Monday, August 5, 2013

Karen Bisso’s Cheap Stunt in Indian Lake

Adk ChallengeHaving lived through the 1960s, I became familiar with protests, sometimes through personal involvement, but mostly from the outside looking in. Whether I agreed or disagreed with a cause, it was interesting to see the methods used by groups to get attention. Some spoke before crowds of other protestors; some led them in song; some shouted slogans and marched with signs; and some joined arms to create human barricades. Peaceful protest was the most effective, but it often carried a price.

People were frequently arrested, and though it sometimes involved getting roughed up a bit, it was soon realized that getting arrested itself was one of the best attention-getting methods. To do so in support of a cause, citizens really did put something on the line.

But I had no respect for one group of protestors who lacked the imagination, courage, and initiative to act on their own. I’m referring to the hijackers―those who took advantage of someone else’s event, showing up to steal the limelight and draw attention to themselves for whatever reason. My feeling: smarten up, think for yourself, and come up with your own way to promote your cause.

Yes, it is a citizen’s right to protest, and there’s nothing illegal about horning in on someone else’s event. But when a politician or political hopeful does it, it comes off as a shamefully cheap stunt to get attention.

After all, politicians are, at least in theory, looking out for the greater good of the public. In my opinion, that’s not at all what local politician Karen Bisso was doing when she showed up on Plattsburgh’s TV station WPTZ during the recent Adirondack Challenge, an event used by Governor Cuomo to shine a very bright light on what the Adirondacks have to offer.

Here’s a snippet from the WPTZ broadcast: “Gov. Cuomo’s visit has certainly generated a lot of energy in town, but not everybody is happy about it. Some used the visit as a platform to speak their minds about gun rights. ‘I think gun rights are important to every person, but specifically in this area, you’ve got sportsmen. You’ve got people in rural America who have to defend themselves. It’s a God-given right to defend yourself,’ said gun rights advocate Karen Bisso.”

No one has to like Governor Cuomo. No one has to support him. But if you’re offering yourself as a representative of the electorate, you have to consider the public good. And like it or not, what Cuomo did was good for the public, good for the Adirondacks, and good for the entire North Country.

Had Bisso been paying attention and possessed an honest desire to help the region, she would have seen the interest generated by the governor’s pending, widely publicized trip to Indian Lake. She would have seen that interest further enhanced by adding the challenge race against Mayor Bloomberg.

Here’s a thought. For positive input, she might have considered fielding a Tea-Party entry in the race. It could have helped promote the region and offer some good-natured competition for her political opponents. Instead, she tried to hijack the event, calling attention to herself by citing a completely unrelated issue. Important, yes, but unrelated.

But in Bisso’s judgment, it was the best choice. To speak for her potential constituents, she chose to take an event whose sole intent was to promote the region―and instead taint it. Whether you care about guns, abortion, civil rights, whatever: have the creativity to protest without risking damage to something potentially beneficial to the overwhelming majority of the region’s population.

And what good did Cuomo’s recent visit do? No one knows yet, but the attention it generated is incredible. Try a simple Google search. For instance, use these words: governor’s challenge Cuomo Adirondack. Scroll through the first 20 pages of results and look at the urls to see where the newspaper websites and other media are based. From Plattsburgh to Florida to California to Washington State … it’s everywhere. It was online, in print, on radio, and television.

I was in New York City when the story hit the media, and the coverage was stunning. In a region with more than 16 million people, it appeared on city and New Jersey TV throughout the day on several channels. It was amazing to see such a positive representation of our region, praising the mountains and thankfully not mentioning the protestors. It appears they were a factor mainly in the regional media up north. The reports I saw on multiple stations in New York City were nothing but positive.

The event was likewise broadcast in every city across the state, featured in most newspapers (including the New York Times), and covered by most radio stations.

Yep, you’re darn right. You just can’t buy that kind of publicity―and you didn’t. It was provided courtesy of your governor and other officials, promoting an area where there are few votes to be won in a state of 20 million residents.

But if you hope to be elected some day, what a great opportunity for self-promotion, even at the event’s expense and the risk of diminishing its purpose. That was the choice to be made, and Bisso made it.

