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

Saturday, April 30, 2005


As most know by now, Robert Gregor has stepped down a Chairman of the Troy Democratic Party. Yesterday, he was kind enough to leave a post which we will print here, for all to see.

I would like to thank all those reading these postings, as well as Democratus him/herself. It is true that our organization needs a jump start, and until recently, I believed I could provide the requisite shot in the arm. Recent events, both personal and professional have made those prospects doubtful.

As chair, I was entrusted to exercise discretion and judgment in making the decisions that would be best for our party. After a period of very intense deliberation, I came to the conclusion that my continued tenure as City Chairman would not yield the results we all hope for.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone that worked with me these last months. Furthermore, I to encourage all newcomers to stay involved, stay informed, and make this town, county, state, and nation, a better place. Once again, thank you for all the support, and to whomever may inherit the position, I wish you the best of success.

A class act. We wish Mr. Gregor well in his law school and subsequent legal career.

As any lawyer will tell those who will listen, the first year of law school is a crazy, all-consuming endeavor. That Mr. Gregor was able to assemble a competitive slate of candidates for City Council is a testament to his abilities and dedication.

The Democratic Party needs young people to ensure a healthy future. We hope Mr. Gregor will stay involved in local politics when time allows. The next party chairman would do well to listen to the advice of the new Democrats such as Chris Meier, Ed McDonough and Bill Dunne: Democrats that have actually won elections in recent years.

Friday, April 29, 2005



Robert Gregor has stepped down as the Chairman of the Troy Democrats. The Troy Polloi learned of this breaking news directly from Mr. Gregor. That is all the information we have at this time.

Gregor inherited a party in chaos, as did his predecessor, Lynn Mahoney. The blame for the current state of the Democrats cannot be placed wholly on their shoulders. Success breeds organization and the Democrats have had little success in the past few years.

However, when a political party ( state, national or local) is weak and its organization all but in shambles, opportunity does exist. A strong, creative leader can rebuild the party from the ground up. There will be little or no factional clashes, those family feuds that are sometimes fatal in the political world.

The Democrats do not have to worry about factional clashes as they rebuild. Unless of course, they waste valuable energy worrying about the "Dworsky Faction" (5 middle-age men).

There's an opportunity here to build from the ground up. Someone should seize that chance and it should be someone who will listen to the old guard but not blindly follow their advice.


A quick update on the Uncle Sam Monument. According to The Record, the Uncle Sam Monument will incorporate the already existing Uncle Sam Statue that now graces Riverfront Park. The question is, where will the new monument be located (thus necessitating that poor Uncle be uprooted from his current roost and moved). Maybe the Rensselaer County Jail could be moved to Riverfront Park and Uncle Sam could be moved to the jail site.

One Councilman explained that he does not like the fact that the current statue is near a bus stop. Of course, the bus stop could always be moved.


A bill recently passed by both the Assembly and Senate must strike fear in the heart of local governments throughout the state. The bill would require that government agencies and departments respond to FOIL (Freedom of Information Law) requests within 20 days. If signed by the governor, someone at City Hall will need to do some work. Word has it that most requests go unanswered by this administration.

Case in point, the Carignan matter. The president of Carignan requested documents involving the looming insurance scandal months ago. There has been no response. Come on guys! At least respond and let him know that no documents exist. It doesn't take months to destroy all those records.

Remember people, 99% of documents created by government, local and state, are our property, not the property of any administration.


Jeff Buell, Tutunjian's Minister of Propoganda gets paid $39,140 a year. We just can't figure out why.

Image-making won't develop all by itself

By Tim O'Brien, Staff writer First published: Thursday, April 28, 2005

Perhaps the most often heard comment at public meetings is that the city needs to do something to improve its image.

It happens at City Council sessions. It happens at Board of Education meetings. It happens whenever Troy residents gather.

At a meeting in February to talk about the type of new superintendent of schools the district needs, residents were adamant the district needed someone to promote a positive image of the city.

What's interesting is how often people talk about the need for more public positivity, how seldom they act on it.

Mayor Harry Tutunjian, for example, is a positive, upbeat guy. His spokesman, Jeff Buell, is a former reporter for The Record. And yet, when regularly asked what is happening in the city, Buell comes up empty. Told recently he was being pitched a softball, he replied it was true and admitted "I don't even have a bat in my hands."

