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Archive for "Feb 01 2006"

More Fingerboard Follies

I love it: they flat-out blew the coverage on a local story, and then complain the story’s subsequent twists and turns has made their heads hurt, as they do in today’s lead editorial: What’s going on here?

As journalists working at the news-gathering hub of Staten Island, we like to think we understand every story inside and out — not just the essential facts, but, as they like to say in Hollywood, the “back story” as well.

But we have to admit that the controversy surrounding the College of Staten Island’s proposal to expand its already sprawling campus to allow space for dormitories has us a little confused.

Make that a lot confused.

If you folks are such hotshot journalists, why did it take you so long to catch on that CSI’s Marlene Springer was talking out of her ass about her dormitory plan? She announced this scheme at the end of December, claiming, as your editorial today states:

The $80-million expansion plan, developed over the previous 18 months, had the support of “every local politician” Dr. Springer enthused.

According to the Retreat’s time-crippled archives, after generating a firestorm of local opposition the idea was flatly rejected by the agency who would be required to turn over the property.

… OMRDD spokeswoman Deborah Sturm Rausch said the agency has no plans to give up any of its land or buildings …(snip)…

“We have no intention to enter into such an ordeal,” she said Friday. “As far as we’re concerned, the matter is over.”

So, you grizzled pro journos working at “the news-gathering hub of Staten Island,” I wanna know: after she announced this scheme, did anyone on Fingerboard Road pick up a phone and get OMRDD’s stance on the plan, or so much as one local politician–who Springer had claimed were all on board as supporting CSI’s land grab–to go on the record supporting her claim that Island politicians unanimously backed the plan? No one got off their fat ass down at your little Borough Hall bullpen and actually asked Beep Jimmy if her statement was, you know … like, something that was actually true? Did that question ever even enter your J-school tool minds?

Answer: No. You admit in the editorial you just “assumed” Springer had worked out the details and her scheme was a done deal. You jackasses! Rule One in any half-baked Journalism 101 class is supposed to be “verify all the relevant facts.” You know, the old “Who, What, When, Where” checklist bullshit… fer Chrissakes, a high school paper’s editor would know better than to just take some academic bureuacrat hack like Springer’s word about a deal this big! Especially someone at CSI (or as I call the joint: the 13th Grade), which already has the biggest campus in the CUNY system. How the hell would they get the eighty million bucks to pull this off? Do you think for a heartbeat’s time the other campuses would accept CUNY spending that kind of bread on the system’s newest, most modern campus? For dorms? They’d go fucking insane! Brooklyn and Hunter students alone would howl so loud it would be reverberating all the way to Albany.

You didn’t do so much as cursory legwork when she made her initial announcement and issued her press release. On something that anyone with half a brain would have realized was a fairly heavy local story, you fucking choked, and now you’re claiming to be “confused” about the story’s twists and turns?

If you performed anything resembling the proper due diligence your “professional” status requires, within hours of the plan’s announcement hitting your desks, you should have contacted all the local politicians and gotten them on the record concerning Springer’s scheme. Christ, they’d all be putting their asses on the line if they actually backed the plan as she presented it: trying to convince other politicians across the city and state to fork over that kind of dough (if this plan wasn’t more than a Springer/CSI inhouse delusional wet dream) would be a hard sell in the best of times; in CUNY’s cuurent economic reality, with tuition climbing to meet costs and Albany all too ready to jack that number up further, it would be an impossible bill of goods to sell that kind of an expenditure. Politicians representing the neighborhoods containing every other CUNY campus would be demanding a slice of the pie for their guys. But you haven’t actually talked to any of the local pols on this hot button topic, even to this day, have you, you fools?

From them we’ve heard: not a word. In all the articles since this shit hit the fan (including today’s editorial), I have yet to see cited any local politician’s position on this whole imbroglio…were any of them actually there when she made her announcement? That would be a pretty big tipoff, wouldn’t it, if not one of them was standing alongside her while she was saying every one of them was on board, that she was just lying her ass off about her grandiose land-grab’s political partners.