If you don’t know the region well enough that you can’t see the big picture―what the Adirondack Challenge could mean for the North Country―then how can you expect voters to trust your judgment on their behalf? Like the protests in the 1960s, sometimes it’s best to promote your cause in your own way, and not on the backs or coattails of others.


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Lawrence P. Gooley

Lawrence Gooley, of Clinton County, is an award-winning author who has hiked, bushwhacked, climbed, bicycled, explored, and canoed in the Adirondack Mountains for 45 years. With a lifetime love of research, writing, and history, he has authored 22 books and more than 200 articles on the region's past, and in 2009 organized the North Country Authors in the Plattsburgh area.

His book Oliver’s War: An Adirondack Rebel Battles the Rockefeller Fortune won the Adirondack Literary Award for Best Book of Nonfiction in 2008. Another title, Terror in the Adirondacks: The True Story of Serial Killer Robert F. Garrow, was a regional best-seller for four years running.

With his partner, Jill Jones, Gooley founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004, which has published 83 titles to date. They also offer editing/proofreading services, web design, and a range of PowerPoint presentations based on Gooley's books.

Bloated Toe’s unusual business model was featured in Publishers Weekly in April 2011. The company also operates an online store to support the work of other regional folks. The North Country Store features more than 100 book titles and 60 CDs and DVDs, along with a variety of other area products.

31 Responses

  1. Matt says:

    So, Cuomo was right to publicize something that he wanted publicized, but you have “no respect” for someone else just trying to publicize her views? I completely disagree with her views on gun control, but she wants to get her voice out there and this was a good opportunity for her to do it. I like your suggestions for other ways to get her views out there, but this piece comes across as kind of hypocritical.

    You’re exactly right that the event was a PR success story, don’t try to take away the attempts of someone else to generate traffic to her own cause. And don’t let this one thing tarnish the whole Adirondack Challenge for you. I didn’t even hear about this woman until you brought it up. Maybe the best way to combat her views is to just not give her the publicity she wants.

  2. I don’t have much use for the Tea Party or the ‘they’re trying to steal all our guns and turn us into a Nazi state’ paranoics but I’m going to have to disagree with Larry. Pretty much every public event the governor holds is for some sort of PR purpose to benefit him (if it benefits anyone else, that’s just gravy). Essentially your contention is that no one should protest or speak out at any public event of a politician. But since politicians only respond to ordinary citizens if they are writing large checks, this makes it virtually impossible for the ordinary citizen to be heard. The politician should only be allowed to talk about what s/he wants to talk about, not what citizens want to talk about? Sorry, don’t buy it. I don’t have much use for this lady’s message but I won’t condemn her for advocating for her cause.

  3. Ann Melious says:

    I worked on the local organizing committee for the Adirondack Challenge. There was much more energy devoted to the event on a local level than many people realize. All I can say in response to Mr. Gooley’s observations is, “Amen!”

  4. Paul says:

    When politicians show up for stuff there are always some kind of protest (usually pretty lame as it sounds was the case with this). Welcome to the real world.

    Ann from some reports it sounded like there wasn’t much of a show for this vent locally. Was that accurate? Maybe just fewer than expected.

  5. Lawrence P. Gooley Larry says:

    You’re both cherry-picking, and you’re modifying what I said. You used the words someone, no one, and ordinary citizen, and that was not the point. I’m an ordinary citizen: Bisso is not. As I said, everyone has the right to do what she did, but that method is generally the purview of the average citizen who has no access to politicians. My point was about Bisso, a politician who certainly is entitled to her view on guns, but can’t be narrow-minded like we average folks. She should have recognized the value of this event to her potential constituents, but was more concerned about attention for herself. So I’ll agree with you that we disagree.

    • Paul says:

      This is a good point. A politician does have to do what is in the interest of the majority of her constituents even if she personally feels otherwise. Is this an important enough issue to her constituents to make a statement this way? Did it really deter from the event? I can’t say since I wasn’t there but it sounds like maybe no one really noticed (comment above)so maybe it was no big deal either way.

    • Mike says:

      How did this detract from the event? Did Karen Bisso cause Governor 1% to cancel his Whitewater trip down the Hudson?

