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The Saratogian Newsroom blog, complete with thoughts and commentary from our newsroom staff and regular posts on happenings around town.

Wednesday, October 20

NY-20: Murphy and Gibson on the record

After weeks of anticipation, here are the edited ed. board interviews with Rep. Scott Murphy (D-Glens Falls) and challenger Chris Gibson (R-Kinderhook). Note, all statements were made prior to the now infamous Oct. 19 "kerfuffle in Kinderhook".

Tuesday, October 19

Great debates etc.

So, what'd you think of the debate last night?

As I just signed a lease I have to agree, the rent is too damn high.
Mr. McMillan might just get my vote.

I'm thinking that's really the only purpose last night's debate served — informing people about the fringe candidates and probably convincing some voters to lend their support to the little guys.

Tonight's debate, however, I'm hoping will be a little more illuminating. Murphy and Gibson will debate at Glens Falls High School at 7 p.m. tonight. We're sending reporter Paul Post to the event. This debate, unlike the debate scheduled for Thursday in Troy, will not be broadcast live. Bummer.

What do you want to hear from the candidates tonight?

In other news...

This caught my eye on twitter this morning, remember all the fun we had discussing Ken Ivins' paid parking proposal last winter/spring? According to Slate,
To quote reporter Tom Vanderbilt:

Three-quarters of a century on, several things are clear. The first is that parking meters, a seemingly mundane fact of the urban landscape, remain as fraught and controversial as when they were first installed. And secondly, the time has finally come for a sweeping rethink of the parking meter—in part because of changes in technology, and in part because of an emerging change in the way we think about parking in cities.

Have I opened any old paid parking wounds? Sorry.

In other news...

Former NYC Mayor Ed Koch will be in Albany tomorrow to speak at a fundraiser for Jennifer Whalen, candidate for the 109th Assembly district.

Whalen, and her opponent Robert Reilly, will also participate in one of the League of Women Voters' candidate forums Oct. 25. Also at that forum, Saratoga County Family Court Judge candidate Jennifer Jensen Bergan and Robert Rybak.

Disappointingly, the LWV says that "questions from the audience will not be allowed due to the confidential and sensitive nature of the office [of family court judge]."

In light of yesterday's abrupt resignation of Judge Gil Abramson, and the rumors that have swirled around him in recent months, I think a lot of people would have questions for these candidates.

Wednesday, October 13

For your viewing pleasure: McDonald and Yepsen on the record

Here are the videos of our editorial board interviews with Sen. Roy McDonald and Saratoga Springs Supervisor Joanne Yepsen, who will be debating tonight at the Malta Community Center.

More news from the election front lines as it happens.

Tuesday, October 12

Front page: 10.12.10 - Debate tonight and increased fuel prices hit home

Good morning!

Are you ready for some debating? The first of two candidate forums presented by the League of Women Voters of Saratoga County will start at 7 p.m. tonight at the Maple Avenue Middle School, Route 9 in Saratoga.

110th NYS Assembly District candidates BK Keramati (D) and Republican Assemblyman James Tedisco (R) and candidates for the State Senate’s 44th District, incumbent Hugh Farley (R) and opponent Susan Savage (D), will be there to state their policy positions and take questions.

AG Andrew Cuomo and NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke out against Carl Paladino's anti-LGBTQ remarks made on Sunday. Paladino's comments may have mobilized LGBTQ voters for Cuomo. [Daily News/Daily Politics, TU]

Tea-Party backed candidates across the country seem to be putting their feet in their mouths, to the chagrin of their opponents. [AP via The Record]

In NY-20: Rep. Scott Murphy and challenger Chris Gibson both have new T.V. ads, and both are claiming their claims are false. [TU/Cap Con]

Notice your gas tank taking a bigger chunk from your wallet lately? Taxes have driven fuel prices in NY up to 20 cents over the national average per gallon. [Gazette]

Republican Saratoga Family Court Judge candidate Jennifer Jensen Bergen is the final contestant to sit in the editorial board hot seat today. Videos of State Senate candidate Supervisor Joanne Yepsen and Sen. Roy McDonald will be online today.

Monday, October 11

Front Page: 10.11.10 - Paladino on homosexuality and Clinton rallies for NY reps

Happy Columbus Day! Who still gets today off? School kids? Kids today, they don't know how good they've got it.

