“His proposal to seize the Saratogian's land and parking lot is more reminiscent of Nixon's ‘enemies list’ than the kind of conduct we’d expect from a city official,” he stated in a press release Friday.
Clearly, this is an opportunistic attack on McTygue and one that was going to come from somewhere. Scirocco picked the right moment to strike out at McTygue –eminent domain is a very anti-conservative precept that local Republicans can rally against. With his release, he gains quick-hit political mileage with land-use conservatives, McTygue enemies and most of all, the paper itself.
The strange part of the equation is that The Saratogian was the very paper to raise Cain over Scirocco’s timecards back in 2003, a story that was vastly blown out of proportion. As some may recall, Scirocco was simply writing his hours down to equate 40 per week, even though he wasn’t actually working at some of those times. Though a grand jury never found him at fault for “time card-gate,” he took a mighty beating in the press; especially in The Saratogian.
At the heart of the matter was Editor Barbara Lombardo, who seemed quite candid about her disregard for Scirocco at the time. In an editorial about the debacle, she even alluded to the fact that the affair “seemed like a political witch hunt” before chastising Scirocco for something that is commonplace in many salaried areas of the workforce. The whole affair itself was ironic, seeing as the paper was very closely aligned with the city Republicans at the time and was doing the dirty work of Democratic leaders; some chalked it up to the fact that Lombardo just didn't like the dog catcher for whatever reason.
So it is indeed a bizarre lash-out by the candidate for Public Works commissioner; not an unforeseen one, but a peculiar one to say the least. But who ever said politics don’t make strange bedfellows. However, his gushing over The Saratogian, a corporate-owned rag even most subscribers don’t view as the hometown paper, is almost comical.
“City residents count on The Saratogian for fair and accurate reporting that captures the local flavor of our community, without partiality or concerns for partisanship,” Scirocco stated in the releases.
Fair and accurate? Capturing the local flavor of the community? He must be referring to some other paper because these are not characteristics of the daily disappointment that dribbles out of Lake Avenue each morning. And the bit about Nixon’s Enemies List is definitley over the top, even for a politcially charged attack.
But Scirocco is right with one regard: a newspaper’s quality is directly correlated to its connection to the community. There’s no better way to establish a connection than to have offices and reporters at the very heart of a community; somthing that is not the case with either the Times Union in Albany or the Daily Gazette in Schenectady. Moving The Saratogian to an office complex in another town would be the death knell for the paper. The one strand of hope that keeps the paper remotely competitive with the others is that they have a greater presence of reporters in the city. Move them out of the city and this strand snaps.
The whole issue is probably moot for the most part unless the Journal Register Company gets involved, as they are the owners and not Publisher Frank McGivern. For some reason, neither the city nor the reporters following this story seem to understand this. They’re the ones that could pull the plug on Lake Avenue and probably give it earnest consideration if they had knew how much they would save in taxes each or had an inkling of how much that property is worth. Here’s a hint: it’s worth a hell of a lot more than the assessed value