      It’s great that Governor 1% came up to the Adirondacks to promote Whitewater rafting, although I think most people will agree that the many beneficiary is Governor 1%, who was the main person in the limelight, and not the Adirondacks.

    • Matt says:

      I didn’t modify anything you said. You said you have no respect for her group? Maybe it’s extrapolating for me to infer that you mean you have no respect for her, but the tone of your piece suggests otherwise.

      And now it seems like you’re arguing that if something has value to her constituents (“value” in this case is determined by you), then it is out of line for her to bring up something that you determined is not important (regardless of how valuable that dialog is to others). And you say she can’t be narrow minded, as if your idea to limit her ability to speak (through public shaming) isn’t a narrow minded position in itself!!

      Like I said, I disagree with her completely on the gun issue, but you’re walking a dangerous line when you are calling for her out for having the audacity to speaking a issue she’s passionate about.

      And, as I said before, I wasn’t able to attend the event, but I heard nothing but good things. I never even heard of this woman before I read this piece, and it’s too bad you’re using your platform here to attack someone for speaking their mind.

      • Matt says:

        Oops, sorry for the poor grammar, that sentence was meant to read:

        “You’re walking a dangerous line when you’re calling her out for having the audacity to speak on an issue she’s passionate about.”

      • Lawrence P. Gooley Larry says:

        Your first paragraph loses me. Nowhere did I say I have no respect for her group. You’re putting words in my mouth and then arguing with them. And there’s no need to extrapolate that I don’t respect what she did … that’s exactly what I said: I do not respect that a POLITICIAN, not an ordinary citizen, sought to hijack an event for her own gain.
        Your second paragraph said I determined her issue “not important.” Again, read my words. That’s exactly the opposite of what I wrote … I said, “IMPORTANT, but unrelated.” And if we have to argue that gun rights is not a relevant issue at a family and fun event to promote the Adirondacks and get people to visit, spend money, and relax, I surrender.

        • Matt says:

          Okay. Obviously, I’m not getting my point across so let’s try this:

          In an alternate universe, Tom Golisano was elected governor. His first day in office, he institutes a natural gas drilling program in the Southern Tier centered around hydrofracking. Through a series of back room deals, it’s passed by the State Assembly and Senate and becomes law. The problems are numerous from day one: contractor misbehavior, noise pollution, and of course, groundwater contamination.

          Governor Golisano holds the exact same event in Indian Lake and calls it the “Adirondack Challenge”. A young upstart democratic state senator from Jamestown (call him John Smith) comes up to protest, saying things like “Governor Golisano is showcasing the environment here in the Adirondacks while destroying the environment in my hometown!”

          Would you write the exact same article about this democratic Senator? Would the title of the article be “John Smith’s cheap stunt in Indian Lake”? Would you respond to comments with “if we have to argue that Hydrofracking is not an important issue at a family and fun event to promote the Adirondacks, then I surrender.”?

          If the answer to these questions is “No” or, “that’s different”, then your being a tremendous hypocrit and an enormous partisan to dismiss one group’s ideas, but not another.

          If the answer is Yes, you would write the article, then you are not only heartless to dismiss the concerns of the residents of Western NY, but you also seem to believe that Governors should be immune from questioning at a public event. Forget your argument on relevance, since it is settled law, Governor Golisano never does natural gas events, he mostly does PR stuff designed to help communities and local businessmen that he has key relationships with. Hydrofracking is always irrelevant.

          Wouldn’t it be better to just allow people to speak their minds and if you don’t like their message, then just ignore them and don’t give them free publicity?

          • Paul says:

            The answer could also be yes and he does care about issues that concern residents of western NY. Just agree to disagree we all get your point. We get Larry’s also.

    • Jim says:

      Attention in political races is what politics is all about. If nobody knows what you are doing then how do you get your message out? That is the whole point. do you think the 99 percent folks would hesitate to encounter and publicly challenge a politician they don’t agree with for the purpose of spreading their message? Good for her and good for the North Country. As far as the comment about being narrow minded, if she was a liberal, progressive, Marxist bully like our current Governor and his buddy Bloomberg, would you still call her narrow minded? Congrats to her for sticking up for us “average” folks. Lord knows her opponent isn’t doing it.

