At our local library last week I found a huge sign blocking access to the aisle, with Sen. Patty Ritchies name prominently displayed. It was part of the Women of Distinction display that her office has rotating through local libraries. As a longtime supporter of womens rights and womens history, I had no problem with the historical portion of the display, which included posters of prominent New York women in history and books of information about these women. What I did object to was the blatant use by Sen. Ritchie of her office to promote herself. I know the incumbent always has an advantage in gaining exposure for their name, but this was over the line.
Sen. Ritchies name was displayed more prominently than Jan Rebeors, the current honoree, and it was Sen. Ritchies photo on the cover of the pamphlets for the current years honoree and nominees. If this display was for the purpose of recognizing these women, why would she put her own picture on the cover and not the honoree?
I did a little bit of Googling, and found that the pamphlet format was the same as that used by Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos for the state awards, with a big exception. Dean Skelos left Lady Liberty as the cover, while Sen. Ritchie substituted her own face. I think that tells us whom this exhibit is for certainly not the honorees or the taxpayers.
The presentation also leads one to believe that this award was entirely Ms. Ritchies idea and sponsored by her. Its actually a program of the state Senate that has been in place since 1998 senators in every district do the same thing. Its interesting that while this award was also done by Sen. Ritchie in 2011, no such display made the library rounds then. I wonder why the schedule for the exhibit on her website includes only Oswego County libraries, when her district (and the nominees) include Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties. Could it be that last year Sen. Ritchie was not running for re-election against Amy Tresidder, a strong woman from Oswego County?
Am I correct in assuming that it is our taxpayer money that is paying for both the production of the posters and the staff time to move it from location to location? I question it because this seems as much a campaign tool as an educational piece. Just wondering.