So this Gavin Regan guy has just about no friends in the Fourth Estate.
A really great editor once told me that, even if someone is not willing to stand up for himself and give his side, it's a reporter's job to do it for him.
So let me do that for the troubled Mr. Regan. Allow me to play Devil's advocate. (A quick aside: He did stand up for himself, but the reason he gave... Has not been accepted, to say the least. So I'll give another hypothetical one.)
First, a bit of background.
Patty Ritchie used to be county clerk, and Mary Lou Rupp was her second-in-command. The place ran like clockwork, a rare departure from typical government bureaucracy.
Then, the clerk's office became a victim of Mrs. Ritchie's own success. She was elected as the state senator for the 48th District. Mrs. Rupp became the heir apparent, and soon sorta-announced-but-everyone-knew-anyway that she was going to run for the clerk's position on the Republican line in November. Mrs. Rupp became acting clerk.
But then, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, appointed Mr. Regan, a Democrat, to the position. That bumped Mrs. Rupp back down to deputy.
Then, hours onto the job, Mr. Regan fired Mrs. Rupp, his November opponent, on the grounds that budget constraints called for it.
The backlash was fierce.
The Watertown Times slammed him. Chuck Kelly, a staunch Democrat, said he wouldn't be "electing" Mr. Regan (the word choice a reflection of Chuck's long-held influence in St. Lawrence County politics).
And Jeff Savitskie, my former boss, wrote in his column that Mr. Regan is a loser — that is, he's destined to lose the position.
But let's re-examine the facts here, and please allow me to come to Mr. Regan's defense with an angle that he himself hasn't really explored.
What people are miffed about is that "budgetary reasons" seem to be a clear excuse for canning her because they're going to be opponents in the November election.
But what if Mr. Regan had come out and said the following:
"I fired her for political reasons, yes. As a manager, I felt it would have been an unhealthy environment for political opponents to work in the same office, especially at such proximity. It would have severely harmed morale and the ability of the clerk's office to work together. The November election was absolutely on my mind when I decided to fire her, but it was for the sake of good management. This move prevents any sort of possible backbiting or political maneuvers in the clerk's office. I thank Mrs. Rupp for her service to the people of St. Lawrence County, and wish her the best of luck on what is sure to be a hard-fought campaign."
What if he had said that? Would that have changed your mind?
Alas, he did not. He said it was for budgetary reasons, and now the media is looking at the situation and saying, "Oh, come on!"
So I guess what I'm really trying to get at here is this question: Are people more upset about the political nature of the move, or upset about the fact that Mr. Regan was — as the media has been saying — disingenuous about the reasons for her firing?