A Day in the Life of a Spring Valley reporter
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been reported that Spring Valley Mayor George Darden has a reputation for being abrasive in his dealings with the public. He has no problem offering strong opinions to his constituents and fellow Village Board members.
Well, we found out yesterday that the newspaper is not spared.
As reporters, weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re used to politicians not rolling out the welcome mat for us at times. (And we know they might not want to hear from us, but we have to call, because to not do that would be unfair to them.)
However, when it comes to issues of public importance, most understand the need to have a conversation with the press, even if they donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to.
Since we reported in our paper that Darden hired day laborers from Route 59 to work on a village project in July, and that those workers were illegal immigrants, and that he paid them in cash, and that he was reimbursed for it on the same day, and that heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s refused to discuss the issue, and that he got his unusual actions ratified by the Village Board after the fact, Darden hasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t talked to us, except for one or two instances when we reported positive news in Spring Valley.
Barring one press conference in July when he didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t discuss details of the hiring and didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t take questions from the press, DardenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been closemouthed about the whole hiring episode.
Now, thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s word that the Village Treasurer, Sandra Bullock, has resigned. She handed in her notice on Aug. 20, and her last day is Sept. 19. (She says she found a better job opportunity and that her departure has nothing at all to do with the immigrant hiring situation.)
We Ã¢â‚¬â€ or, rather, I Ã¢â‚¬â€ called Darden yesterday to ask him whether a search was on for BullockÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s replacement and who would run the department in the interim.
I was told he wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t at Village Hall. I left a message. A little later, I called his assistant, who said the mayor wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t in, and it wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t clear whether he would return to the office that day. Still later that day, I called the Village Attorney, Bruce Levine. Levine referred the call to the mayor, who, by the way, wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t in. Levine didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know if Darden would return to the office.
So I tried the mayorÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s cell phone. He answered. I identified myself and started to tell him why I was calling. I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get very far. He cut me off.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“We donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get along well enough to talk like that, dear,Ã¢â‚¬? he said in a pleasant tone. Ã¢â‚¬Å“You put a spin on everything I say. With that, have a nice day.Ã¢â‚¬?
And he hung up. I can’t say I was surprised. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s ended calls like that before.