Thursday, December 18, 2008

Swing for the stands

Hank Aaron knew a lot about slumps. Despite holding the home run record for more than four decades, the Hall of Fame baseball player had his fair share of games where he simply couldn’t seem to get around the bases. So he had a simple philosophy when it came to breaking out of a funk: Keep swinging.

“Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly or having trouble off the field, the only thing to do was keep swinging,” he once said.

No doubt, the editorial crew at iSaratoga has undergone its own slump over the past three weeks. So much of a slump that some have even forecasted an untimely demise of this never-ending exercise in free speech.

Now you’re probably saying ‘Slump? Are you kidding Horatio? You haven’t posted once in December. This is no ordinary slump.’ True. Very true. In fact, never has there been such a long absence of posts in all of iSaratoga’s nearly three years of publication. And there’s no silver-bullet reason that would explain any of this. Part of it has to do with lethargy; some pertains to ill-timed consumption of Johnny Walker; others the general condition of life in this grand union of ours. It’s a bit hard to be cynical when the fabric of this great American tapestry is unraveling –or maybe even has unraveled.

Still, this is no time for cocktails and tears. After all, the salinity does nothing for the after bite of a good smoky scotch. So batter up, let’s swing for the stands and swing often. One of these cuts is bound to yield something other than a goose-egg.

Leading off, the Saratogian’s new Web design has added a nifty feature some other area papers have capitalized on. Aside from being more comprehensive, the site now includes a side box that allows readers to navigate the most read stories and those that have elicited comments. The Post-Star employed a similar tactic several years ago and has seen their comments balloon as a result.

Of course, the number of comments never ensures they’re worth reading. But occasionally, they make for a hell of a read. When South Corinthian Michael DiGioacchino announced he’d challenge relic Jim Bowen for Saratoga County Sheriff next year, the coverage in the Saratogian roused a few people that painted a less than endearing picture of the prospective Republican candidate.

Apparently, DiGioacchino’s wife found herself embroiled in a quasi-road rage incident with a fellow motorist. But instead of calling 911, she called her husband, a member of the Schenectady County Sheriff’s Department, who was nearby at the time. DiGioacchino confronted the motorist –who later turned out to be a neighbor –and at least identified himself as a cop. The authorities were contacted after a heated exchange between the candidate and the offending motorist, but no arrests were made.

The dispute is relatively trivial with the exception that DiGioacchino chimed into the comment section himself to weigh in on the matter. Granted, he did so in a very tactful manner. However, it’s a bit odd for a candidate to go on the defensive online with an anonymous poster just days after he announced his candidacy. Of course, when a candidate shows up to a press conference looking like Eliot Ness and then comes off as a vigilante the next week, it’s probably best to nip that one in the bud.

But the sheriff’s challenger isn’t the only one to grab attention in the online comments section. The widow of Michael Arpey –the drunk driver who killed a popular Saratoga High School football player last spring –seemed to swat the online hornet’s nest when she decided to sue the two bars that fed her hubby drinks prior to his wreck.

Unfortunately, the Saratogian reporter really didn’t investigate the lawsuit very thoroughly, or contact any of the victims in the case. In fact, the reporter didn’t even bother to call the attorneys listed for the plaintiff and defendant, the owners of the City Tavern and the poorly named It’s Confidential, or Jummel’s as the locals once called it.

Obviously, the widow Arpey or the ambulance chaser that put her up to the lawsuit didn’t think it through too well, seeing as though it was her husband who made the semi-conscious decision to get behind the wheel after a night of boozing. It’s unlikely the barkeeps at either establishment poured this bibulous man into his truck and then put it into gear for him to swerve home; or in this case, into a poor kid simply trying to make it home after visiting a friend. But let’s not digress.

Those commenting on the article roundly miss its dramatic shortcomings and instead broadly castigate the widow for her frivolous suit. This was countered by someone ‘in the know’ who suggested the widow would do something altruistic with whatever settlement she feels is due. Another less rational person suggested that all bartenders in the downtown region “are poorly educated;” a statement which this humble moderator takes issue with.

When it comes to smarts, folks don’t get much smarter than the standard bartender. Try juggling a few dozen cocktail orders in your head, along with their price and the ingredients, while some jackass blathers on about his ‘killer’ day at work. Then add in a cute blond flashing the ‘do-me’ face at the end of a three-deep bar, and you’ve got a profession that takes more know-how and savvy than your standard rocket scientist. The ignorance of some is simply astounding.

