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

Tuesday, May 31, 2005


You can tell much about a politician by observing how closely he/she grips the reins of power. Sure, self-confident politicians don't fight silly battles. Those comfortable in the trappings of power ignore opponents when they pose no real danger.

Then, there's Harry Tutunjian. Here is a man that whipped his Democratic rival. Here is a mayor with a veto-proof majority on the City Council. Here is a man with a powerful county machine behind him. No one is breathing down his neck right now. It's highly unlikely that the Democrats will take control of the council (with Bauer in the race, the chances of picking up a seat or two has dropped). Still...

He illegally removes Conroy as Zoning Board of Appeals President, replacing her with another Mirch;

He and the Republicans take pot shots at Councilman Dunne the only enrolled Democrat on the City Council (a secure politician would ignore a minority of one);

He feels compelled to change insurance brokers, so much so that he's willing to let a Scotia agency take half the commission rather than have the entire commission stay in Troy;

He allows a mere $1,300 possibly owed to Brian Owens, an Iraq War veteran, to become news.

This need to control everything evidences an insecure politician.

Recently, a letter from Harry to Marge DerGurahian made its way, via a strange route, to the Troy Polloi. The letter is disturbing. Not only does it demonstrate a further need for control, but is also evidence of a mayor ignorant of the basic concept of 'separation of Powers' and his own City Charter.

Dated April 13, 2005, the letter reads:

"I would also like to remind you of my request earlier this year to have all requests from City Council members submitted to my office in writing, and to not make requests directly to a department head or other city employee. City Council employees also fall under this request. Thank you for your understanding."

First, whoever dictated the letter should be shot. Crisp, clear writing is not their forte.

In any event, lets review. Harry believes that City Council members must channel all requests through his office. Why? Harry wants to control information. He wants to know what requests are made by Council members and, dare we say, Council members may or may not have their request honored.

In point of fact, Tutunjian is wrong as to requests made to officers of the city. Council members need not abide by his ridiculous request. In fact, the Troy Polloi, in the interest of an independent legislative branch, urges them not to comply.

§ C-22. Requests for reports, information or estimates

Any officer of the City is required to furnish reports, information or estimates to any Councilor of the City of Troy.

Then there's this:

§ C-25. Legal information.

A Council member may direct that the Corporation Counsel obtain legal opinions from the office of the Attorney General to clarify legal questions posed by said Council member

Gee! Nothing about seeking Mayoral approval first. Mayor, you may want to read your own City Charter. You have no authority to make that request and any Council person that complies is failing in their obligation to maintain an independent legislative branch.

A well-known business leader once commented that this administration has an inferiority complex. That would explain the pettiness.

Friday, May 27, 2005


There have been a host of good stories involving Troy lately. It's difficult to decide what to highlight.

There's Marge DerGurahian's valiant fight to save historic buildings. Marge's love of history and the city really shines through on these topics and makes us almost regret how hard we can be on her. Despite any differences, she's a good lady.

There's Bauer's entry into the City Council race (a fact the Troy Polloi noted some time ago). That story will require some time. Hopefully, we'll get to part one next week.

For today, it's Mr. Franco's article on getting more bang for your buck in Troy.

Franco's story highlights the result of a study. Although the information compiled by is interesting, does it really surprise anyone? Unless you live an utterly provincial life, most people know that the cost of living is much lower outside of major urban areas.

Mayor Tutunjian's response to the report was boyish exuberance: "It's great news for the city, we are excited to be listed as one of the most affordable places to live in the entire United States," said Mayor Harry Tutunjian. "It is becoming clearer that Troy is turning the corner and even brighter days are ahead."

A politician's job is to lay it on thick. It's a leader's job to lay it on the line. A problem doesn't cease to be a problem because it's locked away in a closet and ignored like crazy Aunt Edna. Leaders must be truthful and candid.

Without a doubt, the Hudson Valley Region is one of the nicest places to live in the northeast(in the nation, we believe). That is beyond dispute. To say that a city like Troy has turned a corner....? That is demonstrably wrong.

