The Aurora Coalition Feedback Forum Archive

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Please note: the statements below are from our readers and do not necessarily represent the views of the Aurora Coalition, Inc.


Comments in reverse chronological order: 12/17/05 - 6/26/08

WATCHMAN, 6/26/08

[More on a favorite "charity" of Pleasant Rowland,  the Hoffman Institute Quadrinity Process]

Found this recent posting on a cult-awareness forum de-bunking the Hoffman Institute.  More interesting info can be found here and here.

 QUOTE --  I have extensively researched the Institute and am astounded at what I've uncovered. It is not the therapeutic program that I thought it was and is based on no science and is very much a cult-like experience.

This was the best article I found on the institute. It specifically deals with how the Hoffman process developed and on Hoffman's background.  I won't go into much detail only to say that it really opened my eyes and debunked the entire process and all those associated with it.

Hoffman was a tailor from Oakland. He was not a therapist and had no background in psychology. Rather, he claimed to be a psychic and actually railed against psychology, therapists and others frequently and vehemently.

Hoffman died many years ago and now the torch has been passed to Ingrasci who is a very dubious character. He too has no formal education in psychology, nor any clinical training. His only degree is a BA in Theatre Arts! Ingrasci has a bio published on the Hoffman Inst web site, but it's so obviously lacking key information. For example, some basic research shows that President/CEO Charles Ingrasci was the former top aide to another "guru", Werner Erhard, who founded the est movement. This was another "self help", zen-based program that "enlightened" folks in hotel ballrooms. Where did Erhard get his training? He was basically self-taught. In the late 1960s, Erhard studied Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard became a significant influence. Scientologists to this day accuse Erhard of having stolen his main ideas for est from Hubbard. Why doesn't Charles Ingrasci's bio on the Hoffman Institute's web site mention this experience? I mean this was his formative experience? Because it is considered "cult-ish" and has been disregarded as psychobabble by many in the field of psychiatry and psychology, I believe this experience is not directly listed in his bio.

Additionally, I have received the "marketing materials" from the Hoffman Institute and have found them to be very deceptive and overpromise the benefits of their treatment. The Institute has an Advisory Council composed for several Ph.Ds and M.D.s however the courses and mostly taught by "teachers" who have no clinical experience or certification in therapy. Another interesting detail is that Sonia Choquette, one of their advisors, is listed as an "intuitive" on the Hoffman web site. When you research who this woman is, she is actually a psychic. She describes herself as a third-generation psychic. In my book, that's marketing speak for GYPSY. The Hoffman marketing materials all have quotes from Ph.D.s sprinkled throughout the pages. In my opinion, this is just their attempt to give credibility to a program that is not based on any science nor developed by someone who had any practical experience or formal education.

The Hoffman Institute's web site is very vague about the origins of the process. It says that "Hoffman was renowned for his intuitive capacities..."
This is a dressed-up way of saying he was a psychic, too.  He used to offer psychic reading out of his tailor shop in Oakland.

It's also interesting to note that the process used to be known as the Fisher-Hoffman Psyhic Therapy. The name "Fisher" refers to Dr. Siefried Fisher, an Austrian-born psychiatrist. Hoffman was a patient of his, not a colleague. His name was removed from the Hoffman brand after the Fisher widow sued because she felt Hoffman was discrediting her husband's legacy through this association. That's very telling.

I would also like to point out that the Hoffman Institute points to published research from the UC Davis as to a benefit for the program. However, it's purely anecdotal. How could you apply scientific research to a program that is not based on science? How could you apply science to evaluate a program designed by someone who completely eschewed science in favor of "intuition"?  -- ENDQUOTE

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TAXPAYER, 5/31/08

[Land-use and Development Issues Facing Ledyard Township]

The letter below, part of the public record from the May Town Board meeting, details the concerns shared by many Ledyard Town residents about proposed zoning changes. But in addition to the proposed new commercial zone at the corner of Ledyard Rd & Route 90, there is a zone proposed for the corner of Levanna Rd & Route 90, and one encompassing a good deal of land surrounding the MacKenzie-Childs factory/shop.

Portions of the draft Comprehensive Plan may be downloaded here. The entire draft Comprehensive Plan under consideration can be read in the Town Hall on Poplar Ridge Road during office hours (Tues - Thurs - Sat, 9-noon).

[Please note that Ledyard Town Councillor William Heary appears to a good portion of the land that the Comprehensive Plan proposes to re-zone as commercial.  Property tax records show that he owns land at 1127 State Route 90, and 1153, 1171, 1203, 1nd 1208 Ledyard Road.

More information in the press coverage of The Citizen and the Syracuse Post-Standard; links added 6/14/08.  Public hearings will be coming up.  Please attend, and write/email/fax the Town Board and ask that your comments be made part of the public record.]

Rose Marie Belforti, Ledyard Town Clerk
1099 Poplar Ridge Road
Aurora, NY 13026
Phone: (315) 364-5707
Fax: (315) 364-5711


To: Ledyard Town Board
From: Brad Walp

May 12, 2008

RE: Discussion of Comprehensive Plan âÄď including proposed Commercial Zone

Dear Members of the Ledyard Town Board:

Firstly, thanks to the Town Planning Board for commissioning its Comprehensive Plan (CP). The plan includes many creative ideas and does a good job of summarizing our current demographics.

My specific objection concerns the proposal for a significant commercial zone to be developed along State Rte. 90 near Ledyard Road. The CP does not address a rationale for developing such a zone, nor does it detail the impact of such a development on our community.

No Need for Commercial Development of This Kind in Ledyard:
The CP confirms that there are already significant shopping areas within a few miles of the Town (p.9-1), that most townsfolk drive to work (p.4-4) and that we travel a significant distance to work (p.9-2). As we know, most of our shopping is done on the way home from Auburn, Ithaca and Union Springs. The CP repeatedly states a need for convenience stores and gas station (p.7-8 and 9-3), yet it grossly overlooks that these services already exist in the Town within a mere 2.5 miles of the proposed commercial zone site: the Village Market in Aurora, and Wilcox grocery and gas on the corner of Ledyard Rd. and Rte. 34B.

âÄúPre-permittingâÄĚ to Encourage Development:
According to the CP, establishing a commercial zone allows the âÄúpre-permittingâÄĚ to attract commercial developers. This is a radical departure from our current and effective special permit process, where proposed commercial development is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. This commercial zone will significantly reduce regulation and control on the types of business to develop in the area.

Economic Viability:
Even in relatively more affluent Lansing to the south, commercial areas along Rte. 34B at Ridge Road and at Rogues Harbor have vacant store-fronts and support little more than a car wash and self-storage units. Selfstorage facilities would be an ideal development venture in our area given relatively lower land values and our proximity to Ithaca. Thus, Ledyard risks spoiling its scenic rural landscape with failed or undesirable commercial businesses, like Lansing has done.

The rationale for âÄúhigh-density housing (p.7.8 and p.9.3) in the proposed commercial zone is also unclear. The moderate growth in Ledyard is fueled by the desire for people to live in our rural environment ď not to be in a townhouse surrounded by retail stores. To control growth in Ledyard, we ought focus on developing a subdivision law, as also suggested in the CP.

Assessment Values:
Assessment values will increase on properties within and surrounding the proposed commercial zone.

Choice of Location:
Even if a commercial zone in Ledyard had economic viability, the selection of the proposed location on Rte. 90 at the corner of Ledyard Rd. is unclear. The CP goes to great lengths to talk about the benefits of the Rte. 90 Scenic Highway Corridor Plan and the Finger Lakes Scenic Byway Corridor Management Plan. This commercial zone is a radical departure from agri-tourism businesses like wineries and produce stands, and will damage rather than enhance our scenic beauty along the scenic byway.

As mentioned, this particular location already has existing conveniences within 2.5 miles. Moreover, the CP indicates that within the Town of Ledyard, this stretch of Rte. 90 has far less traffic than north of the Village of Aurora.

The proposed area also includes significant agricultural land as well as environmentally sensitive features. This will require an expensive Environmental Impact Study to be commissioned by the Town to determine the adverse impact on our area of this commercial development.

I support the growth of agri-businesses and agri-tourism, as well as the protection of our agricultural economic base here in Ledyard. I also fully support the idea of a Comprehensive Plan assisting the Town of Ledyard in its planned growth. However, the proposal for a commercial zone along State Rte 90 at the corner of Ledyard Rd. has neither rationale nor promise for positive impact on our community and I oppose its further consideration....

Brad Walp

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[NYS Department of State]

Division of Corporations

Selected Entity Status Information Current Entity Name: AURORA FOUNDATION, LLC
Initial DOS Filing Date: APRIL 13, 2001
County: CAYUGA
Jurisdiction: NEW YORK
Current Entity Status: ACTIVE

Selected Entity Address Information DOS Process (Address to which DOS will mail process if accepted on behalf of the entity)


Registered Agent: NONE

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Victoria and Richard are the key to the brand

To the Editor:

Recent articles on the sale of MacKenzie-Childs suggest Pleasant Rowland "created something new, while building life-long loyalty."

In reality, the original works remain the most-sought-after products of the business. The imagination and creative genius that broke home-decor boundaries came from two artists - Victoria and Richard MacKenzie-Childs. They are and always will be MacKenzie-Childs.

Fortune and power may cloud the truth, but true M-C collectors know that Victoria and Richard's work cannot be duplicated. Just because you have enough money to buy a Picasso doesn't mean you can start copying the work and still call it a Picasso.

Pleasant provided endless dollars from her grand fortune to a thriving business that had overextended itself financially. Kudos to her for keeping the company and its talented work force intact. Let's leave it at that.

I hope the new owners will give credit to Victoria's and Richard's work and find their own style to grow the business.

Victoria and Richard continue to design, inspire and share their creative genius with the world. You can still get the real thing, from the real artists. Their new business, Victoria and Richard Emprise, can be found online.

The world is a better place with these two amazing souls. God willing, they will share their visions for years to come. They are truly remarkable.

Everet D. Regal

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ADMIN, 11/24/07

[Worth Repeating]

These anonymous comments were posted in the readers' comments of the massively cut and hightly slanted version of last month's Associate Press feature story, just published in today's Ithaca Journal:

"MY NOTE: The last word is usually the most important.... and the way it ends in the Journal [which cut tha last 9 paragraphs of the original article] paints Rowland in a positive light, glosses over the lasting damage she has done to what was once a wonderful community, and I believe undermines the impression and conclusion of the fine and skilled reporter who wrote it.

Pleasant Rowland willfully and arrogantly wrecked the village. All the money she spent in Aurora went to please her, and no one else. It was no act of philanthropy, it was an egotistical imposition of will by a cruel and callous woman. She wanted, and got, every business building in town, and then dictated who and what would be in them, and how they should be run. And they are being run to pander to the demographic of a 50+ woman with plenty of disposable income, and no one else. Most of Aurora's residents don't figure into this.

And despite the malicious yet silly zeal you hear from shallow sycophants like Randi Zabriskie (who personally profits from Pleasant's tourists visiting her dress shop) , there are plenty of people living in Aurora who wish they had never heard of Pleasant Rowland. Wells president Lisa Ryerson should be ashamed of all the trouble she has brought to Aurora. In the end, it truly wasn't worth it."

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TAXPAYER, 11/5/07

[A possible explanation]

My understanding (and I could be be wrong) is that different municipalities tax at different percentages of full assessed market value. Aurora / Ledyard only taxes about 69% of full value, so the difference for the county tax levy has to be made up with a larger percent increase.

Presumably if every township, city, and village in Cayuga County was taxed at 100% of full assessed market value, everyone's taxes in the county would go up the same amount per $1,000 of assessed value.

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QUESTION, 11/2/07

[Tax increases on horizon]

If the Cayuga County tax rate rises 2.1% per $1,000 assessed value ... how can the county tax rate for Union Springs residents be set to go down 0.1% but set to increase for Aurora residents a big 11.51%?

Look at this article in the newspaper - - for more figures but no explanation of the inequality of these increases.

The assessment of my little house hasn't gone up much (yet) because of Ms. Rowland's overpriced buying spree of village property. But why is the new rate per $1,000 assessment for our county taxes being set so high for Aurora? Can anyone help me understand this? Thank you.

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My heart is breaking as I write this. I grew up in Seneca Falls, part of a large extended family that has been in the Cayuga Lake area for many generations. Once a month, all those years ago, a group of us (aunts, uncles, cousins) would drive around to the Aurora Inn for Sunday breakfast. Oh, how the Lazy Susans in the center of the big, round, tables would spin as we all shared our lives, our hopes and dreams, and our meal! Then we would walk along outside, sun or snow, and let our imaginations wander and wonder as we took in the charm and beauty of Aurora.

In the 1990s, I brought my new husband to visit my hometown, and we of course stopped in Aurora during our drive around Cayuga Lake. Aurora has so much HISTORY! He, too, was totally charmed.

What now? I weep. What will be left of our memories, our heritage, if the "boutiqueification" of lovely historical villages such as yours continues? I shudder to imagine.

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ANON, 10/15/07

[The middle aged drama queen]

Having watched Rowland at close range for years, I'd say your analysis of the strange psychological forces at work here is spot on. Your characterization of a "middle aged drama queen" nails her behavior as well as the hysterical devotion she induces in her followers.

I do think the AP article is excellent, however. The writer tackled a big, 6-year long story, and overall produced a quite accurate piece full of detail and color, probably the longest, best written piece to date. After years of slanted, pro-Pleasant pieces, her impartiality comes as a welcome relief and restores my faith in the profession. (Reporters should not take sides but give readers information enabling them to make up their own minds -- principles more honored in the breach now days...)

For the first time since our last AP feature back in 2002, a reporter didn't simply parrot the old monotonous lies of the "Ban the Coalition" crowd as though they were truth (e.g., that we are a just a "handful" of "jealous" hicks opposed to "progress"). Instead of letting it slant her whole story, she put the bizarre animosity right where it belonged, pouring out of the mouth of RZ. I think O'Neill spoke with, and listened to, more people on "our" side than any previous reporter, and she worked hard at getting reticent, fearful, discouraged people to talk, and kept her word of providing anonymity to those who needed it.

If the Hoffman Institute sets up shop in town, I hope Helen O'Neill comes back to do a follow-up story.

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AVM, 10/14/07

[Monument to a monumental ego]

So much to say, so little time! I read the O'Neill article. I thought it was good, but not as well-written as I had expected. It was actually like many other similar articles, where the writer doesn't take sides, stays impartial, and gets a lot of quotes from the "usual suspects" around town.

What really came through in this article was the fact that PTR did not rennovate Aurora, or whatever you want to call it, for the common good. She did it to satisfy a longing within HER. As I have mentioned on the messageboard, she seems to be obssessed with her own past - trying to both re-create it and correct it. The Aurora Inn was never as it is now when she was at Wells, neither were many of the other business, homes, etc. that she bought and made over.

The ludicrous "cinnamon bun" epsisode highlights her intense need to have things exactly as she remembers them to have been in her mind, not as they really ever were. Look at her recent "rescue" of Red Pine Camp in Wisconsin. If you read that story, you would have recognized many of the same nostalgic phrases she has used to descibe Aurora, telling everyone how very important Red Pine was to HER and her own life. So, in the end, Aurora is really nothing more than than the "momument to ego" that a PTR supporter claimed it! wasn't. She may be a maverick business woman, but she sure doesn't have developed interpersonal skills. You don't come into a tiny, close-knit community like this one, and remain a mysterious, elusive figure who doesn't take questions from a bewildered public. She's just a middle-aged drama queen! One last thing, I obviously don't know Randi Z. but I thought her comment about people possibly "spitting" on Pleasant if she walked down Main street, absurd and embarrassing.

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JENNIFER, 10/14/07

[Lord of the flies?]

Does Randi Zabriski realise that she called her hometown people "idiots" and "flies" in your National newspaper? She also accused people of crude and lewd acts. She should be the one afraid to walk down the sidewalk. How can she claim to love her little village, but hate all the people? Does her husband Steve ever read poems to HER that make her weepy and misty? I wish she would share the poem he read to Pleasant, it might bring some humor to the whole sorry mess.

Randi, you should shut your mouth around reporters, you do not help Pleasant at all! I hope she does not shun you for your remarks about the town she so dearly loves.

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ADMIN, 9/10/07

The account of the August meeting of Aurora's municipally appointed Community Preservation Panel has been updated with a response from the C.P.P. Chair here.

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WATCHMAN, 9/09/07


Watch all those visitors, mostly female, dressed only in black and/or white. You'll see groups of them, during the day, on the street, often entirely in black, even in 90 degree summer heat, all in black. Watch how strangely they behave. They are the Hoffmanites. (Either that, or a Johnny Cash fan club which keeps meeting here, over and over and over again.)

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AVM, 9/08/07

[But... what IS the plan?]

Good observations from Resident about the "feminization" of Aurora... During my short visit during the summer, it was fairly obvious to me that there was a lack of men. I think I saw 4 or 5, including my husband, compared to dozens of women, mainly in groups... It makes sense, doesn't it? A small, safe, quaint village, gussied up to the nines,and full of nostalgic sights that trigger the ol' memory banks. Just the way these women might remember things to have been in their youth - or perhaps in their fantasies of what life was like in their parents/grandparents era... It reminds me of the type of people who like those Thomas Kincade paintings - perhaps these women see Aurora, with its plethora of lovely old homes, as one of those paintings come to life? In fact, I would contend that this aspect of present-day Aurora as a theme park for middle-aged women has been the most successful result of PTR's gentrification scheme. Unlike other things in the village, it is working out as planned.

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RESIDENT, 9/08/07

[Aurora as girl getaway]

So why this recent, strange feminization of Aurora?Sure we had a women's college before, but the village itself still felt nearly normal in gender balance. (Always more elderly women than men around, of course, but then the old gals generally live longer.)

Since the Rowland takeover / makeover, we find ourselves invaded by small swarms of summer tourists in which women seem to outnumber male visitors by at least 9-to-1. Dozens of women on the street, walking, talking, gawking, acting like this is just the cutest place ever. The few guys with them, poor creatures, look sooooo bored, but some of them are dutifully holding hands with their wives, as if they've been told that this is a romantic getaway and they had better behave accordingly. It's really very strange. What's going on?

Is it just that Rowland's marketing vision is so narrow? Can't she find a basis for appeal other than her own tiny slice of life experience as a middle-aged (now older) rich white obsessive narcissistic domineering female? Certainly her line of dolls & accessories was pitched more to the mothers and grandmothers than little girls. Just as Dorie's ain't designed for kids, families, couples or gents. It's obviously meant for lunching ladies of a certain age who might bring a very special child from time to time. Is it just lack of imagination coupled with a monumental ego? Or is something else at work...

In any event, it certainly seems to be the women who are drawn first to the protest car, who spend the longest time perusing it, some of them looking truly troubled and disillusioned, and who often come back and finish reading it after their husbands have wandered away...

Glad the vandalized protest car is still on the street, though I wish the knifed tires could be brought directly to the attention of the tourists -- the flats are too easily missed from the sidewalk. They reveal the dark, ugly reality underlying the totally phony "pleasant" facade forced upon this village. You know, the knifing of four tires seems such a decidedly masculine act of violence, one that many of those lady tourists might find quite disturbing...

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[Update - all four tires were knifed, not just deflated]

And now the "protest car" downtown has been effectively vandalized. It's a bit of a shock to see it come to this, but not really surprising; after all, we've known all along the low intellectual level of the pro-Rowland crowd... some of them have demonstrated their lack of glial capacity on this site from time to time. Most of all, though, we know how dim these people are from having to contend with their sophomoric, logic-defying and low-brow brand of polemicism, which always seems to boil down to "we're right and you anti-Rowland people are just bitter and mean and stuck in the past." Clearly these folks never won any debates in school, if any of them ever even joined the debate team.

Here's where the stupidity in this recent stunt lies: A) it would, one presumes, make the owner of the car only more determined to keep it there. If they haven't given up by now, this kind of intimidation is like throwing a gauntlet down. B) it shows up the pro-Rowland bunch as a crowd of thugs.

Let's say you're Joe Tourist (or in the "new" Aurora you're more likely to be Josephine Tourist -- since the village seems geared almost exclusively, now, to attracting well-heeled, late-middle-age/elderly bourgois women). You come along the "protest car," the windows of which are emblazoned with anti-Rowland statements and such. Clearly the car was driven there and parked. But it now had four flat tires. Obviously the owner didn't do this to his own car. It wouldn't take many brains to see that it was done by those who don't like what the car says. I think most people (even a tourist) would find such a thing appalling. It'd certainly lower my opinion of the Rowland crowd...

But then of course this stunt wasn't meant for the tourists. It was meant as a signal to the owner. An intimidatory signal. I hope he/she doesn't bow to it. I hope the car stays right where it is. And I hope the person that did this thing gets caught.

More than anything, it shows how petty and small-minded some of the people in Aurora are, or have become. Whoever was responsible, you can bet that the "Rowland mafia" are crowing about it. The sad thing is, they probably won't stop to think how insecure and frightened it makes them look -- that they can't take a little criticism, a little honest protest. They have to shout down and intimidate those who disagree with them. This is just another example. We've seen it in other forms at village meetings, where the Rowland circle acts out and speaks out inappropriately, carrying on like children, or worse, making actual threats. This is the level to which community relations has sunk in Aurora. The catalyst was Pleasant Rowland... but you can lay the blame at the feet of those who willingly support her and can't stand to be opposed.

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KARIN W, 8/26/07

[Maybe it's legal, but is it moral?]

Forced resignations are business as usual at Wells College. Sometimes you get a nice little story as a send-off, like "moving on to better things" or "family issues" -- I was given the additional slap in the face of absolutely no notice given to the community at all -- I had people coming up to me as much as a year later not realizing I didn't still work at Wells! That after 17 years of service at a pittance wage and covering up for my boss' lack of work for years.

My resignation was forced, and no different really from the story told by so many others: I was told I wasn't doing enough work, and two sentences later I was told I did too much work above and beyond my job description and it made the other employees "uncomfortable." (Remember being the bright kid in high school and how your peers resented you for making them look bad because they were slackers but you had your work done? -- Some adults are no different.) Imagine then after pointing out this contradiction being told "Don't twist my words!" Well, I'd say they were already pretty twisted because the quality and volume of work had nothing to do with it -- it was more a case of jealousies and fears that didn't exist before I got my degree and was no threat (real or perceived) to anyone else's position. Certainly the State believed my resignation was coerced and upon my petition forced Wells to pay my Unemployment benefits.

Just don't be thinking this is something new in the past year -- there are plenty of employees before and since who have been forced to leave Wells because somebody didn't like them -- nothing to do with their job performance - including quite a few who have had gag orders in one form or another. Almost all employees anywhere in this country are "at-will" employees who can indeed be legally fired at any time for no reason at all.

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ANNMARIE, 8/24/07

[This recent post quotes an earlier submission from 12/05]

[QUOTE] We had an employees meeting, and we were told that everyone there was staying, after hearing rumors that everyone would be fired. Later, when I called to get my schedule, the manager began by telling me than she did not schedule me because I wasn't a "good fit". She then claimed that "every employee there has complained about me", which I find impossible to believe. When she continued to tell me that I was discourtious to my customers, I became not-so-nice. I loved so many of my customers, and never treated any of them with less than respect. ...When I asked for what grounds she was firing me, she said she didn't even need a reason...

The way she went about this entire thing was unprofessional, and personally insulting. Never mind the fact that firing a single mother of 5 children 3 weeks before the holidays, for no legitimate reason what so ever, shows this foundation's lack of care for its employees.

I was a good employee ...honest, hard working, prompt, dependable, and experienced ...My customers loved my bubbly personality, and my sense of humor. I really did want to be let go from that job because of the misery that the management brought me for the entire time I worked there...So, even though part of me was relieved to hear I didn't have to go back there, the kick in the head was still just that; a kick in the head. [ENDQUOTE]
PTR is not the only person who does this kind of thing in Aurora. Look around at Wells College. Check to see how many faculty and staff have been fired "resigned" or forced to "resign"(because that is the word used when people are let go) from Wells in the last twelve months. Reason given by Wells..."they have resigned", "moved on to better or other things", "because of family commitment". What is it about power and women in Aurora? My friend told me she resigned because she did not want to be told to resign or she did not want to be fired. Speak up against injustice, point out the faults/shortcoming, or shortsightedness of these women and out you go. DO NOT ROCK THE BOAT. Ask no questions. Answer "Yes ma'am" and you are all right.

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AVM, 8/14/07

[Thanks for your interest... prayers are welcome, too]

It seems that PTR is rather like a Martha Stewart run amok. You know, into the "Good Things" in life, and very interested in how everything should look, obssessively controlling and detailed-oriented. I would also say interested in historic homes/architecture but after what she did to the Aurora Inn, I dare not!

Actually, I became aware of Aurora's plight after reading an article about successful American women entreprenuers, and Stewart was mentioned, as was Rowland. I read about her contributions to Wells in the form of improvements to the college's public spaces and the partnership she set up with them. I also read about her rescuing Mac-Childs from bankruptcy court, so the business could carry on and hundreds of local jobs could be saved. But I also read about the opposition to her schemes and projects, and her careless violation of the public trust when she "restored" the Aurora Inn.

I have more than just a casual interest in all of this. Although I now live in California, I'm originally from Auburn, and remember visitng Aurora when I was a child. My parents often attended various cultural functions at the college and in the village, and my uncle was friends with the then-president of the college (in the 60's). For some reason,and I'm not quite sure why myself, the situation with PTR infuriated me. Although I don't know anyone in Aurora, I felt empathy for its residents, as they watched in helpless frustration as one person basically bought and then changed their village. The whole thing seemed so undemocratic to me, and the political and social dynamic seemed almost feudal!

Last month, my family and I visited Auburn and the surrounding area. My eldest daughter had an appointment to meet with a dept. chair at Cornell, and so we found ourselves traveling through Aurora. I was already very familiar with the whole PTR situation, had read and posted on this forum for over a year. I wasn't sure how I would feel to actually be in Aurora, and needless to say, the whole experience was rather surreal. It was a weekday afternoon,and both the Aurora Inn and Dorie's were busy with the lunch crowd, which seemed comprised mainly of women. The big white house which houses (Jane Morgan's?) the expensive dress shop was also pretty busy. But the market was empty, as was the business next door, Bet the Farm, I think it's called. I saw the infamous Fargo and Pizzaurora, but since it was afternoon, I didn't expect anyone to be patronizing it. I saw some of the controversial houses - Webb, Lyon, French, etc. but didn't get a close look as I was just driving by. I als! o mailed a letter at the P.O. - it's mid-century facade didn't blend well with the rest of the architecture on Main street, and I imagine that is another reason PTR wants it torn down, besides for parking.

Two things struck me about the village: one, that it is a truly lovely place and setting; very peaceful and serene (except for the trucks rumbling through!) And two, that you can immediately tell that "something has been done to it". It seemed too nice, too gentrified. If I didn't know better, I would think everyone in the town was very wealthy. It was sort of like a mini-Skaneateles. But it didn't seem authentic. It was so different from all the other small, rural hamlets and villages like it around Cayuga lake, and for that matter the entire Finger Lakes region. Maybe PTR would nod and beam with pride at these words. Perhaps this is what she wants, and has sought to achieve. Anyway, we left in the middle of a thunderstorm, and came back a different route, so that was the end of my Aurora encounter.

I enjoyed my brief visit to Aurora and hope to return in the near future. Until then, I will keep following the progress of events, mainly through the words and thoughts found on this web site/forum. Keep fighting the good fight!

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[No, not quite all...]

I speculate there may be a couple of reasons:First, as mentioned here often, the faculty value their livelihoods. It is very reasonable to assume that if any prof publicly advocated against Rowland and Ryerson, that their work life would be jeopardized, or at least made to be very uncomfortable. In her role as president, Ryerson has shown herself to be a cold and self serving bitch.Second, I think there also may be a kind of circling of the wagons mentality among some of the Wells employees, including some of the faculty. They realize so many others in Aurora are disgusted about what has happened, and may feel embarrassed about their own impotence in helping it to happen by not objecting ( see above paragraph). This guilt leads to defensiveness towards those who do object to Rowland, and before you know it, they find they are on the same team as Ryerson. Not all, of course, but I have observed it in some. It's another example of the type of social disruption Rowland has created in Aurora.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

LOCAL, 8/14/07

[Bricks, not brains]

It's often been noted that PTR flatly refused to put any money into any form of academic support, but rather insisted on putting money only into physical improvements at the college. Not only do quite a lot of the faculty resent that (though, as you say, one has to be careful what one says in public if you value your employment), but it has given rise to much speculation as to WHY she is only interested in the physical space of Wells College. Just what ARE her plans for Wells and Aurora? They don't sound very benevolent to many of us....

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

AVM, 8/13/07

[Again, the answers are pretty obvious...]

...Another question for you all: If what you say is true, and most of PTR's benevolence is in the form of physical improvements to the college and village (her version of gentrification) why would Wells faculty support her? Wouldn't they rather have her money go towards educatonal improvements or salary increases rather than just cosmetic changes? It seems so blatantly superficial and I'm surprised that these academics wouldn't be more resentful and critical of her. But perhaps they fear for their positions at the college.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

TAXPAYER, 8/4/07

[Bad as it seems, it could have been worse]

The philanthropic practices of the Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation can be observed through its 990-PF filings with the Internal Revenue Service. These are online at GuideStar.Org and make for interesting reading, especially if you check out who gets what and when. This foundation primarily supports educational causes and performing arts organizations. Generally, donations are given on a regular basis, noted as quarterly or annual contributions. Many are approved for future payment up to six years in advance, giving recipients the security of knowing that the foundation's support will continue.

That is never the case with the contributions to Wells College. Those contributions, robust in some years and lean in others, are erratic in timing, unpredictable in amount, and are -- unlike those for any other educational institution -- always listed as being for "buildings" or for "maintenance of public spaces."

The Overture Center in Madison, Wisconsin, is not a focus of the PTR Foundation (although Rowland did give a pipe organ for the new concert hall). Overture is the creature of Rowland's husband, Jerome "Gerry" Frautschi. The project occasioned significant controversy and opposition.

Here are just a few of the points I remember from the press coverage at the time: 1) a thriving "college-town" community of shops, restaurants and bars would be destroyed in favor of a single new, enormous "attraction," 2) a project funded by private money somehow acquired the governmental power of condemnation, so that business owners who refused to sell were forced off their property by eminent domain, 3) the existing performance spaces of small local arts organizations were destroyed in favor of construction of a huge space that could only be filled by national touring companies of mega-hits, 4) Frautschi's donation was held at his direction wholly in stocks, and a market downturn eroded the capital before construction payments were due so that taxpayers got stuck with the bill for all future upkeep, 5) nevertheless Frautschi retained control of the property and governance of the Overture Foundation, even though city employees and taxes were keeping it afloat after the center's construction, 6) and Frautschi's friends were quick to try to capitalize on the Overture cachet by building luxury condominiums in the neighborhood, 8) etc.

Residents of Madison described Frautschi as exceedingly generous and totally ruthless in getting what he wanted for this project. And he rolled right over the experienced government and activist citizenry of Madison, Wisconsin. (Note: Madison is the state capitol and home to a state university.) I've always thought Pleasant learned a lot from Gerry, and tried to apply it here.

But in her monomaniacal effort to realize her vision for our village, Rowland did not get as far in Aurora as her husband did in Madison. He pretty much buried the opposition and is now publicly hailed by all as a hero; not so here. You can keep calling us ignorant rubes, middle-class snobs, or weak-willed academics, but together a hardy handful of us acted early-on to at least partially block her scheme. She did not succeed in establishing herself as resident queen of whatever it was she so desperately wanted to plant here. For that, I am grateful.

The Overture opposition websites seem to have disappeared, but here are a few random links from an old set of bookmarks I saved with press coverage on the Madison Overture Center Development:

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


[Yes, very suspicious all around]

AVM: ...It should be clear as to why Pleasant Rowland chose Aurora, and you in part answered that question yourself a year ago: it's a smaller, far more provincial town than Mt. Kisko...

