ICYMI Month in Review for Monroe (May)
In case you missed it (ICYMI), and apparently a few did, a lot happened during the past month in Monroe. Let’s recap the madcap happenings that even we couldn’t even believe in this month’s #ICYMI: Month in Review.
TMACC opens with much ado about nothing.
ICYMI, which apparently most did, the Monroe Theater reopened on Memorial Day weekend with great fanfare from our town government and sparse attendance and interest from town (or county) residents. More accurately as we noted in our earlier piece on the theater, half of the theater opened. The other half of the theater remains dormant, but from the looks of it on opening weekend, the entire theater was the same way.
Opening fare included an Indie-release starring Ethan Hawke, a Disney “blockbuster” that was critically panned and became a dud (and not a Milk Dud, that would have been enjoyable), and a straight-to-video release about a children’s PBS character that was just as exciting as a documentary…about a children’s PBS character.
For those interested, the latter was available for home rental for under $7, the cost of a town resident admission for one at TMACC. Nor was anyone really surprised. While Downing Film Center is a respected organization (or ‘was’), their specialty is booking smaller independent releases and art films, not gauging public interest for mass-market blockbusters that will get people through the doors and fill the seats. And judging from attendance, the number of people working outnumbered attendance most of the weekend..
Winners: Downing Film Center for negotiating a sweetheart deal that lets them select films without much regard for popular appeal, and no incentive or penalties for poor box office draw.
Losers: Any film booked for the Grand Opening and The taxpayers of Monroe footing the bill for this mess.
White Elephant Award: Harley Doles for insisting on this part of Harleyland. Even “Tomorrowland” couldn’t save this ill-fated launch.
McWatters bows out, United Monroe endorses McGinn and Cardone.
ICYMI, with four months under his belt and very little to show for the effort, Dennis McWatters bowed out of a bid for re-election. Then just as quickly became the Republican candidate for Town Council, then once again bowed out.
We haven’t had much to say about McWatters term thus far as the minority member of the Town Board, other than his tenure hasn’t been remarkable and has shown quite a few missed opportunities and disappointments, among those being his approvals for theater expenditures despite his original stance on seeing a solid plan and realistic numbers. Without either, he voted to move forward with the theater’s contract with Downing. Moreover, the one instance where McWatters showed any assertion was his direct attack on the increased spending for winter road treatments in the wake of one of the harshest winters in recent record and a 30% increase in salt prices.
It confuses this site that McWatters would support the flimsy accounting of Peter Martin and expenditures on an unproven and unplanned endeavor, yet not support the safety of Monroe’s roads. While we thank Dennis for his service, it’s clearly time to ensure that the town moves in a more solid and reasonable fiscal direction. Given McWatters’ financial background, that’s what United Monroe had hoped in their support of him as a candidate, and those hopes have become larger disappointments. The task of serving for one year in order to run for re-election was a challenge that very few stepped forward to take, and a thankless one at that. So we applaud Dennis for his service and wish him well in future ventures, but look forward to turning the page now that others will have more time and stronger impact.
School board election elects three by a 4:1 margin.
ICYMI, Michael Salatto, Anthony Andersen, and Chris DiLorenzo easily won the three (3) seats up for election on the Monroe Woodbury School Board, easily beating back challenger Andrea Trust by a margin of 4:1. Voter turnout was lower than the prior election by about 10% with five (5) fewer candidates on the ballot.
The race appeared to become more of a referendum on Andrea Trust, however, when comments she had made during a candidate Q&A Forum on the subjects of busing and extracurricular activities received responses that made reference to Hispanics, Chinese and Indians, the latter groups without a clear connection to the original question.
Votes on the purchase of new buses and an increase in the School District budget were approved easily, a theme repeated in all school district elections in Orange County this year.
ICYMI, Boycotting the TMACC.