Here is a nice wrap of recently introduced local municipal budgets, and what they mean for your taxes and essential services. [The Record]

And here are a few election profiles: Assemblyman James Tedisco and BK Keramati in the 110th Assembly District, and Sen. Hugh Farley and Susan Savage in the 44th Senate District. [Saratogian]

Former President Bill Clinton will be in upstate NY today for some campaign stops, none in our neck of the woods. [TU/Cap Con]

Republicans are hopeful that Carl Paladino's "taking out the trash" message can help them win back the NYS Senate. [TU]

Speaking of Paladino, he had some choice words about homosexual voters during a speech yesterday in front of Orthodox Jewish leaders. Video here. [AP, Daily News/Daily Politics]

And in the category of "awful crimes people should be locked in a cage for having committed," the Estherville Animal Shelter in Greenfield was robbed last weekend. [Post-Star/Saratoga Snippets, TU/Saratoga Seen]

Rep. Scott Murphy and Saratoga County Family Court candidate Bob Rybak are in for interviews today. Post your questions here!

Friday, October 8

TGIF: emptying our inbox into your brain

It's a three-day weekend for most of you, but not for reporters and definitely not for the fine folks on the campaign trail. Here's the latest from our inbox and a little fact check on some negative campaigning in the race to represent the 43rd Senate district.

Scott Murphy is taking a 9-stop Route 9 road trip tomorrow (ask me, 10 stops on Sunday, 10.10.10 would have been even more poetic, but we'll take what we can get here at the city desk). Here's where he is headed, if you're interested in shaking hands or have a baby that needs to be kissed:

8 am, Pumpkin Festival at the Glens Falls Farmers Market
9 am, Saratoga Springs Farmers Market
10:30 am, Kinderhook Farmers Market
12 noon, Stewarts on Route 9, Clifton Park
12:15 pm, Spare Time Bowling, Clifton Park
1:10 pm, Malta Diner
2 pm, Saratoga County Democratic Headquarters, Broadway, Saratoga Springs
2:45 pm, Home Depot, Saratoga Springs
3:30 pm, The Peppermill Restaurant, South Glens Falls

And what, you ask, does Murphy's opponent, Chris Gibson, have planned for tomorrow?
Three stops, none in Saratoga County though:
Pine Plains Agricultural Day, 9:30 to 11 am, Pine Plains
Village of Kinderhook Fall Festival, 12:15 to 12:45 pm, where he will judge a baking contest
Oktoberfest, 2 to 4 pm, Palentine Park, Germantown

Alright, on to something a little less dry.

Remember the kid you went to school with who got the Perfect Attendance award at then end of the year (like this girl, who never missed a day of school ALL 13 YEARS!) I never got one, but I didn't mind, it always seemed like a hollow victory to me. I coveted my 'mental health days' when I was in school and I don't think I've gone a whole year without getting strep throat since.... ever.
Well, Perfect Attendance takes on a whole different meaning when running for office and in the race for the 43rd senate district incumbent Roy McDonald and challenger Joanne Yepsen are both pointing out alleged lapses in their opponent's attendance records.

Let's start with a CBS6 interview of Yepsen, now on Youtube. I have no idea when or where the interview occurred or whether it actually aired, it just appeared in my inbox sent from Scott Reif, a spokesperson for the NYS Senate Republican Committee.

In the video, the reporter alleges that three-term Saratoga Springs Supervisor Joanne Yepsen has missed half of the full Board of Supervisors meetings this year. Yepsen denies the charge, saying that she hasn't missed any and a little later amends that, saying maybe she missed one meeting for a family reunion.