I feel there's an important point that needs to be made... namely that we who oppose Rowland are often accused, by her supporters, of being people who merely "hate change." What they fail to consider is that in a very real sense it is Rowland who "hates change"---her agenda was to roll back time and return Aurora to some fanciful, idyllic, 1950s existence. At least that's what one is led to believe by listening to her own words. Of course it's only partly true; in reality it might be more accurate to say that what Rowland was trying to do was reconstruct Aurora to match her vision of a sort of faux Victorian theme park similar to her "American Girls vision" of reality. At any rate the fact is that she has shown what can best be described as contempt for the village as a community and for any construction, old or new, that didn't match her "vision." Aurora had moved on from what she remembered, and she didn't like it...

I don't know what actual charity work Rowland has done elsewhere besides the Overture Center ... she certainly has done none in Aurora. She hasn't given a dime to local schools or the local library or any other community organizations; the "philanthropy" she's conducted in the village has been limited solely to donating money to re-do furnishings and decor (to the demands of her taste) in some of the buildings at Wells College and to giving money to renovate buildings and businesses in Aurora--most notably the Aurora Inn, which was an intact late-Federalist era structure which she gutted and remade, spoiling both the original interior as well as the facade. To my knowledge she has given no money whatsoever to Wells College for things like faculty retention and/or recruiting, upgrade of equipment or infrastructure, or scholarships--the very things any college most desperately needs money for. ... So her status as a "philanthropist," to my thinking, is very much in question....

As to CJ Koepp, the link provided by the webmaster tells you who she is. Your questions about Webb House are tougher and we can only guess at the answers. Koepp is clearly in league with the Rowland clique. They all strongly support her. It's also known that Rowland was determined that Webb House was going to go where she wanted it... and this meant that one of two old, unique buildings was going to be torn down so that Rowland got her way. This is, finally, what happened. For all appearances it SEEMS that Koepp was brought into this as a beard, yes, so that Rowland could make her desires re: Webb House come to pass without it seeming to involve herself directly. Koepp is adept at garnering sympathy from people....I've watched her closely and I don't believe her act---an act which a lot of people fall for... who see this as a victory for the poor, put-upon professor against the wealthy Holland family. Never mind that Rowland was almost certainly behind things all along and that ... there were more sensible alternatives for Koepp than buying Webb House, demolishing Lake House, moving Webb House in its place, (on top of a creek, yet) and raising it an additional story into the air. Far more sensible. And yet she "had" to have Webb House. It's very suspicious.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

AVM, 8/2/07

[Same author answered some of these same questions last summer: scroll to very bottom of this page]

Who is CJ Koepp? Is he/she a resident of Aurora? Was it PTR's intention to always sell Webb House to another party? Or is Koepp a beard for PTR and the LLC? In other words, when PTR saw the difficulties Webb House was having, perhaps because of who owned it, did she decide to sell it to get her goals accomplished another way?

I'm trying to piece all of this together because, to an outsider, it is rather like a mystery novel, full of intrigue and drama. I don't mean to trivialize these very real problems in any way, so I hope no one is offended by those remarks.

I often wondered why PTR chose Aurora as her "victim" instead of some place closer to home, say, a small town in Wisconsin or Illinois. There are, undoubtedly, many lovely towns there in need of some TLC and a wealthy benefactoress. I know she and her husband have already given much to several charitable causes in WI, namely the Overture Center, which is laudable. But why come all the way to NY to manipulate this village? Do you think she intended to live in Aurora permanently, at some point? Perhaps before things got too hot?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

HANNAH, 8/4/07

[Then give your full name and get a local IP!]

Laura, I live in Aurora. I know you. You know me. This is a small village (under a 1000 with Wells students) and one does not have to turn over stones to know what happens here.

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L. HOLLAND, 8/3/07

[Sloppy is one word for it]

Hannah: I don't know you. We have never met. Yet you remind me of someone else whom I have never met. A woman named Robin Driscoll.Like you, she didn't let not knowing me stand in the way of judging me. Like you, she embarrassed herself by publicly disparaging me, my family, and my home. She did this at a village meeting, without ever meeting us. Also like you, she does not live in Aurora and clearly had no idea what was going on here, but she did not let that stop her from babbling a speech of malicious lies, inane gossip and gratuitous insults.

Funny, just a few months later, when she wanted something from us, a sale of lakefront property behind Lyon House, our new house went from being likened to a "big ugly office building" to "your lovely home".Hannah, I have never met you. You have based your opinions of me on hearsay. That's a sloppy way to go through life.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Thank you, Contrarian, for your insightful rendering of the vexing situation that Aurora finds itself in after the deluge that is and was PR. Because of you and your fellow contrarians, the world will be safe for democracy, decency and all that is good and right in this world. Or at least in a few square miles of southern Cayuga County.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


[She divided and hurt Mt. Kisco, too, but it didn't last as long...]

Wrong, "Interloper." Yes, there's some town & gown aspect to the complaints you'll read on this site, but they largely relate to the current president of Wells College rather than the college itself. And in fact I could say very nice things about the contributions of other colleges in the area to their respective communities, so for myself, at least, this has never been about simple Wells-bashing.

In fact, very little of what is said here by anyone has anything to do with the college per se. It's about Pleasant Rowland. Wells College needn't even exist; PR could still have come into our village and done what she's done regardless. The college merely gave her an excuse; she used it as a wedge to drive herself into Aurora, because she was looking for a village to make over in her twisted image. Mt. Kisko, NY had the sense and the strength of will to push her out before she could do real damage; Aurora was far easier pickings and PR knew it. It's undoubtedly the real reason she came here. Aurora was her second choice, the village that was less likely to put up a strong fight, because it was smaller and weaker, and populated largely by rubes whom she knew would bow down to her wealth.

The note above your entry says it all: show us another college town controlled by a megalomaniacal billionaire. You clearly haven't been reading through this site well enough or have only chose to hear what you want to hear.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


[Sure: show us anther college town controlled by a megalomaniacal billionaire!]

This is classic town-gown stuff. Aurora is no diferrent than any other college town because, afterall, no matter where you go, there you are. The complainers complain alot about goiings-on but can't list any community accomplishments or contributions & the college looks out for its own interests, apparently without consulting the townfolk. Same as it ever was.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


[Stupid plans, inept boards, or both?]

To Hannah: I had to respond to your smug, self-righteous note even though it was directed at someone else. To begin with, what could Laura Holland possibly be envious about, in regards to CJ or anything CJ has? Nothing. I'd suggest you think before you toss your rhetoric around, "Hannah." You only sound petty and ill-mannered.

As for complaints about the Holland's new house, I've heard them too, and they're nonsense. Take a look around, "Hannah" ...Aurora has several houses just as big (if not bigger!) than the Holland's new house. No, the main reason most people complain about the Holland house is because of what you tried to pin Laura Holland with yourself: Envy...

As for the Hollands having broken any building codes, it's a simple matter of record, "Hannah." Go back and look. The Hollands submitted detailed and professional plans from the start to the village boards. (Which CJ did NOT do, by the way). Moreover, it's a matter of fact that the Hollands did not have to secure one single variance for their project. Again, this little rumor against the absurd, and is motivated, again, by apparent envy. The Hollands got to build this enormous house--therefore they must have accomplished such a thing illegally and backhandedly. No, it couldn't possibly be that the Hollands were within their rights to construct that house, could it?

And even if we were to agree, for the sake of argument, that their house was too big--it couldn't possibly be that your village boards are inept, could it? That they couldn't read simple architectural plans and make an informed judgement based on them? Oh, of course not--because admitting such a thing might mean that those same boards ignorantly okayed the outrageously stupid plan to move Webb House (the Holland's old house) on top of an existing creek while also agreeing to allow the raising of that house by another story.

Your remark about CJ's house being "prettier" than the Holland's house is so childish it shows you up for what you really are, "Hannah." And don't lecture people about "hate," Hannah. The fact is you are ignorantly (and hatefully) attacking Laura Holland when thisisn't your fight -- unless you're CJ hiding behind a false name, which I doubt.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

HANNAH, 7/29/07

[She's writing from Louisiana!?]

One ought not to be vindictive and envious Laura. I have heard complaints about your "too big house" and citizens of Aurora wondering if you have not broken the building code. Why are you so against CJ? Get over it! She bought the house you never wanted. It has been placed next door to you and it is going to be prettier than yours. Pity you did not have the vision to make changes to it rather than building a new house. DO NOT HATE!

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TAXPAYER, 7/27/07

[Questions about the amazing expanding house...]

Those new plans for CJs proposed open ditch to replace the buried storm drain -- don't they also show a new 12-foot deck on the back of Webb House? Was that addition ever approved by the Planning Board or the Community Preservation Panel? Or, like the new enclosed mud-room just added to the north, can no one remember this deck ever being approved?

Meanwhile... is that a Stop Work Order on Webb House? The orange sheet taped to the door of the new addition? Has the unapproved expansion been halted?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

L. HOLLAND, 7/23/07

[New plans: an open drain ditch?!]

Subject: Formal Request
Sent: Monday, July 23, 2007

To: 'aayers'; 'Attillio'; 'bonnie bennett'; 'cpatella'; 'Chris MacCormick'; 'Derwood Crocker'; 'dstaley'; 'gbates'; 'Janet Murphy'; 'jimc'; 'kzabrisk'; 'Mayor'; 'MacCormickC'; 'Nancy Gil'; 'pbianconi'; 'Tom Gunderson'; 'steve taylor'; 'Nancy Yann'; 'VillageClerk'; ''

July 23, 2007

Dear Members of the Aurora Village Government,

With this letter I am formally requesting that the Village of Aurora have a Stop Work Order issued immediately for the CJ Koepp and John Place project at 327 Main Street, in Aurora.

I request this Stop Work Order based on the following:
1. The terms of the height variance granted to Koepp and Place have been violated.

2. There has been construction on the site that has been neither submitted to nor approved by the appropriate village governing boards.

3. Koepp and Place misrepresented the status of their drainage plans to the Aurora Planning Board in November 2006. They declared they had DOT approval when they had not.

4. They have only now formulated plans with the Department of Transportation. These plans grossly deviate from those that were approved by the Aurora Planning Board on November 8, 2006. These altered plans dramatically and adversely affect the neighboring property, and because the plans include an open ditch they also affect the aesthetics of the entire neighborhood. These plans have not been submitted or approved by any Aurora village board.
As construction on this project is ongoing, I request immediate action on this formal complaint.

This is a matter the Village of Aurora must address, as these are blatant violations of village law.

Laura Holland

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

TO DR. TAD, 6/13/07

Aurora is a company town & and the company (Wells) has done just as they please w/o regard to laws more serious than building permits as far back as any can remember. As in other company towns....

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

L. HOLLAND, 6/12/07

[Productive venting]

Venting can be beneficial to one's health esp when complaining in a meaningful manner results in those village officials responsible attempting to avoid/stall/defer/ignore/delay/pass the buck/refuse to answer/stonewall. I have attended many village meetings, read the village law book, written letters, emails, made formal complaints and had conversations, and so far, have nothing to show for the efforts but lost time. Maybe I should have merely "vented".

Not all folk feel free to complain in a responsible manner there are dominant forces at work in this village forces that can upend someone's life.  Venting isn't doing "nothing". It is keeping the topic out in the open, keeping it alive, and reminding those responsible that as much as they wish it would, it is not going to fade away, and that they haven't fooled or cowed everyone.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

DR. TAD, 6/12/07


If the new Fargo construction has not been properly permitted, it must be illegal. Wells College LLC gets away with it because they hold all the cards  and all the jobs in the village. It is shameful, it is abusive, it is a poor reflection on Aurora, but it is a fact of life, so given that degree of power, it is understandable. Unfortunately, that is the way the real world sometimes works. But if that is what is really going on, it shows a real breach of ethics and integrity on the part those in charge (Pres. Ryerson and Pleasant Rowland). At this point though, most likely that revelation comes as a surprise to no one.

If what I have gleaned from this website is true, and the Webb house owners are also building unapproved additions (and getting away with it), it makes me wonder if they are also tied into to same power structure. From the newspaper coverage I have read, they have been quoted more than once about being motivated by their desire to "preserve the house". So by that line of thinking, it is acceptable to ignore the rules because it is for the sake of a supposedly noble goal. The owners certainly are not about to refuse any behind the scenes assistance from Rowland/Wells, because they want their house. But they cloak that desire in loftier terms, in order to look good before the public, get their way, and satisfy their own interests.

It is an ugly realization, and it is sad to see it being played out in Aurora. But I have seen this kind dynamic at work before in other university/college towns.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


[An invitation]

"Dear friends and colleagues,

Everywhere we go people ask us about Webb House and how our project isgoing. Here is a chance to see for yourselves. Now that thestructure is safely attached to its new foundation and one can enterthrough the front door (instead of using a ladder), John and I havedecided to have an Open House, this Monday, May 28th, 3:00-5:30p.m.This will be the last chance to view the house BEFORE we start paintingand restoration. Please pass on this information to others in thecommunity whom you know might be curious to see the Webb House "upclose" in its new location.

Happy Graduation Day and Memorial Day Holiday to all. -- CJ" [Emphasis added.]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

READER, 5/21/07

[Senk, definitely. But remember Moncrief...?]

The June 2007 issue of Esquire has a little list entitled "People You Can't Bribe". First on that list? "Employees of the United States Postal Service."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

SIA, 5/21/07

"Crazy inhumane being - or - obese self-loathing tyrant: you decide!" --- can't it be both? I would like to vote for both. I'm greedy that way.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


[Crazy inhumane being - or - obese self-loathing tyrant: you decide!]

Look at this description of PTR a friend sent me from a 12/05 blog about her activities in Madison.

"You should not feel sorry for a crazy inhumane being such as Rowland who is an obese self-loathing tyrant who will go to any means to destroy hard working honest people's lives (too long of a list to mention) just to feed her own ego. I say great job to those who gave it back to Rowland. You know the old saying 'What goes around comes around.' Sent this to Pleasant Rowland & let her guess who's life she tried to ruin but failed to. Like I stated before the list is too long and she has a short memory and a small mind (the only part on her body that is small). If you disagree with this too damn bad. Maybe you should take a trip to Aurora, NY and talk to the citizens there and see if they feel sorry for Rowland & Frautchi. Rowland has destroyed that town."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

THE INSIDER, 5/17/07

[Ah, that "company culture..."]

Hospitality executive Sue Edinger has been named director of The Leland C. and Mary M. Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship at Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration, effective June 18. ...'Sue is a proven leader and innovator in the hospitality industry, and we are delighted to have her join our team,' said Cathy Enz, associate dean for Industry Research and Affairs at the school... 'We believe she has the ideal background to build the Institute into the leading center of its kind in hospitality management education.'

Edinger was selected in 2003 by philanthropist and entrepreneur Pleasant Rowland to launch the re-opening and start up operations of Wells College's commercial properties, including the historic Aurora Inn, E.B. Morgan House, Fargo Bar & Grill, Pizzaurora, Village Market and Dorie's Sweets and Treats. In her role as founding general manager for the Aurora Foundation, she built the hospitality management team and company culture that have won the properties the coveted AAA four diamond lodging award, featured articles in national publications such as the New York Times, and a spot in Select Registry. In June 2006, Wells College resumed direct management of the commercial properties and Edinger became general manager and director of Aurora Inn, Inc., the hospitality management subsidiary of Wells College. ...The Pillsbury Institute was formed through a gift from Leland Lee  Pillsbury '69 and his wife, Mary. The Pillsburys announced plans last fall to donate $15 million to the Cornell Hotel School in what will be the largest single gift ever made to the school and one of the largest ever in hospitality education."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

SIA, 5/14/07

[Links added]

Will, the fact that you can write (apparently) straight-faced recommendations for some ridiculous "process", and make claims for it having improved your marriage, health, golf game, etc., is in itself proof that the sort of people who go in for these quasi-cultish"self-actualization" and self-improvement systems are simply the most weak-minded, weak-willed types walking the earth. Have you ever heard of simple will power, Will? If your life has problems and stresses, then simply recognize them and make alterations. Done.

Of course it's not easy --- if it was easy we'd all be sitting pretty. But the typical reaction of a certain kind of person is to find that easy (or easier) way out --- to fall back on some "process" or some conditioning that they think will make all their little problems go away. Some people resort to chemicals, some people resort to clique-ish group "processess" like Quadrinity. Thirty years ago it was EST , gestalt therapy, primal scream, blah blah blah, ad nauseum. And guess what, Will? They never *really* work, not any of them. But lots of people delude themselves, and the peddlers of this crap get rich. Yay for them, I guess. And yay for the deluded. I personally prefer to handle my problems using my own strength and my own resources. One last thing--it doesn't surprise me that you're from California, Will... where people parrot and pursue the latest fads that will bring them a better, happier life. Of course these fads never work---but it's always sweeter to stick to the honey, false as it may be, than to face the bitter that life is, along with the good.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

WILL, 5/14/07

[I'll bring the marshmallows!]

By the way, I am not in any way defending what Ms. Rowland is doing in Aurora. If she's being a jerk, then I'm on your side and you have my sympathies. I just disagree with the witch-hunt-by-association that you are doing on the Hoffman programs and the people who have done them. Just because a jerk likes something does not make that something inherently evil. Apparently Ms. Rowland made her fortune on dolls, but I don't see you suggesting a Barbie bonfire. [Nonsense: we roast her American Girl Dolls whenever we can.]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


[More on school budget]

I agree with Karin that the new buses should be voted for, but I disagree with the addition of funding in the maintenance section of the regular budget when we are getting new buses. Wasn't the whole idea to buy new buses was to eliminate maintenance?? That increase should be put into the 5 o'clock bus runs for the students so they can have transportation not walking home.

The new communications system was voted on in March 2007, so that should help with better input to parents and students during difficult situations, if the money really gets directed to that project and not moved to something non essential like in the past.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

TAXPAYER, 5/13/07

[Back to the post office]

What a mess Rowland has made for us. The USPS was perfectly happy with our PO facility and location. Their officials expressed surprise when contacted about a proposed move by our mayor on behalf of Rowland's LLC. The USPS made it clear that they would not initiate a move to meet any needs of theirs.

But... because the VB initiated a relocation discussion, once Rowland's move was under consideration it set in motion a federal process whereby everything about our PO had to be re-examined in terms of the latest USPS standards.

And so then it was decided that we need a new arrangement for our mail delivery trucks -- even though the USPS itself designed the system currently in use here. And then it turned out that our present facility is too large at 1400 square feet, and we deserve one only 2/3 of that space.

And it seems that this new downsizing determination translates into a severely reduced staff. So now, without any mail sorter on duty, we'll be lucky to find mail in our boxes anytime before noon on weekdays, or before closing on Saturdays.

Lets hope in her upcoming closed-door meetings that Rowland decides, at long last, to leave us alone before still more jobs and services are lost in this village.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

KARIN W, 5/13/07

[Other issues: school budget]

On the subject of busses: our school busses have been at the bottom of the list in the whole state for passing their inspections for a few years now -- if we want our children to get to and from school safely, we need safe busses. Ours are old and very well-worn. Also, as a working parent who can't be here to put my kid on the bus or pick him up late after after-school activities, it has been more than just an inconvenience that the school has cut the late bus -- I have a kid walking 5 miles home from school some nights. No, I don't think those aides should be cut either -- a lot of kids at the school could use a bit of extra help (and that includes extra bright kids at the other end of the spectrum who also get short-changed), but getting our kids back and forth safely cannot be set aside either. The school did a fine job the day of the white-outs, and should be commended, but they need to get better communication in place desperately -- and a lot of that communication centers around transportation. Just my view on the issue as a parent in the school district.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

WILL, 5/13/07

[And now heï¿1âĀĄ2s better looking, more popular, and can play the piano - without those tiresome lessons!]

Thanks "Happy to Hear That" and "How Absurd" for intervening re: my brainwashing. Gee, I guess you're right - I must be brainwashed because I've been brainwashed into thinking I'm not brainwashed. Of course you could say that about anyone who expresses an opinion about anything, including everything you see on this forum, i.e. you've all been brainwashed into thinking those strong opinions you write and you're in denial about being brainwashed.

But in my case it's true - the reason I'm much happier, my marriage is rejeuvenated, my work relationships have improved, my health is markedly better, I've effortlessly given up three life-long bad habits -- all that is just an illusion because those ghouls at the Hoffman Institute have brainwashed me and stolen my money. Thanks for setting me straight. Just in time or I might have spread my evil to somebody else.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


[Other developments]

Two items: 1] Heard today at the Aurora PO that the person who sorts our mail has been cut. No more will we see our mail sorted on time; especially if the window has customers. So much for the stamp rate increase helping us out here in Aurora! By the way, if we can't support the size of the staff (3) how come there is the need for a new location? Can't they make do with what we have with some moderate upgrade to looks?

2] Also, heard today that SCCS Budget has a 4.9% cost of living increase in it. How come we have to eliminate so many of the aides who actually help our students and yet vote in an increase to the school board and bus garage maintenance area. (By the way, the new bus proposition is a separate vote item.) I for one will vote "NO" for this budget, as I didn't get an increase in pay and those with slower reading and math skills need those aides to help them achieve passing grades. Make the SCCS School Board take another serious look at their figures.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


[Hang that brain out to dry]

Nice for you, Will - or should we say No Will Now, since you've been "processed"! It's good to know that googling "Hoffman Qaudrinity" brings information seekers to this site.

Because the outrage expressed here shows that a devoted practitioner of that cult has not been able to convince a tiny village in rural NY that she is the "generous" benefactress that she'd like to think she is.

And, let me get this straight. Really? REALLY? You are comparing the posh get away mind surrendering Hoffman Institute to the work being done by the American Cancer Society? And you say you aren't brainwashed? Better think again! But...Whoops. Now you've been there, you can't.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

HOW ABSURD, 5/12/07

Brainwashed people dont FEEL brainwashed, now do they? Wouldn't be much of a brainwashing if they were aware of it. Hardly a compelling defense of these sickos - which I say having met some of them. Whew!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

WILL, 5/11/07

[We would probably trash any LGAT coming to our tiny town]

I happened onto your site when I Googled Hoffman Quadrinity. I recently did their eight-day program and it was a wonderful, fantastic experience -- the best thing I ever did for myself in my entire life and it has changed me for the better permanently. I find, so far without exception, that of the dozens of other people who did the Quadrinity Process, none feel brainwashed, ripped off, or abused and virtually all agree with me that it is a wonderful thing.

I don't know anything about Ms. Pleasant except that she donated the site where the Hoffman Institute holds most of its programs in the United States and that was an extremely generous donation for an an exceptionally worthy cause.So whatever mud you may want to sling at her, that does not justify a witchhunt for others who endorse an organization she has been associated with. If she donated money to the American Cancer Society would you start calling that evil and trash-talk its contributors?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A SOURCE, 5/8/07

[Edinger gone; where's Waller?]

Didnt see it anywhere on here so this may be new news, but Sue Edinger is leaving the Aurora Inn as General Manager she has accepted a job with a college in the area that is not Wells. Glad to hear she is moving on, and getting out of Pleasants grasp!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Well, folks from PA, we certainly could use a few more civic-minded preservationists who are willing to do more than complain after the fact. I suggest your explore the website, although it is a bit organic in development and inconsistent in content and it may be hard sometimes to tell the tell the players without a score card. Good background may be found in some of the early national press coverage. The summary of the lawsuit indicates what we have been up against. The heartbreaking photo pages give your a true picture of Rowland's attitude towards our historic heritage as well clear insight into the mentality of our village boards.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

SIA, 5/2/07

To Pennsylvania: Thanks for writing, it's nice to hear from "outsiders" who don't jump on us for being ingrateful yokels who should praise heaven for having a "benefactor" like Pleasant Rowland. I think what I can tell you is this: Aurora will remain forever a more-or-less quiet little village--simply by virtue of the fact that there is nothing here to really draw people beyond the pretty scenery; nor are there enough basic amenities nearby (or attractions) to make it viable as a major tourist draw. The nearest cities of any appreciable size are Syracuse and Rochester, both about an hour or so away -- not really a convenient distance for tourists. So in that sense Aurora will always be just a lakeside village with picturesque views and some small-ish businesses (the Inn, Mackenzie-Childs).

The characterof Aurora is another matter. This has been severely damaged, in the opinion of many of us, by the actions of Pleasant Rowland and her supporters. Certainly the village community now has a wedge driven through it; we no longer trust each other, and old friendships have been dashed to bits (hard to believe, but very true). We have an arrogant rich woman from the Midwest (Rowland) who has tried to remake our quiet little village into her inappropriate idea of some kind of phony, upscale attraction. It would be silly to deny the impact this has had on the community.

Housing values may be (falsely) inflated, but that just makes it more difficult for middle-income folks to live here or move here. ...Whether Wells College is a going concern is an impossible question to answer. Currently Wells is headed by a president with totally inadequate professional credentials who also appears to be wholly ! in league with Pleasant Rowland. She and her husband (a village trustee) are clearly rabid wanna-bes, and their activities haven't, in the opinion of many, been a good thing for the village or Wells College. Here I am being diplomatic to say the least... At any rate, the question as to whether Wells is headed towards better financial times is not yet resolved....

Lastly -- Aurora has been designated an Historic District for quite some time now--this is not something that is going to happen but has in fact already happened. Sadly it has done little to protect the character of the village. It certainly did not stop Rowland from devastating the intact interior of our 150+ year old Inn, turning i! t into a cookie-cutter Ramada....

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


[A request for feedback...tho many answers are already on this site]

Dear Folks,

My wife and I spent part of this past weekend in your village. A delightful place. We were smitten by its isolation, size, and our perception that it would not suffer a huge growth spurt but that nice properties would be desirable. I was pleased to see that the village is a registered historic district. We enjoyed it so much that we drove around looking for real estate in the village. Please understand. We are not developers. We live outside a small town in Central PA. Our first home was an old brick farm house built in 1826, with two smaller brick buildings. We restored that home true to its original character. Saved it from being turned into apartments. A few years ago we moved to a "much more modern home", built in 1839. When we bought it an architect told us to tear it down and start over. We threw him out, found a sympathetic contractor, and worked with him to rehab the original structure so that it looks and feels like what it is: an old farmhouse.

I've spent part of the morning reading about the controversy connected with the Aurora Foundation LLC. And at real estate in Aurora. We would be looking for a weekend getaway, but it also hope it would be an investment. We do not have gobs of money. To do it would be a major stretch.

I'm not sure why I'm writing to you, other than my wife and I are typically sympathetic to organizations such as yours and the issues you have raised. Is Aurora a viable situation as a quiet village on the lake? Or is the remuddling, which on the surface looks quite nice, and the other endeavors of Ms. Rowland going to doom it? Will registration as a historic district be a boon in preserving the character of your village? Is Wells a going concern, likely to remain in existence? We're on the outside looking in, looking for information. Knowing what you know, would you want to buy a home in Aurora? Thanks.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

JAY O'HEARN, 4/24/07

[Audacity is one word for it...]

This morning, a local person taped blank sheets of white paper to the car I park downtown to protest Pleasant Rowland. In so doing, this person covered up all the car windows that are facing the sidewalk, blocking out everything I had put up there.

As some of you may recall, a similiar incident occurred once before last fall. At that time, I wrote a letter to the person who was doing it, and asked that person to stop it. That individual complied with my request, and has given me no further trouble.

This time out, someone else is involved. I have written a similar letter to today's taper, and have every expectation that my request to keep their hands off my private property will be honored.

But in the event this kind of behavior persists, I am asking anyone on this forum who may agree with my car protest to please remove anything that has been taped to the outside of my car. My material is all on the inside.

Thanks in advance to anyone who can help out with this. I continue to be astonished at the audacity of some of Pleasant's supporters.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


[Keep dreaming, Georgie...]

Aurora Trustee god-help-us George Farenthold set himself up back in the Howard Dean days as the organizer of "Democracy for America" in Aurora, which continues to meet monthly at the Fargo -- even when no one comes, as was the case for his April 2007 meeting [ ].

You'll note that of this writing there are all of five 'active' members listed, and George is the only one who actually lives in Aurora [ ].

Nevertheless, he tries to promote his personal agenda for Aurora (on which he has been forbidden to vote as trustee because of his blatant conflict of interest) into a local Democratic Party Platform. Quote:
"My Activist Friends: PLEASE GET INVOLVED! Our government has still been failing us (and the world) because we let a guys like Rove, Bush, Cheney, Libby, Abramoff, Delay and their cronies control our Government. Their reign is now almost officially OVER! We, YOU and me have been helping fix that miserable situation. Now we have a solid voice in Congress in the Hon. Michael Arcuri. He now needs to hear from us. By the way, so do Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Charles Schumer. They ARE listening. Make your voice heard!...We have started taking back New York, the Congress and the country... Aurora remains the center of our local reform universe. With a little more support from the citizenry we will have a new Village Public Post Office, a new lake path, new Village parking and A NEW VILLAGE PARK...  [ ].
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


[Two wrongs just make it worse]

Yep, this is America. And to the contrary, folks: Rowland has not stayed within the law. Repeatedly, our local officials allowed her to ignore statues that exist to protect community interests, public safety, and the environment. Maybe they thought they were 'helping' the village by making it 'easy' for her because they believed her claims of altruism. But by failing treat her like any other individual wanting to develop property here and by failing to hold her to account for improper actions, they made a terrible mistake. And we ALL have paid the price.

Now more projects are underway, with the possibility of more to come. Do we want to see the mistake compounded? Some of us would prefer to see the process righted so that all applicable laws are followed in both letter and spirit. That requires calling community attention to the problems that have been created here, and working to promote consistent, fully reviewed development practices. This is not 'angry / victim mode,' it is activist mode -- a basic American right -- the attempt to effect change, improve conditions, and prevent what we see as further harm to the community.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

AURORAN 4/5/07

[We've heard all these, but doubt the Citizen has..]

As suggested by "Hey FYI!" -- here is what I have been trying to get posted in The Citizen online:

I have known Pleasant in many roles for quite some years. I have seen her with fawning yes-men sucking up to her and eating it up. I have seen her demanding that workmen break the law and do dangerous things because she couldn't make up her mind about the placement of trees while following safety rules. And I have seen her, first hand, be rude and insulting to me, when she didn't even know who I was, for no reason at all. I have seen her force Her Will on a community against its best interests. I have seen her demean and terrify people who work for her because a pillow was literally inches out of alignment on a couch in a public area. I have seen her make deals with students to not move the furniture in the dorm in which they lived because she just had to control every tiny little thing. I have seen her flatly refuse to fund educational programs in favor of cosmetics at Wells College when they were sinking fast.I have seen her ignore the very real concerns and desires of people who live in Aurora because it didn't fit with her vision. I have read her very words in a college publication in which she states quite clearly that she is better qualified to dictate to the Village what's good for them than they are. (Check back issues of the Wells Express for confirmation) I have seen her set policies as well as making other changes to long-standing local establishment deliberatly to discourage locals to patronise them because she doesn't feel they look the part to attract her wealthy tourist friends...

You cannot say to me that this woman is capable of compromise, much less willing to consider it. The people of Aurora have suffered precisely because so many of us were willing to give her a chance, to give her the benefit of the doubt, to trust her to do as she promised at the beginning. We lived -- and we learned, the very hard way. Don't bust our chops now that we have had the scales fall from our eyes, now that she has shown her true colors and we know what she is, if we fight tooth and nail and get her out of our town. That said, the Morgan Opera House is a lovely establishment, perfect as it is aside from needing some repairs. I hope the controversy of the fear of Pleasant sticking her nose in, through the various of her lackeys who keep cropping up in association with the project, does not stop people from donating -- take this project into our own hands so we can prove we don't NEED Pleasant T Rowland in our community. Support the opera house and the library as two of the last few operations in Aurora NOT controlled by PTR/Wells/Aurora Foundation.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

WATCHMAN 3/30/07

[Yes, and they are dangerous]

A while ago, the Hoffman org sold women's jewelry with their distinctive symbol or logo. (Now you can get it on a mug or bag; check their website.) Back in 2001 several of us saw people of prominence in this village wearing that symbol. At the time, I didn't know what it meant; but a visiting alumna pointed it out and explained its significance to us. Since the alumnae were on to them, these gals soon stopped wearing their identifying necklaces, but I believe that they are still devoted Hoffman Disciples and that they have encouraged the spread of the institute's influence here. I know you'd like me to name names on this forum, but I am not going to do that -- sorry. Trust your instincts.

