Ken Dow, the former Columbia County Democratic Elections Commissioner and attorney representing neighbors of the airport in Ghent, has joined the ranks of those publicly criticizing the Register-Star’s incomplete and often slanted coverage of the issue.
Dow sent the following commentary to the Register this morning, regarding Joe Gentile’s latest
stenography article, erasing most statements which would challenge the “official” storyline:
This article gives an extremely misleading picture of what went on at the meeting. The article dutifully recites Mr. Benson's claims and talking points, but barely notes that the bulk of the meeting was one speaker after another—both members of the public and Supervisor members of the Airport Committee—questioning, criticizing, or downright ridiculing Mr. Benson's eleventh hour “proposals.”
The article does not mention that Mr. Benson's plan would require the elimination of the Meadowgreens Golf Course. That omission may be understandable, since Mr. Benson failed to mention that very undesirable aspect of his proposals, and it only came to light when raised by an audience member.
The article does not mention that meeting attendees sharply questioned Mr. Benson's remarkable feat of creating a plan that nearly copied a plan that has long been discussed and estimated by the Airport's long-time engineering firm to cost $3.38 million, except that Mr. Benson's two fantasy plans both called for buying more land than the $3.38 million plan and INCREASING the land acquisition costs by approximately $700,000 and $1,000,000, yet magically DECREASING the total costs to about $600,000 to $1,000,000 below the long-considered $3.38 million plan. What really had everyone rolling their eyes, however, was Mr. Benson's complete inability to explain how he was able to come up with these magical savings.
What really happened yesterday? Mr. Benson made a last-second attempt to derail the Airport Committee's work by offering fantasy "proposals" using made-up numbers that have the side effect of eliminating Meadowgreens, a local resource that is used and valued by hundreds, if not thousands, of local residents. Mr. Benson has had a pathetic attendance record at these Airport Committee meetings, blowing off his duties as a member and skipping all but one or two. It would have been far better if he had extended his record of absence for one more meeting and spared the Committee and public the nonsense he spewed to everyone at yesterday's meeting.
KENNETH J. DOW, ESQ.
At prior meetings, the Register-Star’s coverage was specifically called out by residents such as Ghent’s Mark Johnson, who pointed out that their coverage of a previous meeting “made it seem like no one in the audience was here.
This site met with the paper’s new publisher and managing editor earlier this year to discuss its institutional habit of promoting and protecting officialdom, while minimizing contrary information—especially when it comes from well-informed but independent-minded members of the public.
Indeed, Gentile’s article omits numerous statements critical of Benson’s proposal from residents such as Peter Coan, Patti Matheney, Michael Singer, and myself, as well as stern questioning from Supervisors such as Mike Benvenuto (Ghent) and John Porreca (Greenport). Even officials previously supportive of other options, such as Hillsdale’s Art Baer, were poking holes in Benson’s presentation. But Gentile omits these in favor of a long description of Benson’s point of view. Some of those omitted statements can be found in Carole Osterink’s more balanced report for The Gossips of Rivertown, for instance:
Many at the meeting--both members of the audience and members of the committee--were not enthusiastic about Benson's eleventh hour proposals. Attorney Ken Dow questioned Benson's motivation. “If this were a serious effort,” said Dow, “it would have been made months ago. This, on its face, is ridiculous.” He went on to characterize Benson's proposals as “just an attempt to muck up the gears.” Supervisor John Porreca (Greenport), who had originally suggested the solution the committee was poised to recommend, dismissed Benson's proposals as “eleventh hour crap.”
Particularly sticky for Benson was a contretemps about the authorship of his proposal, another lengthy exchanged erased by Gentile’s piece. Research by this site indicated that the metadata on a key document circulated by Benson was not authored by him as he claimed, but by Christopher D. Brubach—representative of C&S, the firm which has been consulting to the County on the airport. Benson has stated in emails that his own firm, BCI Construction, has done extensive work with C&S.
Questions were raised about why the County’s own consultants would appear to be collaborating with a lone Supervisor to undermine the Committee’s hard-won compromise solution. Despite the evidence presented below, an uncomfortable-looking Benson continued to insist that he was the author of this document: