September 5, 2012

Editorial: A Broken Contract With Collegetown

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In 2009 Common Council Member (D-4th Ward) Eddie Rooker ’09 was elected to the Ithaca Common Council representing West Campus, Cascadilla Park and most of Collegetown. Prior to Rooker’s election, the seat was held by a mayoral appointee due to the abdication of Dave Gelinas ’07, who quit the post before his four-year term expired.

Like Gelinas before him, Rooker has announced that he is vacating his position before his term expires. The Sun is disappointed in Rooker for abdicating his office.

In 2009, Rooker received considerable support as a candidate largely due to his commitment to serving all four years of his term.

A Sun article at the time reported that Rooker “[found] the comparison between him and Gelinas to be misleading, primarily because Gelinas had only planned to stay two years, whereas Rooker plans to stay all four.”

Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick ’09 who was a member of the Common Council at the time of Rooker’s election, vouched for Rooker’s commitment to the position. Myrick told The Sun, “It’s a big reason why I endorsed him, I believe Eddie is fully committed.”

On the eve of his election, Rooker further testified to his own steadfastness saying, “I don’t have any long term plans outside being a councilor,” and that some councilors in the past “may have viewed this position as something to have. … I see it as a way to make an impact in the community.”

Rooker is resigning his seat in order to enroll in NYU Law School, which he was admitted to off of the waitlist. He had originally planned on entering Cornell Law School, a position that may have allowed him to maintain his duties in the 4th-Ward. A week after hearing his acceptance to NYU, Rooker announced that he was resigning his position.

Over the past few years, tensions in Collegetown have grown measurably, with a climate of hostility growing between permanent residents, students and landlords. Permanent residents are upset with the disorder left in the wake of students’ revelries, landlords are frustrated that students are more reckless than ever and students are growing weary of ballooning rent prices. The heated nature of the times calls for bold leadership, something that Rooker promised to provide three years ago.

Instead, Rooker is skipping town, leaving Myrick to find a way to fill the void.

Rooker’s decision to resign his position is reflective of the careless attitude that Collegetown’s permanent residents and landlords have been accusing the student population of exhibiting.

Instead of working with students to disprove those accusations and work toward solutions, Rooker is now exhibit A for Cornell students’ alleged reckless disregard for the Collegetown community.

Rooker ran for the position as a means of making “an impact on the community.” We are deeply saddened that he is choosing to leave that impact for somebody else to make.