nichols, a Democratic Socialist.

Al, Mayor Ben Nichols, and City Attorney Chuck Guttman are remembered as leading the coalition that convinced Cornell to be a more supportive financial contributor in this community, obtaining the first large financial commitment to balance Cornell’s tax-exempt property, which leaves the burden for municipal expenses (like fire and police protection, schools, road repair) on the taxpayers.

Al Davidoff’s book “Unionizing The Ivory Tower” via Cornell Press, is a great read. Honest, exciting, and important local history. The brotherhood and sisterhood of Labor with activism reflected in Al’s book is especially current, as we see how fragile and precarious democracy is, not only in America, but globally.

Al will revisit us later on to reflect more on his book and work around the world.

s ep T ember 6 – 12, 2023 / T he I T haca T I mes 7 COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS
Al Davidoff speaking at the IBEW Conference Center in Cutchogue, NY at the National Labor Leadership Initiative. (Photo: Clark Jones) Al Davidoff’s new book about labor organizing at Cornell University. Al Davidoff worked with former Mayor Ben Nichols to increase Cornell’s contribution to Ithaca. (Photo: Kaveh Sardari)
“Cornell had tremendous power over us and fought the union tooth and nail.”
— Al Davidoff
“To see people coming together, overcoming pressure and fear, supporting each other, was magic.”
— Al Davidoff

Two Groups Pushing Cornell to Contribute More to the Community

The City of Ithaca and Cornell University have begun negotiations for a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) ahead of the expiration of the current MOU in 2024. The negotiations have been shrouded in secrecy as neither the City nor Cornell have revealed who is participating in them. This has resulted in skepticism among the public, who have been left to wonder whether or not the negotiators are taking demands for an increased contribution from the university in good faith.

The origins of the MOU date back to 1994, when Ithaca Mayor and Democratic Socialists of America member Ben Nichols asked the university to increase its annual contribution to the city from $143,000 to $2.5 million. Cornell refused the increase asked for by Nichols, but after a battle that saw Nichols and the city withhold building permits from the university, an agreement was reached that saw Cornell increase their contribution to $250,000 in 1995.

Since the original MOU was agreed upon, several Mayors have attempted to ask Cornell to increase its contribution to the City, including longtime Mayor Svante Myrick. Over the years, the

university’s contribution has increased slightly based on the Consumer Price Index, but it’s still below Nichol’s original ask of $2.5 million.

The MOU currently sees Cornell — which has an annual operating budget of around $5.5 billion and an endowment of more than $10 billion — contribute a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) of about $1.6 million annually to the city, which had a budget of $89.9 million in 2023. In comparison, property owners in Ithaca pay a combined average of $30.5 million in annual property taxes.

Cornell University occupies roughly 60% of the city’s property value, making more than half of city-owned land exempt from property taxes. While Cornell does pay taxes on $8 million worth of property, Tompkins County 2022 assessment data shows that the university’s property exempted from taxes totals more than $2.7 billion. This has placed a burden on the rest of the taxpayers in the city, who are left to fill in the gaps created by the university’s tax-exempt status.

As a result, even though a wealthy Ivy League institution like Cornell University calls the city home, Ithaca seems to be perennially cash-strapped. Every budget season sees discussions about how to best allocate the incredibly finite resources that the city has to offer, which always ends up with someone feeling like they’ve been dealt the short end of the stick.

Cornell University as an annual operating budget of around $5.5 billion and an endowment of more than $10 billion but only contributes a payment in liwu of taxes (PILOT) of $1.6 million to the City of Ithaca. (Photo: File)

In an attempt to take advantage of the expiration of the current MOU in 2024, Ithaca residents from across the political spectrum have created local advocacy groups to put pressure on both the City


says that the conversation between the City and Cornell should focus on the universities Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) to Ithaca.

and Cornell, demanding an increase in the university’s contributions to the local community. These groups are the Make Cornell Pay Coalition and the Fair Share Campaign. The groups are not working together now, but they are both advocating for increased contributions from Cornell — with slightly different tactics.

The Make Cornell Pay Coalition has grown from the Ithaca Democratic Socialists of America campaign to make public transportation free by increasing Cornell’s contribution to TCAT. As a result, one of the main priorities for the coalition is to use increased contributions from the university to fund free TCAT service for the community. The

coalition is chaired by former Third Ward Common Council candidate and Cornell University scientist Dr. Nathan Sitaraman.

Sitaraman has said that the coalition is in the process of asking the Cornell University Board of Trustees to increase the annual endowment distribution as a way to increase Cornell’s contribution to the community. He says that increasing the endowment distribution would allow Cornell “to make an agreement with the city and the school district to increase payments without affecting scholarships and other aspects of their operating budget.”

8 T he I T haca T I mes / s ep T ember 6 – 12, 2023
Share Campaign organizer Margaret Fabrizio (Photo: File) Make Cornell Pay organizer Dr. Nathan Sitaraman says that his group is focusing on asking the Cornell University Board of Trustees to increase the endowment distribution to get Cornell to contribute more to the community. (Photo: File)
“If you lump together what they would be paying to the city, TCAT, and what they would be paying to the school district, it would come to something in the realm of $11 or $12 million.”
— Dr. Nathan Sitaraman

According to Sitaraman, “the endowment distribution is how they’re using the endowment to cover some of their operating expenses.” He added, “3.3% of the endowment every year goes into the university’s operating budget, and our ask is to increase it to 3.4%.”

