Like a Baby Treats a Diaper

One of my favorite Normisms from Cheers:

Bartender: “Hey Norm, how’s the world been treating you?”
Norm: “Like a baby treats a diaper.”

I think this captures the essence of the predominant attitude toward the city’s history, architecture and sense of self. How else do you explain the evolving memes against the Chalmers project, the Walter Elwood Museum and even the viability of the city as a livable community?

Of course, the core arguments against these projects become enwrapped in a Kabuki-esque production featuring brave heroes out to slay the nemesis of taxes with sweeping oratory to the villagers of fiscal responsibility and tough mindedness. And pitchforks in hand the villagers wildly cheer the stalwart heroes saving them from the nemesis of taxes. Meanwhile offstage and unlit reside the true economic villains– low demand for real estate, misguided economic policies and an industrial era mindset– remain undisturbed and unnoticed to wreak havoc on the villagers as they have without bother for decades.

I know my metaphors seem muddied — Cheers, Kabuki and epic heroes– but dealing with the muck and the murk of policy making in this city, it is wholly consistent to use muddy metaphors to deal with muddy policies and even muddier thinking.

I don’t see how my Normism above does not perfectly describe the prevailing attitude toward a significant piece of history and culture in our community in the museum. It’s astonishing to see public policy players actively campaigning against a not-for-profit entity that has been an active part of the community for decades using the most disingenuous of means to do so. Never mind the cognitive dissonance with the school district, now we get the equivalent cognitive dissonance from the council (here):

Fourth Ward Alderman William Wills, who sponsored the resolution during a special meeting Tuesday night, called for the removal of $25,000 in funding based on the “almost-2-to-1 vote taken recently in the school district that basically states people don’t want their tax dollars spent on a not-for-profit organization.”

Besides Wills, Controller Heather Reynicke, and Aldermen Richard Leggiero and Kim Brumley voted to remove the funding.


Since at least 1997, the city has contracted on an annual basis for services with the Amsterdam Library, which receives $83,000 a year, and the Inman Center, which gets $2,400 per year. Both of those contracts expire June 30; however no effort was made Tuesday night to end those funding agreements.

It’s nice to see the same cognitive dissonance in talking points from the school district and the Council.

It’s nice to have yet another empty shell in the third ward so it can bookend nicely with the shell of Bacon school. Of course when our elected alderwoman works for the entity responsible for the closures, it’s hardly a surprise but we dare not mention nor address potential conflicts of interest in how you should advocate against your employer when it means protecting the interests of your ward constituents. That would be shrill and irresponsible of me.

But the true plot twist in this Kabuki is how the policy makers lust for the promise and hope of jobs. Yes, we need jobs in the city they say. We want to bring in new jobs; jobs, jobs, jobs! So what about putting the jobs of the museum staff at risk and the grant streams creating secondary jobs for program providers, consultants, caterers, et al? Silence.

I won’t even address the broader issue of arts, history and culture as a vital part of the community. That will push me over the edge today.

The same disdain , nee contempt, applies equally to the notion of Chalmers as a viable redevelopment for a historic building and to the notion of this as a viable, livable community in the broader Capital District.

Our community can never have enough diapers.

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