James Brown


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.

Max Schulte / WXXI News file photo

East High School students, like senior Madison Smith, walked out of their classes on Monday to protest the district’s plan to layoff more than 150 teachers. The cuts, which total over 200 staffers, come as district leaders grapple with bridging a $64.8 million budget gap. 

“If you see us doing this, if you see how hard we’re fighting for these teachers, and you still don’t care, and you still plan on cutting them, on not changing your decision, It shows that you do not have our best interests in mind,” Smith said.

James Brown / WXXI

Rochester School District Superintendent Terry Dade on Tuesday made public the details of his plan to bridge a nearly $65 million budget gap.

Over the next few days, 218 Rochester City School District paraprofessionals, administrators, and teachers will receive layoff notices. That number is lower than the initial plan, which cut 287 positions. Dade said that number is subject to change. 

He said reductions would start by next month.

Provided / Citizen Action of New York

Parents, students, school officials and community groups in Rochester are asking for the city school district to be fully funded in the next state budget. Organizers from Citizen Action of New York are leading the effort by encouraging personalized letters and holiday cards to state lawmakers.

The state education department said the Rochester City School District is owed $86 million in state funding and Mercedes Phalan from Citizen Action said those funds would help bridge the district’s $65 million budget gap.

James Brown / WXXI

Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo has signed a controversial measure that would punish people who annoy cops and first responders on the job.

A public hearing on the so-called "annoyance bill" was held Monday. It was the last step before the bill, which the Republican majority in the County Legislature passed last month in a party-line vote, went to Dinolfo’s desk.

James Brown / WXXI

The city of Rochester received a subpoena from the Securities and Exchange Commission last week as part of an investigation into the Rochester City School District. 

James Brown / WXXI

Five percent of teachers and staff at the Rochester City School District will be laid off in the coming weeks, but Superintendent Terry Dade said the cuts could have been much deeper.

Dade told reporters Wednesday that his team came up with multiple plans to bridge the estimated $64.8 million budget shortfall. All included some layoffs of teachers and other staff.

Dade called the largest potential cut a “doomsday scenario.” He said that option would have eliminated about 18% of teachers and staff. To avoid that, Dade said he received help from the city’s finance department, which reviewed the district's budget and found $10 million in savings. 


Rather than risk a fight at the family dinner table, some people try to steer away from political conversations during the holidays. If you can’t stop that opinionated uncle from airing his latest grievance, though, you should have a game plan for dealing with disagreements. 

Gail Ferraioli is a mediator who works with couples, families and nonprofits. She said learning how to diffuse arguments is crucial. Ferraioli said one of the worst things you can do in an argument is dismiss another person’s opinions. Empathize instead, she said.

Jeremy Moule / Rochester City Newspaper

Rev. Lewis Stewart, faith leaders and criminal justice advocates are asking Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo not to sign a controversial law. 

The measure, passed this month, makes it illegal to annoy, alarm or threaten the personal safety of first responders and various forms of law enforcement. Those who do, would face a hefty fine and possibly jail time. It passed in a party-line vote earlier this month. The bill’s co-author, County Legislator Karla Boyce, said she was inspired to introduce the bill by recent instances of first responders put in danger.

James Brown / WXXI

A number of law enforcement leaders joined forces in Rochester and statewide Thursday to ask Governor Andrew Cuomo to slow the state’s move toward criminal justice reform. It's part of a statewide show of force by the law enforcement community. One common concern expressed in Rochester was about discovery. 

Livingston County Sheriff Thomas Dougherty said his department makes many drug-related arrests on Interstate 390. One reform requires police agencies like his to process, test and turn over all evidence to defense attorneys within 15 days.


The Rochester City School District has announced the appointment of a new Chief Financial Officer.

Robert Franklin will fill that job, which became vacant after the resignation last month of Everton Sewell. He left after school board members and district officials learned of a $30 million budget gap, after they said they had been told in May that last year’s spending plan was balanced.