He's holding something in his hand. It's just not a bat.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005


What do you get the county that has everything? A tourism consultant. Yes, you heard us correctly. According to Ginny O'Brien (Deputy Minority Leader, Rensselaer County Legislature) the Republicans have passed a resolution to hire a tourism consultant. The consultant will be paid $12,750 for the balance of the year.

The big question: Who gets the job? We'll take a wild guess and say, someone from Bruno's office who wants to go part-time? Or perhaps a close relative of Jack Casey? You can bet it won't be an actual tourism consultant. For one thing, professional tourism consultants are too busy working there is actual tourism.

We at the Troy Polloi believe the Republicans are off base. Rensselaer County would do much better with a Cruise Director. We suggest Lauren Tewes (Julie from The Love Boat).

Rensselaer County's new Cruise Director

Perhaps some shuffleboard in the Tutunjian Lounge or drinks on the Mirch Deck. Maybe a walking tour of the scene of the Weed 'n Seed scandal. "On your right is the spot where someone from the county falsified a report to the United States Justice Department. And over here, this is where Republican appointees voted to release Mary Beth Anslow a few months early."

A few months ago, the tourism consultant position (say it five times fast without laughing) went down to defeat before the Republican-controlled legislature. Now, it's alive once again. O'Brien wonders why Republicans flip-flopped on the issue. That will become apparent when the position is filled. Maybe it will be a nice graduation gift for some son or daughter of a Republican.

Monday, April 25, 2005


Finally, the City's long nightmare is over. According to The Record, the City of Troy will soon be getting an Uncle Sam Monument. The only decision left: where to place the monument and how to pay for it.

The poorly written article does not indicate whether it will be a monument to the actual Sam Wilson or to the symbol that has long represented the United States.

The Troy Polloi would like to see the monument placed in Riverfront Park, perhaps at the end of Fulton Street. Here's our idea of what the monument should look like! Well, it's more of a statue than monument, but we really need one and fast.

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It is nice to see the Council handling those tough issues. Perhaps we can also erect a monument to anyone who can fix the potholes that plague the city.

In unrelated news, Washington D.C. to get Lincoln Memorial.

Friday, April 22, 2005


The City Council wants to improve Troy housing conditions by implementing a Tenant-Landlord Registry. The registry would document the condition of rental properties and include voluntary inspections. Ultimately, the goal of the Tenant-Landlord Registry is to improve housing conditions throughout the city by, in part, cracking down on negligent, absentee landlords and by rewarding good landlords.

Although this particular plan was proposed by Councilman Mahoney, the concept is not new. In fact, it was set forth by Councilman Dunne during his campaign. His proposed legislation is actually on his website and has been there since the Summer of 2003. The plans differ in some respects, but the concept is the same.

It's an interesting idea and a good first step. Troy has a much higher percentage of renters than other similar cities. Renters deserve a decent place to live and landlords deserve decent tenents.
Of course, now that the Democratic Plan is out there, the Administration is jumping on the idea. Deputy Dan said, "We gotta get something on paper and we need it quick."

Good thinking Dan, but if you need it quick, where has the Administration been the last sixteen months? The concept for the Tenant-Landlord Registry and a draft of the legislation has been out there for almost two years. Ever since Mr. Dunne's campaign.

Good work Mr. Mahoney and Mr. Dunne. Don't let them still this issue from you. It's the Democratic Plan. Remember that at campaign time.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


What can we say about the Democratic Lineup for City Council? It's kind of like finding out you have cancer, but it's been caught early.

We exaggerate. First, At-Large:

Frank LaPosta

Given the Democrats recruiting problems lately, this is a solid pick. Frank's won before and is a known quantity. On the downside, his seemingly half-hearted mayoral race against Tutunjian. All in all, it could be worse. We think Frank can win but we make no predictions.

Clemente Campana

We like him, personally. How he'll fair in an election is anyone's guess.

Mike LoPorto

Mike is an exciting pick. He represents everything great about the United States. Mike's an immigrant that made good. Mike knows what it's like to create a successful business rather than just inheriting one. He's got a good chance. The fact that he's Tutunjian's uncle by marriage could be a lot of fun. However, Mike is a gentleman and it would be poor form to expect him to go after his nephew just for sport.

District #1 Dan Doran

Doran has run and won before, serving on the Council until term limits forced him to step aside. He'll be running against someone, we can't recall his name. The downside, Dan is yesterday's party. On the other hand, given the current state of the party, that's better than nothing.

District #2 - Bob Martiniano

We've never heard of him, but that doesn't mean much. He may be well-known in the district. Is Foy interested in getting back into politics?

