Saturday, July 18, 2009

Orwellianism in Local Media

I remember back in the 70's I was filming some hockey practice from center ice at the Watertown Arena while working for WNPE-WNPI. A fellow skating backwards bowled me over and the 16mm movie camera hit the ice, cracking the film magazine. I was mortified and of course worried I would be in trouble with the boss.
Turns out nowadays you would have to be drug tested as well, even with no evidence of erratic behavior. A local reporter told me that happens every time a fender gets rapped or a tripod tips over.
I know...."if you did nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about..."
Just seems to me a violation of one's self to be hauled in for blood work just because I missed the skater coming from my blind side.

Tough Sledding Ahead...Lots of Nastiness on the Horizon

Just got a call from a candidate upset over a blog. It was a reprint of the kind of beneath the radar "newsletters" used to spread negative stuff. I get 'em...Newzjunky gets 'em, I assume all media gets 'em.
I identified it as such, but of course people repeat it as gospel, which it may or not be.
I jokingly said in the intro I am an influential blogger which is of course tongue in cheek. A commenter quickly wrote in that I am an a--hole.
The lesson I am learning is that while blogging is a free form method for sharing observations and views, getting in the middle or even near the edges of the Congressional shootin' match is dangerous.
There is some hard core, scorched earth politics coming our way. Beware.

BY THE WAY- The polls we have taken on the Congressional race are just about up and it appears Dierdre Scozzafava is favored over Darrel Aubertine while her fellow Republican Matt Doheny trails Aubertine. Electability is the issue Scozzafava and Doheny are competing on prior to Wednesday's big vote of the county chairs.

OTB in District 11, Get Your Pencils Ready

There will be an OTB in Jefferson County Legislative District 11.
No, I don't mean Off Track Betting......
I mean an Opportunity to Ballot, an obscure seldom used technique to nominate a candidate for a party. In this case its the Independence Party nomination for Legislator. Two candidates who has asked to run were given authorizations but to the best of my knowledge failed to file petitions.
So I did.
The OTB petition is signed by ten party members in District 11 and when filed will trigger a write-in primary for the slot on September 15.
There is already an IP primary for county judge.

Albany politicos skirt protesters : Home: The Buffalo News

Senate Dems Hold a $5K a Plate Fundraiser in Buffalo....Obviously life has returned to normal as lawmakers resume the tradition of shaking down folks with money so they can continue their hold on Albany
Albany politicos skirt protesters : Home: The Buffalo News

The Press Republican - Article: GOP candidates for Congress meet in Plattsburgh

Plattsburgh paper has photos of the Congressional hopefuls. With a decision imminent, how much do we know about any of these people. I know some say it's a party leader decision and we voters will be told who our choices are at election time. BUT this is our one member of Congress ! Shouldn't there be more than just snippets of information ?
The Press Republican - Article: GOP candidates for Congress meet in Plattsburgh

Friday, July 17, 2009

Whitewater Park....Should There Be Rules ?

The City's new Whitewater Park opens up the question of what rules should govern these new waterfront facilities.
I say there should not be smoking allowed as it will result in more litter on the shoreline and butts are difficult to clean up.
I am more liberal on hours of operation especially if there is to be a commercial establishment on the property.
Frankly, drinking a beer while watching the water doesn't bother me from a moral perspective, but you probably have to ban it, realizing that those who do so discreetly enough not to get caught are not likely to cause trouble in the first place.
Council has decided against swimming, except of course those in watercraft who are wearing PFD's.
There is a ban on glass containers as well.
If you want to do things in a rule-free environment stay in your back yard.

Danny Francis on The Hotline

Media, self included in this blog, are fond of bestowing legitimacy on the conventional choice, machine-backed type of candidates.
In that world, a guy like Watertown's Danny Francis is out in the cold.
Dan warmed up today on the Hotline on WATN-AM 1240. In fact, the Harris Drive resident and Illinois native was quite lucid on a range of issues.
Francis is the retired Marine and DOD employee who has run afoul of the political establishment, but now he is the consummate rounded pebble in the stream of life. As a USC grad, he even has academic gravitas.
Dan's range of knowledge of issues and the government makes him a legitimate contender intellectually. I am not saying he is the best. He answered the 2012 question the wrong way for me to support him, but I appreciate his cordial demeanor as he came on the Hotline to share a mike with another guy who talks a lot but will never be a Congressman.

Thinkers vs Partisans....Answering Questions is so Much Easier for the Latter

I am looking forward to next week's Hotline appearance by Congressional hopeful and Gouverneur girl-next-door Diedre Scozzafava.

I must say I was puzzled by her excuse for postponing today's scheduled appearance.

She said a St. Lawrence County friend received a gift of salmon from Sally Heath, the mother of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. DeDe wanted to eat the salmon instead of appearing on the Hotline.