Troy is a wonderful, unique city. Native Trojans have a fierce loyalty to their city. A loyalty one does not find in natives of more prosperous cities. The Capital District has much to offer people and families. That does not mean Troy has turned any corner. Nor will Troy turn any corner for the foreseeable future. All of the indicators are negative.

First, the population (like Albany's) has diminished. Troy's population has consistently dropped and has now dipped below the 50,000 mark for the first time quite some time. Young professionals are leaving cities and moving to the suburbs, if the stay in the area at all.

Ask yourself this: how many people, friends and family, are moving into Troy, NY? They're not. They're not going to move to Troy, NY. How many people do you know that have moved to Troy, NY for the schools? For employment? It's not happening. Think of those who have recently graduated college. How many have stayed in the area? How many have moved to New York City?

Harry is simply wrong. Remember, Schenectady, NY was not far behind Troy in the study. Is anyone going to argue that Schenectady has turned any positive corner?

The fact that Troy has diminished over the past few decades is not anyone's fault. Troy is little different than most old, industrial northeastern cities. As the economy moves from industry to service, these cities have struggled. That is natural. No one is at fault. And it's not just Troy or cities like Troy. The population is moving south and west. The northeast and New England are Old America (and in our opinion the best part of America). Look at the Electoral College map. In 1952 New York had 45 Electoral Votes (that's 43 members of the House of Representatives). In 1968 that number fell to 43. In the 1990's, 33. Now, NY has 31 Electoral Votes. That's a loss of 14 seats in Congress. The same decline holds true for Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and even Connecticut.

Property taxes in Troy are too high compared to outlying areas. The schools are not as good. A trip to the New York State Department of Education website shows that Troy City Schools, Lansingburgh Schools, Watervliet and Cohoes Schools simply cannot compete with North Colonie, Colonie, Brittonkill.....the list goes on. People move south and west because they grow tired of the long winters. There is a perception (wrong) that crime is rampant in cities. All of these factors contribute to the decline of northeastern cities.

We must move away from the old models. We cannot recreate the past. Troy and Schenectady are not going to be thriving retail centers. People shop at Crossgates and Walmart now.

Those are the facts. You can deny them, but that won't change them.

There are things Troy can do. One thought, and it's not a panacea, is preserving Troy's heritage and buildings. Savannah, Georgia preserved it's past and in the process ensured its future. Not every old building can or should be saved but there has to be a better understanding that preserving an old building is not just about the past.

Another idea is to focus on things such as quality restaurants and entertainment. Troy, at times, has had many good restaurants. It has the Troy Music Hall and the theatre now. A thriving (legal, non- pornographic) nightlife can't hurt. And, of course, there's the waterfront.

Most cities like Troy put the cart before the horse. They try to draw business, retail or commercial. Instead, it seems more logical to draw young, professionals to the cities. Those people will create a demand for services. However, those young families want, above all, good schools and safe neighborhoods. To top it off, it will take more than good schools and safe neighborhood to draw people with disposable income. It will take the perception of good schools and safe neighborhoods. The reality is that it is sometimes more difficult to change the perception than the reality.

Another thing Trojans can do is stop electing political hacks whose only qualification is the fact that they paid their party dues by helping to elect other political hacks (who then in turn appoint more hacks). Troy has many visionary people who have led succesful lives in the private sector. Perhaps we should turn to people like that rather than to people whose main concern is padding their pension (a bipartisan problem).

On the upside, we didn't know that Troy's Uncle Sam Statue was featured on a foreign stamp!

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Why Mickey Mouse is included is a mystery

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


It looks like DA Trish DeAngelis may have another big headline case. At least it's worth an investigation.

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The full story can be found here.

But as a husband, according to his former wife's comments in divorce papers, Bruno, 42, waved a gun to intimidate her and scared her when she complained about his affair with another woman by talking about men who had killed their wives.

Guns, affairs, divorce...your Family Values Party at work.

Please, outraged Republicans (you know the type, law-and-order, believe the accuser, pronounce the accused guilty before all the facts are known) express your anger and dismay at Mr. Bruno in a comment.

