The Week: What Caught Our Eye

August 13, 2022

A red bicycle with flowers in the front basket and behind the seat, sitting on the sidewalk near a buildingAs we ease into mid-August, only one wish comes to mind: 100 more idyllic summer days, please.

Dear Colleagues, Friends and Fellow Outmates:

EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY, inmates in New York State prisons (in the political lexicon, “individuals who are justice-involved”) are to be referred to in state law as “incarcerated persons.” No change for victims of crime, sometimes known as justice-deprived individuals. They can still be referred to as victims – and their numbers are increasing.

Three weeks ago, the Republican candidate for governor, Lee Zeldin, was attacked on stage while giving a political speech. On Friday, the author Salman Rushdie, who has lived with death threats for most of his adult life, was stabbed in the neck as he prepared to speak at the annual Chautauqua, N.Y., gathering of prominent writers, scientists and political figures.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams and others are pleading with Albany to “erase the perception among criminals that there are no meaningful consequences for crime and restore government’s focus on the victims ….”

Why all this now?

There is a mental health crisis in New York and nationwide. But New York, unlike every other state, also prohibits judges from considering the danger a defendant may pose to the community when setting bail. A necessary, common-sense change in bail laws, supported by Gov. Hochul, Republicans, and many moderate Democrats, would give judges discretion to consider a defendant's “dangerousness.”

The former police officer now mayor of New York says: “Time and time again, our police officers arrest someone who has multiple charges, but no matter how many times this person may have been arrested before, they are often walking free hours later.”

Former New York Gov. George Pataki reminded us this week crime should not be a partisan issue.

If they’re actually caught, convicted and imprisoned, incarcerated persons will now have more to read. A detailed, Pulitzer Prize-wining account of the deadly 1971 Attica state prison riot, which the state sought to ban from circulation in state prisons, is now available — minus a few pages.

YET THE CITY THAT NEVER SLEEPS is far better off than the City of Brotherly Love. In Philadelphia, as in so many other cities, authorities are doing all they can to get guns off the streets. But for every illegal gun seized by police between 1999 and 2019, about three more guns were bought or sold legally. The result: More than 1,400 people have been shot this year, a higher toll than in New York or Los Angeles. When it comes to gun violence, The New York Times says, “Philadelphia is one of the few major American cities where it truly is as bad as it has ever been.

AND YET HOPE ABIDES: No crying in baseball? Think again. There were few dry eyes at a Little League World Series regional tournament game in Waco, Texas, this week — and, we’d bet, among the viewers watching at home — when a player who had just been hit in the head with a pitch asked for time and walked from first base to the pitcher’s mound, where he consoled the crying young man who had just beaned him. The batter, Isaiah Jarvis, put his arms around pitcher Kaiden Shelton and assured him, “Hey, you’re doing great. Let’s go.” 

People playing beach volleyball near a lake, with a small cruise ship and mountains in the backgroundBENEFITS OF BEACH VOLLEYBALL: Each summer, hundreds of volleyball players come to Lake George, N.Y., from all over the country for the Million Dollar Beach Volleyball Tournament. The fundraiser for Prospect Center celebrated its 31st year this summer. It has grown to 17 courts on the beach, and raised more than $30,000 this year.

TO KELLER WITH LOVE: Keller was blind, deaf and facing almost certain death when Capital Region journalist John Gray and his wife, Courtney, adopted the Australian shepherd. Gray authored a 2018 book about his rescue pup companion, “Keller’s Heart,” and this spring, with the help of Keller and social media, helped raise nearly $30,000 for a local humane society. Keller suffered a series of seizures in his young life and died at just five. Gray announced his death in a Facebook post: “He made us better people.’’

SUNSET, 10/03: Bob Kovachick, who for more than 40 years has been delivering weather forecasts to viewers of Albany’s NewsChannel 13, announced at the end of a newscast last week that he would be retiring, choking up as he delivered the news. Composing himself, he added, “It’s just time to pull the plug and retire and enjoy the other aspects of my life.” He will continue to contribute to special projects for Channel 13 after his retirement on October 3.