Were any of your own reporters even there when she originally unveiled this crap? Or did you just go with the press release’s claims as your fishwrap’s accepted level of “professional” reporting standards? “She said it, so I guess it’s gotta be true.” FUCK YOU!

She blew smoke up your collective asses and you’re still basically backing her dormitory plan? You should be howling for her to be put in stocks for floating this bullshit! She conned you right out of your tight whities. Hook, line, sinker you took her bait and took a dive.

If I pulled something like that here, my comment section would be on fucking fire for pulling an asshattedly sloppy bit of reporting like you dolts originally performed, and then offered such a windy, weak-assed mea culpa as you offered up here. The blogosphere would burn my servers to the ground under the invective I’d bring down on my head if I tried selling that kind of shit.

But considering the Staten Island Retreat’s nepotistic, narcissistic, closed shop culture, with no competition; an absolutely clueless top management all seemingly biding time, so goddamned entrenched in a newsroom that’ll never push them to bring their “A” game to the paper’s pages but positively infused with their belief of their professional worth, nobody is gonna pay a price for your entire “professional” staff’s absolute amateur handling of this story, and then declared “confusion,” instead of just admitting “we fucked the story up, big time.”

That paradigm is gonna change, Skippy. Bank on it. Big Daddy Newhouse over in the Conde Nast tower might not currently give a shit if you clowns turn a profit, but with outfits like Craigslist and eBay cutting your advertising revenues closer and closer to the bone by stealing you classifieds, and all the usual display advertising suspects moving their budgets to technologically cheap-to-create, easy to distribute video, affordably broadcasted on more and more numerous cable channels (usually including a blurb for their web sites) that will be delivered to more eyeballs than your piddling print run could ever dream to draw.

if a Staten Island story is “big” enough, Google NewsAlerts inform me every morning, and I can get a far superior product from the Daily News, Post, Newsday or NY1 than your Junior League journos could ever possibly provide. The only product you can offer that I can’t find in other places will be the hyperlocal stuff, and at that, you suck. You’re too dumb, lazy and/or just gutless to do more than regurgitate the same old “kiss the powers that be (real and presumed) square on the ass and never rock the boat by doing any remotely insightful reporting” that made me write off the notion of ever again paying for your fishwrap so many years ago. When you totally bollix a local story, like you did in this case, I know my decision was right.

The NY-13 Race: The Gnats say “No”

Well, that didn’t take long:
Another councilman declines challenge against congressman

Saying he wants to focus on local and citywide issues, City Councilman Vincent Gentile yesterday officially announced that he would not run against Rep. Vito Fossella in 2006.

Gentile was the second councilman in two days to decline a run against the incumbent. On Monday, North Shore member Michael McMahon said he wouldn’t campaign for the Republican’s congressional seat.

I’m not surprised. They were fatally flawed potential opponents that Vito could have sliced and diced with an ease that was apparent to me when their names were floated last week.

But this bit is comedy gold:

Gentile’s announcement that he would not challenge Fossella (Staten Island/Brooklyn) was not unexpected.

It came a day before a congressional screening panel is expected to recommend that the Democratic Party back Brooklyn attorney Stephen Harrison in the race.

Who the fuck is “Brooklyn attorney Stephen Harrison”?

I mean, I pay attention to these things, and I’ve never even heard of the guy until his name popped up in this article, and the hack who wrote the piece offers no reasoning that this “congressional steering panel” (whoever the hell they are) is using to recommend the guy for this race. Off to Google we go ….