It is always difficult to see a man that has pulled himself up by his Daddy's bootstraps get dragged through the mud. We can only hope he finds peace in with his new lobbying firm.

Bruno has a handful of powerful clients including Cablevision, which is trying to stop construction of the West Side stadium and is paying him $180,000 a year.

Cablevision must have been filled with glee. Imagine, hiring the son of the New York State Senate Majority Leader. What a coincidence.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


If the administration thought we'd forget about this, they'd better think again. There will be more Carignan posts as the year goes by. For background, see this post.

Why won't we let go of the story? Because it stinks.

At the outset, we have to say that we do not know, legally, if Carignan is entitled to the broker's commission. That's a legal question we cannot answer. We do know that Mayor Tutunjian has some serious questions he needs to answer. His credibility is on the line and the press must ask him some serious questions.

First, one of the key pieces in this mystery is the "Broker of Record" letter. Simply put, a broker of record letter informs everyone that the insured (the City) has a new agent. For instance, many of you have a homeowners policy of insurance. Say that your agent is Agent "A". The underwriter is State Farm. With a broker of record letter, you can change your agent to Agent "B". Agent "B" will now handle your State Farm homeowners policy. The broker of record letter changes nothing else. You still have the same insurance policy you always had, just a new agent.

Insuring a munciplality is not like insuring a private residence. Coverage and rates for a city involves researching exisiting lawsuits, potential lawsuits, potential exposure and what reserves need to be maintained. You don't throw a bid together overnight.

So, some simple questions for Mayor Tutunjian. If he has answers, great. Let us hear them.

1 - You said the City saved approximately $60,000 by switching brokers. How was that money saved?

2 - Did the two brokers who now share in the commission, give back $60,000 of that commission? Is that how the money was saved?

3 - Why is an agency outside the City of Troy sharing in the commission when 100% of that commission could now be in Troy?

4 - Did you rely upon the advice of others when you issued the press release that stated the switch in brokers saved the city $60,000?

5 - If so, who did you rely upon?

Those are some pretty simple questions that the press needs to ask. We'd be satisfied if the first two were answered.

Monday, May 23, 2005


The arrest of DPW worker Christopher Holdridge for allegedly filming sex with a thirteen year old girl has people talking about sex offenders and where they reside after release from prison. Troy City Council President Marge DurGurahian did some research recently and found that Rensselaer County harbors eighty-five level three sex offenders.

What is a level three sex offender?

Upon release to the community following a conviction for a registerable offense, the sex offender is required to register with the Division of Criminal Justice Services. In order to determine the level of community notification and duration of registration, a hearing is held by the sentencing court. After examining the facts in the particular case, including, but not limited to, the use of force, weapons, alcohol or drugs, victim's age, number of victims, assault or injury of the victim and relationship to the victim, the court makes a determination regarding the offender's level of notification, commonly called the risk level. The risk level is based on the court's assessment as to whether a particular offender is likely to repeat the same or similar registerable offense and the danger the offender poses to the community. Because the risk level reflects factors unique to a particular sex offender, offenders convicted of the same offense may receive different risk levels.

The court may assign one of the following three risk levels. The risk level governs the amount and type of information which can be released as community notification. (Note: In the interim period between registration and the risk level hearing, the offender's risk level may be referred to as "pending" and information about the offender may only be released in accordance with the standards for a low risk offender).

Level 1 (low risk of repeat offense), or
Level 2 (moderate risk of repeat offense), or
Level 3 (high risk of repeat offense and a threat to public safety exists).

In addition to the risk level, the court also determines whether the offender should be designated a sexual predator a sexually violent offender a predicate sex offender. This designation governs the duration of the registration. Those offenders who had a hearing on or after March 11, 2002 are registered for 10 years unless they have been given one of the above designations. If the offender has been designated a sexual predator, a sexually violent offender or a predicate sex offender, he or she must register for life. Level 1 and 2 offenders who had a determination proceeding prior to March 11, 2002 are registered for 10 years. Level 3 offenders who had a determination proceeding prior to March 11, 2002 are registered for life unless relieved of the duty to register by the sentencing court after having been registered for a minimum of 13 years.

