Behold, Ichiro. Then notice the puss that the wily man from Japan is sporting in this picture that signals his new deal with the Marlins. This is not the look of a man who is HAPPY about his new $2M deal. It is the look of a future Baseball Hall of Famer who is doing what he must to extend his stellar career and rack up those hits/milestones. Kudos to the Marlins for flying to Tokyo for the press conference. We just want to know right now what the Hall of Fame officials have in store for Ichi-balls' induction plaque cap. Yankees or Mariners? It better be the M's!
7:58 p.m. January 26. #JUNO -- Port Washington, NY -- It's early yet, but a creeping sense of disappointment might be setting in. A few good, solid inches of real snow has fallen. We have shoveled our walkway and driveway, vowing to keep ahead of the historic and record-breaking snowfall. The plows of the Town of North Hempstead have cleared our street not once, not twice, not three times but four! Our tax dollars so efficiently at work -- whoops -- here they come! Five times! Five times now the plowman has come barreling down our street, gamboling 57 mph, running stop signs as the driver howls into the wind. Sparks fly from the lowered blade into the luminous night air -- a feat only possible when the asphalt of the road has already been rendered bare due to overzealously clearing. My friends in Seattle and upstate NY are posting on Facebook how the Mayor of New York has preached pestilence and fear all in the name of shutting down all transit in order to preserve life and liberty. Grocery stores are scenes of great rioting and blatant disregard of the surgeon general's warnings about daily allowances for fat, sodium and microbrews. Meanwhile, back at home here in the Little Town of Port Washington, the household lights are all on, the computers and laptops and TVs are all ablare and ablaze. The microwave and stove are churning out for us hot plates of storm-night obligatories -- beef chili, no-bean chili and turkey chili. Candles sit squat and new on the counter, forlorn and cold and dark. We all had such great expectations but so far ... (to be continued)
10:54 p.m. January 26. #JUNO -- Port Washington, NY -- It is now officially six minutes before the government shutdown of our streets clicks into place. No one's on the road. Not even -- the snowplow! A great lull has come over the town. You can't hear anything, nothing, except a faint spin of wind occasionally scattering some of the frozen kernels of snow that are almost as restless as us! Where is our storm? Given the lack of speeding SUVs and the silence of police and fire sirens and the absence of train commuters who normally shuffle down our street, we have been left here to confront the glaring truth that we really wanted a lot more ... drama. Like, the kind of natural drama that exceeds the collective entertainment and "wow" factor of "Empire," "Idol," "OITNB," "House of Cards" and "Property Brothers" mixed in with a little "Transparent." We stocked all manner of snack foods in our shelves, our pantries, our 4K Liebherr fridges and our larders -- as if we even know what a larder is! This is Port Washington 2015, not Dickensian London. We have come a long way from larders. The point is: We did everything everyone told us to do in order to SHELTER IN PLACE ahead of this vast, east-coast weather conspiracy. We did so in the expectation (given the SALES PITCH) that we would be "rewarded" with a broken branch to take down a power line; a gale-force wind to shimmy Infinity Triple Play On Demand for $139 a month for 2 years into submission. We would settle for a ruptured water main pipe that would transform Irma Ave. into an Olympic luge run. This was the bargain in exchange for our reading tide charts and graphing the areas where the so-called coming storm surge would eat whole other sections of the Atlantic seaboard like it was a big, sandy piece of New York cheesecake. We have been prepped for an End Times N'or Easter; we have been commanded to heed the warnings of state, local and federal officials; we have been told the National Guard and extra technicians from National Grid are ON THE SCENE, at the ready. But for what? Not much. And instead of being grateful that we have not been assigned a night of shivering discomfort and of wandering the halls by candlelight in search of a half bath complete with Scott's toilet paper, we continue to feel slightly played. ...
8:01 a.m. #Juno Port Washington -- Andrew Cuomo on the radio speaking in that strange cadence and elocution of his that is almost like his father's speech pattern. Cuomo telling us travel ban over. So, everyone better get the hell ready to get to the office by 11:47 a.m. The guilt tripping by employers and scrambling by employees now set to commence. And oddly this is the only press conference where Gov. Cuomo is taking questions. Someone ought to ask him about the Port Authority. Now he's justifying his call to shutdown transit due to the obliteration of Buffalo a few weeks back. He will not criticize weather forecasters.
12:43 p.m. #JUNO Port Washington -- It is my belief that all across the Northeast (i.e. New York City media outlets) the second-guessing has begun. DeBlasio and Cuomo getting hammered with great rounds of skepticism and snark for their decision to SHUT DOWN the Empire State. Despite my own sense of disappointment that the winds did not howl and the snow reached only 9 inches and the lights never flickered, I have moved into a new phase of pleasant afterglow: This was rather quaint. Granted, some will rip the overreach of our GOVERNMENT officials (ie Democrats and the RINO C. Christie in Jersey) who took the exceptionally cautious route on calling this storm preparedness. And others will grouse that when you shut down one of the biggest metro areas in the world, it takes a lot to crank it all back into gear. But guess what? So what?! From what I hear, only one person died, and he was an unfortunate teenager in Huntington who slammed his sled into a telephone pole. The storm moved east, and north, keeping the worst itself for Montauk and New England. In the scheme of things, a day off and all the shenanigans it took and takes to stop and start a city ... it's good to know it can be done. Despite my own bitter tendency toward skepticism and snark: The next time the situation calls for a NYC Storm Shutdown, I am going to take it just as seriously. Sure, I find the snark kind of amusing. I personally posted one of the pathetic Internet meme photos of a ruler standing on bare asphalt under the headline "Never Forget." But that was a fleeting tilt towards immaturity that, while I don't regret, I will over-ride with more MATURE take-away. Besides, we already have the extra, unused candles and a few extra bags of potato chips.
So within hours of becoming the new governor of Pennsylvania by defeating one-term Gov. Tom Corbett, Tom Wolf has done what everyone was hoping would not be done. He started a fight that appears to be about politics when, in fact, Wolf might have been trying to make a statement about his commitment to ethics and transparency.
To which anyone sick of politics trumping governance and/or policy says "Ugh."
Now everyone is scratching their head, or, if you're a Senate Republican, you're calling bullshit on Wolf's apparent decision to try and retroactively govern. That IS the problem that Wolf has created for himself, and it's kind of a big one, given that first impressions mean a lot. No wonder Sen. Jake Corman and other GOP legislators are wondering how come Wolf thinks his term started the day he won election and not the day he was sworn into office. In between those few weeks, Corbett surprisingly announced that former Open Records Director Terry Mutchler was out at the office she helped turn into a national model for governmental transparency and that Erik Arneson was in.
This is standard-operating procedure among all kinds of executive governmental leaders. Most governors or presidents or mayors attempt to extend their influence into the next administration, especially if the new administration represents a party change. But it appears Wolf not only thinks this is not moral or ethical, he is willing to test the legality of the appointments in order to make a bigger case. I suspect that case is one about transparency, about not shoving things down the throats of the electorate, or about doing shady things behind closed doors where no sunshine falls.
I suspect Wolf thinks that in some way there is no better venue to challenge politics as usual, because the Office of Open Records is the only place in state government where the sole mission is to keep things open and honest. It's like ... META! A fight about transparency in appointments and government in the very office that champions that cause. Wolf said he is eager to have this fight and who knows, maybe he has the kind of wisdom and verbiage to convince a majority of people that this action he took was for a greater cause. I think that is what he's trying to say.
By firing or rescinding the appointment of Arneson as director to the Office of Open Records just hours after he took office, Wolf appears to have wanted to make a statement that the last-minute appointments made by Corbett were not ethical. Hence, he has said he also will pull back the names of 27 other last-minute appointments made by Corbett but as yet unconfirmed by the state Legislature. In the case of Arneson and Open Records, the courts are now going to have to decide the fine points of whether or not the director is an at-will employee or whether changes in status about directorship appointment is beyond the control of the sitting governor. And the taxpayers will pay for all that legal wrangling, thank you very much.
What makes this fight more difficult is that the Office of Open Records was created in a way to firewall its director from exactly the kind of political retribution that would have a governor fire the director for disagreements. To gut that aspect of the set-up almost eviscerates the power of the Open Records office. That is not really a fine point, which is why Wolf''s decision to go Rambo on Corbett's appointment power wont sit well with many people, even his own champions.
What is hard to understand is why Wolf and his administration would want to start a fight that on the surface and by any measure can be painted by the Republicans as political on Wolf's part? Was there another way for Wolf to make the point that what Corbett did by making 11th-hour appointments was sleazy and piling on of the same tactics we've come to expect from power-hungry politicians who care more about protecting their turf and ideology than handing over the reins in a transparent fashion. Wolf is trying to UNDO the poor ethics of Tom Corbett and fix the ethics that existed prior to Wolf's swearing in. What he should have done was denounce the Corbett's methodology, and promise the people of Pennsylvania that going forward, he is going to act differently according to his moral code.
This is not about Terry Mutchler, whom Wolf could have more heartily endorsed and championed all during his campaign, this delivering a warning to Corbett that given a Wolf gubernatorial victory, it would be Wolf's intention to retain Mutchler. But the campaign did not do that, so Corbett was even more emboldened in the 11th hour to make the change. Then again, this is not about Erik Arneson, who is a respected and fair Republican legislative director who helped author the Open Records law during his time with former Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi.
This is Tom Wolf's fight to show people he wants to do things different from the inscrutable and politically-gamed ways they have been done. Unfortunately, while making his case and taking what he must believe is the moral high ground, he may lose the legal battle to rescind the other guy's sneaky appointments. What's worse in the meantime is that Wolf's moral high ground is very easily obscured in the blur of political name-calling and power-broking. Wolf has not earned the right, not yet anyway, to just DO things because he thinks it's right. That comes with time and some trust. And that is why squandering the goodwill and political capital he earned this campaign season is alarming to anyone who really DOES want change to come to Harrisburg.
Wolf may be right. But his actions were, in the dawn of his own reign, difficult to differentiate from the wrong way things have been perpetrated in the past.
Is a former political and sports columnist who worked great cities like Albany NY, Seattle, Baltimore and Harrisburg PA. She lives New York.