I am not one of those who believes that every newspaper story is the absolute, rock-bottom truth. Some, many, in fact, are that, or pretty darn close. But I also know that things change. New information and new sources surface. Records are unearthed, data confirmed or disproved. And so on.
Here’s my goal: That everything we include be as much of the truth as we know at this moment. Last week, after our deadline for the Courier to be at the printer, Gov. Andrew Cuomo set aside his plan to require millions of New Yorkers to obtain new license plates, ostensibly because they were old and illegible to the sophisticated cameras used today at toll booths.
I confess, I took some small satisfaction in this. Cuomo doesn’t back down on much, and the writing on the wall had to be awfully grim for him to do so this time. But the misunderstanding, I fear, lingers. It is this: That New York’s government can willfully and without cost impose more burdens on its long-suffering residents. One of his administration’s proposals was, in fact, that the owners of older license plates to bring them to the DMV to be inspected. This was actually touted as a compromise measure. Can you imagine the time suck? It would be like taking the cash equivalent of 3 million hours per year (1 million drivers annually times 3 hours), putting the cash on a giant tree stump, and burning it.
The disturbing thing, to me, is no longer simply the idea of compelling us to replace perfectly good, readable license plates. It is – and this really bothers me quite a bit – that no one in the governor’s office had the presence of mind to think, “Hey, maybe this would cause New Yorkers to have to make another trip to the DMV, and that’s 3 or 4 hours, and that might not be good.” At least, no one thought this until public opposition became overwhelming. Who wants to spend even more time at the DMV? Anyone?
I hope the governor cares for the state’s many, many resources more than he seems to care for our time.
I look forward to additional reports from the County’s Tourism Office about the efforts to publicize and draw visitors to Putnam’s really astounding collection of attractions (see page 5 for more). You may recall the debacle a mere two months ago, when the previous director and the board that supervised him abdicated all responsibility, blew up all promotion efforts midstream, and left the keys on the desk.
There’s a lot of trust to rebuild here, a lot of walls to mend. It will take considerable effort by the new director, Tracey Walsh, to bring this to pass. In my view, a substantial piece of this will involve building relationships with private business people and non-profits not tied to county government, in all areas of the county.
Douglas Cunningham is editor of the Putnam County Courier and the Putnam County News and Recorder. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 845.265.2468.