Two great men went at each other in a mayoral debate last Thursday, in each their own style completely opposite from the other, at Town Hall. One a Republican; the other, a Democrat. It was clear which was which by their methods, demeanor, and message each chose to convey throughout the debate. Most importantly, it was clear who emerged from this debate victorious: The Democrat, Police Chief, Tim Currier. The clear winner.
Incumbent Mayor, James Hidy, put up an excellent fight, though, immediately defending himself from the opening attacks against him for being disrespectful and exercising a poorly behaved style of leadership. Mr. Currier pounded him, and Mr. Hidy tried to squabble his way out of it by saying that Massena needs to reinvent itself. It was almost painful to watch and some viewers might feel sorry for Mr. Hidy in that the attacks against him painted him as a mean guy. But then, in his own defense, Mr. Hidy blamed Massena’s economic problems on NAFTA, which is a very popular tactic in Republican talking points, brought out to ignore and deflect from certain issues by focusing on president Bill Clinton to smear Democratic opponents. Hence, if you’re watching the debate thinking Mr. Currier smeared Mr. Hidy on his record, then you might ask yourself if Mr. Hidy retaliated by trying to smear Mr. Currier off President Clinton’s record. Furthermore, if you’re shaking your head in awe, you must be asking yourself where is the direct correlation to the suggestion that NAFTA is hurting Massena?!
I mean, after all, when a huge portion of the money pouring into Massena comes from Canada, how can one suggest that the Free Trade Agreement is not serving the community very well? In fact, without the huge influx of business from Canada, how would Massena even continue to survive? If it weren’t for NAFTA, there’d be VERY few Canadians coming to spend their hard earned money shopping in Massena, and that mall would’ve been dead and buried years ago! Moreover, Canadian businesses wouldn’t be going through their budget buying American product & services out of the kindness of their heart to help a neighbor out! For instance, week after week, The Seeker newspaper has it’s newspapers printed at a local press in Massena, The Johnson Newspapers. That would be money otherwise spent in Canada, rather than acting as your friendly neighbor indulging in NAFTA to help Massena out of it’s mess. So, while on the surface, that bellicose rhetoric exacerbating perceived differences between peoples, Mr. Hidy’s argument, as passionately American as it may have seemed on the surface, held no relevance to the debate. I think Republicans are confusing The NORTH AMERICAN Free Trade Agreement with how the mega-billionaires have outsourced all American jobs to third-world countries at slave-labor wages to increase their profit margins.
“Alcoa used to be an American company.” Mr. Hidy bemoaned. “Their Logo now blue, was once Red, White, and Blue” he went on. This tirade sounded very patriotic, I could almost hear the trumpets, if it weren’t for all the violins.
Mr. Hidy defended his record of not having rebuilt Massena during his tenure by passing blame to bad guys on the streets and to “the same people in office, same problems,” he said, begrudging about the dog droppings on the sidewalk. “How do you rebuild yourself when there’s paper and debris all over the place?” he lamented. Then, exactly one minute later, says “Manufacturing as we know it in Massena probably won’t come back anytime soon. So, what do we do? We reinvent ourselves!” Well, which is it, Mr. Hidy? you must wonder! Usually, ‘On the other hand’ is used to show the key that holds the way out, not the same key keeping the village locked in the shackles of despair!
Mr. Hidy repeatedly seemed dismayed with law enforcement and the judicial system’s role in dealing with those committing crime. “Prevention, Enforcement, and Treatment” Mr. Currier elaborated on how to affect positive change. “It’s easy to identify the problems. It’s easy to complain about them. The challenge is to find the solutions and to implement them” he impacted.
How does Massena make Main Street an economic asset? Well, Mr. Currier summarized that “We need to create an environment that’s going to bring people here,” he said, adding that “That’s what the BDC does. And if we give them more resources, I can guarantee that they’ll be much more efficient and better at doing it” he said. Mr. Hidy agreed, but added that “It takes money!” and that “The banks aren’t too friendly right now when it comes to lending money to start business…” speaking for the banking industry, though he did add that “He’d love to have someone open up business downtown and fill this thing up!” He spoke at length for the bankers, investors, and business owners. One would think that if he knew so much about what’s in their head’s, why is Massena in the mess it’s in?
He even attacked the newspaper. “I think the newspaper has to have a responsibility for creating a positive attitude,” Mr. Hidy said. He said that prospective businesses look at the newspaper 2 years in advance to find out what kind of community it is, and that what they see in this local newspaper is “a whole page of police blotter!” implying that this is what’s discouraging new business from opening in Massena.
Wow…is Mr. Hidy not familiar with the crime rates in…oh…say Texas?–where business is booming and WHERE 6 of the 8 major cartels operate! To suggest that the drug problem here is what’s in the minds of prospective business interests in Massena, is well…what? Ludicrous? Well, at least we know the police have been doing their job, locking up the criminals; after all, you can read the full page blotter all about it. Kudos to Police Chief Currier. He’s done his job, and he’s done it quite well, even Mayor Hidy agrees with that. But he didn’t need to belittle the drug problem as to demonize the afflicted. That’s just sad.
While Hidy’s response to it is in demonizing the afflicted, Mr. Currier’s is in solutions. Here’s a simple question to ask yourself: Are there bad seeds in Massena, or are there afflicted individuals whom with no place to turn, have done bad things? We’re talking about your sons & daughters here, Massena! HELLO. And the sons & daughters of your friends, relatives, and neighbors. Are they all just bad seeds? Or people who need help, guidance, moral leadership and opportunity? Or do they need more blame? Do they need to be demonized? Mr. Hidy said Massena needs positive energy. Ha!
That’s exactly why I had launched the Massena News back in March 2011. I believed that just as bringing the discovery of air-conditioning to Arizona, The Massena News would be a huge success here! Positive energy is what Massena needed most, like air-conditioning in a desert. Positive, uplifting news, getting people fired-up and believing in themselves despite their present hardships.
Two local newspapers started right around the same time: one in Cornwall, one in Massena. Each with the exact same concept of bringing solely positive news, predicated under the exact same drive to infuse the community with positive energy. One was completely embraced by the community, the other completely shunned. Guess which was shunned. After a whole year of spending countless amounts of my own money and offering to practically giving away advertisement, as any amount of income would at least help pay some of the cost of print. Any amount of income, and I would’ve been happy. Sigh. But I and The Massena News was shunned by local business, and I became the laughing stock of Massena for my efforts to bring positive news and infuse Massena with positive energy. Some friends in the local community discreetly informed me that people were laughing at me, saying the talk of the town was that The Massena News was patronizing Massena citizens with it’s uplifting BS. Wow. After exactly one year in operation, without any support from the community, the exercise in futility was abandoned. Never any hard feelings, only utter remorse and confusion that I was unable to uplift a community who soooooo needed uplifting.
When I first got to Massena it thrived on negativity. Mr. Hidy said he would change that, but still to this date Massena thrives on negativity. Nothing’s changed. And now he complains about local newspapers being negative. Wow.
But don’t take my word for it! Watch the video of the debate, and listen closely, trying not to be affected by the emotion of the candidate but by the proposed solutions, the intellect, humility, wisdom, leadership characteristics, and leadership style. Then decide.