EDITORIAL: How slow can we go?

WHO INVENTED HOLIDAYS? In the news business, they just cause problems. Whenever normal folks relax and turn off their phones, news people scrounge for stories. Unnamed sources go to the beach and politicians actually spend more time with their families. Such thoughtless behavior creates what’s called a “slow news cycle.”

It was so slow in Chatham last Thursday that I was thrilled to see a Fox News 23 TV truck parked on Main Street around 10 p.m. You couldn’t miss it with the lights shining on the sidewalk and passers-by peering inside the control room. The network had unearthed something big. The guys in the truck were about to feed a live segment. Cool. Read more…

EDITORIAL: A manager: when, not if

SAVING THE BEST for last makes sense for kids’ birthday parties. It works for mystery novels and horror movies too. But burying a significant fact on the final page of a government policy document seems a little like hiring a stripper to jump out of a toddler’s cake. It’s surprising all right, but what, exactly, is the point?

Consider the report issued this week by a subcommittee of the county Board of Supervisors, which looks at whether the board should hire a county manager. The report is called “The Case for a County Manager,” a 36-page document prepared by a group called the County Manager Initiative Subcommittee. Given the titles of the subcommittee and its report, there isn’t much question about the conclusion. And sure enough, it recommends that the board hire a professional manager. Read more…

EDITORIAL: My speech to graduates

MY FATHER ONCE ASKED me what advice I would give my younger brother as he prepared to head off to college for the first time. Fathers take note: this is a very bad idea, especially if you have not rehearsed the answer ahead of time. It happened a long time ago, but I still recall the stricken look on my father’s face when I answered without hesitation, “Don’t take it too seriously.”

Fortunately, my brother did not heed my advice and went on get a good education. This story also has another happy ending in that it illustrates why no one seeks me out as a graduation speaker. With graduates preparing to confront the world’s absurdities, they’re better off hearing from somebody who earnestly seeks to offer inspiration with a straight face. Read more…

EDITORIAL: What’s wrong with a new supermarket?

CALL ME A NEWCOMER, outsider, even a “cityot” (hint to Manhattan sophisticates, think “city idiot”). But I’ve spent most of my life in the Hudson Valley, the last decade of it here in Columbia County, and even in that brief period I have seen the landscape change. It hits me as I commute the three miles from metropolitan Chatham to downtown Ghent.

When I arrived here, long after the Harlem Valley Railroad disappeared, the settlements of Chatham and Ghent seemed like distinct communities with physical boundaries clear to an untrained observer. The Village of Chatham and its associated businesses stopped abruptly after the Agway store south of the village line, and the hamlet of Ghent coalesced in earnest just past the bridge where over the Kline Kill before it swings north toward Valatie. There were and are modest homes along the way that reflect succeeding vintages, but there were stretches of farms too and woods.

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EDITORIAL: Responders respond to 911 plan

YOU HAVE AN EMERGENCY. You pick up the phone and dial 911. The person who answers is well trained and professional, asks all the right questions and gets you the help you need in the shortest time possible. Not many people in the midst of 911 call would stop to ask the dispatcher on the other end of the line: Wait a minute, who, exactly do you work for?

But that is the question that has come up among emergency responders in the county following the recent announcement by Roy Brown (R-Germantown), chairman of the county Board of Supervisors, that the board is considering whether to merge the county 911 emergency dispatch operation into the Sheriff’s Office. The goal is to save money, as much as $175,000, according to the Sheriff David Harrison. That’s a small part of the full $150-million county budget, but anything that saves money for taxpayers is welcome news. So why would anyone oppose it, especially if, as promised, no jobs will be lost? Read more…