Sunday, December 04, 2016
Amsterdam, NY ,



The Behavior Commission

Saturday, October 12, 2013 - Updated: 4:09 AM

Sifting through the archives of my brain I happened to stumble upon a perfect song that for some reason fits as being one of the top 10 on the charts when it comes to musical politics in Amsterdam. I would like to present to you some of the lyrics from one of the most famous groups of all time ... well, at least during my time. The title of the song is "Help," by the Beatles. While reading my column please feel free to sing along and ask the question if this should be our theme song for the city.

Here it goes folks:

Help, I need somebody;

Help, not just anybody;

Help, you know I need someone;


Well, what do you think -- is it something our city needs? It's another typical Tuesday of the month where our elected leaders gather together trying to figure out if some form of cooperation or better yet consensus will ever be reached on one of the many issues surrounding our city. I actually happened to be present at city hall recently during the typical Tuesday of the month but for one important reason. I needed to sign my kid up for recreation basketball. It was during that sign-up that I considered the possibility of venturing upstairs to check out our local government in action. From my reliable sources on the ground I'm hearing of a contract that will be discussed tonight involving a golf professional, concessionaire and maintenance of the course. Apparently there are some city officials and golf commission members believing the course is not performing up to its task of helping get this city out of its unknown financial mess. I really wanted to attend, especially when one particular piece of our city has been targeted.

I thought about it for a second time asking myself, "Do I really want to sit through something that usually ends the way it begins? Unless you're an alien from another planet, the routine is, you sit in a meeting with a controlled environment while listening to the same issues being pushed aside for another day.

Again, I seriously thought about attending the meeting but instead made the decision to head back home as not to miss the finale on public access Hollywood. I will say that watching common council meetings on television are far better for my sanity. Sifting once again through the archives of my brain I recall attending a common council meeting live and without commercial interruptions many years ago. This particular mayor understood the finances of our city and didn't require any type of gazing over to a corporation counsel for answers. It was also during a time when the city attorney understood his role. Of course there were moments during the meeting when you might see a few animated actions or hear some disagreements but overall in the end things would get done. As I said, that was many years ago.

Back to the Beatles:

When I was younger, so much younger than today;

I never needed anybody's help in any way.

But now these days are gone, I'm not so self-assured;

Now I find, I've changed my mind, I've opened up the doors.

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down

And I do appreciate you being 'round.

Help me get my feet back on the ground.

Won't you, please, please help me?

Arriving home that evening and hoping to hear good things coming from our city officials I settle back in my comfy chair catching the bitter end of another typical Tuesday meeting. Though I was unable see the common council chamber filled with long-time supporters of our present golf pro my sense of what would happen held true. It turned out to be another unsuccessful discussion. Once again sources on the ground informed me of how two powerful city officials (one elected, other appointed) continue to show their authority and control of common council meetings. Even our representatives were having some difficult moments of independently speaking out.

Back to the Beatles:

And now my life has changed in, oh, so many ways;

My independence seems to vanish in the haze.

But every now and then I feel so insecure;

I know that I just need you like I've never done before.

Maybe it's time for our city officials to seriously look into forming a Behavior Management Commission. Of course, in order to form such a commission, we need to set it up similar to that of our city charter. One of the first rules should be that people on the commission must be legal residents of the city with no ties to the mayor or corporation counsel.

The purpose of the commission would be to oversee the proper operation of our local government through proper behavior while understanding the difference between power and duties. Any behavior or power inconsistent with the Behavior Commission will be denied all rights, privileges, functions, powers and duties until an understanding is met between the two opposing forces. There you have it folks; it's that simple. But do you actually think a Behavior Commission could work? My guess is probably not. Just take a little gander at our city charter and see how there are those who attempt to circumvent rules by way of legal garble, making it difficult for most of us common folk to understand. Of course we all know that people with power and control prefer it that way.

So where does our city stand at this point in time with regard to moving forward? Well, so far we have an unidentifiable city budget being overshadowed by the behavior and antics of our common council meetings. We have a mural waiting to be saved, covered or rolled up like a newspaper and stuffed in a vault for historic preservation. We have a golf course about to get trampled on by a bunch of rams being placed throughout the city, eventually leading us to a temple where new orders and ideas will be presented.

And finally, we have a city in desperate need of help. Folks, this is where the Beatles come in.

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down;

And I do appreciate you being 'round.

Help me get my feet back on the ground.

Won't you, please, please help me?

Help me. Help me...e...e. Ooooo.

Until next time -- hold that thought.

MIKE LAZAROU is an Amsterdam native and a regular columnist.

You may contact him at


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