Editorial: The silence which says quite a bit

Kingston Times editor Dan Barton.

Kingston Times editor Dan Barton.

It has come to this, the mayoralty of Shayne Gallo, this sad and funny juncture where the mayor doesn’t want to give a state of the city address and no one can make him. Say what now? Oh, say nothing. That’s the deal now, that’s where we’re at. Let them eat silence.

Hard to know where to begin with this highly irregular and even more highly disrespectful — to the Common Council, yes, but more importantly to the people of the city who chose Gallo to be their mayor — turn of events. It’s in the charter that he has to do this, in no uncertain language. The charter that his own brother worked his butt off to get the citizens of Kingston to approve so he could be a “strong mayor.” For a “strong mayor” to punk out on a duty stipulated in the city’s constitution is weak sauce.

It’s been tradition for as far back as anyone can remember for the mayor to give this speech and we presume that prior to now it’s been no big deal. Certainly the ones I’ve seen did not come off as traumatic to the deliverer or the audience. It really doesn’t have to be a big deal. It’s a fine opportunity for whoever’s in charge to talk about the city, what’s gone right and what’s gone wrong, and what’s planned for the coming year. It’s a photo op and soundbite fest which a leader with any canniness at all can easily use to cheerlead, boost others and, if he or she is so inclined, self-promote. It’s an opportunity to step into a pre-arranged spotlight and say good things about the city, county, state or country of which one is in charge. Mike Hein uses the opportunity pretty well, in my opinion: he cheerleads for Ulster, sets a course for the coming year and takes a victory lap. If done well, people should come away from such a speech with pride and optimism.


Is it the biggest deal in the world? No, certainly not — the city will still run, the trash will still be collected, the KPD will still arrest people. Is it a squandered opportunity? It most certainly is and certainly not the kind of thing that happens in a “model city.” Is it a sign of trouble at City Hall? Hard to see it any other way.

What could possibly be behind this baffling refusal? His behavior has been very often erratic, vindictive, tenuously attached to reason and centered much more on ego, anger and creating rifts than being the kind of leader who brings people together to work toward a common goal. Maybe it’s all starting to catch up with him inside. Maybe he can’t be trusted to be stood up before a lectern, for fear of what might come out of his mouth. (If this is the case, he can just write something up and e-mail it.) Or maybe he is so angry at the city he runs that he can’t think of anything he really wants to say to us. Or maybe he just doesn’t give a crap about what other people think his responsibilities should be, or what his responsibilities actually are. Maybe it’s a case of Gallo thinking the public and government exists to serve him, rather than the other way around, and he’ll do exactly as he pleases. Maybe Gallo thinks it’s beneath his dignity to address the legislative branch of the city, a branch he has pilloried almost from the first days of being in office. Since he offers virtually nothing in the way of explanation, all I have, all the people of Kingston have, is speculation.

It shouldn’t have to be that way. There’s nothing special about Shayne Gallo that should get him off the hook for this. We presume the mayor’s paychecks, made of taxpayers’ money, clear. Nobody forced him be the mayor. He wanted the job, worked for it and now he has it. If he doesn’t want to do it anymore, fine — he can not run again, or if it’s really that hard, he can resign. This isn’t Russia.

If he does want to be the mayor, then Gallo should do it as it’s supposed to be done, as it says right there in the city charter: “The Mayor shall prepare and present during the first month of each fiscal year of the City an annual message to the Common Council. The annual message shall describe the condition and state of the city and shall identify matters and issues the Mayor believes should be addressed by the Council in the ensuing year.” ‘Nuff said. Except for this: Seems a bit of sour grapes and junior-high cattiness for Brian Seche to speech-block Matt Dunn like he did. Grow up, man.

There are 9 comments

  1. Obey the law man!

    The Charter is a law and if it is in the charter he must do it. Are there other laws are Gallo and his administration are ignoring?

