August 10, 2014

20 Questions, 20 Answers

Today's Post Standard editorial, It's Time to Play 20 Questions, is an open invitation for all of us to have a little fun.  It doesn't matter whether you're happy and optimistic, or a miserable, cynical skeptic; as a city resident, county resident or even an out-of-towner, you can chime in. Full disclaimer: in general I resemble at least few of those categories above: I'll admit to being an optimistic if skeptical city resident, at the very least. Answering the questions might put me in some different buckets, we'll see.

Here goes:
1. Is $17,000 to keep the bathrooms clean at the New York State Fair really an excessive expenditure when you figure in the number of bathrooms (about 40), the length of the Fair (12 days) and the loudness of the complaints when the bathrooms are disgusting and run out of toilet paper?
If you've ever been in one of the Fair bathrooms, you'll know that this is money well spent. Those 40 bathrooms have a potential customer base of between 50,000 and 100,000 users per day, and it's worth it to have someone supervise the people hired to clean them. And no, I'm not interested, at any price. 
2. Is Onondaga County government just being super-efficient -- kind of like the private sector -- in its super-speedy review of plans to build an amphitheater on the west shore of Onondaga Lake?
I have to admit, it was hard not to chuckle at the comments from Legislature Chair Ryan McMahon who noted that "This is the first time in my nine years in government, people have been criticized for moving too fast in government."  Apparently he's forgotten about the stadium project, which Onondaga County tried to get shoehorned into the Governor's budget without including Stephanie Miner?  
I would love to see the square wooden wheels of government turn more quickly, on several things -- most notably reform, consolidation and spending -- but when you're talking about $30 million taxpayer dollars to build a seasonal amphitheater on top of decades-old waste beds, in the backyard of the snowiest major city in the Northeast, is time really of the essence?
3. Or is Onondaga County Government trying to ram the project through while nobody's looking?
Yes. And not for nothing, I'm as interested in the comments from concert promoters as I am in the environmental impact statement.  "If you build it, they will come" might have worked in an Iowa cornfield, but I'm not convinced that it will work here, given all of the other entertainment venues that are available within an easy drive.
4.  Why hasn't Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said anything about the implosion of the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption, whose members he deputized as special prosecutors?
Um, because he's as culpable in the failure of the Moreland Commission as our Sonuva Governor? Do you think he realizes that he dropped the ball, by not "talking to people" on the Commission, by not making suggestions to and meeting with the commissioners, including our own DA-for-Life William Fitzpatrick?  Or is it because he'll do just about anything to stay away from Cuomo at this point, since the two have long had a fractious relationship?
5.  What will the Syracuse University student -- the one who helped design an app to warn Israelis when rockets are about to fall on their heads -- come up with next?
Maybe he can warn us when the drones referenced in #13 are about to fly over our heads? 
6.  Why hasn't anyone built a glass-enclosed party palace in downtown Syracuse before now?
Lack of vision and lack of downtown momentum. Glad we've overcome both!
7.  Where are the Syracuse Chiefs fans -- considering the team is in the thick of a playoff picture, there's a ton of fun off the field and they're giving away a funeral this coming Wednesday, August 13th?
I'm still not convinced on that whole funeral give-away. That said, I haven't been to a Chiefs game since Josh Beckett did a rehab start for the Pawtucket Red Sox. I found my pictures from that night and guess what? There were about as many empty seats as filled seats, even for Beckett.
Now, had you asked me when that game was, I would have guessed a generic 'couple of years ago' --  but in fact, it was in July of 2010.  I had no idea it was that long ago.
I'm not a Chiefs fan, but what the heck's wrong with me that I haven't been to a game in more than four years?  That's a question most of us should ask ourselves.
8. Why is it taking so long to reconstruct West Fayette Street downtown?
The answer is 42
9.  Will Syracuse University get more applicants, now that it's been anointed the No. 1 party school in the nation?
Perhaps the better question is, how many folks will leave after the first semester when they realize that the ranking is unwarranted? And will they transfer to LeMoyne "we may be Jesuit but..." College, where at least they have Dolphy Day?
