The City of Troy, New York, "Where Henry Hudson Turned Around."

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

SUMMER BREAK

Summer Break time. Nothing much going on. We've had an indictment and another water main break. Ho-hum. It's all rather tiresome. Really nothing all that fun to write about. See you next week.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

CHARTER ISSUES

Troy's new City Charter is now operational. However, according to one newspaper account, there are issues. It looks like some things were overlooked, creating potential issues for the future. This, after a commission worked on this for quite some time.

We suppose it is not unexpected that one or two things were overlooked. It happens and we all know that committees and commissions produce compromised products. Most of the issues should be addressed by the City Council as long as the items addressed do not reduce the powers of the mayor. We believe that is the standard. As long as changes do not reduce mayoral powers changes to the Charter may be done via legislation. If the mayor's powers are to be reduced, a referendum is necessary.

The biggest mistake, to our minds, was intentional and quite popular: the reduction of at-large representation from three to one. Augmenting the problem is the fact that the one at-large council person is elected to a four year term simultaneously with the mayor. This change sets-up some potential problems.

First, under the old Charter, the chance that the Council President's party would have a majority on the Council. This is what we have now. Council President Mantello will generally have the backing of a council majority. Under the new Charter, the chance that the Council President does not have majority support is much more likely. We think the head of the City Council should be in the majority. Things operate much more smoothly that way.

Also, we have set ourselves up for more politics and less bipartisanship. It is inevitable that the Council President will be the go-to mayoral candidate four years after their election. We will spend four years watching the mayor (if the  mayor seeks re-election) and the Council President spare in an effort to position themselves for the mayoral contest.

There is no guarantee this will happen but given the nature of Troy politics, it will happen. More partisanship, less cooperation.

In an era of great distrust of government, it seems odd that we voted to reduce our representation and essentially increase the influence of two office holders. Instead, we should reduce the Council salary and increase the Council to 12 or 13 seats, eliminate the at-large seat and allow the Council to choose its President. Council Districts should be drawn so that party registration is as even as possible. Perhaps this will make council members more responsive to their constituents.

Won't happen, we know. The real problem with the new Charter is the changes to the council, not the other issues that can be fixed.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

GORGE FATALITY

The Poestenkill Gorge claimed another victim on Tuesday. Connor Reynolds, who would have entered his senior year at Brittonkill this fall, died on Tuesday. He fell, hit his head, and drowned.

It seems like this happens every year or two. Someone is drowned or paralyzed or otherwise severely injured while at the Gorge. Of course, there is really nothing realistic that can be done. People swim where they are not permitted to swim and the area where Reyonlds died looks like a place teenagers would want to swim, regardless of the risks or the prohibitions. Didn't three RPI students ('nuff said)need rescuing from the Gorge not so long ago?

Put up a fence? They will climb it. Assign some one to patrol the area? Not realistic. Just one of those sad occurrences. Being reckless is the hallmark of youth and there, but for the grace of God.....

Anyway, a sad story. The young man's mother is a single mom with cancer. Connor was her only child. A friend has set up a GoFundMe page to help defray the costs of the funeral. If you can, think about sending in a few dollars. It may, in a small way, help the grieving mother through what has to be a unimaginably horrific time.

Don't events like this make the lunacy of Troy politics look small, petty and inconsequential?

Have a safe 4th of July weekend.


Monday, June 27, 2016

ACTING COMPTROLLER PASSES AWAY

Joe Mazzariello, the City of Troy's acting Comptroller, passed away yesterday due to a heart attack.

Mazzariello had worked for the City for more than thirty years and was set to retire on today. He had been working on a part-time basis. he was sixty-four years old.

RIP, Joe.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

HONORING SAMUEL WILSON

By now, everyone has heard the tragic news: No Uncle Sam Day parade.

But no one should despair yet. According to The Record a replacement event is in the works:

It might be a block party, or it could be a hot dog-eating contest, or maybe even a classic car show, but about 25 people who came out for a community meeting Monday night vowed to find some way for the city to honor the 250th birthday of its favorite son later this year.

In the wake of the cancellation earlier this month of the annual Uncle Sam Birthday Parade, city officials, local business owners and concerned residents filled an upstairs room at Forty-One Sports Bar & Grille in Lansingburgh to discuss possible alternatives for this fall, as well as to address the long-term future of the celebration.

