Dan’s County; Klein’s Style

Commentary by Robert Lynch; Posted January 18, 2024

Should you have been looking for some broad, sweeping vision for our community in 2024, you wouldn’t have found it in newly-named Chairman Dan Klein’s “State of the County” address to the Tompkins County Legislature this week.  In fact, the Danby lawmaker—for whom a suit and tie are foreign objects—seemed uncomfortable with what he read. “I guess we call it the State of the County; it sounds a little funny calling it that,” Klein observed.

“The state of the County is excellent,” Klein’s statement began, “and at the same time there are plenty of areas that need a lot of attention and need a lot of help.  We are doing a lot, and there is a lot more to do.”

But isn’t that what everyone almost always says?

What followed in the speech was a laundry list recitation of governmental goals and accomplishments, ongoing endeavors that the official press release wisely put as bullet points:  Work toward a Center of Government; put the county-wide flycar system in place; hire a County Attorney; and oh, yes, prod advisory boards to update their bylaws.  So it went. 

Many of Klein’s 1600 words built him a platform to name committee chairs.  Only after Klein had reached the end of his 12-minute script— and applause followed—did spontaneity emerge:

“I believe strongly in our County Government,” Klein then ad-libbed, “So that’s what I was trying to express.”

We each do things differently.  But my advice to Dan is this:  Speak from the heart, not the page, whenever you can.  Passion works.