The grass-roots group, United Monroe, urged a boycott of the Monroe Theater under its municipal ownership (now known as TMACC) in a letter published in The Photo-News of Monroe, prompting what we will only term as a vitriolic tirade of anonymous comments and attacks that were clearly and carefully moderated by the publication to present the municipal position in a much better light. This isn’t surprising given a recent article by the publication’s editor, Bob Quinn, that extolled the virtues of the town having access to the theater, regardless of cost to taxpayers.
The vitriolic mud-slinging only became worse as the pattern of removing comments supporting the boycott became more obvious, and as the pattern of endorsed/condoned attacks on town citizens by anonymous commenters seemed to have found a protecting press.
This publication supports not funding the TMACC, but encourages all readers to shop, dine, and do business locally by supporting our local merchants and private enterprise. We discourage visible boycotts of the theater or public demonstrations, and trust that the readers of this website are intelligent enough to make logical and reasonable decisions.
Unlike those seemingly protected by The Photo-News.
Which brings us to our next topic…
The Photo-News Comment Moderation and Censorship
This publication has been observing and studying the editorial pattern of The Photo-News, as well as the manner in which commenting is moderated and the posted rules of conduct are enforced.
In plain English, The Photo-News doesn’t follow its own rules, and the conduct is very one-sided. Any comments in favor of town government are given white-glove treatment, regardless of their content or attacks. And also regardless of the seeming lack of education of the commenters, who don’t reflect very well on our educational system. Those comments even mildly critical of town government’s actions are either subject to anonymous attack (even in violation of the paper’s terms of service) or are censored and removed. We witnessed this done in a matter of minutes on several occasions, and captured several screens where those actions had taken place.
About 18 individuals had signed-on as supporting The Photo-News to be more responsible in its journalism and treatment of issues, and several had commented on the uneven moderation of its comments. A number of those individuals were contacted for follow-up discussions. It is our understanding as of the publication of this piece that those discussions were scheduled by Jeanne Straus, publisher of the Photo News, but had never occurred.
ICYMI, in response to the open-letter, this publication took the responsible position that Straus News’ condoning of such conduct amounted to the support of bad behavior, and that the only responsible action was to post ALL comments and activity in as anonymous a fashion as possible to avoid being blocked by the paper at your IP address. To that end, we published a multi-part “How-To” Guide which we strongly recommend reading before anyone posts or responds to the condoned and inappropriate behavior of those that Straus News deems to favor. We’ve even offered a platform for Straus to respond to the criticism, a stance that has not been acknowledged or accepted to date.
Our view is that our town deserves a fair, honest, and accurate treatment for news. The Photo-News is not it, nor are we confident that it will be. Moreover, permitting public comments to digress into mud-slinging or a “shit-show”, for lack of a more appropriate term, does a disservice to the paper. There are other outlets for information, and increasingly those are not dropped in your mailbox every week as we become more accustomed to receiving information quickly. The sooner The Photo-News learns the new dynamic, the better product it will become.
And if not, something else will replace it. Your responsible comments are welcomed.
For Short Attention Spans…
In short-subjects for this month, we’re awaiting a more “public-facing” venue for the Town to notify people of upcoming events at TMACC. For now, you need to subscribe to the town’s mailing list, and each e-mail prominently features the studio portrait of our Town Supervisor. Enough Harley! Get us information, save us from your picture plastered on everything. You aren’t Eddie Diana.
The Kiryas Joel Annexation review session is June 10th. The Draft Environmental Statement is a total sham, it doesn’t match the statements in their documents to the pipeline lenders, and they’re looking to fast-track the annexation quickly. Make sure to attend in force, and get there early. They’ll need to compress their segregated seating.
Contact your State Legislators (James Skoufis and Karl Barbenec) and State Senator Bill Larkin to thank them for supporting legislation that will address our concerns with this and future annexations. And let’s thank the bi-partisanship our legislators are finally showing in acknowledging the concerns of Orange County, as well as the Orange County legislators who supported a $200,000 parallel study by a 20-1 vote (the lone opposition was Michael Amo, who represents KJ).
And that’s a wrap!
That’s this month’s #ICYMI: Month in Review. See you in July!