Okay, so he’s a former(?) Brooklyn CB10 chairman who has twice tried–and failed–in attempts to score a Brooklyn City Council seat:

43rd: Incumbent Vinny Gentile and fellow Democrat Steve Harrison both filed, as did Republicans Stephen M. Maresca and Pasqualino “Pat” Russo. Harrison, the Community Board 10 chairman who ran in the February special election and lost badly, reportedly filed just to keep his options open. But as one legislator told us, if it’s June and you’re still “keeping your options open,” it’s already too late to mount a serious campaign. [emphasis mine]

A stroll through BrooklynPapers.com’s archives offered up a bunch of references that, taken in total, makes Harrison seem just your run of the mill Brooklyn Dem political gadfly…who has never amounted to jack shit campaigning outside of his own neighbordhood community board’s confines.

Staten Island Democrat chairman John Lavelle:

Lavelle said the screening panel would present its recommendation to the Democratic executive committee tonight in the Central Family Life Center in Stapleton.

Lavelle said he didn’t know whether the executive committee would then immediately vote to endorse a candidate. “We’ll play it by ear,” he said.

For God’s sake, Lavelle, is this the best the Staten Island Democrat Party and your crack “steering panel” can come up with? Someone who has gone down in flames–twice–trying to score a a shitty City Council gig, and you’re even toying with the idea of running him for a Congressional seat in a borough where no one’s even heard of him before? Last time out, with Frank Barbaro, your party put up a guy with a track record. If you think Staten Island voters will give this guy any time you are out of your mind.

Running Harrison will bring new meaning to “sacrificial lamb.” It’ll be a bloodbath, with Vito winning in a landslide on both sides of the Narrows.

SOTU Reaction: “Meh”

The Jammie crew has a blogger roundup if such stuff tickles your fancy.

Me? Didn’t watch it. Too busy enjoying Kobe kicking the shit out of Dirtbag Dolan’s Knicks. I was hoping he’d torch the bejeezus out of them, ring up somewhere in the fifty-five/sixty range, but the Knicks hacked him so much he spent a huge chunk of his time on the foul line, tieing the house record for attempts (26) and setting an arena record for most free throws made in a game (23) on his way to a forty point night.

Larry Brown got his ass thrown out, which is what GM Isiah Thomas should have happen to his useless, inept ass for putting together the saddest bastards to ever suit up for b-ball at MSG. The Lip climbed all over the Knicks this morning:

This season that we are watching is embarrassing to all of them now, as the Garden becomes more a second-rate venue by the night. It is embarrassing to James Dolan, nothing more than an overmatched, second-rate caretaker of the place, all this time into his reign as the big boss. It is embarrassing to Isiah Thomas, whose record with the Knicks is now 76-104. And it is embarrassing to this coach, who got himself thrown out last night, seemed to throw in the towel the way his team did against Kobe and the Lakers.

And the obligatory extra “kick Dolan in the nutsack” riff:

Why should anybody think, after now watching the Knicks for half a season, that this current youth movement is anything more than the plan that will get Thomas to his next plan? Maybe he really will get as much time – and money – as Glen Sather did with the Rangers. Maybe Dolan thinks the Rangers finally turning things around is some sort of validation of his patience with Sather. If he does, he is a bigger fool about sports than anyone could have imagined.

Think about it this way: If Dolan is a free agent owner today, is there a sports fan anywhere who wants him to come buy his team?

It’s really driving me nuts, the way the Knicks have become a garbage team while across the river the Nets are the team showing they won’t roll over and quit.

Hearing the Garden’s rafters rock to fans chanting “Ko-be! MVP!” is borderline criminal. What’s worse, though, is knowing Dolan really couldn’t give a shit that on his watch, the Knicks, once second only to the Yankees when it came to owning the city’s sportsfans’ souls, are now held in utter contempt. The Lip sums it up:

Not so long after people treated Bryant like Public Enemy No.1 because of rape allegations in Colorado, he came into New York like it was just another stop on that tour. We like to think the night was special because of the setting. That was the old days. The night was special because of the opponent. Nothing more. Kobe made some from the outside. He made some nice kick-out passes. He made some drives. Got his points. The rest of it was extended garbage time. Like the season. You tell me one worse than this. At least the old Knicks could give Michael a game.

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