HISTORIC ACHIEVEMENT: Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, whose rapidly growing U.S. manufacturing and product supply operations are based across the Hudson River from Albany, N.Y., this week celebrated the restoration of a historic castle on the grounds of the company’s campus in Ireland. In addition to restoration of the castle, built around 1830, the company invested in habitat restoration and enhancement, including the removal of invasive species from the grounds. “Like any good neighbor we try to have a positive impact, whether that means sustainability, creating jobs, supporting STEM education, or bringing a grand old building respectfully back to life,” Dan Van Plew, who oversees manufacturing for Regeneron, told the Limerick Post.

HER ADIRONDACK UTOPIA: The remote wilderness of the Adirondacks can be intimidating to some visitors, but Toronto writer Renée Suen shows the route to relaxation starts in the stress-free glamping grounds of Huttopia in Lake Luzerne, with a side spin at Revolution Rail in North Creek and an afternoon of mindfulness while wading in the Ausable River.

SAYING GOODBYE: Tennis legend Serena Williams, in an essay accompanied by a fashion shoot for Vogue, suggested the upcoming U.S. Open would be her final tournament as a professional. She revisits the passion and fire that drove her to 23 major championships, the memories that will endure and the difficulty in reaching this decision, but she also focuses on the joy of motherhood and her growing business interests. “I’m terrible at goodbyes, the world’s worst,” she writes. “But please know that I am more grateful for you than I can ever express in words. You have carried me to so many wins and so many trophies. I’m going to miss that version of me, that girl who played tennis. And I’m going to miss you.”

CHILD OF UKRAINE: Tetyana Denford’s ancestors narrowly escaped their homes during World War II, only to end up in a German labor camp. Steeped in her family’s history, she’s now raising three kids in suburban Queensbury in Upstate New York, and writing. Her work is winning wide acclaim. Tetyana’s debut novel, “Motherland,” is a “fragile and hopeful story of an immigrant family.’’ Now, she’s published “The Child of Ukraine:’’ An excerpt: “She cups her daughter’s face with her trembling hands, imprinting it on her mind. ‘I love you. Be brave,’ she whispers through her tears, her heart breaking into a thousand pieces. Sending her child away is the only way to keep her safe.

WHERE’S THE BEAR? Are you feasting on The Bear, the FX program on Hulu about the frenetic inner workings of the kitchen at Original Beef of Chicagoland? Original Beef is a family-owned sandwich shop whose specialty is its fabled Italian beef sandwich. A young chef leaves behind a soaring culinary career (think Eleven Madison Park) to come home to run his family’s shop after a tragedy. He faces the monumental task of keeping Original Beef operating while paying the bills, retaining his employees and making good food. Now, all the drama at The Bear is having an unintended effect: Sales of Italian beef sandwiches are soaring.

HATTIE’S ON: First, Hattie’s Restaurant chef Jasper Alexander beat Bobby Flay in an epic Fried Chicken throwdown. Now, Food Network has named Hattie’s, a Saratoga Springs, N.Y., landmark, one of the best spots in the country — and the best in New York — for fried chicken.

EXTENDING LIFE: A team of scientists at Yale have developed technology that, they said, may help extend the health of human organs during surgery and expand availability of donor organs. It might also be able to help treat organs or tissue damaged during heart attacks or strokes. Using their technology, they were able to restore blood circulation and cellular function in pigs an hour after their deaths.

BEYOND DRY: A large swath of western and central New York is looking at a drought. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation says stream flows and groundwater are at well below normal levels. Kingston has declared a drought emergency. Conditions remain far worse in the western U.S. and Europe: The U.S. government says drought conditions are most severe in Texas, Oklahoma, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Montana and New Mexico. London has declared a drought, and the Rhine River has dropped to exceptionally low levels, disrupting shipping on one of the most important inland waterways in Europe.