Sitaraman continued saying, “If you lump together what they would be paying to the city, TCAT, and what they would be paying to the school district, it would come to something in the realm of $11 or $12 million.”

He told the Ithaca Times that “Cornell administration is going to say that they can’t increase these payments because that would require cuts to other essential Cornell programs…That’s why we’re focused on the endowment distribution because we don’t want Cornell to be taking money out of their regular operating budget to do this, we want them to increase the endowment distribution so they can maintain their current business as usual and also give back to the community in a fair way.”

The Fair Share Campaign was created by Fifth Ward Common Council candidate Margret Fabrizio, who has prioritized the conversation around increasing Cornell’s PILOT. Fabrizio has said, “A PILOT would include all of the taxes, the city and school district.”

According to Fabrizio, the main factor when it comes to lowering taxes has to do with the school district. “Our school district is the biggest tax we have here, not the city,” Fabrizio said. She added, “The one thing that they could make the most impact on in terms of property tax relief for people and aid that needs to happen would be the school district.”

The Ithaca City School District (ICSD) recently agreed for Cornell to increase its annual contribution from $500,000 to $650,000. The move came midway through a 2021 agreement where Cornell committed to contribute $500,000 annually to the district.

In response to the increase, Superintendent Luvelle Brown said that “senior leadership at Cornell University [have] been supportive to our school district’s endeavors.” However, Fabrizio has said, “If [Cornell]

were paying at the same rate as we are, they would owe [ICSD] $46 million this year.”

“I think it’s an incredible disservice to accept that when we need so much more money than that,” Fabrizio said.

Fabrizio told the Ithaca Times, “The Ithaca City School District needs to be part of a PILOT discussion. They comprise the largest piece of the local property tax bill.”

She continued, saying, “I believe Cornell saw the writing on the wall and tried to pre-empt that topic by slightly increasing their paltry contribution mid-way into their current agreement with ICSD.”

According to Fabrizio, “The University of Pennsylvania is paying $10 million per year for 10 years to the Philadelphia school district. If Cornell paid taxes this year at the same rate as the rest of us, they would owe ICSD $46 million.”

She added, “I asked the superintendent months ago to join the Fair Share Campaign. Accepting this small gift undercuts the community’s efforts, but it doesn’t mean it’s the end of the story”.

The Ithaca Teachers Association has released a statement saying they are “pleased to see Cornell University begin to voluntarily increase its contribution to [ICSD] in response to pressure from the community.” It continues by saying that “ICSD’s budget for the 2023-24 school year is $158,588,080 and Cornell’s endowment is $10.5 billion; their $150,000 increase demonstrates a small step towards supporting our community. We look forward to seeing their next steps and continuing the conversation about what Cornell University should contribute to our schools and community.”

Fabrizio worries that the current closeddoor negotiations between the city and Cornell will result in a similar outcome as the recent news about Cornell increasing its contribution to ICSD. Additionally, she said that since several members of the Common Council are not running for reelection, the negotiations should take place after a new council is elected.

As a result, she says that the current negotiations between the city and Cornell should come to an end and that the council should use this time as an opportunity to collect information about how other communities

that are home to wealthy universities have successfully negotiated for increased contributions to their community.

“This has a huge impact on the entire community. There’s no way that there should be a couple of people in a room with a closed door making this decision,” Fabrizio said.

Sitaraman and the Make Cornell Pay coalition similarly distrust the secret negotiations. Several coalition members confronted the Common Council during a meeting in August to call on the council to be more transparent in their negotiations with the university. While some council members seemed sympathetic to the concerns of residents, the dominant response from the council was for the coalition to take their problems to Cornell.

Sitaraman says, “We would definitely like a more open line of communication between City Council and the community and the movement to Make Cornell Pay than exists right now.” He continued by saying that “we want to be on the same page with people on the City Council… they shouldn’t vote to accept an offer from Cornell unless it’s meeting what we think we need in the community.”

Sitaraman added, “I feel like there hasn’t been the opportunity for them to connect with the community and get on the same page with people about what exactly we want to see out of this deal…That’s not the way the process should be.”

Neither Cornell University nor Ithaca Mayor Laura Lewis responded to repeated requests to comment on this story.

s ep T ember 6 – 12, 2023 / T he I T haca T I mes 9
“I think it’s an incredible disservice to accept that when we need so much more money than that.”
— Margaret Fabrizio
“There’s no way that there should be a couple of people in a room with a closed door making this decision,.”
— Margaret Fabrizio
West Hill Cayuga Lake Titus Flats Southside Northside Triangle Inlet Island Fall Creek Cornell University Collegetown Tax-exempt property
“We would definitely like a more open line of communication between City Council and the community and the movement to Make Cornell Pay than exists right now.”
— Dr. Nathan Sitaraman
Cornell University owns 60% of the City of Ithaca’s property value, making more than half of city-owned land exempt form property taxes. (Photo: File)

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On August 31, Kinney Drugs became one of the first pharmacies in the country to offer Narcan nasal spray over the counter. The news was announced on international overdose awareness day.

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needlessly consuming limited staff resources.” According to Molenhoff, “Approvals made by staff were consistent with previous actions taken by the BPW for similar situations,” and “DPW operations have been more efficient and streamlined without the BPW.”

