Sunday, September 21, 2008

Playing The Headline Game Again

story in this morning's Democrat and Chronicle recounts how, a month after Mayor Duffy froze City travel spending to help with the budget shortfall, Democratic City Council members headed to a conference in New Orleans, "billing larger-than-normal cab fares and an extra airplane ticket" -- at $497 -- for council member Gladys Santiago, because she missed her plane.

Must have been a morning flight.

Total cost of the trip to the city:  over $14,750.   It includes "$574 in taxicab fares for Santiago and City Council members Lovely Warren and John Lightfoot, the latter two billing a combined 23 cab rides over six days."

Ms. Warren's proffered excuse is that she ran up cab fares to avoid places "where people were drinking."   What makes this so delightfully dotty is that on this trip she billed 23 cab fares with council member John Lightfoot, whose need for transport we surmise would be for very different reasons, and, if Ms. Warren was fleeing venues where people were drinking, whose trips more likely would be in the opposite direction.

The paper explains that the mayor's travel freeze did not apply to City Council.  So it's all the more extraordinary that the D&C, which normally accords no critical scrutiny, and never any sustained scrutiny, to the Democratic City regime, covered the story at all.

Given the contents of the story, what's especially risible, for this story mostly about travel budget abuse by City council members, is the headline:   "Rochester's travel budget shrinks."

Can you imagine the headline if this were Republican members of, say, the County Legislature?   "Republicans defy travel ban, run up expenses" or "GOP Legislators Run up $15,000 tab to taxpayers -- including $500 for Missing Flight."

But these are Democratic officeholders, so the fundamental rules apply:

1. Never mention their political party affiliation.   The mainstream media does this only when the wrongdoer is a Republican.   In this story it's mentioned nowhere.

2. Hide the meaning of the story behind an innocuous headline.   The precise opposite of the D&C's approach to stories about Republicans, where an innocuous story is headed by a screamingly negative and deceptive headline.

Not that it makes any difference to the lives of people in the City.   Whether it's Lovely Warren, John Lightfoot, Santiago or the rest, Democratic City Council members in Rochester enjoy the privileges of elected officials more common in the thirld world than in North America:   election for life, and no accountability.

Who was it who said that people get the government they deserve?

Read the D&C story here.

1 comment:

scape32 said...

Pol Sci 101:

When it comes to financial matters and accounting, governments at all levels, but especially the municipal, tend to draw personalities that are oblivious to the value of money, the profit motive or the balancing of assets and liabilities as a way to remain solvent in a particular enterprise.

An old street saw summarizes it by putting it this way: "It's a whole lot easier to spend someone else's money than your own."

So, what you get are a preponderance of elected, appointed and merit-based public officials that have no clue how to handle entrusted monies, nor any inclination to protect and preserve it's ownership by others, like their taxpayers.

Folks like these councilpersons in question savor their ability to take junkets on someone else's nickle and speculate on Midtown real estate projects.

If junket costs weren't reimbursable unless they produced a measurable asset gain for the City government, the travel budget would look a whole lot different.

If the failure of the Midtown Project was assessed as a lien against property owned by City executives and elected reps or vs. their paychecks, things would be a whole lot different in the public development game.

See, you didn't even have to go pay SU's Maxwell School any of your hard- earned cash for this insight.