I hope the fish made it all that way in tact and I can understand participating in activities only tangentially linked to Palin, who is certainly a favorite of this blog.

What caught my ear was when I asked DeDe if in a 2012 Obama-Palin race, whom would she vote for.....She paused and said probably Palin and then when on to praise Mr. Obama. Well, it seems that cuts to the dilemma she faces among core Republicans who think she is too chummy with Democrats and has toyed with the notion of switching parties.

Her answer from a party perspective should have been...Palin ! Hell Yes !

Now maybe the post-partisan Member of Congress is what will sell in increasingly blue North Country counties, but from GOP faithful I talk to there are a significant number who still refer to her as RINO (Republican in Name Only).

Enjoy the Salmon, DeDe and I will see you next week on AM-1240, your news and talk authority.

Now, I don't like lockstep party dogma, which is why I never fare too well with those who do. (Except Ted, I do get along with him depite his cultish ways.)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

River Front Will Rock With New Hotspot in Old Club

For Years, the City has slowly but surely been sprucing up the shores of the Black River. Another step in that direction comes next Wednesday when Whitewater Park is dedicated on Newell Street alongside the section of river, kayakers call Hole Brothers.
This latest addition comes after the Veterans Memorial Walkway and the Waterworks Park on Eastern Blvd. Don't forget Marble Street Park.
Other trails near Factory Square and JCC have also been built.
Much of this has also been done with state grant money, although I am not one of those to argue that because its state money its not public money.
This Saturday, river enthusiasts will volunteer to do a cleanup of the often littered shores.
All of this is good.
The construction of decking attached to the former Red Lion Brew Pub has apparently led a group of investors headed by Chaumont resident Reg Schweitzer to attempt to buy the former pub and take a stab at making a buck on the Black.
Two previous owners have failed.
There are questions being raised about the propriety of the City building a deck attached to a private building and then calling it a park.
My own feeling is the park and the pub should be adjacent but separate and any land needed for outdoor festivities should be sold to the developers. Lawyers say you cannot do that. I don't concur. A line should exist between private and public so each entity can exercise control over their activities. Much is the same with the separate but adjacent relationship between the Fairgrounds and the privately owned Ultimate Goal Fitness Center. For saying that I am considered a party pooper.

This is a matter that will have to be resolved. I am sure it can be.

New and powerful tools : Opinion : The Buffalo News

Kudos to Cuomo for Taking a Stab At It.
New and powerful tools : Opinion : The Buffalo News

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Open or Not to Open

Today, my good friend Ted Ford and I disagreed about transparency.
I said the GOP should allow public viewing of these candidate screenings so the total Republican electorate can size them up and relay their feelings to the party poobahs who will choose the nominee for the special election for Congress.
Ted says no way. He says its a party choice and public need not know anything until its their time to vote. Now that's a hard core view....I am going to call him Ezra "Rahm" Ford from now on.
Now the Dem process is easy to understand. Send in your name, and then Rep. Steve Israel will pick Darrel Aubertine.
We got some intel on the GOP meeting in Gouverneur last night. Not from the drive-by media, but from a commenter on Scott's...oops on Political IV.

"As for Dede -- she sounded ANGRY. Angry at Jefferson County Legislators, angry at Lewis County Legislators... "Who was there for you when you wanted to raise sales taxes? It was me! I was!"She also came off sounding entitled to the position, which is a definite turn off. "This is the next step in my public service career," she said. And it also sounded like she was calling in all her chips."

Both frontrunners Scozzafava and Matt Doheny were described as nervous, with one Jefferson County lawmaker saying DeDe "was pretty wound up."
Doheny was described by one attendee as on both sides of the abortion issue.
A young guy from Waddington got high marks as a possible future star.
Cap and Trade legislation was a hot topic. I predicted that.
Apparently each county will authorize their county chair to vote on July 22. Each county has a weighted vote. For instance, Jefferson casts 17% of the total.
St. Lawrence 16%, Oswego 20%.
Pressure will be intense especially on folks whom Scozzafava has dealt with in the past.
Ms. Scozzafava has said she will be visiting the Hotline on Friday. I got a lot of questions....but I won't ask about the LifeSaver in downtown Gouverneur.

