May 22, 2004

Republican County Chair controversy in ICSD

Dryden news is quiet today in the Ithaca Journal, but the opinion page has some sparks which affect at least part of Dryden.

In today's letters from readers, Tompkins County Republican Committee Chairman Mark Finkelstein complains of criticism for his "decision to write a personal letter to local Republicans encouraging them to vote for a certain candidate for ICSD school board, to consider voting for only one candidate and to vote against the proposed school budget."

Finkelstein's letter, while it may have been paid for with private funds and is marked personal, nonetheless was written to Republicans, has a GOP elephant logo at its top, identifies him plainly as the Chairman of the Tompkins County Republican Committee twice, and cites "outgoing ICSD board member and good Republican Henry Kramer". Finkelstein appears to have forgotten that school board elections are non-partisan by design in New York State, and that endorsing a candidate and a budget position this way represents a large step into the race. (I have to wonder whether Finkelstein really wants party partisanship in school district races in the long run, as that would appear to be suicidal for Republicans in the Ithaca district at least.)

Finkelstein appears upset that Dryden County Legislator Martha Robertson had written a pair of letters criticizing his action and encouraging voters to support the budget. Once he opened the partisan battle, I don't think he has any right to be upset that he gets pushback from elected officials who don't happen to share his views or his party.

While I do cover schools here, I take the (supposedly) non-partisan nature of school elections seriously. I made a point of not endorsing candidates or budgets in the recent elections (though I don't think my opinion on that would sway anyone anyway). At the end of his letter to the editor, Finkelstein proclaims "Let a thousand flowers bloom!", but forgets that flowers in the wrong place are often called weeds.

If Finkelstein wanted to send messages about the school board election and not face these kinds of angry complaints that he's interfering inappropriately, he could have sent them on his own personal stationery to the Ithaca Journal, without his party title. He doesn't appear to have helped his candidate or his cause succeed in any event.

Also in letters, Kimberley Kathan writes to encourage Republican voters in New York's 24th Congressional District, which includes the Town of Dryden, to vote for Sherwood Boehlert rather than David Walrath in the upcoming primary. (The Auburn Citizen reports that an aide to the Walrath campaign has been sending out fake letters.)

Ithaca Journal Managing Editor Bruce Estes, who lives in Dryden, writes about the Journal's fight against a subpoena for their web site records, and Dryden Schools Superintendent Pat Archambault sends a laurel to Dryden Sertoma, Swan's Cycles, and Target for a bike rodeo and safety event.

Posted by simon at May 22, 2004 12:41 PM in ,
Note on photos