By Mark David Blum, Esq.
The Great New York State Fair is soon to be upon us and unless immediate action is taken, Dan O’Hara is going to destroy what remains. Your help is solicited here to please contact your state representative and the Governor to dump Dan O’Hara as Director of the Fair. If left in place, the Fair will soon be a shadow and shell of its former self.
Maybe because O’Hara has his job through patronage that he lacks the understanding and knowledge of just what is the heart and soul of the Fair. Its’ origins lie and its blood line is pure that the Fair is a celebration of our State’s Agricultural achievements. It is not about spas or cars or that horrid building of endless junk. The Fair is not about social policy or controlled behavior. We are there to celebrate our Agricultural heritage. If I were director, I would add a secondary level and make the future of New York also part of the Fair. That however, is another discussion.
I make this point about Agriculture because with agriculture comes dirt, dust, feces, smoke, chemicals, all mixed together with the grease, grime, soot, and muck from the Fairgrounds themselves. Together, these make for the great sights and sounds and tastes that make the Fair experience what it is. This is grease and grime that gets into your blood and makes your heart beat faster and your adrenaline pump as you move around the fairgrounds.
But Dan O’Hara and all his policies seek to completely sanitize the fairgrounds. The smoking ban, the tobacco sales ban, the outside alcohol ban, mandatory shoes and shirts (for men too), the bag and body searches at the entrance, the banning of wine slushies, the random searches of recreational vehicles parked inside the fairgrounds, and the demolition of the Fair sign at Gate 1. Let us also not forget last year’s First Amendment attack by Dan summarily removing from viewing a First Prize Blue Ribbon Award Winning photograph because Dan did not like its’ content. All these assaults upon our sensibilities are changing the Fair from a celebration to a museum-esque experience. We are to walk through quietly, touch nothing, make no sounds, no food or drink or smoking, and we will see some things that represent that Dan thinks is appropriate for New York State. If I wore a T-Shirt that had printed on it, “Cops Say Legalize Drugs”, I would be asked to remove the shirt or be escorted from the Fairgrounds – or so I’ve been told.
I say “no more”. Dan has to go. In addition to his caging of the Fair, O’Hara is famous for being a colossal bastard to his employees. Whether he is spreading false rumors of employees having affairs, to firing key personnel who are the ones who make the Fair work, to his inability to get along with key constituencies like the NAACP, to constantly reminding people that they serve “at-will” and demoralizing the life blood of the Fair; Dan is not the man to be in the position. Please contact whomever and seek O’Hara’s removal.
Matt Morgan, Phil Davoli, and even Sue Speach are far more qualified than am I to run the Fair yet none was ever considered by Eliot Spitzer. Though he tendered his resignation as is required by protocol, Governor Paterson did not accept O’Hara’s resignation and left him in place. That has to change. The Governor cannot be that blind.
Sadly, I have no political capacity to even be heard by the “powers that be”. Spending a lifetime refusing to play “politics” leaves you at times outside when it comes to impacting policy. I have no access; but I know some of you do.
I will spare you the Pastor Neimoiller speech. Suffice it to say that I pray one day you never see me write the words, “I hate to say I told you so, but ….”