What Writog has learned from his experience: Need answers? Try elsewhere.
(C) 2016 Luke T. Bush PLATTSBURGH CITY, NY -- Sept. 12, 2016 Is there a story here? A key question for a journalist when someone passes along information pertaining to a possible rule-breaking/illegal activity. There's a technical paper called Municipal Fundraising And Gifting (August 2012) published by the New York State Tug Hill Commission that outlines the limitations for a city regarding donation solicitation. You can find a PDF copy here . Before perusing this fascinating document I would recommend consuming a full pot of coffee or a half-dozen caffeine pills (More pharmacists recommend NoDoz more than any other brand.) The publication details how a municipality must act independently from any non-profit group, no overlapping allowed. Basically the Podunk administration can't directly act on the behalf of a group such as the Friends of Podunk. There's a little problem called conflict of interest. When Podunk municipality backs one non-profit group over all others it's giving that chosen group an unfair advantage. So there's this letter sent out last year by Podunk to businesses asking for donations for a special event promoting the city. Donations to the Friends of Podunk are to be mailed directly to the city hall office of a particular municipal employee. A no-no? Maybe. I contact the New York State Comptroller's office to learn if a violation has been committed. After a few emails I get a copy of a 1983 opinion about a unnamed county selling for profit decals with the official county logo. A no-no according to this opinion. I ask the NYS Comptroller's office how does this pertain to the matter of Podunk and the Friends of Podunk. The official contact tells me that this is the best case related to the matter. Am I to infer that a SWAT team will sweep in and shut down any decal selling operation in violation of state regulations? ("Put down that sticker! Up against the wall!") I ask if the state will look into the Podunk affair. The reply: "It certainly is an issue our audit team could examine in the future." Or could not examine. You gotta love tautology. The 1983 opinion includes this disclaimer at the end: "This opinion represents the view of the Office of the State Comptroller at the time it was rendered. The opinion may no longer represent the views if, among other things, there have been subsequent court cases or statutory amendments on the issues discussed in the opinion." Of course NYS doesn't refer me to any other rulings. What they sent me might be an invalid point to write about in an article. After 1983 a different opinion could have come along, allowing a governmental body in New York State to sell all the decals for profit it wants. If that's the case here's my recommendation for a sticker message: Democracy = Transparency. The question remains if Podunk overstepped its bounds. Who knows? Is Little Nell alive? Who shot J.R.? The matter of Podunk and its Friends is a non-story. Dead end. This means an Albany apparatchik can relax his office, being paid top dollar to promulgate vagueness on the behalf of taxpayers. That's another story.
(C) 2016 Luke T. Bush PLATTSBURGH CITY, NY - Sept. 5, 2016 In Plattsburgh City, NY assholes like to harass photographers. Sometimes they like to shout stupid drive-by insults from a car. But the worse ones are those who walk up to you and want to argue, not listen. Today around 6 PM. I'm sitting on a bench on main street, minding my own business. I notice my shadow falling on a large bright white crosswalk stripe in the street so I take a few shots. No people in the frame, just my head's shadow. Someone walks by, sees me, stops and turns around. From his appearance and his use of English he seems to be a foreign exchange student. He asks me if I take photographs of people out in public. I reply yes. He tells me I shouldn't do that. I explain to him that for the most part if I want to photograph someone in public it's my right. I don't need permission. I ask him if he's an American. He dodges the question by asking me if I'm an American and whether I'm familiar with the constitution. What seems to be at first just a discussion, an opportunity to learn something, turns into verbal belligerence on his part. He tells me, an American citizen, I have no right to photograph anyone in public unless I ask permission. Before he leaves he tells me: "You should only photograph things like ice crystals." Since it's a holiday -- Labor Day -- another such incident has to occur less than two hours later.
I'm at the McDonald's down by the lake, sitting at a picnic table with a friend, taking shots of the view. Day is shifting into night. I converse with my friend while shooting. There's a woman sitting fifteen feet away at another table. She gets up and comes over, telling me I can't take photographs of people in public. She's a local yokel, a drunk redneck. My camera was never aimed at her. Obviously she's ignorant. Before she confronted me she wanted to make her burger flatter by pressing it into the bare wood of her picnic table. The same table that seagulls shat on. My friend tells her that we were having a private conservation and she was being rude. She leaves, saying that if I photograph her she will have me arrested. What I need is an aerosol can of Asshole Remover. Spray once and the problem disappears, deleted from reality.
(C) 2016 Luke T. Bush PLATTSBURGH CITY, NY - 9/1/16 During the evening the spot where the Saranac River flows into Lake Champlain is usually placid. For me it's an opportunity to photograph the ducks floating by in the water. Of course all that is wrecked when a couple of redneck kids hurl stones at the ducks, hoping to injure them. After a couple of close calls for the ducks I yelled at the rock-throwers to stop. Hanging in the background was a redneck adult who didn't mind if the kids broke out a duck's wing or put out a duck's eye. The kids resented my interruption of their vicious fun. I noticed a set-up down the river where the three knuckle-draggers were fishing, folding chair and some rods. They picked up their equipment and skulked off. Was any catch for food or torture? So why the cruelty towards the ducks? This points to the major tragedy of the North Country: inbreeding with diseased farm animals. The rednecks acted out of jealousy, knowing that their IQs would never approach that of an average duck. In case I needed to ID them later I noted their prominent features, especially their troglodyte sloped foreheads. Of course after the encounter I kept looking over my shoulder. If someone is stupid enough to throw rocks at ducks then it wouldn't be surprising if they used the same attack against a person. So this time no ducks were hurt but there's always tomorrow, another opportunity to wound some harmless creatures.