For more information about where these predators reside, you can go here. Just click on the Search Level Three Subdirectory link in the upper right corner. You then have to enter some personal information. Then you can search by name or county. It's worth a visit, if only to find out if there are any such people in your neighborhood. The list for Rensselaer County is disturbingly long.

There is also recent talk about legislation on the state level. The legislation would make sex offenders released from prison eligible for "civil confinement". Frankly, such talk is ridiculous.

Some believe sex offenders are simply evil. Others believe sex offenders are ill. The end result is the same for the victim, whether the perpetrator is evil or sick. Sex offenders should be removed from society permanently. Whether they are sent to jail or a high-risk medical facility doesn't matter. Simply remove them from society. Why can't the legislature get together and do this?

Very rarely do the editors of the Troy Polloi believe in Draconian measures. This is one exception. The risk for those who cannot protect themselves is too great for inaction. We hope Ms. DerGurahian keeps this issue in the spotlight.


For those of you who don't know about this story, you can review the previous entry.

As you know....

Sgt. Brian Owens, an eight-year veteran of the city Police Department, claims the city owes him holiday pay, longevity pay and his uniform allowance from February 2003 to July 2004, the time he served as captain of a unit of Army Reservists in Iraq.The lawsuit does not specify a dollar amount, but the total allegedly being withheld is estimated to less than $2,000.

"They want to offer him a pro-rated amount for time he was working as a police officer and not the time he was deployed," said Troy Police Benevolent Association President Robert Fitzgerald. (From the James Franco Article, Troy Record, May 15, 2005).

This issue grows more fascinating every day. Corporation Counsel David Mitchell, explains the proper procedure:

"The traditional and agreed upon route is to file a grievance with my office. I investigate it, and we determine if we pay or not," Mitchell said. "It is highly unusual for an officer to take this approach and sue his employer in federal court."

Any administrations incompetence looks more glaring in the small matters, not the large matters. All administrations face tough decisions and mistakes can be made by anyone. Still, we are astounded by the utter incompetence of the Tutunjian administration.

Owens either deserves his allowance or he does not. It should not be that difficult to determine. According to the article, someone has offered Owens a pro-rated amount for his holiday pay, longevity pay and uniform allowance. Is that the proper decision or not? Does Owens get the full allowance or is it pro-rated? Or, perhaps, is he entitled to nothing?

If the administration initially made the proper decision, they should stand by that decision. What would a grievance filed in Corporation Counsel's Office accomplish? If the City is correct, the grievance will be denied. If the initial decision is wrong, we should all ask how that mistake was made.

From all accounts, it looks like Bauer was handling this matter properly. Then, once out of his hands, it has made the news on numerous occasions. Why can't this administration handle these small issues? Has Fredo been put in charge of the Corleone Family?

On the political front, this seems to be the one time this administration has dropped the ball. Simply put, it makes political sense to give Owens what he wants. It's not much money, $1,300 and Owens was over in Iraq doing more for our country than the children of certain elected officials. Republicans always talk a good game, but supporting our troops means more than buying a metallic ribbon to slap on your SUV. Remember GOPers, freedom isn't free.

Friday, May 20, 2005


We missed this story in The Record but found it via The Uncle Sam Files. The article is about a lawsuit filed by Police Sergeant Brian Owens.

In the suit, Sgt. Brian Owens, an eight-year veteran of the city Police Department, claims the city owes him holiday pay, longevity pay and his uniform allowance from February 2003 to July 2004, the time he served as captain of a unit of Army Reservists in Iraq.The lawsuit does not specify a dollar amount, but the total allegedly being withheld is estimated to be less than $2,000.

The Times Union ran a similar story. In the Times Union story, we are treated to Corporation Counsel David Mitchell's brilliant legal analysis and trademark sense of humor:

"What he is required to do is file a grievance with my office," said David Mitchell, the city's attorney. "I investigate it. Why he is making a quote-unquote 'federal case' out of this, I have no idea."

Mitchell, of course is literally correct. Owens is making a Federal case out of it. Mitchell is also using the phrase "Federal case" figuratively: Owens is making a big deal about a small issue, a mountain out of a mole hill.

