Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Elul (end-of-August, like) has come around again, and you know what that means: It’s mitzvah-time in Newburgh. Today my husband and his pastor-friends went for a hike at my favorite place — Storm King — and didn’t invite me, so i decided to get back at them: i’d go out and buy bagels, and then not share. (THAT’ll teach them!) Turns out i got two free ones, so i have 14 to bring TO THE OFFICE tonight, so that PEOPLE WHO LIKE ME can eat them.

But i digress.

As i did on my way home from the bagel shop.

NO, i didn’t exactly “digress,” but i got distracted. i was about two blocks from home here in the ‘hood, when what do i see in front of South Junior High School but two guys breaking into a car. They had the requisite coat hanger and long-handled, flat-head screwdriver, and they were trying to, like, “pry down” the driver’s-side window. Now, in any other city, such a scene would accurately be labeled: “Two Guys Breaking Into a Car.” But i had a funny feeling they were just like me: idiots who had merely locked themselves out. i got home, ran inside and put the bagels in the fridge, grabbed my license, house keys, cell phone and Triple-A card, and ran back.

Sure enough, i was right. One call to AAA on my part, and they’d be in. Unfortunately, i don’t speak Spanish “muy bien.” Conjuring my one, high-school course in that language, however, i was able to discern that the shorter fellow either thought i am a prostitute or was named “Jorge,” and that he was the owner of the vehicle; the other had some weird-ass name that i never could understand, and he was the “amigo.” He was trying to “ayudarle,” which means either that he was trying to help, or that they were trying to steal the car. Confident that my instincts were right once again (this would have made at least the third or fourth time in my 60 years), i called Triple-A. Within 15 minutes, a truck from Pat’s Garage arrived. The driver checked my ID and AAA card, took 2.1 seconds to unlock the door, and we were all “finito.”

With muchas gracias from my two new amigos, i strolled home, all pleased with myself. And just think: i never would have done it if it hadn’t been for my husband not taking me on his hiking trip. i guess G-d works in ways misteriosos.

My job application

Wednesday i delivered my application for the Interim City Manager position to all City Council members. i hand-delivered it to Mayor Nicky and to his next-door neighbor, Christine Bello, and asked the secretary at City Hall to put one in each of the other councilmembers’ mailboxes (if they even have mailboxes. Everything i’ve ever mailed to City Hall, i’ve never gotten a reply to.) Here it is:

To All Members of the Newburgh City Council:


I read in the paper that you are having trouble finding someone to be Interim City Manager of Newburgh. I am hereby offering to serve in that position.

My qualifications are:

I can read and understand a budget and a balance sheet.

I can and do read contracts thoroughly. In addition, I understand what I read and if I don’t understand something, I am smart enough to ask someone to explain it to me.

I know that all grants must be performed exactly to the specifications set forth by the funder; that their requirements must be completed fully and on time; that full and accurate records must be kept of all grants requested and received.

I would work full-time, five days a week. I also know and accept that many evenings of work are also involved. I would hope to be able to be free on some Friday evenings so that I could attend worship services at my temple.

My salary requirements are:

$50,000 per year. Of course, I would collect only a fraction of that amount, as I would be serving just a few months until a permanent city manager is found. Paying me this “small” salary would allow the city to use any budgeted excess for better things, such as hiring a part-time policeman; paying youths to paint over the graffiti on our city’s buildings and clean up garbage in troubled neighborhoods; and buying permanent garbage cans for Broadway and other places where garbage on the streets is a problem.

My philosophy is that city government must be open, accessible and accountable, and its employees, starting with the city manager, extending to department heads and including the newest and lowest-paid employees, must understand that we work for the city’s people and that they are, collectively, our boss. Also, the city manager is and should regard herself as an employee of the City Council, not the other way around.

My first priority would be to call for a forensic audit of the city to see whether and how we can get through the next few years in a solvent condition.

My educational background is: bachelor’s and master’s degrees (1970 and 1971) from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications.

My professional background is: 40 years of experience in public relations, journalism, and the teaching of oral and written communications.

My personal background is: Born and raised in Newburgh, where my father was city manager from 1958 to 1960, I bought a house here in 2000 and have lived here since 2002. I returned to see what kinds of things I could do to help. I think serving as interim city manager during this stressful period is one of those things.


Please let me know whether you will consider my application. Thanks very much.



Genie Abrams