Severe personality flaws don't necessarily account for all HQP recruits. Well-balanced people can be drawn into such systems at the insistence of a boss, mentor, teacher, spouse, sibling or parent, and then get subjected to sleep-deprivation, extreme isolation, psychological abuse, hypnotism and drugs leaving them quite transformed and possibly brainwashed. I recommend reading some writings of Margaret Thaler Singer, including "Cults in Our Midst" and "The 'Not Me' Myth."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


[Are they among us?]

I agree with the recent critical posts in this forum concerning the Hoffman Institute and its Quadrinity Process. The more one reads about the HQP, the stranger, weirder, and more alarming it becomes. My opinion is that is must be weak-willed or otherwise mentally flawed people who feel they need to introduce something like the HQP into their minds and lives. It is upsetting to think that Pleasant, the dictator of Aurora, is one of its most passionate advocates and supporters.

But several times I have read on this site of a suspicion that Pleasant's supporters in Aurora have similarly been processed by the Hoffman Institute. Given some of the behavior we have witnessed from this group, I can see how those suspicions might arise. But does anyone know for certain? The prime suspect would of course be Ryerson, and perhaps her doltish husband, or the upper administration people at Wells. But that is only speculation, and I don't like basing my beliefs on speculation.

Can anyone reading this shed some light on this question? Do we really have some of the Hoffman robots walking in our midst?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


[Or not]

To occasional visitor - If you don't like it, you could leave the village.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


[I could have danced all night...]

If this forum is any indication of "local life" then tango lessons sounds like a decent alternative to riding the high horse in town. I participated in the ballroom dancing several nights in Feb which had a turn out of almost 50 people! I am glad to have something else to do in this town!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


[Incredible origins of HQP]

Very informative first-hand account of origins of Hoffman Institute Quadrinity Process. Some highlights:

Founder Bob Hoffman was a tailor. He began his career as a "healer" giving psychic readings in basement of a clothing store in Oakland, CA.

He claimed "spirit-guide" of deceased Austrian shrink Siegfried Fisher co-created the HQP. Yes: a doctor's ghost "revealed" process to him, so it was OK he had no psychological training. (Fischer's widow threatened suit over this claim.)

More insights into original and current process:
"His style was to evaluate and attack people, then point to their emotional reactions as example of negative programming, almost always violating the boundaries of professional behavior... In every session Hoffman lectured, shouted, cajoled, confronted, intimidated, humiliated, bullied, abused us. He called us ass holes and negative love buyers. This behavior perhaps forced some people to examine themselves, but it far exceeded professional boundaries appropriate for therapist/teacher, student/patient relationship. Hoffman justified his behavior by claiming that his basic message was so simple that it was hard to grasp without his unyielding confrontation...The bitch session, which replaced the "anger letter," was an experiential expression of anger, directed at a parent, using explicit language, physical motion, beating pillows, and screaming...

In a "mind trip," the client yanked out the umbilical cord that connected his or her emotional child to their parents and allowed them to grow up to their chronological age... He conducted other portions of his course through "mind trips" and I will mention two of them, the parents' funeral and the birthday party, because together with the other exercises already mentioned, these fill out nearly every essential element (except "Vindictiveness," "Play Day," and "Dark Side") of present HQP. After the prosecution and defense of both parents, we were asked to close our eyes and imagine that we were awakened in the dead of night by a phone call: our parents had been involved in a car crash and were near death. We were asked to follow the course of events from the emergency room to the graveside....

There was another mind trip when we were asked to visualize the birthday party that we never had, where we were celebrated and feted for who we were and not who we had to pretend to be in order to experience our parents's love... Both remain today in the HQP as elaborately produced events, with music, props, food. When combined with suggested visual images, they can and do induce the powerful emotional states Hoffman sought...the controlled emotional rollercoaster of the current HQP."
Hope you are wrong about this weirdness coming to Aurora. Hard to believe anyone could be suckered in by it. But according to their website, it seems to be spreading.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

ALUMNA, 3/2/07

[HQP in Aurora?]

Finally getting back to Anonymous from Nowhere way back on 11/19:

No, "nefarious" doesn't sound silly applied to what's happening in Aurora. Not at all. Destruction of real community life in the village may be just the first step. Perhaps so something else can be planted in the village.

Some alums share concerns expressed here about Rowland's association with the Hoffman Institute Quadrinity Process. This organization -- which some might describe as nefarious -- seems intent on expanding. They've just devoted a resort in California to running HQP sessions year-round. (That's the property Rowland bought for them back in 2000.) Maybe access to a quiet village and nice college campus in upstate NY would increase the HQPs intake?

Rowland is a "graduate" and advocate of this secretive 8-day "personal transformation" process. (It's said she made all Americal Girl execs take the HQP treatment. It is known she gives "scholarships" for individuals to take the HQP.) The HQPs current president emerged from the leadership of the long-discredited and out-right dangerous EST and Lifespring organizations.

It's hard to unearth on-line information about the group. (Participants must sign a confidentiality agreement. Those who ask questions are dismissed early in the process.) But the more we know about it the better. Here are some interesting links. Please add to the list!
Some History of the HQP
HQP Impact on a Marriage
Influence of HQP in Kennedy School
Account of a HQP Drop-Out
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VILLAGER, 2/28/07

[Maybe she's moving in already...]

Just noticed the big box trailer in the Post Office parking lot. Boxes of stuff -- lots of stuff -- were being unloaded and taken into the Heary Bldg. Does anyone know what's happening?

And, any news about Lyon House? I have heard that at the open house five parties expressed an interest in offering bids.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


[Answer to residents who asked what "developments" would be presented at hearing]

Subject: RE: Aurora Public Meeting 2/21/06
Date: Wed, 7 Feb 2007 1
From: Senk, Paul J - Windsor, CT

"The primary information item I have to share may not be news to many. The only offer we received in response to our solicitations was for the Heary Building. So it has been tentatively selected for the site of the Aurora post office, subject to many things. The space and site will need to be designed to meet our accessibility standards, the historic preservation review must be successfully completed, an acceptable lease contract needs to be negotiated, local building approvals must be obtained, environmental reviews must be performed, etc. So while this is a milestone of sorts, there is still much work to be done, including listening to comments from the customers of the Aurora post office."

(Note: Is he really coming from Connecticut to tell us what we already know? Hasn't Rowland submitted modified plans for her project yet? Will new plans be presented for comment at the meeting without a chance for prior review by the public?

Here are links for an over-view of the project and a full chronology with documentation.)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


[Notice of USPS Hearing]

Many of you are aware of the possible relocation of the Aurora Post Office. We have worked on this project for some time and have developments of interest to the Aurora Community.

There will be a public meeting on Wednesday, February 21st at 6:30 PM at the Aurora Fire Station. At this time, we will provide updates on our efforts to date on this project and will be available for your comments.

As always, your attendance and participation are welcomed!

Paul Senk
Manager, Real Estate

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VILLAGER, 2/6/07

[Post Office - Heads Up!]

The USPS has asked the Village to set up a public meeting with Paul Senk for Wednesday, February 21, 2007 at 6:30 PM in the Meeting Room of the Firehouse.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

K.A.Hindenlang, 1/19/07

[Village Board Public Hearing on Proposed Laws]

Attendance was small at the 1/17 meeting: 4 of 5 VB members (Farenthold absent), chairs of CPP and ZBA, deputy chair of Planning Board, and 6 other village residents. Nevertheless, the hearing lasted about an hour. The tone was informal and rather neighborly.

It seemed clear that the VB members present shared many of the major concerns expressed and questions raised in the hearing about main provisions in the two proposed laws (re building & fire code enforcement and unsafe buildings). But apparently the VB presented these flawed laws to the public anyway, thinking they had to pass such laws this month by state mandate. Some of the trustees had done some research, and determined that such haste was neither necessary nor desirable.

The VB seemed receptive to concrete suggestions for improving these proposed laws. Prior to the meeting, I had provided some trustees and chairs with a number of internet resources for comparing these proposed laws to statutes in other NYS villages and towns. They read and circulated the material, and I was thanked for my help. (I encourage anyone else who unearths information which might be useful or relevant to the VBs discussion of this matter to share it with them. Their email addresses are on the village website.)

Near the end of the hearing, the mayor stated the board's intention now to "go slow," presumably to revise the proposed laws to meet the needs of our community and conform to our own municipal code. My understanding is that the VB will meet with the village attorney, and then another public hearing will need to be held to receive comment on the proposed laws as revised.

Looking ahead, I remain concerned about what will happen once village attorney Fusco and code enforcement officer Staley re-enter the discussion. (Neither attended the meeting, although I believe some trustees had wanted Fusco present to answer questions.)

I have communicated with a respected and experienced ZBA Chair in another community about our proposed Unsafe Buildings Law. He was distainful and very suspicious of the provision to demolish all buildings unoccupied for 2 years, and wondered if our code officer was simply trying to generate additional fees for himself via this outrageous provision. I think the fact that Staley proposed a law with this provision, and Fusco apparently supported it, gives us some reason to question whether these men are acting in the best interests of our community.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

HEAR, HEAR!, 1/3/07

[Georgie defeated 11-2]

Not Surprised by a snake wrote on January 03, 2007 3:38 PM: "Mr Fearon may have issues of his own to answer for, but look who tried to slither into his seat in a blatant back-door manuver. Given the smarmy Mr. Farenthold's naked ambition and thirst for political influence, it should come as no surprise. Still, I am bemused by this need in someone so unqualifed to be dealt into the game. But Mr Farnenthold lacks both the appeal and the smarts to get himself elected to such a postion (he does, howeve, suffer from no shortage of chutzpah) so he tried to seize the seat in whatever underhanded manner that he could. Deplorable."

Another anti-GF comment in the Citizen's coverage of county politics here

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


"Well....." - Wrong! Diane Hutchinson made it very clear to me that offers from me, or my family, would not be considered. "I wouldn't plan on being able to purchase either of these properties."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

WELL... 1/2/07

Now you have the info. Go down and look the place over. If you may want the house. I am sure they will not turn a bidder away.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

DOT, 1/2/07

It's open to the public. Must be, because the sale and open house are being advertised in the village office.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

THE ONLY WAY, 12/31/06

[More info below...]

It is by bid only. There will be an open house I think it is on Jan 7 2007 from 10 AM - 2PM. Then you send your bid to: Diane Hutchinson, VP Wells CollegeAurora, NY 13026.I am not sure of a close date on the bids.

[Bids are to be in by January 22. Not sure if tour is open to public or just to Wells employees who may have first opportunity to buy. Call and ask Hutchinson at 315/364-3370 or 315/364-3295.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

G DE, 12/30/06

[Potential buyer for Lyon House]

Being a small animal Veterinarian I would love the house to live in and to put a small animal office in, but I am sure I will not hear from the college, even though they said they would give me a call if anything with the house ever changed.

I agree with X with all of the changes that have happened around the house it may not seem like the best purchase in the world, but it could still be a VERY workable and magnificant home with the right applications. I will see if I ever hear from anyone at the college. Maybe I should call my real estate agent.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

LYON HOUSE, 12/22/06

[Sorry this is late getting up...]

Wells can't expect much $ from selling Lyon house It is rotting would take a ton of money to salvage, has a new public sidewalk right next to it on one side. And as I hear, there are plans to squeeze another driveway right next to it on the other side.

Plus it has zero lake front and almost zero back yard. sounds like anyone's dream house, huh. Whose gonna pay much for that? they may have to pretty much give it away just to get rid of it. What faculty member can afford to fix it?

With all that is wrong with the building and lot, Can you imagine being the agent trying to show that house? Ha. they need to find some fan of old houses with big bucks, who only cares about the building and not the land it sits on. If they can't find someone like that, Lyon house will just sit there and rot some more.

PS, why isn't Pleasant interested?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


[Neighborly relations...]

Dear Casual Observer (and, Neighbor, it seems):

Last spring I received a lengthy letter from CJ Koepp which touched on numerous personal interests. While ostensibly an attempt at friendly overture, it was (considering the situation )overly so . The letter was quite presumptuous as well, both in terms of whether or not our old house would be moved there, and whether or not the Hollands' opposition to it would disappear once it had. I saw it as an effort to ingratiate herself with me in a one-on-one fashion.

At that time, I sent her a hand-written response. I am posting that response here now, verbatim:
Dear CJ,

This matter has never been about who is next door.Our objection is to what is next door.We do not want that house in the lot next door.It does not belong there.

We were told it would not remain there.

We would not object if someone wished to build an appropriate sized house on the lot.We would never try to control who our neighbors are.

Sincerely,Laura Holland
Those few lines pretty much sum up this ridiculous mess, as far as we are concerned. We were lied to. We were told that house would be taken away from there, and not end up 10 feet from our property line. At no point in this very public dispute did Waller, Rowland, or anyone else behind this fiasco deny this. They encountered difficulties in moving it, so they unapologetically reneged, and took the cheap and easy way out. That has angered us, as my guess is it would anger anyone if it involved their own home and property, and trust.

We have enjoyed sharing our lakefront property with the tenants of Morgan House, Lake House Apartments, and Lyon House, for the past 20 years. We have enjoyed good relations, and made some good friends, with our neighbors for the past 25 years. We have never tried to control who our neighbors are and we certainly never will.

I recently discovered a copy of that "personal" letter from Koepp on file in the village office . I realize, now, that it was a public relations tool used by Koepp to gain more community support. Why else would she put it on file in the villae office?

Laura Holland

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INSPIRED, 12/13/06

Ryerson's and Farennthold's bedtime prayer. They probably recite this every night:

The Our Pleasant

Our Pleasant, who art in Madison
Hallowed be thy name
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done
In Aurora as it is at Wells

Give us this day our daily dollar
And forgive us our dissenters
As we resist those who dissent against you.
And lead us not into self determination,
But deliver us from diversity and independence.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

ABOUT TO PUKE, 12/8/06

[Pretty sickening...]

Some time ago, several Aurorans contacted the advocacy group "Options for Independence" desperate for help in getting through to our Village Board re their blind acceptance of Pleasant's proposal for a highly inaccessible Post Office & Lot.

They could do little to help, but somehow GF managed to turn their contact into an opportunity to transform himself into Aurora's "hero of the handicapped."

Gag! This man is absolutely determined to destroy our accessible PO & Lot and force serious burdens upon locals with limited mobility, but he manages to get himself an award for painting handicapped parking signs on the highway's shoulder! Take a look: the Citizen reports that he's an Advocate of the Year.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

SIA, 12/5/06

[More on the village website]

I can think of nowhere else (no place that I've ever seen anyway) where citizens have to actually write to their village officials to complain about content on the village web site, and instruct said officials on what's proper content and what isn't. Aurora is insane. Aside from everything else that goes on here that makes NO sense at all, we also have someone like Jacci Farlow (I assume she's the one responsible) who runs the village's taxpayer-subsidized web site like it was her own personal MySpace page. It would be funny if we didn't have to live in the midst of it...

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


[Response from village official]

A village official has responded to my email and, along with an apology, assured me that the Koepp/Place letter and photograph will be removed today.

It was acknowledged that the posting of such material on a village website was a mistake and that they are taking steps to ensure that only appropriate material is posted in the future by formalizing a more comprehensive set of guidelines for the village website.

I appreciate the prompt response to, and resolution of, this matter.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


[Email to clerk's office re website]

Village Clerk & "Webmaster":

I have noticed that a letter from CJ Koepp and John Place, regarding the relocation of our former house, has been posted under the December News and Notes on the Village of Aurora's website.

Since this matter is a real estate transaction and a project involving two private citizens and their private residence, I do not see the relevance, nor the appropriateness, of a letter from them appearing on a municipal, taxpayer supported website.

As everyone in Aurora is well aware, this relocation has been controversial from its outset. There are, and have always been, two sides to this story. Accordingly, in the interest of fair play and equal time, I wish to submit a statement on this topic to the Aurora Village website, to be posted alongside the letter from Place and Koepp. Would you please let me know what rules/guidelines this private citizen will need to follow ( length, number of pictures, etc) to have my own letter on this matter posted on the Village of Aurora website?

Thank you.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


[Parallel non-intersecting worlds]

SIA -- I agree, though I think that after living here a while you come to know there are multiple worlds coexisting and not overlapping despite the geographic proximity. In the countryside all around Aurora is a whole other breed of folks, most of whom grew up in a culture of separatism -- they don't mix with "people from Aurora" or try to mingle with "the people on the hill" (i.e. people who work at Wells in administrative or academic departments, as opposed to down at B&G or Housekeeping). Their perspective is very different from that of those who do live and work in those places. Many of these folks go (went) to the Fargo as a comfortable local place to drink (and there is a culture of drinking like you can't believe out in the countryside -- drinking and hunting and work -- and talking about drinking and hunting and work, and telling stories from the past about drinking, hunting and work). I have now lived in each of these worlds. It's been a real eye-opener to me to live in a culture where drinking is the central feature of life, and having your own local place to hang out with your own set of people is what matters -- and they don't really care what happens in the rest of Aurora, so long as they are left alone to drink with their friends -- at the Fargo in Aurora, the 34 Club in Scipio, Cecil's in Lansing, the King Ferry Hotel and the Genoa Hotel. No, I don't agree with this way of thinking and don't find it a particularly healthy way to live...but it is another fairly sizeable group of people, mostly unknown to college people. So, it does not surprise me that many of these people would not take strong views against Pleasant except when she took over their watering place and sissyified it and made them feel unwelcome and uncomfortable.

I knew some young people who were regulars there who started drinking in corn fields over the summer rather than go down to the Fargo, for example, and boy, did they have bad things to say about Pleasant. I know that the regulars at the Fargo are not solely of this breed, and some were even college people, but I think this is the group of which you are speaking now -- and it's a hopeless case to think you can change them -- esp. if you are not of their culture. Work together where you can agree (i.e. the Fargo) and don't expect them to ever get excited about what Pleasant has done to the rest of town. They don't seem to understand much less appreciate the culture of people living in the Village any more than Villagers are ever likely to reciprocate. They are strangely separate worlds, each with good points and flaws, just like most humans on the planet. Find the good where you can and make your own way with the rest. Pax.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

SIA, 11/25/06

[Once more, with feeling]

S.B.: I have no desire to make an argument of this, but I just want to say that you also have missed my point. I was not talking about the people who finally woke up (albeit a bit late) to what Pleasant was doing, and who now stand with us. I'd agree with you that it doesn't matter when people wake up as long as they do. Rather, I was talking about the people who still think that Pleasant has done good things for Aurora except for what she did to the Fargo. In other words, if PR hadn't touched the Fargo, they really wouldn't care about what she's done to the village, and in fact many of them seem to think what she did to the Inn (for example) was just fine, and it's clear that had she taken no action against the Fargo, they'd still be more or less on her side, or at least acquiescing to what she's done.

If you ask me, it's that lack of conviction and sensibility about the issue that fractures the anti-Pleasant side. Anyway, this subject only came up because someone said that all this "began with the Fargo," and it's that mindset I was addressing. I'm certainly not interested in establishing "elites" or tiers amongst those who stand against Rowland. I was simply trying to say, "come on, let's get with it, folks. It's not JUST about the Fargo."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


[Look forward, not back]

Let it be said that as a matter of policy the original founders and supporters of the incorporated Aurora Coalition don't say "What took you so long?" or "I told you so!" to anyone who comes around belatedly to understanding and sharing some or all of our very deep, ongoing concerns about Rowland's involvement in this village.

S.I.A., aka "Frustrated," I don't believe you resided in Aurora when we found the guts and raised the money to go to court and on to appeals in 2001-02. In any event, the situation back then was truly horrible. I think it might be helpful if you stopped dragging us back repeatedly to your judgemental interpretation of our past, whether you experienced it first hand or not. It just gouges the wounds and gets us nowhere. We need to look ahead, not back.

(Thank you for your comments, Strange Bedfellow.)

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[Put your irks in a closet and let's get on with it]

I don't see much good coming of complaining about people who didn't catch on to the ill Pleasant was bringing to our community until she went after the Fargo -- that just sets those of us who are now all on the same side against each other, as if trying to establish some elite of "those who caught on right away" and exclude those who are viewed as "johnny-come-lately" types. The fact is that we all need to work together and be good and supportive towards each other if we are to stand a chance of standing against the Pleasant/Wells machine. At this point it no longer matters if some caught on sooner than others. LH for example, will tell you herself that she thought Pleasant was a good idea at first, yet today, now she has seen PTR's true colors, she is as fiercely against PTR's machinations (sp?) in this village as anyone -- does that mean she can't belong to the club, for goodness sake?

Don't do the enemy's work for them by turning us all against each other. Don't blame people for being hoodwinked and/or complacent at first -- that happens and sometimes people are right and other times people find out they were wrong and it doesn't make any of them less good people or less valuable allies now.

Me, I never went to the Fargo if I could help it before or after, it was never a place where I fit in, neither when it was a locals place nor now that it is a chi-chi yuppified tourist place with an odd undertone of bar fights and sleazy problems with the staff (so I hear -- can't say firsthand as I haven't so much as peeked inside in years). I still recognize the value of the place to many local folks and how it symbolically represents the last public space refuge of those who didn't want to be part of Pleasant's little charade of the Perfect Charming Small Town Village.

So, I beg for ceasing the attacks, even mild ones, on those who didn't "get it" right away; if they are with us now, put your irks in the closet and focus on the serious task at hand -- getting the stink out of our town, with help from the johnny-come-latelys as well as those who see trouble everywhere, whether it turns out to really be trouble later or not. Politics has to make strange bedfellows to be effective and effective is what we need to be.

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SIA, 11/21/06

[Fargo a symptom, not the disease]

You make a good point M, but I'm not wholly buying it... I still hear people say that what Pleasant did was okay until she messed with the Fargo, meaning that they still think she did little else wrong EXCEPT for that. A lot of people still speak of her as doing good things for Aurora, and their only real disagreement with her is about the Fargo. That's the mindset I was addressing, which to me isn't about being afraid to speak out (though I fully admit people are still afraid to do that--I'm one of them) but rather is about ignoring the facts.

The thing is, these people lost "their Fargo" in some small part because they DIDN'T raise a stink earlier. Now yes, maybe some of that was due to fear. Maybe a lot of it was. But that doesn't explain the positive and quasi-positive attitudes towards PR that I still hear from time to time... to wit, that she did a "good job" with the Inn and has done other "good things"... but that they didn't like what she did to the Fargo. As if the Fargo was the only thing that mattered. It's that stick-their-head-in-the-sand attitude that I was addressing...which is what irks me.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

M, 11/21/06

[Forlorn hope]

SIA, another way of looking at it: knew - with the exception of the original members of the Aurora Coalition - that it was not in their powers or not in their best interests to publicly express any objections to the Bulldozer.

So many stayed silent - SIAs themselves - and retreated to the Fargo, the only real Aurora they had left. Rowland's "activities" weren't "OK", they were disturbing and unsettling. But what could they do but hope that ultimately what she was doing would bring good to the village?

There was an assumption, based on hope, that PR would have the good sense to leave the Fargo alone. And as long as she did, it was a place where they could speak freely, afford to gather, and be themselves, without the watchful eye of the corporate beast. The Fargo was "dandified" earlier - it wasn't a good sign - but it was left in private ownership and the spirit remained intact. It was not until local ownership was removed (and he was not just removed, he was maligned as a pretext for getting him out of there) that the larger uproar occurred. Because after that action many people realized that their hope for good for Aurora had been a dream.

Of course it did not begin with the Fargo. But for many it ended there. More than any one action, this one showed Rowland's true character and intentions for this village.

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SIA, 11/20/06

[Wake up and smell the roasting sheep]

I stand corrected [by Alumna on 11/1], thank you. What I meant to address, also, is this myopic attitude of a lot of Aurora citizens; namely, this phenomenon where many people in the village didn't even begin to get wary, let alone angry and outraged, until Pleasant Rowland and her Foundation (and the toadying Wells College) messed with the Fargo. There has always been this this fairly-widespread opinion that Pleasant Rowland's activities were "okay" until then (that is, until Jim Orman was tossed aside and the Fargo was "dandified"). To this day I still hear people talk like that, and it infuriates me.

There are still people in this village who, although irked with PR over what was done to Orman and the Fargo, will still say that she "did a good job" with the Inn, or that she "revitalized downtown." They still look at Aurora and Rowland with tunnel vision, ignoring the Foundation's openly-hostile-towards-locals business plan for the Inn and the criminal way in which that histor! ic old structure was gutted and turned into a cheesy-upscale Ramada. Nor do they care about the unforgivable and totally unnecessary gutting of the old schoolhouse/"Heary" building, which still sits vacant years after its tenants were ousted. They didn't care about Lake House, probably don't care about Lyon House all that much...all that they DO care about is the Fargo.

And this is why I got so irked when I heard someone say, yet again, that this all "began" with the Fargo. Blindness like that shocks me to this day, and to my core. No, folks, all this "began" when a nouveau-riche, self-important, pretentious, manipulative, despotic, arrogant woman, thirsting for the power to make her pathetic, class-conscious dreams come true, turned her ravenous glance on this poor village and its woefully mismanaged and incompetently administere! d college. If after all this time you still don't feel like sheep getting devoured by the wolf... well, then all I can say is that dumb, shortsighted sheep usually get what they deserve.

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[Lyon House situation]

The new sidewalk between Lyon House and the United Ministry is attractive and inviting. But, that is a 16.5 foot wide right-of-way between Lyon House and the church.

If that right-of-way had been paved as a roadway then Lyon House would not have to unnecessarily pave a large portion of the precious little property it has in order to create a driveway for 327 Main Street.Why put in a driveway to the south of Lyon House if it abuts a right-of-way on the north that would allow access to the parking pad in the back?

I wonder if vehicles can still travel on the Lyon House/UM Church right-of-way?

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Oh, yes! I noticed the mass retirement of our best and brightest. Saved cash and opened the door for the anschluss. No sir, I dont like it! :(

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ANYONYMOUS, 11/19/06

[More context?]

Nefarious may sound silly, but its no joke. Save Aurora's authentic village life? How about save it from whatever nefarious plans underlie all this, worse than just loss of life as we prefer it in the Village. PS - Some senior staff were against & are now mostly gone, you notice?

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ALUMNA, 11/17/06

[Historic context]

SIA wrote on the guestbook, "All this BEGAN with Rowland shouldering her way into Aurora. It began with the Inn, not the Fargo."

Actually, the Pleasant Invasion began before the Inn with the Campus Master Plan. PTR wanted to move, demolish, and redesign Wells buildings to create her dolly ideal of a campus. Ryerson and her nut-case senior staff did their damnedest to shove the plan down the college's collective throat. Many, many thousands of dollars were wasted on studies, models, charettes, and architectural drawings promoting the Pleasant Vision for Wells. But alumnae and faculty raised such a great big stink that the plan was finally dropped or at least indefinitely tabled. For lots of context, see

Having been thwarted on campus, Rowland and Ryerson then moved on to consume the village. And Aurora wouldn't or couldn't get its act together in time to defend itself against these two megalomaniac madwomen. Is it now too late to save much of anything from Aurora's authentic village life?

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SIA, 11/13/06

[Another summary of the situation]

[Facts re] Lyon House: A) it is not at all beyond repair, and it wouldn't take huge sums of money to make such repairs happen... B) Despite this, Pleasant Rowland, in the past, tried to get permission from the village to demolish Lake House... C) Wells College has refused to sell Lyon House...Supposedly David Kirk was going to buy Lyon... [but] now things are back to the way they were. From these three facts we can clearly see that Wells College has--presumably at the command of Pleasant Rowland--earmarked Lyon for destruct! ion. The tactic they've opted for, obviously, has been to simply let Lyon rot where it stands, and then make a case for its destruction to the village. In turn, the village boards--who have universally caved in to these Rowland/Wells machinations, will at some point buy the lie that Lyon is beyond saving. True, the village rebuffed Rowland on her original attempt to raze Lyon House, but that was the single bit of backbone that the village ever displayed and we're not likely to see a repeat of it. We don't know what underhanded plans are behind all this, but it wouldn't be beyond imagining, for example, that Lyon could be demolished in order to provide more land for the new siting of Webb House, (which after all, hasn't happened yet) or something related to that. At any rate, we don't know what's really going on, but the one thing we can be sure of is that something truly stinks in all this. I beg everyone who looks into this web site to do what they can to keep that w!onderful old house from being destroyed or being allowed to sink furth er into ruin.

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K. A. HINDENLANG, 11/12/06

[Other potential buyers]

For what it's worth, several outside observers contacted the Aurora Coalition over the years asking for advice on who to contact about purchasing Lyon (or Webb) House. We have no idea if the post below is from one of these folks, but GED's story seems consistent with that of the one couple we heard back from after making our standard recommendation that they contact Wells VP&Treas Diane Hutchinson.

This couple -- who sounded like experienced preservationists -- said they got "the brush off," that Hutchinsons said Lyon was not for sale and would not take their name and number in case the college changed its mind. They were terribly disappointed, and said they had "tackled houses in much worse shape" and really had hoped to save this one.

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[More questions about Lyon House]

The G DE post underneath this one, if legitmate, really creates some curiousity on my part. I wish those people would contact a local reporter with their story. Perhaps then more people could realize that the college, Pleasant,(and apparently Koepp as well) are in this only for themselves.

Why would the college respond with such hostility to a simple inquiry about the availabilty of a piece of property? And why would they lie to the negative about its condition to prospective buyers?

Why why why is the college so content to see that building rot away before their eyes (and the eyes of the rest of the village)? The house is rotting and the property itself is shrinking, being surrounded by paving. Why didn't they try to sell it when it had more value? I thought the college is perpetually cash-strapped.

This matter is a public relations disaster for the college, I am sure that even some Pleasant supporters are disgusted with what they see going on with that house. Does the college no longer care at all about community relations or does it now disavow any responsibilty it has to Aurora as the largest property owner in the village? If so, is it because Pleasant is telling the college to act that way? Has Ryerson lost all autonomy?

If the college wants Lyon house gone, does anyone have any conjecture about what it wants to use that property for? There is no lake front, and if the new driveway goes in its south side, there will be almost no yard.

If Pleasant loves Aurora and its buildings so much, why didn't she fund the rehab of Lyon house as a favor to the college? I have always believed it to be none of my business how other people spend their money, but in light of everything else Pleasant has done in Aurora, that question is too obvious to ignore.

The situation of Lyon house is beyond bizzare. People in Aurora want to hear answers to these questions, or to hear some kind of plan from its owners about its fate. Lyon house is owned by the college, but is in effect a community asset. But all that comes from the college or Pleasant is a wall of silence. Why?? What is really going on? Opinions welcome...

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G DE, 11/11/06

[Sad...potential buyer spurned]

My partner and I were interested in buying the Lyon House back in 2004.

We had already restored another victorian home near Elmira NY and were looking for another home we could help. We were told to call the college since they recently had purchased the house. We were told that the house wasnt for sale and not to trespass on the property or we would be arrested.

Here it is three years later and nothing is being done. We were told that no one would want the house because it was so badly damaged. That was a lie, although time has not been good to the once majestic house, its nothing that money and love could'nt replace. So here we are now on another NY lake in a perfectly restored home, completed in under 1 and a half years, sadly watching a truely magnificent home continue to fall, because selfish people wouldn't sell a house. Truely hard to believe.

Aurora Coalition you are doing good things, keep up the hard work, whenever we talk to anybody about Aurora we make sure to let them know what you are having to deal with, it's sad to see a Historic town become a Pleasant Tourist Attraction.

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KARIN WIKOFF, 11/03/06

[Small town corruption in NYS]

The New York Time article on corruption in small town courts in New York State should be mandatory reading for all of us. The reporter spent a year doing the research...And what it has to say about abuse of power in small towns is shocking and scary -- all of our lives could be affected by these small courts run by people who might well not even have a high school diploma and who are not overseen by anyone to make sure they aren't applying the good-old-boy practice of letting off their friends and penalizing those they don't like - I stand here to tell you it happens all the time and I have witnessed it first hand not once but three times. Outrageously injust things happen in these small courtrooms...