It's difficult to piece together what is happening in the Owens matter. Was Bauer handling the matter? Was Bauer pulled from the case? With this administration, who the hell knows? However, if Bauer was pulled from the Owens matter that explains why it has made the paper. Bauer would have had this mess cleaned up before it made anyone look bad.

Still, $1,300 does seem too small an amount to get the courts involved. Lawsuits should be reserved for bigger, legitimate claims. What kind of claims, you ask? Pull up a chair and we'll tell you a story.

Once upon a time (the year 2000), two brothers owned an establishment called Zachary's Barbeque. One weekend, the evil mayor of the town closed the street where Zachary's was located. The street was closed for an annual parade. Angered at such an act, the two brothers brought a lawsuit against the evil mayor for lost profits in the amount of $50 million. One of the brothers guessed it! Our very own, David Mitchell.

Meanwhile, in a bizarre twist, village of Lake George Mayor Robert Blais revealed this week his municipality is named in a lawsuit filed by David and Joseph Mitchell. The suit seeks $50 million in lost profits allegedly occurring on the weekend of Sept. 10, 1999. According to the papers, filed Dec. 10, part of the public highway known as Canada Street was blocked to exclude the public from the Mitchell's business, Zachary's Barbeque. Blais said the weekend event was an antique car parade, whose route has remained unchanged for years and simply does not pass that end of Canada Street.

Wow! That is a huge profit for one weekend. Why would anyone leave a business that made a profit of $50,000,000 over one weekend. Hell, we'd open for one week and then retire.

And that's one to grow on.

In related news, Council members Dunne and Mahoney will introduce a resolution thanking Sgt. Owens for his service and awarding him the $1,300 he is owed from the city.

"We will sue Lake George for....$50 million!"

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


The reviews are in and the critics are raving:

"Some of the most creative fiction I have ever read!" - New York Times

"Move over Tolkien. Rensselaer County's books are the new gold standard for fantasy." - St. Louis Dispatch

"I wish I could run a county like that!" - Boss Hogg, County Executive, Hazzard County, Georgia

The Weed 'n Seed program is in the final year of a 5-year grant cycle. Rensselaer County was the fiscal agent during the first four years of the program. Due to county misfeasance, the City of Troy will be the fiscal agent for year five.

During the last week of April, the Federal government came to Troy to audit the Weed 'n Seed books. Apparently, the county's books were some of the most creative fiction written in years. The county provided little help, often flat out refusing to provide either information or personnel to the auditors. In fact, the Federal program manager, Faith Baker, ended up slamming her fist on the table during one meeting out of frustration over the county's lack of cooperation.

In the end, the Federal auditors found significant problems with the county's fiscal records. Over $100,000 in funds were either not allocated or incorrectly allocated by the county. These were funds that should have been spent in the City of Troy!

The Federal Government is requiring the county to return the money to the Federal Government. The Federal Government will then turn the funds over to the City of Troy. The implication is clear: The United States Government does not trust Rensselaer County to pay the funds to Troy.

Additionally, the Feds found that the county never corrected issues brought to light by a 2003 audit. The county is being required to provide appropriate paper work to explain expenditure dating back to the original inception date of the grant. We have been assured that county workers are creating that paper work as we speak.

These findings confirm long standing suspicions that the county was mismanaging the money. The findings also vindicate former program coordinator Mary Beth McGowan, whom the county dismissed, blaming her for the financial mess.

The City tried and failed to get a new grant in 2005, but is attempting to do so again for 2006.
Do the county's failings hurt the City's future chances? We'll find out.

Ever wonder what Crow tastes like? Ask some people at the County.

Monday, May 16, 2005


This disturbing incident has been confirmed by two independent sources.

Last Tuesday, City Assessor Tina Dimitriadis made a presentation to the City Council to discuss the completion of the 2005 assessment rolls.

On that point, there is good news and bad news. First the good: property values in Troy are on the rise (like everywhere else). However, the idea of a citywide reassessment is gaining steam in the Republican City Council Majority. The Republican majority killed this idea under Pattison. Now, seeing that it takes more than platitudes to run a city, the Republicans are looking for new ways to raise revenue to pay for salary hikes and other schemes.

