One Never Knows, Do One? and Other Thoughts

“Figure Sitting at RiverWalk Park”/© Janie Rosman 2013

Recently I began reading Politics Across the Hudson by St. Peter’s University professor and author Dr. Philip Mark Plotch.

I met Plotch two months ago when media observed the giant crane’s first girder assembly placement, this on the southbound span. Prior to opening the first page I asked him one question.

What will people reading your book learn that hasn’t been said during the community meetings?

“That’s a great question that no one has ever asked me,” he replied via email. Below in italics is Plotch’s reply. None of the words within the quotes are mine.

“The public was often kept in the dark. The transportation agencies repeatedly minimized many of the obstacles they were facing and they hid critical information — not only from the public but from elected officials as well.

Every elementary school kid can relate to one thing that happened.

When you play the game telephone, the words at the end of the line are very different from the words in the beginning. The same thing happens with government officials. What an engineer says something, it goes to his boss and up the chain to an agency head, then on to the governor’s office and then to the governor himself. The governor is getting filtered information that often reflects someone’s interests as it moves up the ladder.

Something else happened to information while the state was putting together its plans. This doesn’t happen in the telephone game. You had political intrigue, gamesmanship, the deliberate manipulation of information, and a dysfunctional relationship among key players

I realized early on that no one person had access to what was going on behind the scenes. I felt like I was putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle. I had to interview well over 100 people to get their stories and then read their memos, emails, and reports to complete the puzzle.”

* * * * *

Recently I learned information I requested was provided, then edited before I actually saw it. I surmised this; a source confirmed it.

I’ve covered the project for nearly three and one-half years (since March 2012). Sources readily provided information and still do; I had a feeling media were only told so much. A few times I was invited to community meetings; once when I was asked to leave I relied on sources to tell me what happened.

Eight months ago I submitted a Freedom Of Information Law (FOIL) request asking for information about the week prior to the concrete batch plant’s collapse. Each time I asked when said information will be forthcoming, the office told me:

“Based on the continued review, and with due regard for POL § 89(3)(a), staff anticipates providing a response to your request on (date).”

The reply to my recent email (August 7, 2015) said I can expect a response on September 28, 2015 . . . that will tell me when to expect the next response.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2015

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