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.

[snip]

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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6 Responses

  1. nygirl says:

    You do know what happens to those diapers, don’t you? They sit in a landfill for 500 years. Perhaps that’s Amsterdam’s future. What I love is that $25,000 was approved to repair the pool house (which I think is absolutely great) under the guise that there isn’t much for the children of this city to do in the summer, yet the city council basically nailed the coffin shut on the museum which provides something for kids to do year-round.

  2. P. K. Dick says:

    Good to see you back in true form!
    Our elected officials are just following the will of the people after all. This is similar to the will of “the people” in Nazi Germany when “the people” burned books as part of the festivities. Although this is not an ideological purge regarding the contents of the museum it is an ideological tax purge. The ultimate tax purge is of course the disbanding of all government – this is a proven recipe for utopia. Why wait for the utopia in Amsterdam, just move to a place without government NOW! Send me a postcard if they have mail.
    Cry about it when it is gone but do nothing to save anything worth saving.
    It is good that we are following in the footsteps of many prior purges. Purging worked for them, it will work for us – we need a clean break with the past.
    Now I understand the anime “Big O” where the population of the city all had their memories erased to get a fresh start. We need a similar fresh start, let us file for cultural and intellectual bankruptcy. I think we are there. Were do we order a 200ft tall robot?
    and the band played on . . .

  3. Damned in Amsterdamn says:

    I like the blog, and nygirl you hit it on the head, PK, not sure if you are actually agreeing or disagreeing or both?
    Why not have a motion to cut the alderman’s stipends from the budget. What would that save, maybe $30-35K? Maybe cut them in half? It is not like we are seeing stellar decision making at its finest. I am not saying everyone on the council, but the decision to even bring the museum into the mix, after the ridiculous school vote was shot down, just boggles my mind. What could these people actually have against culture and learning? Well, judging by some of the decisions made by the constituents in this community and by our leaders, seems many are against learning for one, and well culture, that has been lacking for many years; and as a side note, babies treat their diapers better than we have treated the Walter Elwood Museum!

    • P. K. Dick says:

      My post was, in general, supportive of Flipppin’s post and a rant based on frustration.
      Now, to address your post. The City has a 20 million plus dollar budget. The aldermen make next to nothing, 5000 a year ($25,000 for all five). The job takes time and effort – you of course expect the time and effort for free. I don’t agree with their decision on the museum, but why make the office so unattractive that you will get a board made up of dunces? Please suggest a real solution – like calling your alderman and asking the funding to be reinstated! In any case how will you solve the next problem after the alderman pay is reduced to zero?
      Are you Gina DeRossi?
      Your post is unclear when you refer to “ridiculous school vote was shot down,” was the result ridiculous or the vote? Are you referring to the budget or museum levy? What is your position and why do you hold it? Because if, you “support” the museum as it appears you do, but opposed the levy vote as “ridiculous,” while supporting City taxpayer funding, the odds of you being Gina increases.

      • Damned in Amsterdamn says:

        P.K. Good Reply,
        I am not Gina, not even close.
        I am for the Museum, and for most “minimal” tax levies that support culture, and education for the well being of our kids and this beautiful city. I am sorry I was not clear; about the vote. I was writing about the museum, so I incorrectly assumed that it would be clear when I wrote “after the ridiculous school vote was shot down” I was referring to the outcome (of the museum vote), not the vote itself.
        As far as getting “good” people in the council; I was just making a point that they are so quick to cut things to save a Penney, why not look at what they are paid. “The aldermen make next to nothing, 5000 a year ($25,000 for all five). The job takes time and effort – you of course expect the time and effort for free”. I do not expect that to be free. I believe they all try to do a good job, but… take the motion/decision to not support a museum that has been around for 40 years plus, because they do not want to support “not for profit” agencies, yet give to the library ($83K and change), amongst others stated above, is plain wrong….Not only is it wrong but it almost appears as though it was contrived! , I do not believe that they are all dunces, however, they need to think more of the future, instead of the immediate notion, that just because the tax levy failed, means people do not want the museum, or any other worthwhile investment in the city.
        The more activities we close in this city, the more people with children, and a reason to make this place better, leave. That of course means less tax dollars and more tax burden on those that remain.
        We need, as tax payers, to support the very items that make this a place to want to live; If not as a viable manufacturing or tourist community, then maybe a bedroom community. We need more families to come and spend their money here, but they will go to other places if there is nothing to support their children…
        Hope this clears it up a bit, but then again…, we were talking about dirty diapers!.
        That is my opinion, however as I wrote…good reply.

  4. P. K. Dick says:

    Dear Damned in Amsterdamn:
    You seem to have hit the nail on the head. Good post. Now you need to run for office or lobby those in office.

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