That was not the interesting part of the evening. According to sources, Deputy Mayor Crawley, forgetting his place, repeatedly tried to interrupt Council President Marge DerGurahian's questions to Ms. Dimitriadis. After all, DerGurahian is just the City Council President, duly elected by the people of Troy.

When he found himself unable to interrupt, Deputy Dan became frustrated and on several occasions blurted out, "This is bullshit!" One Councilman walked out of the meeting but Crawley's behavior continued.*

Deputy Dan should be forced to make a public apology to Ms. DerGurahian. Harry should demand that apology or ask for Crawley's resignation. Council members should likewise demand an apology. DerGurahian is an elected official and City Council President. Her inquiries take precedent over those of an inarticulate, immature political hanger-on. Crawley is an embarrassment to himself, the administration and the city.

It's a sad day for democracy when appointed flunkies ride roughshod over elected officials. How do we explain this to the thousands of Troy children that look up to Crawley as a role model?

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Artist's rendering of Dan Crawley attempting
to articulate a thought

*Crawley is a member of the Family Values Party

Friday, May 13, 2005


No news stories today. We're taking a break as we are not in a decapitating mood.

First, we are pleased to announce that The Troy Polloi now receives, on average, over 100 visitors a day. That's 100+ Monday through Friday and about half that on Saturday and Sunday. Thanks to all who read, even those who disagree with what we write. Open and honest debate is as American as Uncle Sam.

We also want to thank those that take the time to comment. Again, disagreements are fine. However, we hope that any personal attacks cease. Calling someone a toadie, spineless, Republican or Conservative is hitting below the belt. We want people to feel comfortable when they comment and not have to worry about immature behavior (we reserve the right to all immature behavior). A mild, good natured tweak is fine. Nastiness will not be tolerated.

We believe that some good, honest discourse can be found in the comments. There's no reason why reasonable people can't differ in their opinions and remain courteous. The ugliness that infects politics at all levels really needs to end.

You might be saying, "But Democratus, aren't you guilty of the same things?" Our answer is, "Yes. But we are arbitrary and capricious."

Enough scolding, it really doesn't suit us.

There are some things we'd like to do as the election draws near. First, we encourage anyone to write us with tips, thoughts or suggestions at

We'd also like to start a "Letters to the Editor" day, where we'll publish your letters and comments. All e-mail addresses will be kept in the strictest of confidence.

Next, we will be doing interviews. If you'd like to be interviewed and are a public official, an elected official, a candidate for office, a party official or connected with any campaign, let us know and we'll set something up.

Finally, as the election draws near, we will invite any and all candidates to do a guest post. They can e-mail the post and we will publish it, unedited.

That's where we'd like to take The Troy Polloi. Maybe it'll work, maybe not. We'll see. Thanks again for reading. And hey, lets be careful out there.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


With $3,100,000 in Community Development Block Grant money Mayor Tutunjian has decided that The Ark Community Charter School and the Lansingburgh Boys & Girls Club merit a total of $0.00.

The Ark previously received $30,000 (less than Jeff Buell's salary as Propaganda Minister) and the Lansingburgh Boys & Girls Club received $10,000. What is the ACCS?

The Ark Community Charter School is a natural development of the Ark, a highly successful after school educational program on-site at the Taylor Apartments, a federal housing project in south central Troy, New York. Because of the expressed needs of the community, the Ark expanded its program to include a school.

We applaud Mayor Harry's actions! It's about time these greedy, parasitic groups got off the public dole. We don't care if The Ark after school program has seen alumni graduate from RPI or Georgetown Law. These groups bleed the city dry.

How can we, as a people, justify money to these groups when Jeff Buell is in dire need of new clothes. How can David Mitchell survive on $80,000 a year. Or George Rogers on his $20,000 bump in pay?

Unfortunately, the City Council is child-friendly. And just what does the Council have to say about these plans and the children?

"Children are the most important asset in our community," Councilman Robert Armet added.

