There have been recent protests in Albany by the Poor People’s Campaign. These protests, which have disrupted traffic in the downtown Albany area, are designed as a non-violent alert to the systemic problems of racism and police brutality and pay inequality. Noble effort, to be sure.
The City of Albany sent the organizers of the Poor People’s Campaign a bill for $1,451, a bill for police coverage and the mitigation of disruptive public services.
To say that the Times Union, Albany’s paper of record, lost their mind over the issue, is an understatement.
Now the Times Union is allowed their opinion. They argue that the organization known as the Poor People’s Campaign should not receive a bill charging them for a peaceful protest is rather clueless, because hey, they’re poor people and they’re campaigning …
But here’s the rub. When Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan tried to answer the TU’s editorial with a letter of her own, and sent that letter to the TU for publication…
The Times Union turned her request away.
Think about that for a second. The TU, in their editorial, asked Mayor Sheehan to comment on the city’s reasons for billing the Poor People’s Campaign for the protest and disruption of city services. Mayor Sheehan obliged, but the TU chose not to run her response in their paper. In other words, the Times Union chastises the mayor for a perceived stifling of free speech … then they turn around and stifle her free speech response.
For the record, Mayor Sheehan posted her response letter on her blog, which I have linked here.
Here’s the thing. I believe in what the Poor People’s Campaign wants to achieve. I want a safer society. I want job and pay equity. I want a Capital District devoid of gun violence and poverty and the like.
And I may not agree with how Mayor Kathy Sheehan runs Albany. Heck, it shouldn’t even matter to me, since i don’t live within the city limits. Besides, the biggest concern the mayor in my Town and Village has is that she tries to scare all the migrating geese away with a sound cannon. You don’t want goose poop all over the grass, now do you?
But if the Times Union truly fancies themselves as the paper of record for the Capital Region, and they call out an inequity that they perceive, then they should be prepared to allow a response from that party. By not doing so, the paper provides slanted, biased coverage of the news. That’s Big Hearst for you, always staying classy.
As I said before, I’m not defending the city issuing a bill to the campaign. What I am defending, however, is the opportunity for Mayor Sheehan to state her reasons for doing so, especially when the TU challenged her IN PRINT about her actions.
Instead of operating under the words of Evelyn Beatrice Hall – “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” – and instead is operating under the words of Jim Rome – “You’re entitled to your opinion, unless you disagree with me, in which case you’re wrong.”
Oh, and a message to Mayor Sheehan – welcome to my blog’s blogroll. I may disagree with what you write, but you’re more than welcome to write it.
I’ll waive the elected official’s blogging rental rate of $1,451 for now. 😀