Posts Tagged ‘elections’

Thursday, August 27, 2009

GOP vs GOP in Essex County District Attorney Debate Tonight

A debate between candidates in the Essex County District Attorney election will be held tonight at the Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School in Elizabethtown beginning at 6 pm. The race between Kristy Sprague and Julie Garcia has heated up after a failed attempt by some local pols to have Sprague removed from the ballot. Sprague, who is endorsed by the Republican committee, and Garcia, the incumbent who was elected as a Republican in 2005, will square off in the Republican primary September 15th. Garcia has raised thousands more then her opponent, and if she wins, it’s likely she’ll have both party lines in the November election.

The debate is being sponsored by local media outlets and moderated by the following three men, who are all accepting questions via e-mail. “These journalists are inviting their readers and listeners to suggest questions to them any time before the event, instead of letting people ask or submit questions at the event,” according to the media’s media release.

Send your questions to:

Lohr McKinstry of the Press Republican ([email protected])
John Gereau of Denton Publications ([email protected])
Peter Crowley of the Adirondack Daily Enterprise ([email protected])
Chris Morris of Mountain Communications Radio News ([email protected])


Monday, June 8, 2009

Opinion: Election For McHugh’s Seat -An Opportunity for Local Media to Demonstrate Their Worth

Provided he is confirmed, which seems very likely, John McHugh’s elevation to Secretary of the Army means another special election fight here in the Adirodnack region. I railed here about the failure of local media to accurately report on our last Special Election, that for Kirstin Gillibrand’s 20th Congressional District seat. Outlets as varied as NCPR and the Glens Falls Post Star united in declaring from the beginning that there were only two candidates – not surprisingly they were those from the two major parties, two other candidates were all but ignored as irrelevant. During the 20th race local political writers and editors even blatantly defended their undemocratic actions on the grounds that they were the arbiters for all of us as to which candidates were “legitimate” and “relevant.”

All the local media’s nonsense and anti-democratic proclamations raised a constant barrage from local blogs who attempted to hold them to account. One response from Brian Mann at NCPR seems to have been a regular attack on bloggers for destroying the profits of local newspapers. His argument, expressed regularly by others in the old media business as well, is that the loss of our local newspapers will destroy our democracy. I know – it’s downright funny to actually argue that the loss of today’s local newspapers will actually hurt democracy!

Of course their arguments are ridiculous at best, self-serving and disingenuous at worst – but that’s what we’ve come to expect from local media. And why not, they are almost entirely owned by corporate interests, and if not, they have been educated on the corporate journalism model. Never mind that newspaper circulation reached a peak in 1993, long before blogs and other news aggregators existed; in fact, before the internet was any sort of real force in our lives (and not coincidentally at the height of both corporate media control and the power of their corporate two-party system). If the internet means the death of an old corporate media tied to the two parties that have dominated politics since the rise of corporate control of the presses, then good riddance.

Maybe I’m wrong – maybe a 23rd Special Election will prove to be the election that local media actually reports fairly and proves their worth. Maybe we’ll actually see an investigative report on the election that’s not tied to support for one of the corporate candidates. Maybe local media will cover all the candidates equally. It’s not likely, but it would be nice. Let me offer some advice – right now there are no candidates – when one announces, begin covering them, as each new candidate emerges, cover them equally until such time THEY say they are no longer a candidate. That’s called fairness, it’s a major tenet of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics.

So far, the Albany Project been the best provider of news and information about the potential upcoming 23rd Special Election. Here is a round-up of the reporting so far to show some of what’s already happening. First the old style media:

The Times Union’s Capital Confidential blog provides a list of Republican and Democratic potential challengers (let the bias begin).

Cap Con on what their 20th CD corporate candidate Democrat Scott Murphy thinks.

NCPR’s Brian Mann on how the race will be a repeat of the Republican-Democrat bruiser (there’s your first sports metaphor from me Brian) in the 20th CD.

Brian Mann on whether the Republican is really a pawn of the Democratic party.

Brian Mann on whether Republican DeeDee Scozzafava has a chance.

The Zach Subar and Nathan Brown of the Leader-Herald let us know that McHugh’s Republican Chief of Staff won’t run – thanks guys – are their any other Republicans who won’t run that we should know about?

