Cash Mobs Spread

Links of the Day:

– “Cash mobs,” an idea started in Buffalo, have taken hold elsewhere, reports the Wall Street Journal. Alerted through social media, people swarm a shop on a set day in an effort to buy local. It would be fun to see someone pick up the ball in Rochester.

– Between 100 and 120 Sears and Kmart stores will close after poor holiday sales.

– Mark Hare’s column in the Democrat and Chronicle says 370 Monroe County managers got raises. He said raises are a rare reward for most workers – and it shouldn’t be that way.

– The Associated Press has named its Top 10 stories of the year. Yahoo! has listed the Top 10 viral photos.

– A fun story in the New York Times goes inside Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s D.C. “sorority house,” where four congresswomen live. Rep. Kathy Hochul once stayed there.


“I have a friend who used to write for ‘Sex and the City,’ and she wanted to interview us for a sitcom or something,” Ms. Maloney recalled with amusement. “But that is not us and it was not the image that we want to portray.”


“It was a fascinating place,” said Ms. Hochul, who slept on a bed in Ms. Maloney’s office on the third floor after starting in Congress last year before eventually finding her own place.

Ms. Hochul disagreed with her former landlady in one respect: “I always felt that we could make a reality show: ‘The Real Congresswomen of D.C.’ It would be a real snapshot.”


Get Ready for Gambling Push

Links of the Day:

– Will 2012 be the year of casinos in New York State? Cuomo is pushing it. From the New York Daily News:

“Do I support casino gaming at a New York City location? . . . Yes,” the governor told the Daily News in a year-end chat.


He stressed he is not “preselecting” New York City or any other area for possible casinos.

“I’m not excluding any locations at this time,” he said, adding that establishing a casino in a part of the city “certainly can” make sense because the operation would capitalize on the massive population.

“New York City is a real location,” he said. “Albany is a real location. Buffalo is a real location.”

Legalizing non-Indian casinos would require two consecutive votes by the legislature and a referendum. Not an easy task, especially in gridlock-prone New York. Any attempt to expand gaming will surely be met by litigation from anti-gambling groups and Native Americans.– I loved putting this story together about a little girl who stole the hearts of Rural Metro workers. All she wanted was an easy Bake Oven, but she got so much more.

– The Democrat and Chronicle has the story behind the awesome Rochester Made website.

– The Buffalo News had a tearjerker story of a woman whose search for her birth mother ended at a funeral.

– Who owns your Twitter account? A lawsuit prompts some debate and strikes fear in the hearts of journalists.

Ten Predictions for 2012

RKO Palace – What Were They Thinking?

My father has never gotten over the fact the city tore down the RKO Palace Theater in the 1960s. A couple years ago, he showed me a booklet produced as a memento of the downtown theater.

It is beautiful and heartbreaking to think this was right in our center city:

“The 2916-seat theatre had provisions for every type of stage show. There was a bath for trained seals, a chute for bringing animals into the stage basement and onto the stage, and seven floors of dressing rooms that included a billiard room, kitchen and children’s playroom for the convenience and comfort of performers.”

“On its site will be erected a modern motel-office-theatre complex with twin eighteen story towers. The new 1200-seat theatre will be in the luxury class with the latest projection and sound equipment plus roomy seats that offer patrons “living room comfort.”

Nothing was ever built. It’s a parking lot on Mortimer St.

I was inspired to take out the old booklet when I read about the enormous success of Shea’s in Buffalo.


Merry Christmas!

Links of the Day:

– A 70-year-old WalMart greeter in Batavia was punched in the face by a customer on Christmas Eve, reports The Batavian.

– A man was mugged in the men’s room at the Eastview Regal theater.

– A blind dog who got lost in San Antonio makes its way home just in time for Christmas.

– An Erie County Sheriff’s deputy who lost his legs in an accident has not lost his spirit.

– The New York Times reports on the Salvation Army’s stance on homosexuality.