District #3 Peter Ryan

We'll be watching closely. Ryan is an interesting candidate. Art Judge is an empty suit, but the people seem to like the empty suits.

District #4 - Bill Dunne

The Republicans haven't said who will face Dunne in '05. Whomever does, will lose. The Republican smear machine has been in high gear, attacking the one democrat they can't beat at the polls. Dunne is on payed, administrative leave from the Republican dominated Dormitory Authority (the one Buono used to head). No charges have been brought. Still, certain despicable Republicans and Conservatives have taken it upon themselves to begin a rumor campaign. They had better be careful. If the Republicans want to head down that road, then we'll have to start talking about the Republican DWI's, spousal abuse, infidelity and a City Hall employee well-known for surfing porn in his down time.....Proof? Who needs proof. Rumor will make do.

And for the Democrats: stop acting like sissies. Hit back and hit back hard. Start foiling documents, hire a private investigator. If you want to beat the Republican thugs you need to get in the gutter, because that's where the Republicans dwell.

District#5 - ?

District #6 - ?

There's a rumor that the Democrats might cross-endorse Collier. That's a non-starter. Why? She'll never throw the Democrats a bone. She doesn't have to. Unless she falls down and breaks her hair, she'll win her race.

This pre-supposes that Harry doesn't declare a state of emergency, dissolve the City Council and attempt to annex East Greenbush.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005


We've added a link over to the right. It's a local blog on issues of concern to RPI students. They also touch on local politics. There's a post on Mr. Dunne over there today. As always, we welcome those that give the area an alternative to the local Republican paper (The Record). Welcome and good luck.

Monday, April 18, 2005


The Troy Polloi will state what everyone is thinking: DeAngelis is a disaster as an administrator.
The past few weeks has seen three departures from DeAngelis' office, including that of Jen Sober (the other two resignations have been kept hush-hush). Sober, as everyone knows, is now suing DeAngelis.

Now, it looks like DeAngelis' "confidential assistant" has been collecting a $61,000 salary while attending Russell Sage College. The assistant, Katrin Ellis, attends classes at night (on her own time) but also during the day (on County time).

These allegations wouldn't be so troubling if Ellis was attending to her job duties. According to some, Ellis has been lax in getting her job done. Those complaining include DA Office investigators, who claim Ellis has screwed up payroll. Others claim she has not been available by phone during office hours.

Ellis was originally hired by Ken Bruno in 1997, at a pay rate of $26,000. What she did to deserve double that salary, other than host a DeAngelis fundraiser in 2003, is questionable.

Ellis has decried the allegations, complaining that she has worked long and hard for whatever she has received in life. Funny, that coming from the niece of former Republican County Chairman James Walsh. Out of the many qualified people, we're positive Ellis was the most qualified. Her relationship to Chairman Walsh? Mere coincidence.

Ellis will resign. The problem, DeAngelis herself, remains. It is increasingly obvious that DeAngelis is unable to run the District Attorneys Office. Not everyone is cut out to be an administrator. Mary Donohue, no great shakes in the courtroom, was an adequate administrator. Ken Bruno was smart enough to realize that others should handle the tough cases. DeAngelis has yet to realize that she cannot take on 2 or 3 week, high profile trials and still run the District Attorney's office.

She has also proven to be a liability in the courtroom. DeAngelis has trouble following the Judge's orders. That's not good, especially when it leads to cases being overturned. Still, if she learned to close her mouth when told to, she would be an adequate prosecutor. Outside of Bronx County, DA's continue to have a 95% conviction rate. Prosecuting isn't rocket science. If DeAngelis stopped shooting her mouth off during trial, she would maintain a 95% conviction rate without the danger of her cases being overturned.

It was ridiculous for Ellis to have a $61,000 salary. That money could have been going to an experienced prosecutor. Now, with Sober being fired and two others resigning, they'll need a good, experienced prosecutor.

The Republicans continue to make Rensselaer County their financial playground. This is just another sad example of their corruption.

The District Attorney's Office is imploding. If the trend continues, there will be no one there except inexperienced attorneys fresh out of law school. That would be a greater disaster.

Saturday, April 16, 2005


Congressman's son indicted on assault charges
By: Capital News 9 web staff

Months after an August brawl that left one man with serious injuries, Congressman John Sweeney's son has been indicted in Saratoga County.

