Truth in journalism?

“If your mother says she loves you, check it out,” is a long-gone standard for journalists now too often in heated rush to beat the competition.

Personally, I always appreciated former Freeman editor Ed Paladino’s “if it ain’t true, it oughta be” consolation when a juicy, scurrilous, vicious story about some prominence panned lead.

Two such stories were mined – and dashed – from Thursday’s monthly Ulster Regional Chamber of commerce meet- the-mayoral candidates breakfast in Kingston.

Minor party candidate Vince Rua raised eyebrows in his closing remarks in asking Democratic incumbent Steve Noble to “pledge he won’t accept any other job offer” (presumably if reelected in November).

Noble ignored the comment, but like any number of people in that packed house at Best Western, I had heard rumors that Hizzoner might soon be following former county exec Mike Hein and comptroller Elliott Auerbach to greener pastures in Albany government.

If your mother says…so I checked in with the mayor.

Acknowledging the rumor with an annoyed nod, he said without hesitation, “I have not had an offer. I will not accept an offer. I plan to be around here for a long time.”

“Now, that’s Shermanesque!” I said.  

He knew what I meant, but for those who slept through this session of history class, when Civil War hero Gen. William Sherman (“Uncle Billy” to his troops) was offered the Republican nomination for president in 1880, he refused, declaring, “I will not run if nominated. I will not serve if elected.” Ever since, a “Shermanesque statement” has meant an unequivocal “no!”  

Noble did leave himself a little wriggle room; he is a practicing politician, after all.  He wouldn’t be working in Albany, Ga, which means he could still “be around here for a long time.” As I know my momma loved me (she got down on her knees and hugged me), I will take the mayor at his word.

The other story has to do with leakage, which, of course, depends on the source.

A snoop I occasionally consult offered a tantalizing tidbit this week. “Have you heard that Pat Ryan donated thousands of dollars this year to the Democratic state committee?” he whispered in my cocked ear. I had not. I find reading Greek easier than poring over campaign finance statements.

“Isn’t Ryan supposed to be raising money, not giving it away?” I asked. He offered documentation.

Sure enough, right from Ryan’s own filings with the state board of elections were three transfers in April to the state committee totaling some $40,000.


Ryan, an amiable guy, will chat with almost anybody, even nosy reporters. I tracked down the departing executive in the Best Western parking lot with a wuzzup.  Like Nobel, he wasn’t a bit surprised by the question.

“It’s pretty simple,” he said. “The state committee has a better postal rate on mailings than we do. (I had noticed the state’s logo on his mailings.) “We were just paying them back.”

Case closed? Maybe, but revealing.  If Ryan spent north of 40K on mailings in a special election (to bury Republican Jack Hayes) imagine the firepower he’ll bring to the general in November.

Oh, yeah, the mayoral debate. More on that to come. 

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