No Word & Strong Words
No word yet from any officials in regards to the Plattsburgh city police confronting me about taking photographs (see previous post, Land Of The Free.)
A councilor I had contacted via email said he would talk to the police chief at the Thursday evening common council meeting. I had emailed the mayor and the mayor’s assistant about the matter and asked the councilor to have that email included under “Correspondence” during the minutes. He said he would do that.
I was unaware that letters or email could be included in a common council meeting. I came across that fact while reading the minutes of previous meeting posted online at the city’s website. (God Bless The Web!)
I did consider attending the council meeting in person, but decided against it for a couple of reasons. One reason was that I was still looking into my legal rights and options. The other one is that being hassled by the police for engaging in a legal, non-interfering hobby like photography – basically, being treated like a criminal suspect – pisses me off. I was afraid I would let some of that anger out while explaining my position to the council and the mayor.
Each week a local AM radio station, WIRY, carries audio excerpts from the common council meeting with a summary of what business had been conducted. I listened to the WIRY local news but didn’t hear any mention of the issue I had raised.
Maybe my email was brought up during the meeting but I won’t be surprised if it was never discussed. You see, during the meeting a local developer, John Seiden, addressed the council and the mayor, challenging their decisions in regards to developing downtown. Some of his comments were broadcast by WIRY News. And from what I heard, what happened might have thrown the meeting off its scheduled agenda.
Seiden was upset with the Durkee Street project, an office–parking garage complex planned for the main city parking lot. He was concerned the city wasn’t making the best use of its assets; he said it was “just throwing crap on the wall to see what would stick.” He explained he didn’t want to see another white elephant, but wanted the land to be used for proper development.
In his comments Seiden said that there was once a downtown commission and that another one should be created; there were business people downtown who had good heads on their shoulders.
The anger in Seiden’s tone was obvious while listening to the audio excerpts, his comments becoming more heated as he went on. Seiden questioned one of the proposals considered in the past by the city to build low-income housing on another city parking. He added: “What are you on – drugs?”
At this point Mayor John Stewart interrupted Seiden, telling him to hold his comments. There was a moment of tension as the mayor took a strong stand against Seiden’s vociferous opinions. Seiden backed down, apologizing for his extreme statements.
But that’s how certain actions by the city can affect someone: you’re quickly transformed into a ranting citizen, lashing out at what you perceive to be as stupidity. And in the process it’s so easy to go too far, stepping over the bounds of rational discourse.
Then again, it’s easy for certain police officers to also go too far.
How about some balance?