Thursday, March 29, 2012

Approved By The Hed Office?

Spotted this earlier today at the Press-Republican website:

So since North Country Community College is looking for a new president, a semi-illiterate reader might think the story is about the search for a new "hed" of NCCC.

Actually, hed in journalistic circles refers to headline. Apparently this Breaking News item was so important that it was thrown up without a proper headline. After all, the PR has to beat out all other media to get the scoop about the latest development in NCCC's presidential search.

Instead of using "Main Hed" as a place holder, what not use a better filler? "This Space For Rent," for example. Or better yet: "READ WRITOG.COM TODAY!"

As more staff is cut and fewer employees take on greater workloads, expect to see more hedcases like this one.

It's a basic formula: Downsizing staff = declining quality = declining readership. Let the downward spiral continue, thanks to the hedquarters of Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc.

(Note: Unlike some PR reporters, I did use a spellchecker program with this post. My misspellings are deliberate.)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

New Exhibit At ROTA

Artist Jess Drury poses by some of her work during the opening reception for her exhibit, Transitions, at the ROTA Gallery and Studios on Friday evening (3/23/12). The exhibit will be on display until April 6th. ROTA is located at 19 Clinton Street, Plattsburgh City. More info: (518) 314-9872; rotagallery (at) gmail (dot) com .

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Hometown Newspaper Takes Hits At Home

Plattsburgh’s daily newspaper boasts that it’s “The hometown newspaper of Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties” but with changes on the way it will be less “homey” than before.

Word on the street: belt-tightening at the Press-Republican means that local employees are being let go as some aspects of the operation – such as the art department – are outsourced across the state or out of state. Also, the budget for free lancers is frozen, the paper preferring the less costly alternative of running Associated Press stories and utilizing college interns.

The PR is owned by Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc., a private company which is turn is financed by the Retirement Systems of Alabama, a pension fund for Alabaman state employees. Obviously the owners want a good return on their investment to keep the big boat afloat.

Some staff members who still have a job must take unpaid furloughs. A furlough doesn’t sound that bad: it suggests a vacation. It actuality it’s a pay cut. One week off, one week’s paycheck lost.

The PR has defended the cuts, faithfully serving its masters at the Main Office in Alabama. In an editorial entitled "No sympathy for selfish profs," the unnamed writer chastises SUNY professors unwilling to engage in mutual sacrifice and take furloughs, unlike PR employees.

Justifying the decision made by the PR's owners, the writer stated: "We knew it was keeping us all working and will eventually end." The writer wraps up with this statement: “Bring on the furloughs.” The editorial is dated May 9, 2010.

At some point the giveaway becomes masochistic. How much suffering at the Main Office? Any furloughs brought on there?

The pursuit of profits today usually means disaster in the future. Previous staff and pay cuts at the PR have resulted in less quality editions. Some readers like to spot stupid typos that provide cheap chuckles. But that’s what happens when you get rid of your proofreader and think “the computer” will catch any errors. Moronic misspellings still slip through, especially ones that a spellchecker program would immediately red underline.

Declining quality means declining readership. Wringing out all the blood means you end up with an unprofitable stone.

Recently there has been a subscription increase and some readers have canceled. Maybe the Main Office should brush up on the concept of price point.

Apparently no one at the Press-Republican has heard the term “hyperlocal.” The strength of a hometown newspaper is local coverage. So why bother with so much national news when most people can get the same stories online for free? Save some money, drop the expense of subscribing to a newswire, and spend the difference on beefing up the reporting staff, people with experience who can put out quality material.

Maybe unpaid student interns will make up the slack for paid freelancers. But why go to college and major in newspaper journalism when there won’t be any jobs after you graduate because another round of interns are providing free copy?

If you’re going to work for free, especially for an organization that stresses profit over journalism, you might as well start your own blog. A good working situation should involve mutualism, not parasitism.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Who's Feeding The Duck?

Ducky and Denise are at it again.

WIRY AM radio "personality" Ducky Drake had his feathers ruffled when Denise Nephew, president of the local AFSCME union, called him stupid in a public email.

Ducky does lend himself to such an observation after making nasty remarks about various people during broadcasts of his soapbox forum, "Is It Just Me?"   Sometimes he utters disrespectful commentary.

In his latest disentary Ducky went after Nephew again, this time for her email saying that advertisers should be contacted to boycott his program.  The email wasn't for intended for general distribution -- apparently it was directed at AFSCME members -- but somehow Ducky got a copy of it.

A while ago Ducky in another one of his disentaries mentioned that someone overheard a comment at the Plattsburgh Public Library and that bit of info was passed along to him.

So who's feeding him all this crucial intelligence?

I have my own sources and have discovered the existence of a powerful secret organization.

An interesting parallel to the formation of this organization can be found in the history of US labor unions.  To increase its influence, the American Federation of Labor joined forces with the Congress of Industrial Organizations, thus becoming the AFL-CIO.

