An overgrown strip of tall grass in the village of Cobleskill’s East End has yielded a virtual bumper crop of material for critics of Village officials. The Times-Journal, eager to blow the slightest village misstep grossly out of proportion, has called it a “flashpoint” for the future direction of the Village. Letters to the editor offered a similar lament.
But as the weeds grew taller, Cobleskill supervisor Roger Cohn clearly saw an opportunity to make political hay out of the weedy median and gathered a few of his friends to help. In what was obviously a cheap political stunt, Cohn and several others decided to take matters into their own hands and remove the weeds themselves.
At the next village board meeting, trustees argued over who is actually responsible for the maintaining the median. Trustee Bill Gilmore angrily chastised Tom Fissell, the village’s highway superintendent, for not tending to the median. Trustee Mark Galasso cited a lack of planning on the part of the Village Board, and argued that officials should have budgeted money for median maintenance. Clearly, someone goofed.
Does that mean that there is a “leadership vacuum” in the village of Cobleskill as the Times-Journal editorialized (8-13-2008)? Not really, it just means that village officials made an honest mistake. What I find particularly troubling is the way in which the Cobleskill town supervisor opportunistically seized on this “honest mistake” for political expediency. Cohn could have easily called Mayor Sellers and the other trustees and asked them all to come out and weed the median. Instead, he called the Times-Journal to tell them of a photo opportunity.
This kind of realpolitik shows that Cobleskill town officials are interested not in working together with village officials but in embarrassing them. The problem is not with village officials, any random group of trustees is capable of making such an oversight. The problem is the mean-spirited hardball politics that people like Cohn are playing and that the Times-Journal is encouraging.
I’m glad that somebody took the time to weed out the tall grass. I just hope that the people of Cobleskill are able to weed out the naked political grandstanding.