John Sweeney, Jr., 19, was indicted Thursday on assault and gang assault charges. Two other teenagers were also charged on the same counts after a fight in Stillwater last year that officials believe may have involved between 15 and 20 people. One man, Matthew Brady, was taken to the hospital with serious head and facial injuries.

In a statement, Congressman Sweeney said "I have every confidence in my son's innocence and I am certain the judicial process will reflect his innocence. There was no evidence or justification for the charges that have been made, and I am deeply disturbed by the lack of a thorough investigation during the early stages of this incident."

If convicted, Sweeney Jr. could face up to 15 years in prison.
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Sweeney has hired attorney E. Stuart Jones. Jones better do his job because this kid would be very popular in a state penitentiary (and he'd probably be renamed Joan).

We understand Sweeney's parental devotion to young John, but "no evidence or justification for the charges..."? Hello, John: Brady had to go to the hospital. Brady had head and facial injuries. This happened in August of 2004. Hardly a rush to judgment. We doubt a Saratoga Grand Jury indicts the son of Congressman because there is no evidence. It's not difficult to get an indictment but they have to have some evidence that a crime was committed and that Sweeney committed that crime.

It will be interesting to see if Sweeney gets the preferential treatment that the local aristocracy usually receives in dealing with the authorities.

Friday, April 15, 2005


It's no secret that Troy Republicans, like their county brethren, will seek to raise taxes this year. October may be a tough month for Harry and the boys and next year will be even tougher for the innocent residents of Troy.

In an attempt to lighten the tax payer's burden and to "give something back", The Troy Polloi would like to suggest an alternative to raising taxes or a way to keep next years tax hike down: a local celebrity auction, with the proceeds going to the city coffers.

Here are just a few suggestions for bid packages:

1- A Weekend Renovation Package - Councilwoman Karen Messick will come right to your house for a weekend makeover. Want that wall removed? New hardwood floors? Do it all without having to get any work permits!

2- Spend a night on the town with Bob Krogh - View Troy's exciting night life with one of the areas most charming elected officials. You'll never no where the night, and Bob, might take you but you can bet it won't be a Council Committee meeting.

3- Get that great nights sleep you always wanted - Councilman Bob Armet will personally come to your home, start to talk, and we guarantee you'll sleep like a baby.

4- Home Budgeting - Are those bills piling up? Money tight? Let Mayor Harry Tutunjian teach you all he knows about saving money by switching insurance agents. "I did it," says Harry, "and saved over $60,000."

5- Driving School - Spend a night at the Bob Mirch driving school. Learn from a man with a colorful driving record that dates back to the early 1980's.

6- E-Mail Made Easy - Let Councilman Bill Dunne show you how to use your workplace or home e-mail account. Warning! We cannot guarantee that your boss won't catch you.

7- How to Succeed in the Public Sector - Afraid you can't cut it in the real world? Are the fields of medicine, law, engineering or business just too competitive? Let Dan Crawley show you how to leech off the taxpayers at any level of government.

Thursday, April 14, 2005


Wherever there is tyranny, injustice or overweight, pasty-faced political hacks, Uncle Sam will be there to fight them. We also like the Star-Spangled suit. It really sets off his eyes.


Councilman arrested for assault Updated

A Schenectady Councilman is arrested for assault. Peter Della Ratta, 33, was charged with assaulting a 21-year-old man inside an apartment Tuesday night.

Matthew Maioriello lives in the building and was visiting a female tenant. Della Ratta reportedly became angry upon learning the two were in the apartment together.

Police said he entered the apartment and punched Maioriello several times in the face.

Della Ratta and the woman had a relationship in the past. He was arraigned and released on his own recognizance.

He is scheduled to return to court on April 18.

This blog is not about Schenectady politics but this story is so revolting it had to be mentioned. It's almost as revolting as the fact that no one, not one Democrat (Della Ratta is a Democrat) or one Republican has yet to ask for his resignation.

Normally, we would say, "Lets wait until he's convicted." Not in this case. There is absolutely no evidence that Mr. Della Ratta acted in self-defense or in the defense of others. He just beat the young man. This is not a man who should hold public office. He's a disgrace. If he doesn't resign, the Democrats should work to defeat him in his next primary. If they don't, shame on them.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005


How much does an endorsement cost? For George Rogers endorsement Tutunjian's paid approximately $20,000. A little too rich for our blood.

Here's the deal: George Rogers was the bargaining unit representative for CSEA. He wrangled an endorsement for Tutunjian. Now, Rogers will go from his previous civil service position (which was basically managing the South Troy Dodgers) to an appointed position. The new position will pay him approximately $20,000 more in salary. Tit for tat, quid pro quo?

