Mike Joyce’s response to a critical email from a Princetown resident Friday was succinct and to the point: “Don’t be such a [expletive].”
Lisa Karandy, a member Princetown’s Comprehensive Plan Committee, was shocked by the missive she received back from what appeared to be the Gmail account of the town’s supervisor. The snarky response from Joyce was forwarded to a number of people in the town and seemed like a bombshell that might sink his campaign with just two weeks left before the election.
Only the Mike Joyce who typed the email wasn’t the same one running for a second term in Princetown. In fact, the Joyce who responded to Karandy doesn’t even live in the same time zone as the small rural Schenectady County town.
Instead, the Mike Joyce using the Gmail account claims to be a California resident with a wry sense of humor and a bit of an irritable streak for people automatically assuming he’s the ‘mjoyce’ they’re trying to contact. Since creating the Gmail account in 2004, Californian Joyce said he’s almost routinely mistaken for other Gmail account users sharing his last name and first initial.
“As you might expect, I get my fair share of e-mails that aren’t intended for me,” he said via email Monday. “Martin’s flight itinerary, Matt’s hotel reservation, and apparently there’s a teacher who shares my initials.”
And that’s why Californian Mike Joyce now fires off responses to some of the errant emails he receives from people who don’t double check the address they’re using. In addition to duping Princetown last week, Joyce also responded to a parent in Pennsylvania, who mistakenly emailed him about a grade that her son got on a term paper.
His response to the parent? Your son failed.
“Specifically, on the basis that his mother insists on doing his busy work, follow up and coordination of assignments for him,” he wrote back to the parent.
In Princetown — a town now bitterly divided by political infighting — Californian Mike Joyce’s email landed with the same resonance as a piano being dropped off a tall building. Supervisor Mike Joyce denied writing the email, contacted an attorney and immediately launched a probe to determine who might be posing as him online.
Meanwhile, his opponents accused him of back-pedaling from the initial vulgar email response; Karandy even threatened to file a complaint with state police. On Friday evening, the Princetown Mike Joyce fired out a mass email from his Town Hall account to hundreds of residents and local officials again restating that the offending correspondence wasn’t from him and instead suggesting that it might have originated from one of his political adversaries.
Californian Mike Joyce kept up the charade through Friday, even directing The Daily Gazette to call his “press office” for any comments. When asked about how to reach said press officer in the township of less than 2,200 residents, he responded with another quip.
“There is no officer, it’s just an office. I’m afraid that with the current staffing, that office is actually a sad state: it’s empty,” he wrote. “Please direct all inquiries to me directly via email — and I will promptly print out the emails and place them in the office as a top priority once we are able to recruit a press officer.”
By Saturday, the jig was up. Californian Mike Joyce acknowledged to an inquiring resident that the flap was merely a case of mistaken identity — one that particularly stirred his ire.
“The politics of the town is utterly preposterous,” he wrote in an email to The Gazette on Monday. “Perhaps this episode might provide a bit of grounding to the various pundits involved, but my suspicion is that it won’t.”
For the Princetown supervisor, the episode left him rattled. Regardless of the origin of the offending email, he feared he might still face repercussions, politically and otherwise.
“I have my professional life to consider,” he said. “I’m still in shock.”