Amherst Supervisor Satish Mohan is one of those political figures for whom it is nearly impossible to have a neutral opinion, if you've ever met the man.
As a reporter who covered Mohan for his last 2 1/2 years in office, I was neither for him nor against him (something that I had to go great lengths to explain to him on more than one occasion). However, I can say that as a source for my stories I will miss him.
Mohan possessed some admirable qualities as a source. Short of any legal impediment, he gave me any information I asked for. His administrators spoke with me freely and never said, "I have to ask the boss if it's OK."
His natural personality also ensured lively and open debate of public issues in council chambers. While some boards negotiate away dissent and disagreement behind closed doors, Mohan's seat on the Amherst Town Board kept meetings interesting.
I wrote many stories about Mohan of which I know he disapproved, but he was never vindictive and didn't call my desk to complain. Only once, when The News did a midterm survey and evaluation of his tenure, did he make a big issue of my work.
He answered my questions and never directed his secretaries to first find out why I was calling. This is an underrated quality that most of us in journalism wished more politicians possessed. Even when I asked questions that he thought were ridiculous, or would inevitably make him look quite bad, he was rarely evasive, and he never refused to answer. Neither would he avoid my calls the next day.
I once told him I appreciated this responsiveness. He answered simply, "I have to. You represent the public."
If only all politicians thought that way.
With a new supervisor and new Town Board ready to be seated in January, I can only hope they will give government openness, accessibility and transparency the same level of commitment and respect.
--- Sandra Tan