"We should support youth programs and make them flourish," Councilman Mark Wojcik said. "It's time to do all we can for the youth."

Time to step up to the plate, boys.

In unrelated news, Troy Mayor, Harry Tutunjian cancels Christmas.

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Mayor Harry, Canceling Christmas

Monday, May 09, 2005


Joseph's House has decided to sue the city because the City Planning Board rejected a proposed shelter for homeless people with mental disabilities. The proposed shelter would be at 202 Fourth Street, Troy, New York.

The Complaint alleges that the City Planning Board required Joseph's House to report on the environmental impact the shelter may have on the neighborhood. The Complaint also alleges that the same Board allowed a developer to convert commercial space into luxury condominiums without requiring a similar report.

Without debating the actual merits of the case, the Planning Board decision smells fishy. We understand the concerns the neighborhood may have about a nearby homeless shelter. We all want to be open-minded and compassionate. However, the fact remains, shelters for the mentally-ill homeless raises legitimate worries for neighbors and the neighborhood. Even the most compassionate soul might feel uncomfortable with a shelter next door or just down the street.

If that's the issue, and we contend that it's a legitimate one, say so. Don't strain credulity by expecting us to believe the shelter will have any environmental impact on the neighborhood. Especially in light of the fact the luxury condominiums apparently don't cause any impact on the environment.

Now, the usual crowd will wail about people suing the city and wasting taxpayer dollars. Those same people won't complain about other ways in which tax-payer dollars are spent:

1- Creating a position for Jeff Buell at the tune of $39,000. Any outrage from Republicans? No!

2- Appointing two deputy mayors (whatever happened to Jim Walsh anyway?); Outrage from the small government crowd? No!

3- Allowing the Carignan Agency to do the heavy lifting, then giving another agency the commission. Did they really think that wouldn't result in a lawsuit?

4- Corporation Counsel salary increases, from $75,000 to $80,000.

5- George Rogers and his $20,000 pay increase.

We're sure that's not an exhaustive list. Republicans are the biggest herd of hypocrites in politics. They preach smaller government but it's just talking points for the masses. Their ideology is power and patronage.

In the near future, we'll list the Republicans that collect paychecks from two, sometimes, three municipalities. Ironic, when you think about it. The Republicans like to accuse Democrats of being socialists when so many of their own members lead socialistic existences: salary, pension, healthcare, all paid for by the taxpayer. Now that it socialism.

Sunday, May 08, 2005


In April, Councilman Art Judge introduced a resolution that would waive field-use fees for city youth groups using Troy parks and facilities. Then....(insert ominous music)

Mayor Tutunjian, on the advice of Recreation Director George Rogers, vetoed the resolution.

Mayor Tutunjian argued that the City needed the fees, that people treat things better when they pay for it and that such a waiver would set a bad precedent because children pay to use the City's pools. We swear to God, that was his argument. The Council must have seen the logic because they overrode the veto by a unanimous vote, 9-0.

Council President Marge DerGurahian pointed out that the waiver would cost the city $3,000 and that such a loss would be made up in other use fees. Other Council members chimed in:

Councilman Armet: "I believe the children are our future."
Councilman Wojcik: "Treat them well and let them lead the way."
Councilwoman Collier: "Show them all the beauty the posses inside."
Councilman Judge: "Give them a sense of pride."

Congratulations Troy City Council. In all seriousness, good show.

As for Mr. Judge, we are really beginning to like him. First, he walked away from the budget vote, protesting the administrations strongarm tactics. Some criticized him for that act, but we here at The Troy Polloi always appreciate acts of defiance. Now, he makes sure that his sensible legislation is passed, despite Tutunjian's clumsy, inept veto. Of course, it is an election year and voting against children has never been all that popular. Still, no matter how or why, the right outcome was achieved. Congratulation for a job well done. Now, for Harry...You will be visited by three ghosts.

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Mayor Harry: "Are there no workhouses,
are there no orphanages?"

Mayor, please! The difficulties you mention are nonsense. First, if anyone asks, simply tell them that Troy Youth Groups can use the facilities for free. Individuals cannot. If they press you, tell them it has something to do with liability insurance.

