What do legal Westchester weed dispensaries, Thornwood development, Katonah’s Caramoor, and girls' flag football in Somers have in common? Nothing. But they’re all mentioned here…
Good morning! Today is Tuesday, April 12, and you are reading today’s section of Examiner+, a digital newsmagazine serving Westchester, Putnam, and the surrounding Hudson Valley.
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Before I get into it, a little top-of-the-show commercial. Having just completed four months of training, Examiner Digital Editorial Director Robert Schork and Webmaster Dean Pacchiana are busy executing on a long list of audience-growing, content-enhancing initiatives we developed during our time spent in the Facebook-Meta Accelerator program. Despite all of Facebook’s many very real and grave ills, the Accelerator program is a glistening bright spot. Basically, the world’s top minds in news publishing (on Zuckerberg’s dime) coach us local-media, battered-industry small fries on how to deliver you, our readers, a better experience, and how to enact those plans in a way that allows us to pay our bills — now and in the future. Program fundamentals preach testing and measuring and listening and learning — from you. Our latest Accelerator-inspired offer is a free 30-day trial to Examiner+, a way for unsure readers to give us a test drive before committing, while we also hatch plans to up our social media game, improve our delivery systems, and better broadcast our local news mission. The following link is your monthlong key to the Examiner+ car, so crank up the tunes and have fun on the journalistic joyride: www.examiner-plus.com/subscribe?coupon=3267a532
OK, with that out of the way…there’s a ton going on with Westchester development debates right now (as is often the case) so I called Editor-in-Chief Martin Wilbur on Thursday afternoon to see if there was a meaningful way I could share a package of our recent coverage with you here on Examiner+ in a useful way, and tie a little word bow on a few recent articles by offering you a contextualized introduction. But our conversation — as good conversations often do — veered in a different direction. We ended up on the drug crisis.
Before I get to that, let me at least follow through on a portion of my original idea, and spotlight the following piece Martin wrote on a pair of local projects, the Legionnaires property and the Pocantico Lake development: www.theexaminernews.com/developer-in-contract-to-buy-thornwood-legionnaires-property/
(In fact, if you want to read a brief piece on the broader issue, Editor Rick Pezzullo also showcased the topic last week, reporting on a Business Council of Westchester-organized, Marsha Gordon-hosted forum featuring prominent local developers, and you’ll see how Louis Cappelli notes how the post-pandemic building economy remains a tangled web of challenges, with material costs rising and supply chains clogged. www.theexaminernews.com/prominent-developers-discuss-future-growth-and-challenges/)
As for Martin’s coverage, he was reporting from a forum held last Saturday by Mount Pleasant’s Republican supervisor, Carl Fulgenzi, where the 165-acre Legionnaires of Christ property in Thornwood was discussed. In trying to do a little in-house reporting of my own, I asked Martin for any interesting tidbits he might have scribbled in his reporter’s notebook but left out of print. As it turned out, the dialogue at the forum touched on drug abuse at one point and included Fulgenzi articulating his widely-known, deeply-felt opposition to the legalization of recreational marijuana, or at least opposition to dispensaries joining the neighborhood.
The supervisor and residents alike said the schools should do more to teach the dangers of drugs, including opioids, while also emphasizing how it’s imperative the lessons start at home. Hard to argue with any of that. But part of the problem with the debate over legal marijuana is how it often morphs into opposing camps engaging in a parallel conversation.
Opponents of legalization — or at least widely accessible legal sales — often cite the dangers of teen abuse as evidence of their position. But championing legalization and all that comes with it in any state does not require downplaying the potential risks of usage itself. You have to twist yourself in a particularly misshaped rhetorical pretzel in order to oppose marijuana dispensaries on Main Street but support liquor shops dotting your downtown. Embracing legal marijuana dispensaries for adults and acknowledging concerns over teen abuse coexist perfectly well — no more and no less (although perhaps more on second thought) than simultaneously accepting legal liquor stores while acknowledging concerns over teen alcohol abuse. Some years from now, when the sale of legal weed is as commonplace as legal liquor sales, we’ll look at today’s opposition much the way we look at U.S. alcohol prohibition last century. Is there anyone in the world who thinks a teen struggling with alcoholism is reason to ban legal beer? When marijuana is illegal, do American kids have a tough time acquiring it? What exactly does criminalizing the substance or even limiting its legal sale actually achieve? In our divisive political era, this issue provides a great opportunity for small/smart government conservatives and criminal justice reform seeking liberals to join forces.
Having visited the Berkshires this past winter, seeing half a dozen or so cannabis shops color the downtown, I can assure you suburban life will survive dispensaries operating throughout the area. In fact, if anything, the look and feel of the businesses enhanced the look and feel of the community, at least in Great Barrington. (Not to mention boosting the tax base.)
As for battling teen drug abuse of illegal (and legal) drugs, that’s a whole other conversation largely detached from the debate over legal dispensaries. But, yes, as Fulgenzi and town residents said, it starts (but doesn’t end) at home. Another column for another day.
The bottom line is it’s the (exceedingly understandable) emotional tug driving most continued opposition to the embrace of the dispensaries. But you can worry about your kids abusing drugs and accept dispensaries without contradiction. You can’t, however, swing by the neighborhood liquor store for a bottle of dinnertime red before railing against dispensaries at the Tuesday night town board meeting. Or at least you can’t do both and remain consistent.
Some other Examiner news and notes… When a local story involving the arts emerges on our radar screens, we usually turn to staff reporter Abby Luby. A musician herself, I was excited to tell Abby last week that the Katonah-based Caramoor had invited us to its media event coming up next month. (Quick little shout to Media Relations & Outreach Consultant Barb Prisament for her energetic advocacy of Caramoor, a local treasure for music on spectacular grounds.) Anyway, be on the lookout in May for our newspaper coverage of Caramoor, and hopefully a Q&A interview here on Examiner+ with a special guest. Stay tuned. And check out Caramoor’s upcoming events in the meantime: www.caramoor.org.
Lastly, I’m super excited about the local girls’ flag football movement we reported on last week. To think we might have varsity girls high school flag football within two years is a monumental sign of progress when it comes to gender equality in sports. And to have the NFL putting its muscle into the campaign (regardless of what’s motivating the league; hint, it’s green and makes the world go round) signals reason to believe the program will grow and flourish. Abby wrote about Giants quarterback Daniel Jones visiting a jamboree at Somers High School last Friday, and here’s that piece in case you missed it: www.theexaminernews.com/girls-high-school-flag-football-ready-to-kick-off-inaugural-season/
Given the broader societal implications — think the potential image of spring homecoming football games with the boy football players and coaches rooting on the girls from the stands, and visa versa in the fall — we asked reporter Bailey Hosfelt to examine the issue a bit further for E+ subscribers. As soon as it’s ready, we’ll share that piece with you as a standalone Examiner+ feature.
Speaking of which, did I mention our free trial offer? I don’t recall. (Get used to this new little inside joke of ours). Please click www.examiner-plus.com/subscribe?coupon=3267a532 to get started.
See you again in this space next week!
Adam Stone is the publisher of Examiner Media. When not running local news outlets or chauffeuring his children, Stone can be found on the tennis courts at Mt. Kisco’s Leonard Park, on his Ipad playing chess, or on the floor cleaning after his two dogs.
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