Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Josh Blasto

The other day there was an article about me in the Wall Street Journal. It was a fair piece, which is all you can ask.
The article by reporter Jacob Gershman gave me credit for some things, and also included some criticism of me.
I’m fine with criticism. Really, I am. I have strong views that I freely express, and I expect others to do the same. In fact, I begin to wonder about people who don’t respond to criticism. I begin to wonder whether they have the courage of their convictions.
That said, I don’t accept responses to my criticism that are ridiculous and lame. And in this regard, the governor’s spokesperson is a case in point. The governor’s press secretary said in the article that I was a “grandstander” and “a partisan.” 
Now, I won’t quibble with grandstander. Who in public life isn’t a grandstander in one way or another?  But partisan? Is that a joke? My long tenure as an ethics enforcer was all about being non-partisan, and my record clearly demonstrates that.  Fortunately, the Journal article pointed this out in some detail and people who read the article have told me that the spokesperson’s comments came off as uninformed at best and as a fabrication at worst. 
But, punctilious person that I am, I couldn’t let it go. “Punctilious” is what Jacob called me – and (from one punctilious person to another) I take it as a compliment.
I wondered who the hell is this Josh dude? What kind of background does he have that would qualify him to call me partisan? 
It turns out that Josh Vlasto, age 28, was the spokesperson for the governor’s campaign. Before that he was a spokesperson for Chuck Schumer and his campaigns. His father was the spokesperson for Governor Hugh Carey. 
So does being a partisan qualify you to call someone else a partisan no matter what the truth is? Apparently so.  
When you google Josh’s name, you find that he’s a controversial spokesperson. He’s known for yelling at reporters and for blasting anyone who questions the governor.
Now as I’m reading all of this, I’m actually starting to like young Josh because he obviously has spirit. But then I read something he said in a recent article about himself.  He was defending his intense style and said: “I respect aggressive reporters and they should respect aggressive spokespeople.” 
Memo to young Josh: Use the same construct for ethics watchdogs who have been walking the walk for more years than you have been able to talk.  Respect them and they’ll respect you.  But fail to do so and your credibility will be further eroded. And that’s not just with me, but with everyone who cares about public policy matters in New York.

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