Sunday, June 7 update

NYS update: So it seems the state’s fancy contact tracing system really is pretty horrible for the counties and they don’t want to play any more:

The widening mutiny grew animated Thursday evening during a statewide conference call involving county health leaders, including many who have raised questions about the reliability of the software program developed by CommCare, a company retained by the state, and the counties’ ability to maintain control of their own tracing efforts… “How is somebody from Long Island or Queens or the Bronx going to be able to contact an Amish family in Chautauqua County?” Wendel said. “We don’t have ‘1-800-AMISH.’ 

Cuomo briefed at noon today (among Albany journalists, it appears “to brief” is now a verb). His onscreen time is ever decreasing — today’s session was but seventeen minutes. (“I am mostly loving — don’t you forget that.” NO MAS.) There was a bit of an answer about legislative police reform, but if you want to read more of the latest of the status of the bill to repeal 50-A, this Twitter thread is a good start.

I have felt that the dragged-out process of providing guidance for various aspects of reopening has been mainly about providing content for these daily briefings. Lately I’m wondering if the real state of high-level leadership in this country — gubernatorial as well as presidential — is really about mostly isolated political figures like Cuomo and Trump who fully believe they are making things go, but have no understanding of how the sausage is actually made. That business is tasked to a small, insular, loyal staff that itself doesn’t have much organic connection to the nuts and bolts of governing, but who run around frantically trying to push on strings and make things happen. I mean, I’ll bet any one of Trump’s underlings really believe they are having to run, perhaps even “save,” the entire country. I’ll bet Cuomo’s Little Helpers feels the same way about running the state.

Onondaga County update: CE McMahon did not brief today, but (future tense) will brief tomorrow. Starting on Monday, the briefings will be cut to every other weekday, signaling the end of an extraordinary 90-day run in front of the cameras. (If only Cuomo would take the hint.) In the meantime, he spent a lot of time on Twitter yesterday and today, not usual for him, reporting on weekend developments with churches and exhorting the governor’s office to do more about providing guidance for large high school graduations. I’ve noticed the upstate CE’s turning more to Twitter to communicate with the public and with each other, even as Twitter goes out of style in Washington.

Over the weekend, community spread of COVID in Onondaga County fell to almost zero. Yet it’s pretty amazing how nobody is really openly grumbling about still having to wear masks. By and large, we’re a pretty docile lot here in CNY.

After a monumental protest day in Syracuse yesterday, today it was the Town of Camillus’ turn for a public Black Lives Matter demonstration. This was not organized by the Last Chance for Change people, but by some town residents who fortunately understand that a majority-white town holding its own march through the streets would be neither appropriate nor helpful. So it was just your typical Main Street static roadside gathering with signs. And a bit of chanting. A bit.

“No justice!”

“No peace!”

“Whose lives matter?”

“Black lives matter!”

“Hands up!”


“Hands up!”


“It’s ‘hands up, don’t shoot.'”

The mostly white, family-oriented crowd of about 125 people socially distanced over three blocks in front of the town hall did not provide the Camillus police with much of a challenge. While our local police seem cool about the movement in general — their difficult moment must have been on Saturday the 30th when a large crowd of unknown intentions was heading their way during Syracuse’s first night of protest — I was a little bummed out that no one (else) in the crowd seemed willing to at least temporarily display their signs in the direction of any of the cops who were hanging out 50 yards away. There was no discussion of any local issues of any kind; it needed an emcee.

It was all pretty suburbanite. And that’s okay, for now. There’s no use pretending that isn’t who we are presently. (At least we’re not Skaneateles, where the mayor, no matter what his motivation for taking down those flyers with those frightful black fists, needs to have the concept of “optics” explained to him.)

The demonstration was well-received. Passing black motorists seemed very pleased, and the few drive-by expressions of displeasure universally took the form of angry F-250 engine revving. The whiteness of the gathering was a little disappointing, and probably due to the word-of-mouth way it had been organized, but by the end we had been joined by some black residents and at least one of them spoke impromptu. And yet, we had to be subjected to a really fundamental display of young white male privilege as three older teens with skateboards made a point of being flip and yelling “No more police! Fuck the police!” as they went back and forth several times. It’s all a joke when you know you will never get detained for it because you’re not a black teen.

I spent a lot of the afternoon staring straight at the Indian mascot I mentioned the other day. And wondering how congenial the public discourse will be about that, when the time comes. I’m not optimistic right now.