As a result Molenhoff said that the city is working on bringing a discussion item to the Common Council regarding a proposal to dissolve the BPW sometime in 2024, after the city transitions to a city manager form of government. The discussion will advance a previous discussion from June

Marraffa continued saying, “we worked very hard to be one of the first pharmacies in the U.S. to offer Narcan Nasal Spray over the counter. It’s so appropriate that the day it hits our shelves is August 31, which is International Overdose Awareness Day.”

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2020 in which the Council considered the possible dissolution of the BPW. The Agenda with the initial analysis can be found here:

Molenhoff told the Ithaca Times that “ Given that this was introduced in a tumultuous time and the capacity and bandwidth of both the Common Council and City Staff was severely limited during the ongoing pandemic, it was decided that we would table the discussion until a later date.” She added,”The City is now in the process of changing its form of government and will be identifying the appropriate time to bring this conversation and decision back to Council.”

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Rich Classical Music Offerings

A Music Director Playoff and Campus Concerts

Highlight Fall Season

Our academic institutions are starting up and local music organizations have scheduled their offerings for this fall. Here are the highlights.

Cornell University

The Cornell Center for Historical Keyboards (CCHK), officially opened now, has scheduled most piano and organ events. The Salon Project, held at the A.D. White House on Friday afternoons at 5 p.m., offers pianist Xak Bjerken and baritone Jean Baptiste Cerin in a program of transatlantic German song on September 1, while on September 22, soprano Lucy Fitz Gibbon and pianist Ryan McCullough (both formerly at Cornell and now teaching at Bard College) performing “Die schöne Magelone” by Brahms (repeated on September 23 at 8 p.m. in Sage Chapel).

On November 3 is music by Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov (b. 1937), played by Boris Berman from Yale; on November 17 Patricia Garcia Gil from UNC Greensboro performs keyboard sonatas by 18th-century Viennese composer Marianna Martines.

In Barnes Hall at 12:30 p.m. on September 16 pianists Malcolm Bilson, Bjerken, Sezi Seskir, Brian Wang, and Miri Yampolsky play music including Schumann, Schubert, Sibelius, Amy Beach, Tchaikovsky, on different pianos.

On September 15 Cornell organists Annette Richards and David Yearsley present music including Monteverdi, Sweelinck,

Pärt, and Yearsley at 12:30 p.m. in Sage Chapel.

The Cornell Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra, in the first concert by the new orchestra director, Gabriela Gómez Estévez, includes music by Janacek and Dvorák in Bailey Hall on September 23 at 3 p.m.

On October 1 at 12 p.m. in Bailey Hall the Cornell Wind Symphony, conducted by James Spinazzola, presents music of Gershwin and James Stephenson.

The Cornell Chorus gives its Twilight Concert at 6 p.m. on October 28 in Bailey Hall, conducted by director of choral music Joe Lerangis and assistant director Yen-Hsiang Nieh. It features Vincent Persichetti’s Winter Cantata. The traditional Holiday program of Lessons and Carols will be in Sage Chapel on December 2 and 3 starting at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:30.

Cornell Concert Series (all in Bailey Hall)

Dover Quartet on October 13 at 7:30 p.m. plays music of Haydn, Price, and Shostakovich.

The Knights, joined by mandolinist, singer, and songwriter Chris Thile, play works by Caroline Shaw, Thile, Dvorák, and J. S. Bach on October 29 at 3:00 p.m.

Frank Vignola and Tessa Lark, on guitar and violin, perform original arrangements ranging from classical to jazz on November 10 at 7:30 p.m.

Ithaca College

The annual Founders Day Concert will be on September 17 at 2 p.m. in DeWitt Park. Participating are the Concert Band, Wind Ensemble, and the IC Choir, directed by its new head, Khyle Wooten, and performing a piece called “Ithaca Forever” by Philip Lang. On the program for

the Wind Ensemble is music by Morton Gould, Gershwin, Bernstein, and Vaughan Williams.

In case of rain, the concert moves to Ford Hall at IC.

At Ford Hall at 8:15 p.m. are Symphony Orchestra concerts on October 6 and November 15; Concert Band and Wind Symphony on November 4; Sinfonietta and Chamber Orchestra on November 10.

Faculty recitals by flutist Wendy Mehne on October 1 at 4:p.m. and by pianist Charis Demaris on November 27 at 7 p.m.; “Art Songs by Women Composers” on November 1 by mezzo-soprano Ivy Walz at 7 p.m; faculty string-piano chamber music on November 30, 7 p.m., all in Hockett Family Recital Hall.

Dorothy Cotton Jubilee Singers give two concerts in Ford Hall on October 29 at 3 p.m. and December 8 at 7 p.m.

Cayuga Chamber Orchestra (CCO)

Our popular local orchestra faces an unusual season this year due to the search underway for a new music director. Four candidates have been selected, each will conduct a concert that features a Beethoven symphony. All concerts are held at Ford Hall and start at 7:30 p.m. with a pre-concert talk at 6:45. The season opens on September 23 with candidate Jeffery Meyer on the podium leading Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6, “Pastorale,” plus a work by contemporary American composer Carlos Simon and the Ravel Piano Concerto in G major with Bjerken as soloist. Meyer is well known and appreciated by Ithacans as the head of orchestras at IC for ten years. The second concert, on October 21, features Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8 and introduces candidate Guillaume Pirard, a founder and co-concertmaster of Brooklyn-based orchestra

The Knights (they are performing in the Cornell Concert Series on October 29— small world).

