The Register-Star placed a potentially cruel headline atop a breaking story this afternoon on its website. The headline leveled an accusation which seemed at best premature, at worst potentially defamatory, and either way tragic. The wording flatly accused a 24-year-old man involved in a terrible car crash of leaving his 21-year-old friend "behind to die."
Now, I have no details about the incident except the sketchy information presented in the story. Possibly the headline’s accusation might be proved correct, or possibly the young man was badly disoriented after the crash and did not realize what happened, or possibly something else entirely transpired.
But strictly from a journalistic perspective, the initial reporting in the story did not in itself seem adequate to justify the accusatory and inflammatory headline. Newspapers are normally careful to report charges as “alleged” until proven, and in this case the story itself states that no charges have been filed thus far. Yet the headline in effect declares the 24-year-old guilty.
A more neutral header at this stage of a developing story would be the more typical practice. The type of accusation leveled by the headline-writer is best left to the courts, with objective reporting of the evidence and charges and defenses as they unfold, and not getting ahead of itself.
UPDATE: Sometime overnight, the online headline was shortened by the paper. The accusation of abandonment is there still, somewhat toned down, but more properly attributed to the police rather than stated as a demonstrated fact.
As first reported here, voter turnout for Tuesday’s Democratic Congressional primary contest between Julian Schreibman and Joel Tyner was dismal. Fewer than 1 in 10 registered Democrats bothered to participate in the new 11-county 19th District.
That sub-10% figure also applied to Democrats here in Columbia County. Below is a town-by-town chart of how each municipality in the County did, turnout-wise, correlating Board of Elections tallies and voter registration data obtained last March:
Remarkably, County Democratic Chair Cyndy Hall characterized these numbers as a “tremendous victory” for her party committee... If 9 out of 10 voters staying home is a tremendous victory, one wonders what a tremendous failure would look like.
UPDATE: Primaries 0f course tend to attract fewer voters than general elections. However, as a point of reference showing how poor Tuesday’s turnout was: More than 550 Democrats voted in the 2011 primary between Nick Haddad and Linda Mussmann; but this week, fewer than 150 voters cast ballots in Hudson.
It is for want of self-culture that the superstition of Travelling, whose idols are Italy, England, Egypt, retains its fascination for all educated Americans. They who made England, Italy, or Greece venerable in the imagination did so by sticking fast where they were, like an axis of the earth. […]
I have no churlish objection to the circumnavigation of the globe, for the purposes of art, of study, and benevolence, so that the man is first domesticated, or does not go abroad with the hope of finding somewhat greater than he knows. He who travels to be amused, or to get somewhat which he does not carry, travels away from himself, and grows old even in youth among old things. In Thebes, in Palmyra, his will and mind have become old and dilapidated as they. He carries ruins to ruins.
Travelling is a fool's paradise. Our first journeys discover to us the indifference of places. At home I dream that at Naples, at Rome, I can be intoxicated with beauty, and lose my sadness. I pack my trunk, embrace my friends, embark on the sea, and at last wake up in Naples, and there beside me is the stern fact, the sad self, unrelenting, identical, that I fled from. I seek the Vatican, and the palaces. I affect to be intoxicated with sights and suggestions, but I am not intoxicated. My giant goes with me wherever I go.
But the rage of travelling is a symptom of a deeper unsoundness affecting the whole intellectual action. The intellect is vagabond, and our system of education fosters restlessness. Our minds travel when our bodies are forced to stay at home. We imitate; and what is imitation but the travelling of the mind? […] Insist on yourself; never imitate.
The board of Acres Co-op has announced to supporters that organizer Peter Pehrson has “resigned from the board and the co-op” after he and a “majority of the board disagreed on how to proceed” in creating a cooperative food market in Hudson.
Some signs of friction between the Board and its director are evident in the message, which otherwise praises Pehrson’s vision as an “inspiring” attempt to address “real needs.”
But the Board suggests that it was mistaken when it “assumed that [Pehrson] understood all that this project would require – the nuts-and-bolts as well as the good ideas. We followed his lead, more or less uncritically. When it came time to commit to the lease, however, we had only a fraction of the money required for inventory, equipment, and other expenses needed to establish a store.”
