Audit Right There!: Debriefing of the Small Town Journalist

You’ll notice that this isn’t marked under news but blog. I almost didn’t write this article at all. In fact, today was almost my last day in the career track of journalism.

After this post, I’m switching focuses. I’ll still attend meetings and write about anything that intrigues me, correct the record and all that, but I’m staying away from the city that I grew up in.


It’s two-faced.

Janus will say that he hates the local political games, hate-bating and pandering and that he wants to change things. As soon as you walk away however, the Port Jervis god will only spit profanities and vitriol on your journey home.

Liars. Or are they? Where exactly is the truth in what people say? There has to be some somewhere.

That’s one thing I may stay in town for though it doesn’t come close to the higher purpose of rending the newsworthy facts that citizens need in order to live, learn and grow.

It may be interesting to know how much of a statement is true or honest when people say marvelous things. I’d rather learn how we can all create a common ground, but that doesn’t seem to be the place people like me. I’ll just keep smiling silently then.

It’s not easy being the one to tell others that more communication is necessary, because if they don’t communicate already, they don’t believe that they need to. Omitting the truth is just as much a lie, no?


Here’s the story:

I was hot on the trail of a risk assessment — a “pre-audit” — in the city, performed by State Comptroller, Thomas P. DiNapoli’s office.

The glance at documentation tediously gathered by the city clerk’s office is a determining moment before deciding whether there were next steps for the city to take or even a full state audit to be conducted.

The state risk assessment began Jan. 23.


Mayor Kelly Decker replied this morning that there was no such necessitation according to what the state had concluded that day.

However, that doesn’t end the journey of auditing.

The city performs its own annual internal audit as well. This is when the firm Bonaddio comes in and does a thorough search through the city’s documentation. This organization has been used for years according to City Clerk Robin Waizenegger.


“…closer to 4%.”

Kristin Trovei

Even with the consistent auditing the city’s fund balance has fallen in the past decade to more than “unhealthy” lows.

In an article in the Times Herald-Record, responding to the village of Walden’s status, Brian Burry, spokesman for the state comptroller’s office, stated that having a fund balance of ten percent of total municipal expenses was a “healthy” goal.

Waizenegger sallied that fifteen percent, or just under a sixth of the city’s expenses, was a more appropriately called “healthy” fund balance.

That’s the process that the city goes through every year. To be clear, that’s enough for me. If there was to be more done, that would have been fine too.


This brings us back to my rant at the beginning.

Most people use Facebook these days. According to Pew Research Center, only eleven percent of people in the U.S. don’t use social media. Of the other eighty-nine percent that do, more than half use Facebook, and more than half of that half, use it everyday, multiple times a day, to read, take in news, and catch up with friends and family.

For that reason, I’ve been taking my calls for sources and comments from Twitter to Facebook.

Most recently I called attention to feelings about budgeting, finance, spending and city revenues following this pre-audit.


“…negative posts…”

It got the usual respondents, those that may have something negative to say. Those that still don’t feel that their representative government is taking the right actions in allaying these worries. Yet, there are also those that are more optimistic.

My question was plain, and any more middle of the rode it would have been flying high up next to the pie-in-the-sky.

The difficulty in remaining, and being seen as impartial, was turned on blast when politics stepped in on the post: a blanket shaming that served to discredit the question and any comments anyone had in the thread.

Even though replies were asked to be made as a “DM” or direct message to me, rather than comments.

The most heartbreaking part was the source of the political reaction. Someone that I had interviewed several times and was starting to feel friendly towards.

Perhaps there’s something to be learned in the old saying, “keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.”


Losing Books is Why I’m Choosing Scribd

I love reading. One of my favorite things to do, is read several books on a subject, all at once, and take notes on their overlap and relativity. My goal with my reading like this, is something I picked up by going to college.

You’d go to class, and be expected to have read 30 pages out of five books, on one or two subjects, per class. That’s what I’m doing now. I’m building my own classes.

I start by researching the different classes in a study that I want to learn. For instance, I’m currently studying the same classes you can find syllabi online for in journalism. This means, I’m replicating assignments from home, and reading all the same books.

This also means that in between jobs, I have at one time, at least a single book on me. Here is where the title of this article comes in. I lost a book the other day.

The ImperfectionistsThe Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved the book. It’s amazing how informative novels can be. Especially on a psychological level.

I didn’t reeeeally finish the book. I lost it… But I got passed all the parts, I think, that I had wanted, and set out, to read.

I aspire to be a journalist. So I definitely add this to that shelf. A great a starter for a young self-taught journo and citizen journalists everywhere.

