March 7, 2010

And the winner is...

Tonight Hollywood celebrates with the Academy Awards; locally, Syracuse leads in the annual race for the Golden Snowball, helped by the storm at the end of last month. And this year, for the first time, I present the Dirty Snowpile Awards.

I’ve mentioned before that it’s really quite pretty here in Central New York in the winter, particularly when there’s fresh snow on the ground. Alas, there’s another side of winter – the part where snow piles up at the end of our driveways, and on the side of the road, and gets dirty and then dirtier and then dirtier still, and finally it’s so ugly we just pray for more snow to cover it up or rain to wash the dirt away.

Sadly, these days at every level, we’re up to our eyeballs in dirt of another kind, the kind that sheds the worst possible light on all of us. To that end, here are the winners:

The Obstructionist Snowpile, to Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning.

Bunning single-handedly held up the jobs bill, which among other things would have continued unemployment benefits for millions of Americans. This blistering post pretty much sums things up. And, he's only the latest example of someone who thinks he's more important than the rest of us, it's not like he's the only one so misguided.

The It Doesn't Pay to be Qualified Snowpile.

Just ask Syracuse University professor Deborah Freund. She was selected to oversee a project created out of 'Honest, I Just Want to Be Attorney General' Andrew Cuomo’s investigation into health insurance reimbursement. She was also a paid member of the Board of Directors of a local health insurance company (which is my employer). While admittedly she’s handsomely paid for her BoD role, she’s an expert in her field and frankly, isn’t that the kind of person you want, rather than some flunky who will always go with the party line? Freund just resigned her Board position, because of a perceived conflict of interest. It's a shame, and indicative of how hard it is to get qualified people to participate.

The Hopelessly Filthy Snowpile, to Washington DC.

Capital of the Free World. Bickeringly bottlenecked.
This is a great article on what’s wrong with the rules in the Senate, and how we’ve managed to twist the rules to not accomplish things. Doesn’t matter what the issue is: health care, jobs, tax increases, spending cuts -- it’s all about making the other side lose, rather than the helping the country win. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s the Dems or the Reps; neither is immune to the intoxication of power. Our elected officials have a responsibility to govern, even if it means identifying common ground and building on that, rather than fanning the flames of our differences. If not, it's our responsibility to get rid of them.

And speaking of building… The Demolition Snowpile - it's dirtier than it looked at first.

There’s more than enough to go around on this one. Here’s a guy who owns a property that has structural issues, and maybe he’s been working on solving them and then things accelerated when a portion of the building crumbled, maybe due to heavy snow, or maybe due to major highway construction near his property over the past year... Bottom line? We close the Interstate northbound out of Syracuse, and now a bunch of politicians are finding $2 million ways to solve the problem. Tear the building down, haul it away – and in the process strip the owner of any salvageable content, as well as the land the building sits on. And oh, don’t forget, he may get stuck with the bill. What a mess. In the meantime, can’t someone just put up a high mesh fence along the back side and reopen the darn highway?

These next are self explanatory; they are all ethically challenged winners of the Shoot Yourself in the Foot Category. And again, they're a only a handful out of many, but they're all ours:

Charles Rangel did it to himself...

and so did Eric Massa...

…and so did the Amigo Hiram Monserrate, who still won’t go away.

And so, ultimately, did our Accidental Governor do it to himself.

His actions surrounding his World Series tickets tempt a perjury charge, and he clearly has bad judgment, particularly when it comes to his closest advisor. The time has come for Paterson to step up and step down, giving us back some shred of dignity as New Yorkers. If he does, we're left with Richard Ravitch in the Statehouse, but that can't be worse than this.

And last, the Sometimes Technology Stinks Snowpile, a small one, to mark the end of the F16 fighter jets at Syracuse’s Hancock AFB.
Long a mainstay in the community, the jets were fixtures at Memorial Day parades and other celebrations across the region, the deafening flyovers among the greatest thrills for kids of all ages. I always went outside to look for them whenever I heard them, even as a kid in my 30s, 40’s and yes, 50s now, and I remember going to air shows and just being blown away by these things. They're being replaced by unmanned drones, our pilots becoming the ultimate video gamers. The skies over Onondaga County will never be the same, don’t you agree?

I'll leave you with a better taste in your mouth; here are a few more pleasant visions of winter, taken on a recent trip to taste a few highly-rated Seneca Lake wines. We loved the wines, and we loved the day.

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