So what's the truth?
I gave Barbara Plummer, clerk of the Board of Supervisors, a call today and she gave me Yepsen's complete attendance record.
Of the 10 full board meetings held so far this year, Yepsen has missed two. Both were in July -- one was a special board meeting called July 14 to name a new Republican commissioner of elections after the previous commissioner died suddenly, the other was the regularly-scheduled meeting July 20. Yepsen has missed 4 of the 9 agenda meetings held this year.
Plummer also had Yepsen's attendance record for the 4 county committees she sits on:
Social Programs, present at all 5 meetings to date in 2010
Public Health, absent at 1 of 7 meetings in 2010
Veterans, absent at 1 of 6 meetings in 2010
Racing, absent at 2 of 5 meetings in 2010

So, although the video was not sent directly from McDonald's campaign, it did come from a representative of the Senate Republicans, and the allegations it contains are particularly ironic because of the next item in my inbox:

Scott Reif again, and this time he is calling on Yepsen to pull a radio ad with claims similar to the ones in a mailer -- sent by the NYS Democratic Senate Campaign Committee -- that you've likely seen. The Times Union's Capitol Confidential blog dissected the ad and found most of it was playing a little fast and loose with the facts. On their blog, a DSCC rep said there were "accounting errors" in the mailer, which accused McDonald of having one of the 10 worst attendance records of all state Senators. (Read a little more about the mailer here). According to CapCon, McDonald missed just 2 votes in 2009 and 2010. Yepsen said she is sticking behind her assertion that McDonald has missed numerous Senate sessions, even if he hasn't missed actual votes.

Yuck. Neither side is completely right, and neither side is completely wrong. So I guess the lesson of the day is when you hear your name called, make sure you say 'present'... you never know who is keeping score.

Anyone else counting down to Nov. 3 when this nonsense will be over and we can focus on important stories again, like the disputed custody of a potato shaped like Jay Leno?

-- Emily

[Update Oct. 11: Yepsen's camp offered a statement in response to this post. The misleading information on the pro-Yepsen mailer was a "mistake," the misinformation in the anti-Yepsen video is "purposefully misleading the public," spokesperson Erin Dennin says.

The statement continues, in part: “If Roy McDonald spent as much time speaking out on behalf of his constituents as his campaign has spent spreading lies and innuendo, the 43rd District would not have suffered as much the last two years. Our campaign has knocked on thousands of doors in Rensselaer and Saratoga Counties, and we are consistently confronted with the same question: Who is our senator? Who is Roy McDonald?"

Are you as hard pressed as I am to see the difference in the two pieces of misinformation? Seems like they are both "purposefully misleading the public" ... ]

Thursday, October 7

Front page: 10.07.10 - Officials speak out on dispatcher transfer and the Canfield Casino gets creepy

Good morning!

City public safety officials say they cannot afford the delays in service and liability associated with the elimination of nine dispatchers proposed as part of the 2011 Comprehensive Budget. Their duties would be transferred to Saratoga County, a plan that was discussed and dismissed last year. [Saratogian, Gazette]

The CSEA will not negotiate with Troy mayor Dan Crawley, who has asked that union employees forgo their raises this year in the face of fiscal instability. [The Record]

From the Saratogian's "Stimulus Tracker" series; what did education in New York get, and what have they done with it.

Glens Falls' Crandall Public Library will receive $245,000 stimulus grant to add 15 computer workstations and additional staff. [Post-Star]

Carl Paladino is planning a major campaign announcement this afternoon to be aired on several T.V. stations. [DN/Daily Politics]

A documentary about the financial meltdown starring Eliot Spitzer is ready for the screen. [TU/Cap Con]

The Canfield Casino(ooooohhoohhhoooo) may be haunted. SyFy's "Ghost Hunters" filmed an episode there this summer that will be premiered there next week. I too have experienced "a freezing drop in temperature and a hostile energy" in that building. [TU/Saratoga Seen, Saratogian]

Wednesday, October 6

Updates from the inbox: 10.06.10 - Green ranking for local pols & Murphy endorsed by Lake George paper

Some food for thought on moving city dispatchers to the county. [Saratogian]

EPL/Environmental Advocates released their election scorecard based on how state lawmakers vote on bills that could help or harm our air, land and water.

How did local legislators do? Sen. Hugh Farley (R-Amsterdam) received a failing grade of 51, Sen. Roy McDonald, 61; Assembly Member James Tedisco, 67; and Assembly Member Timothy Gordon, 71.

In addition to being in our offices today for an editorial board endorsement meeting, Sen. Roy McDonald opened his Saratoga County campaign office at today at Carousel Village on Route 50 in Ballston Spa.

In NY-20: Chris Gibson will hold a press conference at 10 a.m. tomorrow at Stillwater's Hanehan Dairy Farm to announce the formation of a Farmers for Gibson Coalition.