Handel’s Messiah, led by CCO interim conductor Grant Cooper, will be in Ford Hall at 7:30 pm on December 16 with the Cayuga Vocal Ensemble, directed by Sean Linfors, and featuring soloists soprano Deborah Montgomery, mezzo-soprano Dawn Pierce, tenor Nathan McEwen, and bass Steven Stull.

The first concert in the Chamber Music series presents music by Debussy, Dvorák, Borodin, and Saint-Saëns on November 19 at 3 p.m. at the First Unitarian Society.

New York State Baroque

Our region’s early music group opens its 2023–2024 season of live concerts in Ithaca on October 14 at the Unitarian Society at 7:30 p.m., with pre-concert talks at 6:45. Called “Knight of the Lute”, internationally famous Paul O’Dette plays solo lute music from the Albani Manuscript, recently discovered in Italy, in a US premiere. On December 2 at 7:30 p.m. in the First Presbyterian Church, is “A Festive Sound,” a celebration of the season with 17th-century Italian and German music including Buxtehude, Monteverdi, and Praetorius. Performing are soprano Laura Heimes, mezzo-soprano Luthien Brackett, tenor Jeffrey Thompson, and bass Andrew Padgett, accompanied by strings, cornetto, trombones, theorbo, and organ.

Finger Lakes Chamber Ensemble

On September 24 the core players of this small local group, organizer and violist Roberta Crawford, cellist Stefan Reuss,

Continued on Page 19

F all a r T s G u I de / s ep T ember 6 – 12, 2023 / T he I T haca T I mes 11
Four candidates for Musical Director will lead performances this season: Jeffery Meyer, Guillaume Pirard, Michelle Di Russo, Octavio Más-Arocas

Johnson Art Museum Celebrates 50th Anniversary

The Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University has towered above Ithaca since it opened atop East Hill on May 23, 1973. Over the last 50 years, the museum has brought a little bit of culture and history from across the globe to the City of Gorges.

The museum offers free admission for everyone and is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day of the week except Monday. On September 23, the museum will hold an open house event to celebrate its 50th anniversary from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The Johnson grew out of the A.D. White Museum, established in 1953 after William Chapman gifted Cornell with over 3000 prints and drawings from the 16th to 20th centuries in 1947. Johnson Museum Director Jessica Levin Martinez has said that the gift represented “a core of a collection that necessitated and gave energy towards establishing a museum.”

As the university continued to obtain art, the need for more space to display its collections became apparent. Following a multi-million dollar donation from Herbert Fisk Johnson Jr. (owner of the S.C. Johnson company), the university hired world-famous architect I.M. Pei to design the new museum.

Before he died in 2019, Pei contributed to the designs of buildings like the John F. Kennedy Library, the National Gallery of Art, and the famous Louvre Pyramid in Paris. At the museum’s grand opening, Pei said, “Before, when you looked north across Library Slope, all you could see was sky and trees, and you can’t beat that…To put a building, there was a challenge we couldn’t resist.”

To celebrate the half-century anniversary of the building, Martinez said that the museum has put together an exhibit called “50 Years; an Anniversary Celebration.” Martinez has called the exhibit “exuberant” and said that it will continue to be on display on the first floor throughout the rest of the year.

“We feature work in the collection from the mid-1960s through the 1970s. There’s also a section that includes footage from the 1973 dedication events,” Martinez said. She continued saying that “an entire gallery wall dedicated to pop art” and that there’s also a focus on thinking about the legacy that “land art” has had on the museum.

Martinez added that “there’s another whole body of work created by feminist artists in the 1970s, and we’ve been working hard to acquire works made in that time period.” According to Martinez, “It’s Continued on

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The Johnson Art Museum at Cornell University is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. (Photo: Michelle LaMorte)


an exuberant show that showcases our history and inspires us to look forward in new ways.”

“I think what’s unique about the slate of shows this semester is that it moves from radically local to super global,” Martinez said.

She continued, “We have a collection of over 40,000 works of art from ancient times to the present. So when I look at that, I think we have the voices of artists from around the world and through time, all speaking to us so that we can learn more about our future.”

“We are able to bring a bit of the world to Ithaca, and sharing that with our broad community is a great impact that we make over time,” Martinez said.

In addition to bringing a global perspective to the city, the museum provides local schools with a wide variety of educational opportunities.

According to Martinez, “Every year, we have about 6,000 K-12 students come into the museum.” She said that teachers have the opportunity to work with Cornell faculty to decide how “the works in the museum can support what’s happening in the classroom.”

“Our work with local schools has been significant in the region, not just in Ithaca, but more broadly in our county,” Martinez said.

Regarding how the Johson could evolve over the next 50 years, Martinez said that there is potential for the museum to be more transparent about the process of how it functions. Martinez said, “For a long time, this museum and others have been all about the polished final presentation of the galleries, but what’s unique about the Johnson Museum and our potential for the future is showing our back of the house and how we do things.”

Martinez added that the nearly 100 undergraduate students who work at the museum have “brilliant ideas” that “push [the museum] in new directions,” so “our opportunity is to listen to them.”

According to Martinez, “Museums are changing very quickly, and I think this really exciting generation will push museums into new directions.”

F all a r T s G u I de / s ep T ember 6 – 12, 2023 / T he I T haca T I mes 13 Fall Arts Guide 401 E. State St. G1 Ithaca, NY (607) 348-3892
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After 50 Years or So, Joe Medwick Returns to Play

Joe Medwick first entered the Deep Dive back when it was still the Salty Dog in 1969. “That was the first place my brother and Terry snuck me into. I think I saw an early version of Orleans there,” he said. The former Ithaca resident returns to the Deep Dive on September 9 to promote his new album, “All My Friends.”

Medwick grew up in Watertown, NY surrounded by a music-loving family. After a brush with regional stardom in the Thousand Islands region, the 14-year-old-boy began booking bands and learning everything he could about the music business, “because that’s what Terry was doing.”

Terry was Terry Singleton, also a Watertown native, the drummer for the South Shore Road Band and a booking agent who worked with John Perialis at Pyramid Sound Studios. Singleton and Peter Medwick, Joe’s brother, lived in Ithaca together, and that was the connection for Joe to move to the area at age 19. Singleton introduced Joe to Perialis one afternoon at lunch, and his career as a professional booking agent began. “Terry was everything that you wanted to be a human,” he says. “He was funny, really smart, coolest guy on a planet. And he was a shrewd booking agent in that bands trusted him because he had integrity.” Singleton passed away in 2019.

In 1979, Medwick moved west to California where he worked for Tower Records, and then as a freelance writer working with music labels and publications. But playing music called him again in the early nineties. With a wealth of musician buddies including folks like Albert Lee, Tim Drummond and Levon Helm, he found support and connections that have resulted in two albums, 2017’s “Memphis to Montreal” and this year’s “All My Friends.”

IT: How did you pull together all of these cool musicians?

JM: I’m not particularly famous, but I’ve been really lucky my whole life. I’ve known a lot of well known folks like Garth Hudson from The Band and Robbie Roberts. I’m in

Asheville now, and I have a friend named Doug Pettibone, a phenomenal guitar player. He played with us. My drummer is a guy I met in California, Gary Mallaber, who was drummer on Van Morrison’s Moondance and played with Springsteen. Everything was pretty much live and analog. No auto tune, no overdubs, no drum machines. The only things that we shipped in were horns from Erik Lawrence, Levon Helm’s horn guy, and Cajun fiddle from Joel Savoy. He’s from the top family in Cajun music in Louisiana.

Everything else we performed live up in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Real warm sounding. It came out great with a lot of energy. It’s not a profound record. It’s very quirky and warm and real. It’s a fantastic trip back in time and I recorded it like my friend Jackson Browne did, very intimate.

IT: Who’s playing with you on this tour?

JM: My bass player is a guy named Chris Kew. He goes by Captain Q! He has a producer credit on this, and I also gave him co-rights because we worked doing some arrangements for the music. I have a great guitar player, Glen Sherba, who played in Commander Cody’s band. His wife, Colleen, is phenomenal. She plays harp and guitar, and sings. They’ll both be playing on the tour.

IT: How do you expect local Ithacans to respond to the musician side of you?

Well, you know, it’s a trip because I had a few different careers. When my first record came out, people who knew me as a writer or executive went, “What? We didn’t know this part of you!” It’s funny. When I was in Ithaca, I was just a booking guy, but I was very sympathetic music-oriented booking guy like Terry was. This change will blow people’s minds.

I’m hoping a lot of locals make it out. And I mean, even if you’re not local, it’s a great band.

Joe Medwick All My Friends Tour

Arts & Entertainment

s ep T ember 6 – 12, 2023 / T he I T haca T I mes 15
Saturday Sept. 9 5 p.m. Deep Dive 415 Old Taughannock Blvd, Ithaca
Joe Medwick snuck into the Deep Dive when it was the Salty Dog. He returns to play Sept. 9

Authentic Mexican at the Mall

Zocalo’s International Staff Makes Mexican Food Right

In the years I’ve been writing restaurant reviews for The Ithaca Times it has been difficult to find a restaurant in the greater Ithaca area that serves truly authentic Mexican food. So called “Mexican restaurants” may be owned and operated by people who haven’t even been to Mexico. Part of the difficulty is that each of the 32 states in Mexico features their own cuisine. Zocalo, in The Shops at Ithaca Mall, is owned and operated by a gentleman who was born in Mexico and has lived in Ithaca for 14 years. His staff is truly international with 20 kitchen workers and servers from Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, India, Ukraine, and even one American rising Cornell senior from Virginia. They have a special computer program which accepts orders from customers in English and translates them into Spanish in the kitchen.

The large, and varied menu has been adapted and modified to convert authentic

Mexican dishes and recipes to American tastes, which usually means the spice level is toned down.

Zocalo opened April 4, 2018, with a capacity for 110 diners on mostly comfortable quilted seats. In a mall which has seen better days, this restaurant has been the main attraction seven days/week and if you’ve ever dined there, you’ll understand why. I would describe the atmosphere as functional, nothing spectacular, and the background music is usually Latin and unobtrusive.

One of the most popular food items are Street Tacos. ($13.49). I’m told these are authentic tacos you’d buy from a vendor on Mexican streets. I’m impressed that so many alternative taco varieties are offered, for example: soft flour or firmer corn tortillas filled with either steak or chicken and black or refried beans. Another version is Al Pastor, with pork chunks marinated in pineapple. They’re all topped with cilantro

and onions and are delicious. Zocalo serves 350-400 portions of three tacos weekly.

