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ZT Revisited

August 18, 2014

We wrote recently about Zephyr T. Some of her supporters took offense and suggested that we’re being mean-spirited and small in focusing on her residency.

We thought we were being rather logical and big-picture-ish on the matter.  We said that the 1820 law requiring someone to live in a place for five years before they can run for governor is antiquated.  We could have been clearer in saying: It’s a shame that she has to fight to run.

We’ll go further now and say that there are a number of provisions in New York law that restrict the ability of people to run for public office or otherwise make it difficult for them to do so. Such provisions are wrong and should be modified and/or removed.  We should be encouraging dynamic people like Ms. T to run for office, not throwing up roadblocks for them.

That said, we still and even more adamantly think there’s something weird going on with her residency filings. We’re not going to back off of that. We simply don’t believe that someone can make an inadvertent mistake in recording their residence on official documents. It’s inconceivable to us that you can get it wrong when asked a question so elemental as “Where do you live?”

You don’t goof it up in conversation with someone, and you certainly don’t do it when filling out registrations, license applications and other official documents. 

Despite her appeal as an intelligent and articulate candidate, we have our doubts about her.

We wonder why she can’t do what every other candidate for statewide office does and release her income tax records for the last five years?

How hard is that? Everyone can do it. Even ordinary folks who’d never dream of running for office have those records. They are in the desk drawer with the house deed or apartment lease.

We don’t know why reporters aren’t asking to inspect her tax records – which is a well established, if unofficial, requirement for candidates.   Actually, we do know why, or we think do, and now this post turns into mini critique of the media in this campaign cycle:

The media has given Ms. T quite a ride ever since she burst on the scene at the WFP attention. She has received a lot more attention than Howie Hawkins, who polls stronger than her.  She’s received more attention than Rob Astorino – at least lately.

But we really know so very little about her. All you get from articles is that she’s a law prof at Fordham.  If you go looking on the internet you get some more info on her academic interests, and you pick up a tidbit or two on her accomplished parents who live in Vt.  But there’s no narrative about her. No account about her youth. There’s no record of previous employment. No personal story to speak of. 

Without being intrusive (normally the media hounds political candidates for personal information) we should know more about her. So why don’t we?

It’s because reporters want to see Cuomo challenged. They want to see him sweat a little. Of course, they do.

While this sentiment can be legit, it can also speak to a kind of bias. The best reporters don’t allow personal feelings to interfere with their reporting.  Even though Cuomo and his staff over the last four years may not have always been respectful of their role, they shouldn’t allow that fact to influence their work.

Even if Cuomo has acted contemptuously toward them at times, it should not affect the work, right?

Yeah, but it does.  Cuomo’s issues of late – the WFP convention, the Moreland thing, the Zephyr challenge, even the end of the FUD-Cuomo bromance – delight reporters.

And how can it not? There is a small measure of comeuppance for Cuomo who has ruled well, but with an imperious quality for four years.

Even so, it’s a measure of their reporters’ professionalism that they keep such sentiments in check and do the job in an evenhanded way.  This includes asking ZT to produce the same tax records that all the other statewide candidates must produce.    

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