In honor of the great Larry Felser, the late Buffalo News sportswriter, sports editor and columnist who I have written about previously in this space, I will for the second time steal his creation, and declare that "It's one of those opinionated days."
Three subjects that have me thinking out loud.
Attorneys (You just have to love them)
Really, I mean that. Abraham Lincoln was an attorney. He was a great guy. So were Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. Two more, uh...guys. And nothing is more "welcome" on a hectic afternoon in the newsroom — when Jeff Cole and I are scrambling to get the latest news on regional flooding and a devastating fire in Canisteo — then an email from an attorney threatening me with subpoena, but doing it so politely!
Actually, the email was from a paralegal, working for a law firm somewhere, handling some lawsuit, I presume, related to some car crash back in 2012. She asks for "any and all documentation" including stories, photos, videos and "notes" related to the accident. I should hand them over at my "earliest convenience."
Then she added, "If a subpoena is needed, kindly advise."
No subpoena necessary, Miss Paralegal. I promised to look for unpublished photos, and forward the same. Published stories are fine as well. We frequently help people track down old published articles, and we are happy to do it.
But the notes are a non-starter. Finding my notes from a 21-month-old car accident is about as likely as finding a pot roast with all the trimmings simmering in the oven of my apartment. Not going to happen.
In any case, I wouldn't turn over my notes if I received a subpoena from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. And, don't get me wrong. I am not saying I would be legally covered. The courts have ruled that the First Amendment doesn't automatically shield journalists from disclosing their work product. Reporters have been found in contempt of court and sent to jail for refusing to reveal confidential sources or to turn over documents.
And that's where I would go, jail, before I did either of the above.
They are the best people in the world. I mean it. I walked over to the the Dollar Store Friday afternoon for a Diet Coke and a canister of Ranch Pringles (The Boy's favorite), and every customer in the long check-out line was talking about the fire photos and story on our website from Canisteo.
Folks were complimentary of the Tribune for getting the details out so quickly. They expressed concern about the family involved, and showed they were completely plugged in to the latest updates. And those incredible but heart wrenching photos from the fire? Submitted by our friend and loyal Tribune contributor, John Babbitt.
Do you know what makes our readers great? It's their connection to the newspaper. They don't just read it, they shower it with their photos, their stories, their suggestions, and yes, their criticisms.
Flood photos were coming in all day through email. Phone calls were letting us know where the latest problems were occurring. It makes me feel that what I do for a living really matters.
The people who buy our newspaper care about the newspaper. It's their's too.
I'll tell you when I will have cause to worry. It will be the day we accidentally leave out Dear Abby, or run the wrong comics page, or forget to jump a story, and nobody calls to complain. If nobody calls, that means nobody cares.
John Buckley's star is rising
Hornell 9th alderman John Buckley has to now be considered the favorite to be the next mayor in the Maple City. As my colleague Jeff Cole reports in today's newspaper, Buckley is expected to be appointed deputy mayor at Monday night's Common Council meeting.
Mayor Shawn Hogan has certainly indicated that he is in his final term as mayor, having served since 1986. While the deputy mayor's duties involve running meetings only when the mayor is out of town or not available, Buckley has pledged to use the new, non-paid position to spend more time with department heads and city workers, "learning more about their day-to-day operations."
Buckley was already the most high-profile member of the Common Council, even before his pending appointment to a two-year term. Buckley, through his popular town hall meetings, his chairmanship of the city's Republican Party and his association with conservative causes (anti-SAFE Act) and conservative figures like Assemblyman Bill Nojay and Donald Trump, should be acceptable to nearly every voter on the right. He has also shown a pragmatic side, eschewing politics and endorsing the Democratic mayor's re-election bid last fall. That should earn him some points from Democrats.
Admittedly, it is a long time before the next mayoral election in Hornell. Still, if Shawn Hogan is not running city hall after this term, John Buckley just may be the heir apparent.
Neal Simon is the city editor of The Evening Tribune.