Equally popular are the half dozen selection of Fajitas, ($14.99-$18.99). They’re served sizzling and include onions, bell peppers, lettuce, shredded cheese, sour cream, rice, and refried beans. The half dozen varieties include chicken, steak, steak and chicken, shrimp, and a seafood combo which includes shrimp, crab meat, and haddock.

I have two favorite entrées: One is Enchiladas Rancheras ($12.49). You get five on the platter and can choose any combination between cheese, chicken, bean, ground beef, and shredded beef. They’re smothered with a homemade enchilada sauce, shredded lettuce, tomato slices, sour cream, and queso fresco, (cheese).

My other favorite is a vegetarian Chile Relleno, ($10.49). A large Poblano pepper is washed, stuffed with cheese, chilled 24 hours, dipped in egg whites, lightly breaded, and fried in a deep fryer. I savor the lovely combination of texture and flavor and it’s not at all spicy.

A section of the large menu is devoted to Mariscos, (shellfish or seafood), ($13.99-$16.99) and features a half dozen combinations which may include mussels, calamari, haddock, shrimp, or crab meat.

Other major sections of the menu are Burritos, Quesadillas, Sopas, Pollo, Ensaladas, Aperitivos, Cocina, and Vegetariana. I think you can figure most of these out as they are cognates of English words.

There are only two sopas, a beef consommé and a chicken tortillas soup. The two vegetarian offerings are the chili relleno I’ve already described and a veggie quesadilla. There are also five Dinner Combos, all at $10.49 which include many of the ingredients mentioned above.

The best desserts include a pleasant, firm homemade flan and fried ice cream. The ice cream comes in one flavor, vanilla and is coated in full size corn flakes. I found the flakes unpleasantly chewy and would have preferred them more granular. The portion was large and there were four dollops of whipped cream, squirted from a can, surrounding the ice cream ball. There’s a separate beverage menu which, as you might imagine, is strong on Margarita varieties and includes an entire page of various Tequilas. There are only four wines by the glass, (does anyone drink wine, other than Sangria, with Mexican food?) and more than a dozen beers by the bottle and a few on draft. The description of the dozen mixed cocktails makes them sound like fun to try. Besides being the best Mexican restaurant in our area, Zocalo is a wonderful choice for a change of pace from our normal fare. The food is consistently high quality, beautifully presented, and very reasonably priced — and the international staff is efficient and eager to please.


Zocalo is named for the town square or city center in Mexico City and other smaller towns. The spiciest items are identified by the word “diablo” or a pepper icon.

The dinner menu is available all day, seven days, and there’s also a small lunch menu with combos and specials ($7.99-$11.59).

Zocalo Mexican Bar and Grill

Shops at Ithaca Mall 40 Catherwood Rd, Ithaca

Mon.-Sat. 11:30-9; Sun noon -8

16 T he I T haca T I mes / s ep T ember 6 – 12, 2023 Dining
One of the area’s best Mexican restaurants offers authentic food and reasonable price in the Shops at Ithaca Mall.

Late Summer Fun Films

“TMNT:Mutant Mayhem” and “Strays” Are Light Late-Summer Amusements

The “Spider-Verse” films seem to have inspired a great deal of animators to keep pushing the medium forward, keep trying new techniques and taking artistic risks. You can see all sorts of creativity in animated features like the most recent “Puss N’ Boots” adventure and especially Seth Rogen and Evam Goldberg’s reinvention of an 80’s classic, “TMNT: Mutant Mayhem”.

Unlike a lot of “business as usual” reboots, Rogen and Goldberg and the other writers are coming to this franchise with a lot of love and affection, but for all that, the artists have clearly been inspired to draw, to fill the frame with paint and color and visible construction lines left behind by all the penciling.

It seems like every Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles feature I see is a reboot or an origin story, and Rogen and Goldberg have a lot of fun pushing the parameters here and there, re-envisioning journalist April O’Neil as an aspiring reporter who runs the closed-circuit news program at her high school. (If only she didn’t get sick to her stomach when she gets nervous. Oh well. If this reboot works out at the box office, she’ll have plenty of time to learn how to quell teenage indigestion.)

no one has ever done it before. Lots of folks have seen “The Incredible Journey” (1993) but how many of them wanted the funny talking animals to then curse like longshoremen, in the parlance of our times? And so we get “Strays”, which plays like a loose remake of “Lady and the Tramp” where all the critters have Tourette’s Syndrome.

Will Farrell, last seen careening between Barbie-land and the boardrooms of Mattel in “Barbie”, voices the role of Reggie, a dog who just wants love from his owner, but his owner is a hateful, selfish slob played by Will Forte, who just wants nothing at all to do with Reggie, to the point where Forte spends most of his time driving Reggie farther and farther away

from his crappy home. It finally works, as Reggie hooks up with three other talking dogs, played by Jamie Foxx, Isla Fisher and Randall Park. “Strays” follows its foulmouthed family format, as Reggie forms his own surrogate clan and finally realizes what a bad guy Forte really is; the dog decides to sever ties in a way that can’t be described in this family newspaper. There was an extended dog poop gag that was, for me, a bridge too far, but

low-brow stuff like this is all about challenging the audience to meet it on its own admittedly lower level. The pooches also eat magic mushrooms and end tripping their brains out, and I was glad not to be a parent so I wouldn’t have to explain magic mushrooms to my kids.