  6. dave says:

    You make a good point here Larry.

    This wasn’t a political event, despite some of the very cynical comments above, and it was not a gun control event… it was an event designed to try to help a community.

    For another politician to show up and try to divert attention away from an event like this, just to make a completely unrelated political point, is simply inappropriate in my opinion. Mean spirited, even.

    Thanks for pointing it out.

  7. Bill Quinlivan Bill Quinlivan says:

    Everyone has the right to free-speech. The bottom line in any issue such as this one is really who listened, what attention was garnered and what was accomplished. On all counts, I believe we have our answer.

  8. Pete Klein says:

    I thought the event went well and was well attended, considering the fact that much else was going on throughout Hamilton County and the Adirondacks.
    By the way, who is Bisso and why should I care?
    The protesters were few and hardly noticed.
    The publicity was great.
    Thanks to all who participated and all who volunteered.

  9. Richard Rosen says:

    I too attended the Adirondack Challenge festivities at Indian Lake last month. Some days afterward I found a sticker on the tailgate of my truck expressing in rather obscene terms the sentiments of these protesters toward our state’s governor. I deduced that it had been surreptitiously placed there while I was in the vicinity of Byron Park.

    I certainly don’t agree with all the views of these “Second Amendment” warriors, and those who know me also know that I am not blindly “anti-gun” in my views. But the juvenile act of those protesters that I encountered on that day does little to credit their cause. It belongs in grade school and demeans the virtue of honorable protest in a democracy.

  10. Pablo says:

    Actually, Karen Grasso’s presence apparently “scared” the governor, because he refused to show up as promised for the awards ceremony Saturday.
    By splitting the event into two days, the governor fragmented attendance and media coverage. Many news groups didn’t show because they had other news to cover Monday and that was the day of the gov versus mayor race.
    Attendance was estimated at about 800, not the thousands Gov. Cuomo had promised, and vendors at the park were irate.

  11. Charlie says:

    Richard Rosen says: ” the juvenile act of those protesters that I encountered on that day does little to credit their cause. It belongs in grade school and demeans the virtue of honorable protest in a democracy.”

    Though they may not go about their protests in a fashionable manner,at least they’re protesting Richard. Most americans sit back and do nothing as this country,and the world,falls apart around us.I too don’t agree with some protesters actions,but I am always happy to see them out there.Without protesters things would progressively be getting worse.Even with them we are losing more and more ground.We as in your average folk who works hard for a living and can never seem to get ahead him or her.We who care about future generations and what kind of world they will be living in.There are so few who seem to really care which is very discouraging,very sad!Even depressing.

  12. Paul says:

    Protesters always look kind of idiotic no matter what they are protesting. Whether it is these guys protesting new gun laws or Darryl Hanna protesting some whale hunt, either way get the fire hoses!! People always like to pretend that this is their only recourse. Please.

  13. Avon says:

    I agree with Pete Klein. Those who approve of this event (which certainly includes me) have no need to complain. I think Larry is far off base.

    It’s not realistic in America to expect protesters only when their target happens to appear in public solely for inviting protest. That’s just too rare. And the worse a tyrant is, the more impossible it would be ever to oppose the tyranny, or even shed light on it. Plus, even small-time politicians are actually supposed to raise political issues – it’s part of the job.

    When a target is notoriously juicy, he may deserve big protests even if that means the venue unfortunately suffers. So Indian Lake was lucky to have Cuomo rather than Spitzer visiting as governor. If you can’t stand politicking at all, then don’t invite politicians!

  14. John says:

    Governor Albany and Nanny Bloomburg care not a whit about the Adirondacks. This challenge of theirs was probably the dumbest publicity stunt I’ve ever heard of. The thing that surprised me the most was that Sen Shooomer wasn’t there to get his picture taken. Good for you Karen. Lighten up Mr Gooley.

