Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Still more shame

The State of Shame. That's how the New York Daily News is characterizing the Legislature.

Here's Part III of its series.

Berman leaving Channel 4

Lots of shakeups in the newspaper business. Television, too.

The latest word from New York City is that veteran Channel 4 sportscaster Len Berman is on his way out.

Here's the scoop from the New York Daily News.

Silver, with a bullet

If the thought of state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver as the most powerful man in Albany gives you an upset stomach, read Danny Hakim's front-page piece in today's New York Times at your own risk.

Here it is.

More shame

Just back from a road trip, so I'm catching up to Monday's second part of the State of Shame series in the New York Daily News.

Here's the main story, and here's the sidebar.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

State of affairs II

More on the sad state of affairs in Albany in this morning's New York Daily News.

Check out the first part of a two-parter, "State of Shame."

And here's the newspaper's editorial.

The drumbeat continues.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

State of affairs

The sad state of affairs in Albany is reinforced this morning by this column in The New York Times. The writer is veteran observer Gail Gollins.

In particular, note her observations about the rank and file legislators.

Remember, this is your state government.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday fillers

*I was thinking that the 40th anniversary of the original Woodstock Festival isn't the right number for another concert. But then it occurred to me that by the 50th anniversary, many of the nostalgia acts may no longer be around. Time, indeed, may be of the essence.

*Today's updates on the new Yankee Stadium are courtesy of Newsday, which is reporting that George Steinbrenner will be at the opening game, but public address legend Bob Sheppard will not.

*African American comic D. L. Hughley put Barack Obama's election in perspective the other morning on the Imus program. Hughley said he was walking through New York City on Election Night, excited about the election of a black man, something he never thought he'd live to see. But the edge came off when a taxi driver wouldn't stop to pick him up.

*The New York Times finally found out that Kirsten Gillibrand once represnted Phillip Morris. But a story on the front page, above the fold, with a full-page "jump" seems a bit much to me. Are we going to castigate every lawyer for their client list? And should a young associate at a big firm come under fire?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thursday tidbits

*Do you suppose the conservative opinions of MSNBC's Morning Joe Scarborough would be a bit easier to digest - even you disagree - if he didn't express them in a series of sarcastic sneers? Morning Joe doesn't like the Obama budget. "Where's the money coming from?" he legimately wonders. But to see him say it (and other things) makes you want to throw a shoe at the TV.

*The other day I pointed you to the concessions at the new Yankee Stadium - if you can afford a ticket to get inside. Today's it's parking your car. New system, some new locations and rates. Check it out here, courtesy of my son, David, who's keeping me posted on this stuff. My opinion: Try public transportation, particularly when the new Metro-North train station on the Hudson River line is open. (But get to the Poughkeepsie terminal early if you want to parking spot and make your train.)

*There's no bigger B.B. King fan than I am, but I'll pass on his show this summer at Bethel Woods. B.B. deserves our admiration for continuing to tour well into his 80s, but fact is, he's understandably lost a step. For those like me who've enjoyed him for years - and seen him in Poughkeepsie and Kingston when he was closer to his prime - he's become an uncomfortable listen. Sort of like Frank Sinatra during his final days as a performer.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


*As long as House Republicans insist on using John Boehner of Ohio and Eric Kantor of Virginia as the faces of their party, Democrats will hold sway. Boehner comes across as the last angry man, and Kantor reminds me of the kid in class who constantly raised his hand to get the teacher's attention.

*Somebody new has been reading the news instead of John Clark on Kingston Community Radio and he hasn't gotten the word: If you're on radio or TV and stealing stuff from the morning papers (ours and others), at least say, "according to the Daily Freeman (or whatever)" instead of trying to make listeners think you did the legwork yourself.

*I'm not a fan of Chris Matthews' overbearing questioning style (quite the contrary; he hardly lets his guests get in a word edge wise), but I do agree with his analysis of Barack Obama after last night's press conference: This is a president who strives for greatness. His moment is now. Issues like health care reform and the environment can't be put off any longer. That means there'll be bills to pay, short- and long-term. But if not now, when?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

For what it's worth

*I haven't yet figured out the appeal of Twitter. I've had an account for quite some time, mostly because, as with Facebook, I thought it would be best not to lag too far behind new communications tools. Anyway, I can get my arms around Facebook. I check in a couple of times a day to see what friends and relatives are up to. I don't contribute much. As Chance the Gardener said in "Being There," I like to watch. Twitter, on the other hand, strikes me as narcisistic. "What are you doing now?" "I'm going to the store for a quart of milk." Sorry, not interested. That said, Twitter seems to be all the rage in some circles, so I'm prepared to admit I'm missing something. Maybe somebody will fill me in.

*There was a time when pro basketball captured my attention. Those were the days when you could go to the old Garden on 49th Street and see an NBA doubleheader with one paid admission. Later, the Red Holzman Knicks were what teamwork is all about. Somewhere, maybe after Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, I tuned out. That the current Knicks have been horrible has made it easy. But I did catch the second half of last night's Knicks game with Orlando, the most of any match I've seen in I'm not sure how long. Now I remember why. Poor fundamentals. Players out of position. Frequent clock stoppages in the waning moments. Let me know when the season is over.