I laughed a lot, but I think this movie would have hit me hardest in my teenage years, when I was abandoning “Mad” for “National Lampoon”, and discovering comedy touchstones like “Saturday Night Live”, “Kentucky Fried Movie” and “Animal House”. When you’re young, travesties like “Strays” can be very inspirational.

“TMNT: Mutant Mayhem” (PG)

(Paramount, 2023, 99 min)

Playing at Regal Stadium 14

“Strays” (R)

“Strays” is one of those transgressive comedy notions where you can’t believe

(Universal, 2023, 93 min.)

Playing at Regal Stadium 14

s ep T ember 6 – 12, 2023 / T he I T haca T I mes 17 Film
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Is it worth shelling out money for more Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures) Four foul-mouthed talking dogs + magic mushrooms. Hilarity ensues. (Photo by Chuck Zlotnick/Universal Picture)
Don’t miss this
heartfelt, and
playing this fall! TICKETS AT KITCHENTHEATRE.ORG/TICKETS OR (607) 272-0570
theatrical family story

Back to (Sportsmanship) School

The Way to Get More Refs is Show Them More Respect

It would have been interesting to see the reactions of the interviewing committee when Bill Bryant was asked in 2021 if he had any relevant experience to be hired as the Executive Director of Section IV Athletics. Bill said (something to the effect of), “Starting around 1965, I was a student-athlete in Owego, after

graduating from Ithaca College, I started teaching and coaching at Spencer-Van Etten in the 1970s, after that, I was the Athletic Director for the Ithaca City School District for well over 20 years until my retirement, then I was the Director of the Interscholastic Athletic Conference. That’s well over 50 years. Might that be enough?”

Indeed, Bryant’s loyalty to Section IV sports runs deep, and when a soccer

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referee approached him last fall and told him that a pair of fans had followed him to his car after a middle-school game, confronted him, made deeply disturbing and disparaging comments, then threatened him with physical harm, Bryant knew he had to try to do something. As he was telling me the story, the clearly frustrated and irritated Bryant — a friend since our days in Owego a half-century ago– shook his head and said, “And we wonder why we have a shortage of officials.”

“I didn’t sleep that night,” Bryant offered, “and then at 4 am, a light came on — figuratively — and I started putting the initiative together.” The “initiative” is a sportsmanship-themed program that is being presented at area schools, and in Bryant’s words, “Section IV covers a lot of territory, so we broke it into four regions: Oneonta, Ithaca, Horseheads and the Triple Cities.” (Section IV is made up of 70 schools, and five conferences — STAC, IAC, MAC, Tri-Valley and Delaware). Bill added, “We publicized the events, sent out flyers, and we’re trying to get everyone to attend at least one of the events.” (The first event was held at Johnson City High School, and drew over 200 students.)

The program runs 45 minutes to an hour, and it features presentations by officials — in uniform — student-

athletes in their team jerseys, plus Athletic Directors and coaches. Bryant kicks off the event with the backstory of the program’s origin, and then officials share some perspective, as do coaches. Students are asked to read some of the over 40 Public Service Announcements that have been created, and in Bryant’s words, “The focus in on character, respect and integrity.”

There is also a recruiting element involved, and Bryant asks an important question: “What happens if there are no referees?” Coaches are encouraged to set up parent meetings, and a Student Advisory Committee will play a key role in making the initiative its best chance to deliver the desired outcomes.

Steve Huber has been a soccer referee for 25 years — from youth to travel to high school to college games — and when asked about the fan behavior that prompted the initiative he said, “It took a turn for the worse pre-Covid, with more people getting nasty toward the officials.” He added, “A lot of work has been done on this, and the initiative that Bill Bryant is implementing really helps. In many leagues, there is a zerotolerance policy in place, there is a Field Marshall there. We can stop a game or even suspend a match.” According to

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18 T he I T haca T I mes / s ep T ember 6 – 12, 2023 Sports
Longtime soccer referee Steve Huber says behavior got worse in the Covid era. Ithacan Paul Maccarone, won the Professional Axe division against international competition at this year’s Game of Throws in Ohio.
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government has been estimated at around $40 million.

Osborne has called the renovations a “daunting and expensive project.” He continued saying, “At this point, we’re just looking at upgrading the things that need to be done to keep the place running.” He added that there will be more discussions down the road about whether or not additional improvements will be included but that those decisions are up to the county legislature.

According to Osborne, “The biggest need now is programming space for incarcerated people. We have one classroom now and we have multiple programs that we offer to people, so expanding upon that would be greatly needed.”

Osborne has said that another much needed renovation would be to convert the jail from a linear cell system to a pod cell system. The linear system consists of hallways with cells along both sides. It was an industry standard at the time of the jails construction in 1986, but it is now an outdated and inefficient model. “It’s very staff intensive to supervise housing units set up that way,” Osborne said.


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Huber, “The fact that the coaches are becoming more educated on the issue is very helpful.”

As the initiative picks up momentum, Bryant feels encouraged. “It seems to be well-received,” he stated, “and it’s something we’ll always do, but I know we’re facing an uphill battle. To have a referee leave a middle-school soccer game — any game, for that matter — and fear for his or her safety is unacceptable.”


