THE CAPITOL CONNECTION: Teacher’s bias taught him lesson

OUR TEACHERS ARE AMONG the most significant influences in our lives. Every one of us can point to an individual teacher who has been more important to us than anyone else, with the possible exception of our parents. I remember the good ones and the bad ones. I’m a teacher, myself. I taught college for a long, long time. Over the years, people have reached out to tell me what I meant to them. My wife, Roselle, now retired, taught in elementary school, in high school, in college and in graduate school. We can’t go anywhere without people coming up and thanking her.

Teachers have always had it hard. Now, however, they have it harder than ever. With Covid ravaging the land, they have to walk into a classroom and risk their own health. In the lower grades, before our children can be vaccinated, this is particularly dangerous. Teachers have families. They risk not only getting sick themselves but bringing the disease home. Some teachers just won’t take the risk, but most have done what they have to. Some students have not been vaccinated, maybe because their parents were so stupid that they drank the Kool-Aid and eschewed the shot. They become walking time bombs.

Teachers are not alone in facing risk. Bus drivers, health professionals and pharmacists likewise must face down Covid, but it is teachers who impart knowledge to us and who help mold our values. That’s what I’m thinking about as I write this. Read more…

THE CAPITOL CONNECTION: They made policy over slices of rye

SOME THINGS IN ALBANY change, many do not. Some, I really miss. I remember when Stanley Steingut was the minority leader and then the speaker. I really liked the guy and I think he liked me. Back then, when Albany was different and I was a graduate intern in Manfred Ohrenstein’s office, we used to pool our money, hire a cab and send him up to Joe’s delicatessen on Madison Avenue. If you never ate at Joe’s, you really haven’t lived. There were these phenomenal double and triple decker sandwiches the likes of which I haven’t experienced since those good old days. Funny what you remember, but I do remember walking into Joe’s and seeing Governor Nelson Rockefeller, Lieutenant Governor Malcolm Wilson and Attorney General Louis Lefkowitz. I dare say you don’t see that kind of thing anymore. Here they were, out in public at a popular delicatessen. I never saw George Pataki or Andrew Cuomo out with their lieutenant governors. Maybe it’s a bit more formal than it used to be. Maybe not. Thinking about Joe’s really gets me going. While there are a few passable restaurants in Albany, they are not like the old days.

Some people think that Albany is a dump. There is the legend that Rockefeller built the Plaza because he was embarrassed when the Dutch Queen came to visit and was quite down on the beauty (or lack of it) of the state’s capital city. I once wrote a column suggesting that it was nonsense to have the state Capitol in Albany as opposed to New York City. I heard in short order from the then-mayor, Gerald Jennings, about my perfidy. Boy, was he ticked off.

It is hard to find practicing politicians who love coming to Albany. Some like to come for reasons other than the politics or the food, but ’nuff said about that. Politicians are a lot like the rest of us. There used to be something called the Bear Mountain Compact, which was shorthand for the understanding that nothing that happened after the train passed the Bear Mountain Bridge could be discussed in pubic; a sort of old boys’ (and sometimes girls’) understanding that secrets were required to be kept. What happens in Albany stays in Albany. Of course, a lot of people were fully aware of “secrets” that needed to be kept, even about those in positions of real power and authority. Read more…

THE CAPITOL CONNECTION: Don’t skip this class

OKAY, HERE COMES your mid-year exam. This will be a true or false test. Mark your papers T or F and please, keep your eyes off your neighbor’s paper.

T or F: As per most political observers believe, Kathy Hochul will be reelected governor.

False: Certainty is never a sure thing in politics, especially here in New York. It looks like she’s a shoo-in, but we have a long way to go. A lot of political mistakes are still possible. If you don’t believe that, take a look back at Andrew Cuomo’s career.

T or F: Andrew Cuomo is planning a political comeback. Read more…