This comes on the heels of two false starts on market locations—one uptown, near the 7th Street park, and downtown, at the former Hudson Electric. Finding itself at a late stage in this year’s growing season, the Acres Board concludes that “it would be self-defeating to open without adequate funds to operate for at least a year.”
Acres has thus suspended activity to devote itself to formulating a more “realistic plan” while promising to “refund what remains of membership fees received.” (It isn’t indicated how large or small those remains might be.)
Meanwhile, a non-coop market along the lines of Guido’s in Great Barrington is said by some to be the goal of the new owners of the former Ackerman’s location in the uppermost block of Warren Street. Also, the Filli family from Claverack is reportedly exploring the idea of occupying a building currently owned by Eric Galloway in the 400 block, though questions about the buildout of the proposed location remain. (Experience advises against any breath being held over market and hotel rumors in Hudson, though one can always hope.)
And of course, the Hudson Farmer’s Market is open and seemingly thriving on Saturday’s. It remains, however, that Hudson still has not had a steady food market in town since the early 1990s.
The candidate who can take the most encouragement from the results of Tuesday’s Democratic primary was not even on the ballot.
Rep. Chris Gibson (R-Kinderhook) is looking like the only real winner of the 19th Congressional District contest, to the extent that more than 9 out of 10 Democrats showed no interest in participating in the widely-publicized vote.
In a district of nearly 150,000 registered Democrats, barely 10,000 voted. That’s a turnout of only 7%.
93% stayed home. But this did not stop Democrats such as Columbia County Chair Cyndy Hall* from spinning the dismal day as a “tremendous” ratification of the party commitee. She can at least feel marginally better than the Democratic commitees in Dutchess and Otsego counties, where party endorsements were repudiated by some 60% of Dem voters.
Across 11 counties, Schreibman’s average margin of victory against a grievously underfunded opponent was about 160 per county, with a sizeable part of his cushion coming from his home county of Ulster. In November, he will face Republican opponent who currently has roughly four times the funds in hand (see below).
Despite blanketing the district with paper and vastly outspending his opponent, nominal winner Julian Schreibman garnered only about 6,000 votes to Tyner’s 4,000. In the fall against Gibson, he now will need to find some better way to energize the other 140,000 Democrats who did not care enough to vote in the primary, and plainly were not motivated by arms-length appeals such as mass-mailers and emails.
Schreibman also faces the daunting task of winning back the progressive base of his own party. What ought to have been a friendly “let the best man win” primary that left the nominee stronger has greatly dampened enthusiasm among Democrats, as evidenced both by Tyner’s surprisingly strong showing and the low overall turnout.
In garnering 41.2% of the vote, Tyner might also take solace from the fact that he spent only about $4 per vote earned. Schreibman (not counting a flurry of late expenditures yet to be reported) spent more like $16 per vote.
Tyner earned the support of more than 2 out of 5 Democrats despite that 4-to-1 spending deficit, despite hostility from his own party’s commitees, despite being mocked by much of the press right up to primary day, despite his opponent being endorsed by the popular Maurice Hinchey, and despite enduring what increasingly sounds like a spurious last-minute campaign finance charge from within his own campaign.
At that rate of spending, Schreibman would need to spend about $1,600,000 in November to have a chance of beating Gibson. Schreibman, according to FEC disclosure reports, had about $250,000 on hand ten days before the primary. Gibson had over $1,000,000.
* It’s a good thing, meawhile, that my old pal Cyndy taught arts rather than math in the local schools, as she seems to think a 2.2-to-1 ratio is “almost 3-1.” Even most high school students learn that you round down under .5, not up.
The Poughkeepsie Journal reports that in the first nine districts counted, Schreibman leads Tyner by almost 2-to 1... But those nine districts had only 110 voters total, meaning each had an average of only 11 people show up to vote.
The polls have only been open a few hours so far for today’s Democratic primary, but anecdotal reports coming in from a few towns in Columbia County indicate that turnout is extremely low—despite the relatively large amount of publicity that the contest has drawn.