EDITORIAL: Who’s ICE looking for?

MY EXPERIENCE WITH IMMIGRANTS as a kid was limited to Anthony. He arrived in my fourth grade class not knowing any English. He was friendly and learned so quickly it was like he’d always lived here. He was the only person I knew who didn’t live in a house. Anthony lived in an apartment.

Their last name was Greek but they’d come from Romania. He said they walked a long way before they got here. He and his brother and sister and parents and possibly other family members lived above a store. Their life looked exotic to me. Very little furniture, windows that opened on Main Street, the stuff children notice. Anthony knew how to play soccer but his classmates, including me, didn’t care. We had our own sports.

Anthony became a citizen, graduated from college and taught school. We went separate ways. His was the American dream and he’s how I still imagine immigrants. That’s why it’s hard for me to understand why our government is so willing to label whole nationalities a threat before we know anything about the individuals who want to come here other than their religion. Read more…

EDITORIAL: How much for Medicaid?

How much for Medicaid?

JUST WHEN YOU THINK politicians never learn, they surprise you. What we voters tend to forget is that often enough what politicians learn is new ways to misbehave.

Take the case of the Columbia County Board of Supervisors meeting last week, where members of the Republican majority showed off what they’ve learned from Governor Andrew Cuomo. Did you think the little statues the GOP had of him were pincushions? Unh uh. Cuomo’s their political hardball hero.

With just a day’s notice and no meaningful chance for debate the majority adopted a resolution endorsing a bill introduced in Congress by Rep. John Faso (R-19th) that would end the counties’ obligation to help fund Medicaid. The resolution just affirms the majority’s support for the efforts of a fellow Republican, which could have been accomplished without the Cuomo-esque muscle flexing. But it may signal trouble ahead for county government. Read more…

EDITORIAL: Are we successful yet?

WHAT DO WE HAVE to celebrate as we begin our ninth year with this week’s paper? Just imagine the things experts would tell you won’t work in the 21st century. Publishing a newspaper has to be near the top of the list, up there with repairing typewriters or video cassette machines… repairing anything.

Back in 2009 when we started, people advised us: Don’t do it! They said, Wait till things settle down. Like what, the economy? The nation was losing over 700,000 jobs a month. The folks at the unemployment office couldn’t keep up with the demand. Can you think of a better time to open a new business with an old business model?

Why didn’t everyone think of that? Probably because they’re better at business than I am. It wouldn’t take much. And yet here we are nearly a decade later and our big problem this week was whether to add pages to this issue because we have more advertising than anticipated. We should be so lucky to have this problem every week.

Truth in advertising requires disclosing that The Columbia Paper and our website columbiapaper.com don’t fit a business school definition of success. For instance, part of our need for more space is driven by a sudden increase in the number of public notices we now publish. That uptick in business happened when the only other paid circulation weekly newspaper in the county, the Chatham Courier, closed at the end of last year. State law requires that certain types of notices must be published in both a daily and a weekly local paper. We’re the only weekly left. Read more…

EDITORIAL: Why should he buy it?


WHY BEING A CONSERVATIVE would I buy or advertise in a news paper that delivers the papers with a Clinton bumper sticker.” That’s the complete text of an email we received last week. The writer’s name is in the email. I don’t use it here only because I haven’t contacted  him to confirm whether he wanted the comment published with his name, although I suspect he wouldn’t mind. It’s a reasonable question that deserves an answer.

To avoid any potential misunderstanding, the writer is referring to a vehicle used to deliver The Columbia Paper; we don’t deliver Clinton bumper stickers with our newspapers. But I did endorse Hillary Clinton for president in this space last fall and a van belonging to our deputy publisher but clearly marked with a Columbia Paper sign does have a small, remarkably tough Clinton campaign sticker still clinging to its rear bumper.

It makes me smile when I see that sticker. So when I read the email I got huffy and in my head I drafted an answer I felt sure would make the writer see the error of his ways for suggesting he might not want to buy our newspaper. I was prepared to lecture him about how he would only buy the paper if he wanted accurate, informed, fair, fact-based community news and information. My horse got higher and higher the more I thought about what to say. Boy, I was gonna make him give up thinking of himself as a conservative. Read more…

EDITORIAL: Let solar farming bloom

THE COAL TRUCK backed up to the side of the house, the driver pushed a metal chute through the trap door and shiny chunks of coal clattered into the basement bin. Once I climbed into that bin. Big fuss by parents about that. Soon the coal bin disappeared, replaced by a washing machine, drier and, nearby, a furnace that burned invisible, clean, reliable oil.

This week the president said he was fulfilling his promise to bring back the coal industry by trying to undo environmental regulations that he says have hurt the industry. You could call that fake news for coal country communities suffering from high unemployment and few economic options. It’s fracking and the comparatively clean and abundant natural gas it produces that’s made coal a risky investment.

Recent images from China and India, where the air is too toxic to breathe because of coal-fired power plants, haven’t helped coal’s cause either. Not so long ago New York and other major U.S. cities had similar bad air days. It took clean air regulation to improve things so that we no longer see the pollution. We still have ozone alerts in the summer. Sometimes those alerts omit Columbia County because the government doesn’t monitor the air here. But there’s no wall around us keeping the unhealthy air from our lungs. Being unaware of the threat doesn’t make us immune to it. Read more…