Yearly Archives: 2015

Blood, Sweat (Matt) and Tears

A few gun shots and it was over. Richard Matt was dead. Two days later, David Sweat was in custody. The end of a mystery that captured the country’s attention after an elaborate escape that left politicians and the police shaking their heads.

For three weeks, we were captivated by the prison break. What was it about Sweat and Matt that so intrigued? The romance of it all. A brilliant escape. A charming and disarming Matt with a surprising penchant for the palette. Flirting with guards. Skirting the rules. The Post-Its. The perfect crime.

“Hear anything?” the manager of the local wine shop would ask during my weekly visit. We agreed most people didn’t want the pair to get caught.

On Friday, as news of Matt’s death unfolded, I paused. I felt a twinge of loss.

Then, on Sunday, when my phone pinged with a push from the Times about Sweat, I sighed. It’s over.

Again, I felt a twinge. Not grief. Hardly. I don’t know them. They’re killers. They caused much pain and suffering. They cost us a lot of money and diverted critical resources. Quiet upstate communities — neighbors minding their business — were looking over their collective shoulder.

But it wasn’t about the men, the murderers. They became symbols of something else. Adventure. Intrigue. They fought the law.

In the end, the law won. But for three weeks, they evaded us. Dined on peanut butter and grape gin.

Many thought they’d made it to Canada, or Mexico. Sipping tequila with their toes in the sand and their heads in the clouds. It was not to be.

An ignominious end for two enigmatic men.

A Silver Lining for Albany?

As Democrats in Albany get set to elect a successor to embattled Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who is supposed to resign tonight at 11:59 amid federal charges of corruption, red flags already appear to be popping up.

The murky state of Albany politics.

News that longtime speaker Silver – who tightly held the reins two decades – was being investigated by the feds for allegedly taking millions in kickbacks sent a shock through the political machine. In a remarkable turn, Democrats known for shielding their speaker began talking about his replacement.

Suddenly, a gust of fresh air. Hopes began to build for a better day in Albany. It was short-lived. Initially, lawmakers said they’d wait for two weeks to select a replacement. Then, a handful decided to back Carl Heastie, chairman of the Bronx Democratic Party. Some members event want to move up the election from its scheduled date of Feb. 10.

Why so hasty for Heastie? The public was promised a more open and deliberative selection process.

Assemblyman Heastie is vowing more transparency in Albany but he himself was being investigated by the now shuttered Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption over his use of campaign funds.

And while his actions are not unique – nor may they even be illegal – it’s not the fresh start needed to spur real reform.

There’s a growing fear it’s just going to be more of the same. The people deserve better – much better.