Big Cheese Comes To Town

Gov. Andrew Cuomo made another of his surprise visits to the area last week, this time to deplore outrageous anti-Semitic remarks by a 21-year old man to an 18-year-old female co-worker at the Mother Earth health food store in the town of Ulster. Despite the press conference’s obscure setting at state police barracks, also in Ulster, Cuomo’s condemnation of anti-Semitism went viral, as no doubt intended. Cuomo’s audience reaches far beyond the borders of his domain.

Cuomo invited state police superintendent Keith Corlett and somewhat inexplicably Kingston Mayor Steve Noble to the podium. He was there at the invitation of the governor, Noble explained to reporters because he was against anti-Semitism anywhere in the region. Aren’t we all?

The setting for the press conference was curious in that Corlett, Cuomo’s appointee, succeeded George Beach of Hurley, who according to some published accounts was forced to resign in  January, presumably on orders from the governor who appointed him two years ago. Beach was Ulster’s second SP superintendent since 1917. Can anybody name the first?

As for deploring anti-Semitism, all Cuomo had to do was stand on the steps of the police barracks and gaze south about 500 yards where hard by the Hurley Reformed Church steeple, clearly visible from SP headquarters, he could have targeted Hurley highway superintendent Mike Shultis, reprimanded last month by the town board for uttering anti-Semitic remarks to a female town highway employee.

All such hate speech is despicable, but in one case this round involved an ignorant 21-year-old who hopefully will see the evil of his ways, as compared to a 60-year-old who really ought to know better. The young man will lose his job, suffer a deserved tongue lashing before a judge and perhaps profit from this unfortunate experience. We trust the young victim will come to appreciate there are still too many bigots about.  The mature man (at least, agewise) will run for a second term claiming politics against the 4-1 Republican town board that indicted him, but under town law could only recommend that he take sensitivity training.

There was another sidebar to this dog and pony show worth noting: criticism of Republican town of Ulster supervisor Jim Quigley for not being present at the governor’s hastily called press conference. Quigley said he was not invited, but certainly would have attended, “because there is respect for the office. You never turn down an invitation from the governor.” He too deplored the Mother Earth incident in the strongest terms.

There is a protocol to these kinds of staged political “press events” that the casual observer might miss. Democrats invite Democrats to their events and Republicans invite Republicans, and rarely does the twain meet. And we wonder why people of this mindset can’t actually govern together?