Aubertine Staffer Repsonds to Article on RollCall.com

Tit for Tat among the operatives has begun. Now I wouldn't have responded to this, it just generates the next tit for tat, which will be about Golisano supporting Aubertine last year and he was OK then. Sometimes feeding the beast only benefits the beast.
A Personal Note-I read this twice and it is inappropriate to come out of the official channels of a state legislator. This is campaign fodder and should be cranked out of a campaign office. The invective in this release, while heartfelt has no place in this forum. Please read and comment.
Aubertine Staffer Repsonds to Article on RollCall.com

New York: GOP Looks to Tie Aubertine to Albany - Roll Call

Sen. Darrel Aubertine's steadfast support for his party will be turned against him in spades if he runs for Congress. But so what, the same issues will be used next year if he stays in the Senate. The most dangerous thing Aubertine is uttering is his equivocation on the Congress run based on concern over preserving the Democratic Senate majority in Albany. I wouldn't be publicly expressing concern over Pedro Espada's leadership if you expect to run in the North Country.
The month-long blow up at the Capital does not accrue to Senator Aubertine's image.....But it's the albatross he will carry this year and next....Might as well get it over with this year when a loss still leaves you with an office to hold.
New York: GOP Looks to Tie Aubertine to Albany - Roll Call

Senator Gets Married and the Fester Begins Anew

They look so happy, the freshman Senator from NYC and his bride. But the decision....some would say the audacity, of Sen. Daniel Squadron to get married while Albany is in turmoil has got everybody maneuvering for an edge.
Republicans see the Dems will not for two weeks have the 32 votes needed to ram through legislation or rules changes.
It's a chance to advance a new but temporary wave of festering in our state capital.
Will they pass on the opportunity ? Time will tell.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Politics on a Tuesday Night

A couple of political newcomers in Watertown.
Coffee shop owner Teresa Macaluso is running for City Council. West side resident Anthony Doldo is running against Jefferson County Legislator James St. Croix in District 15.
Congrats to both.
Saw both County Clerk candidates in the County Fair Firemen's Parade Tuesday night. Republican Cheryl Lane and Democrat Gertrude Karris marched past the grandstand.
Republicans gathered in Gouverneur to ruminate about who should be their Congressional candidate. Gun nut Bart Bonner is said to have wowed the crowd......while the real race is between Mathew Doheny and Diedre Scozzafava.
I hear DeDe was aggresive in front of her home town crowd.
Democrat Darrel Aubertine has still not announced for Congress and some say he may wait till Rep. John McHugh officially leaves office. Republicans are trying to advance the notion Aubertine will stay put in the State Senate.
I dont believe it. Congress is a nice gig and there is no reason for Aubertine not to run.
Staying in the Senate only ensures another nasty bid for reelection next year.......And that prospect really sucks.
Even my Mom called today to blast me on the Friendly's issue.....I believe there is a real chance we would lose construction of a new restaurant to outside the city. Didn't want that happening on my watch and I see no immediate development resulting from other scenarios. Plus, I doubt there would have been a four-fifths vote available to approve the results of any auction.
There is a meeting next Monday for those wanting to speak on the issue, before a vote is taken.

Bonner vs Francis

Now that would have been the Congressional race I enjoyed most.....Soldier of Fortune Conservative Bart Bonner against the independent Democrat and perennial letter to the editor writer Dan Francis. Both guys with ideas and dedication but not likely to win their party's nomination.
Bart says he likes Matt Doheny but is worried the successful investment banker doesn't know enough about our lifestyle, which for Bart means guns, guns and oh, by the way, guns. Bart says he recently baffled Doheny by asking him what a 7.62mm was. It's a caliber of ammunition.
Dan is frustrated because the Democratic selection process is well, not very democratic.
These are both smart, thoughtful characters who would really take an interest in being in the Halls of Congress. It is doubtful they will get the chance, but I for one appreciate their trying.

Monday, July 13, 2009

A New Bull Moose Party...Hell Yes !

Here's a Shocker to the Partisans....I am comfortable reading the Daily Kos or the Weekly Standard...It's the joy of being independent...My reading list isn't reviewed by party minders. As for a new Bull Moose Party run by Sarah Palin, count me in....It's been 100 since TR's run. Time for another.
Daily Kos: State of the Nation

