CUNNINGHAM’S CORNER: Where is our Checkers Speech?Free Access

Waiting in Carmel: Where Is Our Checkers Speech?



I’ve heard from several people – of varying opinions – regarding the situation in Carmel and Mahopac and Councilman Mike Barile, and the sewer hookup for a restaurant he’s involved with. I wrote about this last week. Notably, these views run the gamut. I was too tough; it’s a minor permitting issue. The reporter involved blew it all out of proportion. And so on. Nothing to see here.

And, I heard the opposite, or nearly so: That it is not only a big deal, but deserves wider attention.

I’ve thought a little more on it, and I’m not sure the good folks in Mahopac and the town leaders realize how difficult this rolling debacle is going to make their lives. Even separate and apart from the legal investigation they decided to undertake, at a cost $800 an hour. With the meter spinning at such a clip, this review will easily add up to tens of thousands of dollars.

Above, Hazel the wonder poodle keeps watch last weekend at the PCNR and Courier office, waiting for Checkers.

Here’s the thing: Mahopac and Carmel now have the full-time, top-priority attention of bureaucrats with the city’s Department of Environmental Protection. When they come to town, it is inevitable that they will find things. Even if it’s of the ‘dotting i’s’ variety, this will mean more work and uncertainty and hoops for the Town Board and the town’s employees. More money, more delay, more back and forth. And that’s the positive outcome, the best case. The worst case is they find issues, maybe serious ones.

It wasn’t that many months ago the Town Board was talking about taking back power from New York City, that the city wasn’t sufficiently responsive to town concerns. Well, my friends, those days are long past. There will be no doubt that New York City has the whip hand here, as it has anyway, and has had for years. Know too that this fiasco will reinforce it, and ensure that anything with the words “Mahopac” or “Carmel” in the document will be specially routed for more review.

Here’s my question: Where is our Checkers speech? Where is our thorough and exhaustive recounting of this sewer situation? Richard Nixon, fighting to save his spot as the VP nominee on Eisenhower’s ticket after being accused of financial improprieties, gave what he represented to be an exhaustive financial accounting. This was the closing bit, and it is the bit that gave the speech its name and place in political history. The speech was wildly successful; he stayed on the ticket. It was Sept. 23, 1952:

One other thing I probably should tell you, because if I don’t they’ll probably be saying this about me, too. We did get something, a gift, after the election. A man down in Texas heard Pat on the radio mention the fact that our two youngsters would like to have a dog. And believe it or not, the day before we left on this campaign trip we got a message from Union Station in Baltimore, saying they had a package for us. We went down to get it. You know what it was? It was a little cocker spaniel dog in a crate that he’d sent all the way from Texas, black and white, spotted. And our little girl Tricia, the six year old, named it “Checkers.” And you know, the kids, like all kids, love the dog, and I just want to say this, right now, that regardless of what they say about it, we’re gonna keep it.

We have a poodle named Hazel. Hazel and I are waiting for Checkers. Until next week.

Douglas Cunningham is editor of the PCNR in Cold Spring and the Putnam County Courier in eastern Putnam. Reach him at, or 845-265- 2468. Send letters to the editor to the same email; limit to 500 words.

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