View all my reviews

The book was an intro to journalism and the newsroom novel. It kicked butt for how much of an easy read it was, it’s subject matter of course, the vocabulary, the characters, the smaller stories, and the way each perspective was linked together. It was a beautiful book while I had it.

Well, somewhere between having a shit day, and reading, I lost my book. I put it down. Someone recognized  for all of its glory. Whatever. The point is this: I cried.

Those tearsmeant a lot to me. I was at the end of the book. The final pages were within sight.

While,it would be tragic to lose all of my books at once, perhaps there’s something good in a Kindle Fire or something. I don’t know yet, because I’ve never tried it. Well, that time has come.

I’m going to dip my toes into e-reading. Especially as someone that’s looking at publishing an e-book or two, I figure, it’s about time that I know what the market is like.

I’m starting simple however. I’m enrolling for Scribd, and starting with Audiobooks. I’m going to finish off the hard copies in my stack of books, and then I’m going to see how many of those journalism class books I can find on there, and hopefully for free.

Stay tuned for updates!
Do you use an e-reader or Scribd? Tell me about your experience!

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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.



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:


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.

Poetry Response to a Friend’s Article

Is Print Media really dying?
Either way, I’m already crying.
No way the few papers are lying.
No doubt for this fact     Time’s Up.
Reverse of Times, sign a planet’s dying.



—— Person of the Year ——

The Story

Since President Trump “turned down” Time’s Person of the Year, the rightful cover-space went to those people, mostly women, that came forward this year, for justice.

The Silence Breakers…

Time’s Person of the Year cover goes to women, such as Ashley Judd, who in October of this year was the domino that caused the fallout of brave women, and men, when she came forward about sexual harassment she was victim to in 1997, by Harvey Weinstein. Since then, brave individuals  have come forward about a plethora of people who have acted sexually against others from a position of power. That power has in the past made the use of unwanted sexual advances and obscene remarks commonplace.

Who’s been fingered?

The list is massive!: New York Metropolitan Opera conductor James Levine, NBC News anchor Matt Lauer,  CBS News, PBS and Bloomberg journalist and host Charlie Rose, New York Times White House political journalist and correspondent Glenn Thrush, hip-hop producer Russell Simmons, actor Jeffrey Tambor, Minnesota Senator Al Franken, NBC News Senior Vice President for Booking Matt Zimmerman, “Arrow,” “Supergirl,” etc. executive producer Andrew Kreisberg,  Alabama Republican Senatorial candidate Roy Moore,  comedian Louis C.K.,  actor Steven Seagal, actor Ed Westwick,  Hollywood producer Brett Ratner, actor Dustin Hoffman, actor Jeremy Piven, NPR news chief Michael Oreskes, actor Kevin Spacey, NBC senior political analyst Mark Halperin, former President George H. W. Bush, celebrity photographer Terry Richardson,  literary critic and former editor for The Atlantic and New Republic Leon Wieseltier, Hollywood writer and director James Toback, celebrity chef John Besh, Harvey’s brother Bob Weinstein, director Oliver Stone, Amazon studios chief Roy Price, and actor Ben Affleck, in addition to Harvey Weinstein.

“One phone call and you’re done”

Those who know, those who don’t know, and those who aren’t sure about what they know all become complicit parties in malfeasance, whether of a sexual nature or another. The variations in complicity by casting a vote for a particular tax plan for instance, whether for a candidate federally or locally:

You either don’t vote because you don’t care, but aren’t necessarily voting against a terrible, maybe horribly sexist, bill or action somehow else is doing, or are voting regardless of which one, you’re not really wonderfully convinced about any, but you’re faithful, or you could know exactly what you’re voting for, vote for it and get it.

Sen. Al F-inally!

On the other hand with this issue, Democrats, including our very own Kirsten and Chuck, in the Senate are turning on Franken after a second allegation completed the thunder-clap! of his final days in Congress, and perhaps, politics entirely. But there may still be more promising time in comedy! Or not.  


We’re really glad that the Senate is doing something and victims are getting the strong support they deserve in the spotlight of media and government. The Silence Breakers, like whistleblowers are incredibly important to the ultimate fairness of our system. Our ways of life, and our hopes for the future.

— Caught in TheBreez 

The wrap-up…

Exactly next week (Thurs. Dec. 14), the FCC is set to vote on chairman Ajit Pai’s proposal to remove net neutrality protections. Hollywood hills is burning! And Chelsea Handler may just be right that President Donald Trump is setting the world ablaze.

— Enjoying TheBreez?

Let me know!
TheBreez will be picking a day! Coming out weekly, every Thursday morning before 10 a.m. catch hot and local stories, and one piece by yours truly.
A name change may be coming soon… wuddya like to help?

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