Editorial: Institutionalized lassitude

The title of this essay is a term minted in this office to describe the rampant and insidious malaise and apathy we as journalists observe from workers in governmental agencies. As Kingstonians, it’s easy to feel this lassitude is confined to Kingston City Hall, but trust us when we say it ain’t unique to Kingston, or even Ulster County for that matter. What’s up with that?

Thing is, there’s cogs and gears in the machine not spinning in their proper direction. Some are jammed. Some spin in opposite directions; others spin too slowly or quickly. There are many cogs with spokes too dulled to reach one another, and some too sharp. Basically, it’s a surliness and a can’t-do attitude which makes those trying to get results from their city government roll their eyes heavenward and utter, either out loud or in their heads, many foul oaths.

So. Mayor Sotille issued an edict a few years ago that there were no more funds in the city’s budget for events like the re-enactment of the burning of Kingston. Fair enough? You decide. Point is, a non-local, early American history re-enactment group felt that Kingston’s Uptown streets and structures were the idyllic setting to re-invent the sounds, smells, colors and bustle of early American history — so much so that it was worth investing more than $5,000 of their members’ personal funds to make it happen.


But rather than blasting the social media pages, magazines and newspapers, as well as city, county, tourism, state and uptown business web pages; alerting Kingston city schools and surrounding town’s schools, SUNY colleges, senior centers, Boy and Girl Scout troops; plastering the city with fliers, informing churches and synagogues and more with invitations to come party with exploding cannons and American rebels there was from the city’s publicity machine a silence as hushed as the day in 1777 the Redcoats landed and found the empty streets of Kingston. Why?

There are 11 comments

  1. Allison Gray Teetsel

    I completely agree with you, Carrie. I live in an apartment on the Strand. I didn’t know about the re-enactment until I was woken by the sound of cannonfire, coming from my front lawn. (Seriously). The City missed a HUGE opportunity here, and aside from general indifference, I can’t think of any reason to explain it. There are often fantastic events going on around town, but one might never know about it, because the city officials themselves rarely take an active role. Sure, the event promoters are able to submit listings via Kingston Happenings, but I’m not sure how many are actually aware of that…and I don’t think the responsibility should be fully on the event organizers/promoters, anyway. Some may cite time/money as reasons for not utilizing pre-existing channels such as Facebook, Twitter, and the municipal website for such things. The truth is, I think there are a number of people who are interested and invested in our community enough that they would be willing to help out with these things on their own time, pro bono. We know this is a great place to be…it would seem we need to convince our city leaders of the same.

  2. gberke

    Isn’t it a puzzle? I try to look for some “rule”, some process that if repeated, would create the situation we have… I think this one works… it address the degree to which we seek for ourselves vs support the acts of others. I suggest that the defining attribute of the society which is Kingston is supporting ourselves, our own organizations, to the detriment of supporting other groups. Time and again on organization will form, and with hard work will grow and move towards success but the work stays focused on itself and just hasn’t the time or inclination to support other groups… too busy doing their thing. We end up with many self contained organizations… organizations old and new do that. Business, civic groups, various organizations… it’s a manifestation of individual choice and freedom over the welfare of the group. There’s no one perfect formula, but if you’re too far to one side, you get Kingston. Think of the things that won’t come to Kingston but find a home in Saugerties for instance… well, they do come, but they languish: they are seen as competition, and inconvenient, or just ignored: too busy doing our thing. Kingston doesn’t show up.
    Anyway, the above is a bit esoteric… there’s some anthropology in there, some game theory, some math… illustrated here: http://www.screencast.com/t/K6nUvxOKmDt

  3. John Lavin

    I couldn’t agree more with the sentiment of Carrie’s rant. This is just another example of Kingston government getting in its own way. We need a full time social media person to get the word out on time. The fact the Kingston FB page has less than 200 likes is good evidence of this need.

  4. Tim M.

    One of the saddest aspects of this is how easy it has become to disseminate announcements for this kind of event. It no longer requires a marketing expert, not even a printer or a single postage stamp to notify groups like KUBA, the internet (FB, Twitter, Home pages,…), print media, broadcast media, etc.

    Maybe the City should get KHS students to provide the marketing for City events using the resources at the Carnegie facility. It would be a win-win for everyone.

    1. gberke

      Our Mayor for one, and the 10 aldermen for others, simply do not address business in Kingston. There is a disconnect between business, government and citizens… one of the roles of good government is to harness the energies of business in support of the citizens. Another role is to let the citizens know how valuable the small business is to the city.
      But it is a chicken and egg thing: when will the citizens elect alderman that do more than pander to their wards issues: cats, leaves, garage sales… just younger people in the council would go a long long way.

  5. Elissa Jane Mastel

    this is exactly the reason why Kingston $$$ Uptown / Downtown / Around Town businesses don’t ‘thrive’ the way they could and potentially should. Uptown Ktown could be… like our own NYC style ‘east village’ area filled with bustling boutiques, restaurants, galleries, shops… it should be ‘bumpin’ 7 days a week. because of BIG missed opportunities and failure to get universal support, Kingston’s potential for great business gets overlooked. I had no idea this event was happening, I would have totally gone down there with my kiddo and participated. GREAT PIECE well said, at the end the first thing I thought was ‘Ditto Sista’

  6. Amy Murphy

    Great work, Carrie. This should have been a no brainer. A little effort, a little time from City government would have supported this wonderful event without cost. Tim M.’s suggestion is marvelous. However, it is beyond the present administration’s ability to think creatively.

    It is my hope is that the next Mayor will be involved full-time and make it a priority to promote this event and others. The lacks of the last two terms can be remedied without spending much money.
    When the person at the top makes it clear that creative ideas are important and welcome, people will respond.

    The game theory Mr. Berke offered is valid. I believe that in the past 10 years, keeping divergent groups divided served the Administration. Or at least, the leadership was unable to work to bring groups together to work on common goals.

    With fine writers like Carrie Jones Ross, and the entire staff of the Kingston Times, shining lights on both the good and not so good happening here and a new mayor, we have the chance to make positive changes. Time will tell.

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