This article has some hair-raisingly horrifying stories...[Click here for part one and here for part two.] The problem is deeply-rooted and wide-spread and people like the VB in Aurora know it and know they can easily get away with breaking the law with impunity. Whoever was there at the VB meeting this summer heard Tom's response to my question about the legality of advertising and commercial interests on an official government site. When I brought it up, he asked me if it were illegal. I said I'd have to reasearch and didn't know off the top of my head, but shouldn't he have known the law BEFORE they just went ahead and put the website up? And he replied: "Too bad -- it's up. What's anyone going to do about it?"

Just like tearing down a building without the legal right to do so, even against the advice of their own lawyer -- they know they can get away with it so too bad on anyone who expects the VB or Wells College (in this case, one can stand for the other and who's to say which is which-- they both boil down to Tom Gunderson, as mayor of Aurora or head of Buildings and Grounds) to abide by the Law. Take it to court? (Well, I have to say, I have had better treatment in Ledyard than I have had in Scipio.)

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[No surprise]

This is meant as a Guestbook entry, but it is currently full.

Surprise, surprise, Bet the Farm's mostly effusive and quoted customer is Jacci Farlow [see Citizen article]. Why am I not surprised?

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TAXPAYER, 10/28/06

[Fact check]

Please deal in reality, "Car Park," instead of delusions. Only part of the parking lot in the village center is owned by the college. The remainder is owned by our local municipality, the Village of Aurora, and part of that is leased to the United States Postal Service for the use its patrons.

As you can't have us towed away -- those of us who may wish to park in the village center and visit the Post Office, Library, Park, or even the Rowland-controlled business properties -- it seems you and your irrational buddies will have to content yourselves with vitriol. (Or perhaps some of you prefer vandalism?)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

THE LOCAL... 10/28/06

[Feel the heal?] owned by the college, is it not? But, why do you really care if you are refusing to use any business near it as they are also owned by the colleges or its "sycophantic sympathizers"? If I owed it I'd make it private and tow you all away!

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RESIDENT, 10/28/06

[Lull before the next storm?]

A question for the author of a "sad but healing village" -- what evidence of healing do you see here? I do understand your wishing for it, but I really don't see any.

Instead, I see a lull before yet another storm. We know she's getting ready to try to complete her destruction and reinvention of our village center over the objections of many residents. Her planned destruction of our handicapped accessible parking lot and postal facility, demolition of our community owned post office building, and forced relocation of our government services into property she controls will not promote healing in this community. Far from it.

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S.I.A., 10/27/06

[Fight the good fight...]

The author of "a sad village" seems in earnest, and sounds like a person whose heart is in a good place, and I'd like to answer the kind of sentiments expressed in his or her note, which seem to reflect the feelings of a fair number of Aurorans. I suppose it's hard for some to understand why we don't just want to heal, why we don't just join hands and become a community again. Well of course I'd wish for that just as much as anyone, but sadly reality creeps in. One cannot heal when wounds are still open, and wounds can't be closed when the sharp object that caused them is still stabbing away. PR and the Foundation haven't gone away simply because she/they have relinquished command of a few businesses (even if that's actually happened); rather, PR is still exercising influence and control over our community and whether she soils her own hands doing it or pulls strings from afar doesn't matter. I for one will not welcome Pleasant nor say hello to her when I see her. That doesn't make me a "bad" person, just as it doesn't automatically make someone a "good" person just because they DO welcome her. I am standing up for what I believe, and I will not welcome a person into my community whom I feel is trying to do it fundamental harm.

I appreciate the message the poster was trying to formulate, in saying he/she would welcome PR, but it's a misplaced and misguided nicety that they're trying to express. Welcoming the invader CAN be considered a kindness, but of course we also know it's capitulation and a form of collaboration. Oh yes, if only we COULD have worked together. If only PR HAD listened to us and not commanded from afar like an empress. If only she'd been a true benefactor and philanthropist instead of an arrogant, nouveau riche despot. I would have welcomed her. I'm sure all of us would have. But that's not the Pleasant we got. This is why we resist this call for "healing" all the time.

I also cannot agree with the poster when he/she says that in time we won't be remembered and none of this will matter. It's that very neglect of posterity that we're on about when we oppose the tacky refurbishment of our village. We feel the soul of a community is a real thing that lives on only IF the community members keep it alive. Aurora had a soul that we were trying to protect. Pleasant had nothing but contempt for our community's soul, and simply wanted to co-opt it for her own. It's true, 50 years from now maybe it'll all be forgotten; but in the present we've tried to fight the good fight for those to come, for a future that we wanted our village to have, and for it's soul, which we felt worth defending. I hope this makes it clear for you, so that you and others can understand why we don't feel it's "healing" we need now, but to keep on fighting.

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AURORA, 10/25/06

[In the long run we'll all be dead]

I find it very sad it came down to us VS. them or them VS. us. However one wants to put it. The past six years has torn the village apart. I remember when Wells was the bad guy in town.

It is a time to stop and heal now.

In twenty/forty plus years forward who will remember why or what changed us. Or even care. I will have died. As most reading this also.So I / we do not count.

I am still not sure why Pleasant wanted to pump money into Aurora. But she did and had some need to do so. Maybe a tax write off.Pleasant will be gone. As Henry Wells / Morgans etc are. And the village people will say Oh yeah I heard about her. Most people did not like her. And poor Ms. Waller will not even be talked about. When in fact she is the one that made Pleasants will happen.

Pleasant I am not wild about you. Or what you have had done with our time and space.But if you choose to live in our village or spend time here I will welcome you here. I will be nice and say hello when and if I see you. As will most. We all are good people in the end.

If only we could have worked together.

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KARIN WIKOFF, 10/21/06

[And a vandal "shares" a viewpoint?]

Here is a copy of the letter I am sending to the new P'ART organization -- boosters supporting drama and the arts at Southern Cayuga...Since it seems to me pretty obvious my vehicle was targeted due to the "Aurora NY -- It's our home, it's Pleasant's hobby" bumper sticker, I thought it appropriate to share it here.

"Dear PART: I had this check, for 4 times the amount needed for membership, written and waiting to go out in my mailbox when I went to pick up my son, Garret, from crew this morning...When I came out to my car, someone, I can only assume someone associated with the drama production since those were the only vehicles parked around mine, (and since there were only a few people at the school at that time), had "keyed" the driver's side of my car from the front all the way across both doors, and right down to the metal in several places.

This, I said, is not only spiteful, destructive and plain nasty, but it is certainly not deserving of my generosity. I voided the check. I will gladly write a new check for twice the amount if the guilty party comes forward and publically apologizes to me and offers to make good the damage done to my car, in the name of mature and right behavior and for the honor of all those involved in drama at Southern Cayuga.

What a shameful and childish act ... and it could just as easily have been a parent as one of the students involved in the show. There have been people who have been known to carry out other threatening and spiteful acts against those who are openly not supportive of Pleasant Rowland's activities in Aurora. My car carries a bumper sticker very mildly announcing my opinions of that situation and since it is the only identifying mark on my car, I can only guess this is the reason my vehicle was so targeted. Regardless of the reason, however, it was still a wrongful act.

What a pathetic and immature action, bound to bring nothing good to the reputation of the rest of the kids and families involved in Drama.I do hope you can uncover the culprit, as I would have liked very much to support your group. But not to be treated like this."

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[The "local friendly shopkeeper" at work]

More history...Soon after Mike tried to incite villagers to harrass their neighbors (by posting the on his shop door names & phone numbers of those who exercised their civil rights in petitioning the court to get an Environmental Impact Study of the inn / market project), he pushed "Ban the Coalition" signs on any local who entered his shop. He not only wanted others to "express his view" that the freedoms of speech, assembly and association should be denied to those who held opinions contrary to his. It seems he also wanted to identify anyone who refused to take a sign, so they could be targeted and demonized by Randy Z. and others as coalition supporters.

I remember speaking with friends who surprised me by putting such a sign in their yard, as they had been mildly opposed to the inn / market plans. These residents told me they were afraid to refuse to put up the sign, afraid for the college jobs of their loved ones, afraid of the "witch hunt" mentality in the village. They encouraged me to steal the sign when they weren't looking. I refused, and let them live with their shame for months & months, since our local government didn't enforce the 30-day limt for such signs...

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

READ... 10/13/06

[But he's just a nice guy sharing his viewpoint]

So, are you saying you are dirty pinko commies? And how can ANYONE think our friendly local shopkeeper [Mike Montgomery] is anything but a kind gentle man expressing a point of view. I've read that you are convinced you all doing nothing to frighten "naysayers" -- but what you are writing is scary and threatening whether you think so or not. Get out of town or get a life!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


[Previous attempt by same guy to supress free speech ]

Re: Attack on Jay's protest car. Some recent history may be relevant. When the law suit to save the once historic Aurora Inn was under way, Mike Montgomery posted a list of petitioners , their addresses, and phone numbers on his shop door and encouraged people to call the petitioners and harass us. My family received a number of these telephone calls. None of the callers would identify themselves nor would they respond to our invitations to get together to talk.

We are startled to realize that in the 21st century Mike is channeling Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy, the politician who in the 1950s made such threatening and ill-founded claims to have "lists"--lists of dirty Commie pinkos whom he was prepared to unmask and punish, punish, punish! In the end, it was McCarthy himself who was unmasked--as a cruel, lying, power-mad manipulator.

How sad that 50+ years later, the news that we all live in a democratic republic--with freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of petition--has not yet reached the ears of people of the Mike Montgomery ilk.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

SIA, 9/26/06

[Proposed location of Webb House]

...Webb House is too large to be sited where Lake House currently sits...This is made clear when one realizes that (to my knowledge) *no one ever tried to put house there in the previous two hundred year history of Aurora*. Lake House was merely a carriage house associated with Lyon House. That's all that plot of land was ever seen as good for by our 19th century ancestors. Makes sense. The elevation of the land there and the fact that a creek runs through the property makes it entirely unsuitable for anything but a very small house, and even then you'd still have to contend with the issue of drainage. And drainage is the single most important issue in siting a house.

One of the other important issues of siting a house is aesthetics. And again, no one ever tried to slap a house down there before...Seen from the road, such a house would seem to be unappealingly squeezed in between Lyon House and the Masonic Lodge. BUT...lest [anyone accuse me of hypocrisy, saying Holland House is also too large for its lot]... A) The new Holland house did not require a single variance. B) Like it or not, the new Holland house is where it is. With Webb House there's still a choice.... C) Two wrongs don't make a right.... D) If the Hollands had built a ten-storey skyscraper or one-room log cabin on their land it wouldn't make the slightest difference to this situation. It would still be wrong to place Webb house on the current site of Lake. If people in Aurora thought logically then none of this would be an issue...

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K.WIKOFF, 9/26/06

[Interesting parallels, see NYT link]

Untrained and corrupt Town Justices is not that far off from equally untrained, inept and often corrupt small Town Boards -- you can glimpse the same culture behind the scenes here as we all deal with at Village Board meetings....

New York Times - September 25, 2006
Broken Bench : In Tiny Courts of N.Y., Abuses of Law and Power

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SIA, 9/25/06

[Webb House Mess]

...I just have one thing to add to the "Between the Lines" post below. The original feedback writer says the following: "And since then, the Aurora Coalition has done everything possible to stymie resolution and let a perfectly nice couple by (sic) and restore this historic or at least old village home."...

I've had as much as I can take of this subject, as I'm sure is true for everyone in Aurora. But the trouble is that some of us know and/or have listened to--or been in on--all the facts about it, and then there's others in the village who choose to ignore these facts, or have forgotten (inexcusable in itself) or have not bothered to find the facts. (Also inexcusable, and lazy to boot).

Firstly, enough with Webb House. There's nothing special about it, except that it was a nice house. LET IT GO. Yeah, it would have been nice to save it, but that was never feasible without spending cartloads of money to move it either whole or in pieces. ROWLAND, however, apparently promised to do this. SHE DIDN'T. She lied, and no whitewashing will change that fact. The Hollands aren't responsible, the Coalition isn't responsible. ROWLAND is. And the village is responsible for sitting there and let it carry on this long. And I'm sick of people saying that "blame" doesn't matter. It DOES matter. It's precisely this kind of mealy-mouthed "let's forget about blame and work to fix it" attitude that allows crap like this to continue in our village.

So next point, then, is, why can't we let this "nice couple" buy the damn house and resolve this? Answer: because it resolves nothing. The Koepp's plan for Webb House is ludicrous. FACT: The house has been up on blocks for three years. (Think about what that's done to it, structurally). FACT: The plot of land they want to put it on is far too small and far too poorly situated, and FACT: forces the diversion of a creek. Moreover the Koepps want to *raise* the house, making it a monstrosity. Now... why the hell won't someone let the Koepp's buy Lyon House instead and fix it up? It makes only a MILLION times more sense. As for how blame matters, it matters thusly: we know that Rowland spent the money to move Webb House and she expects that money back. One way or another. And so to please her (and who asked her to save the damn thing in the first place?) Aurora has to choose between losing a perfectly good apartment house (Lake House) or an easily-restored Victorian (Lyon). Again, she strong-arms us into what she wants. FACT: The Koepps could have also bought any number of houses in the village by now...

Ask yourselves WHY the Koepps want a house that FACT: will have almost NO yard, no lakefront, and neighbors all around that are hostile to them and their ill-considered plan for the siting of Webb. Why? What's behind all this, really? But there the facts peter out and we can only guess.

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JAY O'HEARN, 9/23/06

[Protest car defaced]

For the past few weeks, someone has been taping a counter-protest message to the protest car which I park periodically downtown. In summary, the counter-message identifies me as the owner of the car, along with a phone number to call, ostensibly to tell me to discontinue my protest if you disagree with it. It also included some blather about my �negative message� and how if anyone truly loved Aurora, they would get after me to stop the protest. Since whoever was putting this on my car never chose to identify him/herself, I have been wondering who was behind it. But my only reaction to it up to now has been simply to remove this interference to the message I am trying to get across. Not much else one can do if one doesn�t know who is doing it.

Today, while walking through downtown, a friend of mine came across a local person taping HIS message to MY car. He was caught in the act. Of course, my friend immediately removed what he had attached to it. His reaction was one of both sheepishness and defiance, asking if my friend knew how tired he was of having people asking him about my car. (I am gratified to hear that � it means people are reading it.) When my friend pointed out to him that my parking my car there was fully legal, and what he was doing to it was not, he dared my friend to call the sheriff.

So I have a favor to ask of anyone who appreciates seeing my protest car parked in Aurora: If you see anything attached to the outside of the car, please feel free to remove it. The material I wish to go on the car will all be on the inside. I can not, and in fact refuse to, spend too much of my time monitoring who is putting what on that car, but I ask that if you walk by and see anything on it that doesn�t belong, to please remove it. Thanks.

To the person who was caught in the act today: From your actions, it is apparent that you see a parked vehicle as an effective means of public communication. If in the future you have a message you would like to put forth before the public, please discontinue using MY personal property to do so. From this point on, if you wish to persist in this exchange, use a vehicle of your own, and keep your hands off mine. As much as it may nettle some, my parked car protest is entirely legal, and defacing private property is not. I would never consider attaching anything to a car you own, or interfering with your free speech, and I insist that you give me the same consideration. Thank you.

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READ... 9/23/06

[Editorís Note: The feedback below quotes and critiques passages from our web site and invites us to ďread between the lines.Ē So weíve chosen to write between the lines, as well. Editorís comments are in italics.]

"Rowland wants our village-owned P.O. building destroyed in order to expand her LLC's parking lot." Not the LLC's parking lot anymore is it -- the college's, maybe?
The LLC is a partnership of the college and Rowland.
"solve the parking problem she created." So is parking a big old sedan as protest really helping that situation?
Parking was reduced when the LLC made the Market much larger, moved Posieís south, and added a delivery drive; safety was reduced when the LLc eliminated the curb-cut back. The protest car on the street isnít causing the problem.
"Webb House: Rowland "rescued" this house in '03 by moving it a few 100'." And since then, the Aurora Coalition has done everything possible to stymie resolution and let a perfectly nice couple by and restore this historic or at least old village home.
The Aurora Coalition, Inc. has taken no action whatsoever regarding Webb House. Our web site has collected and presented information of concern submitted by our members and supporters. Knowledge is a good thing, not a bad thing.
"Happyland" OK, EVERYONE looks bad in that!
Yes, especially the people who sold out our village to Rowland.
"Lake House: This modest apartment building provided affordable housing." It's an old carriage house, aka garage. Affordable COLLEGE housing. YOU aren't losing a darn thing.
A community loses economic diversity when affordable housing is eliminated, and a community loses integrity when people who work there canít afford to live there. The college housing was for college employees, not college students. But you know that, right? Youíre just pretending to be ignorant.
"Abbot House" It's across from the fire hall and next two and Peter's apartments -- how can that be zoned residential?
Invest $15 and buy a copy of the Village of Aurora Local Law #1 to Regulate Land Use (a.k.a our zoning code) and check the map. Abbott House is zoned residential and you clearly do not know what you are talking about.
"Dorie's: Struggling business created by Rowland to be owned and operated by cash-strapped Wells College as of 10/1." Cash strapped partly because of your work to destroy it?
This is getting beyond ridiculous. The Aurora Coalition, Inc. has nothing to do with the collegeís financial problems.
"Politics: All three incumbents won in March, but fully one third of those voting wanted a new voice on the Village Board." And fully two thirds DID NOT!
Yes, you can do the math. One third plus two thirds equals a whole. Good for you!
"Fargo: Most locals refuse to patronize the place." Huh. I've been there twice this year - packed both nights.
And how many locals were in that crowd? Not students, not LLC employees, but locals?
Will you ever be able to see how destructive you are?
Will you ever be able to see how blind and dangerously ill-informed you are?
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TAXPAYER, 9/16/06

[ROW, Lyon House, PO, & village streets]

An official notice now in the village kiosk mentions a plan to put a sidewalk along the ROW between Lyon House and the Presbyterian Church down to the lakefront. That will make it even clearer just how small the yard is for Lyon House.

Much of the deterioration of Cherry Ave and Court Street was caused by heavy construction equipment used in the Inn / Market demolition and reinvention. One wonders about fixing the roads now when more heavy equipment may be arriving soon for the P.O. demolition and recreation of the parking lot and Heary Building.

Also belatedly posted in the kiosk is a USPS official 30-day notice dated 9/1/06 advertising for a new P.O. location -- as though it were possible to adopt some plan other than Rowland's ultimatum.

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[Planning Board Meeting, 9/13/06]

What happened at the meeting - in regards to the Webb House debacle .... Koepp and the Places submitted what they called updated preliminary site plans for the "Webb House" project. There was no vote because they were not final plans.

The plans left me with a number of questions that I believe need to be addressed and resolved.

-- Is is unusual/appropriate/legal for the Zoning Officer, Doug Staley, to call only minutes before the meeting begins to say that he has ok'd the plans for the meeting? Isn't there a schedule to follow regarding submitting plans to a meeting?

-- The plans are illegible and difficult to comprehend, and contain errors. Would it not be better to have some time to review the plans before a meeting begins?

-- Will Wells College have to go through the process of submitting plans to the Zoning Officer, meeting with the CPP, and the Planning Board for the NEW driveway and curb cut at Lyon House (which Wells still owns) and the new grading (as indicated) in the back of Lyon House?

-- Has the DOT approved the new driveway's curb cut? Has the DOT approved the new stream/culvert location?

-- Can stream/culvert pipe be relocated within a 10 foot setback?

-- What will hold up the 8-10 feet of fill that the house would sit on? If a retaining wall, where is it? Can a retaining wall be built within a 10 foot setback?

-- Can elevation be changed at property line or within setback?

-- If Wells now (as Koepp announced) wants to sell Lyon House "to someone who will restore it", why have they let it rot for three years? And why don't Koepp and Place buy it as they intended to 3 years ago? Who will want to buy Lyon House and put a half million into restoring if it has a long shared driveway taking up much of the front yard within 12 feet of the front porch and when it has a tiny back yard with no lake frontage?

-- How in the world are they going to prop the house up under that walnut tree (as indicated in the plans?)

-- Does 12 feet on the south side give the house movers enough room for their equipment to maneuver the house into place? Should the village receive bonded assurance that this is possible before going ahead with an approval?

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RESPONSE to G.F. OP-ED, 9/11/06

[Farenthold's resume padding?]

The road to hell - especially fiscal hell - is paved with good intentions, sometimes by well meaning, and sometimes by not- so- well meaning politicians. Good intentions are not good enough.

Forgetting, for the moment, its advocate, this is an idea which does not stand on its own merit. I suppose it would be a nice thing for Aurora to have wireless internet - something to add to a tourist brochure perhaps. But as the other respondents have mentioned, it is an expensive frill for a municipality the size of Aurora. There are many other matters the village tax dollars should be allocated toward first. In addition, the users that want or need this service - Wells College, the Inn, Dories, and private individuals - already have it. Trustee Farenthold is not bringing anything to Aurora that does not exist there already. What possible benefit to the village can result from someone being able to get online while walking down the sidewalk? Why use the people's scarce tax money in that manner? Ridiculous.

Now, in considering its advocate, one would have to question the full spectrum of trustee Farenthold's motivation in championing this kind of project for Aurora. Misguided civic mindedness? A sincere desire to benefit his community? Perhaps. But given his apparent personal ambition, I think it not unlikely that he is trying to push this expense on to the backs of Aurora's taxpayers in order to add another bullet point to his politician's resume. The rumor exists that once Spitzer becomes governor, his wife (and George along with her) may be heading to Albany. There is no way to concretely verify such a scenario, but given Mr. Farenthold's activism with the Spitzer campaign I find it to be an utterly plausible one.

And although I do not want to delve too far into the subject, this critique would be less than complete if it did not at least mention the degree of suspicion extant within the community towards Pleasant Rowland and her appetite for control over the village. I have no way to confirm or to debunk the fears that she or her operatives would, or even could, find a way to abuse the privacy of the system's subscribers. But because I can find no practical benefit to a village wide wireless internet service otherwise, that is a risk, however real, I find not worth taking.

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[Comments on a public figure's recent essay]

Oh George, just shut up or better yet LEAVE.

Yeah, that's just what we all need...Pleasant, or her dupes with access to villager's email and netsurfing. It is common knowledge that they spy on people who dont fall in line. Imagine what access to people's internet activity would give them to work with.

Give it up George. So many people see you as a sleazy pathetic two faced shill, I doubt you will be able to get away with this. You'll have to think up another way to kiss Pleasant's ass.

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[A strange deal]

I was told that the LLC gets about $75,000 for the house - which means Pleasant gets her "house moving" money back. But the buyer has to have a mortgage to the tune of $200,000 before the LLC will sell to her.

The college is selling the property to Koop for $25,000 - though it is assessed for over $100,000. But, if she doesn't have Webb House situated on the property within half a year, she has to give the college $50,000.

This is one of the nuttiest things I've ever heard. How much could this property be worth if the project is actually completed?

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RESIDENT, 9/3/06

[Psychological disorder]

Very interesting insights from a 10 year old article about Rowland:
Changing The Face Of Girlhood In America
Pleasant Co. Dolls And Books Have Grown Wildly Popular In The Past Ten years, But Its Founder Remains An Enigma

...At the heart of the euphoniously named company -- conjuring visions of the pleasant company girls will find with their dolls and books (and sundry accessories) -- is Pleasant Rowland of the wealthiest and most powerful women Wisconsin.

Yet Rowland remains an enigima. A former television anchor, she rarely grants media interviews and refuses to allow herself to be photographed. Her marketing saavy has roots in a 1950s childhood spent at the feet of advertising gurus who created the Marlboro Man, yet she sees herself as a teacher first.

Admirers use words like "brilliant" and "a remarkable teacher and mentor" when describing her. She has donated millions to charities that enrich the lives of local children. But even supporters say she can be bullying in support of her causes. Said one city mover who has served on committees with her, "Pleasant, isn't."

Not everyone is a Pleasant fan. Jeanne Brady, a Penn State University education professor, has critiqued the class and race messages of American Girls dolls in children's literature magazines and in an upcoming book called Kinderculture. She said the 'histories' appeal to the anxieties of modern parents by white-washing history to a series of periods when well-dressed, middle-class girls could triumph over war, poverty and slavery in 50 pages or less.

"The Pleasant Company catalog does a brilliant job of creating nostalgia," Brady said. "Nostalgia is a psychological disorder. It denies the pain and the seamy side of life."
THAT'S IT! That's what we have here. Pathological nostalgia forced upon reality by an deranged billionaire.

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OLD AURORAN, 8/30/06

[Keep up the good work!]

Dear Aurora Coalition,

I grew up in Aurora but moved away after college in 1969. Both my parents worked at Wells, and I worked there summers...I don't get to Aurora very often. However, I did drive through recently, and noticed a lot of changes. I'll admit -- at first glance, things look better. (Although I did notice a house on stilts, and the deplorable condition of the yellow house -- Lyon house?), and the fact that you can barely see the lake anymore between the inn and the post office (I can't remember what was in the way).

When I heard about the Harper's Magazine novel "Happyland," I got on the Internet and started looking around. What I found out really shocked and saddened me. I read newspaper stories, looked at photos (before and after), and read whatever I could find on Pleasant Rowland's "vision" for Aurora. It sounds more like a hallucination. I can't believe they gutted the Aurora Inn, knocked down Clark's IGA, and kicked Jimmy Orman out of the Fargo (it was Mason's when I lived there, and it's one place in town I've never been. My father would've KILLED me!)

Even when I lived in Aurora, the college ran the town because everyone worked there... I'm surprised Ms. Roland hasn't demolished the horse barn, but I guess she hasn't gotten around to that end of town yet. I hope she doesn't turn the old pasture lot into a theme park.

I had no idea Aurora had so many buildings on the National Historic Register! When you're a kid, everything just looks "old" in a nice, familiar way. What a shame that so many buildings are being ruined instead of renovated to preserve their integrity.

I admire and support the work the Aurora Coalition is doing, but I know you must be frustrated and discouraged. I work for a newspaper in Pennsylvania...and I've attended lots of town meetings. I can only imagine what yours must be like with an ongoing controversy like this. Keep up the good work!

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[Definition of local]

The question of who was or was not an Aurora resident became an issue back in 2001 only because Nancy Gil ruled (illegally) to disallow comments in public hearings from people who lived outside the village limits. That ruling held as long as the speakers were critics of the Pleasant Regime. Then she turned around and allowed certain people from "outside" to speak -- at great length -- in favor of the Pleasant Projects. We maintain that the "public" includes anyone who wishes to speak, but that on fiscal and property issues the opinions of resident taxpayers should carry more weight with our village boards than those of non-residents. (And, to be perfectly clear, resident taxpayers include all renters who pay village taxes indirectly through their rent.)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~



Anon is right about one thing -- that is the nature of a closed community. Community is rare anywhere in America anymore but it does still exist in Aurora and environs. Trouble is, it remains intact by being closed. You must be born here, and your parents too, and better if also your grandparents or you will never be a local in the eyes of the locals -- always an outsider...Sit with a group of locals and they tell each other stories about people they know, establishing bonds of shared history -- "You remember old so-and-so? He used to work with my dad and he lived up there in Poplar Ridge, next house from your cousin? I remember in 1954, a bad year for crops,..." It's a form of oral history, and it bonds the storyteller to his/her audience who share the same history, but it also effectively excludes anyone who doesn't know these people and who wasn't here back when their folks were sharing their stories. I don't think anyone does it consciously to exclude others, but it very effectively seals off the inner circle from any "late comers"...

There are plenty of people down in the Village who THINK they are locals, but if you get out into the countryside, you'll find out pretty fast how the "true" locals view these upstarts who weren't born and bred here... "Real" locals depend on how long your family has lived here, not if you are a mile outside the Village limits or not.

That said, there are lots of kind and friendly people as well, many of them "latecomers" of 30 or 40 years themselves, and a person can find a place in this outer ring of the community...

Now things are even more polarized -- but don't blame the people who are trying to protect their own. At least these "latecomers" are trying to be a part of the community, even if it is a hopeless case to ever break into the "truly" local circles...but at least these folks are trying to make a home here and be part of something special. Pleasant is none of that. This is a game for her, an arrogant rich woman's toy village, where she can play with people's lives, exert her WILL over real people's lives, and -- worst of all -- turn neighbor against neighbor. This level of antagonism between people would not have come about if she had stayed out of our local affairs...

Aurora has always had its seperate circles -- co-existing communities with little overlap or crossover -- college people and locals and old money people -- three rings, each unto itself, in an uneasy balance for generations... And it has all been tossed in the air and scrambled and made ugly by a TRUE outsider with no respect for the order established organically, naturally, by those who actually live here.

Angels and Insects -- yes, to a degree, but there was much goodness and kindness between neighbors, a respecting of the circles which worked, until that bulldozer came barging in thrusting her selfish whims on other peopls's lives.

Glad to hear you have found a place which seems better. In time you'll learn it has an ugly underbelly too -- every community does. It's just a matter of finding your own focus on the good things and loving a place, warts and all, the way one must when love is real.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

ANON, 8/24/06

[Reasons for move]

Response to Taxpayer 7/22/06: I'm gone, hence the late reply. To answer your questions: Afraid -- or disinclined to be --accosted/stalked on the street ...and screamed and sworn at. Or snubbed for only being a villager for half my life instead of all when I pick up my mail at the PO. Or told that I will never understand Aurora as I wasn't birthed there.(How may of you were? What DOES it take?? I volunteered, I gave money, I paid taxes....)Yes, tourism makes places livelier. My new town has the works. And its fair share of controversy. But you folks are simply poisonous. Ever read Angels and Insects? Instead of Happyland, give it a try. Good luck, good health, and good fortune, sincerely meant.

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[International support]

Hi there -- Your cause was brought to light to me by the 'Happyland' serial in Harper's magazine. I simply wanted to write in order to express my support with your cause; I really hope you can stop this corporate over of your town. Best of luck...

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[You asked for it, and now it's here]

In response to many polite requests, we've upgraded and expanded the website. It should no longer shut down several times a week with viewership regularly exceeding our transfer limits. We'll have more room for photos, .pdf files, and other enhancements. And the annoying yahoo advertisements have been eliminated (except on the guestbook, which we can't alter - sorry).

Of course, this costs money. Not a lot, but the fees do add up. We still have our checking account and our PO box. Should you wish to support our ongoing internet presence, please make out a modest check to the Aurora Coalition, Inc. and send it to PO Box 334 Aurora NY 13026. Or, if you want to contribute anonymously, a little cash in an envelope works, too. Thanks!

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NEARBY, 8/8/06

[New book a bother to PTR?]

PTR will not like this -- remember, she tried to get a reporter fired who wrote a piece that was "98% laudatory" just because the article (see page 11) quoted one critic who said: pleasant, isn't.

and a few years ago she was seen confronting the president of the national trust for historic preservation at a mayor's conference in madison, marching up to him in a reception and demanding to know why she was being persecuted and shoving into his hands a stack of photos of *her* wonderful aurora inn (perverted beyond any historic reality) -- all because of a mild-mannered feature in preservation magazine.

this new happyland story in harper's magazine is not mild. let's hope it gets lots of publicity, appears soon as a book, gets many reviews, and is made into a major motion picture.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


[More ROW questions]

Orchard Lane and Woods End were private roads built by the college for its houses on land college land. As some of those houses were sold off to private owners, I believe the status of those roads changed somehow. Anyone know the story? Are they now owned by vilage or college or residents? Don't know about Burhnam or E. Morgan Lanes.

I, too, have heard about a ROW alongside of Abbots, and some sort of problematic property issue (ROW?) between Attillio and George Peter. The road to the RR station must have been public at some time. If it still is, there should not be a private dock at the end of it.

Getting this ROW info shouldn't require a new survey. KAH is right, tax maps are available in county, town, and village offices. Don't they include ROWs?

Getting these ROWs upheld is another matter. I believe the LLC lawyers tried to claim the ROWs they took were private and not public. I remember they advertised for (non-existent) descendants of various heirs to come forward claim the ROWs before construction began. But surely that ROW to old mill was a public road and belonged to our community. But if our village officials won't stand up for our rights...

I think you're on to something, New Anonymous, and hope you will pursue this matter further.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


[More thoughts on ROWs]

You know our village officials should step up to plate and give the residents a view of ALL the R.O.W's that can be found within the village proper. And stop the BS that some can not be used! We do pay for them and the use of them. And we do pay for the elected offices. They work for us. Do we have to do a full survey of the village to see what has been hidden over the years?