The Lake George Mirror newspaper endorsed Scott Murphy this week.
"Scott Murphy may be a Democrat, but he’s a Main Street Democrat. Small businesses are responsible for the majority of jobs in the private sector in our region, and Murphy has placed support for small businesses at the top of his list of legislative priorities," the endorsement reads.

Murphy will be in our offices for an endorsement meeting next week. Remember to post your questions for candidates; Susan Savage will be in for her interview on Friday.

Front page: 10.06.10 - City budget details and Paladino discusses the differences between baseball bats and people

Good morning!

Check out the proposed 2011 Saratoga Springs Comprehensive Budget and Ken Ivins' presentation here, and a report on the presentation online and in print today.

A few budget details cut from in this morning's story: Recreation Director Linda Terricola is said to be taking the early retirement incentive, no word yet on on if or when she will be replaced.

Recreation is also looking at raising fees to cover a ten percent revenue hike built into the budget. Last night, Mayor Johnson said an increased "user fee" was just another word for increased tax.

Labor expense reductions in Finance and Accounts will be achieved though creative scheduling, consolidation of positions and early retirements. Accounts Comm. Franck said three people in his office will likely retire. Two of those positions will be combined and the third brought back part-time.

City union reps in the crowd last night were heard scoffing in defiance, especially at the mention of moving police dispatchers to the county. Good luck with negotiations there Mr. Mayor.

Unlike last year, no new revenue sources (ie. paid parking) were proposed. Ivins did add to the parking ticket revenue line, saying police would have to write more tickets than usual.

Much, much more on the budget in the coming weeks. The first public hearing on the budget will be held before the next council meeting on Oct. 19.

In other news: New York City Off Track Betting Corp.’s union is scheduled to vote today on a proposed deal that would eliminate 550 jobs and allow creditors, including New York Racing Association, to take over OTB’s telephone and Internet wagering systems. [Saratogian]

Election season means a slew of new and interesting mail in the form of glossy fliers and newsletters. Here is one many of you have probably already seen sent from the New York State Democratic Committee supporting Joanne Yepsen. [Gazette, TU/Cap Con]

We thought 7 percent was a doozy; Montgomery County is looking at raising property taxes over 20 percent next year. Ouch. [Gazette]

A new Siena poll shows Andrew Cuomo holding a commanding lead over Carl Paladino in the governor's race. Paladino took a (slightly) more nuanced stance for a Today Show appearance yesterday, telling America, "My baseball bat is the people." [TU, NYT]

31 year old Pakistani native Faisal Shahzad was sentenced to life in prison for his failed Times Square bomb plot. "If I am given a thousand lives, I will sacrifice them all for the sake of Allah fighting this cause," he said before the sentence was handed down. [Daily News]

Will be cutting video from two days of endorsement meetings today. Check out our interview with Assemblyman Jim Tedisco here.

Tuesday, October 5

Ladies and gentlemen, the Saratoga Springs 2011 Comprehensive Budget

Updates from the inbox: 10.05.10 - City budget update, Spizter panned and Paladino slammed

At 2:40 p.m., Deputy Kate Jarosh said the finishing touches are being put on the budget. Does this normally take this long?

And now, from the web and inbox:

Eliot Spitzer got panned after the first episode of his new gig on CNN. [Daily News

Paladino was called a “zoo man” by Fox News 'Papa Bear' Bill O'Reilly. His campaign was also described as a “very flamboyant gamble.” [NYT/City Room]

In NY-20: Murphy was endorsed by the Veterans of Foreign Wars Political Action Committee at an event in Catskill today.

“The work I have done on behalf of veterans is the most valuable and rewarding part of my job,” he said.

Gibson released a statement on the Department of Education in response to a Murphy ad slamming his position on consolidation of the department.

"The role of the federal government should be to invest in research into best practices, such as keeping track of performance, measuring success and failure, and sharing innovation. It should not be involved in day-to-day operations, which are more effectively handled locally," the release reads.

"Instead of sending money to Washington to support the massive overhead of the federal bureaucracy, we could keep property taxes down by keeping that money locally and passing a state property tax cap. Something we need here desperately."

Gibson was in The Saratogians offices today for an editorial board endorsement meeting.

See you all at 7 p.m. for the City Council meeting!

T-6 hours until the budget is go...

As of 12:30 p.m. - Comm. Ivins and Deputy Jarosh were not in the office, so no new word on the status of the 2011 Comprehensive Budget.

When I stopped in at 3:30 p.m. yesterday Jarosh said they were still working on it.

Mayor Johnson is expected in his office any minute now. He was unavailable for comment last night because he was in the air over the Atlantic on his way back from Italy when I called.

I will update again after the editorial board meeting with Chris Gibson at 1 p.m. with any new budget info.

Front page: 10.05.10 - I too regret missing out on 'Mad Men' and T-12 hours until the budget arrives!

Good morning!

Some fresh ink on the Saratoga Springs 2011 Comprehensive Budget, which will be revealed at tonight's 7 p.m. City Council meeting. Last year layoffs and a tax increase were the order of the day. The budget is adopted by default if it (or an alternative) are not approved by Nov. 30. [Saratogian]

Plans to open the Guardian House transitional housing facility for homeless female veterans are shaping up as the Saratoga County Rural Preservation Co. (SCRPC) will receive a $212,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for the project. Saratoga Springs Supervisor Joanne Yepsen is a founding member of the SCRPC Guardian House committee. [Saratogian]

Supervisor Yepsen is running against Sen. Roy McDonald this November. She will be in the office today for an editorial board meeting. You can post any questions you would like me to ask here. [TU]

Local public servant John J. “Jack” McNulty Jr. was posthumously honored at a ceremony in Green Island yesterday. [The Record]

Budgets have been announced in Clifton Park (no town taxes or layoffs) and Wilton (no town taxes, over 700,000 needed to balance budget). [Gazette, Post-Star]

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and his challenger this Nov. Harry Wilson held their first debate last night. Both candidates have not seen AMC's "Mad Men". [TU]

Was "Have you seen 'Mad Men'?" an actual question posed by moderators? I would've asked if they thought Lady Gaga's next album will be a referendum on the state of LGBT rights in the U.S., or I would just ask where the state's money goes at night. Just sayin'.

Yepsen and Chris Gibson in meetings today, post your questions here, call 583-8729 ext. 219 or email

Monday, October 4

Updates from the inbox: 10.04.10 - Call for questions for Yepsen and Gibson and THE BUDGET IS ALMOST HERE!

Before the start of city budget season sweeps in like an autumn breeze (that blows away any hopes you had of lower taxes), here is the latest.

Here is some light reading for the hours before tomorrow night's City Council meeting, when Commissioner of Finance Ken Ivins Jr. will present his 2011 Comprehensive Budget.

When I knocked on the door at around 3:30 p.m., Deputy Kate Jarosh said they were still working on it. Ivins has called the 2o11 budget his "toughest" to date. [Saratogian]

Carl Paladino is riding the wave of his recent spat with NY Post editor Fred Dicker in a statement this morning.

"This campaign is not about my family - its not about divorces or affairs. It's about who has a plan to restore prosperity and economic growth to New York State," he said.

Paladino told Dicker he would "take him out" after he was asked if he had evidence for statements made alleging Andrew Cuomo had "paramours" while married to now ex-wife Kerry Kennedy. [Politico]

In a Syracuse Post-Standard article (sent from the NY Democratic Campaign Committee), a Syracuse University professor refutes Paladino's retelling of an event that he said occurred on the campus in the wake of the 1970 Kent State shootings.

In NY-20: Scott Murphy released a statement on a "big announcement" to be made at a Catskill VFW post tomorrow at the first meeting of his new "Vets for Murphy" group. No word yet on what the announcement is.

Chris Gibson will be at a veteran's rally tonight at the Walton Veteran’s Club until 7 p.m.

Stay tuned for videos from today's editorial board meetings with State Assembly candidate BK Keramati and incumbent State Sen. Hugh Farley.

Tomorrow, Saratoga Springs Supervisor and State Senate candidate Joanne Yepsen and Congressional NY-20 Republican challenger Chris Gibson will be on the hot seat.

Get your questions in sooner than later!

Updates from the inbox: 10.04.10 - Super Mario (Cuomo Jr.)

Good morning folks, here's what's happening.

