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So you think you want to be a politician?

Opinion column

Carlton Fletcher

Carlton Fletcher

Talk is cheap and lies are expensive.

— Green Day

I’ll reserve passing judgment on the elected officials who serve this city and county, leave that to the paying customers who seem to have a firmer grasp of the supposed ineptitude.

But I will say that I don’t envy them as they meet each week to “do the people’s business” when they don’t seem to have the capacity to come close to satisfying those people. If ever any group personified the damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t ethos, it’s these gluttons for punishment who somewhere along the way decided it would be a cool thing to run for this board or that.

What they found once the bright lights from the camera flashes dissipated and the welcome-aboard backslaps ended was a weary public — tired of an economy that was now reaching their pocketbooks, angry that their paved path to easy street somehow became marred with potholes — looking for someone to blame.

Who better, then, than the “bozos” who were getting paid “all that money” (if they only knew) to render decisions that determined how their hard-earned tax dollars were spent?

The rally cry of this disaffected group, which grows angrier with each presumed governmental misstep, is, “Quit throwing away my money!”

Heeding that cry, elected officials here have lately taken it to heart, looking for ways to at least try and save money and/or generate more of it. Here’s some of what they’ve done:

  • OK’d a plan to close two underused library branches that were eating up dwindling system funds;
  • Tentatively agreed to close two schools whose student population doesn’t warrant their continued independent operation;
  • Come up with a plan to allow a taxpaying personal care home to set up shop in a city neighborhood under strict guidelines designed to protect the integrity of the neighborhood;
  • Made the tough decision to stop footing a multimillion-dollar Medicare bill for senior retirees.
  • For their efforts, here’s the blowback from each cost-cutting or -enhancing measure:
  • Indignant citizens who live near the two library branches — but obviously didn’t care enough about them to use them that often — have accused appointed Library Board members of racial insensitivity, leading to the resignation of two members and convincing some elected county officials they should take a closer look at the decision.
  • Dozens of citizens have voiced outrage over the plan to close the two schools, saying school officials should randomly close other schools in the system rather than ones that impact their neighborhoods.
  • Come under the attack of a group of citizens that at first was worried about the integrity of the “only decent neighborhood left in Albany” but later demanded more time so officials could consider “zoning overlays” — there are probably two or three people around here who know what that actually means, but whatever — and study ways to make that decent neighborhood even more amazing.
  • Been called out as heartless for even considering ending the costly practice of making Medicare payments for some of the city’s oldest citizens who gave years of service to the community.

For the most part, it must be noted, elected officials have cracked under the pressure of the different complaining groups, pretty much given in to demands any time an unpopular decision has confronted them. What these officials obviously haven’t been able to grasp is that the citizens they represent do want them to stop spending their tax money, to make decisions based on the greater good of the whole community ... except when it impacts them personally.

Find somewhere else to close schools and close libraries and stop payments and to allow legitimate businesses to locate. It’s OK, but — all together now — NOT IN MY BACKYARD!

Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s talk about the stinking federal Postal Service having the temerity to suggest closing an underperforming post office branch — That we use! — as a cost-cutting measure ...

Email Metro Editor Carlton Fletcher at carlton.fletcher@albanyherald.com.

Comments

oldster 1 year, 2 months ago

Unfortunately being in a public leadership roll tends to make enemies.

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FryarTuk 1 year, 2 months ago

Politician no. Public service (servant) yes. People who have gone into public service to serve the people rather than themselve have earned the respect of their constituents. Examples with which we are relatively familiar: Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, Sen. Paul Coverdell, Sam Nunn, Carl Vinson, Sam Ervin, Carol Fullerton, Justice Herbert Phipps, Sherif Jamil Saba, Jon Howard, Sherif Earlie Posey, and Rep. John Lewis. To name a few and you know some. We all like them. Perhaps not agree with everything they say but they enjoy(ed) our trust that they were about the good of the people. I wouldn't let 90% of the national or state level politicians write a will or say a prayer for my wife's cat because they all would be thinking what's in it for themselves.

Tough decisions always have reverberations and it's like HST said, "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." It's called character.