Moving on today, there’s word that the city’s talk with the police hasn’t brought them any closer to reaching a contract. That on top of the dilapidated station has caused morale to plummet, according to PBA President Ed Lewis. Morale has declined so much that the PBA negotiating team simply can’t bring themselves to meet with the city the day before Christmas eve.

“That’s two days before Christmas, so I figured we’ll wait until after the holidays,” he told the Saratogian Wednesday.

Now let’s stop here for a minute. Cops typically speak a similar, but different English than the vernacular. Words like ‘transport’ are used instead of ‘taking,’ or ‘lacerations’ instead of ‘cuts’ and so on. So in translation, by ‘wait until after the holidays’ Lewis means ‘all of us not making overtime have off until New Years’ Eve and there’s lots of wassail to drink,’ both of which are clearly more important than working out a contract. Cheers guys!

City residents can at least revel in the thought that Public Safety Lapdog Ron Kim won’t be negotiating this contract. Mayor Scott Johnson has hired a private attorney at $250 an hour to represent the city in the talks, if they ever happen. While this might sound like a lot to be shelling out for something a sitting commissioner should technically be doing, it’s for the best. At least now, the city will have someone who might argue for concessions in the contract, rather than opening up the coffers for the thieves in blue.

Well, that’s about all the swinging this hammer has in it for the day. Hopefully, a few of those pitches reached the warning track. And hopefully this will satiate the dwindling masses of iSaratoga’s regular readership until this humble moderator can pull his cranium out of the holly.

20 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scott Johnson and Mike Arpey have a lot in common. Neither one has any idea what they are doing at all times. They are both weasels. They both care only about themselves. They both didn't earn their keep. Arpey is dead! Johnson will be dead soon!

6:46 PM  
Blogger BlueDog said...

HO,

Welcome Back Man!

This guy DiGioacchino seems like a real nut! Can you imagine being pulled over by a Schenectady County corrections officer who lives in Corinth?!?! Mr. Wizard!!!

He must have gonads the size of grapefruits or maybe he's delusional. Running against Bowen?
What a waste of time and money on his part.

8:23 PM  
Blogger A small "r" republican for fairness said...

Thank God you are back....

And welcome back.

Small 'r'

10:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

6:46 time to get your medication adjusted

4:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you are right to criticize the person who said that the downtown bartenders are uneducated.

The only people that believe thats its so easy serving the general moronic public are always the ones that have never done it.

It should be mandatory that EVERYONE should have to work in a bar or restaurant at some point in their lives.

Re: mike arpey, I find it outrageous that people still feel that they themselves do not have to be responsible for their own behavior and still think it is okay to blame the bartender.

He was an adult who CHOSE to drink and CHOSE to drive drunk which he paid for with his life. What part of this equation do people fail to understand?

Is there anyone who doesnt know that drinking combined with driving is illegal? The answer is NO. It was illegal yesterday, its illegal today and will be illegal tomorrow kids. Test on Monday. Bring your #2 pencil.

5:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I HOpe you are Ok.
I didn't like the tone of your blog, you sound depressed. Could it be the season, or is there more to this?

Regardless, take care man, we really missed you.

Leave Johnny Walker to someone else, he doesn't have the answer.

2:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HO:

Little Scooter says the Indoor Recreation Center is exempt from the City's Zoning Ordinance because it's a municipal project. That's total baloney.

He pretends to be a lawyer, but either he doesn't know the law or he thinks he can get away with making up an exception that doesn't exist. He's turning out to be just another lying Republican like Mike Lenz.

Meanwhile, Scooter's Republican law firm keeps on billing taxpayers at $250 an hour to negotiate union contracts but gets absolutely nothing accomplished.

5:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hang in there HO IT'LL COME BACK AROUND,blogamation needs your talents...thank you..THE SPICE.

5:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, it might surprise most of us that the City is exempt from its own regulations (most of the time). The Council can overturn anything and everything it wants to, much like a Roman Tribunal and an Administrator would be like an Emperor(ess). Consider the preposterous allegations by the Public Safety Department that it has to endure all of the "illegal and non-compliant" building conditions which one might realize were accomplished by their own authority without permitting or review. It's like a SNL moment, "Who’s the Public Safety Inspector here?" So don't get too official when it come to nit-picking established setbacks, instead wonder why the South Broadway Motel has the nerve to decorate its newly paved parking area (with no storm drainage - draining to Broadway) with a bright orange plastic snow fishnet for five months. After all the money that was spent with curbing, sidewalks and plantings, this guy is still permitted his cheesy barrier. Can we say Architectural Review? On pavement and drainage, there are many examples where owners have been permitted to blanket their properties with blacktop while those who diligently stand before the review boards are required to connect to the storm sewer system. My point is don't look too hard at trying to exercise control over this project by demanding the imposition of building setback requirements. The very same people who argued this building away from Weibel Avenue now complain that their "open space parcel" is being violated. Do we move it again to Excelsior this time over the capped brown field, but then again it would be too far to walk to (like anyone will really walk to this facility past a three block perimeter? Who's (was) the Planner here?
On that lawsuit blog, you gotta like the Russian.

6:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why can't the City purchase the old Ellsworth Ice Cream plant on Division Street and turn that into a recreational center ?

11:26 AM  
Anonymous Rick J. said...

No mention of our penis friend jacking a car. Talk about a slumpbuster. That story is a big ol fastball right down the middle of the plate with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth in the World Series.

7:08 AM  
Anonymous parsly,sage rosemary and Tyge said...

Breaking News: Blogster Ben Arnold of Disutopia has not posted since November 24th. It has been discovered that Val Keehn's new Boyfriend is the Blog King Himself. He at first was stringing along to get info from Keehn for his blog but later fell head over heels in love. He cannot continue writing now that most of his (5 or 6) readers are anti Keehn fanatics. He also was fed up with the complaining of one particular writer who constantly attcked Keehn and then was being attacked by the other side. Apparently he couldn't handle the heat so he threatened Ben! More news to come.

7:36 AM  
Anonymous Kyle York said...

Horatio—

I understand your doldrums too well. In the words of Bob Seeger- “Wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then.” You’ve always seemed focused and aware, informed and concerned for the future of our town and the world beyond. To your point, I believe we have “unraveled.”

You’ve offered the forum for me to get a great burden off my chest. I expect to be mocked, flamed, challenged, and ignored. It’s not my nature to be a pessimist. I try to gather as much information as I can on subjects that matter. And I hope I am proved wrong on every single thing I see coming, from the Wilton Mall to the Wailing Wall—

RETAIL SALES this Holiday season will be far worse than anybody has guessed. With or without storms, the “last minute” shoppers aren’t coming. The high hopes for flat screens, blue-ray, GPS gadgets, and a PC boomlet…they won’t happen. The Mall-American black hole that is Wilton will begin to collapse under its own weight. Immediate layoffs of hourly workers lead to still lower retail sales which leads to lower retail income which means more layoffs. “Final Days” sales from Wilton to Wasilla.

POST OFFICE and UPS numbers will be so low as to strain credulity. With warehouses full, mail trucks travel light, and the blame will fall on “weather.” But the post-holiday sales will bring no rebound or relief. It ain’t happnin’.

SARATOGA SPRINGS outperforms the nation. But the TrainWreck in Toyland sets the stage for the most divisive and debate to ever polarize our political landscape.

PAID PARKING will tear this town apart. It’s a decision that is by necessity on a fast track. And the urgency will evoke passionate fury and animosity like Spa City has never seen. All political fights of the past will pale by comparison. The very future of the city is at stake…and BOTH sides will shout it with a self-righteous fire of the furies. Business leaders will rail against is as nothing less than the death knell of the city— “NO person will pay and ALL roads lead to Wilton. Broadway will go DARK forever as Broadway goes bankrupt.” Supporters of the plan will portray it as Now or Never— “It is the ONLY viable means to build the Public Safety facility. We face MONUMENTAL parking needs for the exponential growth of the expanded CITY CENTER.” In the end, the City Council’s 3-2 vote will only inflame those who do not get their way. The bitter rift will only widen in a battle where no quarter will be given.

AMD is DOA. If there is any justice, voters will rightfully blame SEDC and the Board of Supervisors for “closing” a $3.6 billion deal…on a HANDSHAKE. Despite the poor reporting and pathetic cheerleader headlines, AMD has committed to NOTHING. They can wait until July 2009 when they can simply walk away. But July won’t come. AMD is already set to announce more layoffs. When PCs gather dust in the warehouses, AMD digs in deeper with a blizzard of PR and photo ops. But the ultimate deal-breaker comes from the Feds in DC. The single most important approval for AMD’s partnership with the government of Abu Dhabi (UAE) has to come from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), the nine-member federal committee chaired by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. We have NO IDEA when the committee will meet. But the trade secrets now shared by AMD and INTEL are too important to grant to ANY third party. For those who scold me as an Anti-Arab paranoid bigot, I ask you to check your facts to confirm that the #1 trade partner with Abu Dhabi is the nation of Iran.

