Like many of us here in town, we at the Kingston Times have watched the events regarding the mayor and his conduct unfold with a mix of shock, embarrassment, frustration and concern.
We’ve been behind the mayor editorially and support pretty much everything he’s accomplished so far except firing Jen Fuentes. His emphasis on Midtown issues has been particularly admirable; he’s right in thinking that the fate of the whole city is tied to the welfare of its worst-off citizens.
I still believe he has a lot of potential to do good here. But that potential will be squandered and his effectiveness nullified if he does not get some kind of grip on his emotions and how he expresses them. As those close to the mayor and local politics know all too well, what he was caught on mp3 saying to Jeremy Blaber and the way he said it is not unique to Blaber’s situation.
Further, it is simply not a rational act for the mayor of a city to pull drivers over, whether they run stop signs or not. What if the driver was a wanted man and started a dangerous high-speed chase? What if he had a gun, freaked out and shot Gallo in the face? Lacking the training, ability to call in license plate numbers, body armor and backup the police enjoy, the encounter could have gone a hell of a lot worse than it did. Leave police work to the police. That’s what they’re paid for.
In the coverage of these incidents, there’s been some blowback to the effect of the media should shut the hell up and let the man do his job, because the coverage makes the city look bad. I would argue that it is the mayor himself who is making the city look bad with his barely hinged conduct of late and, more importantly, not talking about a problem doesn’t make it go away. Rather, silence and covering up just enables and intensifies it.
There’s also been some sentiment to the effect of it’s OK for a boss to yell at an employee. That sort of thing may have been acceptable in a Kingston of 100 or 50 years ago, but it’s 2013 — you simply cannot talk to people like that and retain their respect and cooperation. Exhibiting that kind of abusive and threatening behavior toward employees opens the city, and its taxpayers, to potentially costly litigation. And don’t get on the Common Council’s case. It’s just doing its job in exercising some oversight — the only oversight as neither state law nor the city charter has any provision whatsoever for a recall election. (This is yet another example of how this state deliberately minimizes and declaws the public and ensures power stays in the hands of the elite, but I digress.)
Speaking of un-democratic behavior, the mayor’s comments about the multi-ward meeting were every bit as bad as what he said to Blaber. Such talk, that the Common Council has no business in citywide affairs and those should be left to him, is the talk of tyrants, not democratically elected officials. If that is truly what he thinks, the city has made a grave mistake in voting him into office and he should resign immediately.
The mayor has issued an apology, though he almost ruined it with a lame excuse of being “passionate” and then inappropriately trumpeted his own achievements and agenda. (Wrong place for that kind of talk.) The apology is a decent enough start, but Shayne Gallo needs to get some help with whatever issues drive his explosive temper, for both his own good and the good of Kingston as a whole. I suggest he take a leave of absence, or maybe even just a vacation, to de-stress and re-evaluate. (May is Mental Health Month, after all.) If you can’t successfully manage your own anger, how can you ever hope to successfully manage a city?