  15. Lawrence P. Gooley Larry says:

    People can be so disappointing. A golden opportunity, but it lies by the wayside. All that negativity in response to a piece about HIJACKING an event―yet not one of you berated me for HIJACKING Adirondack Almanack and the position of history writer to promote my … well, let’s see … so far, it’s anti-protest, pro-governor, anti-Golisano/Republican/fracking/pro-Democrat (that all came out of left field! … hmmm, or was it right field?), anti-gun, dangerous (!?), anti-Bisso, anti-ordinary citizen views … so, by extrapolation, obviously anti-America.
    Kind of reminds me of the loaves and fishes story in the Bible … “You got all that from THAT?”
    Back soon, when therapy is finished. I’m gettin’ fixed!
    Wait a minute. Is that covered by Obamacare? If it is, then I’m pro-that, too!

  16. Charlie says:

    People CAN be disappointing Larry.Was it Shakespeare who said “Cease expecting and you have all things?” If we expect too much from people we will be disappointed.No two of us think alike which is a good thing,but there are some,when they speak,say things that just send you a ray of light,give you a sense of hope.I’m talking about those souls who are futuristic,who do not have blinders on,who see things as they really are. Versus those who see only what they want to see due to their selfishness or their ignorance or blind faith or whatever it is that keeps them at odds with all the things that lean towards the betterment of mankind.

  17. Tell the other side! says:

    On Sunday July 21, 2013 it was a hot summer day at Indian Lake, NY when a dedicated band of Grassroots 2AR loyalists converged upon a bogus Cuomo “so called” Governor’s Invitational Whitewater Race. Cuomo was completely exposed and thoroughly protested. For 4 hours of thousands of festival goes and the heavy traffic passers by clearly saw our signs and heard LOUD Voices repeatedly calling out LOUD chants of Repeal the Safe Act / Cuomo’s Gotta Go. The Grassroots participants put on a spectacular professional rally protest second to none. What a great bunch of Grassroots loyalist we have connected to our worthy cause.

    Before I get into the details I must send praise and thanks to Lewis County Sheriff Mike Carpinelli and Hamilton County Sheriff Karl G. Abrams. These 2 men are shinning examples of what we are fighting for.
    Their actions and participation deserve a special tribute and extreme praise – thank you is not enough for these fine men, Our event would not have been successful without the help of Mike Carpinelli and Karl Abrams. THANK YOU SIRS !!!!!! – Keep Fighting with pride. Rightness is on your side!!!

    For weeks our Grassroots organizers did research to document the details of Cuomo’s dog and pony show to be held somewhere in the Adirondacks called Cuomo’s “Adirondack Challenge”. Extreme paranoia of the Cuomo camp kept the details of a widely promoted and advertised tourist event a complete secret. WOW – how bazaar is that? In the end we were unable to determine when and where this event was to be held but we decided to call for a protest being confident we would be able to find the action when we arrived in Indian Lake. Boy, we were in for the shock of a lifetime to find just how well Cuomo shut everything down for miles around.

    On Sunday July 21 We began gathering at Puterko Family Pizza in Indian Lake at 8am to plan our strategy for the day. We sent scouts out throughout the area to find Cuomo and the when and where the so called races would be held and where we would be holding our picnic and protests. What we found was a complete shutdown of all picnic sites, parks, roads, lake areas, beaches, boat launches and camping where potential viewing areas might be of the so called race. This resembled a martial law type encounter. We were stonewalled and threatened at every point –quite dismaying. With the phrases in mind of “We WON”T Quit – We WON”T Back Down” we carried on with persistence – in the end we did accomplish our mission. Our group of Grassroots performed spectacularly! The courage and dedication maintained by our people is truly something all of US should be proud of – Thank you Folks – Thanks to every one of you!!!!

    At approximately 9:30am Sheriff Carpinelli was notified that we were unable to secure a location for our events. Sheriff Carpinellli promptly notified the proper authority – Hamilton County Sheriff Karl G. Abrams. Sheriff Abrams promptly came to Puterko Pizza where we told him about the situation. He was dismayed and asked where we would like to hold our event. We told him of the area we would prefer. It is an area at the base of the lake directly adjacent to Byron Park but it was barricaded and closed to the public. Sheriff Abrams informed us that the area was a public area and there should be no reason for it to be closed. He then gave us permission and authority to remove the barricades and to hold our activities at that location. WOW – We were amazed that this man would stand for justice and defy Cuomo and the public official. Sheriff Abrams stood with us through this heralding experience every step of the way. Absolutely Remarkable!!!! THANK YOU SIR !!!!