Now for the local independent blogs:

The Albany Project lets us know through actual reporting that their are 103,847 voters enrolled (out of 392,006 total) who are not designated as Republicans or Democrats (including three Socialists!).

The Albany Project provides a detailed and well researched history of the district going back to 1830.

And a few others:

The Politicker’s (a mainstream media darling blog) reports on the Democrat and Republican chances twice.

Herkimer County Progressive on Why the Democrats can Win.

Jefferson Democrat on the Democratic opportunity.

Jefferson Leaning Left on the confusion among Republicans.

Conservative blogger Political IV on Republican chances.

It’s amazing how much the partisan blog reports look like the old media reports – isn’t it?

You can follow the 23rd CD race here at Adirondack Almanack; we also cover politics more generally here.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

McHugh Nominated to Secretary of the Army

Congressman John McHugh has been nominated today by President Obama to become the nation’s 25th Secretary of the Army. McHugh, a Republican from Pierrepont Manor, has represented New York’s 23rd Congressional District since January 1993. He is currently ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, and serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

On the House Armed Services Committee, McHugh succeeded his predecessor in the district dominated by the Fort Drum, David O’Brien Martin. Since 1993 McHugh has worked his way up through Republican ranks until assuming the position of ranking member in this year’s 111th Congress upon the retirement of former Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter.

Despite serving on the committee over the course of the Iraq war, McHugh never lost popular support in his increasingly Democrat-leaning district. He forged alliances with New York Democrats serving on Congressional Armed Services Committees, Senator Hillary Clinton and Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand. He would leave the committee shortly after Congressman Scott Murphy of the neighboring 20th District joined.

As a position, the Secretary of the Army is a direct descendent of the Secretary of War, which was a Cabinet-level position from 1789 until 1947. In that year the office was renamed Department of the Army, and brought together with the other armed services under the Department of Defense.

Approval of McHugh’s nomination by the US Senate would set the stage for another special congressional election in the Adirondacks, and a probable short tenure for the eventual victor. The district will likely face a severe reconfiguration, if not outright elimination following the upcoming 2010 census and reapportionment fight.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

2009 Environmental Bond Act Pitch From Adk Council

I’m reprinting below a press release issued on the proposed $5 billion 2009 Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Bond Act by John Sheehan, Director of Communications for the Adirondack Council. The bond act is also being pushed by businesses like Caterpillar and Nova Bus, and the American Cancer Society, Audubon New York, Citizen’s Campaign for the Environment, New York League of Conservation Voters, New York Public Transit Association, New York State Laborers, Scenic Hudson, and The Nature Conservancy. The hope is that the targeted spending in this time of economic crises will encourage a green economy and provide more jobs. Projects include wastewater infrastructure, energy efficiency, transit, public health protection and economic development projects. Although details are scarce (bond act organizers are waiting for the Legislature to suggest projects), I have a copy of a slightly more detailed pdf fact sheet outlining the bond act, if anyone is interested. More later today. » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 30, 2009

The Special Election: Politics as March Madness


On the eve of tomorrow’s special election to represent New York’s 20th congressional district, there seems no better metaphor for much of what is wrong with our dysfunctional political system than the sort of hysterical ambivalence embodied by our culture’s obsession with team sports, on full display this week in the beer-belching economic machine that is March Madness. Whether it is the NCAA tournament, the Stanley Cup, World Series, or the Tyrannosaurus Rex of all contests, the Super Bowl, Americans seem pre-disposed toward 2-sided SmackDowns. Put any of these spectacles up against, say, Track and Field’s 4X400 meter relay, or the Iditarod for market share and you have, well, no contest. Judging from the cable listings alone, one could easily conclude that the American mind cannot readily grasp concepts which stray too far from the basic formula of one protagonist versus one antagonist.

In a similar vein, our political culture, as determined by the two dominant parties (with the solid backing of the same media that profits from sports spectacles) has decided it is not in the best interest of the American body politic to stray too far from one donkey mascot versus one elephant mascot. Nowhere in recent memory has this proscription against political outsiders been more crassly played out than in the special election for New York’s 20th congressional district seat. Given its 30-day duration—a calendar that reduced the importance and influence of big money donations—this race should have been wide open to any registered party that could field a qualified candidate. Instead, in a race where the major party candidates were picked by handfuls of party operatives behind closed doors, the only registered third party candidate in the race was held to the standard used for a regular cycle election, the collection of 3,500 meticulously recorded signatures of registered voters from within the district.