TEACHERS TEACHING: She was on a maternity leave from her job as a teacher in South Glens Falls, N.Y., when Alissa McDonald had a big idea about how to improve professional development: She would recruit other inspiring teachers to help their colleagues through real-world experience – and do it on video. “We can't solve the teacher shortage; I wish we could,” McDonald said. “But what we can do is support teachers who are burned out, teachers who are in new settings that maybe don't have that educational background but just want to be in the classroom. And we can help provide a connection globally that wouldn't otherwise be provided.” Her goal is to reach 10,000 teachers by the end of the year.

SALUTING NO. 6: The NBA and its players association announced this week that the league would permanently retire jersey No. 6, the number worn by Celtics legend Bill Russell. Players who currently wear No. 6, including LeBron James of the Lakers, may continue to do so, but the number will not be issued again. Russell joins Jackie Robinson (42, MLB) and Wayne Gretzky (99, NHL) as the only players to have a jersey number retired leaguewide.

HONEY, I’M DRUNK:  A young brown bear was rescued in Turkey after being found disoriented and intoxicated, apparently the result of having consumed a hallucinogenic honey containing a neurotoxin. The Turkish Ministry of Agriculture invited social media users to come up with a name for the befuddled bear who was reported to be hungover but otherwise healthy.

LIVES

DAVID McCULLOUGH had a gift for transporting Americans to the places where history was made. John and Abigail Adams’ home. Harry Truman’s haberdashery. The Wright Brothers’ bicycle repair shop. He was the dean of American historians, a literary master educated at Yale, a student of Thornton Wilder and John Hersey, whose first job was at Sports Illustrated when that venerable title was a startup. He loved America and its institutions, loved democracy, relished the lively give-and-take, the telling detail, the inspiring dramas and bitter disappointments. Most of all, he celebrated human triumph. He had the gift, his friend Douglas Brinkley wrote, of helping readers lean forward as if hearing for the first time a story told by a grandparent on a frosty January evening. He was 89.

OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN was one of pop music’s biggest stars in the 1970s, winning Grammys for “Let Me Be There” and “I Honestly Love You,” and again in 1982 for “Let’s Get Physical,” a song she tried to pull because she thought it was too risqué. She became a pop culture sensation with her role as good girl Sandy Olson in the 1978 hit movie musical “Grease,” a debut role that John Travolta personally lobbied for her to take. First diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992, Newton-John, a native Australian, died at 73.

PERRIN DAKE was a member of the family of entrepreneurs and philanthropists who own Stewart’s Shops, the iconic upstate New York convenience stores known for witty ice cream flavors and a favorite of people grabbing a bite to eat and cup of joe on the go. A longtime Stewart’s board member, he was at his summer home on Friends Lake in Chestertown, N.Y., when he went for a swim off his boat and did not resurface. He was 66.

ALMOST FINAL WORDS

“If you love freedom, then you are going to have to pay for it. Not only by paying taxes but by making the commitment to live by the principles that are essential for freedom to survive. That includes respecting the rule of law and if you have set that aside for political reasons, then you are a threat to our democracy and our freedoms.”
—    R.J. Intindola

THE SIGNOFF

ESPN_littleleaguerdreamjob.jpgA tweet from ESPN that says "Definition of a dream job" showing a little league player at bat and a caption that reads "Dream Job: Chicken Nugget Taste Tester"

——

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THANK YOU to our contributors: Bill Callen, Bill Richmond, Ryan Moore, Claire P. Tuttle, Tina Suhocki, John Brodt, Lisa Fenwick, and Tara Hutchins.

FACING OUT is what we do. We help companies, organizations and individuals work effectively with their most important external audiences – their customers, their shareholders, their communities, the government and the news media.  www.behancommunications.com

Facing Out features news and other nuggets that caught our eye, and that we thought might be of value to you, our friends and business associates. Some items are good news about our clients and friends, others are stories that we hope will leave you a bit more informed or entertained than you were five minutes ago. As always, we welcome your ideas and feedback.  

Let’s make it a conversationmark.behan@behancom.com

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