I've been bouncing several column ideas around in my head during the past few days, so instead of focusing on one topic, here's a quick look at some things that have been on my mind.
* Small city, black heart. It's nothing short of disheartening to see, read and hear the level of racism that exists in the city of Amsterdam and the surrounding area.
Whenever there's crime or talk about public assistance, it seems that the conversation immediately turns to the Rug City's Hispanic population.
Granted, I don't believe every white person in the 12010 is out burning crosses, but there's enough ignorance and hate out there to cast the entire city in a negative light.
The racism issue reared its ugly head a bit this week when I posted a photo on our Facebook page of a guy accused of stabbing someone during a family dispute. The comment thread started out with the typical Amsterdam-bashing but quickly deteriorated into how all the "Spics" living here were dragging the place down. I eventually took the photo down, because while I strongly believe in the concept of free speech, this newspaper isn't required to and won't provide a forum for that kind of talk.
It's not just on Facebook where this crap surfaces. It's all over outlets like local radio, only it's disguised as references to "those people" or "people from New York City." Or when elected officials deride efforts to make it easier for people of Puerto Rican descent to vote in local elections. Are they so ignorant of the fact that Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States, and its people are just as much American citizens as the white folks here?
I've even heard it in actual face-to-face conversations, including from a guy (I never got his name) I met during the summer while fishing the Mohawk who said Amsterdam's a nice community even though it "has a problem because of all the Spanish living here."
Seriously, this is beyond ridiculous. For starters, Amsterdam has had a large Hispanic population for decades, so it's not like it just appeared out of nowhere. Second, Hispanics make up nearly a quarter of the city's population, and not all of them are walking around sporting all sorts of bling while using EBT cards to get tattoos and cars so they can deal drugs.
For crying out loud, get over it. Issues of crime, drug abuse and the expense of entitlement programs have more to do with moral breakdowns in communities and economics. Those issues are color-blind. It would be nice, in 2013, if more people would be that way, because blaming everything on the Hispanics is getting old, and it needs to stop.
* Some driveways are more equal than others. I've thought long and hard about how much of a stink should be raised about this, but it's definitely worthy of mention.
The other day, I witnessed a municipal truck plowing and sanding a private residential driveway. Part of me initially thought it wasn't that big of a deal because the guys were probably just being nice, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized how wrong this was.
After all, I pay property taxes just like this person does. Why can't I get my driveway cleared out by a municipal truck? Why can't others who help pay the freight get the same kind of consideration?
The thing is, stuff like this isn't new. Abuses of municipal-owned vehicles have been well-documented, and yet it doesn't stop.
Elected or appointed public officials, along with municipal employees, should only be using those vehicles to conduct official public business. Period. Clearing out private residential driveways, taking a car on shopping trips, or running to and from doctor appointments don't fall under that category.
The onus falls on the public to put pressure on public agencies to stop it once and for all.
* Now we're cooking. In the interest of ending these ramblings on a more positive note, I was inspired by a monthly column we publish that focuses on what's happening with Liberty Enterprises. Attached to the column was a recipe for brownies.
I thought it was awesome, and it reminded me there was a time when community newspapers such as this one published recipes from its readers on a regular basis.
Yeah, it's old school, but I've always believed that one of the things that has helped to kill local papers in the past few years is that many of them have tried to run with the big dogs instead of focusing on what they do best: being the paper of record for the community they serve. And that includes publishing what the community serves.
So here's want I want to do. I know there are many of you out there who can cook. My waistline is evidence of that, as is the large number of spaghetti suppers, pierogi sales and other feeding-type events that happen around here on a regular basis.
What I'd like is for you to send your favorite recipes to me, and we'll get them in the paper. I don't care what kind of dish it is. It can be something uber-gourmet, or it can be one of those cost-saver meals we hear so much about. Healthy food? Fine. Unhealthy food? Go for it.
Anything that involves bacon? Expect a call, because I'm coming over for dinner.
Here's what you do: Get your recipe together, and if you want, include a photo of the dish so people will know what it looks like. Tell me who you are and what town you're from (I'm OK with only using a first name).
E-mail all submissions to me at email@example.com, or if you're still using snail mail, send them to The Recorder, c/o Charlie Kraebel, 1 Venner Road, Amsterdam, N.Y., 12010. Once I get a bunch, we'll start running one or two of them on a weekly basis.
I can't wait to see what you're cooking up.
CHARLIE KRAEBEL is editor
of the Recorder and always has something to say about everything. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.