Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — A raise in pay for our state legislators? Did I read that right?
Yes, if you saw the Associated Press story that ran on the front page of the July 8 issue, there is indeed a chance that our representatives in Albany will vote themselves a raise before the end of the year.
It’s not enough that our elected officials are paid (note that I didn’t say “earned”) $79,500 per year. Plus $170 per diem for work away from home. Plus an additional $10,000 to $40,000 for most legislators for running committees and and filling political party jobs. I don’t know too many people in Niagara County who are making $80,000 a year, but I know plenty who earn less than half of that.
Naturally, they don’t talk about it, and if they do vote themselves a raise, they’ll do it during a “special session” in late November or early December, after the election.
That’s because our legislators don’t work for us, but they need our votes to keep them in power, so that they can cater to their self-serving reasons: special interests. Every now and then they hold a nice dog and pony show in their home jurisdictions to show that they’re “fighting” for us.
And we buy it. Hook, line and sucker.
Over the past week I’ve heard too many reports on the police scanner about dogs left inside parked cars. People, please, if you have a pet don’t leave it locked inside your car, even for five minutes.
The temperature inside a car can reach 100+ degrees in a very short period of time, even with the windows cracked open an inch or two. It’s been a very hot summer, and your beloved pet won’t survive in those conditions.
It’s better to leave Fido at home, where he has cool water to drink. Dogs don’t perspire and the only way they can cool down is by panting and drinking water. However, panting is useless when a dog is in a confined space that soaks up the rays of the sun.
Parking in the shade isn’t good enough. It still gets warm in the car as the interior adjusts to the air temperature. Leave your dog at home, even in the winter, because a sunny winter day will heat up your car as well.
We’ve all heard the excuse “I’m just running into the store.” It’s too easy for that five-minute “run” to turn into 20 minutes. You come across someone you haven’t seen in a while and stop to chat. You pick the slow lane at the checkout (or worse, you’re in the self-checkout and each register is occupied by people who have two carts of groceries or don’t know how the dang thing works).
I’ll say it a third time: Leave your dog at home. Fido will thank you for it.
It’s been three months since I joined the US&J as managing editor, and it’s been quite an experience. Overall, I’m pleased with the newsroom staff. It has a nice blend of veteran and young reporters.
I’ve made some mistakes. Lord, have I made some mistakes! But I’m learning from them.
Perhaps my largest obstacle so far has been the sheer volume of phone calls and e-mails I receive. The e-mails alone probably average about 120 per day. There’s some spam, but for the most part I open every e-mail, just in case there’s something worth pursuing. The difficult part has been trying to slog through these electronic messages after my inbox has filled up over the weekend.
Sometimes if I see several spam messages grouped together, I’ll ignore them and hope to return to that grouping later in the day. That hasn’t always happened and unfortunately a couple of people with honest inquiries or comments were missed, because their messages were delivered during a period of time when I received several pieces of junk mail. It happened to one person twice.
So, couple of important messages were essentially buried by electronic junk. That’s the problem with junk e-mail. Unlike the junk mail we get form the U.S. Post Office, we can’t take a glance at the mail in our hands and immediately identify the important envelopes.
My sincerest apologies to those people. I learned a valuable lesson, and my goal is to make sure I don’t need to re-learn that lesson.
There was a message left on my voicemail recently by an anonymous caller. It was a complaint; the man wanted to know why he has to turn to a different paper to read any Lockport news. Then he specifically mentioned an article in that paper, dated July 1, a story about commercial assessments that he said we didn’t have.
He must not subscribe to our Sunday edition. On the front page of the Sunday (July 1, by the way) US&J was our story about the assessments.
Yes, our article ran the same day that he read a similar story in that other paper.
I’m not saying that we don’t miss things. We do. I’m hoping to make some changes that will cut down on those missed opportunities. Still, there’s a fact of life in the news business: You’re going to get beat every now and then. But you’re also going to beat the other guys at times.
A footnote to the man’s call. He invited me to call him. Unfortunately, he never left his name or phone number.
All I know is that he’s a reader from the fifth ward.John J. Hopkins is the managing editor for the Lockport Union-Sun & Journal. His column appears on Sundays. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.