  2. Wise

    Perhaps the mayor doesn’t want to discuss the failing infrastructure and the large cost s that the taxpayers are going to incur. Washington Avenue isn’t the only section of old pipe! Perhaps he doesn’t want to talk about the exodus of people selling their homes to move to out lying towns like Hurley and Ulster. Perhaps he doesn’t want to talk about how more than half of the houses in Kingston are rental properties. Perhaps he doesn’t want to talk about the businesses that are leaving or closing. Can anybody say how bad The Homestead Act has been for Kingston, especially in an economic down turn. Perhaps he would like to talk about the 130 million high school renovation despite a rapidly shrinking population of students. Perhaps he doesn’t want to talk about the Hospitals and whether they will even exist in Kingston. Perhaps he doesn’t want to talk bout. Non existent plan, similar to Ulster Counties, to develop and bring new business to Kingston. Perhaps he just wants to fiddle as Rome burns!

  3. Allison Gray Teetsel

    Remember when Gallo used to stress the importance of transparency in city government? Either a lot has changed in the last two years, or our mayor has a serious misunderstanding of what “transparency” actually means.

    From the 2012 State of the City address:
    “Our city government must be restructured to be transparent, accessible, and accountable to ensure our government is performing on behalf of the public’s best interest.” (http://www.kingston-ny.gov/filestorage/52/State_of_the_City_2012.pdf)

    And from the 2013 State of the City address:
    “I vowed to restructure and reinvent, where necessary, our government to be transparent, accountable, accessible for all stakeholders; and to ensure our government acts on behalf of the public interst, not the select few in the culture of entitlement prevalent for many years which impeded our city from development.”

  4. Attornies R Us

    Since the City Attorney has become the de facto spokesman for the City, why not let him do it? Isn’t he the one pulling all the strings anyway? Just as it appeared when he was Woerner’s right hand man in Ulster, he appears to be the decision maker behind Gallo’s operation.

    Gallo is taking pages right from Mike Heins notebook. Surround yourself with Lawyers,forbid the anyone from speaking to the press, only talk about the good news, and blame everyone else for your troubles.

  5. Spinning Gallo's

    I remember this as a huge event back in the day. There were fancy programs, important guests and a big reception afterwards. City Hall would be packed to the rafters. It was a really big deal!
    It is a shame that Mr. Gallo is tarnishing the legacy of his family. His Father was a pillar of the community and his brother even with his faults, started Kingston on the turnaround. Both are remembered very fondly in Kingston. Our current Mayor is not on the same path.

    As Mayor, it should be a proud moment to emphasize your plans, identify potential obstacles and proclaim your successes. This is a good thing Mayor, embrace it.


    Sadly, this is the rapid decline of Kingston under an incontempent and immature mayor’s helm. No clear direction, no vision, no initiative, no foresight, and no intelligence to receive and accept information, advice, and guidance from the citizens, common council, and interested persons wanting to make this a better city.

    Quality of education, quality of life, and infrastructure are all on a sharp decline while crime and taxes rise unabated. Many of our local leaders take an indifferent attitude as long as their salaries and benefits continue to increase–awaiting the day they can retire (to a better location, of course).

    If Kingston continues on its current course, expect increasing taxes to drive many away, while inviting more of the negative and criminal element to arrive. Look around and see how much Kingston has changed for the worse in the past 2,5, 10 years. There is no pride in our appearance as the blight ever increases.

    If there was ever a time to clean house and get rid of such much dead wood at city hall, that time is now. Stop electing people because of their last name. A new broom sweeps clean.

  7. Donna

    Well written piece. What is this mayor
    thinking? He is answerable to his constituency, and if he doesn’t want to be, he’s chosen the wrong line of work!

  8. Vincent Carcaramo

    It’s wildly unfortunate the recent leadership Kingston and Ulster County has. This certainly isn’t the first time Hein or Gallo has broken laws with everyone turning the other cheek. Can’t wait to vote those two out of office next election.

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