Posts Tagged With: william d. wills

Story about a Debate


This is a story about Amsterdam’s mayoral debate held October 25, 2011, in the conference room of Riverfront Center.  With questions and answers covered extensively in the local media and many tuned in to the live broadcast, this story is about what you didn’t hear.

The Recorder sponsored mayoral debate was a disappointment.  Nothing was gained in terms of useful information about the candidates that had not already been revealed.  The canned questions posed by Recorder Editor Charlie Kraebel did not reflect what the actual voting public wanted to ask, instead were crafted by editorial staff of the Recorder, none of who live or vote in the City of Amsterdam.

The structure of the planned event leaked to the public weeks ago as described in my blog here.

This information irked Recorder Editor Charlie Kraebel who attempted to dispel the information in Tim Becker’s blog Pars Nova here.

The event was exactly as described before. Only the two candidates appearing on the ballot were allowed to take part.  Questions were limited to Recorder staff only.  The event was not open to the public, but limited to 20 invitees each from the participating candidates. It was broadcast live by WCSS.

I attempted to get an invite to cover the event early in the process to no avail.  I made a last-minute appeal on the WCSS Facebook page to get a seat at the debate.  About 5:30PM yesterday, 4th Ward Alderman candidate Diane Hatzenbuhler knocked on my door informing me that I had a seat because of a cancellation, that I should get to Riverfront Center at 6pm.

Arriving at the WCSS station, I saw Charlie and Rebecca chatting inside.  Kraebel glanced in my direction through the glass and then executed an eye roll towards Rebecca.  I ducked my head in the room and asked if this is where the debate was to be held. I was told it was in the conference room just down the hall and did not start until 7PM.

Arriving at the empty conference room, I saw some tables set up at the far end of the room with 40 chairs lined up in front of them, only filling up half of the room.  A newly employed security guard stood at the entrance.  WCSS employee and 1st Ward Alderman Joe Isabel walked by. I asked him about the cancellation and was told he has no say in who attends; it was up to the Recorder staff.

The security guard was handed a list of invited guests and was told to only admit people on the list and the press.  She was specifically told that the man in the plaid shirt (me) was not a member of the press. I was not alone in my predicament as others who were told to come as replacements were also left out.

The candidates soon appeared, each with their political posse.  It seemed as if the entire staff from the Recorder attended.  When it was clear that the 40 seats were not filled, those of us waiting were allowed in.

Recorder Publisher Kevin McClary introduced the event, reading from a prepared speech on his iPad he never made eye contact with the audience.  He is much smaller in stature and demeanor than I anticipated from the limited contact I have had with him through emails.  In sharp contrast, the physical appearance of the Recorder’s light-hearted humorist and Executive Editor Kevin Mattison is larger than his words.

The space agreed to by Recorder and WCSS staff was just not suited for a debate.  Although there was enough amplification, it was difficult to see the candidate’s faces. The two candidates sat behind a table at the same level as the audience. Some elevation would have helped. A good part of communication is taking in visual clues from facial expressions. This is one reason people are often misunderstood in blogs.  Personally I am much more adept with photography and visual communication than the written word, but most of you already know that.

The two candidates answered questions posed by Kraebel who sat at an adjoining table next to Rebecca who represented WCSS but remained silent during the debate.

Kraebel was robotic in posing the questions and never really probed deep enough.

Joe Emanuele has a poker face.  Dressed in a black suit, white shirt and red power tie with pumpkin, he answered the questions calmly with very little hand gesturing.  He did not react when confronted or criticized.  Thane dressed in a tweed business suit with modest jewelry and toned down makeup. Thane’s facial expressions while Emanuele spoke were very telling as she often smirked mockingly at the audience.  When speaking, Thane frequently gestures with hands and arms flailing, at times self-consciously pulling her arms down to her sides. Thane tends to be very emotional when speaking in public, sometimes choking up as if about to cry. I have noticed this behavior in past speeches and was clear during her final statement.  If you have never tried it, public speaking can be very difficult.

There was applause at different points in the debate for both candidates.

The one redeeming factor of this debate is that we heard Joe Emanuele answer questions about his candidacy. Other than his first mayoral announcement that I recorded here, we have not heard much from this candidate.

The third mayoral candidate who was not invited by the Recorder to take part in the debate is William D. Wills.  Not supported by either major political party, write-in mayoral candidate Wills was given equal time by WCSS and went on the air immediately after the conclusion of the Recorder’s debate, to answer the same questions posed to the other two candidates.  With the support of his wife and daughters present during the broadcast, Wills entertained each question read to him by his daughter.

While I feel that Wills is the best choice for Mayor of Amsterdam, he may have hurt his chances with his off and on again campaign and refusal to accept campaign contributions from political parties. He was the only candidate to answer questions I posed to all three.  Those questions and his answers can be found here.

It is no secret that I openly support write-in candidate William D. Wills for Mayor. While I appreciate the fact that an attempt was made by the Recorder to present Amsterdam with a mayoral debate, I cannot get past the fact that Wills was excluded.