You can not just get rid of a R.O.W can you? I would really like to know of where they all are. I have been told there is one that used to go right through the old Abbott house drive from Sherwood Rd. to the lake. But let�s keep that hush, hush if it is true.

What about Burnham Lane? What about the drive that was used to go to the old RR Depot? What about the private lane north of Orchard Lane? (For what for whom) What about Wood End, E.Morgan Lane, and Orchard Lane Where are all the rest? I would say there is some good Qs here. I think we need as I said before a FULL SURVERY of the Village of Aurora. Taxpayers what do you think?!?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

TAXPAYER, 8/3/06

[Right of Way info]

Some information on rights of way in the village, in response to comments on the MessageBoard...

Former Mayor Joy Humes saw that metal park benches were placed on the shore at several points to mark where there is a ROW from Main Street to the lake: north of Lyon House, north of St. Pat's, and opposite Lafayette Street. There are several other unmarked village ROWs to the lake.

I don't think the village could pave over a ROW without the agreement of the adjacent property owners. But those adjacent property owneres may not obstruct the ROW. (There were problems a while ago with Doug Bates doing just that..)

Original plans for the Inn/Market promised a new ROW to the park from the existing parking lot, to provide access for emergency vehicles and to replace the historic ROW the new market was built on. That promise was broken.

Then the village got an agreement that the LLC would improve the ROW north of the Inn to give that same necessary access to the park (hence the curb cut on Main Street at that point). However, it appears that the LCC now illegally prohibits use of that ROW except with special prior permission and only to mow the grass at the park. Sort of undermines the purpose of *emergency* access when you have to make an appointment to use it!

BTW, regardless of any weddings that may be scheduled, we can't have AuroraFest in our park any more because apparently we can't get emergency vehicles to our park.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

AVM, 7/28/06

[Mt. Kisco Reminder - links added]

Pleasant is a predator and a control-freak, who officially learned how to "dominate" and impose her will on others through the Hoffman Institute. But the village of Aurora is also to blame. Wells and all the "important" people were so flattered by the attention, and her seeming interest in their little town that they blindly believed her sappy story about her affection for her years at Wells, and her fondness for Aurora, even though she had not been back sincee she graduated, nor had anything to do with Well or Aurora until she decided they would be her next "victim".

She had already tried to pick a victim to totally control but failed. As you might know, she tried very hard to buy a prominent, historic mansion in Mt. Kisco, but was rebuffed by the planning board and they refused to allow her to turn it into a museum/commercial enterprise for one of her American Girl dolls (It was to be known as "Samantha's House.") But these were NYC types she was dealing with in Mt. Kisco, maybe a little too sophisticated to fall for her con game. So she zeroed in on a more vulnerable victim, the village of Aurora. Just perfect! A small, financially-struggling college in an economically depressed area. She knew that people here would enjoy the attention from a famous millionaire, and would welcome her generous gifts and donations with open arms.

Pleasant fits the classic predator profile - dazzling and beguiling at first, tempting their victim with goodies and false promises, and then...WHAM! The phony veneer is dropped, and the victim sees the real individual - treacherous, bullying, and powerful. Most of all - powerful. There's nothing you can do now, Aurora, but wait it out, and just hope she gets tired of it all (or tired of pouring money into it) and moves on to her next conquest.

AVM, 7/28/06

[Mt. Kisco Reminder - links added]

Pleasant is a predator and a control-freak, who officially learned how to "dominate" and impose her will on others through the Hoffman Institute. But the village of Aurora is also to blame. Wells and all the "important" people were so flattered by the attention, and her seeming interest in their little town that they blindly believed her sappy story about her affection for her years at Wells, and her fondness for Aurora, even though she had not been back sincee she graduated, nor had anything to do with Well or Aurora until she decided they would be her next "victim".

She had already tried to pick a victim to totally control but failed. As you might know, she tried very hard to buy a prominent, historic mansion in Mt. Kisco, but was rebuffed by the planning board and they refused to allow her to turn it into a museum/commercial enterprise for one of her American Girl dolls (It was to be known as "Samantha's House.") But these were NYC types she was dealing with in Mt. Kisco, maybe a little too sophisticated to fall for her con game. So she zeroed in on a more vulnerable victim, the village of Aurora. Just perfect! A small, financially-struggling college in an economically depressed area. She knew that people here would enjoy the attention from a famous millionaire, and would welcome her generous gifts and donations with open arms.

Pleasant fits the classic predator profile - dazzling and beguiling at first, tempting their victim with goodies and false promises, and then...WHAM! The phony veneer is dropped, and the victim sees the real individual - treacherous, bullying, and powerful. Most of all - powerful. There's nothing you can do now, Aurora, but wait it out, and just hope she gets tired of it all (or tired of pouring money into it) and moves on to her next conquest.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

SIA, 7/24/06

[Will civil debate be possible?]

To Anon: ...once again you claim you're leaving Aurora because of "the nay-sayers"... etc. (which to my ears still sounds like play-acting). But you already said that, so why repeat it? Why should you care if I or anyone else believes you, particularly in an exchange where both parties are hiding behind aliases?

Next, you refer to "the small-mindedness of the 'we were fine dead and dying crowd'"... and since here you're once again taking a potshot at those of us who are opposed to the Foundation, I'm only too glad to fire one back at you: NO ONE says that Aurora was "fine" as it was. For you to say this only proves that you and people like you are the ones who *just don't listen.* Now in point of fact, I don't believe Aurora was "dead" or "dying" before Pleasant Rowland came along. No more so than any other community in upstate New York. Of course ALL of upstate has suffered, the same as the entire Northeast, from the loss of industry... but people like you always seem to be hinting at more; you seem to be saying, that is, that Aurora was in some *special* peril, which I see no evidence for.

But let's leave that debate aside and go back to the point I was making: no one that I know of is or was opposed to development. That would be silly. What we're opposed to is the KIND of development that Pleasant Rowland brought to Aurora. And we're opposed to this idea that she is some kind of philanthropist, rather than a developer. It is the WAY Pleasant Rowland did things that we are opposed to, not the notion of development per se.

Get it right, and some of the rancor may subside. But I highly doubt you or anyone on your side will EVER get it right, because it's clearly apparent from listening to the rhetoric from the pro-Pleasant camp that none of you care to listen or understand. And this is what makes your next statement so odious to me. You say, "...I can't have a conversation or REASONABLE debate with any one of you. I'd be willing to concede some points if you ever even tried to listen to mine." Now you tell me "Anon"---just whom have you tried to have these supposed conversations with? I know of no one who is opposed to the Foundation who hasn't at least been willing to listen and deal fairly with you people. As I've made clear time and again, it has not been WE who have dealt out histrionics and threats and intimidation, but rather those people who are so enamored with Pleasant Rowland that they won't even *consider* the opinions of those who don't like what she's done. And in fact such people have made it clear that they have no interest in reasonable, rational exchanges by their childish behavior at public meetings: booing and heckling when ANYONE has spoken out against the Foundation, and otherwise attempting to shout down dissent. Now, if you're not one of those people who have behaved thusly, that's great. But I can proudly say that NEVER have I know anyone on *our* side of the fence who has behaved in such a fashion.

So I just don't buy this nonsense that you've found it impossible to have reasonable conversations with us. Yes, if you're going to stand up in support of that woman and her foundation then you'd best be prepared to debate matters with those who don't agree with you. But just because someone disagrees with you, that doesn't make them "unreasonable" or unwilling to listen. Stop acting so shocked that you're encountering "nay-saying" and start accepting that others have a right to disagree with you, and we all might get somewhere.

And then tell me, please, just what points you'd be "willing to concede." Because if you ARE in fact willing to concede points, then go ahead and concede them. There's nothing stopping you. I have always conceded that the Aurora Inn open for business is better than the Aurora Inn closed, for example. But go any further and I have my opinions on things. I have a right to my opinions. Remember that, and the rhetoric in our community might start to resemble something more like neighbors talking it out rather than enemies taking potshots at each other.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

AURORAN, 7/23/06

[Would village wireless internet be secure?]

On-line discussion of Trustee George Farenthold's idea for public broadband wireless access in Aurora raised important questions about individual internet security in such a system. An answer appearing on the Citzen's webpage pasted below.
"Can an e-mail server administrator read all the e-mails going through the server? Answer: Possibly. A lot depends on how the system is set up, but more depends on the integrity of the administrator. A systems administrator has to have "super user" privileges -- i.e. has to be able to get into every part of the system in order to keep it running...And, yes, every piece of mail passes through that server on its way to the destination computer.

If the end user accesses his/her e-mail via a program like MS Outlook Express, the mail is downloaded off the server onto the user's machine, then deleted off the server -- which is safer for the end user and means less overhead for the administrator (who doesn't have to provide a lot of storage space for each user's mail). Your mail is only on the server from the time it arrives until you download it, then it is gone. [We're told it could be saved by the server administration prior to its download - Ed.] However, if the end user accesses his/her e-mail via webmail, then the mail is stored on that server all the time. While the usual scenario is that the individual end users have their own passwords, sometimes the sys admin keeps a file of those passwords (in case the user needs help), sometimes not, but in either case, there's a backdoor way the admin can get into the mail.

In an ethically run system, the system administration just doesn't do that without it being utterly necessary and usually only when the user is aware of it -- may even have requested assistance. But it would be nothing for an unethical sys admin to get into people's mail.

I know I have had to talk to the sys admin at my Internet Service Provider and that they know my password without my telling it to them -- we've worked together to solve problems that way a few times. But I TRUST them not to look at my mail -- in that case, the volume is so much I am sure they don't have time -- or interest -- to be reading everyone's mail.

But, in Aurora, with its limited user base and with certain parties I most definitely would NOT trust not to read the mail, particularly of certain individuals -- that is just one of many potential problems.

The other big security problem with wireless in general is that it is floating in the air...and can't be physically secured. If people take the time to turn on encryption and other security features, there is some measure of security, though it will slow down transmission speeds... With just about $200-$300 in hardware, and decryption/hacking software downloaded off the internet, a person could drive around... and hack into systems in nearby buildings. Amazing numbers of businesses had all kinds of sensitive info stolen this way -- because basically wireless is just not secure by nature. And those are just two of the network security issues with this whole proposal -- there are many more..."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

HA!, 7/23/06

[Is this any way to run a pizza joint?]

"A few badly run eateries" is too kind! Its a hot summer Friday night and you roll into town about 8:45. Its been a long day and you and the van full of kids want some pizza and you know that is one of the things that Pleasant Rowland promised - good pizza.

But on a Friday night in summer, the peak of the tourist season (even if she doesn't care about the people who acutally live here) she has the pizza place shutting down at 9pm! And if you ask them to make you a pizza at 8:45 they say NO, because they are shutting at 9pm. Sunday nights are worse. You can't get a pizza after 8:30 even at the busiest time of year here. Anon, that's good enough reason to leave!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

TAXPAYER, 7/22/06

[One last question, or three]

Dear Anon: Before you go, in the interest of promoting reasonable debate, could you please clarify three of your points? I really want to try to understand your position, even though I may not agree with it.

On the Citizen website, I believe you posted: "The divisive nature of the nay-sayers has caused antipathy and fear of THEIR reprisal, no one else's."

I can understand you finding the Pleasant Opponents annoying because you disagree, but how could we instill any fear of any reprisals in anyone? Reprisals of what nature, executed how and against whom? We are not employers in the village, so what, exactly, do you fear? Have you cause to fear losing your job, your health insurance, your pension or your housing because of your views? Many of us do.

I am curious: have you attended public meetings in Aurora and witnessed the vicious personal attacks by the Pleasant Promoters? We have been addressed this way for years in official venues where free speech is supposed to be respected, not denied. Have you been savaged or silenced in public for your Pleasant Support? If so, tell us, please, at which meeting and on what date.

You also stated that Aurora is "now a beautiful, lively attraction for all" and that it was brought "back from the brink of extinction." Do you believe that tourists make a place lively? Does the village have no life of its own? Does Aurora not exist for you unless it is visited, experienced and admired by outsiders? Or perhaps it was nearly extinct, in your opinion, due to a typical small-town lack of dining establishments. Because that�s been the primary transformation here: we now have a few badly run eateries which operate in the red, cater to transients, cut way back or close for the winter, and employ almost no locals. If the close proximity of cafes, pizzerias and restaurants -- however unsuccessful -- is necessary for you to maintain a satisfactory quality of life, perhaps it is best not to reside in a village of a few hundred souls.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

ANON, 7/21/06

[So long, farewell]

To SIA: One last comment - I'm leaving Aurora because of the nay-sayers, the small-mindedness of the "we were fine dead and dying crowd" and because I can't have a conversation or REASONABLE debate with any one of you. I'd be willing to concede some points if you ever even tried to listen to mine. BTW - no acting experience here. Just another one of your assumptions?

[Apparently, this is a continuation of the exchange between Anon and S.I.A. posted on the Citizen's comment page in response to a published letter to the editor.]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

KAH, 7/15/06

[AuroraFest 2]

I�ve spoken further with Tudy and Rose -- who took the call from one of the first float defectors -- and yes, some defectors said the word "memo" in the context of saying that the mayor somehow or other discouraged their participation.

But in light of the mayor's disclaimer below, I�m guessing now that perhaps the "memo" wasn�t something new -- as I incorrectly implied on the Guest Book, sorry -- but a reference to the letter from village lawyer Andy Fusco forwarded last September(?) by Mayor Gunderson to all elected and appointed board members.

Some of you will recall Trustee George Farenthold's highly inappropriate opinion piece published in the Syracuse paper last August. It is my understanding that the uproar which followed prompted Fusco to issue this letter regarding inappropriate behavior by public officials. If I recall correctly, the gist of the letter was that village officials should not issue advance opinions about matters coming before their boards for approval.

It seems farfetched that anyone could link Tudy's mildly satiric floats to any issue coming before the CPP, PB, ZBA, or VB, but in a community where leaders, employers, and "spokespersons" vigorously suppress discussion and dissent, maybe it is inevitable that self-censorship arises and claims humor as its first victim.

The "chilling effect" -- when free speech is not exercised for fear of retribution -- is said to be as great a threat to democracy as overt official censorship. Perhaps it is even more dangerous because, as we've experienced here, it is less easy to identify, confront, and oppose.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

VILLAGER, 7/14/06

[Mayor's Parade Comments]

As a parade watcher on 7/8/06 in front of the Library, I feel that it is important to let the readers know of the rude remark that was made by the Mayor to the riders of Tudy's float. He deliberately had the float stopped, so all could see who was on it. Then using the PA system, he remarked that it was about time the troublemakers had their mouths taped shut. I think he owes the riders an apology.

If he didn't 'stir up the pot' someone has using his position. It would be interesting to hear from those riders who bailed out of the float: what they know???

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~



I have read Mayor Gunderson's "advisory" of July 10th sent to the village trustees and chairs of the village boards.

Since he (indirectly) denies that he in any way advised these persons or their board members not to participate in Tudy Kenyon's Aurorafest float, I regret that I charged him with doing so before checking more thoroughly, and I apologize for that.

On Saturday morning, the day of the Aurorafest, I was called by Tudy, who was in a very distressed state, and was informed by her that several persons who had agreed to participate in her float had backed out at the last minute, thereby jeopardizing her participation in the Aurorafest parade for the first time in 30-odd years.

A reason given for this unusual behaviour was that village "officials" had been directed by the mayor, verbally or in a memo, not to participate in "controversial" public activities such as Tudy's float.

Given the recent history of our village, it would not require a great stretch of the imagination to accept that this might very well be the mayor's position. Thus Tudy -- and I -- accepted this explanation at face value, as did the remaining float participants, apparently, who changed the whole nature of their presentation by appearing gagged, as a demonstration against what they considered a curtailment of their freedom of speech.

In my first and only posting to the Guest Book, made soon after speaking with Tudy, I did not intend to "stir the pot," as Mayor Gunderson says, but to notify my neighbors of what I perceived to be an injustice and perhaps turn out a few brave souls to help Tudy with her float at the eleventh hour.

One of the original purposes of the Aurorafest was to celebrate the foundations of our system of governance which is based on free speech. Increasingly, it seems to me that this important, fundamental freedom is at risk of disappearing in our village. If nothing else, I hope this incident -- and Tudy's eloquent revised float -- will remind us all of the need to support and maintain this basic right.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Administrators, 7/13/06

[Mayor's Disclaimer - in his own words]

We have received this now from several sources, and think it only fair to post it. It was emailed by the Mayor Gunderson early Monday morning, July 10, to all four Village Trustees, CPP Chair Ayers, ZBA Chair Bennett, former PB Chair Gil, and our Village Clerk.

" Subject: Mayor's Advisory

I am as much amused as I am bothered to some extent having been told this morning that I issued a directive of sorts to all village appointed boards that no one was to participate or ride on floats that were in the Aurorafest Parade. If any of you hear that garbage consider it someone's attempt to stir the pot. If any of you know of any board member who may have voiced this directive to others please ask that person to contact me as I certainly want to clear that mis conception up right away.

If you all recall the only issue I have warned everyone about is the siging of petitions or voicing opinions on matters that may come before your individual boards as to do so could compromise ones ability to make an unbiased opinion when such matters come before your board for a vote. I receive that advice from Andy Fusco a couple of years back and shared it with everyone at the time.

Tom G "

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Editors, 7/11/06

[What Aurora's lost since the pleasant invasion]

OK, guys, we've been flooded with messages about everything we've lost. We've consolidated this list -- in no particular order -- which can be considered open ended and ongoing.

LOST: self-determination, rule of law, democratic process, locally owned businesses, a comfortable and friendly local bar, representative government, responsible government, a good 20% of our village parking lot, a safe two-way entrance and exit for the parking lot, the curb-cut in front of the Inn and Market making the parking lot safe to use, traffic safety in general, peace and quiet for half the year, a fun & happy place for kids to hang out (Mack's), a place to have a quiet grown-up drink (the bar at the inn), friendly service (the Vanderipe Market), a nice and sensible gift shop (Debbie's), affordable meals and treats in the village, common courtesy in public meetings, community identity, community privacy, The Real Aurora Inn, the interior of our Old School (from a former pupil!), the true face of The Fargo building, the original hand-hewn craftsmanship of 19th century buildings, our historic heritage, irreplaceable authentic historic architecture, opportunities for independent entrepreneurs, respect for differing opinions, a sense of the common good, honest value for money, low tax assessments, the splendid interior woodwork and design features of French House, safe and convenient handicapped accessibility to our Post Office (soon?), common sense, our ability to work together, our collective memory of pre-pleasant community cooperation and accomplishment; and the American Freedoms of speech, expression, association, and assembly.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

S.I.A., 7/10/06

[Will we be punished for being unhappy?]

Noooooo, "Ivan" is *dead wrong*. "Unimaginative theories?" What "theories" might these be? It requires no wild conspiracy theory to see what's going on in Aurora. Stop pretending, "Ivan" and "Amen." It's amusing, sometimes, to see how deep in denial people like you are... but mostly it's just sickening. Oh, and "Amen": are you ACTUALLY implying that people SHOULD lose friends and be avoided just because they don't support Pleasant Rowland and the way some of this village kow-tows to her? ARE you actually saying that? Do you ever listen to yourself?

YES, losing friendships means something to US. Apparently not to you. But yes, we feel we HAVE lost more. Much more. But the likes of you never listen so there's absolutely no point in trying to illustrate for you what we've lost. And NO, we *haven't* gained anything. You tell me what we've gained. Name one thing. Jobs? Very, very few of the people working for the Foundation are locals. A "revitalized" village? Not one business controlled by the Foundation caters to locals.

The business strategy for the Inn, in fact, is not only to ignore locals but to keep them away. The Foundation doesn't want local business... this is not some "theory" but is absolute fact, and there have been many people who were TOLD so in no uncertain terms. [What�1⁄2s been] gained... except having our village taken over by a developer who doesn't care a damn about us. Oh, and yes, "Amen"... I've been happy many times in my life. But you know what? ...I have a right to be unhappy. I would have been very pleased to have someone come in to Aurora who could *properly* develop business here in an *appropriate* way. But the actions and attitude of the Foundation have been neither proper nor appropriate. There are those of us who did not want and do not want Aurora warped to fit Rowland's vision of what it "should" look and feel like. You obviously can't understand this though, so there seems little point in trying to further explain it.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

KARIN W., 7/10/06

[Yup, they're out to getcha]

As the saying goes: Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean there isn't someone following you... Have we/they gained anything? Yes -- the courage of our convictions, the knowledge that we are not yet bought and sold, the hope, however slim when going up against a fiscal Goliath, that we may gain some ground, preserve something worth saving, or at least have the satisfaction of exposing the hypocrisy and other ugly traits just beneath the false veneer of HappyLandPrettyAurora. Only full daylight exposure will kill off those pervasive pleasant germs...

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A LOCAL, 7/10/06

You are RIGHT. "Go Ivan" -- as in away!!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

AMEN, 7/9/06

[Yadda yadda]

Ivan is right! Ask yourselves: are people avoiding you? Have you lost friends? Have you really lost anything else? Have you really gained nothing? Have any of you really been happy with anything ever? Go Ivan!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


[And what's he been drinking?]

Hey Ivan, always a treat to hear the ever-pleasant voice of the Hoffman-ized! So, should we expect to find dead rats on our doorsteps soon? Or maybe some baby seals? Anyway, it's good to know that they serve shit in the beer at the "new" Fargo. I thought as much! All the more reason for locals to boycott. Thanks for the heads-up, Ivan. (Or should I say Virgil?)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A LOCAL, 7/9/06

[Ivan who?]

This is for Ivan of 7/8/06: Maybe we are but my guess is you do not even live in the village. And really have no say. The same as with Jacci F. But thank you for your comment anyway.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


[The true spirit of AuroraFest 2006?]

You are all paranoid nuts! Creating conspiracies with unimaginative theories. Depleted protoplasm! When the fine folks at the Fargo finish their pints you are the dregs left in the glass, the leftover mess stuck to David Kauber cooler. You have so much energy why not put it to good use? You might be able to save a couple baby seals or maybe even a whale.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

TAXPAYER, 7/7/06

[Who benefits?]

A point that S.I.A. makes below needs emphasis, as it may be the first time it has been raised here. Several years into this evil social experiment, ALL of Pleasant's support now comes from comparatively wealthy residents sharing her vision of Aurora as a totally exclusive, micro-managed faux-village, not a real, functional, diverse community.

By and large, the working people of modest means she said she wanted to "help" now recognize the monster in their midst. Good jobs have not materialized, local busniesses have been destroyed, affordable services have been lost, community identity has been suppressed, and property taxes will rise dramatically. The Pleasant Project is not economic development; it is economic exploitation. The "little people" will not benefit, their position in the community will be utterly destroyed. Somehow, that story needs to get out to a larger public...

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

JMC, 6/30/06

[You can't go home again, if it's Aurora]

The town of Aurora doesn't have the flavor it once had. I was raised in this town and I love it, but now it's hard for me to come back. Pleasant raped the town of it's personality. I was home one year ago this weekend. I had a blast with my friends, but it wasn't the same. Point being, Pleasant will never know, nor will any Wells student know the true meaning of Aurora. You know what I mean!!! - Peace, from FL

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

THE OLD DAYS, 6/30/06

[New Fargo same as old?]

Sounds like the Fargo is exactly like the old days. Wild partying, drunk girls and boys -- and men and women, illicit activities, a little s & m and a few hook-ups out back. So what's the problem?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


[Our home]

Our home was designed to suit our wishes and to meet the needs of a large and active family; it was sited as we wanted it to be sited and we complied with all setbacks and zoning laws. The house required no variances. We worked with the village boards for 8 months - we repeatedly submitted detailed, sealed, architectural drawings for the boards to exam before we received the permits to go forward with our project. We readily and cheerfully complied with changes requested by the village boards.

"But some board must have said OK" .....Yes, the Aurora Planning Board and the Community Preservation Panel both gave their approval - three years ago. We did not need the ZBA because - as I said - we did not need any variances for our lot appropriate, perfectly legal house.

We think it is attractive and are very happy with it. No, we do not hear the big trucks going by. OK! Whose home shall we publicly denigrate next?! ...but wait....isn't that bad manners? I think that the topic of our home is a red herring intended to distract people from the larger, more important issues confronting this village.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

S.I.A., 6/28/06

[Response to Citizen letter]

I am DEEPLY offended that George Peter thinks he has the right to claim that he speaks for Aurora or even for a majority of Aurora's citizens (which he has done in a recent letter to the editor in the Citizen). Of course this is a typical tactic of those who don't have the truth or rightness on their side (and know it)... they pretend to be the spokespeople for the "majority" so that they can dismiss dissenters... If anything, the opposite is true; experience is showing me that there are many people in Aurora (and even more outside of it) who are silent, but are against the Foundation. The sad thing is, they (like myself) remain publicly silent--not speaking out--for fear that they might lose their job or in some other way face the retribution of Wells College or the Foundation. Or simply that they might lose friends.

And that's one of the saddest things about Pleasant Rowland's takeover of Aurora; that it's driven wedges between neighbors and friends, or brought out minor animosities between people who otherwise would have remained cordial, even if they didn't particularly like each other, and blown these up into genuine hatreds. And lest anyone think this is an exaggeration... believe me, I've heard stories (that unfortunately I can't share for reasons of privacy) that would seem unbelievable but are totally true; stories of old friendships broken up because people found themselves on opposite sides of the Pleasant Question. Worst of all, it's those who are FOR the Foundation and Pleasant who are ending friendships; the great sadness there being that they seem to place more worth in worshiping Pleasant Rowland than in maintaining ties with neighbors that they've had for years, if not their whole lives. That goes beyond sadness, into sickening territory.

That they can't see it is most sickening of all. But why can't people like this see it? Why the fork-tongued talk from someone like George Peter? (Who decries the rancor and disagreement in Aurora and in the same breath insults, dismisses, or attacks those who disagree with him). Because the simple truth is, these are people for whom "status" means more than friendship. These are people who want to live in a phony dream-village, like some grown-up's vision of a Barbie house... of gray-sameness candy-coated over catalog-picture-perfect phoniness. They think this is the way life should look; they are the people who probably long to live in gated communities, ...who continually make the error of thinking that wealth is what defines value. I'm a native here but have lived in other places in my life--but I always had a fondness for Aurora. This fondness is fading and turning to great distaste and dislike... not for Aurora itself but for the people in it, because so many of them are so willing to kiss the ass of a controlling dictator simply because she's rich and can make their class-conscious dreams come true, and because this rabid desire of theirs to live in such a sick atmosphere is more important to them than friendships, the beauty of old buildings, the sense of community, and all the other things that matter about human life.

Take note that, for all the supposed economic benefit which they claim Pleasant has brought to Aurora (actually I see no evidence of any such benefit) it's these people who do NOT work for her and do not HAVE to work for her (because they are people of means) that so rabidly support her, who slaver about the alleged "help" she brings to our village... one would think that if she brought such benefit to Aurora that those of us of more modest means would be all for her. But those of us who don't care about living in a doll-village--or who are openly hostile to the idea--are the ones against her... and in large part we are the ones of modest means who, by George Peter's logic, ought to be all for her... because after all, she's here to "help." But of course we know a lie when we hear one and know a snake when we see one. DESERVING, 6/17/06

[On-line video an insult]

There are people in Aurora who object to Nancy Gil's assertion on the official village website that we are "undeserving" of Pleasant Rowland's so-called beneficence.

We ARE deserving :

Deserving of a community that is created by the people who live in it - instead of the dictates of a central authority located half the country away.... Deserving of an objective, respectful, uncompromised and unintimidated local government.... Deserving of local business establishments designed to meet the needs and wishes of the people who live here.... Deserving of privacy, and the right to dissent or disagree without fear of retribution - economic, social, or otherwise.... Deserving of a community that is not torn apart by the ego and demands of a person who has no use for the people who live in it (unless they serve her purpose)....

To think that our taxes pay for a site that allows Nancy Gil to insult us as "undeserving."

It sounds like Gil has sold her soul for a couple of restaurants.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


[But sometimes it needs help]

Could someone out there please - please - please adopt S.I.A. as a ghost-writer (if s/he will agree) and submit a modified version of the essay below as a letter to the Cayuga Edition of the Post-Standard?

What "Scared Into Anonymity" says, but apparently can't submit to the papers for fear of retaliation from the college, really needs to be brought out to a wider audience. Locals have stopped me on the street since the Gil interview: "Oh my," they say, "was Nancy in Rowland's pocket all along? Why is she so defensive now?," etc. The truth is just beginning to hit them (yes - duh!), but it could use a good shove -- well expressed and in print.

(No, I'm not the one to do it. After umpty-ump letters and op-ed pieces about this mess in both papers over the last 5+ years, everyone -- myself included -- when seeing my name in print thinks: enough's enough.)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

SIA, 6/15/06

[The truth will out]

...Nancy Gil now gives full and clear confirmation of what her personal agenda was all along; she was a Rowland shill... In the [Post Standard] interview she complains: "It's gotten hard with so many people coming in and saying, 'New York law says this,' . . . ." Poor baby. Yeah, that's the point, madam. The governing boards of Aurora have ignored, flouted, and bent the law to give every consideration to every whim brought to them by not just the Foundation but to practically everyone who comes before them---unless of course they don't like the person begging a favor. (I do not say any of this based on any personal grievance; I've yet to have cause to appear before any Aurora board to ask for anything for myself).

It's true that in *every* town it's who you know--but in Aurora it goes beyond that. This village is and has been run utterly without consistency, without respect for the rule of law, and with an ineptitude that only a bunch of self-important academics and snobs could be capable of. Yes Mrs. Gil, OF COURSE people have brought to your attention, repeatedly, that New York Law says this and that... because obviously few in Aurora's government have cared the slightest what New York Law says, or have thought it necessary to make themselves cognizant of it... so rabid were they for Pleasant Rowland's takeover of Aurora.

Gil was repeatedly rude-mannered towards speakers at meetings and all too clearly contemptuous of opinions that challenged the Foundation "vision" for the village. More: Gil says: "The renovation, revitalization, rebirth...would never have happened without her (Pleasant)... And, boy, she went first class." Hardly "first class" madam. I see it, rather, as "so phoney it borders on vulgar." The Inn has been turned into a shallow yuppified shell of what it once was. The only plus about the Inn today is that it's open... But it's no longer the Aurora Inn. It's a fake now.

She was then asked if she was concerned about the village losing its character. This is the most offensive statement of all: "No, not at all. People have grumbled about the changes, but everything has been for the good." IN YOUR OPINION lady. Not in MINE. Not in the opinion of a LOT of people who grew up here, live here, who have long-standing ties to this village. I don't expect all board members to be 100% objective--they're human. But if you sit on a board you ought to get to realize that many questions have two sides, that rarely does any one side have a hold on the truth. And as an "academic" she should know that....She blithely passes judgment that everything has been "for the good." Not only disingenuous, but stupid to boot.

We should expect nothing less from a woman who always seemed impatient about the democratic process and ran meetings with an imperious air that was sickening to watch. She goes on to say: "Pleasant's just done very nice things and been extraordinarily generous with her money, especially in the face of people who grumble a lot." To which I could answer with an extended essay, the gist of which would be, Mrs. Gil, that Pleasant Rowland has not been the LEAST BIT "generous" when it came to Aurora. She has done *nothing* here out of altruism; she is *not* a philanthropist. She is a developer, pure and simple. From Mackenzie-Childs she gets a tax write-off, a business that's meant to fail so she can use it as a pretty deduction and save big bux from the IRS. The rest of her enterprises here have been entirely selfish in motivation. She has micromanaged and lorded it over us like the plutocrat she is.

Had she been "generous" she would have GIVEN her money and been done with it, not ran the way it was spent like a business empress. Now, it's her money and she had a right to do that, even if we don't like it. But people need to stop calling her "generous" and referring to her as a "philanthropist". She's a self-serving businesswoman who took over Aurora for her own reasons; not to "help" but to control. And Nancy Gil, like many in this narrow-minded, short-sighted village, collaborated and supported that takeover like the servile, self-important, social-conscious fools that they are.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

EDITORS, 6/14/06

[Fargo problem real, serious, and created by the LLC]

The author, sources, and overall accuracy of information in the "Wow" posting have been verified. The ironic "voice" used in the post rather obviously (and perhaps intentionally) rings false, but other contributors to this site have also shielded themselves behind alternate personae from time to time...

