Chuckie Cheese

I’m not privy to Chuck Schumer’s scheduling operation, but it must have been a lean year in Ulster County for our senior to organize a full-blown press conference on something as seemingly mundane as rocks falling off a railroad trestle on somebody’s car in downtown Kingston.

The lemming-like local media lapped it up – as always. This was a United States senator and anything he said had to be BIG NEWS.

Schumer, a master of media manipulation, did his level best to create headlines. “This is a serious issue of safety”, he told reporters. Dutifully, and predictably, the Freeman exactly repeated the hook in a lead headline.

Rocks falling on passing vehicles are not a good thing, of course, but debris has been falling off that CSX trestle since it was built in the late 19th century. Apparently, U.S. senators cared less about citizen safety in those days. Or they saved their showcase visits for something really important, like the growing debate over affordable housing in Kingston. Truth is, the influential senate minority leader probably could have resolved the issue with a simple letter to CSX executives.

Other than showcasing the senator, who at the beginning of his tenure in 1999 swore to visit all 62 New York counties at least once every year – and he has, these made-for-media events also showcase local Democratic politicians. In this visit, Kingston mayor Steve Noble and county executive Pat Ryan were hailed as among the most able administrators in Schumer’s domain. Noble is finishing his fourth year in office. Ryan has less than four months on the job. Apparently, he’s a quick learner.

I would be among the last to discourage Schumer from visits once, twice, five times a year. Anyone who can remember the last time Kirsten Gillibrand was here (this year) gets a one-month subscription to Catskill Mountain News. I just wish he has something more substantial to offer the next time.

MARC HIS WORDS – Dutchess County executive Marc Molinaro, in answer to a direct question from the Poughkeepsie Journal last week, swore he will not be a Republican candidate for congress in the 19th district next year.   And perhaps for the very best of reasons: Molinaro, who waged an unsuccessful campaign for governor against Andrew Cuomo last year, says he will seek a third term as county executive in 2020.

That loud sigh of relief we heard may have come from Rep. Antonio Delgado in Rhinebeck. Running hard for a second term, a Molinaro candidacy would have presented a serious challenge for the freshman Democrat, given that Molinaro, with little money or organization, carried every county (except Ulster) in the 19th district last year. 

For Molinaro, the politics just don’t work. Why risk a fairly safe seat as county executive for a questionable run for congress in a presidential year in a district trending Democratic? Just 43, the once boy mayor of Tivoli and former assemblyman will have other opportunities.

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