Rochester still upset with mayor's plan to get rid of city historian

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When I read that Mayor Robert Duffy's proposed city budget would downsize and outsource the position of city historian to save about $58,500 a year, I recalled that more than 20 years ago, the trustees at the George Eastman House secretly discussed giving away the museum's collection of films and photos.

Kodak had grown weary of the annual expense of a growing collection, and the trustees had approached the Smithsonian Institution about taking them all — lock, stock and Ansel Adams. The community rose up to object, and the board finally relented. Kodak made a new financial commitment; matching funds were raised; the museum was expanded and improved. The facility today is the finest of its kind.

The lesson: We must not give away who we are.

The mayor's proposal is hardly on the same scale as the near debacle at the Eastman House. But the lesson is the same.

Duffy's proposal would transfer the city historian's job to the nonprofit Rochester Historical Society. The city would pay the society about $40,000 a year. City Historian Ruth Rosenberg-Naparsteck isn't sure she could afford such a pay cut (with benefits, the city now pays about $98,000 a year for the historian), along with the loss of future retirement benefits because of an early departure from City Hall....

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