*If you manage to find your way into the new Yankee Stadium and still have some free cash, you won't go hungry. Check out this menu for the new ballpark.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Spring hasn't sprung

*When Scott Murphy, Democratic candidate for Congress in the 20th District, visited our editorial board a couple of weeks ago, I made the mistake of commenting that it was my impression his race against Republican Jim Tedisco lacked the down-and-dirty quality of the John Sweeney-Kirstin Gillibrand campaign. Murphy correctly looked at me with an expression that said, "What race are you looking at?"
Obviously not this one. I've since seen a bunch of Tedisco commercials, the worst of which placed by the Republican National Committee, all designed to throw mud on Murphy. In fact, at least one ends with "Vote against Scott Murphy," not "Vote for Jim Tedisco." Fortunately, voters only have to put up with this for another week. Meantime, viewers of the Albany channels have been warned.

*You've heard the jokes about the cable guy? Same goes with the satellite guy. My appointment for a visit by the technician was on Sunday between 8 a.m. and noon. He finally arrived just after 2. Day shot.

*The weather forecast was for a high of 58 Sunday. Warm enough to crank up the barbecue. Instead, the temperature was in the mid-40s with a chilly breeze. Too late to cancel the barbecue. So, I'm out there grilling wearing a ski jacket. At least most of the snow is gone.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Now you know

*Here's when you know when someone's ego has gotten too large: Cindy Adams in the New York Post: "Of course I knew Natasha Richardson. I write a column."

*Here's when you know somebody hasn't been following college basketball very closely: When you don't know Louisville is in the Big East?

*Here's another way you know when someone's ego has gotten too large: Check out the pictures of A-Rod admiring himself in Details magazine.

*Here's when you know your employees are too far ahead of you: When you're the mayor of Kingston and a story about the city beach being closed gets in our paper before you have a chance to tell department heads they can't allow that to happen.

*Here's when you know Hollywood doesn't always release its best movies late in the year for Oscar consideration: When "Duplicity" and "The Great Buck Howard," both of which received excellent reviews, open on the first weekend of spring.

*Here's when you know that American fans recognize a drummed-up promotion for what it is: When you check out the paltry attendance figures for the World Baseball Classic. (Want to draw interest in this event? Play it after the World Series, not in March, when baseball fans are more interested in seeing their favorite teams prepare for the season without being disrupted during training camp.)

*Here's when you know that men of a certain age are ready to bang their heads against the wall: When you read that doctors can't agree on the value of prostate cancer testing and treatment.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Permanently digital

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer went to press for the final time today. The Hearst-owned newspaper - one of the finest in the country and a fixture in the Pacific Northwest - will now publish only on the Internet.

Here's how the P-I reported the news. And here's a wonderful first-person account of what it was like in the newsroom as the final print deadline drew near.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Clintons say 'no'

I trust you read our story on the Clintons today. You'll have noted we weren't able to advance it much beyond what I blogged earlier in the week.

Once our story hit the paper, I alerted Rik Stevens, The Associated Press' news editor in Albany, to see if AP would have better luck tracking it down.

AP had already seen the story and was on the case.

This afternoon, Rik wrote back to alert us that Hillary's spokesman said the "Clintons moving to Woodstock" rumors were false.

That puts it to bed, I guess.

But the Clintons sure could have saved us and others plenty of time had they denied the rumors from the start.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The industry

Many people naturally are asking me about what's going on at our company and with newspapers in general. This story on the front page of today's New York Times does a nice job of summarizing the situation.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Clintons in Woodstock?

Have you heard the rumors about Bill and Hillary Clinton buying property in Woodstock?

We have.

The weekly Ulster County Townsman speculated about it last week on its editorial page. A few days later, Ulster County Chamber of Commerce President Ward Todd alluded to it in an interview with Jodie McTague on WKNY.

So why hasn't the Freeman carried a story? We're trying, but so far, nobody has provided confirmation.

Maybe we'll do a story saying there is no story. Maybe there'll be one saying the rumors can't be confirmed. That's up to the editors.

We do know Bill and Hillary have twice spent time at the Emerson in Mount Tremper. We know they've strolled along Tinker Street in Woodstock. And we hear Bill and his Secret Service team were checking things out there a couple of weeks ago. But as for actually buying real estate in Woodstock, we're still not sure (as of midday Wednesday).

If you're saying, Ulster County is home to many celebrities, so what's the big deal?
The answer is, none of the celebrities, to our knowledge, is a former president of the U.S. or the current secretary of state.

So our people will keep checking. Maybe some other media outlet will nail it down before we do. Meantime, as they say on TV, stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Our representatives at work

Turned on C-SPAN for a few minutes ago. Midday Tuesday.

Representatives from both sides of the aisle in Congress were talking up the Soapbox Derby on Capitol Hill.

I moved my little fingers as fast as I could to turn off the TV.

Our represenatives at work.

