Mirrors for Mayors: The Press, Opinion, and Freelance Writers

PORT JERVIS, N.Y. — Less than a week after his hopeful State of the City Address for a Port Jervis “that still needs nurturing to succeed,” Mayor Kelly Decker has, as many in the city would characterize, came out of his face.

Monday, in a letter-made-public-rebuttal on his Facebook Page, to a Sunday piece by the Times Herald-Record under the editorial tagline “Our Opinion,” entitled “A methadone clinic is not a crime scene,” Decker not only calls out the Record’s editor, Barry Lewis but also calls the newspaper in.

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While plausible arguments are made by the Port Jervis Mayor, he goes on to completely flout arguments such as this one:

“Numbers, percentages, and statistics can be skewed in many different ways depending on the presenter’s angle.”

Mayor Kelly Decker

By leading with this aside before what should be the meat and potatoes staple of his argument, Decker builds up a strawman, an easy target to set ablaze. A simple reframing to make the dominoes fall easier, per se.

Nonetheless, those dominoes fall in both directions.

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As Decker goes on to “assert that [Lewis’s] math is wrong” he has already given readers contrary to his viewpoint an out. Whatever math he cited, became all methed up, when he cast doubt upon mathematics as a whole prior to playing the Texas sharpshooter. He lost those that he needed on his side as he attacked the publication.

Yes, the letter was “a response” to the editor of the Times Herald-Record, Lewis, regardless, here a few factors that make this more of a political attack:
  1. It was an opinion piece, and as such, didn’t necessarily merit such an official response as taking to the Elected Official Page that his Facebook is. Perhaps simply a letter-made-public-rebuttal on his personal page would have sufficed.
  2. Decker’s political, elected official position put him at a disadvantage for a fair fight against the editor of a counterbalance of government.
  3. Decker’s logical argumentation in his letter is riddled with fallacies.

Lewis, the editor of the Times Herald-Record deals in a world of changing opinions and changing headlines. It’ll be perceived as a political attack from the Mayor’s office not only because of these three factorss but most of all because of public opinion.

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One: Opinion

In the end, shouldn’t matter to the Mayor, as many who read opinion pieces have already made up their minds, they’ve already voiced their own opinions and they have already signed their positions’ petitions.

“Once formed,” the researchers observed dryly, “impressions are remarkably perseverant.”

The New Yorker, Feb. 27, 2017

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Two: Authority

Now the inseparable quality of their positions immediately puts Decker at a disadvantage: Mayor of Port Jervis versus Editor of the Times Herald-Record. Not a pretty fight. Nor a fair fight.

Though it didn’t have to be a bout.

The majority of Port Jervis constituents would likely agree, that Donald J. Trump as President could teach mayoral successors a thing or two about responding to the media:

  • When put into a defensive position, don’t show it:
    Deny, deny, deny.
  • When refuting statements, as there’s no option for denial: use keywords that fire up your base and monosyllabic words and arguments that are guaranteed to win public opinion.

 

Don’t do as Decker did. But don’t do any of the above either. The media is wise to it all. Readers, listeners, and viewers, too.

Not responding at all, would have been the denial. Yet, Decker chose to tear off his suit, snap his Port Pride singlet and dive headstrong into the muddied ring for a political King-of-the-Hill match.

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Three: Logic

Although the location has already been ruled out, there were, and still are, three positions available in the methadone clinic debate. As a reporter, here not discussing either of the former, being of the latter position: for the clinic, against the clinic, and neither for nor against the clinic.

This writer puts aside the journalist hat now and dons the hat that she studied in college: philosophy and linguistics. Mostly philosophy as logic is delved into here past the Texas Sharpshooter data cherrypicker argument. This is the writer’s playground, and those in politics could learn from this and avoid unnecessary future debate and compunction.

Editor of the Times Herald-Record, Barry Lewis: making positions for the cure of addiction, for the clinic.

Mayor of Port Jervis, Kelly Decker, coming from a position of the war on drugs: on record, against the clinic.

While most readers opposite to Decker’s view may stop at his first paragraph, they’re surprisingly not alone. Even those that agree that a methadone clinic is unnecessary in the city stop at the argument that he presents. It’s a no true Scotsman argument that precedes a genetic argument.

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Paragraph-by-paragraph

A genetic argument is one that means most of the following logic relies upon the first clause. That first clause here is an argument similar to an ad hominem, or an attack on one’s character rather than their argument: it’s a no true Scotsman argument. It’s an argument that focuses on the purity of one’s position, which sounds a lot like Nikki Minaj.

That’s not even including the child-human shield appeal to emotion argument ending the tu quoque “Let’s begin with this question” paragraph where the critique is turned 180 from Decker to Lewis.

“What do you know about Port Jervis? Clearly, you hardly know nothing about us at all! Except for one public forum about the opioid epidemic in our community, you have been non-existent in this community for at least the last 4 years. You didn’t even have the decency to respond to an email that I sent to you back on June 12, 2017 that said how dismayed I was with your paper and their lack of coverage for our Soap Box Derby. This is a kid-friendly event that brings thousands of people to our city each year and there was not one mention of it in your paper. However, now you feel compelled to write about a free or reduced pay clinic that wants come to our city? Your priorities are clearly miscued.”