The kicker is that Bob Barnes, a longtime city worker, will in all liklihood lose his job to make way for Rogers. Barnes is civil service. They can't give away his job but they can eliminate the position. Give it time. Barnes will be out, Rogers is in, CSEA will lose a civil service position and another crony will have his snout digging into the taxpayer trough.

This isn't the first civil service position elimated by this administration to make room for political appointees. At least three others have been eliminated.

The City Council has apporved a resolution that would pay Rogers the remainder of his current pay. That amounts to approximately $36,000 yearly. However, they say his new position will pay $55,000? So, where's that extra $20,000 coming from? Answers anyone?

An added benefit for the Republicans is that former City Councilman Keith Rogers has withdrawn from a county legislative race. We don't know what Keith's chances were, but he had won elective office before and was probably a stronger candidate than the one the Democrats will finally select. We like Keith and wish he would get back in the game.

We're less well disposed to a man that would stab his union in the back and aid in eliminating civil service jobs.

The idea of a non-political civil service was an uphill struggle fought and won by Republicans at the turn of the century. Its purpose was to limit patronage and to ensure that public employees could operate free of political arm twisting. This administration is systematically destroying that system and ushering in a second Boss Tweed Era. Good job boys.

Mayor Harry says, "Come get your political appointment, boys!"

Troy has become the financial playpen of the Republican Party. The spoils system is back and in October, the taxpayer will feel the pinch.

Monday, April 11, 2005


Our Magic Eight Ball says: Outlook Bleak!

As much as it pains me to say, we forecast that the Republicans will maintain their stranglehold on county and city politics for the next few election cycles. We say pains us not because they are Republicans but because one party control of a county/region is never good when it lasts too long.

Albany is a perfect example of the problems inherent in one party control. That's not to say that Albany is poorly run, for the most part, it is not. This is not about efficiency, it is about corruption (corruption with a small 'c'). The New York State Assembly is corrupt, the Senate is corrupt, Rensselaer County and Albany County are corrupt.

We do not mean corruption in a legal sense but as a word to describe the arrogance and incestuous attitude that develops with one party rule. The party in power begins to take shortcuts, forgets to dot the 'I's' and cross the 'T's'. It gets easier to do things in a sloppy way because hell, "if we wanted to we could have done it right to begin with."

Some examples: Michael Boxley. That case is still disturbing in so many ways. The early release of Mrs. Anslow, who remains unrepentant to this day, by Republican appointees. The selection of the new head of SPAC. SPAC is truly a regional gem and one would think that a nationwide search for a director would be appropriate. But lo and behold, the perfect person for the job happens to be in Bruno's office. What a coincidence!

Unfortunately for the Democrats of Troy, the best example of arrogance was when the City Council overturned term limits.

Term limits are undemocratic and unamerican. If someone wants to vote for Pattison or Tutunjian three times, four times....they should be allowed to do so. Term limits were a silly campaign ploy that played to the more obtuse citizens of Troy. But, the people have the right to do stupid things and if they vote on it, why overturn their misguided will? The Democrats did so arrogantly and the party will pay the price for the next two or three election cycles.

Some misguided party leaders said term limits would not be a factor. They were proven wrong. Do you think the citizens elected so many empty-suit Republicans because term limits were not an issue? If the Democrats on the Council had been smart enough to drop the issue, they would still be in power. Harry might still be mayor, but at least there would be some balance.

We hope the Democrats have learned a hard lesson.

Now, they face an uphill fight to retake the council. We say uphill but in reality, it's a near impossibility for many reasons.

1- Republicans, love them or loathe them, are far superior at building an organization. They are organized and disciplined.

2- Republicans also have the important third-party lines. Why anyone lets Mirch wield so much power is beyond us but the Republicans are deathly afraid of losing his support. If they do, they're in real trouble. Therefore, they won't lose that support. They'll swallow their pride and let a glorified garbage man run the show.

3- Republicans have Uncle Joe Bruno. Once he's out of the picture, they'll be in trouble. But, when will he be out of the picture?

4- Republicans understand the importance of constituent relations and know how to turn that into propaganda. That's not an insult. Good politicians know how to use photo opportunities. It was silly for Harry and Deputy Dan to plow snow on a Saturday night. It's a stunt. It's not their job. But, the masses love it.