Locally, two groups of fans spying for Ducky Drake have merged to increase their intelligence-gathering abilities.  The Drake Intelligence Corps has united with the Heroic Envoys of Ducky: DIC-HED.

Watch out for the DIC-HEDs.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Justice For Christopher: Gang Assault = Disorderly Conduct


What was initially considered as gang assault has become merely a case of disorderly conduct by one person.

During coverage of recent Plattsburgh City Court cases, WIRY-AM radio local news reported today that Patrick Roszel, 22, of Broad Street pled guilty to disorderly conduct after being charged with harassment, second. Roszel was fined $250 with a $125 surcharge and is to pay $15,200.68 restitution by April 6th. Fifteen days in jail were conditionally discharged on condition that he stays out of trouble for the next year.

I'm not a lawyer or legal expert but this outcome does raise some questions. And after an online search of New York State Penal Law, I have more questions.

Back in November 2010 Christopher Rigsbee was brutally beaten by a group of men on Broad Street. As reported in a previous post on this blog, only one of the men, Roszel, a Plattsburgh State student, ended up in court. Considering the severity of Christopher's injuries, it would seem that Roszel's actions deserved much more than a disorderly conduct charge. Below this post is a second piece, "New York State Penal Law: Which Charge Fits The Crime?," that details the differences between what laws one would assume pertain to the incident -- felonies -- and those that Roszel was charge with -- violations.

If you read the description of harassment in the second degree, the legal system seemed to start somewhat low, not high, with its charge. And reducing the charge down to disorderly conduct is an insult to what Christopher Rigsbee -- and also his girlfriend who was punched by one of the thugs -- went through.

Keep in mind that during grand jury proceedings, the other men involved in the gang assault pointed at Patrick Roszel as being the lead culprit. Also, Christopher's girlfriend was a witness to what happened.

So why has Patrick Roszel been treated so lightly? He and his friends knock three teeth out of their victim, pounding Christopher into the pavement while calling him homophobic slurs. Even under the violation of disorderly conduct, Roszel could have spent up to fifteen days in jail. The WIRY newscast didn't mention anything about him performing community service.

Others have pointed out that Patrick's father, Hugh I. Roszel, Sr., is President of Tricon Piping Systems, Inc. of Syracuse, New York. According to a November 2004 article in The Business Journal, his company had a major expansion back then. Roszel, Sr. stated Tricon was growing quickly and steadily, revenues at a rate of 20 per cent annually.

Roszel, Sr. also has a son, Hugh I. Roszel, Jr. A Hugh Roszel (no Sr. or Jr.) is listed as a member of the Town of Cazenovia Planning Board. Also, a Hugh Roszel is named as Principal under company contacts for Willow Bank Yacht Club in Cazenovia, NY. Patrick Roszel in his online resume lists the Willow Bank Yacht Club as summer employment 2007 - 2010 (Yard Staff).

* * *

New York State Penal Law: Which Charge Fits The Crime?

Considering the violent attack on Christopher Rigsbee, which one of the following would seem to better fit the severity of the crime?

S 120.06 Gang assault in the second degree.
A person is guilty of gang assault in the second degree when, with intent to cause physical injury to another person and when aided by two or more other persons actually present, he causes serious physical injury to such person or to a third person.
Gang assault in the second degree is a class C felony.

S 120.10 Assault in the first degree.
A person is guilty of assault in the first degree when:
1. With intent to cause serious physical injury to another person, he causes such injury to such person or to a third person by means of a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument; or
2. With intent to disfigure another person seriously and permanently, or to destroy, amputate or disable permanently a member or organ of his body, he causes such injury to such person or to a third person; or
3. Under circumstances evincing a depraved indifference to human life, he recklessly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to another person, and thereby causes serious physical injury to another person; or
4. In the course of and in furtherance of the commission or attempted commission of a felony or of immediate flight therefrom, he, or another participant if there be any, causes serious physical injury to a person other than one of the participants.
Assault in the first degree is a class B felony.

S 240.26 Harassment in the second degree.
A person is guilty of harassment in the second degree when, with intent to harass, annoy or alarm another person:
1. He or she strikes, shoves, kicks or otherwise subjects such other person to physical contact, or attempts or threatens to do the same; or
2. He or she follows a person in or about a public place or places; or
3. He or she engages in a course of conduct or repeatedly commits acts which alarm or seriously annoy such other person and which serve no legitimate purpose.
Subdivisions two and three of this section shall not apply to activities regulated by the national labor relations act, as amended, the railway labor act, as amended, or the federal employment labor management act, as amended.
Harassment in the second degree is a violation.

§ 240.20 Disorderly conduct.
A person is guilty of disorderly conduct when, with intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof:
1. He engages in fighting or in violent, tumultuous or threatening
behavior; or
2. He makes unreasonable noise; or
3. In a public place, he uses abusive or obscene language, or makes an
obscene gesture; or
4. Without lawful authority, he disturbs any lawful assembly or meeting of persons; or
5. He obstructs vehicular or pedestrian traffic; or
6. He congregates with other persons in a public place and refuses to
comply with a lawful order of the police to disperse; or
7. He creates a hazardous or physically offensive condition by any act which serves no legitimate purpose.
Disorderly conduct is a violation.