Mayor Kelly Decker

To the point within the no true Scotsman argumentation by Decker, I have to insert my agreement. Indeed, the newspaper requires more coverage of the “city that is on the move.” If it’s of any solace to either party in this regard, I offer my services as a freelance writer and reporter.

Paragraph Two

Again, Nikki Minaj. Since she’s so relevant here, enjoy a video:

The following paragraph is the foremost example of the Texas Sharpshooter logical fallacy. The one referenced above is a muddled example to heat up the conversation about logic. Decker would have been better off simplifying this letter down to, or at least, leading with this second sentence in his fifth paragraph:

“I have never said ‘No.’ I said put it in a medical facility, especially one with detox and mental health.”

Mayor Kelly Decker

Decker may have also done very well leading with the knowledge that he personally has. Rather than trying to chop up the data that was served against him. For instance, without condescension:

“… your [claim] that I am making the situation more dangerous. […] it’s called Mens Rea, or the guilty mind of criminal intent, and then acting on that criminal intent is Actus Reus. The majority of Cornerstone’s clientele are heroin attacks. Heroin is illegal. [….] Therefore, these patients not only have Mens Rea but also Actus Reus and those are the people I don’t want invited to our city […]”

Mayor Kelly Decker

The next few paragraphs are called a bandwagon argument. It’s not that critical and really only acts as a public support rallying cry. Trump is great at using this, however, Decker should steer clear of it, and stick to the simplest of facts. He doesn’t need to reassert his position as an elected official in this way, especially not so deep into an already messy argument, but perhaps could have opened with some of his own facts rather than refuting those offered by Lewis.

Before his closing paragraph, he sets up a nice strawman argument against the Editor. The alcohol and criminality strawman. If the Mayor had used alcohol and criminality statistics, along with his own facts, in a second paragraph, he would have solidified a solid logical argument.

In closing, Decker uses another purity, or, no true Scotsman argument. He follows it with my favorite logical fallacy: the loaded question. This writer is going to do him a service, free of charge: reorganize and rescue what can be in a whole new letter:

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Letter to the Editor:
re: “A methadone clinic is not a crime scene.”

For starters, “I have never said ‘No.’ I said put [the methadone clinic] in a medical facility, especially one with detox and mental health.”

“Your [claim] that I am making the situation more dangerous [is unfounded…] It’s called Mens Rea, or the guilty mind of criminal intent, and [to then act] on that criminal intent is Actus Reus. The majority of Cornerstone’s clientele are heroin [addicts]. Heroin is illegal. [….] Therefore, these patients not only have Mens Rea but also Actus Reus[,] and those are the people I don’t want [to be] invited to our city[.]”

“[I invite you to hire more reporters for our growing city to see that there’s more than only an] opioid epidemic in our community[. For instance, there could be more coverage of city revenue-driving events, such as] our Soap Box Derby. This is a kid-friendly event that brings thousands of people to our city each year[.]”

Short and sweet.

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2018’s Port Jervis Women’s March

PORT JERVIS, N.Y.  — Yesterday, Saturday, Jan. 20, over 200 individuals came in respects to sister marches happening across the state, and around the nation, in solidarity with disempowered women and especially those most at-risk with the current Presidential Administration.


“Ignite people into action.”

Patty Baughman

St_PetersAt the St Peter’s Lutheran Church in Port Jervis an estimated 250 individuals gathered for the first anniversary of the March. Last year, in sheer protest of President Trump’s inauguration, 800 demonstrators, according to organizer Patty Baughsman, packed the streets for the 1.5-mile march through Port Jervis. This year, in respect to those less able to make the hike, the March route was cut short to a tenth of a mile, with handfuls staying behind at the Church.

Get another idea of what it was like here.

Here you’ll find the top five greatest signs at Port’s Women’s March.

First organized, last year, as the brain-baby of her friend, Gaye Hartwig, the March was pulled together by Baughman a week before the event.

In addition to suggesting the work of Sojourners, a faith and political organization in Washington, D.C., when asked what Hartwig would hope people took away from what she had to say Saturday, she answered that it could be summed up by verse:

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Matthew 25:40, New International Version

A half-dozen women spoke across several topics all including the importance of getting involved, supporting those that are marginalized, and of course, getting out the vote. Pastor Aaron Baughman closed the preceding speeches before the event-goers moved to the street to demonstrate and protest.

The women who spoke ranged from members of the Church and the community to local activists and politicians. After Patty Baughman opened the floor this was the lineup:

  • Gaye Hartwig
  • Aileen Gunther — New York Assemblywoman  D-Forestburgh (keynote speaker)
  • Melissa Martin — full-time mother and community activist
  • Pramilla Malick — Protect Orange County Chair, and a recent candidate for office
  • Julika von Stackelberg — Cornell Cooperative Extension Orange County, Parenting and Family Life Educator
  • Michele McKeon — RECAP, Chief Operating Officer

Audio samples, so that you can be there without being there, and transcriptions, for continued discussion, forthcoming.