Is all lost? We'd never say that. With a renewed organization, discipline and hardwork, the Democrats can be competitive. However, it's tough to get off the floor when you've had your ass handed to you three elections in a row. Only in judicial elections are the Democrats strong and those tend to be a crapshoot. Chris Meier won his election, but would he have defeated the ethically challenged Bauer? Maybe, maybe not. What is clear is that he should have won his race when his opponent had only two or three weeks to campaign.

In most elections, the citizens need a reason to toss out the incumbents. Defeating those in power doesn't just happen. They'll need and issue or two and then, it's still a challenge.

There are issues the Democrats can raise and run on. We'll talk about them in Part II. Will it work? There are no guarantees but it's better than flailing about with no direction.*

This is not meant to insult the current party leaders. The Democratic Party's current problems are a direct result, in our opinion, of Mayor Pattison's gambit to overturn term limits. After that disaster, everything just crashed and burned. Picking up the pieces will be difficult.

Saturday, April 09, 2005


1- The streets of Troy have become increasingly dangerous. Perhaps Mayor Tutunjian should bench Mr. Mirch for awhile. After all, using a cell phone while driving, rolling through a stop sign: it's just not safe on the city streets any more.

Prohibiting Bob from using a vehicle may be too harsh. Perhaps he should just take a pledge:

I, Robert Mirch, do hereby pledge that I will no longer endanger the citizens of Troy by illegally using my cell phone and by rolling through stop signs. I also pledge to comb all the crumbs from my moustache before I do the people's work. I will also cease violating Department of Health laws regarding smoking in the workplace. I will strive to be a better human being and to try and uphold the finest traditions of Christian Brothers University, my alma mater.

Robert Mirch

In fact, Bob, feel free to print that pledge out and send it to the City Council or The Record.

2- Speaking of the Mirch's, there's another one with their snout in the public trough. Mayor Tutunjian has removed Mrs. Conroy from the Zoning Board of Appeals (something he really can't do)and replaced her with....The 2nd (or is it 3rd? It's hard to keep up with the family values party)Mrs. Mirch.

The Mirch's, at the public trough: "Taxpayers money, em' good."

3- The Troy Polloi would also like to thank our friends at City Hall and Rensselaer County for getting us some documents on the Weed 'n Seed scandal and other matters. We know it's dangerous work and we appreciate it.

4- Vandalism at the Golf Course! Horrors! What person would drive over Troy's Gem? Considering a certain person's recent driving history......Harry may have to look close to home. Has anyone ever considered privatizing the course? It is a nice course and I use it often but should a municipality really own such a thing? It smacks of socialism. Or is it the patronage?

5- Good show, Harry! Mayor Harry came out and said that a bigger push should be made to recruit minorities for the Fire Department and Police Department. Praise is deserved. This isn't the first time though. A few years back a concerted effort was made to do the same thing and was unsuccessful because the departments had a hard time finding people to apply for those jobs. Very odd. We hope the current drive is more successful.

On Monday, we'll discuss why the Democrats have a snowball's chance in hell of capturing the City Council and even less of a chance in defeating Mayor Tutunjian in his re-election bid.

Thursday, April 07, 2005


The Weed 'n Seed program was designed to "weed" out bad elements in North Central Troy while planting the "seeds" for a stronger, healthier neighborhood. The program is funded of the United States Justice Department.

The local program is now in its fifth and final year. A steering committee oversees the program. Mary Beth McGowan was hired as the coordinator. Rensselaer County is the fiscal agent.

The County has accused Ms. McGowan of failing to fill out grant applications and allowing funding for the program to dry up. She has also been accused of failing to follow proper purchasing procedures. Others blame the steering committee or the County or both. As in many such situations (too many people and groups involved) there's probably plenty of blame to go around. Even the Department of Justice admits that it is a difficult program to administer. (for a good background on this, see Jim Franco's November 15, 2004 artice in The Record).

A scathing 2003 Justice Department audit found that Rensselaer County had taken some of the money earmarked to help North Troy and spent it on the County's own Auto Thief Program. That should help give you an idea about who has bookkeeping problems.

Who is at fault for the mess? Good luck figuring that one out. That's not the interesting part in this nonsense. In fact, the interesting part has little to do with who may be to blame for poor bookkeeping.

Ms. McGowan had to file quartley financial reports with the Department of Justice. The reports, known as SF269's, were prepared by Ms. McGowan and faxed to the Office of the Comptroller

On April 16, 2004, Ms. McGowan filled out and signed the SF 269 for the period: 1/1/04 - 3/31/04. The balance of funds was $144,044.29. Ms. McGowan then faxed the report to the Office of the Comptroller.

