|Sahlen's Stadium, Rochester, New York.
August 31, 2012 11:08 AM ET
As U.S. Olympic gold medalist, and Rochester, New York native Abby Wambach was getting a sidewalk named after her at Sahlen's Stadium, before the women's U.S. Olympic gold medal soccer team's match against Costa Rica on Saturday September 1, 2012, prostitutes were turning tricks just behind the stadium, on Lyell Avenue.
And, just a couple of blocks west, 27 year old Joshua Groat was shot and
beaten to death then
left to die in a used car lot
|Abandoned house directly behind Sahlen's stadium.
Notice the boarded up and broken windows.
Street and Lyell Avenue,
on Saturday August 25th,
exactly one week before millions
watched the U.S. vs Costa Rica match
which was televised live on NBC.
Joshua Groat's murder is not the only homicide to occur near Sahlen's stadium recently.
In fact, at least two more murders took place within the last several months.
|Abandoned factory building two blocks from stadium.
On May 15, 2012, 26 year old Paul Awuol, was gunned down on Smith and Broad Streets, less than 500 feet from Sahlen's stadium.
Paul Awuol had moved to Rochester from Sudan in 2003 in search of a better life.
Exactly two weeks later, on May 29, 2012, 25 year old Robert Vinson was gunned down near Smith and Saxton Streets.
The City of Rochester, most recently under the leadership of Mayor Thomas Richards, has clearly abandoned this neighborhood where many good, hard working families with young children live.
On Whitney Street, across from the used car lot where Joshua Groat was murdered stands a red brick, gutted out, abandoned factory building which drug users and prostitutes use to do their dirty deeds.
Boarded up houses line the streets where young children play, and vacant lots where houses once stood are littered with empty crack cocaine baggies and drug syringes.
And in the middle of all this, sits the $ 35 Million dollar Sahlen's soccer stadium, owned by the City of Rochester.
Originally named Pae Tec Park, the stadium, home to the Rochester Rhinos soccer team, sits in the middle of one of the most delapidated, poor and crime ridden neighborhoods in the City of Rochester, NY.
The stadium is really nothing more than a "playground" in the middle of the "hood" for mostly whites from the suburbs and surrounding counties.
The $ 35 Million dollar stadium has done absolutely nothing to "improve" the crime, drug and prostitution infested neighborhood surrounding it.
In fact, Nozzolio was quoted as having told the Rochester news media “Because of Paetec Park, it is reported there is now a potential new investor in the Rochester Rhinos who is prepared to spend millions of dollars of his own money to keep professional soccer in Rochester and improve the surrounding neighborhood.”
But Nozzolio wasn't alone, there were countless politicians "cheerleading" on the sidelines pushing for the construction of Pae Tec Park.
Among them, New York State Senator Joseph E. Robach (R, C, IP 56th Senate District).
Which is why, it should be of no surprise that not only Nozzolio but also Robach, as well as others received campaign contributions (kick backs) from former Rochester Rhinos owner Frank DuRoss.
Nozzolio received more than 44 percent of all political contributions made by Frank DuRoss and the Rhinos to Rochester, NY area lawmakers, political party committees, and the former governor.
Michael Nozzolio got more in contributions than all the other legislators who got donations from DuRoss combined.
Syracuse, NY University Political Science Professor Jeffrey Stonecash said “I find that very strange, you would presume that a politician would not want to take that much money from them, because he would worry about these kinds of stories.”
Below is a breakdown of who received what from the Rochester Rhinos and their former owner Frank DuRoss. (Notice the amount Michael Nozzolio received compared to everyone else.)
- New York State Senator Michael Nozzolio (R) $ 36,275
- New York State Assemblyman Joseph Morelle (D) $ 4,450
- New York State Senator James Alesi (R) $ 3,600
- New York State Senator George Maziarz (R) $ 3,500
- New York State Assemblyman David Gantt (D) $ 3,050
(Rochester Rhinos soccer team hired a lobbyist with ties to Gantt)
- New York State Senator Joseph Robach (R) $ 1,550
- New York State Assemblyman David Koon (D) $ 625
- New York State Assemblywoman Susan John (D) $ 625
- New York State Assemblyman Bill Reilich (R) $ 200
- New York State Assemblyman Brian Kolb (R) $ 200
So, given the fact that it's been years since Nozzolio, Robach and other politicians made their "backroom deals" and money exchanged hands and promises that a decaying crime ridden neighborhood would benefit from the building of a $35 Million dollar stadium, were broken, I decided to head down to the ribbon cutting ceremony at Sahlen's Stadium.
And there they were, Rochester, NY Mayor Thomas Richards, along with Rochester, NY City Councilwoman Carla Palumbo, and another very familiar face, New York State Senator Joseph E. Robach.
All lined up in front of a City of Rochester official seal backdrop.
I waited until Richards, then Abby Wambach said a few words, including Wambach making a comment that the City of Rochester next time should name an actual street after her, which I thought was a bit strange and I wondered if it was a low blow to the Mayor and the City for naming what was in essence just a small walkway to the Stadium gates, "Abby Wambach Way."
Then I made my move.
Accompanied by my cameraman, I approached Rochester, NY Mayor Thomas Richards, who clearly had no idea that he was about to hit with the million dollar question.
As I got close to the Mayor, I saw Darryl Porter, assistant to the Mayor, who said to me "Not a chance." when I told him I was seeking a comment from the Mayor about the fact that years later, except for reconstruction of a few roads leading to the Stadium, the Stadium in no way has improved the neighborhood.
"Mayor Richards, Mayor Richards" I had to repeat before he turned around.
Then I asked the Mayor what has been done to improve the neighborhood, as promised years ago, how has the Stadium in any way improved the neighborhood?
Then, Rochester, NY City Spokesman Gary Walker, rushed over, and actually tried to stop the Mayor from answering my question.
The whole thing was caught on video, and I assure you just like the Master Card television commercials... priceless.
As expected, in true politician form, Rochester, NY Mayor Thomas Richards gave me some non-specific reply before telling me "I can't answer any more questions."
And there we were.
Me and Rochester, New York's millionaire Mayor.
A man who used to be the CEO of Rochester Gas and Electric.
A man who took a $10 Million dollar buyout while hundreds of hard working RG&E employees received layoffs.
A man who clearly could care less about a crime ridden, drug infested, prostitution filled neighborhood surrounding a $ 35 Million dollar stadium.
A stadium which was touted would "improve the surrounding neighborhood."
And so, as the eyes of the world watched the US women's Olympic gold medal soccer team beat Costa Rica, they had no idea of the crooked politicians, the payoffs, the backroom deals, and the fact that the City of Rochester, Mayor Thomas Richards, Senator Michael Nozzolio, Senator Joseph Robach and the rest of them, truly don't care about the people living just outside the Stadium's gates.
You see, much like the abandoned, boarded up houses and that vacant, gutted out eyesore of a factory building across from where Joshua Groat was killed, just a couple of blocks away from Sahlen's stadium, the City of Rochester and Mayor Thomas Richards, have also abandoned the community around the stadium.
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