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and violinist Janet Sung are joined by pianist Molly Morkoski and flutist Barry Crawford (Roberta’s brother) to perform music of Amy Beach, Beethoven, Bruch, and Brahms. The concert, at 4:00 p.m., is in Hamblin Hall at the Community School of Music and Arts. The FLCE special Salon event is a Bach Celebration concert, featuring the two

Instead of having cells run along the sides of hallways, a pod cell system would enable cells to be set up in a circular model that would enable one supervisor to oversee multiple cells at once. Osborne said that the pod system is being implemented in a lot of new jails and that “It’s much nicer and really reduces the amount of work or supervision a single correction officer has to provide.”

According to Osborne, “That’s the direction most jails are built these days and set up, so to not move in that direction really leaves us with an antiquated system that isn't seen much anymore.”

Regardless of what renovations take place, Osborne says that the overall goal is to keep the capacity of the jail similar to what it is right now. The jail has the capacity to house 82 people, and about 60 people are currently being held in the jail. That’s much lower compared to the numbers from 2015 when the jail was over capacity housing an average of 90 individuals.

Osborse says that the reduction is a result of “the work that’s gone into alternative programs.” He said that programs like bail reform and raise the age have had an impact on jail numbers and that “we don’t have the number of incarcerated people coming in like we used to.”

Congrats to Ithaca’s own Paul Maccarone, who won the Professional Axe division at this year’s Game of Throws in Ohio. The event drew 61 competitors from the U.S. And Canada, and Maccarone — who took third in the Professional Knife category — beefed up his bulging trophy case once again. Paul was kind enough to host me at his home axe and knife throwing venue a few summers back, and while I nailed a couple of throws, I learned that a lot goes into getting the speed, the angles and the revolutions to converge on a successful throw.

Crawfords and guest pianist I-Fei Chen playing the Suite No. 3 in C major, Sonata for Flute and Keyboard in G minor, and Trio Sonata in G major at 4 p.m., at 104 First Street, Ithaca. Seating very limited, reservations required.

Chamber Music at New Park

In their seventh season, these concerts, organized by cellist Britton Riley, who has family locally, have exceptional programs played by twelve talented professional musicians (including Fitz


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our city departments whole.” He has also repeatedly confronted the Common Council regarding their negotiations for a new memorandum of understanding with the university, saying they should be more transparent.

Since announcing her campaign as an independent, Brock has received endorsements and support from several local unions, such as the AFL-CIO Midstate Central Labor Council, the TompkinsCortland Building & Construction Trades Council, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), and the local chapter of the United Auto Workers (UAW).

During her campaign announcement at the Ithaca Farmers Market on August 8, Brock said that she is running because it is essential to retain some continuity in government at a time when the city’s form of government is being restructured, and several searches are underway to find replacements for senior staff members that are retiring.


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can assure everyone that no one in this scenario has ever been my friend. I was merely a moderately useful tool for a brief time, garnering no more affection than a shovel or an ice cube tray.

I don’t attend any government meetings anymore. They’re superfluous and it’s hard to hear what the officials are saying over the clattering of the skeletons in all their closets. There’s a lot of emperors in our city and county and they’re all naked.

If Ithaca were a ride I would signal the conductor to stop and let me off. Obviously there’s no disembarking this nightmare of decline, so strapping in is


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home city of Los Angeles, where screenwriters and actors continue their strikes, 32,000 low-wage hotel workers have also been on strike for two months. In a city where exorbitant rents have made it impossible for housekeepers or hotel bartenders to live where they work, the union is demanding not only better wages, but, among other things, a 7 percent surcharge on rooms to help fund affordable housing for workers.

Strongly contested by the hotel owners, this latter demand nevertheless shows a unique kind of accountability: not only a union’s investment in fair wages, working conditions, and benefits for workers, but also an investment in the housing stock and well-being of entire communities.

This Labor Day will be marked by requisite speeches, marches, and other forms of observance. And it should. But may it also mark a deepening, an intensifying, of the ongoing struggle for workers’ rights and labor justice.

the only option. Sure I’m not allowed to write about any of it, but nobody can stop me from watching.

Lacking bullets and a badge or a political pass card, the unmerited abuse I’ve received from every direction in the last year is mesmerizing. The comfort I take moving forward is knowing that the former acting/official/not official/on-leave public official’s Federal lawsuit will make that of Officer Miller look like a tick tock video. Oh what a time to be alive.

The virtue signaling habitually demonstrated by all the people charged with protecting the city has resulted in the tragic new Ithaca.

Grimly, I await what next will befall one of America’s most enlightened cities.

Gibbon and McCullough who are performing later at Cornell). The concerts are scheduled at their beautiful venue at 1500 Taughannock Blvd on September 8 and 9 at 7:30 p.m., and 10 at 3:00 p.m. Program I offers unfamiliar fare by such composers as American William Grant Still, and mostly from early 20th century. Program II features Chausson’s “Chanson perpetuelle” for soprano and piano quintet, and a work by John Adams. The Sunday program gives us musical mix: J. S. Bach, Florence Price,

Opera Ithaca

On September 23 at 7 p.m. in Cornell’s Willard Straight Hall will be the amusing and relevant “Scalia/Ginsberg” by Derrick Wang. The Opera Ithaca Festival at the Hangar Theatre presents “Rusalka” by Dvorák on November 10 at 7:30 and November 12 at 2 p.m. “YousaidShesaidHesaid” and Schubert’s “Die schöne Müllerin” come on November 11.

s ep T ember 6 – 12, 2023 / T he I T haca T I mes 19
Louise Ferrenc, Morten Lauridsen, Scriabin, and Telemann.
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