Thursday, November 01, 2007

Pressing matters

Most factory showroom models of the prototypical New York politician include a hyper-inflated sense of self-importance as a standard option. This self-importance is so common, in fact, it’s difficult to get a politician churned out of the partisan assembly line without the belief that their presence is infinitely more valuable than any other working-class stiff walking on the street.

Prime examples of this are the free-range jerk-offs milling about the state Capitol, each plucked out of some Democrat or Republican hatchery, given a tacky tie or pant suit and set loose on mission to see how large they can grow their egos before, during and after general elections. Even better are the local politicos, who act with a sense of personal elevation simply because they’re running for a part-time job that carries a vote on a small city’s governing body. And what better way to showoff one’s self importance than by calling so-called press conference.

Even the term “press conference” sounds important. The term “press” suggests some sense of immediacy and urgency, where as “conference” elicits the idea that droves of people might attend from miles around just to hear this Sermon on the Mount. At one point, politicians called press conferences because an important message needed to get out to a lot of people and the much less sophisticated press release just wouldn’t do. But over the years, the idea that a message needed importance to justify such a conference evaporated and the practice itself became a sort of second serving delivered after the press release, just to ensure full saturation.

This was never more evident in the Spa City over the past year, as the latest band of clowns makes and attempt to wrest control from the gang of jesters now claiming to serve the people. Residents had hardly sobered up from their New Year’s debauchery when the first press conference of the 2007 election was called to City Hall. With less than 11 short months left before the polls opened, Gordon Boyd wanted to make sure voters knew he was running for office.

Four months later, he was joined by incumbent Mayor Valerie Keehn, who toted a gaggle of cameras and pen jockeys into a rainy Congress Park to announce her re-election –even though a simple phone call would have done. As the spring wore into summer, so did the mounting number of city press conferences. Accounts Commissioner John Franck called one to announce the property assessment of the city’s most ostentatious home. Keehn called one to show off a ludicrous novelty check signifying the state’s VLT revenues and another to ensure her name would be thrown into the mix when the city’s waterfront park partially opened.

Then in August, Republican mayoral candidate Scott Johnson jumped head-first into the press conference circuit. He called a meeting of the minds just to announce his support for the New York Racing Association, even though he lacked even a tacit connection to the organization or legislative body deciding its fate.

But lately, the press conference extravaganza has hit furious pace. Keehn called one with Public Safety lapdog Ron Kim and Police Chief Ed Moore to call Boyd a big Karl Rove-hugging jerk. Then after a solid thrashing in the primaries, Boyd convened one to label Keehn a Fulani-loving cult follower; an accusation to which the mayor responded by saying she was too busy attending a dead kid’s press conference to deal with anything coming out of any other city press conference.

This month, the conference extravaganza has moved on to the Public Works race. Despite being essentially a retired city worker and holding no official office or title, Skip Scirocco has been averaging a little better than one press conference a week. There was a press conference to announce his CESEA endorsement and then one to announce his deputy, an appointment usually made long after the election and absent any fan fare. Sitting Public Works fixture Tom McTygue felt it necessary to hold his own press conference to show his workers still backed him, as well as one to defend allegations made in the press following Scirocco’s other press conferences.

Yes folks, these are important people; so important that it’s a wonder the city doesn’t invest in rose pedals to throw before their footsteps. These are also individuals far too lofty for simply explaining themselves or their intentions without some sort of grandiose three-ring circus. And the saddest part is that the more brutally fickle branches of the media seem to eat this tripe up by the plate full. On a side note, it should be mentioned that the news agency most often toted along on these ridiculous press conferences also happens to be the one that quite candidly admitted to literally printing yesterday’s news today.


Blogger Scoop said...

"Free range jerk offs" I love that, it covers a lot of ground.

9:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Wasn't it a boy's funeral, not a press conference, that the top Keehniac was attending when Boyd leveled his Fulani charges?

Your overall point is well-taken. I just wouldn't want to imply that this poor kid's family was guilty of adding to this press conference mania unless you really feel they did(?). And even if they did, I'd deal a grieving family a pass before any of the self-serving clowns your properly pillory.

Switching gears, your blog is the best consistent piece dealing with the maelstrom of SS politics. Whether my press conference comment above is right or wrong, you do have to do a better job of self-editing for grammar and spelling. The situation is not dire but the best journalism in SS deserves a little more attention to detail.

The Conscience of I-Saratoga

1:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

dem roc said:
i was at the csea press conference and the pat design one, i don't recall any accusations or allegations at all. what where they anyway?
enter spy shirley rice. a neighbor of skip and strong mctygue supporter made her way down the block, to investigate for tommy. she was invited in to ask questions but refused to stay and made her way back to her house.
the next day rumors went around city hall that skip was shitting on mctygue. this could not be farther from the truth. as easy as it is to pick on such an idiot as mctygue to say it happened at the pat design PC. is a lie. nice try though shirley, you have to stay till the end of the press conf. if you want to make a claim that skip was making allegations at the end of a press conference. basically, if you weren't there till the end, how do you know what happened at the end. so many lies, you can't even keep them all straight.

5:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You forgot Johnson's foolish press conference about donating his salary as Mayor if elected to Jefferson Terrace and their needs for GED's. This insulting gesture insinuates these people as not being smart enough to finish school but I will try to buy your vote. I, Scott Johnson know what it is like for you people because I lived there 40 years ago for a couple of weeks. Hey Scott did you run this idea by the Housing Authority about using their facility for this scam? Afterall it is government property and would require approval from The Housing and Urban Development office. If you are so sincere why not donate the money before the election? If you are so into education for these people at the Terrace, where was your involvement when the Head Start Building was remodeled? Where was your monetary contribution for that project? If you were to look at the plaque that hangs in the door way at Head Start listing donors your name is not on it but Mayor Keehn's is! What is your excuse for that! Wasn't it political then? If you are so concerned of the well being of the residents at Jefferson Terrace how come you have never attended a board of directors meeting? Mayor Keehn has been to at least 8 of them?

