People eating lunch at Magnolia’s restaurant on Park Avenue downtown began to suspect something was up when armed men began to appear on rooftops.
Next came bomb-sniffing dogs, Secret Service agents who checked customers with hand-held metal detectors. Finally came President Barack Obama, who did indeed make an unannounced stop in Rochester for Lunch at Magnolia’s.
Rochester Mayor Tom Richards said he got exactly 30 minutes’ notice of the presidential visit. He made it in time to greet the Chief Executive.
The president also shook hands with restaurant patrons, and chatted with them about everything from the high cost of college to his new puppy.
Rochester Attorney Paul MacCauley said his brother, who is deaf, greeted the president in sign language, and President Obama answered in kind.
Earlier in the day, the president spoke at the University of Buffalo, where he laid out a plan to address the cost of higher education.
The president wants to measure college performance through a new ratings system so students can pick the school that gives the best value. He wants to measure factors including how well students do in the job market after graduation and how much debt they carry when they graduate.
After the rating system is in place, President Obama wants Congress to tie federal aid to college performance rather than how many students the school enrolls. He would also recognize and highlight examples of schools that innovate to provide better value for the money.
The president is also pushing the Pay As You Earn plan which caps student loan payments at 10 percent of income. He says not enough people are eligible as the program now stands.