Freedom’s just another word

 So, you think Big Tech censorship of anybody is undemocratic? Me too. But this is really nothing new.

Newspapers have been doing it since Peter Zenger. It may sound cynical, but as the old saying goes, “Freedom of the press (the modern web) belongs to he (or she) who owns the press.”

Example:

Last week Kingston Mayor Steve Noble notified the common council he was vetoing legislation unanimously passed by the aldermen on some $256,000 of federal community block grants because of what he (lately) considered excessive administrative costs and that the public wasn’t properly notified prior to council approval.

The latter bears review. According to the mayor, the public had no chance for input because he said “the wrong call-in information was posted by the paper of record.” The previous statement was posted in the Sunday Freeman. But the city’s official paper of record did not identify the “paper of record” mentioned therein, leaving readers to wonder which paper screwed up. Courteous to a fault, together the mayor and the paper of record covered its ink-stained butt.

To its credit, the Freeman usually prints its mistakes in a special section at the bottom of Page 2, far removed from original sins. Readers used to complain about that.

“You guys screw up a story on Page 1 and correct in Page 2,” they’d tell me. “What’s that about?”

Freedom of the press.

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SEWERS HAPPEN, EVENTUALLY – Meanwhile, in news that may not rock the west shore, the village of Red Hook announces it will go to bid on some $6 million worth (they hope) of sewer work this week. This is noteworthy because according to village mayor Ed Blundell, the village first applied for the federal and state grants more than five years ago.

Understandably, the wheels of government grind slowly, which is to say Red Hookers (as they call themselves) should not begin flushing toilets just yet.

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GALLAGHER MARCHES ON  – in a low-key announcement that most media seemed to ignore, Ulster County comptroller March Gallagher declared for a second term last week. And just in case any would-be rivals thought her less than determined, she also revealed she had raised more than $14,000 for her coming campaign.

Democrat Gallagher, in her first run for public office, was elected by more than 6,000 votes (56%) over under-funded Republican Lisa Cutten in 2019 to fill the unexpired term of former comptroller Elliott Auerbach. She’ll seek a full four-year term in November.

Alas, with Democrats suffering from an embarrassment of riches – with their almost 2-1 enrollment majority, they hold every county-wide office except clerk – the only way for fresh talent to secure a foothold is through party primaries.

Comptroller may not be much of a bully pulpit, but it does pay just over $100,000 a year. Gallagher’s war chest footnote is a reminder that it’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock and roll.

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IN PASSING – Two of my favorites passed last week, one-time Assembly candidate Pete Rooney, 79, and Memorial Day Parade marching partner Harriet Katatsky, 100.

About 20 years ago Kingston American Legion Post 150 American Legion commissioned a two-person banner to carry in front of our color guard in the annual Memorial Day Parade. Just before the parade stepped off, I called for a volunteer and out stepped from the crowd this tiny woman in a WWII Navy petty officer’s uniform. “I can march,” she said.

It was Harriet Katatsky, Kingston native and 1944 Navy enlistee. And so we did, to cheers from spectators (for Harriet).

At her passing, Harriet (or “Hattie” as she preferred) had been a 60-year member of our Post and volunteer for a whole lot of other good causes.

Republican Pete Rooney accepted the unenviable job of running against solidly entrenched Democrat Kevin Cahill for assembly in 2010.  A multi-millionaire in various enterprises, cowboy Rooney ran an imaginative, exciting campaign and spent lavishly, including the purchase of a new Ford 150 truck on which he invited supporters to sign autographs. Pete got a lot of mileage driving that truck to events, but they don’t call Cahill entrenched for nothing: he buried the challenger by some 5,300 (56%) votes.

The highlight of Rooney’s campaign came during that summer when a warehouse full of fireworks he owned on 9W in Ulster Park exploded. Nobody was hurt but traffic was held up for a while to clear the road of debris.

Tongue-in-cheek I nicknamed him “Boom Boom” in a subsequent column. He called right back. “Reynolds,” he said with a chuckle,” you are some kind of ball buster.” I took that as high praise; always liked the guy after that.

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ME AND MARIO – Friday’s morning show on WGHQ (92 A.M.) will spend some time reminiscing on the 20th anniversary of the death of former Kingston Mayor T. R. Gallo. Those with memories are invited to call in.