Tell me, how many times have you wished you had the opportunity to properly tell your boss what a whiz-bang, wonderful job she/he is doing? For most of us, that opportunity does not present itself until the Christmas party, right?
To the great credit of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, his underlings are semi-regularly afforded such an opportunity during the governor’s so-called “cabinet meetings,” where all the political appointees gather in the Red Room and for about 45 minutes they tell the governor all the good things he has been doing lately. With Cuomo sitting right there, at the head of this U-shaped table, these department chieftains speak in the second person, as in “YOU, governor, are doing nothing short of a magnificent job on same sex honeymoons, or whatever.”
At first, I wondered why they would have to tell the governor what he had done; is the governor forgetful, does he not remember his accomplishments without being reminded? However, finally I decided these sessions are sort of like a big boy’s show-and-tell minus the show. I kept waiting during these sessions for one of the cabinet people to tell Cuomo “sorry to have to lay this on you gov, but you and I know that you’re dragging your feet on that fracking thing.”
But, until a Wall Street Journal piece a few weeks ago, I did not realize how generous the governor’s staff could be in sharing their good feelings about Cuomo The Second even with ordinary, common folks not allowed to enter the Executive Chamber. The WSJ’s Jacob Gershman revealed that Cuomo’s staff had written speeches — not just 3x5 index cards with so-called talking points — but whole speeches for people who would be introducing Cuomo as he traveled the state explaining his budget.
(Never could decide, was it Vaughn Monroe or Frankie Laine who did the better version of that great tune “Ghost Writers in the Sky?”)
WSJ documented that a Democratic mayor, a Republican state senator and the president of SUNY Plattsburgh had read almost word-for-word from the 18-sentence speech done up by the Cuomo wonks.
(“Yippee-yi-ay, yippee-yi-o, ghost writers in the sky ...”)
But examine their remarks more closely and you clearly see that this assessment is unfair, that no way were all the words plagiarized. For instance, Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano, introducing the governor, said: “Gov. Cuomo has restored a sense of pride, a credibility in New York state government.” However — and pay close attention to this HOWEVER — both GOP State Sen. George Maziarz from Erie County, and John Ettling, head honcho at SUNY Plattsburgh, intro-ed the governor with these words: “Gov. Cuomo has restored a sense of pride and credibility in New York state government.” See the difference?
(“Yippee-yi-ay, yippee-yi-o; ghost writers in the sky.”)
Mayor Spano used the words “restored a sense of pride, a credibility...” Sen. Maziarz and the guiding light of SUNY Plattsburgh said “restored a sense of pride and credibility ...” See? Spano used the conjunctive “and” while Maziarz and SUNY-Boy went with a comma and an article to link the “pride” and the “credibility.” You’re gonna’ sit there and tell me that’s plagiarism? I think not, bubby-boy.
(“If you want to save your soul from hell a’writing on our range...”)
Sen. Maziarz, who read verbatim 14 of the 18 sentences furnished him by the gov’s people, told the WSJ he thought his own people had written the masterful prose. Aides to SUNY Plattsburgh President John Ettling did not seem all that rattled by the disclosure. “If he didn’t feel it was appropriate,” said one of those aides, “he wouldn’t have said it.”
(“Then cowboy change your ways today or with us you will write...”)
Here’s a little suggestion for the students at SUNY Plattsburgh, especially poli-sci majors and the like. Got a term paper staring you in the eyeballs? Copy the 18-sentence speech from the Cuomo youngsters, word for word, give it a swell title like “A college kid takes a look at Andrew Cuomo’s first eighteen months in office” or some such nonsense and turn it in as your own. What? You think the prof is gonna’ give you any of that plagiarism jazz? “No” would be the short answer to that one.
(“Yippee-yi-ay, yippee-yi-o, ghost writers in the sky.”)
Vaughn Monroe. Vaughn Monroe for sure!
John McLoughlin is a freelance columnist and a veteran Capital Region journalist now at NewsChannel 13. Opinions expressed in his column are his own and not necessarily those of the newspaper. Reach him at JMcLoughlin@WNYT.com.