A gathering of angels appeared above my head. They sang to me this song of hope and this is what they said: They said, “Come sail away, come sail away, come sail away with me.”
NOV. 19, 2012: With regard to the recent unpleasantness, also known as the 2012 presidential election, I would like to reiterate my long-held position regarding our two major political parties: A pox on all their houses.
To recap: Some Republicans are nasty and mean, which is not new news. The late William F. Buckley spent portions of the 1950s and 1960s successfully excising the Hateraid-drinking John Birch Society from GOP fund-raising cocktail parties. As we were occasionally reminded this year by some Republicans themselves, this slog goes on.
And some Democrats, who believe their cocktail parties are pure because they drink their booze while saying they want to end poverty, are just as nasty and mean. This year they spent most of their campaign money not on ending poverty but by relentlessly declaring that all Republicans are nasty and mean.
I do not mind anyone voting for the candidate of either major political party. But unless you are on the party payroll, how could you do it with relish? Our political parties never take the high road if the low road is open for business.
Through bailouts, stimulus plans, PILOTs and tax breaks to locate in a specific place, hire a vet or pledge to reduce one's carbon footprint, both major political parties have created a haze and maze in which Americans are divided into two camps: those who spend most of their time trying to figure out how to avoid giving more money to government, and those trying to figure out how to increase the amount of money government gives them.
And I speak with the voice of authority. As I near the age of retirement, I find my positions evolving from one extreme to the other, particularly with regard to our laws restricting immigration and certain drugs. Regardless of what anyone has ever heard me say or write over the years, let it now be known that I am in favor of the words “amnesty” and “legalization.”
Simply put, Social Security is just about bankrupt, and the only way to ensure I get any money is for my country tis of thee to immediately start taxing Mexicans and marijuana.
All in favor, say “aye.”
The motion is carried.
Closer to home voters were given the choice of Bill Owens or Matt Doheny for Congress. To help sort things out for voters, two other political figures provided endorsements before the election.
The Democrat Owens, whose constituency includes dairy farmers who are dependent on migrant labor, was endorsed by Green Party candidate Donald Hassig, who once said, “I would like to see (Mexicans) get their asses kicked out of the north country.” And the Republican Doheny, who was dogged by opponents constantly trying to portray him as a butt-pinching frat boy, was endorsed by Watertown Mayor Jeffrey Graham, who two years ago campaigned for a convicted sex trade expert for governor.
Who says there wasn't a dime's worth of difference between our two millionaire Congressional candidates who were willing — upon election — to take a pay cut to represent us common folk?
Lest anyone thinks I don't love Democrats, the truth is I do love Democrats, I really do. I just don't love them as much as Patty Ritchie, Soft R-Heuvelton.
Since she was first elected two years ago, Ritchie has padded her staff with several ex-journalists so they can put out a press release every time she clears her throat.
(Today's press release: RITCHIE REMINDS HOLIDAY SHOPPERS OF SALES TAX BREAK).
But during the last few weeks of her 2012 campaign her staff produced one major talking point: “Here's another picture of Patty Ritchie smiling and standing next to Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo!”
Ritchie provides the north country with the same amount of clout in Albany as her seniority would suggest: not much. And so that's why there is a lot of hugging of opposite-party politicians who do have power, and production of press releases telling us to remember to tie our shoelaces, or whatever.
But what would have been really special this year is a press release saying, “Patty Ritchie will do everything humanly possible, including chaining herself to the state Capitol building, to stop the redistricting plan that carves St. Lawrence County into three Senate districts and four Assembly districts.”
Instead, once Ritchie saw that she would be in a politically safe district, she just smiled, turned and walked away.
How is it that businessmen who pride themselves as running their shops with conservative budget estimates, get all loosey-goosey when they become government overseers?
To wit, the Jefferson County Legislature ignored staff recommendations and approved a 2013 budget that will work only if there is an increase in sales tax revenue. (Hey, look, just because Washington wants to reduce the number of HDTV-buying soldiers the next couple of years probably won't affect Fort Drum and Jefferson County, right?)
Like the song goes, you'd better take care of business, Mr. Businessman. And that they did, all without cutting costs or raising taxes to meet expense projections. All they had to do is depend on the undependable, and the books are good to go!
Oh, and school board members in general are the most likely politicians to waste taxpayers money and not want to talk about it.
(Lament: But we're not politicians because we don't get paid! Rebuttal: Nice try, but you are elected, and the good governance laws that apply to every other politician apply to you, too.
The Watertown School District Board has sat on its hands watching Superintendent Terry Fralick for a year botch the construction of an electronic sign in front of the high school. First the sign was too small, so it was taken apart. Then a larger sign was constructed but its electronics would not work with the larger screen so they had to get new electronics.
Today, the district has a spiffy sign with lots of colors and pictures. But it sits parallel to Washington Street, making it all but impossible to read while driving by. (Actually, texting while driving would be safer than turning your head at a 45 degree angle to find out who is this month's honor student).
People who recently needed to move inventory, that is, BBQ sandwich sellers, weren't about to depend on the flashy new sign to get their message across. They promptly created their own hand-painted sign to get the job done.