Don’t you miss political cartoons? Ever since Joe Glisson hung up his pen here at the Syracuse New Times in December 2012 and Frank Cammuso departed The Post-Standard the following month, we’ve had no local cartoonists.
It’s been nothing but words and photographs. Facebook memes and Jon Stewart’s split-screen images are nice, but they are no substitute for the one-two punch that, for so long, cartoons skewering our political elites used to serve up.
Instead we’re forced to lay down the proverbial thousand words, and at the moment, a cartoon would serve us so much better.
Picture the minivan filled with squabbling common councilors, driven by a grim-faced Mayor Stephanie Miner, shaking her head, eyes raised as she shouts at the rearview mirror. The caption might even say “Out for a Joy Ride” while the mayor’s stern words “Don’t make me stop this car!” float in the cartoonist’s bubble.
“Mom” Miner, in this case, is hollering at her little darlings in the back of the van, because the children keep whining that they want to play Game of Thrones on the van’s Xbox. She has cleverly set the parental controls to block some of the games. “Nope,” she insists, “you can’t play that one. I make the rules.”
The kids keep on hollering, “It’s not fair!”
The mayor’s look says it all. “Wait ’til your father gets home… Don’t make me come back there.” You get the idea.
It would be funny if I could draw you a caricature, but a good cartoonist goes beyond caricature. A Cammuso or a Glisson would sketch in the details of the street, and as your eye circles the image you might notice that the manhole covers are missing. The street is filling with water from a broken water main. The gas tank is on empty, the van is way past due for inspection, and the meter keeps running. (The current dispute between the legislative and executive branches of city government over computer access is costing us about $380 per billable hour in legal fees.)
A sign at the intersection says I-81, and it’s pointing in four directions. I’m not sure if our intrepid cartoonist would risk a final image, but an honest portrait of our city this summer would also include a dead body or two, in reference to the spate of shootings that have occurred this summer.
In this summer when our streets run red with the blood of young men, most of them the “Black Lives” that the politicians say should matter, and the water that we can’t seem to keep in the mains, our local elected officials have found the time, and the money (our money) to argue about internal computer use policy.
Miner says the Common Council won’t sign a standard computer use form, the same kind of form most of us sign the first day on the job. The councilors say they won’t honor a document that refers to them as employees of the city. They say they are elected officials. How hard is it to figure this out? Aren’t they elected officials, employed by the city?
The Joy Brigade (the councilors are led in this crusade by Kathleen Joy) replies indignantly that the mayor might read their private emails. They don’t want to give her that power. Are they kidding? Have the councilors never heard of Gmail? If there are things of a personal or political nature, use another email account. The official city computers should only be used for official city business anyway.
Is there anything that City Hall can agree on without it becoming a tug of war between the mayor and the Common Council? (Mind you, all of them are members of her own party). This would be a month’s worth of cartoons.
This whole thing should just be sent to a qualified arbitrator. So that the Common Council can move on to more important matters, such as the vital question of whether the toilet paper rolls at City Hall should roll under or over.
OK, next cartoon. Councilor Kathleen Joy and Mayor Miner step into a hearing room to meet their arbitrator. You guessed it: Hillary Clinton. Somewhere, Cammuso and Glisson must feel their ink pen fingers twitching.