Interestingly, the form itself states that the report is to be submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. The person signing the document also certifies that the report is correct and complete.

On June 7, 2004, Margaret Brennan called McGowan to say that the Office of the Comptroller could not find her (McGowan's) report for the period: 10/103 - 12/31/03. McGowan was told that she could now electronically submit the forms. McGowan tried this but did not have the password. McGowan was told that only **** ******** had the pass word.*

Mysteriously, there is another SF 269 for the period: 1/1/04 - 3/31/04. This form was not filled out by hand. It was filled out on a computer for electronic submission. McGowan's name is on the form but, obviously not her signature. This SF 269 is dated May 11, 2004. The balance on this form is $96,680, over $45,000 less than on McGowan's form.

Why is this significant? Because McGowan e-mailed **** ******** on June 7, 2004 saying she needed the password to access the Federal GMS system. ******** replied on June 7, 2004:

They locked me out due to an incorrect password. I'll try after they reset it. Usually, the user name is ********* and the password will be reset to *********. For some reason it isn't working.

Then, on June 9, 2004, ******** e-mails McGowan with the updated user ID and password.

The issue? First, where's the $45,000+? Did that find its way into the County's pockets? Secondly, if the May 11, 2004 SF 269 was submitted to the Feds, it wasn't by McGowan. She didn't have the password to access they Fed system. Why the discrepancy in budget balance? Why did someone send the Feds a report purportedly certified by McGowan when it clearly was not certifed by her? Who lied to the Feds?

If McGowan's April report was innacurate, corrections would be necessary. That we understand. Even so, why fool the Department of Justice into believing McGowan signed off on that May 11, 2004 report? So many unanswered questions.

* McGowan was told this individual was the only one with the password. However, that is not confirmed. Others at the County could have had the password. We would hate to imply that this individual was the person who created and/or submitted the May 11, 2004 report.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005


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From The Record, April 4, 2005:

Last week, while coming home from helping Troy detectives move a piece of evidence from the South Troy Apartments, Mirch, also a county Legislator, was ticketed for talking on his cell phone while driving and then, after giving the officer a bit of lip, for rolling through a stop sign.

The way Mirch tells it is he had just pulled up to his house on Sixth Avenue between 108th and 109th Street when Officer James Botillo pulled up behind him.Mirch first opened the door. Botillo told him to shut the door and stay in the car. Mirch complied, threw the keys on the dash and called his wife for a pack of smokes. Botillo told him to roll down the window. Mirch told him they were electric and pointed to the keys on the dash board. Botillo told him to open the door. Mirch reminded him that he had just been directed to close the door. Talespin is not sure, but the humor was likely lost on the officer. Mirch opens the door and swings around in his seat so his legs are sticking out into the street.

Botillo takes Mirch's license and registration and tells him to get back in the car and shut the door. Mirch tells Botillo he has a bum leg, and he is staying where he is. Botillo tells him a car could come by and hit him. Mirch points to the way the police cruiser is blocking Sixth Avenue making is impossible for anything larger than a bicycle to pass.Throughout, Mirch is cursing, and Botillo is telling Mirch not to curse. Botillo comes back with two tickets, one for talking on the cell phone and one for rolling through a stop sign, which Mirch maintains was really because he was giving the officer a hard time - An attitude ticket, so to speak.

Mirch freely admits he was talking on the cell phone, but the commissioner of public works says he is on duty 24/7 and is exempt under the cell phone law.He plans to fight both tickets in court. Maybe junk dealer Jack Cox, with one trial under his belt, could represent Mirch.

It's always fun to get a laugh at Mr. Mirch's expense and we haven't heard Officer Botillo's description of events, but if Mirch is to be believed, doesn't it sound like Botillo overreacted?

Still, on the law, Mirch is wrong. No surprise there. According to the statute (found on the DMV website), there is no exemption for members of the "Action Team". The legislature evidently failed to amend the statute.

Fire fighters, police officers, emergency response personnel are all exempt when using a cell phone for a specific, emergency purpose. A municipal department head being on-call 24/7 doesn't cut it.

As an aside, who prosecutes traffic infractions? Is it the District Attorneys Office or Corporation Counsel's Office? It will be interesting to see how this infraction is handled. Will Corporation Counsel's Office be tough on the law breaker?

Just one more example of arrogance from this administration.

