The Editorial Smoke Screen

Today’s editorial is a wonderful distillation of hypocrisy and faux earnestness which embodies the essence of a smokescreen — the very thing the editors rail against. Here’s the essence of the piece:

Not that long ago the real problem in the city was the fact that the finances were such a tangled mess that no one knew how much money there was and how far in debt we were.

You see kids, if you start to question and rail against the specific actions of the Common Council — a Council dearly embraced by the editors — ┬áthat makes the editors tap the yardstick upon your desk and demand you fall in line, lest you suffer the stern consequences.
So when the editors see the smokescreen justifying the Council’s actions on Muni dissipate under public scrutiny and questions, the editors , as dutiful servants of the Common Council, throw the ultimate smokebomb — the city financials — to cloud the issue on Muni.
Here’s the smokescreen part:

It’s time to stop hiding behind the clubhouse. Open up the books right on the table and show us the work that is getting done; the work the state has demanded that the city get done. The work you are supposed to be doing.

You see kids, the editors are casting a stern glance at the Council to focus on the city financials and draw the gaze of the public to the sad state of the city financials–look away from the golf course and look to City Hall.
What the editors posit to readers is a false choice: the Council can either focus on the city financials OR the golf course. Not both, just one.
See kids, what the editors want you to think is that Council can only act on two things mutually exclusively — either / or , black / white , ┬áRoth / Hagar .
That dichotomy of action is a wonderful subtext to their smokescreen.
But in fact, the Council actually needs to do both things — it needs to provide oversight and accountability on city finances AND also assure that it provides governance at Muni.
I daresay it also needs to address multiple other priorities. And yes, all at the same time. But to quote the editors again in a prior editorial: “So what if they disagree with you. It’s part of the job — a job for which you volunteered.” Not surprisingly, that strongly worded statement was directed at the Mayor but seems like it should apply to the Council as well, no?
As the editors dislike blogs and social media generally as evidenced by their disdain for the citizens of Amsterdam who voice their views on social media*** in this editorial:

You might consider sharing this information when you sit down to Facebook to draft the next Thane Commandments. Which, we imagine, should be any second now.
[snip]
Time to take responsibility. You tell your legion of Thaniacs — again, on Facebook (your virtual council chamber) –– that the intent of this council is obvious. Has that also been the intent of the previous two?
We understand being the mayor of Facebook –– er, Amsterdam — comes with its share of frustrations.

I will use the editors own words , printed words!, which by virtue of print imbues them with a gravitas and a profundity unmatched by digital media. (By way of disclosure, I did copy digitally but rest assured, the gravitas of print remains!):

If we may offer a heads up: Every unanimous vote by the Common Council, threatened by a veto, is going to result in an override.
There is no need to waste your energy on surprise. It’s going to happen.

Now that the Council faces a backlash to the very unilateral, uncompromising actions championed by the editors, the editors suddenly find this turn of events very unsettling to their dictated course from a few editorials ago.
I know I am a mere Thaniac: a denizen of the digital world — unkempt , uncouth, unschooled in print media yet so desperately seeking the gravitas and esteem afforded by virtue of a printed column — if only! — but in the editors own words: “the intent of the Council is obvious.”
Indeed it is.
But then, so is the editors’ intent when it involves the Council versus the Mayor.
***PS I must note how not one precious drop of editorial ink rails against the political views aired on local radio by their very own politicians. But then , you certainly don’t want to upset the preferred platform of their dear Council members and their readership.

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16 Responses

  1. Bill Sheehan says:

    None of the papers Editorial Board lives or pays taxes in the city so their opinion should carry little weight… and at least one higher ranking member is a member of the golf course so you know thats one boat they’ll never rock.

    • Rogo says:

      Who is the member of golf course you are refering to??????

    • Rogo says:

      Bill
      just want to make sure the person you are talking about is a member at muni and not rolling hills
      PS I don’t hide
      Sandy roginski

    • Bill, I must disagree with the first part of your initial post … the “none of the editorial board lives in Amsterdam” is as dumb an argument as “no non-city residents should be members of the golf commission.”
      There are plenty of other arguments to make.

      • Bill Sheehan says:

        City affairs should be the business of city residents…they foot the bills and have the most at stake. How would you feel about Amsterdam residents kibbutzing in your town’s affairs?

      • So, by your logic, people who rent storefronts in downtown Amsterdam should have no say in what happens to the area if they don’t live in Amsterdam, even if they own and operate a business in the city. People who choose to work in Amsterdam have no stake in the health of the city if they don’t live there, because it’s impossible for a thriving city to have any positive impact on the area outside its borders.
        Perhaps it’s a good thing Amsterdam did not have a residency requirement when you worked at The Recorder. In the future, I expect that you will refrain from commenting on Amsterdam affairs on the blogs and Facebook, because I’ve seen you do it many times since your tenure at 1 Venner Road came to an abrupt end.
        Flip, I apologize for deviating from the point of your original post, but the argument that “no one on The Recorder editorial board lives in Amsterdam so they shouldn’t comment on Amsterdam” is a stupid argument.

  2. Bill Sheehan says:

    I do not live in Amsterdam but am familiar with the players as well as the same old issues and I’ll be the first to admit that its all sports to me at this point. But there is a world of difference between espousing ones opinion on a blog and using a bully pulpit, like the town’s largest media, to comment on, and possibly influence policy. I think that was the point of Flip’s post. Flip…if I’m wrong then say so and I stand admonished…

    • flippinamsterdam says:

      Bill & Charlie,
      Just to clarify the intent of my post: I was not criticizing the editors for not living in Amsterdam — that was Bill’s point, not mine. I only said the debate on residency was interesting based upon your exchange.
      My post was really a visceral response to the editors dismissing those who disagree with the COuncil and agree with the Mayor on the Golf Course as “Thaniacs” and the constant harping against social media while ignoring the same thing in print and radio. I also truly believe that they were covering for the COuncil when faced with some backlash on the Council’s arrogance and usurping of power. Whether the editors are neighbors or commuters mattered not at all to the intent of my post.
      In terms of the debate of residency versus non-residency, I have a nuanced view. I do think the people who may not live here but are active in the community as volunteers, business owners, tourists should have a voice. I think Dan Weaver at Mohawk COmpass does a nice job on presenting this viewpoint as a non-resident who does have a vested and sincere interest in the community. (Sorry Dan but I cannot find your post on this specific subject you posted a while back).
      That said, I can relate to Bill’s point on others who voice opinions with seemingly no positive intent other than to bash the city or who merely bash the people trying to work with positive intent as proxies for local vested interests. That’s hard to pin down but it does exist and it does exist in cases where those folks do have outsized influence in the affairs of the city , often at the city’s expense.
      Cheers

      • Rogo says:

        The main object of everything is read the charter. Section c-8 officer is ANYONE appointed to board or commission.Section c-14 qualifications of city offficers. A. except by law must be city resident (example to be an assesor state law requires 6 month experience, nobody in city had it, so Mr. klein was hired from outside city). Now section c if out side city must be approved by council. This was not done as far as golf commission or a couple of other appoiuntments

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