5:22 PM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...

No, I was definitely not implying the boy’s funeral was a ‘press conference’ so to speak. Rather, the way Keehn brought it up for no reason implied she thought of it as a press conference; in other words, an issue she could exploit to show her caring, motherly nature. Frankly, I think it was pour taste that she’d even mention such a detail in context with the Boyd’s accusations.

As for the typos, it’s an unfortunate circumstance relating to the time and mental condition this blog is often written under. Usually, I’ll revisit posts –sometimes even weeks later –and correct grammatical errors. One of these days, I’ll learn this Engrish language…

“I don't recall any accusations or allegations at all.”

Hmm…Not sure about what accusations you speak. I was just pointing out that the Skipper and everyone else in this race has really beaten the whole concept of ‘press conference’ into the ground.

“This insulting gesture insinuates these people as not being smart enough to finish school but I will try to buy your vote.”

Giving away $14,500 insulting? I’m not sure about that. In fact, I doubt you’ll find a social agency out there that would claim such a gift an insult unless it was ill-acquired blood money. From my perspective, it’s a nice gesture and one a lot easier to make in the weeks running up to the election. Likewise, I would rather see him give the cash straight up, and then follow that by saying he’d match the money with his salary if elected.

6:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is the total Net Worth of the Mayor and her husband? She talks about "millionaires" as though it were a dirty word.

Yet, if we take the total value of her house and the combined asset value of the pensions of her and her busband, who makes way over $100,000 per year, what is that amount?

When did wealth become a dirty word in a capitalist society?

And, what is the net worth of Amy Durland and her husband and some of the other supporters of the Mayor?

8:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wealth is not a dirty word it is just a joke that all of a sudden the Terrace matters to this guy. Where was he a few years ago? He would not be there now if it wasn't the hard work the Mayor did reaching out to the Terraces where no one else has ever done. If there were no voters there like in years past we would not even be talking about this. 40 years ago it was just another housing complex as now it is far different. That's when he had any ties to that neighborhood. Which have none of those people there anymore. Sorry I can't buy this!

4:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What? Is there unfair advantage being taken here? Is giving something back in whatever form an unusual gesture? The guy grew up there. What’s wrong with that? We talk low-income housing and tax incentives for developers, but we can’t appreciate a guy growing up at the Terrace and running for Mayor? Perhaps this is the first poignant moment in his life that giving something back to his neighborhood becomes not only part of his story but of his generosity. What, GED’s reflect ignorance? How many young adults pull away from graduation for one reason or another, or feel different because they live differently. I think it’s a nice gesture. What have you done for your old neighborhood? Given back some time as a volunteer on a Board to dole out your master’s voice? Nice.

5:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guess who's digging up the dump right now? give yourself a cigar if you said the DEC. BYE BYE Tommy. Send us a post card from the federal penn.

10:06 AM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...

What a thrill. There's only one person I know on the planet that will be excited about that and he's probably too busy planning his next pro-War rally or skulking through a backyard somewhere.

11:09 AM  
Anonymous Milhouse said...

I think Johnson's offer is insulting, but not to the people who benefit from it. It's insulting to the rest of the electorate. It absolutely reeks of trying to buy votes. So I'm supposed to vote for you because you're donating your salary? As if that's a good reason to vote for someone? So the only people who should run for office are those who can afford to donate their time? Maybe it'd be better if he just didn't take a salary and returned the salary to the city coffers.

I'd think it much more magnanimous and appropriate a gesture if it came November 7.

Having said all that, this isn't so insulting that I would stoop to voting for Keehn or Boyd.

11:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some of the people who lived in the Terrace with the Johnsons are still there for example: Linda Barney Benton's mother.

1:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doesn't matter much since Johnson is Toast. Just another puppet of the Jasperites! He won't win because this is not the 70's. Democrats are the future! Hal to Val! Love it or leave it!

8:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Johnson’s offer is both benign and calculating. It is an opportunity for him to actually and symbolically give something back and, get some recognition. GED’s are important and many young people for many reasons fall away from the pack. What’s the problem? Have you given something back lately -- like volunteering for a City Board position that would have you pledge allegiance to the Qheen?

The stigma given the Terrace neighborhood is not unusual; after all, it’s not an anonymous address. It is always one of the problems with creating an ‘assisted’ living situation for anyone other than the seniors in our community. It carries the stain of unworthy perpetual assistance. Perhaps becoming a success story and running for Mayor helps to break down that prejudice. Offering one’s salary to assist those individuals that might see themselves more worthy is a good thing.

I trust that the senior residents who can choose to live anywhere in our city should be welcomed and not bothered (nor included) by this often trivial pursuit in blogging. The Terrace like many other addresses can provide some of our seniors with a degree of independence, something I might add, is lacking in so many of our voters.

5:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the Toast Man - No this is not, the seventies or the sixties pilgrim … “Love it or Leave it” ... was a simplistic response to quiet anyone with a good idea. Incidently, the demo -(lition)- crats you refer to, are about as popular as a suicide bomber at a public market -- but, I am most amused by your Freudian typo.

Hal to Val? Yes, I would agree with that one. Hal (for those who can remember the sixties) was a reference for artificial intelligence from Stanley Kubrick’s enigmatic film 2001 A Space Odyssey … something that our Qheen exhibits every day acting out her own life production of 2005 - A Mayoral Absurdity. Be Cool. Dig? (from the Fifties Bro.)

8:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it would mean something if he donated it win or loose. and he announced it from the get go.

2:50 PM  

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