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

Tuesday, May 03, 2005


An interesting Tailspin in Monday's Record. Unfortunately, the piece fails to cite any sources. It relies mainly on hearsay, rumor and innuendo. Just our cup of tea.

If the Tailspin article is correct (and we by no means vouch for its accuracy), infighting caused Mr. Gregor to resign as the Chair of the Troy Democratic Party. It seems there was little or no communication between Democratic County Chair for Cities, Lynn Mahoney, and Mr. Gregor.

Perhaps Doctor Phil could have helped to salvage the situation. Alas, it was not to be. This is not the first time a down and out party has resorted to infanticide and it won't be the last. The fruit has just ripened but the seeds of these events were planted last Fall.

The bigger issue and one not yet fully explored has less to do with Mr. Gregor than it has to do with that clumsy title mentioned above: Democratic County Chair for Cities (DCCC).

Last Fall, former County Elections Commissioner Tom Wade staged something of a coup against County Chair Lynn Mahoney. According to one eye witness at last fall's committee meeting, "It was rather like watching two people battle for the right to captain the Titanic."

For those of you unfamiliar with this chapter in Rensselaer County Democratic history, the background. Mahoney was Chair of the county. Wade wanted the job. A short time before the selection of the Chair, a bitter campaign ensued, with brother against brother, father against son, mother against second cousin.

Insiders say that Mahoney actually had the votes to drive the dagger into Wade's coup. Yet, in a scene that would have made Dr. Phil proud, she wavered, agreed to a compromise and lost all. Mahoney and Wade would share power, the former controlling Troy and Rensselaer and the latter the towns. We don't suggest that the conciliatory emotions at that meeting were not genuine. Far from it. Many well-intentioned people genuinely believed a compromise would heal the wounds and avert a political blood bath. Unfortunately, they do not know history or human nature. A civil war should be short, bloody and decisive. One side must win unconditionally or the divisions continue.

The compromise was actually a victory for Mr. Wade. He had control of the towns. Mr. Gregor would have control of the city. What exactly did Ms. Mahoney control after that vote? The cities, but in a county chair capacity. She would control the nominations to run for County Legislature, from Troy and Rensselaer. That's about it. Given the political realities, Mahoney had compromised herself into an anemic office.

It is apparent that the shared power arrangement is untenable. It is odd that Gregor may have been the first victim of this misguided maneuver.

Who's to blame? Mahoney for not giving way to Wade? Wade for attempting to oust a capable County Chair at a time when the party could ill-afford internal strife?

True or not, the tailspin article makes intuitive sense. Mahoney, a Chair for Cities, has to raise money for County races. Why would she take money out of her purse and give it to Gregor. Gregor needs the money to run the very credible City Council ticket he has pieced together. Meanwhile, Wade can raise money amongst the towns with little or no competition from the cities.

There has always been a 'City - Towns' rivalry in Rensselaer County, at least amongst the Democratic Party. That's only natural and in fact, quite common in demographically similar counties. What exists now is a 'City - Towns - City' rivalry. It is speculation, but perhaps Gregor, the youngest, most inexperienced and least connected of the three was the first to fall. At least one more will fall before it's over.

As for the three individuals in this fatricidal triangle: they are all good, capable people who desire to do right by their community and their party. The seeds of the problem were planted last Fall, when good people succumbed to a Doctor Phil moment, choosing compromise over a single, political leader and real unification.

No comments: