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Big Chuck

September 27, 2010

I Was Just Thinking: Talking politics, big and small, new and old

Doing a column twice a month allows me to cover a wide variety of musings. Let's call this one my "Political Column."

Poor Gov. David Paterson. He rose to the top on the heels of a governor who was elected as a "White Knight" and then left office as fast as a snake-oil salesman who gets caught with the farmer's daughter.

Paterson's numbers are low, the steamy rumor mill is churning at warp speed, and an 800-pound elephant named Cuomo is breathing down his neck. I mean, how does David Paterson even get up in the morning anymore?

"All politics is local," Tip O'Neill said. I remember when I was a kid watching our own "Political Picasso" in action. His name was Edwyn Mason. He was a longtime GOP assemblyman and state senator from Hobart.

He loved to eat at my parents' restaurant in Sidney. Ed walked in every parade, spoke at every gathering, backslapped his way through hundreds of rubber-chicken dinners and clambake fundraisers and was really an omnipresent figure in Sidney in the 1960s.

I watched him like a hawk. If somebody asked for a photo, Ed would grab a kid or a hot dog or a dairy princess or a baby and then grin his best "vote for me" smile, allowing the photographer to walk away with the optimum photo-op of a politician in action. I liked the guy. Ed Mason was an original.

I see that President Obama is poised to lift the "don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding gays in the military. President Clinton flummoxed himself into a corner with this doozie back in 1993. Since then more than 13,000 troops have been discharged because, well, they asked and they told.

Marquee opponents remain steadfast. Sen. John McCain has said he would only reconsider his opposition when the "top brass" tells him the time has come.

A couple of weeks ago Defense Secretary Gates, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mullen and Colin Powell told the still-obstinate McCain it was in fact time. Your move, Senator.

Sen. Jim Seward is a class act. We're lucky to have Jim as an advocate for our area. I know that he is tireless in his pursuit of constituent care throughout his Ponderosa-sized district, and his many years in Albany have given our region a man with clout.

One of my fondest memories is lunching with Jim in the muggy un-air-conditioned grand dining room of the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego during the GOP convention in 1996, which I covered for WDOS.

As I sweated through my shirt and gulped ice water to keep from fainting, Sen. Seward graciously sat with me and greeted dozens of his Republican colleagues who came over to say hello to him. These were power brokers and folks known nationally. I was proud of our local senator that hot, steamy day 15 years ago. It was very impressive.

Wazzupp Chicago? Democrat Sen. Obama leaves for Washington and look at the debris he left in his wake. Illinois Democratic Gov. Blagojevich gets arrested for trying to sell Obama's empty seat, and winds up on Donald Trump's reality show, "Celebrity Apprentice."

Democratic politician Roland Burris is sent to Washington as the state's senator, gets sacked by myriad ethics charges and vanishes. Next comes pawnbroker Scott Cohen, who dumps two million of his own dollars into the Democratic primary race for lieutenant governor, wins and then immediately resigns on Super Bowl Sunday when confronted with charges of sexual abuse. Talk about re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Former veep contender Sarah Palin was recently caught using her hand as a crib sheet during a speech in which she was lambasting the president for always relying on a teleprompter. Huh? Time to let it go, Ms. Palin? You betcha'!

And local politics? Well I've worked with many Oneonta mayors. Let's end this column with a lightning round.

Mayor Jim Lettis: Gruff on the outside, tame on the inside. Did more charity benefits for the city than anyone else I know of.

David Brenner: Serious, but with a ready smile and a head for politics. The man could make brilliant off-the-cuff remarks at any occasion without batting an eye.

Kim Muller: Perhaps the perfect mayor to initiate the new millennium. Hard working, bright and well-respected both statewide and nationally. Her plaza is a fitting testimonial to her stewardship.

John Nader: The man was a blur. Whether riding with the plows in a blizzard, running in the Pit Run, scooping out river mud with his bare hands, leading a tempestuous city meeting or grand marshalling a parade, John was the "Energizer Bunny" of Oneonta politics while mayor.

Dick Miller: Lots of promise, clearly has his eye on downtown and the sad turn of events at Damaschke Field. A lot on his plate. Friendly and ebullient in person. His future will be interesting to watch.

Enough of the soapbox.

I'll catch you in two …'Big Chuck' D'Imperio can be heard on weekdays beginning at 6 a.m. on WDOS-AM 730 in Oneonta, and also on Thursday nights from 7-9 p.m. on WSRK-FM 103.9 for his "Oldies Jukebox Show." You can find "Big Chuck" on Facebook under Upstate New York Books. He invites you to contact him at His columns can be found at

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