Governor Spitzer today announced a "new statewide recall of unsafe toys." He ordered his top toy agents from the state Consumer Protection Board to "sweep" (I'm trying not to laugh writing this, btw) random New York toy stores. The agents apprehended three toys. The accused are the “Army Force” Car Set, “Sprite Tractor Trailer” toys and “Wrestle Mania” action figures.
Following "strict protocols" Gov. Spitzer had the Department of Health test the accused toys "from retail outlets in Albany and in New York City." All were found to have "exceeded the federal standard of lead levels allowed in paint, which is 600 parts per million."
Well, guess what the Governor's news release left out? By how much these toys exceeded the federal standard, a complete description of how the toys were tested and an explanation from the DOH professionals who tested the toys. Also omitted were the stores where the toys were bought.
Despite a news release with ten different officials hyperventilating about the danger lead poses to New York's children, why didn't Governor Spitzer name the toy stores? Wouldn't it be the best way to protect children from these toys? Because if Mr. and Mrs. John Doe know a Target in Albany or a Toys "R" Us in Bay Ridge now sell dangerous toys, they'll shop somewhere else.
I'll tell you why Santa Spitzer and his top toy agents didn't name the stores. Because if they're wrong they'd have a lawsuit on their hands. It's better to play it safe and go with the cheap public relations stunt.
Much like the call to close the Indian Point nuclear power plant last week, this toy story is an attempt to draw attention away from the "Dirty Tricks" scandal. It remains to be seen if the strategy will work. From a reading of his latest favorable-unfavorable numbers released this morning by Siena College Gov. Spitzer has a long way to go.