As part of the Saratogian's Stimulus Tracker series: The Spa City got money through three grants as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Milton officials will propose a 3 percent pay increase for all full-time employees and a 3 percent tax increase for the 2011 budget. [Gazette]

Home construction is still on pace in Halfmoon. Construction has slowed in nearby municipalities, including Saratoga. [Gazette]

"Love Gov." Eliot Spitzer starts his new gig on CNN tonight. [Washington Post]

A new report shows Republican Gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino created 25 jobs after $3 million in Empire Zone tax breaks. [Daily News]

It will get a little more expensive for Carl Paladino to "take out the trash" in Albany if he gets elected; County Waste of Clifton Park is hiking rates by 50 cents. [TU/Saratoga Seen]

Check out Paladino's newest flyer. Is this an attempt at youth voter outreach?
BK Keramati and Sen. Hugh Farley are first in the slate of editorial board endorsement meetings this week. Post any questions you've got here or email me at

See you in the p.m. with updates from the inbox.

Friday, October 1

TGIF: Updates from the inbox to get you through the weekend

Quick guest post from Emily:
I've been slogging through e-mail all day today, and here's some of the latest political news/spin we've received:

According to the Buffalo News, Carl Paladino is now threatening to file charges against the NY Post photogs who took pictures of his daughter (sparking his now-infamous fight with Fred Dicker):

"Carl Paladino may file trespassing charges against a team of New York Post photographers who took "close-range" photographs of the Buffalo businessman's 10-year-old daughter inside her home."

... looks like this story is not going away anytime soon.

— Chris Gibson was in Malta tonight with Saratoga County Republicans aboard the NY GOP's "Take Back New York" tour bus. Malta Republicans held a rally at the Finish Line restaurant on Route 9.

— Rep. Scott Murphy will be making an appearance at tomorrow's Allegiance Bowl to do the coin toss before the NAVY and UPENN teams start their game. Murphy will also present a flag to Bob Mitchell, a veteran of the U.S. Navy who served as director of Saratoga County's Veterans Service Agency for 22 years until he retired last spring. The flag will be brought into the stadium by parachute jumpers and flown over the game. The pre-game spectacle begins at about 12:45 p.m.

— BK Keramati, the Democrat challenging Assemblyman Jim Tedisco for his seat representing the 110th district, was endorsed by a grassroots organization. In a release, Citizen Action of New York representatives said Keramati would be a "champion for Capital District residents in the Assembly."
Keramati said he is "particularly pleased" with the endorsement because he has worked closely with the group and it has "allowed me to do more than just write letters and complain; it allowed me to be an active citizen and promote and lobby for what I believed."

— Sen Hugh Farley plans to hold several candidate forums before his election. He is being challenged by Schenectady County Legislator Susan Savage.
On Oct. 12 Farley will be at the Maple Avenue Middle School for a forum sponsored by the Leage of Women Voters. The other forums are: Oct. 14 at Lighthouse Restaurant in Scotia, Oct. 18 at Schenectady Public Library, Oct. 19 at Adirondack Baptist Church in Broadalbin, Oct. 21 at Montgomery Co. Farm Bureau in Fonda and Oct. 24 at the B'nai B'rith Jewish Community Center in Niskayuna.

— Chris Gibson was endorsed by the Northeast Small Business Group which represents 200+ small businesses in the 20th Congressional District. In a press release, he said he was honored by the endorsement and took the opportunity to blast Murphy's voting record:
"By voting for the government takeover of healthcare, Cap and Trade, cosponsoring Card Check and supporting one bailout after another and pushing our nation further in debt, Scott Murphy has hurt small businesses' opportunity to grow and hire."

— Murphy will be hosting an information session for high school sophomores and juniors interested in joining the military tomorrow from 10 a.m to noon at Shenedehowa High School. Reps from West Point, Annapolis and the Air Force and Merchant Marine Academies will be on hand to meet students.
Nominations from members of Congress are required for students seeking admission into all of those military academies (the Coast Guard Academy has its own system).

That's all for now. Have a great weekend!

— Emily

Assemblyman Jim Tedisco editorial board video

Here is the video of Assemblyman Jim Tedisco's editorial board meeting earlier this week:

I'm trying to figure out what do do about Friday posts. Is a week in review post something you would be interested in reading? Maybe some sort of brief editorial on the events of the week? Let me know what sort of content you would be most interested in.