The last Mayoral debate held on November 6, 2007, did include a write-in candidate not supported by a major political party.  I would also liked to have heard answers to some questions posed by some actual residents of the City of Amsterdam.

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Categories: Amsterdam, Politics | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Amsterdam 2011 Mayoral Debate Photos


Categories: Amsterdam, Media, Photography, Politics | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

City Administrators Respond to Locked Gate


My blog entry from yesterday describing the cancellation of the Riverfront Park Phase II dedication scheduled for today, also brought to light the continuing problem of access to Riverlink Park.  Since 2007, citizens have complained about locked gates preventing access through the pedestrian walkway that links the parking lot of Riverfront Center with Riverlink Park.

The following inquiry was sent to the Amsterdam Common Council:

From: Gerald Skrocki

Subject: Riverlink Park

Date: October 13, 2011 5:30:51 PM EDT

I went down to Riverlink Park to take some foliage photos today around 11AM. I got as far as the walkway gate only to find it chained and padlocked.

Why am I denied access to a city park? Who has the key to the gate?

Jerry Skrocki

To date I have received the following three responses from Amsterdam Common Council members.

From: William D. Wills

Subject: RE: Riverlink Park

Date: October 13, 2011 5:47:17 PM EDT

One of the quotes of mine that the Mayor is fond of is from Will Rodgers:

“Denial is not just the name of a river.”

From: Joseph M. Isabel

Subject: RE: Riverlink Park

Date: October 13, 2011 9:54:26 PM EDT

Gerald,

It used to be locked at night by the police. Sometimes it was left locked and the police had to be called.  Lately it has been left open. I really don’t know what the current policy is.

I think Rob from recreation could tell us. I will try to talk with him.  I don’t know if there is a city employee down there anymore.

Alderman-Joe

From: Ann M. Thane

Subject: Re: Riverlink Park

Date: October 14, 2011 11:16:43 AM EDT

The APD will ensure that the gate is opened in the morning and closed in at night. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. A.

Mayor Ann M. Thane, City of Amsterdam

This is an example of how effective communication can resolve issues.  My confidence in the process is temporarily restored.

I want to thank everyone who took the time to look into this issue and respond to my inquiry. A special shout out to Daily Gazette Reporter Ed Munger for contributing background information.

Update: Photo taken October 14, 2011, 1:30pm

Categories: Amsterdam, Law, Photography, Politics | Tags: , , , , , ,

Wills Excluded from Planned Mayoral Debate


In a tersely worded letter to Recorder Publisher Kevin McClary, Amsterdam Mayoral Candidate and 4th Ward Alderman, William D. Wills expresses his displeasure after finding out he is excluded from a planned mayoral debate.

Mr. McClary,

Please explain why I am being eliminated from the debate that the Recorder and the Chamber are putting together. Although I am not a “main” candidate, the opportunity for the electorate to hear only from a past and present mayor and not from another who hasn’t held the position but is well qualified is discriminatory and shortsighted on your part. It also looks like the “fix” is in. I have always been loyal to your paper and open to your reporters when questioned on various issues. Although I don’t spend as much as others I have taken out ads even when I ran unopposed in the past just to show that support albeit in a small way. You tout yourself as a community paper but then play God when making decisions like the one you have made here, all in the secrecy which your paper despises when public officials even try to do that on some sensitive issues which I have always objected to. It seems strange to me that the one who has advocated for a debate all along is the one who gets eliminated regardless of not having the status of being a “main” candidate.

I request that you reconsider your position and Mr. Capobianco, temporary President of the Chamber, who has been copied here I request as a member of the Chamber that if the Chamber is involved that you advocate on my behalf to be part of the debate.

Thank you!

Alderman Wills

I spoke with Bill Wills today about this letter.  While the event has not yet been publicized, he found out through various reliable sources that the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, the Recorder, the Leader-Herald along with local radio stations WCSS and WVTL are in the final planning stages for hosting a debate between Amsterdam mayoral candidates Joe Emanuele and Ann Thane.

Neither Emanuele or Thane responded to my personal request to answer a series of questions I sent them with the intended purpose of helping voters choose the best qualified candidate. William D. Wills was the only candidate to both answer my questions and push for a mayoral debate as shown in my blog post 10 Questions With Bill Wills.

Aldermen Julie Pierce, Gina DeRossi, William D. Wills, Richard Leggiero listen to public comment concerning Thane's proposed elimination of Amsterdam's 3% tax cap.

William D. Wills is a valid write-in candidate for Mayor of Amsterdam and should definitely be included in any planned mayoral debate.  Enough of the partisan politics!

From Bill Wills Facebook page:

The Recorder coverage of the 2007 Amsterdam Mayoral Debate that included write-in candidate Diane Hatzenbuhler can be found here.

Update: Recorder sponsored debate to be held October 25th.

This scheduled mayoral debate will take place in Amsterdam’s Riverfront Center Conference room. The event is not open to the public and will only be attended by a maximum of 50 people who will need a special invite to attend. Mayoral candidate William D. Wills wanted to participate but was excluded by Recorder Publisher Kevin McClary.

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