THE AMD INCENTIVE POOL is money squandered by SEDC and the Supervisors…and this is NOT a case of 20/20 hindsight. When AMD was healthy in June of 2006, our County idiots made their deal…on a HANDSHAKE. The State tied up over $1.3 BILLION…and kept it from going to OTHER businesses ready to make SIGNED commitments…that money was set away off-limits… on a HANDSHAKE. As AMD hit troubled waters, responsible leaders should have demanded a binding agreement in return for the $1.2 billion incentives. But all they did was stage more photo ops. In Track parlance- The County bet it all on one horse. And when the horse staggered lame throughout the 2 ½ year walk to the starting gate, the County stayed with a loser when it could have spread their billion-dollar bet over three or four healthier winners. The Empire Zone incentives should have been offered to any viable hi-tech firm with the confidence to SIGN a contract. But the economic landscape has changed and any “New” Empire Zone money will not come from Albany. The recent votes of the Supervisors and the State Empire Zone officials have placed the laminated lid on the silicon coffin. The final nail will be driven by the Feds in DC. But the murder was a suicide pact written in Ballston Spa.

Because THE COUNTY WATER BILL is coming back to every County taxpayer. With a vengeance. The plan’s biggest customer is SEDC…that’s a signed contract for about $4200 a day, not a handshake. In yet another foolhardy fiasco, County Supervisors allowed SEDC to act as a stand-in for AMD. It WAS and REMAINS obvious that SEDC hasn’t got that kind of cash or credit. But without AMD there was no way to fund the $67 million water plan…so they all sang Kumbaya and agreed to let little SEDC stand in line to “hold the place” for AMD. TWO Supervisors had the smarts and the guts to vote against the house of cards—our own Yepsen and Keyrouze. Nobody spoke more forcefully on-the-record in the Board meetings than Cheryl Keyrouze. Her words and her warnings are in the official Minutes and the ancient news stories.

Well it’s the end of this view of what disturbs me on our local scene. I have more on my mind, perhaps many of the global issues that trouble you, host Horatio. But your readers won’t allow me to write more because they simply MUST jump in to rant with sarcasm and raging wit now that I have used the word “Keyrouze.”

Choose your side on Parking, brace for more winter in Wilton, listen to the silence in Luther Forest, and open your wallet to buy water you never wanted.

-Kyle York
Hand. Shakes.

11:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kyle 11:11
Hark! the Herald Angel Sings.

Sit down man. I don't know if you should put a heaping tablespoon of baking soda in a glass of water and drink it before you start writing or afterward, but it might make you feel a bit better.

(Everybody's waitin' For) The Man with the Bag.

6:50 AM  
Anonymous Morf said...

Hurray, you're back !

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3eNVedQ5cU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cn8Pua5rhj4

2:30 PM  
Anonymous I saw Ron Kim kissing Santa Claus said...

Speaking of Ben...

My sources tell me it was one of Vanguard's babe-bait that got to him (obviously NOT Val).

He now is climbing the echelon of the NXIVM organization, attending all the sessions as he attains new sashes and getting laid nightly on Wells Street.

His blog will be back up and running soon, but beware: it won't be Ben behind the curtain. It will be that dastardly Vanguard, manipulating us all as he continues to scheme ways in which he brings the DFC anarchists to power.

Such a clever man. And soooo handsome.


(Vanguard, not Ben)

3:51 PM  
Anonymous mamie said...

never mind all that gibberish of Kyle York. How about this notion of Ben Arnold and Val Keehn? Is there any truth to this? Stranger things have happened.

5:05 PM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...

2:59,

I wouldn't call what I'm suffering from 'depression' in the clinical sense of the term. In other words, we're not talking sadness, or worse.

But sometimes, life can be pretty darn uninspiring, and that's precisely where I'm at right now. It's a product of the season, the lack of life-giving sunlight and the overall malaise that continues to suck at the American public like it were some sort of primordial beast lodged in a tar pit. Personally, my life and the condition thereof hasn't changed. However, inspiration has been fleeting at best.

Rick J.,

I was going to include penis-boy in the weekly roundup, but it started getting long, as did the day. So he got bumped. I'm still hoping to opine on the subject later, time providing.

Kyle,

Your scenario sounds all to possible. The only thing I think could change is the AMD scenario. While the chip maker is certain to shed more of its workforce, I have a feeling what is metastasizing in Luther Forest will come to fruition, just not in the grandeur all the cheerleaders have maintained. There will be more breaks, more accommodations and more hope; less jobs, less promise, and less value per tax dollar. Then end, I feel, will be someone drinking expensive tax-funded cocktails down there in the Cayman Isle...we shall see, friend. One of these days, I'll get my AMD post together.

Parsly/Kim kissing Santa Claus,

The 'reports' of Ben's demise are just as premature as those about mine. And while I'm sure a certain tubby deputy commissioner would love the aforementioned "breaking news" to be true, I can say with fair certainty it's a crock of shit. We bloggers need some downtime now and again. At times, it's tough to fit a full-time job and the rest of life's demands in with blogging.

All the rest,

Thanks for the 'welcome backs.' In all sincerity, they make this blog worth the effort.

8:45 PM  
Anonymous agphoto said...

HO-HO-HO!
Ok; the first thing you need to do is lose the full-time job hahaha. Hopefully, that will not be involuntary...

Kyle,
Congrats on putting yourself out there with some predictions that make caster oil taste like Bass Ale (product placement, Ho, we all have to earn a living)... many of them look dead-on here...

I do hope that you are looking at the big picture though and considering BUYING the Wilton Mall lot for overflow SS downtown parking and giving it to the city as yet another of your gifts to the zip code you love... this will make your case with D. Patterson stronger as you seek to complete your move for the vacant senate seat, where your pontification skills will reach full flower. Special Election Slogan: "Megalomania: we used to think it was a bad thing."

Before you take offense, note well that "Old York for New York" was considered and dismissed.

I of course am ready to spread your campaign war chest liberally throughout the state as your media czar... let's start with a banner ad on i-saratoga; i hear they are making deals in the first quarter of 2009.

So, i share Kyle's Doom, but not his gloom. A recession narrows the gap between us and D. Trump, and we all have blessings just lurking around the corner... or are they stalkers?

Finally, HO - your present: how about a planned vacation time each year? I know, who could possibly provide the prose that it objective, snarky and concerned? Who would be guest blogger(s)?

The line forms under Kyle's condo.

I choose not to run, yet i will accept the inevitable draft (i should have put plastic over that window...)

Happy holidays to all!
Agphoto

9:48 AM  
Anonymous Kyle York said...

Agphoto-

As your name suggests, your words make great pictures. And I enjoy them, one and all. I plead guilty as charged, a Holiday beverage is on me anytime!

About the latest from AMD, they've promised REAL CASH to support a bicycle race...in April. My advice-- Don't bike on it. The SEC filing by AMD is filled with Abu Dhabi disclaimers, that the merger (and the money) is ONLY GOOD if all current AMD approvals are transferred to the NEW Sheik/Sheiky Foundry in ADVANCE.

THREE approvals lag behind the Malta Merriment and the Supervisors' Celebration--

1. The German Government has a bunch of formalities to run through. Nicht ein problem!

2. AMD stockholders have to vote yes. That's like asking Wall Street to vote for another $176 billion. Done deal.

3. The FEDS in DC must grant the A-OK: "The deal will need approval from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). The nine-member federal committee chaired by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson reviews potential security issues surrounding foreign investment in the U.S. CFIUS conducts a 30-day review of any transaction to determine the effect on national security. CFIUS requires an additional 45-day investigation into transactions that would result in foreign control over critical infrastructure that could impair national security."

Myriad problems. Paulson is center of the bailout meltdown, kinda' preoccupied. CFIUS does not even have a meeting scheduled. If AMD and INTEL are the all-powerful Coke and Pepsi, the Foundry makes a foreign government the THIRD player in the PC secret chip game. That's hard to envision considering that Abu Dhabi has a #1 trade partner in a place called Iran.

The CFIUS timetable clearly states there can be NO APPROVAL until a minimum 75 DAYS of consideration and comments.

And still, AMD's Travis has promised ground-breaking in January...before Abu Dhabi dough is in the bank.

All you photographers hop on your bikes to get a good Page One shot. Dress warm, remain Chipper.

-Kyle York
Taken for a Ride

11:50 AM  

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