    We directly went to the picnic and boat launch site and removed the barricades and entered the site. Within minutes the State Police arrived and told us we had to vacate the property. We resisted and informed them we had permission from Sheriff Abrams. After a short hassle we told them to contact Sheriff Abrams and that the only way we would vacate is upon Sheriff Abrams request. The State Police promptly left the property but then began trying to arrest our Grassroots people that were walking on the street to our location. We again told them we would contact the Sheriff – they quickly ceased the arrest. At that time other “officials” began removing our signs and balloons we were installing for the event. Again we threatened them with the Sheriff – again their actions promptly ceased. WOW – a few hairy moments but we stood our ground – how’s that for courage? At this time Sheriff Mike Carpinelli arrived at the site. There was not a single incident after this good man arrived.

    We set up our picnic and lit the grill for hot dogs and then took our bullhorns, signs and flyers to the edge of the road. I was completely amazed – Sheriff Carpinelli joined us – side by side for the entire 4 hours of LOUD voices chanting Repeal the Safe Act / Cuomo’s Gotta Go. I was personally amazed at the inspired motivation and resolved shown by our Grassroots dedication. For 4 straight hours our voices were so LOUD we drowned out the activities at Byron Park. 85% of the passers by gave us honks and thumbs up signals. We completely discredited Cuomo and the Safe Act. As our efforts grew the “officials” changed their plan and rearranged the whole schedule of Cuomo events. We caused Cuomo to go deeper into hiding and make a bigger mockery of his planned staged bogus event. Don’t get me wrong they still have the power to spin this to their advantage. Only the people that were at Indian Lake that day will be aware. Cuomo will still hoodwink the media and the general public but WE have now set the bar even higher for Cuomo to maintain his tyrannical grip on New Yorkers.

    Here is a public statement that should be seen by every New Yorker and every media outlet.

    The Governor’s Invitational Whitewater Race – a total scam of the public.

    It was billed as an “Extravaganza”. Cuomo’s “Adirondack Challenge” was promoted as a major tourist event. Many thousand tourists came to witness a white water raft race but wound up playing a game of “Where’s Waldo”. No one from the general public was allowed to get near the race. No one from the general public was allowed to see any part of the race. No one was even allowed to be informed of the exact location of the so called race. Did the free press cover the whole race? Did the race actually take place? Was there a legitimate race? Some one should challenge Cuomo and all people involved to show proof that a 15-mile “Adirondack Challenge Flatwater Canoe Race” on Indian Lake did in fact occur. This was the most bazaar and fraudulent promotion in promotional history. It was nothing but a scam.

    Coumo and his squad of goons shut down parks, roads, lake areas, beaches, boat launches, camping, of potential viewing areas of the so called race. Cuomo stonewalled every person who came to see the race and Cuomo. Cuomo manipulated a few staged interviews for reporting purposes while no one from the general public witnessed anything he did. Yup – the public was kept from witnessing any part of this insane happening. Cuomo made fools out of the Adirondack region and all of New York State. There is no excusing Coumo’s arrogance and abuse to everyone involved with the “extravaganza”.

    Shame goes to all the officials of the Town of Indian Lake. Shame is upon the heads of the officials of Hamilton County. Shame is laid at the feet of the Adirondack Tourism associations for allowing Cuomo to enact this fraudulent “tourism” promotion. July 21, 2013: The Hamilton County Dept. of Economic Development & Tourism promoted this as a “Taste NY” festival. It was a recipe that no one should eat.

  18. Tell the other side! says:

    Slide Show of what actually happened. (might want to turn your audio down)

  19. Guest Contributor Uh... Sure Wacko says:

    Here are a few words in the (stolen) song in the video above:

    “Feel no fear, know my pride; for God and Country I’ll end your life.”

    So there you go – if these tools think you offend their God, they vow to take your life.

  20. Tell the other side says:

    Is that you Andy? Or is it Bloomie?