Now, for full disclosure, the whole Uncle Sam thing always struck us as rather stupid. As an actual person, Sam Wilson is irrelevant. He sold some meat, which was likely rancid by the time it reached the army, to make a profit. There is nothing special or particularly patriotic about his activities.

By an accident, his name became linked to  what would become a national symbol. So, pride in the fact that Wilson lived in Troy for a few years and decided to die in Troy, seems silly. It is not an accomplishment.

Now, the parade replacements mentioned in the article sound, well, stupid. A hot dog eating contest? Is a public display of gluttony an appropriate celebration of a national symbol? A car show? A block party? A wet t-shirt contest? Maybe a bingo tournament.

Is this nonsense really about honoring a national symbol or is it about bringing people downtown to make a few bucks? If its about honoring a national symbol, a modest graveside ceremony seems reasonable. Some of the other ideas are just stupid, unrelated to the supposed goal and embarrassing.

Let it go.

Monday, June 20, 2016

NEWS DUMP

Jim Walsh dies last week. Walsh was a long-time figure in Republican politics in Rensselaer County for years. He was a former county legislator, Chair of both the Troy and county Republican Committees as well as a State Board of Elections Official. Walsh was 76 years old.

Walsh was brought into the Tutunjian Administration early on  as a Co-Deputy Mayor in order to babysit Dan Crawley. Probably one of the better personnel moves made by Harry. Walsh ensured that Crawley had a regular supply of binks and bahs as well as making sure Crawley didn't forget nap time and get too cranky.

We liked Walsh. RIP Jim.



People complain that children are not given enough to do. That they spend too much time inside, on their electronic devices; that they do not get enough exercise. Yet, when a Troy man tries to involve children in outside activities, the law comes down on him.

A Troy man went on a December tire-slashing rampage with two children last year — slashing and puncturing 31 tires on 14 different vehicles, State Police said Tuesday.

Louis Valente, 26, is accused of the vandalism in Stephentown on Dec. 19. He is charged with nine counts of felony criminal mischief and one count of felony conspiracy for planning the damage with two children. He was also charged with two misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of a child. He was arraigned in Sand Lake Town Court and sent to the Rensselaer County Jail on $7,500 bail and due back in court Thursday.



Troy's amnesty program for scofflaws netted about $100,000, approximately 10% of what is owed in unpaid parking tickets and fees. While this is better than nothing (and we have the math to prove it), does anyone find this disappointing? We were hoping for twice what was eventually recouped.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

POLICE UPGRADES

The Troy PD will get several upgrades including original, Troy PD badges. Until now, police badges have been refurbished NYC badges that eventual fall apart.

We had no idea. That sounds a little sad. As if we buy our badges off of EBay or the Dollar Store.

But in Troy, where the badges are refurbished from New York City-area agencies, not all are made the same. In fact, sometimes they eventually fall off in pieces.



Chief John Tedesco spoke before the City Council to get money approved for the department's badges. Tedesco told the City Council that for $8,000, the department could create a mold and design a unique badge for the department.

"The cost to this proposal is the creation of the molds for TPD products. Once accomplished, a local vendor who represents a noteworthy manufacturer will be chosen," Tedesco said in a memo.

Not to worry, penny-pinchers, this will not cost the taxpayer.

The city is drawing on $85,892 in federal asset forfeiture funds for the initial $8,000 expenditure.
The city will also apply the forfeiture funds for other police equipment upgrades. This will allow the financially-strapped city to avoid tapping into its budget to equip its officers.

Patrol officers will see new mobile data terminals installed in their squad cars. This $49,356 investment will help make the switch to tablets from laptops in marked cars. In addition, five driver's license reader kits will be purchased for $1,695.

The department will also spend $9,000 to issue Springfield SDS .45-caliber semi-automatic pistols to the detective bureau. These pistols are smaller than the standard issued SIG Sauer patrol weapons.


Welcome to the 21st Century.

The City will also spend $75,000 to equip twenty-five police officers and four patrol cars with cameras, probably Polaroids. More on that later.


In other news, Troy City Court Judge Matthew Turner will run for re-election. Turner has been City Court Judge since 1962. Actually, Turner seeks a fourth, six-year term. Turner should be a shoe-in for re-election except that this is a presidential election year. A credible opponent could make a race of it.

Turner, a Conservative, does a decent job and there seems no compelling reason to switch horses this year.