Editorial: Why we wrote that story

Mayor Shayne Gallo.

Mayor Shayne Gallo.

Can’t we just let the angry mayor story drop? Hope for the best, go back to reporting on other things and at least wait until something new happens to rip off this scab?

We’d like to, but we can’t. The mayor’s apology implied that his outburst on Blaber was just due to his fractured relationship with Blaber, but we knew before that there were several other incidents. If journalism — real journalism, not the mindless quote regurgitation and mendacious PR work so much news reporting has degenerated into — means anything, it means holding people in power accountable for what they do while on the public dime.

The narrative that took root among his many defenders holds that Gallo had a bad day when he blew up at Blaber, that it was an unflattering but understandable outburst of temper. In fact, as the stories we gathered in the article testify, Gallo has serious issues of temper that impact his dealings with employees and the public. People can make what they want of those issues. Some people will say its no big deal, some will be outraged. We can’t control that, but we have a responsibility to correct misperceptions, including the one that the behavior heard on the Blaber recording is an outlier.

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Yeah, but so? Consider: the city’s spent hundreds of thousands of dollars defending and eventually paying out a lawsuit based on poor treatment of city employees. Legally speaking, there are few things more “actionable” than the chief executive of a city, the guy charged with enforcing workplace standards, behaving in a manner that violates those standards. City employees are public servants paid with public dollars. The public has a right to know and have a say in their treatment.

Further, Gallo’s making threats of arrest or other legal sanctions is also a liability. The mayor is not a cop. When a regular citizen says, “I’ll have you arrested,” it’s a figure of speech. When the city’s chief executive, head of the police commission and the police chief’s boss, invokes his position and says, “I’ll have you arrested,” it raises the specter of the kind of abuse of power that is both foreign and offensive to American traditions and sensibilities. Again, that’s the talk of tyrants, not democratically elected officials.

The mayor is the public face of the city. That face should not be red-faced with rage. Public outbursts like the one at the Independence Day celebration put Kingston in a bad light. The prospect of having to deal with an unpredictable mayor given to fits of rage, with an outlook that emphasizes the punitive and lingers on grudges, may feel empowering to Kingstonians fed up to here with a city government viewed to be unresponsive and self-serving. But it’s not a comforting prospect to those looking to invest in the city, people who look for professionalism when they evaluate where to drop their millions.dan0410

So, how can the city and Gallo, married to each other until at least Jan. 1, 2016, move forward? He could simply say that that is who he is and he’s OK with that — certainly there are those who see no problem with the occasional public harangue directed at a street vendor or city worker. Alternatively, he can acknowledge that his past behavior has at times reflected poorly on the office of the mayor and not served the city’s best interests, which he did to some extent in his Blaber apology. He can make a commitment to reining in his temper and treating everybody with a level of respect befitting a public official, using his undeniable energy and talents to lead by inspiration rather than terror. What he can’t do, must not do, is hide behind a wall of cowed employees to shield his behavior from public scrutiny and make their lives a living hell.

There are 5 comments

  1. Paul Payton

    It is good to see you intake the mayor to task for his outrageous and unruly behavior. Perhaps the best thing he could do is get out of his own and the city’s way by allowing some progressive projects to go through. One, I suggest, would be to support instead of rage against the Catskill Mountain Railroad and let this growing enterprise succeed. Gee, maybe when it does, he can do as so many politicians have before: claim he was really supportive all along and take credit for it.

  2. Anonymous

    I agree, totally. We cannot ignore this. If his anger toward Blaber had been a one time thing, AND if he had truly and sincerely apologized, that would be on thing. But the stories are snowballing. There is a big difference between being a tough leader who gets thing done and a being an assaultive bully.

  3. nopolitics

    I would like only to comment on the fact I had a grandmother who not only threatened to “wash my mouth out with soap”, but did. Thinking about it still brings back the taste of soap in my mouth, and I can still taste that lovely Ivory soap and know that at least Ivory did not have twenty billion chemicals with names that create ten dictionaries in it. I didn’t say any words George Carlin said you couldn’t say on television either. I did say one of those to an elderly elementary school teacher however and only one time and all hell broke loose on my life as a result despite otherwise being the most well-behaved student in my class if not the school. I think Carlin had a point–although it was children who were on the other end of the POINTER.
    What am I trying to say here? 1)If my maternal grandmother were around today, SOMEONE’S mouth WOULD be washed out with soap. 2)George Carlin also had a point with his treatise on language. 3)It’s not the language so much but the lack of humility. But look what boys raised Catholic had for role models–people who by religious doctrine COULD DO NO WRONG, who partnered with parents(who also could do no wrong by doctrine), to “love” children with an icy kind of love more reminiscent of a frozen body of water than the closeness of a warm sweater in winter. And they had the audacity to call other religious movements “cults”. This is just one with the widest appeal among Christendom–historically gained by the sword.
    And look who Blaber had for adoptive parents–folks who apparently took their religion seriously to adopt him. So….it does seem we have an interesting interplay of religion here, although for the life of me I find this is as obscure as the belief that in holy matrimony somehow the bonds of the resultant family are so close that to so much as analyze them is seen as somehow going against the doctinrally sacrosanct if not experientially lacking– and better to leave it alone—which is what was always the practice, you see.
    The laity have their own dignity and value, you see, even though the flow of power doesn’t really incorporate them so much–a punchline the church as an organization still doesn’t GET;yet it still seems to GET the notion to RAG on the YOUNG–which this illustrates well. The kid is just a kid you see–and when does he get to be an adult? Bite thy tongue! Never!! It’s not politically correct–except if he is married with kids of his own…then…..mmmm they can modify it a bit and THEN—when he reaches age 75 he is THEN granted full status as an adult. I have a brother who is emotionally aged 2.7 instead of his real age of 72(2.7 being 72 reversed with a decimal point added), and is a former elected official in this state. Thus, I think the analogy applies in some sense here.
    My next subject is “Heretics and Heresy and ‘The Grand Inquisitor’ and Torture Devices for Not Agreeing.” Stay tuned.

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