New York Penal - Article 10 - § 10.00 Definitions of Terms of General Use in This Chapter (Excerpts)

3. "Violation" means an offense, other than a "traffic infraction," for which a sentence to a term of imprisonment in excess of fifteen days cannot be imposed.

5. "Felony" means an offense for which a sentence to a term of imprisonment in excess of one year may be imposed.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Justice For Christopher: Finally


  An image documenting the injuries inflicted upon Christopher Rigsbee after a gang assault in November 2010.

It's been a long haul for Christopher Rigsbee, the victim of a brutal beating back on November 19th, 2010.   Yesterday he finally saw one of his attackers face legal repercussions for the assault.

The early morning beating happened on Broad Street.  Christopher and his girlfriend were verbally harassed by a group of men on a porch.  Christopher exchanged some words with the men who suddenly ganged up on him, beating him to the point that he lost three teeth, his gums embedded with gravel as the thugs pounded him into the pavement.  His girlfriend was also roughed up.

After the senseless thrashing the men told Christopher and his girlfriend to get the fuck away from their building.  Bloody and severely injured, Chris with the help of his girlfriend was able to make his way to a friend's house and the police were soon called.

As readers of this blog know the case created a furor in the local media and then faded from memory.  Christopher and his supporters held a public demonstration near the scene of the attack, newspapers running photos of the event. 

Everyone probably assumed that justice would be done but the case dragged on.  I received the following statement via email from Christopher yesterday after action was taken in Plattsburgh City Court.

*  *  *

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

"Today at court, Patrick Roszel was charged with a first degree assault charge.  He made a check payment total of $3,850 to pay for the last part of the three part oral surgery operation at Plattsburgh Dental Group.  Through the hard work of Detective Steve Dube and Assistant District Attorney Nicholas Evanovich, the long ordeal has come to a close after Patrick Roszel pleaded guilty over the phone before other suspects went on the stand in front of grand jury on November 10th of 2011.  He now has to pay the rest of the full restitution by the end of April. The rest of the payment goes directly to Victim Services as they have covered mostly everything besides the final part of the oral surgery (which was paid today by Patrick).

"I am glad I can officially move on from all of this. Many things to be grateful for. Dr. Tom Gerner for his many talents and his teams patience and warm hearts. Detective Dube and A.D.A. Evanovich for still being superheroes and pulling through even after I lost hope with the case. Glad my friends and family have stuck with me and put up with this roller coaster. Thanks to everyone who pushed this case and wouldn't let it rest or be swept under the rug. Lastly, Darcel Downing, after watching such a horrific act, being strong for me and pushing me to get back to a real life again. Thank you all!"

*  *  *

Patrick Roszel was a Plattsburgh State student at the time of the attack.  According to someone familiar with the situation, the other attackers -- to use the vernacular -- apparently decided to throw Roszel under the bus during grand jury proceedings, blaming him for majority of the injuries Christopher suffered.  The source also stated the Broad Street building where the gang assault occurred also housed other PSUC students, including members of a college athletic team. 

I did an online search for the last three years and Patrick Roszel is not listed in the roster of this particular team.

Christopher Rigsbee has said that he contacted an official at PSUC regarding the assault but the official stated there was nothing he or the college could do about the matter. 

I can understand why the official didn't want to get involved.  If word got out about PSUC students committing a gang assault, it would taint the image of the college.  After all, thuggery isn't a recognized major at that fine institution.

In the online archives of the PSUC student newspaper, Cardinal Points, there are a couple of items involving Roszel, one of them a quote for a Roving Reporter column.  The other item is from the police blotter, dated September 26, 2010.  It states that Patrick N. Roszel of 54 Broad Street was arrested by Plattsburgh City Police for a noise ordinance violation and was released upon an appearance ticket.  The police blotter item can be found here

Friday, March 02, 2012

Snow Serpent Invades Downtown Park


I hate winter.

It takes something especially unusual for me to pull my camera out of its warm bag and shoot an outdoor scene.

Walking along this evening I spot a band of snow coiled around a tree on the edge of Trinity Park.

Then I see the band continues to stretch across the park, up over a picnic table. Somehow the elongated serpent hangs over the table as if it were plastic, not snow. It continues to wind across the white expanse, a wildly slithering pattern that stops at the edge of the metal fence guarding the Veterans Memorial.

So how was this created? A Fortean form that just fell out of the sky? Or is it just the work with of a natural artist with a lot of spare time? I notice that the snow on each side of the coil is flattened down, pushed aside: boot prints. Handiwork and footwork together.

So I end up visually documenting the intriguing sculpture before it's destroyed by man and nature.

And I still hate winter.