Its worth noting that fuller unedited accounts in circulation describing recent behavior at the Fargo are far worse than what was posted here. The problem is real, serious, and created entirely by the LLC.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

S.I.A., 6/13/06

[There is nothing like a dame]

I think the title of that Fargo posting from "Wow!" should have read, "Yeah Right, As If" instead of "Fargo far gone". I do believe our collective leg was being pulled. And who the hell uses the term "broads" anymore? About the only term which would be *more* out of date than "broads" would be "dames." ...But then I'm only an *amateur* social critic, and not the final authority on such matters.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

TAXPAYER, 6/11/06

[Fargo may be headed for big trouble...]

Hummm... IS Rowland running the Fargo? The LLC said they handed over management to the college as of June 1st. So isn't Lisa ultimately responsible for it now?

I do not like what I'm hearing lately about our only drinking establishment for students in a college town. Not just the post below, but evidence of after-hours vandalism and a reported upsurge in serious drug dealing. I dread to think where things are headed come fall....

But... this anti-social behavior is NOT committed by the locals! It's perpetrated by outsiders imported by the LLC, their temporary employees brought in for the summer "season".

So... is this actual managerial ineptitude and real disorderly behavior by the oppressed drones of the LLC? Or is it a series of staged events so Lisa can shut down the Fargo and turn it into a Wine & Tapas Bar or some other tourist crap?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

WOW!, 6/10/06

[Fargo far gone]

People were wrong ! Pleasant DOES know how to run a dive bar. The other night was wild! The LLC employees were partying hard. Broads dancing on the bar! Some blond chick pulled her pants down and asked her friends to slap her naked ass! She loved the red marks it gave and showed them off.

One of the broads forgot she didn't smoke and went out on the porch for a cigarette. Then she came back in to puke . In a bucket in the bar in front of the customers! After she finished puking she started drinking again. Who said the Fargo was dead??

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

RESIDENT, 6/9/06

[Forewarned is fore-armed?]

Nine years ago, the Hoffman Institute succeeded where its numerous less-savy LGAT cult clones failed: it got accepted by the IRS via the state of California as a non-profit, tax-exempt "educational" organization. This happened soon after Scientology browbeat the IRS (!) into restoring its previously stripped status as a "church," according to the NY Times.

Hoffman leaders then articulated the goal of embedding their program in legitimate academic institutions. They endowed a professorship at UC Davis, whose occupant churned out "research" promoting the Hoffman Quadrinity Process. The Intitute also began to focus on specific college-rich areas outside of California: greater Boston and upstate New York.

Two Hoffman Institute board members now serve on the Cornell Board of Trustees. One of them, entrepreneur Steve Belkin, spent $250,000 this spring to send volunteer students from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government through the Hoffman Quadrinity Process as a leadership training "experiment." An editorial in the KSG newspaper raises concerns about promotion of this bizarre "human potential" program within an academic institution.

Please note: the Wells-Aurora community should be forewarned. (Links submitted, hoping administrator can incorporate; thanks.)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

KARIN W., 6/7/06

Taxpayer: I've always wondered the same thing. I lived worked breathed Wells for 21 yrs incl those years; have known LMR as new grad, fellow mom, staff, administrator, neighbor. Planes plan obvious, but never had a clue WHY HER. Your guess???

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TAXPAYER, 6/7/06

[Why her?]

While most of the account below is widely known in the village, the one piece I've never been able to make fit is this: why did Bob Plane select her as his successor? Clearly, she lacked any experience or training. Whereas he had been Provost at Cornell and President of Clarkson, had authored what became a standard freshmen chemistry textbook, and had branched out in retirement with a vineyard and estate winery. Why would he let Lisa hitch her pathetic little wagon to him? Any clue? I could name two dozen far-better qualified alumnae without half trying...

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ANOTHER, 6/6/06

[Ryerson's "transformation"]

You hit it right on the money (pun intended) regarding the Hoffman Quadrinity process - a scam to suck money out of an increasing pool of the newly rich and insecure, a form of brainwashing pyramid scheme that creates people who "know" what's best for you better than you do...

LMR left her lowly position at Wells to have her first child, then went off to jock-school Cortland to get her MA in education, and thereafter taught for a couple years at the middle school in Lansing... Lisa bewail[ed] the lack of child care at Wells, the lousy pay and how they treated employees, etc. Then one day...she'd been asked to come back to Wells to be the Dean of Students. She was all concerned -- if she took this position,...could she still be a good mom?

I think that was her last qualm. She had her teeth fixed, her hair done, style consultant, and she developed her unarguably excellent public speaking skills. She took the job and left everything else behind, including the little people who loved her and supported her when she was nobody...S he also left behind caring about issues like child care and pay for Wells employees. Since the college paid for her to have a full time nanny, why should she care? ...

What was obvious to everyone was that Bob Plane had hand-picked her and was grooming her from Day One to take his place, even creating this special Second-in-Command position for her to learn the ropes...Aside from her low-level staff position at Wells, she'd only ever taught a little middle school -- the only work she ever had besides Wells. And what experience she had at Wells was all very inbred and circumscribed. As for bad town-gown relations -- it sure can't help that Lisa picked Meredith Cook Van Dyne to be her right hand. Once, discussing the very issue of bad town-gown relations...Meredith replied that Wells doesn't owe the people of Aurora anything... She is a loud, crass, rude, obnoxious person and I am still stunned that such a public relations nightmare was ever made a senior staff member... But it gave Lisa the extra vote she needed to push the co-ed thing through against the wishes of several other members of the senior staff.

Yes, I can see LMR as a nouveau riche wannabee, just dying to run with the Big Dogs like Pleasant Rowland, and chafing at her tiny bit of power and money in comparison... Wells is way too small a pond -- watch for her to work her way up -- Albany beware...

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

WATCHMAN, 6/5/06


Of course, the people you describe are the very ones attracted to white-collar cults. Fundamentally insecure, feeling in over their heads, afraid theyï¿1⁄21⁄2ll be found out, no confidence that they've mastered their craft (whatever it may be), unable to value themselves or others apart from rank, totally dependent on external validation, always having to grab at the next prize, bereft to find that more money doesn't plug the hole in their soul, lacking a core sense of self which transcends status.

And the Hoffman Quadrinity Process in particular is designed to appeal directly to this sort among the nouveau riche and their wannabes, with its high price tag and veneer of exclusivity. Lifespring without the riff-raff, Forum with better food, never using the tacky hotel venues and weekend schedules to suit working people found in other such systems -- the HQP is always held in week-long retreats in expensive, isolated, beautiful resorts.

But the results are not pretty. See RECLAIM AURORA.

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S.I.A., 6/3/06

[Theory on deterioration of town-gown relations]

I think I can tell you why the town/gown relationship has deteriorated under Ryerson; it's a consequence of her being promoted to a position for which she was unequipped and unqualified for. Whoever heard of a prestigious, private, 4 year college (of the reputation which Wells enjoyed) being run by the graduate of a *state* school (and one of the worst ones at that) who holds nothing more than an easily-gotten Masters of Education degree? Forgive me, but please let's be honest--it doesn't take brains to get such a degree...

Now one might ask what this has to do with the destruction of the town/gown relationship. Well stay with me. Working her way up to--and finally attaining--the high office she hoped for, such a person very likely would be highly conscious of their social status; they would be resentful of their humble beginnings--they'd want to ignore them, plow them over, and pretend as though they truly deserved the attainment of this great goal they sought...

When I look around in Aurora I see this rabid desire for social status everywhere...But remember--when one comes from humble beginnings once must expunge those beginnings in order to truly feel like one has "made it." The resentment then solidifies. In their heart of hearts they know they're not the gentility they pretend to be and long to be. To admit it, however, is out of the question. They may admit to their humble beginnings, out of pride in their achievement--but they never will admit that they still belong there, that in fact they have risen only in title or perhaps cash value. Breeding, taste, and a sense of decorum, however--which has no part of snobbishness--takes a long time and can't be bought. Always remember it's very rarely the old families or Old Money that are the snobs in our culture; it's the recently-risen, the nouveau riche. Rowland is a good example of the "riche" side of this. Ryerson is a smaller example without the big bucks. Having been raised to the place she was unsuited for, but craved, she then turned on her true social equals in order to demonstrate that she was no longer one of them.

Disdain for one's one social background is an ages-old story that we've all heard a million times. Why we fail to recognize it when we see it right in our face I don't understand. I suppose it comes down to our fear of facing the facts about our American society--that by its nature it breeds such people, people who hate their own background... and once they rise, begin to hack feverishly at the beanstalk they climbed up on. The result in this case is that the humble locals of Aurora were shut out of Ryerson's vision, lest she have to face up to the fact that she is in actuality no better than we bumpkinish buffoons who fail to value the same tawdry, vulgar status totems that she values.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

RESIDENT, 6/2/06

[Community "transformation"]

They ARE crazed. Yes, this IS her vision.

It is well documented that Large Group Awareness Training -- whether it is the EST of the 1960s, its pseudo-religious clones like Scientology, or its numerous contemporary outgrowths (Landmark, Lifespring, Forum, Hoffman) -- will bring out sociopathic tendencies in many people.

Their programs may sound like harmless new-age touchy-feeling bunk. They're not; they're dangerous. She promotes one of the most insidious manifestations, catering to the wealthy business types. The Doll Co execs all had to undergo the Hoffman Quadrinity Process; and tax records show she continues to give "scholarships" to bring her friends "into the light."

Once processed, they have all the answers and everyone else is wrong. Everything is black and white. (Many of them dress that way, too, if you haven't noticed.) It's OK to lie, cheat vilify, terrorize, if its in defense of the process. Besides the elementary mind-twisting, it's basically a pyramid scam -- you continue escalating your own psychologically addictive and increasingly expensive "treatments" while bringing in new people at the bottom rung.

Look around. Notice some people who've been processed?

The Hoffman Institute uses rural, upscale conference retreats as centers for their 8-day "seminars" held in isolation from the outside world. Look on-line; learn about this! Do we want it coming here? And now Hoffman is expanding its programs to target young people: college students and adolescents. For God's sake, if nothing else, we must protect the children.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


[Webb House meeting]

I am crushed by what has come over (or more aptly, what has overcome) our community. Peter and the rest of them should be disgraced by that kind of public conduct. Some of them sounded crazed.

Does what went on there last night constitute Rowland's "vision" for Aurora? That kind of behavior is what she has actually done for/to Aurora. Does she care? No.

This woman is a community scourge. Things are getting worse and worse in Aurora. The polarization has never been this bad. Something has to give, I just wonder what.

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WISTFUL, 6/1/06

[Town-gown relations]

Some years ago, in the pre-Pleasant days, a young married couple (not sure of their names - maybe Ben and Tonya?) from Cornell Hotel School was brought in to manage the Inn for the college. Like some of the other managers of that period, the Inn was not very successful under their charge, and they did not last too long.

Many months after they were out of Aurora, I had a chance encounter with them. They told me point blank that during the time they were in their jobs at the Inn, they were explicitly instructed by Wells College management, - I believe Ryerson herself - to discourage the local people from patronizing the Inn.

I want to emphasize that Ben and Tonya told me this many months after they were gone from Aurora. In fact, the day after they told me this, they were on their way to Texas to start new jobs. I can not see why they would bother to make this up.

So even at that time, Ryerson carried a disdainful attitude towards the people who live here. And then everyone wonders why the old Inn failed. That's why. That attitude endures even more strongly with Rowland running Wells today.

I believe that the destruction of the town/gown relationship began with Ryerson. And I wonder why. Prior to her administration, I never had the sense that village and the college were adversaries. Far from it. I miss those happier times for our community.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


[Student response to Fargo firings, etc.]

Firstly, the Wells student community is extremely unhappy with the local firings. These were community members that helped define what this town is, and bridged the gap between the excellent local people and the disgustingly overpaid, underworked fools who can't run a business that runs itself anyway. This town was uprooted and put into a blender for just some millionaire's tax write-off. I wish I was a student before Pleasant came into town, and I am almost ashamed she attended the same college as myself. Why did she destroy something that was so great and pure when she was here?

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EVEN MORE, 5/29/06

[Pending lawsuit]

The village government was warned by some a long time ago to get some professional help in here. It may now be too late; in three days they/we will be sued again and Queen Fat Ass won't pay the freight on this one! This is the "Big League"and our Mayor and other officials don't get it. Some are, but I don't think they're all in line with her. They just can't let go of the little power have, or they're embarrassed to ask for help. Does any one of them have a law degree? How do they expect to compete with these high priced lawyers? Wouldn't past experience give any clue to the future with her? We need to plead with them to get some pros in here and play the same game the LLC plays. We are defenseless until they/we get serious!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

RESIDENT, 5/29/06

[Ideas on attacking underlying problem]

Suggestions: rely on resistance, persistence, humor, knowledge, truth, and publicity.

Resist the take-over on every possible level. Insist that village officials follow the law. Make fun of the invaders: it undermines their ability to intimidate. Learn as much as possible about such organizations. Speak the truth to all who will listen. Get the story out there.

On a practical level...

Protest their presence, boycott their businesses. Pressure local officials: we are watching and we know (they know?) they are wrong. Mock the foundationï¿1⁄21⁄2s arrogance, puncture their obsessions: new bumperstickers and signs needed! Study the white-collar cult phenomena, learn to recognize its many growing manifestations in our village. Talk openly about the intrusive, manipulative, domineering and vicious way they treat their employees, "friends" and neighbors. Bring a larger audience to each new step she tries to take: the more publicity and accurate media attention, the less room she has in which to scheme and maneuver and the more she will have to scale back her plan.

(I feel it important to say that I now believe that the take-over would have gotten much further very, very much faster had it not been for the Coalition, their lawsuit, and the national attention they brought to the situation here. I am very grateful for what they did. Yes, it could have been done better. But no one else was doing a damn thing, and I thank them for hanging in there for all these years... and for providing this website.)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

ANONYMOUS, 5/28/06

[How to cure underlying problem?]

To Resident, Re: Underlying Problem. Very astute analysis of past state of affairs in area & even more interesting interpretation of the manipulation of social structure in current situation. But -- suggested action to cure & prevent such social sickness?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

RESIDENT, 5/28/06

[The underlying problem]

SIA wrote: "It's now no wonder to me that Pleasant has got away with all she has. It's not just because she intimidates people---it's because the people charged with running this village seem to have no clue of what is proper conduct."

The blame extends beyond the elected and appointed officials. The ultimate responsibility rests with all the voters who accept, condone and support this behavior and adhere blindly to the status-quoism of the way things have always been done here and are too fearful or foolish to demand public accountability from responsible officials in defense of their own best interests.

The irony is that the village is being eaten alive by people who do NOT do things the way they have always been done. These invaders exploit the ingrained ineptitude and inbred cronyism, but they do not play the old game. It doesn't matter to them who you know or or where you work or how long you've towed the line or if you're a good ol' boy or how many years you're family has lived here.

This village is being "transformed," and its not just the architecture and economy that is changing. The entire social contract is being rewritten to promote a new community order based on well documented principles of bizarre cult-like behavior.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

OBSERVER, 5/28/06

[Role of possible Kirk Studio in this?]

Children's Books/Animation studio, it seems like synergistic possibilities for Doll Company creator. Create an ally behind the scene and use their political capital to advance the Pleasant vision for Doll Town, while also maligning Holland family. Political brilliance if you think about it. Advancing their agenda and attacking a dissident without leaving finger prints. Pull back the curtain and you will find the fat lady and she aint singing yet. Not long for leaks and rumors to start flying within the Foundation Communication Network, better known as college properties. I can hear it now, "Holland family stands in the way of curriculum growth."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


[A significant question]

Does anyone know what is the connection between Koepp and Kirk and their two separate projects? Or why I would receive an email admonishing me for objecting to the Koepp/Place proposal with this statement: "You have an opportunity to ... clear the way for David Kirk to restore Lyon House and create his animation studio."

I do ??!!

WHAT does our family's objection to having our old house plopped down where it doesn't belong and looming over us have to do with David Kirk and his proposal to restore Lyon House? What is the connection?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


[Info on upcoming meetings]

OK, we've linked a new page to our homesite giving general and specific info on upcoming village meetings, so S.I.A. and others won't miss another one due to insufficient notice. Agendas are supposed to be posted in advance of all meetings at the village kiosk; but often that does not happen. Our municipal website does not provide notice of special meetings or public hearings, nor does it include any agendas. (PS - Thanks for the account and intriguing "speculation" below.)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

S.I.A., 5/25/06

[ZBA meeting on Webb/Lake Houses]

Further craziness: I've been told there was a Zoning Board meeting last night... I didn't know about it or I would have attended. (I guess these things must be announced on the Aurora website, but I'll be damned if I can wade through that poorly designed and atrociously written bit of Foundation Propaganda to find anything useful). I was, however, given a detailed report of the goings-on. Two things about it stand out for me:

1) Evidently CJ Koepp and her husband failed *yet again* to bring the appropriate legal and professional materials to show the board. Who is advising these people that they aren't having surveys and proper architectural drawings made? It's been made clear to them time and again that many people aren't happy with them simply submitting a "wish list" proposal. It's not only inappropriate and stupid of them to keep ignoring this demand/request, it's also a waste of the village's time. You know, if it was me, and I knew I was trying to get a controversial and difficult plan passed, I'd do everything in my power to bring the board a VERY detailed and VERY professional set of plans the FIRST time....I'd want to show...I was taking this stuff SERIOUSLY and that I had an actual PLAN; a plan drawn up by professionals, showing scale and exact, true measurement. But no... not CJ and her husband. Their plan so far (and evidently this was true last night as well) has been presented with all the accuracy and attention to detail of a kid's drawing of his future soap box derby entry. They continue to ask people to "share their vision". But it's all fuzzy and vague, folks. I ain't buyin' it. When you're repeatedly fuzzy and vague, it screams that you don't know what the hell you're talking about.

And this brings up point number 2) Why DON'T they bring in professional, scaled plans? Well, one might suspect they're trying to hide something. (And if so, it would obviously be that they know what an eyesore their project will end up being if it goes through). But apparently CJ was heard to say more than once that they *can't afford the expense* of having proper plans drawn up. But if they can't afford THAT, then how can they afford to buy Webb house, have Lake House demolished, and move Webb into its place? Rest assured all this will cost heavily. Yet CJ and hubby can't afford to have surveys and scaled drawings made, to make their Dream happen?

Please. It's like coming out and admitting that Pleasant is the one who's really behind this. We can assume that she's promised them--either directly, or through contacts--financial assistance IF they agreed to be her surrogates and get this project approved. They get a house of it... and Pleasant gets her way again. But until then they'd be on their own... so it doesn't look like SHE is the one who's really behind it. Typically manipulative of Pleasant, if only garden-variety Machiavellian. Pleasant doesn't strike me as all that bright; simply mean, and perhaps a little meanly clever. This scenario fits her to a 'T'. But of course we can only speculate on the truth.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

S.I.A., 5/25/06

[VB Meeting on Municipal Website]

I read Karin W's account of the Website meeting and found nothing to be encouraged about. In fact I was only more appalled and disgusted.

I've only recently realized how ineptly, unprofessionally and *inappropriately* Aurora is run---an I'm not referring to the mismanagement of any single person, but to the *overall* way Aurora is managed. I have never seen this anywhere else, and it's shocking. Various members of my family have been involved in government---in village boards and such---in towns throughout Cayuga and Onondaga counties, (and elsewhere). I have never heard of or seen things being done the way they are in Aurora. It's literally like children *playing* at governing. It's now no wonder to me that Pleasant has got away with all she has. It's not just because she intimidates people---it's because the people charged with running this village seem to have no clue of what is proper conduct. Or how to be consistent in applying rules... or how to say "no."

I don't know if this is because of the incestuous relationship that Wells and Aurora have had for decades, or what. But surely that must have something to do with it. This village needs people serving it who don't work for Wells College or aren't in some way attached to it or beholden to it... but unfortunately that seems impossible.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


[VB Meeting on Municipal Website]

Thanks to KW for submitting an immediate account of today's 4PM meeting. At 1600+ words, its too long for the forum, and has been thrown up raw on this page.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

TAXPAYER, 5/21/06

[Is Pleasant doing a Jimmy Durante?]

Did you ever have the feeling that you wanted to go, and still have the feeling that you wanted to stay?ï¿1⁄21⁄2

She must, I think, still have plans for what she wants our village to become. Otherwise, why is the LLC now trying to reactivate the long-lapsed permit to turn Abbot House into a B&B? Why expand her commercial operation and saddle the college with another business it can't handle when she's leaving? And Frank's right, the PO/Parking project will take forever. Why should she insist on it now, if she is really-truly pulling out?

On one hand, I feel she will not let go. On the other hand, after five years of dissident publicity generated by we hardy few, the publication of Happyland may make it impossible for her to maintain her already damaged national public image of benign benefactress. And the imminent failure(?) of MacKenzie-Childs may negate the national "brilliant businesswoman" myth. (Then maybe someday the facts about the insider deals facilitating the obscenely over-priced buyout of American Girl - and The Learning Company - which nearly destroyed Mattel may fully come to light.)

My educated guess: she needs to distance herself now, yet total control will remain in place somehow. But, why? What is the ultimate goal? Will she and her entourage try to make Aurora the Hoffman Institute East? I can see no other reason for all of this...

(BTW the sort of pathological "loyalty to the leader" and maniacal rudeness exhibited by Wacky J & Friends is typical of people who've been through the Hoffman "Quadrinity" Process, particularly when they feel their worldview is threatened by outsiders.)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


[PO project and village future]

When Jackie Farlow (and others who give Pleasant Hero Status) clap or scoff at any one else in public meetings, no matter what their opinion, it makes our town look bad. I've known Jackie since she moved here and I am surprised at just how rude she really is; for example, she recently called me a terrorist!

At this point in "Pleasant's Project" (PP for short) I do not care whether or not they do the parking lot. I'm pretty sure that it will take a very long time and then have to be done over, just as everything else has. Like everything else it looks good on paper, but the reality will prove to be less than ideal.

At the previous public hearing Ethan MacCormick asked if there is a deadline on it and the response was that they thought so. Once again past practice would suggest that there is none. What if they do not finish and it goes on and on? What if they follow the Webb house model and just walk away, or as in the case of Leffingwell House, it just never ever finishes?

It is not feasible at this point in the PP it to stop it; the USPS is on board and our village has signed off on it. As for what we got out of this deal, the village has been talking about a basketball court behind the fire house for 17 years that I know of, longer than that I'm sure and can't make that happen. Does anyone believe there will ever be a public park on that great land deal we got?

One thing that I do believe will happen when this project gets under way is that the whole town will realize what a pain in the ass Pleasant is to have as a neighbor! I wonder if I can get my mail in King Ferry or Union Springs?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

KARIN W., 5/19/06

[Thoughts on various topics...]

On Pleasant leaving town: my inside people think she really is going, that it isn't a sham to pretend to leave it in someone else's hands and still pull the strings. ...My view of this is that if Pleasant would just pull out and Lisa goes away (my prediction is that is a real possibility), the businesses may not be thriving, but at least the people who run them can choose their own destinies and succeed or fail on their own....So, I predict neither "gloom and doom" nor "success to success" but back to the real life scraping to make things work in a quiet little village, with people determining their own fates, which is as things should be -- I hope!...

On Jacci Farlow selling her photos off the Aurora government website: ... I have a library colleague who works on the side as a graphics designer, mostly for political campaigns, who is pretty sure when you do work for an official government website it is called "work for hire" and means that whatever you create thereafter belongs to that governmental body...unless it is spelled out in a contract ahead of time that you get to retain the rights. ...The way my friend, who looked at the site, reacted was that Jacci had sold the rights to her photos whether she knew it or not, as well as it being highly inappropriate (don't know if it is also illegal) to be advertising and selling her own wares on an official government website. ...

Was I the only one to notice that the reader comments from the Citizen article after the Post Office meeting had been deleted? There were at least 3 comments yesterday, and when I checked back today, several times, there were none....

...I have been watching the reunion numbers....For my class' 15th reunion, ...we had something like 2/3 of our class. This year is our 20th...and only 14 were signed up when I checked earlier, and only 14 for the 25th year class, which, BTW, is Lisa Ryerson's class. Just more signs of alumnae who are disgusted and no longer returning to and supporting the college....

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S.I.A., 5/19/06

[More thoughts on economic future]

Taxpayer: Well this is the problem, isn't it? I agree with you completely--it's unlikely Wells College, under its present "management," will ever do the smart thing. I have reason to believe that there are successful restauranteurs etc.--who are based in the Finger Lakes area and thus know what is needed to BE successful here--who would love to step in.... But the tragedy is that this will probably not happen... either because these business people are already wary of Aurora--they know of the craziness that's gone on here and wouldn't want to get mixed up in it--or they wouldn't want to have to do business with Wells College, fearing that they wouldn't have the control that they'd need in order to make things work. On the other hand, even Wells College *could* eventually bend to the inevitable. I won't speculate, however, on how likely that would be. I like to keep my opinions grounded in pragmatic reality, not flighty fantasy. No, I haven't yet heard anyone preaching doom and gloom---but surely it will happen if Pleasant really does leave, *even* if the Foundation tries to wash it over with propaganda (i.e., "it was her plan all along"). The Foundation may not cry doom, but its supporters will. They'll say things like, "Aurora had its chance for economic vibrancy, for jobs and growth, and YOU people threw it all away"; (referring to those of us who are opposed to Rowland). I *know* we'll hear things like that. That's what I meant. I was aware of the existence of the Aurora Merchants Assn., but thought it had died a quiet death some time ago. (of course, in every real sense, it has, hasn't it?)

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TAXPAYER, 5/19/06


Following up on your interesting speculations, S.I.A., though I too am very skeptical of the reports of her leaving...

I'm afraid her departure would simply turn these non-self-sufficient businesses over to the demonstrably incompetent hands of Wells College. Do you see a way Ryerson could be persuaded to give successful, locally-oriented entrepreneurs carte-blanche? It would seem so out of character for her to do something like that. She's totally bought Rowland's vision of Aurora as a "destination;" won't she try to perpetuate it forever even if the puppet strings get cut?

I'm curious: have you heard anyone "preaching doom and gloom for Aurora because we drove her away?" The line from Waller and the college p.r. has been that this was "the plan" all along -- not! -- and the time has come for her to move on, leaving nothing behind her but triumphantly revitalized businesses which will now move on from strength to strength.

The Aurora Area Merchants Association predated the pleasant invasion, and did quite a bit to promote local businesses and community activities, but, as far as I can tell, its been taken over pretty much by the LLC, and Jacky Farlow seems to be running it now. So, I'm at a loss about who we can support in an effort to make some commercially viable lemonade out of this big faux-historic barrel of lemons...

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S.I.A., 5/16/06

[What becomes of our "business district" if she does go?]

I've heard further rumors that Pleasant Rowland is pulling out. Now...should Her Highness *really* be leaving Aurora, the next thing we'll hear from her supporters is that the Inn, the Fargo, etc. are all doomed to fail without her financial support. Of course no one notices that WITH her support, these businesses have been steadily losing money anyway, due to her mismanagement and wrong-headed concepts (and Posies has closed... where's her great business acumen there, if she can't even keep a tiny florist going?) So here's the plan that I think should be adopted to answer this:

1. Aurora seems to have no actual "chamber of commerce"... not that I know of anyway. Therefore, it might be a thought to try to create one, or something like it.

2. In any case, the highest priority would be to begin courting LOCAL successful business people (i.e., people from Auburn, Ithaca, Skaneatles, Canandaigua, Rochester, Syracuse, etc. etc.) who KNOW how to run, for example, restaurants---people who know how to cater to LOCAL tastes, who know their local audience, and know that you can't make a business survive in a community like Aurora by trying to market strictly to outsiders and tourists, and shunning the natives. It should be made clear to these people that now that the money has been spent on expensive infrastructure (i.e, refurbishing the Inn, even if it was a travesty how it was done--which it was) that all they'd have to do is come in and reorganize the business itself to make it successful. Given carte blanche, I know there are business people in the CNY area who could do it.

Then, despite the ruin she's done overall, we'd finally have something to thank P.R. for... for LEAVING, of course... but also for putting the money into the *structure* of these businesses, even if it could have been better done. At least some local business person wouldn't have to foot that bill. The thing that should always be remembered is that there is NO reason why these businesses can't be successful IF properly managed and properly marketed. The trouble is that the Inn wasn't for a very long time--well before P.R. ever came along. Under the right management these businesses could be successful.

P.R. hasn't provided that kind of management; her ill-conceived idea was that she could create a kind of showplace to tempt distant tourism to a tiny upstate NY village with almost no amenities, where the nearest fair-sized city is at least an hour away. Her arrogance in pursuing this badly-conceived dream--her contempt for local opinion and her unwillingness to work *with* the community--is largely what's alienated all of us here, as we well know. But if she finally does leave (and I'm still skeptical about this) then it's no time to allow the Foundation cheerleaders to start preaching doom and gloom for Aurora because we "drove her away." Rather it'll be time to try to involve interested local business people in ventures that can be highly successful if run properly and wisely---with proper respect paid to the people who LIVE in and around the community.

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DISSIDENT, 5/15/06

Ha, Karen, looks like our "ineffectual bitching" makes a dent again, waddaya think?

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K.A. HINDENLANG, 5/15/06

[Partial revision of village web-site]

The Village Clerks has not yet submitted the compilation of corrections and criticisms of the website to the Village Board (or the webmistress), but it appears that an attempt has been made to address a number of the concerns raised here.

The site no longer calls our village "Aurora-on-Cayuga," and each page no longer ends with an "Email ME" button linked to Jacci. She took the college boat house off of the east side of Main Street, where she had previously located it, and reduced the size of the home page.

However, there still are a number of major problems -- mostly related to load times and content -- which I see are getting coverage on the comments page, so I won't repeat here. But it might be good if Karin W. or someone else with technical expertise took a look at the newly modified version.

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[Village web site needs major revision]

...Jacci Farlow approached me and asked me what I would charge per hour to help her with the new Village of Aurora website. ...It was obvious she had no idea that I have been publicly very vocal in my criticism of the site. ...I had an exchange with Ethan MacCormick shortly before he wrote to the Forum. He was urging a cooperative approach...I decided to follow his hopes that something constructive might come out of the whole business...

So, I said to myself, here is my opportunity. What is the one thing that needs fixing above all others? Well, technical and design issues are really just icing...But the core of what is wrong with the site is the way it reads like a marketing brochure for private commercial enterprises, which is just not appropriate for an official government website.

...Things can get pretty caustic towards anyone seen as having anything to do with the whole Aurora Foundation/Wells conglomeration. I was nervous that I might get tarred with the same brush just for being willing to try a cooperative effort.

So... I responded with a bottom line ï¿1⁄21⁄2 I do indeed have the skills and experience... to facilitate the correction of problems of the new Village of Aurora website, BUT it is inappropriate to have partisan or commercial content on an official government website, and it is inappropriate to use taxpayer money to pay for such partisan and commercial content, and I cannot and will not be associated with any such project. I would be happy to work with the designer(s), to walk them through the process properly to create a functional (neutral) government website which meets the needs of all the residents of Aurora.

I was told I had misunderstood the offer -- Jacci was offering to pay me personally herself for help fixing the technical and design problems, but that the Village Board determines the content...she denied that the content on the current version of the site is"advertising" (I would disagree) at the same time she justified marketing businesses in Aurora as advantageous to the community, and an appropriate use of taxpayer money, saying it is "economic development."

...Whether such marketing benefits the Village or not, it is still not appropriate on an official government website. It belongs on a Visitors' Bureau or Chamber of Commerce site, not on the official government website, paid by the taxpayers, which should be focused on government information. An official government website should...have as its primary focus serving the government information needs of its residents, not the attracting of tourists, no matter how beneficial that might (or might not) be. Take a look at the websites of other local governments and you'll see the correct focus...

The bottom line remains marketing information aimed primarily at tourists is inappropriate on an official government website. I urge others to continue to send letters to the Village Clerk to this effect.