An Ending Note here:

It was interesting to see many women, children, and men (sadly no doggos tho) wearing pink, eared hats. The Pussyhat (like “pussycat”) as a number of ralliers had relayed, including member of the local activist group DemBones, Linda Louise, that the hat was a response to “grab them by the pussy,” a statement made by Donald Trump as “locker room talk” prior to the 2016 Presidential race.  However, this topic was avoided in the recent Times Herald-Record article about the event, avoiding the controversy of the word. Louise commented that the hat is to fight back against the misogyny of Trump, and not to perpetuate transmisogyny as someone she follows on Twitter, Tamela J Gordon, believes.


This post is in addition to Silence and Strategy, the Weekly Photo Challenge by the Daily Post, as well as their Daily Prompt, respectively.

 

 

 

4 Parts US Compromise for Dreamers

“By the time the Tuesday discussions came to a close, lawmakers had agreed to focus on a narrow plan that includes four main components: a permanent solution for DACA recipients, border security and reforms to the diversity-visa lottery program and what the President calls “chain-migration,” or when immigrants sponsor relatives to join them in the U.S.”

via Congress May Be Moving Closer to a Compromise on Dreamers — TIME

Useless Executive Orders, “Great, Great” Broadband

President Donald Trump bragged to the American Farm Bureau Association convention in Nashville, Tennessee on Monday that two new executive orders he’s signed will help solve the lingering problem of terrible rural broadband speeds. According to the Reuters account, the orders make it “easier for the private sector to locate broadband infrastructure on federal land and buildings” […]

via Donald Trump’s Executive Orders on ‘Great, Great’ Rural Broadband Don’t Really Do Anything: — redlegagenda

NY Salvadorans Panic, 200k Protected Statuses Revoked

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Trump administration has revoked protected status for 200,000 immigrants from El Salvador, which means they could be deported if they don’t leave on their own. WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman spoke to Salvadoran families in New York who fear they’ll be torn apart. Rodman Sorano’s parents have been living in the…

via New York’s Salvadoran Families Fear TPS Roll Back Will Tear Them Apart — CBS New York

NY Sen. Schumer Calls for Fentanyl Screening

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer urged President Donald Trump to sign legislation that would allow U.S. Customs and Border Protection to buy portable screening equipment to detect the powerful opioid fentanyl before it enters the United States. Schumer said Sunday that the bill that passed both houses of Congress last year…

via Sen. Schumer Urges Trump To Sign Fentanyl-Screening Bill — CBS New York

TheBreez – Dec. 14, 2017

Quote of the Day

“FAKE NEWS, he should be fired.” – President Trump’s Twitter call-to-action for the termination of Washington Post photojournalist Dave Weigel. The crowd size may remain contested!

Net Neutrality: Where Freedom Lies

The Story

Leading up to this week, readers may have seen something somewhere about Net Neutrality. Well that FCC vote was today at 10:30 a.m. EST. This, is where we are now:

The deets once more…

The FCC, chaired by Republican Ajit Pai, will vote today on the repeal of Democrat-created regulations which prohibit Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) from practices such as blocking websites, slowing down connection speeds and charging extra for faster delivery of content. Opponents of net neutrality, ISP lobbyists, have their fingers crossed about the vote,  in the name of their bottom lines.  Internet users, young people especially, have their fingers crossed in the opposite direction on this one.

Portugal’s internet without neutrality…

If you saw that Image on Facebook of Portugal’s internet… this one… meo

It may be “fake news,” but that could be the reality without net neutrality. As the EU may have  net neutrality, MEO, Portugal’s provider, does offer data packages as shown. This might be the direction the US ISP’s go if it proves to be profitable for companies like Comcast.

The polls are closed…

The clock struck midnight at 10:30 this morning for Net Neutrality. With a 3-to-2 vote successfully repealing the regulations, we can now expect some vast changes to internet service in the next year. This year’s Republican tagline reads: slash and burn.

theBreez

Whether in fact the FCC in this vote, is “helping consumers and promoting competition” has yet to be seen, but one thing looks clear: corporations and Republicans will both seize the day on this one. Even if not in full force after Alabama voted.

Caught in TheBreez

And in local news…

Orange County legislator Thomas Faggione criticized Mayor Kelly Decker over Port Jervis tax hikes. A point of contention that was mentioned was the 0.40 percent of that increase which solely goes to doubling the mayor’s salary to $40,000. Former city mayor, Gary Lopriore also criticized Decker about the proposal back in November.

We can work from home…

A new study reveals that working from home is more beneficial to most employees. Not only are people happier working from home, but more efficient in doing so! One catch however… the escape from home and isolation, is a desirable trait in a workspace.

More than hot dogs and poop emojis…

Snapchat is breaking open the world of augmented reality (AR). Dancing pigeons move over, because with Snap’s  launch of Lens Studio, anyone with a desktop or laptop computer can make their own AR dancing character. The holiday gift that just keeps on giving.