Crunch Time in The Grand Old Party and Our County is In the Thick of It

50/50...That's how supporters of investment banker Mathew Doheny see their chances in a candidate selection process that includes 9 candidates trying to impress county chairs at a series of four regional meetings ending this week with pow-wows in Gouverneur and Plattsburgh.
Doheny comes to the race as an Alex Bay native and self-described "self made man." Lots of energy here and he is using it by putting miles on his 1994 Ford Explorer he calls "Bessie." By personalizing your vehicle does that make trading it as grim an occasion as taking your dog to the vet for that final trip?
Driving the massive 23rd CD will certainly hasten the day Doheny has to say goodbye to his beloved SUV. He is making personal contact and not relying on the long-time political alliances he frankly does not have but his opponent does.
His principle opponent, Bart Bonner.....just checking to see if you are paying attention. His principle opponent is Member of Assembly Dierdre Scozzafava of Gouverneur.
Actually, these two do offer idealogical differences similar to what divides the Republican Party in the nation.
Doheny takes the conservative position on social issues, but leaves the impression his opposition to abortion or gay marriage is more part of a right wing check list than a prime issue. He likes to talk about economics, taxation, budgets and all the things his career as an investment banker readied him for.
Scozzafava epitomizes the Rockefeller Republicanism so popular in NYS. Remember Sen Jacob Javits who was dumped by the GOP in the D'Amato surge in 1980. She is prochoice, pro gay marriage, and in bed with the unions as evidenced by her endorsement in 2008 by the Working Families Party and not the traditional GOP rubber-stamping Conservative Party.
Doheny is running as an outsider in a year when being outside of Albany is a good thing. But people like who they like. While Pedro Espada may be a bad dude in a corrupt state capital, I don't see Scozzafava suffering much from her very strong ties to traditional come-up-through-the-party politics.
What interests me is the notion of whether people view the bar for admission to the US Congress as different than other elective office. Will those who choose set a higher bar for conversancy on issues instead of likeability.
For years we have never had to decide, as the political hierarchy has passed the baton without we citizens ever having to pay attention.
If Will Barclay's loss taught us nothing else, the good old days are over and there is no automatic right of passage seats anymore.
BULLETIN- Just got a TidBit on the selection process. Under the weighted vote by county system the GOP will use to select its nominee, Jefferson County with 17 % is now viewed as the pivotal vote. Observers say Oswego County will cast its lot with Doheny, and that's 20%. Doheny is said to have come out on top in a forum last week in Oneida County.
However Scozzafava has a lock on the 16% vote in St. Lawrence County and is said to have the edge in Clinton County (Plattsburgh). Assuming the other little counties split, the decision will be in Jefferson, where County Chair Sandy Corey is a DeDe backer while several County Legislators, led by District 9's Barry Ormsby are rumored to be behind Doheny.
When push comes to shove, I just wonder how many GOP honchos, regardless of their views, will stand up in a party forum and vote against a popular local icon loved by the media and in the past kicked to the curb by party power brokers.
The impression I get is that for many their head is with Doheny on the issues but their heart may be with Scozzafava.
But what do I know, I haven't been a Republican since the early 80's, although I still do have numerous Nixon/Agnew buttons.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Bobbing for Butts-The Sad Spectacle in Tough Times

Maybe it's hard times....Maybe it's the predatory taxes of Obama and Paterson.
I increasingly see people sneaking up to this cigarette recepticle outside Fort Pearl to search for butts with a bit of smoke left in them.
The receptacles are there to discourage littering...something smokers often due....but suddenly in the times we live, people are finding value in others castoffs.....Sad

Circus Will Eclipse Fair for Oddities This Summer

The Jefferson County Fair opens this week and venerable as it is , the Fair cannot match the freak show coming right after it when the political circus comes to town in the form of multi-million dollar campaigns for the two people vying to succeed Rep, John McHugh.
We all got a taste in the February 2008 special election for state senate that put Darrel Aubertine in the position to springboard to the Congress.
It was big, nasty, pervasive and showed sleepy North Country pols what big time politics is all about.
As BTO said, "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet."
Oh, I am sorry, BTO is Bachman Turner Overdrive, a popular 1970s band.
Within two weeks Aubertine will likely announce and in a closed door, back room forum similar to papal selection the GOP College of Cardinals will pick between Assem. Diedre Scozzafava and investment banker and lawyer Mathew Doheny.
Scozzafava relies on her status as a sitting member of official Albany and her considerable personal popularity in Greater Gouverneur.
Doheny runs a frenetic campaign visiting eleven counties, checking in with the political cognoscenti (did I spell that right, Ted Ford uses that phrase and I like it). Doheny has a web sight, a charming campaign staff and is engaged in fund raising, the mother's milk, as they say, of politics. He is a young man in a hurry, although at 38 is well above the Constitutional age requirement.
Scozzafava offers personal appeal and a long record in local and state government. She is burdened with sharing with Aubertine the honor of serving in the most clownish of state capitals. She likely will not get the Conservative Party nod, but I am not sure Doheny does either as I think the fix is in on the minor party lines. And opposition is already planning ways to use a family financial dilemma against her.
Doheny is a talker and genuinely does seem to understand the complexities of policy, whether or not that matters in Washington, I don't know.
What will be circus-like....and I am told both parties have advance people here already....is the scope of the campaign that will bring national attention as the pre-2010 showdown for momentum in the race to control the Congress.
For Dems a win in this long GOP district is a political stake-in-the-heart for the Party of Lincoln. For the GOP it's a chance to show resilience and relevance.
When the race begins in earnest, hang on to your hat because for intensity this could way surpass the Aubertine-Barclay food fight or the Aubertine-Renzi battle.
Now that I know such affairs are best enjoyed from a safe distance, I am looking forward to the spectacle.