The other night, which for most of you reading this column at the present time occurred about a week ago, I happen to notice an interesting news story. Well, actually, it was not an interesting news story but rather more of a questionable one. I'm not one to dwell on the past but as usual this type of story will always feed into a national network. This particular station decided to rehash an old story in revealing some of the undiscovered conversations between President Nixon and his aides during the Watergate scandal. Keep in mind this happened many, many years ago, long before the invention of cell phones and flat-screen TVs. President Nixon passed away many years ago and I'm not sure what the purpose was in reintroducing past mistakes of a presidency. I kept on thinking to myself does this have anything to do with today's mistakes our leaders continue to make? For some reason this media-driven society seems to find pleasure in bringing up past mistakes. President Nixon did come forward to acknowledge his wrongdoings while many political leaders today continue to sidestep their way out of trouble and never claim responsibility. I guess it's all according to who's running the show when it comes portraying a person's character and integrity.
The reason why I bring up the Nixon story is it sort of follows a similar pattern to that of our city budget issue. Things such as integrity, claiming responsibility and moving forward continue to get lost in the financial picture of our city while hints of blaming one from the past continue to surface. Now without getting too fixated on the word "blame" I'll try to explain my frustration at what we continue to hear about without ever receiving a clear understanding on where the city of Amsterdam stands with regard to a city budget. From a number of stories within the past couple of weeks we continue to hear of the city's financial records as being a little late and not quite ready. We continue to hear about what to do with a mural presently sitting in a vacant room of a building which in some mysterious way seems to be funneling into our city budget. We continue to hear of our city representatives being somewhat puzzled as to what financial data is accurate and what is not. We continue to hear of a deputy controller stepping in after the untimely death of our last controller.
We continue to hear of how the new deputy controller has been working to "eradicate mistakes left behind" and catch up to satisfy the state's request for the Annual Update Document. We also continue to hear of one reason for the AUD's severely late filing is that the "last controller" had trouble in his position. According to our "elected leader" she feels this is one of the problems in having an "elected controller." As an "elected official" she feels that the Annual Update Document "is a very complex animal" which needs the skills not of an elected one but instead an "appointed one." Once again the mighty powerful Oz is pointing a finger at the last controller in having had some difficulty of figuring out how the Emerald City can pay for the witch's broomstick. So here we are folks living in Oz as a bunch of taxpaying munchkins waiting to hear from the great and powerful one on a final budget while at the same time continuing to hear about past mistakes. Should we as taxpaying munchkins follow the yellow brick road out of Emerald City to find the answer or just giggle with laughter while waiting to hear what Oz has to say?
I find when it comes to avoiding a problem one of the easiest solutions is to either blame it on someone or some unnatural occurrence. Yes indeed folks it's called the "blame game" where very little thinking is required. All you have to do is find a target and the rest comes easily. Politicians have become very proficient at this type of tactic and it's even easier when the blaming is placed on a person who is no longer present to defend or explain their actions.
The blame game is a very simple and easy method to use. It's the oldest trick in the book which we see every day between two political parties on both the state and national stage. One will accuse the other for past mistakes while neither seems to work toward a common goal. Of course the two parties like it that way and would prefer keeping it that way. The only example I can think of which truly works best when working the blame game is when you invite a bunch of guests over for a party and suddenly a distinct foul odor begins to filtrate throughout the room. Here you are stuck in a room where nobody will come forward to claim responsibility of the foul odor. So what do you do? Well, this will only work if you have a canine in the room. Why of course you blame it on the dog. Though the dog may be innocent, defending his or her innocence would be difficult. It's called a language barrier which seems to be happening quite often in city hall.
I think it's time to end the blame game for our present situation and begin to work on a future for our city. Hopefully the city can come out of this smelling like roses. But if you think what's going on in the city stinks then ... blame it on the dog.
Until next time -- hold that thought.
MIKE LAZAROU is an Amsterdam native and a regular columnist.
You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.