Briefing Book: The Awards

It’s time once again to move the funny stuff to this side of the page and hand out Briefing Book’s Christmas bouquets and brickbats — The Awards.

The Awards are presented for things that didn’t happen in Lewisboro in 2012 but should have and, happily for Ledger columnists, things that shouldn’t have happened but did. Mostly, The Awards recognize things we always wanted to comment on here at Briefing Book but that, as the year unfolded, didn’t merit anything more than witty asides and pithy editorial quips.

So finish hanging that “Chris Christie for President!” poster, then pour yourself a stiff single malt, hold on to your wallet, and prepare to leap over that fiscal cliff — the envelopes please!

Leaders of the Katonah-Lewisboro teachers’ union can unwrap the “God Rest Ye Merry Garbage Men — We Mean It, Please Give It a Rest” Award for their yearlong effort to undo the appointment of schools Superintendent Dr. Paul Kreutzer. Their campaign culminated in the now infamous Dec. 13 school board meeting, at which the union leaders dumped a six-page document chock-full of personal attacks against Dr. Kreutzer, accusing him of just about everything except being the second gunman in the Kennedy assassination. Union leaders Geoff Curtis and Paul Saloom win the “Keep This Up, Guys, and the Only Labor the Voters Will Support in 2013 Will Occur during Childbirth” Award.

The Katonah-Lewisboro school board wins the “OK, Who Are You and What Have You Done with the Katonah-Lewisboro School Board?” Award for its vigorous denunciation of the “unfortunate” and “confrontational” behavior exhibited by the teachers’ union leaders two Thursdays ago. We haven’t seen a group handle an ambush like that since Han, Luke, and Leia got caught in the Death Star’s garbage masher. And Dr. Kreutzer wins the “Grace Under Fire” Award for the professionalism and good humor he displayed at that meeting and throughout the year, proving once again that the winners the Wisconsin Badgers produce aren’t just on the football field.

Speaking of Mr. Saloom, though, we have to confess to a sneaking admiration for the man. Turns out this John Jay High School history teacher has an auto-signature appended to his email that reads: “The C Students Run the World — Harry S Truman.” We like C students as much as the next kid who dozed off during history class, but we’re not suggesting that they should have jobs even before they graduate. Still, any union leader who encourages impressionable young minds to consider an atom-bomb-dropping, Berlin-Airlifting, Korean-War-fighting, Cold War Democrat as a role model can’t be all bad. So we salute Mr. Saloom and bestow on him this year’s William F. Buckley Jr. Memorial “Just as Long as the World Isn’t Run by the Teachers’ Union” Award.

The “I Swear We Did This Joke Last Year” Award goes to NYSEG for managing to go from taking five days to restore our power during the outages in 2011 to taking 11 days to restore our power during the outage in 2012. Going from bad to worse in just two seasons earns NYSEG the “Even the New York Jets Didn’t Deliver This Badly … OK, They Did, But You Guys Don’t Play Football!” Award.

In other political headlines of 2012, the “Do You Really Want the MTA Deciding If the Revolution Will Be Televised?” Award goes to outgoing Assemblyman Bob Castelli, who tried unsuccessfully to get the MTA to censor First Amendment-protected political speech at railroad platforms in Westchester County. Mr. Castelli also wins the “It’s the FIRST Amendment for a Reason!” Award.

The “Is 2013 the Year We Break the Curse of the One-Term Supervisor?” Award goes to Lewisboro’s Democratic and Republican parties as they prepare for next year’s town board elections, while Lewisboro voters win the “What? Another Election? Is It Two Years Already?” Award.

The “Farewell to Some Longtime Friends” Award goes to Lewisboro Town Clerk Kathy Cory, Ledger Editor-in-Chief Ken Mastro (funny, it doesn’t feel like he’s that far away), and our longtime writing partner and fellow Trekkie Jeff Morris, each of whom left for greener pastures and new challenges. And the “Welcome to the Jungle” Award goes to new Town Clerk Janet Donohue, our new boss Matt Spillane, and our new leftie columnist Robby Rothfeld, who also wins the “What’s Your Favorite Star Trek Episode?” Award.

Finally, on a serious note, the “Thanks for Reading” Award goes to you, our readers, no matter what your political persuasion. Be you the casual fan or an anonymous blogger who relentlessly disputes everything that appears here — we’re looking at you, “Katonah Resident,” hope you enjoyed Election Night! — you’re the reason we keep writing. Well, that and the comforting thought that, as much as we like the First Amendment, this year’s election results made the term-limiting 25th Amendment our new favorite.

See you next year!

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  • Thank you for the recognition and the kind words. Unfortunately, I cannot accept any award that honors a man who was so often on the wrong side of history. For example:

    re: Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy – “the most smeared man in American history.”

    re: Civil Rights – “The central question that emerges … is whether the white community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, …The sobering answer is Yes — the white community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race.”

    re: Social Policy – “Everyone detected with AIDS should be tatooed in the upper forearm …”

    I expect that you will argue back that his thinking changed over time. I don’t doubt that you are right, though the stain remains.

    Nevertheless, there is one quote from Buckley that is worth considering:

    Conservatives pride themselves on resisting change, which is as it should be. But intelligent deference to tradition and stability can evolve into intellectual sloth and moral fanaticism, as when conservatives simply decline to look up from dogma because the effort to raise their heads and reconsider is too great. National Review (29 June 2004)

    I would encourage you to consider these words the next time you sit down to write about leadership and our schools.

    Happy New Year,
    Paul Saloom

    • Glenn DeFaber

      I would think that Mr. Saloom should receive the Michael J. Quill Memorial Award. If he is to take K-L in that direction it would be only seem fitting that he follow in the awards namesake’s path.

  • margarita man

    What is the source for the “C students” quotation attributed to Truman?

  • margarita man

    So more than a week since my inquiry and no source cited for the quotation attributed to Truman. Why? Because there is no authoritative source for it. Sure, if you Google the statement with Truman’s name you get a bunch of results, but you get just as many by Googling the statement with the name of Al McGuire, the old Marquette University basketball coach. Why would a history teacher close his emails with a spurious quotation? Because it fits with his political worldview, and he is more interested in political indoctrination than teaching history. Such members of the public-education complex have no interest in teaching their students how to think; they want to teach them what to think. And this underlines the real problem with KLSD. It is not that we are paying far too much for a superb public school education, it is that we are paying far too much for an absolutely standard and routine public school education.

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