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AN ALUMNA, 5/6/06

[Article "puts sleepy town back on the vacation map"]

got so irritated when I saw an article [on Aurora] in the June issue of Country Living magazine. It starts out with a photos of a teen getting out of the lake at I'm presuming the inn's dock with the caption:

"Experience the laid-back charms of small-town life during a weekend getaway in Aurora, a postcard-pretty village in New York State's Fingerlakes region. When summer temperatures rise, the cool waters of Cayuga Lake beckon."

...I turned the page, and there's a big photo of the inn from the back, a small map of main street (not to scale, since it has EB Morgan house across from Mackenzie-Childs). It reads like a canned Foundation public relations piece, talking about how the charming town was destined to decline if not for the Foundation stepping in (and it notes Pleasant-Wells partnership) and renovating the

"...historic downtown, financed a multimillion dollar facelift for the Aurora Inn, opened restaurants and set about putting the sleepy town back on the vacation map "a feat that involved Rowland buying Mackenzie-Childs, one of the town's largest employers, and steering the company out of bankruptcy. Today, visitors reap the benefits of the lakeside village's renaissance, enjoying gorgeous scenery, first-class inns, good restaurants and easy access to the Cayuga Wine Trail."

Also on that page is a photo of Eleanor Cleaveland with a blurb about visiting her antique shop. The next page has a blurb about side trips... and a photo caption talking about rooms at the Inn and EB Morgan (photo of a room there, the wallpaper is appalling); a photo of a tasty looking banana split with a long caption talking about the places to eat: Dories, Fargo, Pizzaurora, Village Market, Pumpkin Hill Bistro and of course the Inn; and at the bottom of the page are 4 photos and a long caption of things to do in Aurora: Dories for penny candies; get tickets for theatre at opera house; Mackenzie-Childs; and Vintage-Lighting for all sorts of lamps.

I don't think they talked to anyone in town other than the Foundation...I wouldn't be surprised if the spotlight generated e-mail queries to this site. I'd be intrigued as an outsider, if I didn't have ties to Aurora and know better!

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[Re: Tourist Lizzie]

Faced with the upcoming USPS hearing on 5/17, the pending Webb House decision on 5/31, and the growing community disaster of the Fargo's mis-management, we won't devote more time & space now to re-visiting issues already explored here in full.

So, we're ending a thread, for the same reasons listed below on 3/15. Thank you, SIA: your response was an articulate representation of several we received.

Ms. Thomas, answers can be found to ALL of your questions on the AC website, or you may take advantage of the personal contact offered below.

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[A neighborly offer ]

Dear "Lizzie Thomas": During your next visit to Aurora, I would like to invite you to my home, for a coffee or a gin-and-tonic, and an opportunity to talk. You say you don't understand what is going on in Aurora. I would be happy to relate my experiences to you. Set aside some time, though, because I have a lot to tell. I look forward to hearing from you. Sincerely, Laura Holland (364.8136)

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[Tourist still asks for answers already provided on this site]

Wow. I guess vituperative is right. I have actually been considering buying some vacation property in Aurora because I thought it was a lovely, friendly town. I'm a little taken aback. I don't know anything about your internal politics, but I am just trying to find out more about what's going on. The internet is a very public place. I have been googling and searching for information about Aurora. I had no idea it was such a hornet's nest. What, actually, has Pleasant Rowlands (?) done? Who is she? Why is she such a big deal? And what are you all fighting about?

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S.I.A., 5/4/06


To first apologize for being an outsider, and then to proceed to criticize our "venomous, vituperative tones"--referring to us as "weird" and asking if we don't have anything better to do--is rather stupid to say the least, and is certainly entirely disingenous of you. Save your apologies next time and just get your own venomous and vituperative point out from the start...

Think things through before you make such comments again---if you really ARE an outsider to our situation, which I frankly doubt... I think it much more likely that you're some pro-Pleasant agitator trying to childishly stir things up---but a little simple logic on your part would have made you realize that A) if you ARE an outsider and really AREN'T privy to all the details, then it follows that B) you MIGHT just want to look into WHY so many people are angry with Pleasant Rowland, even if it SEEMS like to you, with an outsider's POV, that she's done good things. It MIGHT just occur to, then, that MAYBE there's more to the story than what you see on the surface. That maybe it's not just some wealthy benefactor who's come into a small village and spruced up some old buildings---that maybe Pleasant Rowland has done terrible and damaging things to this small village of ours that YOU, as an out-of-the-loop outsider, DON'T KNOW ABOUT. And then maybe it should have occured to you to ASK someone what it was all about, rather than just blithely stepping in to mock and criticize.

You know, Lizzie, we're all glad that you enjoy coming to Aurora. Great. But if you visit a neighbor's house, and see that his family is involved in an argument, would you think it very seemly to take sides in that argument, especially when you clearly don't know what it's all about? If it were me, I'd frankly keep my mouth shut. I might at most try to figure out why they were arguing, what had upset them... ESPECIALLY before offering my otherwise unasked-for opinion. But then, you see, I was brought up to THINK, to show a little common-sense in such situations.

If you'd really like to be educated as to why people here are so upset, then look through the site. Ask us. But by stepping in with your uninformed opinion, you only manage to show yourself off as rude, small-minded, and ignorant.

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[Yet again: what's the problem?]

I apologize -- being an outsider -- but the venomous, vituperative tone of this website is really weird. Don't you people have anything real to do? I do not understand what all the fuss is about. I love coming to Aurora and have thoroughly enjoyed the improvements Pleasant has made. But from what I understand, you probably don't want tourists.

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S.I.A., 5/2/06

[New web site a worthy point of contention]

Ethan, the point is that the development of an official village website, paid for with tax dollars, should be *bid out* in a proper and legal way... (which is the way grown-ups run a municipality). It should not be handed off in some folksy manner to any old local or friend of a board member who has some web-design software on their home PC... especially if said local is then given public funds for their trouble.

I CAN see why the website should be made another fighting point... and that's because there's no end to all these little improprieties; they add up like raindrops in a barrel.

People from the outside who don't know all the details of these battles over the last few years will occasionally say, "Well what's the big deal about? Pleasant fixed up the Inn, fixed up this building, that building." They think there's a big picture that matters more than all the little bits and pieces. I would hope you and others who know better, however, would agree that this is wrong. It's all the little details, the bits and pieces, that matter -- because taken in aggregate they make a very nasty and ugly canvas that this "big picture" is supposedly painted on.

This isn't about nit-picking or looking for more fighting points... it's simply fighting the same, ongoing, dreary battle that we've been saddled with ever since Pleasant came to Aurora and began lording it around like some self-righteous empress.

Now here's two of Pleasant's toadies, George F. and Jackie F., and they slap a website up there that's supposed to *officially* represent Aurora... and not only isn't this done on the up-and-up, but the content ends up (as is to be expected) being a mealy-mouthed, vaguely propagandistic cheering piece for Pleasant Rowland. This is the kind of crap that simply HAS to stop.

It's also no joke to me--though I phrased it earlier as a joke--that the name of our village is NOT "Aurora-on-Cayuga". ESPECIALLY on an official, municipal website, such pretentious putting-on-of-airs is unacceptable, and frankly makes the village look laughable. People I know--from outside of Aurora--who've seen that have burst out into laughter. If we want the village to be taken seriously, then let's not have such mickey mouse nonsense on the official website. It's pathetic. (Karen H.---please add that comment to those already posted regarding the website. Thanks.)

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[Then why no improvement - ?]

Thank you, Ethan: it's very good of you to donate web-hosting and technical support for the new village web site.

Absolutely, I agree that the content should be subject to board approval. That is why I am concerned that the site was announced in the Syracuse Post-Standard (4/17) before it had been presented to the board, and that the board accepted a bill for payment (4/19) before examining the product.

I'm sorry that you were being pestered to do the job when you had no time for it. While I understand your personal delight that the work was directed elsewhere, I am sorry that Carol Shilepsky or Ken Larson (just for instance) weren't asked for guidance in putting the job out to bid to another qualified professional.

I see that more comments, submitted to the Village Office at the kind invitation of the Clerk, have been copied to the Forum and are up at These look like valid concerns, and I think would not be construed as "fighting points" unless someone chooses to take constructive criticism that way.

It's been two weeks since the "work in progress" was made public. Let's hope we see some major changes and improvements soon.

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[A work in progress - ?]

I've been asked to comment on the new web site. I donated web hosting for the village site, and have tried to provide some level of technical support for the site as issues have cropped up.

I am generally delighted that someone (George Farenthold) has made the effort to get the web site off the ground. I'm also delighted that he found someone (Jacci Farlow) to put the site together. George had been begging me for months to do work for which I didn't have time. The Village Board felt that the pages it had on the county web site were outdated, inaccurate, and "embarrassing;" a few months ago I was asked to essentially shut down the old site.

The site that Jacci has put together is, I think, a work in progress. Certain technical issues, like the extreme size of the pages (and resulting slow loads) are a result of some software problems that Jacci considers a priority to fix. The content and language on the site are probably Jacci's or George's wording, (with the exception of Sheila and Pat's comments) but they are of course subject to board approval. The trick is finding someone to put in the effort to edit or create the content (I struggle to get current or accurate content on a number of sites). Jacci polled me and village officials about content accuracy, and more input will obviously help.

I haven't seen anything in Jacci's or George's efforts that wasn't done with earnest good intentions. I am eager to see some of what I consider partisan language replaced, but as I said, that's at the will of the Board of Trustees; I fully expect the village site to evolve with constructive criticism and community effort. The process has been reasonably open thus far.

I can't imagine a good reason to make the web site a fighting point. Let's move ahead and make it better.

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WEBDOG, 4/26/06

[New page]

A new page is up with some of the letters submitted to the Village complaining about the Farlow & Farenthold website debacle. (PS - Some folks tried promoting the "Aurora-on-Cayuga" name here 40-50 years ago, but even then it was pure affectation. It was never the legal name, and the U.S. Post Office didn't approve.)

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S.I.A., 4/24/06

[What shall hell be called?]

The name of our village, by the way, is AURORA. Not "Aurora-on-Cayuga." Someone needs to tell whacky Jackie that this is upstate New York, not merry olde England. And if I'm not mistaken the "name-on-name" style of nomenclature is only used for towns and villages that lie along RIVERS, not lakes... though I admit I could be wrong about that... regardless, though, it's absurdly and offensively pretentious, and clearly shows the snob-oriented culture at work amongst those who favor Pleasant Rowland's activities and attitudes.

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FED UP, 4/24/06

[Our money, our village]

We do not know the whole story yet, but if Farenthold spent public money in an unauthorized and improper manner, he should be removed from the Village Board. And the remaining (ethical) VB members should fire Farlow, take down the website, demand the money back, and put the job out for bids.

I still need to learn more about it, but on the surface, this is disgraceful. When are Tom, Ken, Janet and Jim going find the courage to stand up to the LLC? They are all great people, but it is so disappointing to see them knuckle under time after time.

The other posters are right.... let's all make sure we contact the Village Office to complain, and to demand some answers about this use of OUR money.

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KARIN W., 4/23/06

[Deal and site suck]

Over dial-up just outside Village limits on Sherwood Rd with 56.6 modem, took 5 min 37 sec to load Aurora website, 2+ min to get 1st navigation (at bottom) P-U!

Am soliciting input from pro graphics designer friend etc to add to my own pro experience in website evaluation; will submit critique. This deal sucks as much as the site does.

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KAREN H. AGAIN, 4/22/06

[Are website & webdeal acceptable?]

More info: I'm told that the VB had not hired Farlow to create this web site, nor had it approved the content or design. Acting on his own, Farenthold "gave" her the job, and the site was announced in the Syracuse newspaper last Monday without the board's authorization. At last Wednesday's meeting, it apparently was assumed that the Village would pay Farlow a sizable set-up fee and agree to a substantial monthly maintenance contract.

I called the Village Clerk yesterday to ask questions and register a complaint. She asked that anyone disturbed by this situation to please list their concerns in an email and send them to her at the Village Office with "Web Site" in the subject box. She said she would compile a list for the VB, and that she would remove the names of the contributors. (The unspoken understanding: no one should be subject to attack on the streets by JF.)

Please... Dissenter, Scared, and others from the MessageBoard - send something to Clerk Nancy Yann at the Village Office

There is so much wrong with this whole deal that one hardly knows where to start. The outrage that the link from our municipal site directs email not to the Clerk's Office, but to Farlow! The absurdity that our very limited tax dollars are used here primarily to promote private businesses, many of them not even in the village. (E.g., a whole page of photos is devoted to Pleasant's MacKenzie Childs, Ltd, and venues in Ithaca are listed as "local" entertainment.) The injustice of forcing the "digital divide" upon Aurora, creating a Village site that can be viewed only with pricey high-speed internet access. The fact that this is a municipal web site, but it reads like very bad Chamber of Commerce hype or illiterate Tourist Board prose. The stupidity of employing a non-resident non-professional to create this mess, when we have qualified professionals in the village. Wells teaches web design: maybe this could have been a class project or a professor's community service. A simple set-up could have been created to be maintained routinely by the Village Office; instead, everything that goes up on this site will be filtered through Farlow and Farenthold.

See for yourself: a comparison of F&F's new Aurora-on-Cayuga with real municipal web sites totally damns this effort.

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KAREN H., 4/19/06

[How it came to pass]

My understanding is that: the new village web site is being developed by Trustee Farenthold, he has put Ms. Farlow in charge, the Village Board hasn't yet determined her fee, but it may be set at tonight's meeting.

The site is nearly inaccessible, a real over-loaded mess on both PC and Mac platforms, dial up or broadband. And what I could read was... well, you'll see for yourself.

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[Are we paying for this?]

To Dissident: Let's get that question answered, then, please: ARE Aurora tax dollars paying for that site? If so, WHO gave JACKIE, of all people, the assignment? Really, I'd like those questions answered. I mean, what the hell goes ON in this nut-house of a village? I don't really MIND living amidst a few people who probably need to be locked up, or at least be heavily medicated---but I'd just like to know who keeps giving them the run of things.

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KARIN W., 4/18/06

[New village website criticized]

For those who are curious, the old Aurora website is still at: (note that the new site's URL ends in ".us" -- which makes it an official government site) The old one ceased to be updated when Dave Wharton moved away. It's been a bit of an embarrassment for that reason.

The new site took forever (more than a minute and it had to repaint it twice) to load even here at work on a high-speed connection with all the latest bells-n-whistles software installed. I won't even try it over dial-up at home...

Verizon says they probably won't EVER bring DSL to this slow dial-up is the lot for a great many area residents. Obviously, no one concerned himself or herself about less-well-to-do residents accessing official Aurora information over the internet when the new site was planned and designed. (The free access machines in the public library are very, very slow and old, last time I checked -- good luck to anyone there trying to get the new Aurora website!)

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DISSIDENT, 4/17/06

[Responses / New web site]

To Baler from Phelps/Aurora: do you mean the latest firing? The number of employees at the Fargo continues to dwindle. Or... maybe you can clarify rumors of a Sheriff's investigation following a nasty brawl started by a new employees' boyfriend...?

To the Community: we have a new "official" village website, designed and operated by -- guess who? Wacky Jacky oozes gushing praise of the pleasant take-over and gives us multiple versions of her own special take on reality. Do our village taxes pay her to do this? Check out

To Mr. Anderson, member of the Class of 2009: Resident taxpayers of Aurora really appreciate insights provided by out-of-state first-year Wells students into the complex ongoing political, economic, ecological, and preservation issues facing our village. Thanks so much for sharing yours!

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[Who's been selling what to whom?]

You guys should go into sales... you're incredible at skewing views in pictures and words to make everything look just like you say it is. BALER, 4/15/06

[Fargo news hints]

Well, Fargo management finally pushed the wrong button! Me thinks the shit will hit the fan big time. As a matter of fact, any minute now. Any ideas, care to venture a guess? Yes-No? Need a hint? OK, how about the incident at Fargo the other night. You guy's are going to have fun with this one!!

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[Those comments were applauded!]

...I'm not the least surprised by her selfish ignorance. But what appalled me was that there were so many equally thoughtless people who felt compelled to applaud her condescending pap. And they clapped despite being asked not to by the the Chair Person. They prove themselves to be a no-class, discourteous lot.

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[Inappropriate comments]

You hit it on the head. The nonsense that Jacci Farlow spouted at that meeting made me sick. And I'm made twice as sick by people, such as Ms. Farlow, who continue to show up to these meetings and spew their opinions on the rest of us EVEN THOUGH THEY DON'T LIVE IN AURORA. It's my understanding the Farlow's don't. They should therefore STAY OUT OF IT.

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ANON, 3/30/06

[Re Farlow comments...]

I don't believe what I just is painfully obvious that Wacky Jacci is an incredibly stupid human being. After that comment, I hope some handicapped people write to the Citizen to point out how incredibly stupid she is.

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KARIN W, 3/30/06

[Loss of all common sense]

I just read Jacci Farlow's comment the Citizen: "If we are to be the friendly and pleasant community that we claim to be, we would help the handicapped residents to get their mail...We would assist them even if that meant bringing their mail to them so they didn't have to visit the post office.� And I just about fell on the floor...

Come on -- we are a friendly town so it doesn't matter that we are making the lives of the elderly, the handicapped, mothers with carriages, pregnant women, and other mobility-impaired persons more difficult because we have faith that every single day some kindly passer-by will retrieve those people's mail for them? We also won't worry if the post office will object to handing those people's mail to some stray passer-by? And we won't worry about issues of privacy and the mail?

Nor would it seem to matter to Ms. Farlow, based on her publically published comments, that most handicapped folks try not to give up any more independence than they have to and would prefer to get their own mail for themselves. It is condescending to assume they would all be happy to have someone else retrieve their mail for them, as if they were helpless children.

The comment is so utterly ignorant (of what it is like to be handicapped -- having spent 2 months in a wheelchair and more with a walker, I have some inkling) and so insulting (to assume it would be just OK-fine with mobility-impaired postal patrons to have to be dependent on some random person to volunteer to get their mail for them) that it just floored me....

There is nothing further to be done when people cannot even see common sense. No wonder so many just sat on their hands and said nothing at the end. Pleasant pretty much always gets her way, even when it flies in the face of what is obviously and logically good for the Village. I don't care how dollhouse-pretty it is -- I am glad I live outsie the Village where Jody will deliver my mail to my mailbox and where I can preserve my privacy and my independence.

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LAUGHING, 3/28/06

[Cartoon character?]

"My work here is done." Sounds like she is going to put on her superhero cape and fly off into the sunset. (Let's hope.)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

VISITOR, 3/27/06

[Historic resonance]

Interesting quote from pleasant---"my work is done". The same words used by George Eastman in his suicide note.

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ANONYMOUS, 3/22/06

Re: posting by editor of 3/15

So, if we don't agree with you, the "forum" won't include our comments? That is absolutlely hilarious. Glad to know that you support rational, well-thought out, and reasonably documented debate.

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EDITORS, 3/15/06

[Limitations and focus]

Since the latest Syracuse press, this forum has been swamped with messages from generally well intentioned folks who "just don't get it," who want us to "help them understand" why we object to Rowland's "generosity," who would like us to "send her to their town," etc.

At this juncture, we don't have the time put these up onto the Forum, or, frankly, the desire to see us all go round in circles once more explaining ourselves to "outside observers" who've been misled again by the P-S. We've been there & done that, for five years.

Given our time limitations, and the crucial matters facing our community, we're going to keep the forum focused on our immediate issues: the 3/21 village elections, the 3/29 PO/Parking public hearing, Rowland's 3/31 ultimatum, or other local -- as opposed to outside -- questions and concerns.

Thanks for your understanding. Those who want to know why locals feel the way they do, please look through our web site.

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[Efforts to combat the pleasant media machine]

Hello, Frustrated.

Please do write the Post-Standard. And see this link if you didn�t catch the editors mocking Aurora and praising Tobin�s coverage this weekend. I can't explain the passivity or collusion of those "Old Aurora" families one might expect to defend our village. But I can provide some background on difficulties with the press.

The Aurora Coalition, Inc. got some reasonably balanced, informative national coverage. Our story was rooted in complex legal, economic, community, and preservation issues. I was warned by a media specialist that reporters / editors find such stuff dull, and they'd rather cover a "pissing match in a tiny town" than try to explain the State Environmental Quality Review Act, even though we had a great David vs Goliath angle...

However, the Associated Press produced a widely-run straight-forward feature on our suit in January 2002, and followed the story faithfully for months thereafter, reporting on the issues. The other national coverage -- in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Preservation Magazine, the NYT and National Public Radio -- strayed a bit into "human interest" area, but not far.

Even the Auburn Citizen, under previous editors, made an effort to go beyond "color" pieces and report the real story. Before they became so miserably understaffed, we had an assigned reporter for several years, each of whom tried to understand the issues and do some investigation. They broke stories on Mt. Kisco, the non-charitable basis of the "foundation," misrepresentation by Rowland�s spokespersons, etc.

But the Citizen lacks influence, to put it mildly. It's not accessible in Lexis-Nexus or databases. The regional AP chief told me that he ignores it. The AP only looks at the Post-Standard for leads on Cayuga County stories. And there we hit a big problem...

From the outset, P-S reporter Dave Tobin wrote pieces, that, as you said about his 3/5/06 article, could have been written by PTR herself. For his first big article "about" the Coalition, he didn't speak with a single member of the group, even though he had our contact information in a press release. Instead, he let foaming-at-the-mouth coalition opponents define our organization for his readers. It was outrageous.

This treatment continued for about 9 months: we were wildly misrepresented, and our concerns dissed savagely. Complaints were made by preservation groups, state agencies, journalism professors, and the Coalition all the way to the top of the editorial chain. The coverage was so awful that a media consultant and former Aurora resident used Tobin's articles in a graduate journalism course as examples of biased reporting.

But nothing changed, until... unbeknownst to me, a fed-up coalition supporter set out to confirm rumors that Tobin was married to an untenured Wells instructor (with a different last name). He called the number listed for this instructor one evening, and asked to speak to Dave. When Tobin came on the line, he was told that he had a major conflict of interest in the Aurora story...

As a coalition media contact, I then got an unexpected phone call the next morning from P-S Cayuga bureau chief David Figura. He told me that Tobin was being removed from the story, not because the paper was acknowledging any actual conflict of interest, but because the paper wanted to avoid the "appearance" of conflict.

That kept Tobin off the story for about 3 years (although he kept getting around the ban with MacKenzie-Childs stories). But major damage already had been done, in Aurora and beyond, by Tobin's nasty bias. Then, in the following 3 years the P-S virtually ignored the still unfolding Aurora story. Without significant local coverage, we couldn�t get the AP, the New York Times or anyone else interested in a follow-up, and the TV news magazine that had been sniffing around the story went away.

About a year ago, Tobin started covering the story again: he's separated or divorced now, so I guess the P-S feels there is no longer the "appearance" of conflict. So we are being treated once again to blatantly biased puff-pieces, arrogantly dismissing the real issues impacting our lives here. And the P-S remains hand-in-glove with Rowland, currently promoting the fiction of her "departure" while her lieutenants remain in place, shoving her latest project down our throats.

Sorry to be so long, but hope this context is of some help.

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[Why hasn't Aurora defended itself?]

I'm writing a letter to the PS along the lines of what I've written here; frankly, however, I fear the repercussions. I'm not a Wells College employee, but I *am* beholden to Wells in another way. Nevertheless I'm determined to go through with saying something.

All the same, one of the points of what I wrote here was, I cannot understand Aurora sometimes. As I said, I'm more or less a lifelong resident of the area, and have lived in Aurora for several years now. But my family is more closely connected to Skaneatles and Auburn. Now... let's be honest. Small towns are alike in at least one regard: there's always a core group of old, sometimes wealthy families. Sometimes they're self-serving, sometimes very protective of their position. I and my family have known families and people like that in other communities. I know that these people would never stand for someone like Pleasant Rowland coming into *their* hometowns, lording it over them. They may not ! be able to stop someone like Pleasant---there may never have been a way of "stopping" her as such---but you can damn well bet they wouldn't let her or her underlings (or whoever is doing it) control the media message the way she has. I don't know what underlies the Post Standard's love affair with Pleasant, (it could simply be a reflection of editorial incompetence---I'm a former Syracuse resident as well, and know quite well how abysmally the PS serves Syracuse) but what amazes me is that no one in Aurora puts up much of a challenge against it. Aurora is not Union Springs or Genoa, which are almost exclusively working-class communities. Aurora is more like a tiny Skaneatles, a town with a lot of well-off and well-placed people living in it. It amazes me that none of these people have the connections or the will to challenge the Pleasant propaganda machine, whether such a machine actually exists or is simply a matter of the local media's professional ineptitude and its ! moronic love of "outside money" coming in to boost the economy of our ragged, ill-used Central New York. (Witness the soft treatment given to Congel in Syracuse... though he's not exactly an outsider).

I freely admit that I may not know what I'm talking about. But I love Aurora and feel I know it fairly well, though not as well, certainly, as many who've lived here all their lives. I need to stress that I'm not pointing fingers at any specific persons or families. I don't KNOW who these people are... but I can't believe they don't exist. On the other hand, maybe they *don't* exist... or maybe they're simply passively going along with what's been happening in Aurora. Maybe there's a lot of people in Aurora who really don't care... and perhaps that would explain why the village was in the plight it was when Pleasant smelled the opportunity to pounce and create a doll-village fiefdom she could lord over.

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[PO / Parking Lot Moves Ahead]

It's happening. Again!!!

Nancy Gil sat there at last night's Planning Board meeting and filled out our part, the village's part, of the Environmental Assessment Form, taking direction every step of the way from Pleasant Rowland's lawyer. And guess what?

The two of them decided the upcoming P.O. / Parking Lot project will only have a "small impact" on this community, so there is no need for further study!

Tearing the hell out of our village center for another two years, hey, no problem whatsoever, no issues, no concerns, no impact.

The public comment period doesn't end until March 16, but never mind, she doesn't need to know what anyone else thinks, she can just go ahead and decide now, weeks in in advance, and rubber-stamp it on the official date of March 29.

Letters are needed NOW! Don't just complain: DO SOMETHING!

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Great posting.... a very accurate and succint analysis of this fawning PS "expose".

Can you repackage it and send in to the PS as a Letter to the Editor? It's an impressive piece of writing, and would look terrific in print.

Did you notice that the 2 pro-Pleasant letters they printed today came from 2 people who don't live in Aurora, and who have no usuable understanding about what has really gone on in Aurora? That Sunday article certainly didn't serve to enlighten them any.

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[Outrageous press bias]

I can't believe there's no mention here of the absolutely insipid article that appeared in the Post Standard this past Sunday... ("What Did She Do to Deserve This?") I haven't been this incensed over a newspaper article in years... which says something, I think, about the utter incompetence and lack of researching skills of that Syracuse rag.

From the headline down it was nothing but a mincing and airy pity-party for Pleasant Rowland. What did she do to deserve this, The article wonders. ASK US, for god's sake. But as I recall the article presented only the most truncated opinions from TWO Aurora residents. The rest of it was a gooey flow of hint and suggestion, with the odd little remark about Pleasant's well-known imperious attitude thrown in, no doubt, in order to make the article seem "balanced." Please. If the damn thing was anymore biased it would have to have been written by Pleasant herself.

The article feebly raised point after point which could have explored Pleasant's micro-managing style and the authoritative, madly-controlling nature of her "generosity," as well as the falsity of her assistance to Wells College, but each point was left dangling with no support, left to wither at each turn.

Perhaps it may not be for me to say this, but then again I've been acquainted with Aurora all my life and have lived in it or very near it for ten years now... but at any rate, I continue to find it flabbergasting that no one in this village has the connections, power, and will to stand up to this avalanche of nonsense and present a clear and concise challenge, at least in the media, to the Foundation's monolithic command of the message. When any local newspaper reports on the situation in Aurora, it inevitably makes the village sound like a bunch of spoiled brats resenting the helpful and kind-hearted (if firm) hand of a generous benefactor. NOT ONCE have I ever seen an article anywhere that gets at the truth; that the hand of this "generous benefactor" is in fact a mailed fist, and a petty, tyrannical one at that... nor that the "spoiled brats" of Aurora are simply long-time residents who are aghast at seeing beautiful old buildings gutted irresponsibly and tastelessly re- made at the whims of a mid-western mogul drunk on the money and power which she has far more of than she knows what to do with.

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ALUMNA, 3/02/06

"No one on the VB investigated the cost of developing, maintaining, insuring or staffing the hypothetical park" -- just like costs of Wells going co-ed, O! -surprise- same people!

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K.A. HINDENLANG, 3/01/06

[A closer look at PO/Parkland deal]

Amazing that so many of us were pleased that the Village Board actually GOT something in exchange for our real estate, instead of just handing it over on demand. I was too; then, I started looking closer.

The land to be deeded is inaccessible from the road. The land to be leased is accessible, but public funds cannot be spent to develop land we don�1⁄2t own. So... the part we'd own we can't get to, and the part we can get to we couldn't build on. (No public bathrooms = no public swimming.)

The two land parcels are separated by a sizable stream, and the M.O.U. would disallow a vehicular bridge connecting the two.

The VB didn't ascertain whether the land actually could be developed as a park. It's all in the flood plain. Lakeshore work below 383.5' ASL requires DEC permission. Dredging for a dock (or even swimming - it's so shallow) needs Army Corps clearance. Building a bridge-drive over the state highway gully to the deeded parcel would require DOT permits.

Even if -- very big if -- all those permits were obtainable, public development to DOT, DEC, and USACE specs may raise costs beyond realistic reach. No one on the VB investigated the cost of developing, maintaining, insuring or staffing the hypothetical park.

Those who think we might cash out on the property deal with a windfall someday need to think again. Land deeded to a municipality for use as a park cannot be sold without special approval from the NYS legislature. (The college will probably have a "buyback" clause in the deed, anyway.)

Yes, the principal and precendent of a swap is an important one, but this is not a good deal. We got a rocking horse for our pony. It ain't goin' no where, not without a whole lot of wishful thinking. And that's an irresponsible basis for governmental decision making.

In the meantime, park or no park, public interest in this development need to be protected by an EIS on the PO/Parking part of the project .

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HUH?, 2/27/06

[Park for PO not a good deal]

People use the lakeshore and the creek anyway. The Village won't own the land, only pay to lease it. So the Village will be paying (out of the money you pay for your already sky-high water bill) for the use of land you can use now without paying. What kind of deal is that? How can people be suckered into thinking they'll ever get anything out of government, local or otherwise? It's more like paying for the use of your own horse in exchange for giving away your pony.

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LJM, 2/26/06

[Park for PO a good deal]

The trade of the po for the crick was a good one. a good one for now and for later. good now because it gains the citizens of auora access to the lake, to swim and picnic etc. it is great for later because it has set a precedent that if and when wells wants something from the village, the village will get something of equal or greater value. no one wanted to see us lose the po or the rent go away, but when you can get a horse for a pony, trade it. and i for one think the vb did a great job of securing us lake access and putting into place a go forward model.

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[Participate in the process]

RIGHT NOW the Planning Board is in the initial stage of a State Environmental Quality Review of the P.O./Parking Lot project.
The PB is circulating an Environmental Assessment Form with information about the project to involved and interested agencies. Involved agencies have to issue a permit (in this case, perhaps the DOT and DEC), but any agency, organization or individual member of the public may submit comments as an ďinterestedĒ party.

The ďenvironmentĒ is defined broadly in the regulations governing the SEQRA., and include ďland, air, water, minerals, flora, fauna, noise, objects of historic or aesthetic significance, existing patterns of population concentration, distribution, or growth, and existing community or neighborhood character."

Comments are due by March 16, but submission by March 3 with a specific request that they be read into the record should get them included in the PB meeting of March 8.
THE NEXT STEP is anticipated at a special PB meeting on March 29, when the PB will review the EAF and decide whether any potential ďimpactsĒ or concerns are significant. In making its decision, the PB must consider all concerns it received in writing.
If any potential impacts are deemed significant, the project sponsor is required to develop and submit a detailed Environmental Impact Study (EIS), and work out solutions or ďmitigationsĒ to the various concerns identified

Rowlandís lawyer Wendy Marsh publicly instructed the PB Chair at the February 8 meeting that an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) is ďnot necessary

That ďadviceĒ reflects what her client wants, not what is best for Aurora.
IT IS NOT IN THE COMMUNITYíS BEST INTEREST to avoid an EIS to satisfy Rowland once again.
Only through an EIS can the PB require the developer to address and resolve anticipated problems -- the non-increase in parking, severe decrease in P.O. accessibility, questions about the parking lotís storm water run-off dumping into the lake, inevitable rise in village taxes reflecting expanded parking lot maintenance and loss of USPS rental income, the probable excavation of more buried oil and gas tanks, etc.

