When I drove to Albany in December, 1980, looking for an apartment for my 1981 Legislative Gazette internship and seeing the Egg and the Empire State Plaza for the first time, I felt I was entering the Land of Oz. Little did I know how true I would find my first impression.
I had been a reporter and editor for various New Paltz papers. But I knew nothing about state government. I didn’t know there were two houses in the Legislature. I was as green as the Emerald City. During my time, although it was initially a completely alien world, I met many elected officials (but not all) who seemed (despite my naïve politics-hating persona) to exemplify the virtues of heart, brains and courage. I was fortunate in 1981 and 1982 (when I returned for another internship) to witness really amazing public officials in action. I saw folks who put partisanship aside, almost all of the time, to do the best for New York. They were giants, and friends outside the chambers.
I wasn’t one of the LG pioneers. But I was close, and fortunate to learn from some of those there since the beginning. It is difficult to express how I feel about the Gazette and the impact it ultimately had upon my life.
But, as one of the earlier LG folks, I’ll get in the “way back” machine and tell you what it was like. There was no Internet, no email, no Facebook, no Instagram, no SnapChat, and…no computers. We early Gazetteers brought our own manual or electric typewriters. When we wrote copy, it was on typing paper taped together into big scrolls for our legendary editor, Glenn Doty, to red pen. After he edited us, questioned our sources, suggested other angles to follow, and otherwise shared his incredible journalistic talent and nose for news, we would re-do our stories, re-type them, tape them together, and bring them back for Glenn’s final okay. It was the best way to learn how to be a real reporter. No one succeeds without a good editor. Glenn was a solicitous and caring “den father” to his “cub” reporters, but he was also hard on us and expected excellence.
In 1982, my roommates and I were also in charge of some of the photography. We developed film in one of our darkest bedrooms, and hanging negatives dried in our kitchen windows. I don’t remember how the photos got printed. But it was a hoot, particularly when a big wind blew all of our negatives into the backyard. We scrambled like you wouldn’t believe!
Dr. Alan Chartock, apart from being an LG founder, was a big part of our lives with his weekly seminars, where we gained perspective on how state government worked, from both policy and political standpoints.
Long story short now: Dr. Chartock called me in 1983, when I was working as a New Paltz News reporter, and told me about an assistant press secretary job opening in the Senate Minority Leader’s office. I was hired, and have worked in the Senate since then, including a stint as the Leader’s Press Secretary, and have been fortunate to work with many amazing Senators. Even though I “officially” retired in 2016, I still work part-time for the Senate. I’ve still got politics and government in my soul. Thanks, LG!