Political watchdog Kinzie remembered for tenacity

GLOVERSVILLE – People who came in contact with local government watchdog John “Jack” Kinzie during his years in this area remember the Foster Road man as being a tenacious and no-nonsense political gadfly.

But there was a reason for him being that way sometimes, and a good friend said it may have had to do with 27 years as vice president of a Teamsters local downstate.

“Jack did everything his way,” friend Mike McGrail, owner of Big Mike’s Restaurant, said Saturday. “Every day, Jack was reading the papers. He took an interest in the community.”

Former Long Island resident Kinzie died Friday at Albany Medical Center after a long bout with cancer. He came to Gloversville in 2002 and became chairman of the Fulton County Taxpayer’s Association, hosted a local area cable TV talk show, attended many government and school board meetings, and let his feelings be known on various topics and issues over the years.

McGrail said he met Kinzie more than a decade ago when he, as a customer, told McGrail he wanted a “frankfurter.” McGrail said he told Kinzie they’re called “hot dogs” up here ,and the pair realized they had ties to Kinzie’s hometown of Rockaway Beach. McGrail called Kinzie a “difficult, strong man” whose personality was probably shaped by union dealings.

“I’ve been on both sides with Jack – disagreement and agreement,” Gloversville 1st Ward Councilwoman Robin Wentworth said Saturday. “I had a lot of respect for Jack. We became friends. I had a lot of conversations with him.”

Wentworth said Kinzie was a “frequent attender” of Gloversville Common Council meetings, but not so much in recent years as he battled health issues.

Kinzie also attended many Fulton County Board of Supervisors and school board meetings over the years.

In an April 2012 interview with The Leader-Herald, Kinzie was asked why he was so relentless in exposing political corruption, even where some say there was none. He also was asked why he tried to motivate people in his community to question their elected and non-elected leaders and the media. He said his work, which he called his “heart’s desire,” was never finished.

John Kane, who also hosts a cable access TV show and was a contemporary of Kinzie’s, said Saturday the death of his old friend is a “loss for the community and the working man” in this area.

“All I can say is we’re going to miss a good strong voice for the people,” Kane said. “His heart and soul was into it. You could trust him.”