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RedEric 1 year, 2 months ago

I believe Carlton measures his value by the number of comments he gets for his columns. He intends to offend a maximum number with this one. He really should stay current with his medication. Presenting yourself as the outlaw is a juvenile thing. When your hair turns white and your belly hangs over your belt it is time to grow up.

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MisterEd 1 year, 2 months ago

I'm just surprised that Carlton had the sack to actually call out his liberal friends of the African American variety with his comments about the libraries and schools. Miracles never cease.

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agirl_25 1 year, 2 months ago

He has African American friends in Albany? I had no idea any were living in Albany. I know many blacks or those of the Negro population in Albany use the term African American behind their names but in fact they are not born in Africa, nor do they have a parent who is born in Africa therefore it puzzles me as to why they always say they are African American. It is as crazy as me saying I am European American everytime someone mentions my name. Anyway, was curious as to where his African American friends came from in Africa. Maybe he can enlighten us in a future column and call it..."my African American friends and their homelands"....has a nice ring to it,....doncha think? I think that until this is made clear, this use of the term, African American that henceforth all ethnic tagging should be mandatory behind everyone's name that is used in this publication, ie. Euro-American, Hispanic-American, Turkish-American, etc. My opinion and I am sticking to it......Oh yeah and Fryer, on your list up there...you cudda left out John Lewis, a mumbling piece of do nothing and put in Barbara Jordon, congresswoman from the Watergate era....fantastic woman, honest and fair.

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FryarTuk 1 year, 2 months ago

I do agree Rep. Jordan belongs on the list. You know John Lewis was beaten pretty severely on the head in Selma marches leaving permanent damage. It used to be that if you called a Negro or person of color an African it was an insult. Listen to MLK's speeches (e.g. I have a Dream) he used the term Negro and people of color exclusively. My impression is he would be horrified with the defining use of the separating prefix of "African-" I just don't use the term.

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agirl_25 1 year, 2 months ago

According to what I have read it isn't MLK's speech but something he borrowed, as he was known to do a lot of. Much of the speech was borrowed from a sermon given by Archibald Carey in 1952 at the Republican National Convention. And I quote ."That's actually par for the course, with Michael "Martin Luther" King Jr. He was a notorious plagiarist and scholastic fraud. His very first sermon, given in 1947 at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, was stolen from a sermon by Protestant clergyman Harry Emerson Fosdick. And nearly everything of significance that he said or wrote afterward was likewise stolen from better and brighter men -- from men who never had a chance at the kind of honors that King got." He reminded me of the school bullies I used to bully. With James Farmer of C.O.R.E..he came along and pushed him out of the way and took over when James had set he groundwork and made it look like he (MLK) was the hero. With Rosa, he jumped on the bus and pushed her off the seat and took over....and so it goes...... Sorry, but I do not worship men lightly....they have to prove themselves to be worthy. He may be a hero to many but just because a person is black does not mean they have to worship a plagaristic liar. The only reason his PhD was not recinded by Boston College was because by the time all the plagarizing of others work was discovered he had been killed and thought to be a hero when in fact even his "loyal" lieutenants said he was a moral hypocrite. Remember, my opinion and I am entitled to it.

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FryarTuk 1 year, 2 months ago

Well, preachers are notorious for borrowing each other's sermons. Most of them just keep plagiarizing out of the Bible time and time again. You know if you look at the first three books of the Bible they are all about the same. So much so somebody has dubbed them the synoptic gospels. Those three saints Mathew, Luke and Mark just plagiarized the hell out of one another. Then who ever wrote the gospel of St. John got in on it as well just added a little gnosticism. You'd think Doris Kearns Goodwin and Fareed Zakaria taught 'em how its done. Don't worship any thing or anyone but I believe Martin Luther King was a cultural phenomenon and became a significant change agent for American Society for the better.

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agirl_25 1 year, 2 months ago

Excellent!!!!!!!!! Your opinion an you are entitled to it and I admire you for stating it and for allowing me to state mine and for not attacking my opinion. Nice to know there is a gentleman among the crowd. Many thanks to you.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 2 months ago

Fletcher......I'd rather be a smartass editorial writer who thinks that people give a FLYING FIRETRUCK what I think.

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