It would be fun to find out if any administration officials or council members have criminal records. That does not mean traffic violations, we mean actual criminal records. Some enterprising person may want to FOIL the local police departments for that information. I doubt many Democrats would do it as it entails actual effort.

Monday, April 04, 2005


Is there something that Rensselaer County isn't telling its residents? Is there a major crime wave just around the bend? It looks that way.

So, what does the County want to do with Troy's waterfront. Currently, 275 inmates are housed in 243 cells at the Rensselaer County Jail. Our sources tell us that when the expansion is complete (it will be done in phases) in 2024, the jail will have room for 897 inmates.* Is there something County residents should know? Will Rensselaer County really need triple the jail space in nineteen years?

Well, lets figure this out:

For the sake of argument, lets say the inmate population doubles in the next 19 years. That's seems high, but lets go with it. If there's 275 inmates now, and we double that, that's 550 inmates. We still have 347 to account for. There may be eight Troy Policeman. Perhaps the Feds will room them in the County Jail. That brings us to 558 inmates. Perhaps someone will go to jail for the 'Weed & Seed' scandal. That's probably just a few people though. What is going to be done with that extra space?

Either the County wants to rent space on Troy's waterfront, or a major crime wave is in the works. Lets pray it's not a crime wave. I just bought a new car.

The size and location of the Rensselaer County Jail has been a topic of conversation these past few weeks. The County wants to expand the jail. Troy Councilman Bill "Quixote" Dunne wants the jail moved. The jail sits on what could be prime waterfront property.** Dunne, who will surely lose this battle, is correct. At least to a certain extent.

What happens if Troy actually has a revival? Note likely, but it could happen. That revival will occur on the waterfront. Trojans have to shake off their small-minded provincialism and think large and long-term. If the waterfront experiences a renaissance, do you really want a jail sitting there? That will look real nice. "Oh, the gallery? You can't miss it. It's right next to the jail."

Perhaps the jail cannot be purchased tomorrow, or next year, or five years from now. However, if the expansion occurs, that site will always be a jail. The cost of purchasing the property? Has anyone considered, just considered, that Troy may not have to purchase the property? Perhaps a developer may be interested in the site. Isn't that worth a discussion. It may be a long shot, but why not explore the idea?

The argument that the jail sits on brownfields is equally nonsensical. First, not all brownfields contain dangerous levels of toxic materials. Would Rensselaer County really endanger the inmates, some of whom have not even been convicted, not to mention the hardworking corrections officers, by placing the jail on dangerous property? We think not.

Second, Mayor Harry has secured a grant to clean some of those brownfields (good job, Harry). It can be done. Troy just needs to shake off its can't do attitude.

We were going to post on the "Weed & Seed" scandal today. Our 'friend' at the County won't get us the documents needed until later in the week. Stay tuned.

* For those of you who graduated from Lansingburgh High, that's more than three (3) times the current inmate population

**The real question is, who owned the property when the decision to relocate the jail was made? Was that person a contributor to those in power at the time?

Friday, April 01, 2005


By Huggy Bear

Word on the street is that Republican officials will team up with milk carton manufacturers in an effort to find Councilman Bob Krogh. Krogh has not been seen at a committee meeting or council meeting since approximately February of 2004. However, it wasn't until last week that anyone noticed.

If you have seen Councilman Krogh or know his whereabouts, contact officials immediately. If you are Councilman Krogh and you are reading this, call Marge. She's very worried. You don't call or write or vote.

Word on the Street is that Deputy Dan and Bob Mirch violate the law everyday they are at City Hall. A Troy Polloi CI (confidential informant) who works at City Hall tells us that Deputy Dan's office is the official City Hall smoking lounge. According to the Public Health Law, that's a NO-NO. Mayor, don't let your people violate the law. Dan, Bob, we may want to see you out of government, but otherwise we hope you live long, happy lives. Try to quit. Contact the Public Health Department and surrender yourselves. I'm sure they'll take that into consideration when the fines are issued.

Word on the Street is that certain people at the Police Department aren't very happy. It seems the administration stuck its nose into the hiring of a secretary and a mechanic at the department. We haven't seen a spoils system like this since Boss Tweed.

Finally, word has it that a non-union employee has just received civil servant status, thereby making him impossible to fire. It's the golf course superintendent and it happens to be Harry's brother-in-law. Any more at home like him, Harry?

Next Week - The 'Weed & Seed' scandal. Watch the Mirch hit the fan.