Tuesday, November 05, 2002

Just what do you mean, Mr. Mayor?

I was fortunate enough to have been able to take a much-needed vacation last week.

I preface this column with the vacation announcement to illustrate a point: While I normally am clued into all the inside information, I was just as out of the loop as our other 15,000-plus readers last week.

So I was utterly dismayed Wednesday when I read that Mayor Thomas Sullivan had endorsed incumbent Gov. George Pataki.

I mean, I had just illustrated last Tuesday the fact that Pataki needed a train and a campaign in order to find Lockport. I don't care how much of our money he "gave" us, he didn't deserve the mayor's endorsement.

And I stewed.

Just because Pataki was going to win, the mayor threw him the endorsement, I figured. "Staying in a good light with the governor makes good political sense, at least, but I can't believe that Sullivan would sell out his party like that," I thought to myself.

Don't confuse the issue, I'm not pro-McCall. Just anti-Pataki for reasons mentioned in previous columns.

Then I get my paper on Friday, in which I read a detailed story about how we thought that Sullivan had endorsed Pataki via the Associated Press via state Sen. George Maziarz via Tom Sullivan.

And in the end, the story explained, Sullivan hadn't endorsed Pataki at all.

"I was there to support the City of Lockport," Sullivan told our reporter David Winters on Thursday for the story that ran Friday. "I thanked him for all the support he's given Lockport."

I was very happy to hear that Sullivan had been misquoted, misunderstood, or whatever. I was upset, mind you, that we had given our readers incorrect information on Wednesday, but happy that Sullivan hadn't officially joined the dark side.

Now, support is an interesting word. Sullivan had told another Greater Niagara Newspapers reporter —Brian Bannister — last Tuesday that he was supporting, not endorsing, the governor.

A quick check of a couple dictionaries and a thesaurus or two will tell you that the two words are virtually interchangeable.

Sullivan, it appears, had decided to blame the US&J for the mistake and accuse us of shoddy reporting.

Winters tells me the mayor was downright steamed.

And after thinking about it for a while, I ended up downright steamed as well.

Sullivan and his "I didn't say that" administration have made a career out of denying things that they had said.

The problem seems rather clear to me, actually.

Clarity would come if Sullivan would pick a color.

Tom, it's either black or white.

I understand that as a politician you are trained to vary between grays. Dark gray. Light gray. Dover gray. Charcoal. Remember, this is the man who said that "persist" means "to start."

The predominant theory among many politicrats is that if you present the right shade of gray in the right angle to the right people, maybe some would see it as white and some would see it as black and everyone would be happy.

From an outside perspective, it looks like the mayor wanted the Democrats to believe that he didn't endorse Pataki, the Republicans to believe that he did and no one else would care.

To paraphrase, "You can't please all the people all the time."

But that's what the mayor wants to do. And when he doesn't, it's our fault.

Sorry Tom, it just doesn't work that way.

Say what you mean. Mean what you say. And stop trying to play our readers for idiots.