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Kevin J. O'Toole, the chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is a former New Jersey State Senator. (Photo: Kevin J. O'Toole.)

The O’Toole Chronicles: By The Way

By Kevin O'Toole, October 29 2020 12:01 am

In politics, talking is our stock and trade.  As I have written previously, we traffic much of our business by phone, text or email. Retail conversations are where most of the action happens.

Life would be so much easier if, during these daily conversations, we could get the business or politics out of the way up front.  I can’t tell you how many times a day, particularly when I was in the Legislature, that I would receive a call, take part in perfunctory niceties about family, weather, and kids, and then as we were wrapping up the conversation, I would predictably hear, “oh by the way…” followed by the real reason for the call.

I need a job, help with a judgeship, money for a candidate, a kidney, or some other ask.  Don’t get me wrong—I never mind the ask.  It is in my DNA to help and I enjoy the pursuit to help in all corners. What is bothersome is way some like to bury the ASK, as if they are checking off a box or suddenly remembered the ASK at the end of the call.  Asking about personal and familial matters does not make it more certain that a “yes” will follow the real request.  Don’t get me wrong, I know that some of the calls are well meaning, and I’m sure the educational progress of my kids  (especially Ryan Marie) and concern about my parents is authentic and real (some of it), but when it comes to a political ask—I have a hint— just get to the point and don’t bury your ASK.

Lesson for the day

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