– She was dying of AIDS, but wanted one motorcycle ride. A very touching column in the New York Times.

– An astounding 19 percent of young veterans in Monroe County can’t find work.

– There’s a building boom in Wayne County…of apple storage facilities. The climate-controlled rooms “put apples to sleep.”

– The Los Angeles Times reports on the huge numbers of people wrongly jailed because police thought they were someone else.

Could Rochester Make Buffalo’s “Broadway Gold?”

The New York Times reports “Broadway Hits Gold in Buffalo.”

“The Addams Family” musical packed the house at Shea’s, a 3,000-seat downtown theater, and raked in $1 million a week.


Like theaters in Cleveland and Sacramento, Shea’s in Buffalo has become important because of its reliable subscribers — 13,100 for each of its six one-week Broadway tours this year. An impressive 85 percent renew annually; the subscriber base insures that 55 percent of seats are bought even before tickets go on general sale.

“The industry has noticed how good it is to play Buffalo,” said Stuart Oken, a lead producer of “The Addams Family,” who pointed out that the show made more money per performance here than in Toronto, Miami or any other city since the tour began in September.

If it’s happening in Buffalo, couldn’t it happen in Rochester?

Rochester clearly supports shows at the Auditorium, but it doesn’t seem to compare to what’s happening at Shea’s. At 2,400 seats, the Auditorium is not as big. The facility’s location and parking are difficult. There aren’t any places to walk to have dinner before or get a drink after a show.

Of course, this is why the Rochester Broadway Theatre League desperately wants a new performing arts center. The league selected Midtown Plaza after the collapse of Renaissance Square. But at $70 million, with half of the funds coming from the public, the mayor is decidedly lukewarm. The city’s attitude will never get a new theater in downtown Rochester; getting that kind of cash requires an elected official as champion.

Reading about Buffalo’s Broadway success is a little frustrating because Rochester tore down its stately theaters. The former RKO Palace is now a parking lot. The decision to preserve and restore Shea’s ended up being a huge for downtown Buffalo.

RBTL insists a new theater would be an economic engine.

A million dollars a week…

Rochester “Reinvented?”

The Wall Street Journal says Rochester has “reinvented itself.” The paper asks why the unemployment rate isn’t higher, given the enormous number of jobs shed by Kodak and other major employers. The answer? Entrepreneurship.


Many of the people laid off by the large companies in Rochester are highly trained engineers who have started their own companies and live in the upscale neighborhoods of Pittsford, Penfield and Brighton. Some have left the engineering world behind as they made the transition from company man to entrepreneur.

But the article also notes wages have declined and unskilled workers are worse off.

Reuters contrasts thriving Eastman Chemical and struggling Kodak. Eastman Chemical doesn’t spend lavishly on benefits and CEO perks and managed to keep up with the changing industry.


Interviews with former executives, retirees and analysts describe two companies that were polar opposites in many ways, despite their shared heritage: where Eastman Chemical was swift to move into new markets, Kodak rested on its laurels for too long; where Chemical had a management team obsessed with the bottom line, Kodak retained cushy employee benefits even when the advent of digital cameras caused film demand to crater.

“George Eastman’s legacy will be Eastman Chemical and not Eastman Kodak,” said Willy Shih, a Harvard Business School professor who ran Kodak’s digital imaging business from 1997 until 2005. “I am absolutely convinced of that.”

Fox News reports film projectors will be out of use in theaters within the next four years. How will that affect Kodak, which still makes a lot of film for the movie industry?


Is Kodak, the company that single-handedly pioneered much of the film industry getting involved in the rush? Not so much, the company said.

Kodak recently told Variety that its film business was still profitable and quite viable.

“We’re still making billions of feet of film and will continue to do so,” Ingrid Goodyear, vice president of marketing said. “For the foreseeable future we still see film to be an important part of Kodak’s business.”