Which reminds me, did you see the president's speech before a joint session of Congress a couple of weeks ago? Did you stick to the end, when the president was slowly walking back up the center aisle to exit the chamber?

Yes, those were congressmen and senators (from both parties) stopping him for his autograph on their copies of his speech.

Isn't there something wrong with this picture?

Also, how many hours before a presidential speech do you suppose congressmen like Eliot Engel of New York and Jesse Jackson Jr. of Chicago (among those I recognize) arrive to guarantee aisle seats? Next time, check it out for yourselves. The same handful are always there. You have to believe they're less interested in what the president has to say than they are in getting face time on national TV, as well as handshakes with the dignitaries (senators, presidential cabinet, Supreme Court, foreign diplomats) as they ceremonially move towards their positions.

Our representatives at work.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Life after newspapers

Wonderful piece here by David Simon for the Washington Post on one consequence of the disappearance of newspapers.

A key excerpt:

"Half-truths, obfuscations and apparent deceit -- these are the wages of a world in which newspapers, their staffs eviscerated, no longer battle at the frontiers of public information. And in a city (Baltimore) where officials routinely plead with citizens to trust the police, where witnesses have for years been vulnerable to retaliatory violence, we now have a once-proud department's officers hiding behind anonymity that is not only arguably illegal under existing public information laws, but hypocritical as well.

"There is a lot of talk nowadays about what will replace the dinosaur that is the daily newspaper. So-called citizen journalists and bloggers and media pundits have lined up to tell us that newspapers are dying but that the news business will endure, that this moment is less tragic than it is transformational.

"Well, sorry, but I didn't trip over any blogger trying to find out (police officer) McKissick's identity and performance history. Nor were any citizen journalists at the City Council hearing in January when police officials inflated the nature and severity of the threats against officers. And there wasn't anyone working sources in the police department to counterbalance all of the spin or omission.

"I didn't trip over a herd of hungry (Baltimore) Sun reporters either, but that's the point. In an American city, a police officer with the authority to take human life can now do so in the shadows, while his higher-ups can claim that this is necessary not to avoid public accountability, but to mitigate against a nonexistent wave of threats. And the last remaining daily newspaper in town no longer has the manpower, the expertise or the institutional memory to challenge any of it."

Friday, March 6, 2009

Home on the range

Back in Kingston after several days in Los Angeles. Happy to say a touch of the milder weather followed me east (after Monday's heavy snow in New York City delayed my return 24 hours).

Several major initiatives are successfully under way at the Freeman as we navigate the nation's difficult economic conditions and head for a promising future.

So at the end of a busy week, I'm sitting here thinking ...

*Why are some people surprised and upset at President Obama? He promised change and he's delivering it. He's a leader in whose eyes you see confidence and intelligence. I wish I could have said that about his predecessor.

*If they made a movie about Alex Rodriguez, would anybody believe it? And can't anyone from whom he'd take counsel advise him to keep quiet? If a torn labrum doesn't sideline A-Rod, foot-in-mouth disease will.

*When Donald Trump and Co. invented "Celebrity Apprentice", did they get permission to redefine the word "celebrity"?

*Why don't folks who complain about the younger generation show up at our annual spelling bee? Like the 24 before it, last night's bee showcased some of the region's best and brightest, all well-mannered, well-groomed and well-suited for their turn at center stage.

*When ABC invented "Dancing with the Stars", did it get permission to redefine the word "stars"?

*Is there a better interviewer anywhere on your radio dial than WAMC's Joe Donahue?

*Will I recover from jet lag by Monday? I'll keep you posted.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The best laid plans ...

The idea was to get in a quick trip to Los Angeles to visit family. A day each way in the air, four days in California. But this time we were going to do it smart: Rather than worry about missed connections and cancellations due to bad weather as a result of flying through Chicago and in to either Albany or Stewart, we'd have a friend take us to and pick us up from JFK. There's rarely weather bad enough to cancel a flight in New York City, we reasoned.


The arrangements were great last week We arrived at JFK in plenty of time, were dropped off at the departure entrance, zipped through security, had time for a quick breakfast and we were on our way, on time.

We looked forward to the same clockwork effort on our return this morning.

But Sunday came word of a heavy snowstorm in the Northeast, particularly bad in New York. No matter, by the time our flight landed tonight, all would be clear, we thought. So it was that we awakened at 4 this morning L.A. time to learn that our 7:40 flight had been cancelled and we'd been rebooked for tomorrow through San Francisco and on to JFK.

An hour of on-line searching and waiting for "the next available customer service representative" later, our attempt to - irony of ironies - fly today through Chicago to Albany proved unsuccessful. So we're stuck here in L.A. another day, rebooked Tuesday morning from LAX to JFK.

Now, "stuck" may sound funny, given the nice weather here and the late winter storm back home, but I was expected to be in the office Tuesday morning ... business to be conducted and all of that.

But it is what it is. So, Orvil and Sue will have to live without me tomorrow morning on WGHQ. And a handful of other pressing matters will have to wait, unless the BlackBerry is sufficient.

The moral of the story: When it comes to airline travel, there's no such thing as a sure thing.