Reynolds: Mike of the thousand days

Ever since Anne Boleyn got the axe after about that long as Henry VIII’s queen, a thousand days has been a historical benchmark. Jack Kennedy logged 1,057 days before that fateful trip to Texas. And now comes county Ulster County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach critiquing the first thousand days under the executive form of government, a largely unnoticed hallmark reached on Sept. 27.

Auerbach, narrowly elected to a two-year term in 2008, was forced to seek re-election to make it to one thousand for himself. He displayed characteristic modesty in praising County Executive Mike Hein for his thousand days and the county legislature more faintly before turning to himself.

Like most amateur historians, Auerbach floundered in emphasizing the most recent event — the storms of September — as definitive in the three-year timespan. “Mike [Hein] set the county’s resources into play before Irene arrived, was still very much hands-on [and very much photographed] when Lee followed and as a result no lives were lost,” he exuded in a press release.


The comptroller offered “major kudos for the legislature’s handling of the legislative commission on redistricting.” And nothing more.

In crediting the legislature for reapportionment, Auerbach was displaying a well-honed sense of humor. The only thing the legislature did about redistricting, other than voting on a final plan, was appoint a six-member redistricting commission, which was required by charter. (The commission appointed its own seventh member.) If anything, legislators who felt threatened by the final plan offered by the commission tried to muck up things at the end by attempting to have lines redrawn in their favor. Not to point fingers, but names like Bob Aiello, (former legislator) Brian Cahill, Terry Bernardo and Mike Madsen are part of the official record available at the legislature clerk’s office.

That Auerbach, having given this subject serious thought, could come up with only this sorry example of legislative achievement suggests either a lack of imagination or that he got it exactly right.