This sort of princess-and-the-pea standard invariably leads to the predictable farce of a political sideshow where the handmaids of one of the two major parties launch salvos of legal challenges to the third party petitions and the Board of Elections (comprising—you guessed it—Republicans and Democrats) eliminate enough signatures to disqualify the candidate. Genuine Banana Republic electioneering.

Perhaps it is time for our elected representatives, who claim to represent a constituency of which a full third identifies with neither major party, to remove their heads from their respective caucuses and vote for substantive electoral reform, and restore the free market of political ideas and speech that should be the aspiration of any true democracy.

In the meantime, the best any of us can do as citizens is take time to inform ourselves of the issues and the candidates positions, and take the time to hold up our end of the democracy contract. Cast your ballot.


Friday, March 13, 2009

James Tedisco and The GOP’s 20th CD Hopes

National media have framed the race for New York’s 20th congressional district seat as the pivot point on the National Republican Party’s path to resurgence. However, recent opinion polls of likely voters show that this might not be the slam dunk the party wants or expects. In fact the numbers continue a trend which has already become well-established over the course of this decade. If the trend continues, the GOP — fresh off a well financed loss in the same district — may be fulfilling Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity. And while New York Assembly Minority Leader Jim Tedisco’s hijacking of the Republican nomination may have been more a reflection of personal ambition than of party strategy, The RNC has bought into his dream quite conspicuously. If Tedisco and state and national party leaders are unable to stem the momentum of the rising Murphy campaign, this race may well become a showcase not of a political movement making a comeback, but of one coming undone altogether.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

20th CD: Eric Sundwall’s Petitions Challenged

The Adirondack Daily Enterprise is first out of the box with the news that two people have filed objections against the nominating petitions of Libertarian candidate for the 20th Congressional District, Eric Sundwall.

The objections were filed by Laurie Kelly Sickles of Ballston Spa and Donald J. Neddo of Waterford, according to state Board of Elections Public Information Officer John Conklin. Conklin said each is a general objection, or a statement of intent to file a more specific objection, which they have until Wednesday to do.

Neddo, 75, is a member of the Halfmoon Conservative Committee who ran for party state committee membership in 2008. He was formerly a school board member in the Waterford-Halfmoon school district. He was also responsible for organizing a number of rallies in support of the Iraq war in 2003, which he stopped doing after admitting that he had lied about having served in Korea when he is, in fact, not a veteran, according to the Times Union of Albany.

Sickles is a real estate agent and a member of the Ballston Spa Education Foundation.

Conklin said Sundwall had around 7,000 signatures on his petitions this year.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Adirondack Mountain Reserve Through-Hiker Arrested

Here is a disturbing story from Glens Falls blogger (i am alive) who was arrested for trespassing after signing the register at the gatehouse at the Adirondack Mountain Reserve’s Lake Road entrance and attempting to hike to Dial and Nippletop mountains:

…we were approached by an armed man. other than his name tag, he was not dressed as a security officer, but he was carrying a silver pistol. he had a digital camera bag around his neck and had a small bleeding wound on his face. without explanation, he took out the camera and began taking pictures of us. as soon as he began speaking, we knew our hike was over…

…he proceeded to escort us back to the gatehouse and detain us. he called in another security guard from the Ausable Club and summoned a state officer by radio. we sat being totally cooperative, providing identification and surrendering adam’s weapons (he had a leatherman and his new kershaw knife). inside my head i am thinking, “this is just to scare us, he can’t really arrest us….right?”…

…here we waited for over an hour until a NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Officer could arrive to deal with all of our lawlessness. i actually felt bad for the EnCon officer. seriously, did he need to come all that way to deal with us? we would have quietly left the property if mr. cowboy said that we really couldn’t have the dog and had to turn around. he never gave us that chance.
so in his generosity, mr. cowboy decided only to “arrest” one of us. oh yeah, you guessed it…it was me.

Amazing. That should be good for regional economic development. I guess it’s not surprising, even their web page is off limits – that is, unless you want to serve them.

What does this say about Sandy Treadwell, who claims AuSable Club owner William Weld as his surrogate? Does Treadwell condone arresting his constituents for through-hiking?

UPDATE: Apparently this is not an uncommon experience. Check out what happened to Press Republican outdoors writer Dennis Aprill in June of this year here.