Thursday, November 12, 2009


Have I ever done stupid things in my life?

Yes. But who hasn't?

I live in a glass hut. I only throw stones at those who live in glass castles.

I've done dumb things when I was having a bad day.

According to an article in the 11/12/09 edition of the Press-Republican, a member of the Plattsburgh Common Council has been accused of spitting on someone at a bar. Maybe that councilor was having a bad night. Arguments in a bar can get heated and crazy. I don't know what happened during that incident. If you want details, check out the PR. The alleged spitting isn't the focus of this post. It's only the back story.

At one point during the Thursday evening Common Council meeting, the mayor allowed public comments. Ed Champagne took the podium. With his casual clothes and long graying hair pulled back into a ponytail, he gives the visual impression of a laid-back aging hippie who just stays calm and grooves along. But when he speaks, it proves that appearances can be deceptive. He ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the council, an outspoken candidate.

Ed was irritated by a recent PR article in which Denise Nephew, head of the city AFSCME union, stated that the parking enforcement officer position should be reinstated because the fines raised by that officer pays for the job and then some.

Ed raised an interesting point about “quota” systems, how sometimes the police can go too far in enforcing the law because the main intent is to raise funds, not protect the public. He cited some articles that had appeared in newspapers in other parts of the US, how citizens were threatening legal action against this type of over-enforcement.

OK, that was a reasonable point for debate.

Standing right behind Ed was Police Chief Racicot, near the main doors to the council chambers. I was sitting against the back wall and had a good view of the Chief.

Ed went on about the problems of over-enforcement. He stated that there are all sorts of laws that could be enforced. Dropping cigarette butts on the sidewalk was against the law but Ed said he did it anyway. Should there be a special force, cigarette butt police, to follow everyone around and fine them for dropping butts? Ed added that the police chief hadn't caught him yet doing that.

While Ed was ranting a bit about the police and cig butts, I watched Chief Racicot's reaction. He just smiled, taking it in stride.

Ed continued, talking about that spitting on the sidewalk was against the law. Should “spitting police” follow everyone around and enforce that law?, he asked.

A few feet away from Ed sat the councilor who was the subject of the spitting incident article.

I always thought that politicians – and those who aspire to political office – should engage the brain before the piehole. Maybe it was an accident, a slip of the tongue, but regardless it sure wasn't a political thing to say.

Or maybe it was.

The councilor mentioned in the newspaper, Chris Jackson, was sitting in the seat that Ed had tried to win.

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