Once the project is approved, it is too late to require modification from the developer - as we all know now from painful experience.
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[Non-incumbent gets on ballot!]

To the registered voters of the Village of Aurora:

This is to inform you that I will be a candidate for the office of Village Trustee at the next election which will be held on Tuesday, March 21, 2006.

My thanks to everyone who signed and circulated my petition, thus enabling me to appear on the ballot. Your support in giving the residents of Aurora a choice in the upcoming election is very much appreciated.

Please note that the election is scheduled for the week when Wells College will be having Spring holiday.

Voters who plan to be away and wish to participate must do so by absentee ballot via U.S. Mail which must be received by the Village Clerk by March 21st. Absentee ballots may be picked up in the Village Office, Monday through Friday between 9:00 AM and 12:00 PM, or you may request that the ballot be mailed to you.

Crawford "Doc" Thoburn
Aurora, New York

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[Sherwood's "preservation" leader supports Rowland]

Interesting. We tried repeatedly to get Aurora on the "Seven to Save" list of the Preservation League of New York State. They said we were getting enough regional and national publicity on our own, and didn't need their help in drawing public attention to our plight. (But instead they supported our suit trying to get an Environmental Impact Study of the still ongoing pleasant project.)

Can't help but wonder if the PLNYS knows Bradley Mitchell's track record in all this? For years, he's written letters to the papers and gotten himself quoted in articles, always claiming that he's a resident of Aurora -- he is not -- and heaping overwhelming and truly nauseating praise on the wonderful and great Pleasant Rowland.

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KARIN W., 2/17/06

[Area preservation effort]

Just FYI: Sherwood, NY, which has been discussed here, has become one of the "Seven to Save" -- most endangered historic sites in New York State. See the article in the Citizen:

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[WACKY JACKIE - guestbook messages from different locals]

Yesterday meeting = presentation by architects to planning board. Public allowed a few questions, problems pointed out briefly, reporter clueless, was time to gather info & watch PB at work, not object. That comes soon with public hearing: get ready.

Not a time for objections BUT! was another occasion for Wacky JF to publicly kiss up to Pleasant.

And what did you say to shut her up?

Wacky JF should just stay out of it. She does not even live in the village.

Shut her up?! much fun to listen to her make an ass of herself.

She makes us all look stupid - and the newspapers always quote her and never note she lives outside village limits -- she led applause at 12/29 VB meeting -- but she wont pay our increased taxes for all this Park / PO nonsense.

Go Figure - 1st time I heard JF speak in public about PR I thought she was making a joke - could not believe she was for real - Left my jaw on the floor!

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XYZ, 2/7/06

[Again: How do we work with Village Board?]

Yes, yes, yes. Wells is a sick place, we all know that, so enough said.

I would like to hear back from Anonymous of 2/4, who seemed to think we should feel sorry for the Village Board -- the very folks who along with the Planning Board have betrayed this Village -- just exactly how s/he thinks we are supposed to "help each other and fight together." Tell us how to work with boards that repeatedly ignore the law, reject reality, refuse to listen, and treat their neighbors with contempt.

So now the Village Board realizes that Pleasant is a "grotesque beast?" Good. They let the beast in: so what are they going to do about it? How can we help? Tell us, please.

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KARIN W., 2/6/06

[They way it is]

I've said for years that Wells, and by extension also Aurora, like a feudal estate gone awry: under feudalism the overlord did whatever he liked, but he also had obligations to the peasantry. At Wells, it's like they have retained the rights of the feudal overlord right into the 21st century, but somewhere along the line decided they didn't owe the "peasants" anything in return... Where else would they be allowed to make up their own rules, regardless of laws and codes, change the rules to suit themselves as they go along and be entirely unconcerned about things like accountability? I've seen examples of this time and again at Wells...

Just as a minor for-example...there have been chemistry journals stored in the halls of Zabriskie since I was a student in the early 80s -- totally against fire code. The college has been fined many times, but they don't do anything about it ... Unless they have been moved in the past 2-3 years, they are still there... This kind of systematic disregard for laws and regulations mirrors a disregard for things like democratic process, openness and honesty in business and political practices in general.

Wells has long been run on interpersonal politics and the whims and moods of administrators and managers, with a "make it up as you go along" attitude, a "not answerable to anyone" attitude, an "employees have to follow rules but administration isn't bound by them" attitude -- and to a large degree, the same people run Aurora as run Wells. Did you really expect to see openness, honesty, transparent democratic processes and courtesy in government in Aurora?... [I]t's a tough uphill battle against deeply-ingrained attitudes and ways of doing business and there are repercussions for those who try to reform the system which is so comfortable for those who are used to doing just as they please.

Yes, outsiders are shocked, or just don't believe you when you tell the stories of how it is in Aurora or at Wells -- to people from most anywhere else in this country, it's just plain hard to believe what goes on in this day and age. But those of us who have lived and breathed it for any length of time know the score.

I live outside town and can't run for an office... But I applaud and support those who do bravely step up and give it a shot -- if there are enough folks like that, maybe we'll see reform inch forward a little at a time.

Good luck!

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XYZ, 2/6/06

Work with Village Board?

How? Have you seen how the Village Board treats the public at their meetings? How about the Planning Board? Rude, arrogant, dismissive, contemptuous doesn't begin to describe the behavior I've witnessed.

Yea they let people speak. Sometimes. Sometimes not. And sometimes folks are only allowed to speak if the officials like what they're saying; if not, they're told to shut up. Inconsisent, unfair, irresponsible, not to mention horrifyingly un-American.

Sometimes these mini-dictators don�1⁄2t even pretend to run a proper civic meeting, let alone a civil one. Their attitude is often openly hostile, as though the public is the enemy. Outsiders and newcomers attending have been astonished -- but they don�1⁄2t understand the political perversion at work here.

Everything seems to depend on the "mood" Tommy G. or Nancy Gil might be in that night. Whether Pleasant has cracked the whip lately. And whether they need to show off for their minders: Waller, Marsh, & Rollo.

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[Try to work with board]

Full Answer to Not a Fan [on the messageboard]

Instead of tearing each other down, why don't we try to help each other and fight together? The Village Board does try to help the citizens of Aurora - but you try to fight the grotesque beast that we all know as Pleasant T. Rowland....yes, no one is perfect, but if you want change - step up.

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[...we fall?]

I appreciate that there's a lot of people who might be in fear of losing their jobs or in fear of some other kind of retribution. I know this isn't an idle fear; with the Wells leadership so wrapped up in Pleasant (and perhaps controlled by her) and with people like George F. (he in particular must be reckoned with, since he's married to the President) so clearly smitten with Pleasant that they're willing to distort the truth and silence dissent, it's not hard to see why people would be afraid to speak out or do something.

But there ARE people in Aurora who don't work for Wells College or aren't dependent on it in some way or another. And it's the silence and inactivity of these people that I'm surprised about.

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NO NAME, 1/29/06

[United we stand, divided...]

To "Frustrated" and "Here and Now":

Well, then, Pleasant has you right where she wants you -- snapping and pointing fingers at each other, stalemated and cowed into inaction and incapable of making any effective opposition against her plans.

Divide and conquer.

Resist the urge to point at someone else and say "Why aren't you doing something?" Instead, seek out those in the community you know agree with you, sit down together and work out things you CAN do.

Yes, people run the risk of losing jobs, housing, etc. -- but guess what? You are already running that risk by doing nothing, because it's coming anyway. Keeping your head down and turning your eyes the other way is not going to protect you from the Pleasant steamroller.

Even Pleasant Cheerleaders like J.F. and her husband should be watching their backs -- Pleasant only bestows her grace on her minions and Yes Men as long as it suits her purpose.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

K.A. HINDENLANG, 1/28/06

[Request for perspective]

Please, "Here and Now," let's keep this in perspective. I think I know what you're driving at, and I'm sure you didn't intend any offense to anyone, but... a lot could be taken, if you are likening the tribulations of our residents to the horrors of the Holocaust.

You may know that I served as the primary public and press spokesperson of the Aurora Coalition for years. As such, I, along with my colleagues, received the most intense vilification and harassment the LLC troops could dish out.

Guess what? We lived through it all with a smile, no problem. (A sense of humor helps a lot.) And no one was fired -- not even those of us working for Wells -- let alone fire-bombed, or incarcerated. We feel for those who lost their businesses here; it was wrong and sad, but in no way a Kristallnacht.

I sympathize with vulnerable LLC employees and Wells staff without tenure free-speech protection, yet I am also disappointed that many living here without those inhibitions still refuse to speak their minds in public, to protest in any meaningful way, or to take action.

It is frustrating, but it is also human nature. Courage is always in short supply. Don't despair, just be realistic: "the only people who become disillusioned are people who have illusions."

We all have to decide for ourselves. Others may choose differently, and that's their right. But I will not give the LLC the power to silence me.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

HERE AND NOW, 1/28/06

[Action Impossible?]

Dear "Frustrated": You want "action"? People are worried about their jobs and their lives. Think :

First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Dear Frustrated:

Thanks for posting. Please see the messages from Coalition Supporter above. The coalition did act: saw a lawsuit through on appeal to the highest court while raising thousands of dollars for legal fees, involving state and national agencies, getting national publicity, etc.

We're glad we did it. We believed it right to try to protect the process of law in this village, even when few agreed with us. But now that others have become alarmed, why aren't they coming forward to fight anew? We're frustrated too, and baffled.

Was the LLC so successful in trashing our efforts (and us personally) that the rest of the village is paralyzed with fear and unable to do anything? Even the cars have disappeared.

This forum and the message board were started in the hope that sharing ideas would lead to some action. -- Editors

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[Action is needed NOW]

I attended the village board meeting on Jan. 25. Almost no one was there. The one dissenting voice about the PO project was not a good representative of the opposition, and this person was shouted down by the mayor and mocked by another board member anyway. No one else had a thing to say. The mayor then made the comment that the village supports the PO project "overwhelmingly." The exact word he used. This is not what I hear from people on the street.

But where is the VOICE of opposition in this village? Why isn't there a plethora of opposition candidates running for mayor and the open board positions? Why aren't people speaking up? Writing on a web site like this is well and good, but in large part you people are preaching to the choir.

Enough ought to be enough... but it isn't. I hear a lot of talk but it's only rhetoric; I SEE no action being taken. Why aren't lawsuits flying around to at least protest Pleasant's flagrant disregard for the historic character of our village? Why AREN'T people picketing? Why AREN'T people running for mayor or the board, who would stand up to Pleasant? Why isn't anyone asking the state to look into any of this? I see only complacency.

I'm against all the changes Pleasant has made to the buildings around the village (not because I'm against progress or development, but because each and every change ruined the architectural and historical character of a unique structure) ...but fine, let's put the changes aside; change happens sometimes. Over the course of time, buildings are remade. The Inn or the schoolhouse could just as easily have burned down at some point, and been lost. So leave that aside. The point isn't what Pleasant does so much (though of course that DOES matter) it's HOW she does it. It's her callous disregard for the community; her inaccessibility; her superior airs; it's her attitude that she can do as she pleases.

It continues to shock me that none of this raises enough indignation in the residents of Aurora that they stand up and DO something about it. Even if it's futile in the end, at least we can say we put up a fight. At least we can say we ran opposing candidates for office, picketed, wrote letters to the state, initiated lawsuits... at least we can say we tried. But up to now, aside from the valiant effort of a small group of people to park their sign-ridden cars in front of the Inn, I've seen no one taking any actual ACTION, or speaking up in ways that MATTER.

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[Post Office - Parkland Deal]

OK, so fight! We did. Others can, too. Yes we lost. But Pleasant would have gotten much farther much faster had we not at least tried.

( And our expensive, time and energy consuming lawsuit proved to state and national preservation orgnaizations beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is no protection of historic architecture in NYS under Pataki unless your local government cooperates. - Editor]

Suggestions for some first steps:

1.) Wednesday, January 25 at 7:30 is the next Village Board meeting. Go and ask questions about the deal. Look at the written version of the agreement first, and/or look at the presentation and discussion of concerns on this website.

Encourage others to do the same. The future of our community is at stake. Residents have a right to be heard. Honest, open discussion and the civil exchange of differing opinions are necessary in a healthy, free community. Reject the Pleasant Totalitarianism. Stop worrying about what she or her flunkies might think of you. Reassert your rights as a citizen.

2.) Two Village Trustee positions as well as the Mayorship are up for election. All the incumbents are standing again: Tom Gundersen, Ken Zabriski, Jim Chase. Their return to office will mean continuance of "business as usual" in this village.

Isn't it time that stopped? Then, who will run against them? There's a little more than three weeks to get candidates on the ballot by petition (you need only 25 signatures). Get the forms from the Village Clerk's office.

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[Post Office - Parkland Deal]

Spoke with one of the Aurora postal employees today -- who made no bones about not liking Pleasant or the deal either. Don't know about the local postal management, but this employee didn't like it one bit. I filled this person in on some of the details which didn't go over any better.

The deal doesn't benefit the village, at least some postal employees don't like it, many villagers hate it; it only benefits the college (by letting them keep owning and having final say over land while not having to maintain it or pay insurance -- sweet deal for Wells!!!) and Pleasant (to suit her ego which demands she always gets her way).

If people of Aurora don't band together and fight this one to the last tooth and nail they are nuts.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

KARIN W, 1/16/06

[Post Office - Parkland Deal]

What are the advantages of the Village owning the 1000 ft of lakefront south of town? People already swim there, walk there, etc. People will continue to do so, but under the new deal, the Village would be liable and would have to pay the insurance.

The Village would also have to maintain the space, (mow the grass, clear away trash, maintain any seawall, etc). The Village would have to deal with safety and security issues, like making (and enforcing) rules to insure people's safety, dealing with any unruly behavior, etc.

Is Pleasant actually going to PAY the Village to compensate it for the loss of long-term, on-going income from the loss of the U.S. Post Office rental money? Or is she just offering the College's land in exchange -- giving what is not even hers to get what she wants for nothing?

Will it be possible to develop the new lakefront? Is it not floodplain? Can any structure be built there? Is it an improvement to develop the space?How much will it cost to develop the grennspace, if it is possible and desireable, and who will pay for it? The Village? With what monies?

I don't see how any of this is any advantage to the Village whatsoever. What are your public officials thinking???

Info on the text of the deal and other questions on this website.

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[Alternatives were presented]

"I can't help commenting that it seems like the critics really don't have any alternative plans for the town," wrote Anonyous Wells Parent.

Then you haven't reviewed where weíve been and what we've done. Since you're interested in preservation, you should know that state and national groups strongly supported our efforts in and out of court.

On our behalf, the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP), the government's State Historic Preservation Office and the non-profit Preservation League of NYS, tried everything -- absolutely everything -- to get the developer to sit down and talk (For Free!) with highly experienced professionals about alternative plans that would blend preservation with necessary updating, develop tourism while maintaining historic identity, protect community integrity while promoting economic growth, etc.

(BTW, these organizations donít have the money or personnel to mount frivolous attacks on well-intentioned philanthropists. Their leaders have to pick and choose when and where to offer help. They clearly believed Aurora was in great danger, and was well worth saving.)

Our joint efforts were serious and our proposals high-caliber, representing much hard work, research, collaboration and professional dedication. They were not the product of wishful thinking or obstructionism by a handful of foolish villagers.

But over and over again, the Rowland Foundation, the LLC, and Wells College refused all outside advice and expertise. And they successfully encouraged their local supporters to attack, savagely and personally, anyone who questioned Rowland "vision" for our future.

Finally, before joining our suit, the President of the NTHP -- the large, highly influential, very pro-business preservation group chartered by Congress -- contacted Pleasant Rowland directly hoping to initiate a dialogue about alternative plans for development in Aurora. He was ignored.

And now, so are all the people of this community... even those who once did Pleasant's bidding.

It appears that the time for proposing alternative plans has passed, and the time for protest has begun.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Aurora NY

[Changes in Aurora, on and off campus]

Thank you, Wells Parent. I am sure I did sound harsh, though it really was not intended to be personal. I think many of us are frustrated by outsiders saying, "Gee, why don't you think all that Pleasant is doing to your town wonderful?" Because they just don't understand what it is to have someone else come impose her will on your home community, to change everything to suit herself, and often against the wishes and real best interests of the people who live here.

If you are involved with historic preservation, then please do read through the in-depth information you can find on this website regarding the disregard for historical preservation the LLC has. In particular, Lyon House, which Pleasant wants torn down. It's a cornerstone building in Aurora's Historic Register. It makes me sick to think of it being torn down -- and just to put a very large but otherwise ordinary house in its place. And all because Pleasant didn't plan carefully when she bought the other house. She could break the house into parts and have it moved out but she won't even consider it because it's a personal revenge thing now.

She is vindictive -- she is mad that the villagers dared to oppose her plans and to turn her down -- How dare we tell HER "No" -- so she is determined to force this thing down our throats. There is no sense in it from a practical point of view.

Look up info online about her dealings in the town of Mt. Kisco and you can get an idea of what she is like. That was just a warm-up. People here have good reason to be upset -- which is why it comes through on this website and in people's postings.

As for Wells, I meant I am a supporter of the "Real Wells" (the single sex school), not that I am a "Real Supporter" and you aren't. As I said before, I am sure your daughter is a fine person. It isn't really anything against her or you. The majority of young women prefer to go to co-ed schools. As far as I am concerned, that is just fine -- but Wells was the place for the special and rare breed of woman who wanted to go to a single-sex school.

I just hope you don't buy into the nonsense about Wells *had* to go co-ed to solve the school's financial problems. That's a bunch of baloney and will come out in a way everyone can tell before long.

Adding men takes away alum support, takes away the one thing that gave Wells a special niche, costs lots in the changes they have had to make, does not add a significant number of new students (I think I read here that the aggregate increase was only 20 more students -- we'd get that many off and on anyway -- so Wells sacrificed its own essence for 20 students?) and it also does not solve the core problem -- mismanagement of money and corruption in the administration. Male students or no male students, that has not changed.

Thank you for responding reasonably, and I do hope you will read through all the materials here and on the Wells for Women Alumnae Homepage. Sift through the (natural and understandable) anger you find and filter out the facts and you will find there are plenty of very good reasons why alums and Aurora townspeople are upset and angry.

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[Understanding changes in Aurora]

As I said, I am reading your forum because I genuinely want to gain understanding. And yes, I don't "know" you but you do not know me or my Wells student either, so why are you so hostile to me personally? My support for the school may be new but is just as real as anyone else's in the past.

I also happen to live and work in Central NY in a small town smaller than Aurora and the other towns I named, and I certainly intended to insult no one by stating that they have buildings that are in need of TLC. I have been a past member and supporter of the CNY Preservation and I am currently a member and support of the Cortland Co. Historical Association and have been reading this forum and other news coverage out of genuine interest.

In hindsight "derelict" was a poor choice of words because it has a negative connotation, but no insult was intended. So please accept my apology. Perhaps by widening your circle of friends and allies by educating them rather than turning them away, would lend support to your cause.

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K. A. HINDENLANG, 1/13/06

[The Post Office - Parkland Deal]

Written version of the agreement, with maps, now available in the Village Office.

Letter in yesterday's paper online here. More might not be a bad idea. Not in this letter: the fact that if the USPS accepts the pleasant deal, it would violate state and national preservation law (the SEQRA and NHPA), because
  • 1) the foundation partially gutted and rehabilitated the old school in our national register district with the intention of making it a USPS office without submitting to required Section 106 Review by the State Historic Preservation Office, and

  • 2) the foundation's P.O. / Parking project is now revealed as the completion of its village center development, which was separated from the Inn / Market project to avoid the review required of such all projects in an historic district involving any federal agencies (such as the USPS).
Brief emails of concern or complaint may be sent to the USPS and the Advisory Council on History Preservation, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Preservation League of NYS, and State Historic Preservation Office: -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

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ANTI-GEORGE, 1/11/06
Further from Aurora

[The Post Office - Parkland Deal]

What research did the Village Board do about confirming with the state that permits would be issued for lake front development? DEC or Army corp consulted? Or is this property going to stay scrub brush and a local swimming hole where the village has now accepted all liability? Is this deal contingent upon title search and permit approvals(Local & State)? How much is the liability insurance? Will foundation errect a new building at termination of deal or do they keep fancy parking lot? How do you get a copy of this wonderful deal? What if USPS says "no" to move? How does a historic village accept the scope and speed of so many changes?

The village should be removed from the National Historic Registry and registered instead with Milton Bradley.

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Dear Anonymous Wells Parent,

The Aurora Coalition site is replete with information about what you call the "redevelopment of Aurora". Please explore it thoroughly.

What historic buildings are you referring to? Anything old enough to be historic has been gutted, demolished, or transformed to a degree that the word "historic" can no longer be applied. I think that the new Aurora Inn is a handsome, well-built, and worthy addition to Aurora. But, by no stretch of theimagination is it any longer an historic building. My question is : Why the charade? What is wrong with being honest about that?

"Historic Aurora", as designed by Pleasant Rowland, is nothing but an illusion and a marketing campaign. Don't believe it. Of more importance than the physical alterations, is the harm that has been done to this community and the people who live here. This town has been poisoned, fractured, and polarized, it is a nasty place to live now, with neighbor pitted against neighbor, with life long friendships destroyed, much depending on who is financially tied to Pleasant and her "Foundation", and who is not.

How much more "understanding" do you need? Pleasant has forfeited our trust with her determination to suppress any unique personality in this community for fear it will contradict the illusion she is trying to create here. With the damage that has been done to this community by this woman, you should not be surprised to find a high level of hostility as a result.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


[Preservation in Aurora]

Pleasant is going to prevent buildings in aurora from going derlict?!??!?? take a look at Lyon House some time a very historic building which she and wells are letting go to hell on purpose so they can convince everyone it should be torn down.

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Dear (Anonymous) New Wells Parent:

You don't know us and you don't know Aurora and you will never know the REAL Wells which died last year. I am sure your daughter is a lovely, intelligent young woman, but the kind of woman who'd choose a co-ed Wells is NOT a REAL Wells Woman and never will be. The kind of woman who chooses to go to a single-sex school is of a totally different breed. Our school was sold out last year by administrators with their own secret and selfish agendas -- I just hope it lasts long enough for your daughter to graduate -- but don't hold your breath.

Nothing was going derelict in Aurora before Pleasant came to town. None of this is about doing good in Aurora any more than it is about people who take potshots at Pleasant because she's fat. It's about local people, people who live here year-round, people who have lived here not only their whole lives but for generations, being rightfully and understandably upset by an ARROGANT bully who has pushed her way into our town and is taking control of nearly everything. Many of her projects are against the wishes of the majority of people here, and are absolutely NOT in our best interests.

Any profits coming in don't come into our pockets -- just about none of us own local businesses any more because Pleasant owns them all. In theory, if she makes any profits, they go to the college, not to the people of Aurora, but so far, she's not making any profits -- she's just making lots of enemies with her arrogant "too good to stoop to actually talking to the local peasants" ways. We now have precious little say in how our OWN town is to be, all because some control-freak rich woman wants to re-fashion OUR town into her own little doll house for rich tourists. We don't want her and we don't need her. We'd like to choose our own destiny, since WE live here, year-round, for more than just 4 years.

And I am sure the people of Levanna and Sherwood would take some offense at your off-handed insults to them -- they may not look glorious, but they have quiet happy lives which THEY steer, not some outsider who looks down her nose at them. They have their independence and integrity, and don't deserve the slight.

If you truly want to understand the situation, you have to get to know the real people who live in this dollhouse and try to see things from our point-of-view, not expect to find some little misunderstanding which could be easily corrected if the rest of us could just be more cooperative.

Things in Aurora look pretty on the outside, but they are seething with justifiable resentments on the inside where the real action takes place.

Sorry to be such a turn-off, but this is reality -- you just have to get over the picture-postcard gloss -- it's all a sham and a facade.

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[Preservation in neighboring community]

I would like to make clear what happened to the two "derelict" buildings in our little crossroads town. They were purchased by some rich outsider, some guy from New Jersey, who bought them as a tax write-off. When the houses started to deteriorate, local people contacted the owner, who refused to do any upkeep. It got so bad it was starting to collapse, and then a large tree limb fell on it, ripping holes in it. The owner refused again, and also refused to let local people pay for and do the repairs...

No one here in Sherwood is responsible for those two derelict homes in this town -- they are derelict specifically because of a some rich jerk outsider who owns them and has purposely let them disintegrate. Rather reminds me of what Wells and Pleasant are trying to do to Lyon House down in Aurora.

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[Changes in Aurora are good]

I came to this hoping to find better understanding of the issues relating o the redevelopment of Aurora. I am disappointed to find quite a lot of rhetoric and hostility bordering on personal vitriol (her "considerable" weight? who cares if she is fat or not?). I still hope to find that understanding, since my child now proudly attends Wells College. As someone new to your issues, I can't help commenting that it seems like the critics really don't have any alternative plans for the town. If one looks at nearby towns such as Sherwood and Levanna, one cannot help thinking that at least on some level, the changes in Aurora are good if they bring people into the town, and kept historic buildings from going derelict.

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OBSERVER, 1/3/06

[Responses re Wells]

"The new style colonialism of Ms. Rowland should have been put down years ago by Wells College Board of Trustees...Where were these folks?"

Lisa has slowly reshaped the Wells College Board of Trustees, whittling down their numbers to something like half and stocking it with her cronies or weak alums she can sway or control. Many of the current trustees are the "Country Club" set -- people who love to be able to brag to their friends in the Country Club back home that they are trustees at a private school back East, who love to be wined and dined and treated like royalty and don't expect to actually have to do any WORK, like study a situation and make decisions in the true best interests of the college -- they leave that grunt labor up to the Administration -- who are only too happy to have no responsible oversight of their activities.

"If she really wanted to help Wells, she could easily double or triple its endowment, and walk away."

The fact that Pleasant has outright refused to fund anything academic or budgetary at the college should be a Big Red Flag waving for anyone watching the situation in Aurora. She is only interested in supporting and improving the physical facilities at the college, and my take is that she would be perfectly happy to see the insititution go under -- so she could add it to her other properties, and put it to her own uses, including, as she was once overheard saying to someone on campus -- as either a retirement community or an artist's colony.

My prediction: Look for Lisa and her cronies to quietly fleece all they can from Wells (including continuing their common practice of hiring old friends as "consultants" and paying them lots of money the college can't afford for wasteful services the college doesn't need or nonsense projects that cause more problems than they solve.) When it's nothing more than a shell and on the verge of collapse, watch her take a new position with the Girl Scouts, the Red Cross, with Hilary Clinton or some other organization, getting out just in time so that the college doesn't crash "on her watch." I wouldn't give it 3 years until these events come to pass. Then watch Pleasant buy up the land and facilities, hire the same housekeeping and B&G staff who have always worked there and leave the academics/professionals out in the cold.

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A FRIEND, 12/29/05

[Where do we go from here?]

Aurora is no longer part of entrepreneurial America - as it once was - but no longer. Aurora was the type of village anyone would want to grow up in, live in and work in, before the takeover.

The new style colonialism of Ms. Rowland should have been put down years ago by Wells College Board of Trustees, the town Mayor and City Council. Where were these folks?

As for the present, and what to do next, there is only one path and that is continuous efforts to balance the consolidation of power with community, entrepreneurial, people power. It is hard to understand such an ego: how can any one person want to control so much, especially since less quality products/services are produced and seeing the majority opposed to the efforts.

This ego of Ms. Rowland's must be huge and blind. We can only pray for her enlightenment during this holiday season.

Peace on earth and God bless the survival of Aurora, NY.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

ANONYMOUS, 12/29/05

Pleasant is not "giving" her "fortune", she is spending it.

Sure, her money could be put to better use in a humanitarian or philanthropic effort, but she chooses to spend her money to create an illusion of the perfect small town to satisfy herself.

The college has nothing to do with this. Lisa, and her minions, are Pleasant's puppets.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

AN OUTSIDER, 12/28/05

[The Role of Wells College]

Who is taking Pleasant's money? Correct me if I am wrong, but it is the College that is making the decision to take the money and make the changes. Why isn't anyone complaining about a college that will prostitute itself for the almighty dollar?

Almost everyone involved in this drama is or was tied to that college. The college owns most of the village: the Inn, the Fargo, the buildings that are being changed and/or controlled. They are not private enterprises. They are an investment for a private institution.The only reason the college continues to exist is the money from people like Pleasant.

Pleasant Rowland is nuts to GIVE her fortune as she currently is. Her money would be better spent in an humanitarian effort, or at least by giving it to someone who shows appreciation. But, that is just one persons opinion, I could be wrong.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~



To answer your questions, it is now Pleasant who is paying for everything, and it is Pleasant's wishes that are being carried out. Sure, Wells College and Lisa Ryerson have allowed Pleasant to get to where she is, and Lisa Ryerson deserves a ton of blame for the ugly fiasco that this has turned out to be. But at this point, Aurora is Pleasant's baby, not Wells's.

Ever since Pleasant showed up, and started throwing her ( considerable) weight around, people in Aurora have long given up on any kind of community-friendly behavior from Wells/Lisa Ryerson. Like any college president, Lisa Ryerson has whored out her office in pursuit of money. The big difference in Aurora is that, with Pleasant, she has also whored out her home town and her neighbors in the process.

You are certainly correct about better uses for Rowlands money - humanitarian causes, or even an upgrade in academics or academic facilites at Wells. If she really wanted to help Wells, she could easily double or triple its endowment, and walk away. But this Aurora project for her appears to be nothing but a gratification of ego and an urge for control. For that, I assume she is getting some satisfaction from her dollars spent.

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Pleasant Rowland has suffocated Aurora !!! by Pudd, 12/16/05

Prissy old bitch has commandeered the town in an effort to attract prissy old ladies.

If you are not a prissy old lady, there is no fun to be had here, for you.

Now that the snows have come and the prissy old ladies don't want to drive, every business in town - and every business is Pleasant's business - is on "cold weather hours", which really means, screw the residents of Aurora, if there are no tourists we are shutting down.

For a comprehensive review of what is really going on in Aurora (don't believe what you read in the paper) go to:

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[Pleasant in the Village]

Sue Edinger, the Aurora Inn manager, told me that Pleasant Rowland doesnít dare walk down the street in Aurora. According to Edinger, she is afraid that someone will talk to her.

Sue Edinger told me this in an effort to minimize my concerns and to placate my anger after she opened a dossier on me and presented a series of trumped up and fabricated accusations regarding my conduct in the Aurora Inn. Truthfulness aside, these charges were the basis for my being told that I was banned from the Inn.

Edingerís point was that my concern for having been blacklisted was insignificant compared to the plight of poor Pleasant not being ďcomfortableĒ walking through Aurora. Isnít it ironic? Or is it?

Rowland has spent tens of millions of dollars here, and she dares not Ė or deigns not Ė take a walk on Main Street.

One of the appeals of small town life is that people know you and speak to you when you are out. Pleasant knows that. Anybody knows that. Here in Aurora, Pleasant is not an intimidating CEO of a large corporation. She is simply a neighbor, albeit one wielding a lot of power here. Abusing her power, as she has here, changes the type of conversation she might encounter on the street. Pleasant knows that. Anybody knows that.

I donít think she ever intended to really be a neighbor. With Aurora, she wanted to dress it up, play with it a little, but never really fit inside it. Like a dollhouse.

Aurora is not a dollhouse. It is home to us. It is a real life world for the people who live in it. Rowland needs to realize this. Sheíd better rethink her tactics and methods here, and treat us like the good neighbors that we are. If she canít, she should get the hell out.

BTW: I have repeatedly requested a retraction and an apology from Edinger, Waller, and Rowland, for the scurrilous, nasty, and false accusations they brought against me, and my loved ones. To date, there has been no retraction or apology. I want to see Rowland walking down the street. If I do, I will ask her for that apology Ė again.

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