Astorino Kills Air Time

Astorino Watch is a collective of Westchester County residents watching – and in this case listening – to County Executive Rob Astorino.  Here are the thoughts of a decorated Vietnam veteran after only 30 minutes of Astorino’s subbing on WOR this week. 

I was startled recently when I turned on WOR radio in the morning and heard our County Executive, Rob Astorino filling in for ailing Mark Simone. I sort of knew Mr. Astorino had a background in this field and who can fault him for chatting away the mid-morning hours in one of his old haunts…plus, he gets exposure (which around election time he no doubt needs) and maybe a little cash.

None of that is of concern though it is a jolt to hear your elected official glibly narrate how he got his favorite pastry and coffee on the way to the studio as your own car bounces over a poorly maintained County road.

I left the radio on that station because it was pre-set to pick up Mets games. I was otherwise occupied, so my attention ambled as I occasionally listened and zoned out. When I did pay attention, it was easy to follow because our County Executive seemed almost buoyant with his applied simplistics.

For example, it was odd how Mr. Astorino minimized an adoption case in South Carolina so that it was juicy fodder for his call-in show. The formula worked because he dragged the anecdote out over 5 commercials and 30 minutes of airtime. You could almost hear the high fiving in the booth as caller after caller swallowed the bait—and through his leadership—merrily missed the point of why the case was in the newspapers. I guess that’s what you do these days with a very complicated social situation: the father was in jail, the mom was on drugs, so, ipso facto of course they never see their baby again. Call in if you’re outraged that the judge said the child should be wrenched from the very loving adoptive parents (who, by the way, have 7 kids and receive a large stipend to house adoptees.)

But I’m glad I stayed tuned in for the last few minutes of the show to hear this whopper. (It was almost worth toiling through the inane preceding hours.) Mr. Astorino had to fill in the waning minutes before Rush Limbaugh and perhaps he wanted to rise to Mr. Limbaugh’s penchant for quotes out-of-context.

He noted that 33% of all democrats “were not proud of their country.” He huffed and puffed about this awhile and then declared that they should leave if they weren’t happy here.

You can hear him 30 minutes in asking “Then why do you live here. Just go….go…”

I’m Vietnam veteran and thought for a minute I was in a time warp. I went to Southeast Asia, served, but I didn’t begrudge protesters. As a matter of truth, their pleas had much to do with the ending of that war.  Despite the loss of thousands of lives and that we were in the wrong war, there was a a cry about pride in America then, and, a response of “my country, love it or leave it.”

And this is where the citizen leader, statesman(?) Astorino moved from sideshow curiosity fill-in on the radio to dangerous voice. He should know better.

Thomas Jefferson schooled us that the people’s voice was pre-eminent and that there was nothing sacrosanct about the structure and institution of government. Democracy, was preferred, yes, Jefferson and the founders stood with Locke and other thinkers of the day on that direction but it is a muddied exercise to lift a percentage of fellow Americans and banish them from the land because the government is an embarrassment.

That behavior occurred in the 1930s, and in Europe, and I won’t elaborate.

After Mr. Astorino signed off all I could do was stare at the radio, stunned and wondering if fellow Westchester residents were aware of how clueless the County Executive is.

Signed,

A Veteran and almost lifetime resident of Westchester.

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