One of these days, we'll stop being titillated by Republican state Sen. Patty Ritchie questioning her erstwhile Democratic rival, Darrel Aubertine, at agriculture budget hearings.
It's not today.
Mrs. Ritchie's office sent out a news release pointing reporters to a video on YouTube of Mrs. Ritchie, the Heuvelton resident and Senate Agriculture Committee chairwoman, questioning Mr. Aubertine, the commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Markets and a Cape Vincent resident. In 2010, the two waged a bitterly fought campaign for state Senate.
The exchange was thorough, professional and substantive. Mrs. Ritchie is one of the chamber's more reluctant orators, but she asked some follow-ups to flesh out her concerns about the agriculture budget.
"Once again, though, Farm Viability was cut back," Mrs. Ritchie said. "Can you explain the reasoning behind the reduction?"
When Mr. Aubertine's answer didn't fully address the issue, Mrs. Ritchie asked if he had spoken with the dairy industry about whether they could sustain their programs on $400,000. He said he had not.
She also said she was concerned about a market-order on dairy products — essentially, dairy farmers all pitch in to a pool that funds, in this case, research. She asked whether that market order would eventually replace a dairy research program that's paid for by the state right now.
"I'm not sure," Mr. Aubertine said. "It depends on research and the demands from the industry. It would take probably at least a year to establish a market order."
Here is the video in full: