WXXI AM News

James Brown

Reporter

Before coming to WXXI News, James spent a decade in marketing communications, while freelance writing for Rochester City Newspaper. While at City, his reporting focused primarily on arts and entertainment.

James cut his teeth in journalism as an associate producer and weekend assignment editor at WHEC-TV.

A Rochester native and an East High School graduate, James earned a Bachelor of Communications degree from Niagara University where he won awards for his poetry and resurrected the school’s radio station.

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The Community Design Center of Rochester is asking whether the pandemic is making people reconsider where and how they live.

The nonprofit, which promotes healthy, sustainable communities, is conducting a survey asking that and other questions about how Rochesterians are living during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Maria Furgiuele, the center's executive director, said people experiencing less traffic in their neighborhoods because of social distancing guidelines could be open to new ideas about how streets could be used when the pandemic is over.

James Brown / WXXI

Superintendent Terry Dade says the Rochester City School District needs to make more budget cuts -- but it's running out of options.

In late March, Dade released his draft budget but said that he would likely amend the proposal based on what the pending state budget agreement. This process is typical, but these budgets are not.

Rochester City School District

The Rochester City School District’s deficit is now roughly $81 million. That’s up a third from just two weeks ago.

The district’s draft budget was based on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s state budget proposal in January. That was before the COVID-19 pandemic, though, which Cuomo said has cost the state more than $10 billion. 

In a span of just two days, New York state went from partially lifting a pandemic-spurred restriction on showing homes in person to reinstating it once again.

On Wednesday, the Empire State Development agency said many real estate-related functions are "essential" and allowed one-on-one home showings. By Thursday night, though, the agency said those showings can be "virtual" only.

James Brown / WXXI News

The Empire State Development agency announced this week that real estate agents can show houses one-on-one in New York, but a pause on open houses continues because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

That forces real estate agents like Tiffany Hilbert to find workarounds

“We’ve had to be creative in our way of doing business, so now everything is virtual,” said Hilbert of Team Hilbert at Keller Williams Realty in Brighton.

A deal has been struck to bail out Rochester City Schools after the district overspent by more than $60 million last school year, which caused the district to lay off more than 150 staffers in December. 

Assemblyman Harry Bronson said a fiscal and academic monitor will be appointed to the district for the next three years. In exchange, the district will receive a $35 million loan from future state aid, known as a spin up, which will be paid back over at least 30 years. Without this agreement, Bronson said the district may have been allowed to seek a line of credit, but with a much shorter repayment window. 

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Several activist groups, including VOCAL New York, Citizen Action of New York, NYACLU, and the Rochester Citywide Tenant Union, held a virtual town hall focused on the well-being of Rochester’s underserved communities during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Jasmin Reggler from the tenants' union chastised Monroe County and the city of Rochester leadership for their treatment of the homeless during the coronavirus pandemic. She said the homeless population is very vulnerable to the virus, but has been an afterthought.

James Brown / WXXI News

City officials were expecting a delay to the start of the season of Rochester’s bike-share program as coronavirus cases started to spread into the country, but Pace, which operates the program, had something else in mind. 

Alex Yudelson, Mayor Lovely Warren’s chief of staff, said the city learned several weeks back that Pace was pulling out of the city and other medium-sized markets. Yudelson was told that Pace is “recalibrating” its business plan. 

James Brown / WXXI News

City officials were expecting a delay to the start of the season of Rochester’s bike-share program as coronavirus cases started to spread into the country, but Pace, which operates the program, had something else in mind. 

Alex Yudelson, Mayor Lovely Warren’s chief of staff, said the city learned several weeks back that Pace was pulling out of the city and other medium-sized markets. Yudelson was told that Pace is “recalibrating” its business plan. 

Ryan Williamson

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday that schools in New York state should stay closed until at least April 15 to continue efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus. 

Rochester City School District Superintendent Terry Dade said Cuomo’s decision does not affect the district’s approach right now. 

“The extension by the governor takes us to April 15,” said Dade. “Which is just beyond spring break. So there’s not a whole lot of difference with the instruction that we will provide.”

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