Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tonight at City Hall

It seems that, for some media outlets, the focus of the story that has been riveting our attention for the past week has shifted from the four gutsy and principled young journalists who used to work for the Register-Star to Third Ward alderman John Friedman and his equally principled choice to refrain occasionally from standing to recite the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of every Common Council meeting. Friedman explained the reason for his occasional abstinence in the comment on this blog:
Frankly, I think the Pledge is vitally important to America and Americans precisely because--as a nation of immigrants--we have few things in common besides our desire to be here, to live here and to participate in society here. But I also think rote recitation of anything--the Pledge, the Boy Scout motto, the lyrics from my favorite Grateful Dead song--slowly diminishes the meaning of the words. So sometimes I participate and sometimes I don't.
Late this afternoon, word spread that veterans' groups were planning to picket tonight's meeting at City Hall, presumably to protest Friedman's exercising, from time to time, his freedom of choice. The rumors, however, turned out to be an exaggeration. When Gossips arrived at City Hall at about 6:50, two men wearing what I thought were VFW baseball caps were in the lobby. A video camera was set up in Council chambers, but the man behind the camera was not Dan Udell, who regularly records Council meetings to be shown on the Mid-Hudson Cable public access channel, but Lance Wheeler, the videographer who frequently provides video for CBS 6 in Albany. Wheeler recorded the beginning of the meeting, through the point at which everyone, including Friedman, rose for a "moment of silent contemplation" and the Pledge of Allegiance, took some still photographs with his camera pointed in the direction of Friedman, and then packed up his gear and left. The men in the VFW caps reportedly left at about the same time.

Addendum: Just as I was finishing this post, Wheeler published his video on YouTube.


  1. On an early post comment from-Chad Weckler November 20, 2012 9:06 PM
    "CBS6Albany just announced upcoming RS story for 11pm news coverage"

    I cked it out.It was top of the news and very brief edit of Wheeler's video.Showed 2 vets in baseball caps and Mayor Hallenbeck blocking the Council room entrance,edited,brief interview with Alderman Friedman,and mentioned nothing about Register Star and reporter fired or other 2 reporters and editor that resigned,unless I missed that Few Seconds at beginning.
    And edited brief interview with one of the baseball capped Vets,out side.It was very short,and all about saying the pledge." Doc"'s interveiw was cut. I hope they show it again later,or someone taped it.

  2. This was a despicable sensationalized set up by Lance Wheeler. Pathetic!

    1. The main thing I got from this video was that it was a "Lance Wheeler Video". That seemed to be the most important thing since it was on screen from start to finish. The nerve of that guy wearing a RED SOX jacket to a NY Common Council meeting. Was the gang going to jump John after the meeting if he didn't stand? Guess John stood so John Mason wouldn't be fired this morning.

  3. Now, that idiot Publisher at Register Star, can write his moronic editorial about an Alderman saying or not saying the pledge of allegiance at Common Council Meeting,(which is not required), he was so obsessed about,
    that it ended up costing 3 reporters and an editor thier jobs, on ethical grounds.
    I don't care what anybody thinks.
    Alderman "Doc" Donahue 5th ward,was up to his scrawny neck,staging this whole thing from the start,with the Publisher at R.S. and probably some other players and now this stupid charade,preformed this evening,for CBS6Albany,
    They don't like new comer, Alderman Friedman Third Ward,his beard,his ponytail,his intelligence,his law degree and especially that he had been publicly vocal about his "audacity" to not just rubber stamp new Hudson Police Contract through,unquestioned,which is a third of our property taxes.
    The "good ol' boys"did not like that,
    not one little bit.
    And I do not like any of this crap,at all.

  4. This is an ancient fight -- well, at least since The Pledge was written, in 1892 -- and I invite readers to see my book (it's the Hudson Library and was available in the Spotty Dog) The Pledge: A History of the Pledge of Allegience. You'll find it interesting that this little ditty was written by a former minister from upstate NY and debuted at the great Chicago World's Fair and is probably the most recited verse in the English language. It has been changed a few times (notably, the "under God" business, in the 1950s), has been subject of riots and Supreme Court decisions. Welcome, Hudson!

    --peter meyer