Thursday, March 17, 2005

What is it Doctor? Well, It Appears You're Disturbed

dis·turb (d -stûrb ) tr.v. dis·turbed, dis·turb·ing, dis·turbs

1. To break up or destroy the tranquillity or settled state of;
2. To trouble emotionally or mentally; upset.

The following is a letter written to Alan Chartock after his three part “interview” with Mayor Jennings. Following is his reply in which he calls me “very disturbed”. Unfortunately he didn’t reply to any of my questions but instead punted. Hey, what’s one less WAMC donor? Read away and let me know what you think. I’m betting the Doctor was picking definition #2 and means I’m emotionally troubled. Perhaps (meaning perhaps I am, not perhaps that is what he meant). I agree I’m disturbed but I’m going with definition #1 type of disturbed. What possibly could be destroying my tranquility? Read away and please comment if you feel this letter sounds more like #1 disturbed, #2 disturbed, valid criticism and questions, or “how the hell does he type with the straitjacket on” disturbed?

Dr. Chartock

First I'd like to say that historically I've been a WAMC supporter and on occasion have found myself defending you to some of my more conservative associates. So please don't take the following as Alan bashing for the sake of Alan bashing. These are what I feel are legitimate questions from a concerned Albany resident. I'm writing to try to get some explanation of the lack of anything beyond incredibly generic questions in your 3 part interview with Mayor Jennings. I have to say I was shocked at how all of his answers were just accepted as truth and not challenged. I know the Mayor doesn't like to answer questions when he doesn't know what they will be about and in other public forums (e.g. Albany Roundtable) he insists he has final say over the questions. Perhaps he set down some guidelines before the interview? If so, it would be nice to inform your listeners of that (as you have said you would want to be notified about the authenticity of Martha Stewart's ex-con hips on the cover of a magazine). If this was not the case the general fluffiness of the questions is really mind boggling to someone who lives in the city and cares about it. What follows is just a sampling of what bothered me (and others that heard this).

But first I recommend you go back and listen to your interview with Ralph Nader. It's a good example of how you don't handle everyone with kid gloves. We know you really cared about the issues and you gave Nader hell. Lots of follow up questions to hammer home your points. I'm sure you remember. Which makes what I'm about to describe all the more disheartening because I and others like me live in the city and really care about these issues.

You start the show by telling everyone how hard it is to be Mayor ofAlbany (you say this, not the Mayor). You and the Mayor than start a contest to see how many times each of you could point this out. The Mayor can't go 5 minutes without mentioning he works "24/7" or how"hard it is to be mayor" or "what hard work this is" or how he is a"workaholic". Don't you think you could have spared us all your mentions? Lots of people have tough jobs. The good ones let their actions speak for themselves.

You ask the Mayor how he deals with corruption. He replies he's never had to. Follow up? Nope. Perhaps you aren't aware of the federal voter fraud case that is ongoing in Albany? Or how about the $6 million dollar lawsuit filed by the police Commander who was allegedly fired for reporting police corruption?! Or how about the recent federal audit of the police department finances? And the fact that very recently the police chief admitting to being a liar? (I'm really hoping you recorded this prior to the Police Chief admitting to lying or that one is really amazing). Did you know that Albany's treasurer (employee, Mayoral friend, and head of the Albany CountyDemocratic Committee) recently mailed out the "results" of a closed door election the day before the election occured? No corruption inAlbany City Hall? Do you honestly believe that?

You ask him about his endorsement of Pataki and then let him off the hook when he claims to be the CEO of Albany and thus above politics. Alan, this is so laughable in a town like Albany and you didn't even bother to call him on this. Amazing. By that reasoning he should've endorsed Bush since he might have been able to get some extra handouts for selling out to him, too. And how about the fact that he didn't endorse the Democratic candidate for D.A. (Soares, if you have forgotten)? You're the political scientist, I was wondering how this could get by without a question? William Kennedy called the Soares victory a "sea change in the political climate" and "as big a surprise as when Jennings backed Pataki". Perhaps Kennedy just doesn't understand Albany politics?

At one point you ask a question in which you basically answer it at the end, "In the old days you would have to be a registered Democrat to get a job in the city... are those days gone? The Mayor, of course, says those days are gone. And then goes on to say how he mostly hires people he knew from back when he was a vice principle.Help me here. It appears you don't have to be a Democrat to get a job, you just have to know the Mayor or be a former student. How is that different? Apparently it didn't raise any flags for you and there was no follow up.

At one point the Mayor said it would be irresponsible for him to not get re-elected. Apparently things will just fall apart without his leadership. Again, you're the political scientist, is this good for democracy? Do you agree that we should just keep re-electing incumbents because they already have the job experience? Remember when Cheney was scaring the American public with his "you don't want to change leaders in the middle of the war" crap? I'm not saying Jennings shouldn't say this crap. It might be a good political move on his part. But it certainly isn't good for democracy.

The Mayor is a big champion of the proposed Albany Convention Center. It could cost up to $225 million dollars. A recent study by the Brookings Institute clearly shows why investing in urban convention center's does nothing to raise the economic level of the residents of the city and all but a few (Orlando, Vegas) lose money. The Mayor dismissed the study claiming Albany is immune to the downward trend of this industry because we are "unique". If you ever want Central Avenue to be something worth visiting again, you might want to take a look into this. If you'd like more information you can start here.

I'm sure you know that those of us discussing the lack of any hard questions in this interview (which resulted in it basically being a re-election commercial) have our theories about why you let the Mayor off so easily. I'll hold off on those until I hear back from you because at this point, they all are just theories. Perhaps you really think the Mayor is doing a great job? I'd love to hear about it. And if not perhaps you might want to rethink this show? In my opinion it really didn't help the people of Albany but it may have helped the Mayor of Albany.

I write about these issues at Mostly because the Albany media doesn't cover them in depth and hasn't askedthe Mayor a hard question in years. If you choose to reply I would consider posting the reply unless you request that I do not.


Chartock Replies:


I'm in France. Sorry you didn't like the interview. We'll try to do better in the future. This was the first in a series. However, I must say, that this is a very different forum than the Nader interview. You sound very disturbed, too much so and that, sadly, says something about you. I will try not to let my friends say bad things about you once I figure out who you are. Thanks for writing. Feel free to call. By the way, we try to give everyone a chance. You, of all people should know that.


Update: My disturbing reply

Thanks for the reply.

I would say you sounded "disturbed" by the idea of Bush getting elected and overturning Roe V. Wade when you were talking to Nader.I t was evident you really cared about that. As did I. If you thinkI sound disturbed in this letter, you should've heard me back inOctober 04.

I believe there are valid reasons to be disturbed by what is going on in Albany government. You think everyone deserves a chance. I agree. But not multiple chances. Jennings has had 11 years. I don't think he deserves four more and I don't think he deserves a free pass from the local media. And when the police chief admits to lying and your friend Rex's paper has their guy Lebrun write a column saying its ok that he lied this time because he apologized and that he deserves a second chance....that disturbs me. Voter fraud. Disturbing. Honest cops fired for reporting police corruption. Very distrubing. Its no fun being powerless in your own community.

I'm disturbed because I see a lot of wrong and a lot of greed in Albany and then I open the paper and see that due to gang violence a couple of 12 and 13 year olds just got stabbed (that was in today's paper). Mayor Jennings has repeatedly said there are no gang problems in Albany.

I do agree with you, I hope my being very disturbed by all this says alot about me.

Enjoy France.

Update: Alan's Response

Okay. Sounds reasonable. Alan

I guess that wraps that one. Green beer for everyone.