10.  Did President Barack Obama really think he could avoid being dragged back into Iraq?
Maybe he thought he'd be impeached first and wouldn't have to deal with it? On a more serious note, do we always have to go where others fear (or fail) to tread? Must we always be the world's police? Is our manifest destiny to continually try and secure the destiny of others? And how do we sit back and watch our ally Israel cause similar damage against Hamas in Gaza killing hundreds of innocent men, women and children in the process, at the same time we bomb others who cause the same carnage, albeit for different reasons?  Maybe 42 is the answer here as well. 
11. When is a political endorsement from a union not a political endorsement from a union? (Ask Dan Maffei and John Katko).
His uncle and my aunt were hanging up clothes. My union folded, it joined one of those. They support the other guy, so I had nowhere to go, but to throw my support to Cousin Katko. Or something like that, if Timothy Hogan spoke in verse.  
12. What is it with professional athletes and domestic violence?
From the time they're in junior high school, or even earlier, when they get discovered in Pop Warner or AAU leagues, promising athletes become a prized commodity; they're told they're special, and many are given special treatment, as soon as it's possible for someone to do so. Whether having female 'escorts' (wink wink) to them when they're college recruits, or not having to go to class, take tests or write papers, or being excused for sexual assault as high schoolers, or free clothes and all the rest, we show and tell athletes that they're special and all the rest of us are throw-aways, just like an old pair of free sneakers. Sadly, many of them learn that lesson more readily than all of the other critical life lessons that are right in front of them. 
And no, I'm not excusing the athletes' behavior, I'm complaining about the enablers, the ones who sweep bad behavior under the rug to make sure that (enter athlete's name) gets to play on (enter day of the week) in the big game against (enter key rival's name).  
And about league commissioners who put a higher price on smoking pot than on hitting a woman and then dragging her from an elevator.  
13.  With drones poised to start flying over Central New York, how soon before the fist invasion of privacy lawsuit is filed?
As soon as soybeans, corn, and wheat achieve personhood, or corporation-hood, and obtain free speech rights.
14.  Why can't Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand fly coach like the rest of us?
Good lord, is Chuck 'Touchdown' Schumer wearing those crazy astronaut diapers on his trips around the state?  He pays almost $300,000 to fly around on a plane that doesn't even have a bathroom? 
15.  Would it really be unethical to give experimental drugs to people dying of Ebola?
Ethical questions are supposed to be tough, and to me this one is. Would it be right to experiment on third-world people with the experimental drug, which might not even work? If it's wrong for us to have done that over the years with prisoners,blacks, mentally ill and the poor,how can it be right to do it now? And is it even necessary to do that, since traditional methods, if employed effectively, work effectively?  I think I'm on the 'yes' side of this one. I think.
16.  Can you believe it's football season already?
No. I sure hope my 49er's are ready. And I can't wait for us to get rolling with Scott Shafer press conferences after SU games.
17.  Who will be the next USA Basketball player to quit, after that gruesome injury to Paul George?
Can't say who will be next, don't know enough about it. But if the pros are afraid to play for fear they'll get hurt, perhaps with a career-ending injury, that leaves college kids. If they get afraid of maybe getting hurt before their NBA careers even start, will the USA be left fielding teams of walk-ons and high-school kids against the pros who compete with us (on our favorite teams) during the season and against us in international play? That would stink. 
18. Would today's hyper-partisan Congress have impeached Richard Nixon?
I can't imagine that they would have. Nor, if he was President now, that Nixon would resign. Back then, doing something for the good of the country meant something. Now, not so much. 
19.  Will we ever come to a consensus on Interstate 81?
I'm afraid our conversation will reach the end of its useful life about the same time the highway does.  At the same time, though, I'm glad that voices are being heard and that DOT is listening.  (Ryan McMahon, pay attention...)
20.  The State Fair is almost here.  Where did summer go?
A good portion of it went (as always) to work, weeding, and writing.  This year, we have to add in widing our bikes and dodging waindwops.
How would you have answered the questions? Share your responses in the comments.