Secondly, as for the money: stop talking like a politician. You found over $30,000 to create a position for Jeff Buell. You were able to raise Corporation Counsel's salary from $75,000 to $80,000. Maybe some of that can cover the lost fees. Is it so easy to ease the pressure on the wallets of Buell and Mitchell and not for organized youth groups?

Friday, May 06, 2005


According to a recent poll (See The Record, May 5, 2005) 5% of New Yorkers know Mary Donohue is the state's Lieutenant Governor. Among upstate voters the percentage of recognition jumps to 7%.

The good news for Mary is that the percentage who recognize her name is probably better than any other New York Lieutenant Governor.

The bad news: Governor Pataki was not in the 5% that recognized her name.

The poll also found that nearly two-thirds that did recognize Ms. Donohue believed she should never wear orange and three-fourths believed she should be promoted to Captain.

We hope Mary, a very nice lady, isn't hurt by the poll. No one ever knows the name of the lieutenant governor. Governor Cuomo had thirty-five different lieutenants during his twelve years as governor. Cuomo actually forgot that he had been Governor Carey's LG.

Traditionally, the LG's office has been something of a political dead end. Not unlike being the assistant night manager at Stewart's. Malcolm Wilson was able to become governor only when Spiro Agnew resigned and Rockefeller was appointed Vice-President. Cuomo was able to make the leap but he is the exception.

Mary's name recognition is irrelevant. For some reason the State GOP has never really embraced her and she has no chance of ever becoming governor. Odd, when you think about the current state of New York's Republicans. Today, almost everyone believes Pataki will not run for a fourth term. Most believe that Attorney General Spitzer will be the next governor.* Rather than send a sacrificial lamb against Spitzer, why not Donohue? She'd lose, but she'd do better against Spitzer than what's his name (no seriously, what's his name?) did against Senator Schumer.

Mary was a marginal District Attorney. She was a Supreme Court Justice for approximately ten minutes. She is, however, likeable and a proven vote-getter. We think she'd be much more formidable against Spitzer than the current names being floated by the Republicans. Compared to Pataki, who could put caffeine to sleep, Donohue is positively charismatic.

* Democrats should not be too smug. Spitzer is the odds-on favorite today. However, neither Pataki nor Donohue have ever lost a general election.


It's always important to closely watch our elected officials in all branches of government. One party control of any government subdivision leads to a variety of corrupt practices. This is true not only in Republican dominated Rensselaer County but in Democratic dominated Albany County.

Those with unchecked power become lazy and undisciplined. They cut corners, forgetting that procedures have been put in place not to hamper government but to ensure honest, ethical and open government. Power does corrupt and absolute power.....

We can no longer rely upon the mainstream media to actually investigate officials and their shenanigans. Why is this? Are today's journalists less dedicated, less talented, less ambitious? That may or may not be the case. In our opinion, there have always been talented journalists working beside hacks. That was true in 1900, 1950, 2000 and 2005. A bigger problem with today's media is the corporate masters that control the purse strings. How is The Record expected to adequately cover politics when they won't hire a full-time reporter to cover the Capitol?

Another problem is the growing incestuous relationship between government and media. Example: former political reporter for The Record, Jeff Buell, is now working for the Tutunjian Administration. For us, that calls into question the credibility of every political story penned by Mr. Buell. It could be that each and every story written by Tutunjian's future spokesperson was unbiased, credible journalism. That's not the issue. It is the very appearance of bias, born out of the incestuous Record-Tutunjian Administration relationship.

How many more Record reporters have relationships, private or professional, with elected or appointed officials in Rensselaer County? How many at the Times Union? Without full disclosure, there is little reason to look to The Record as that most vital of democratic institutions, the independent news source.

Thus, the internet has provided the public with a wide variety of information gathering sites. All must be read with a discerning eye, but the information is out there, right at everyone's fingertips. A large portion of sites, including The Troy Polloi, are written by amateur....journalists? Political junkies? Scoundrels? They are mostly opinion, laced with fact and rumor. And that's fine. Thomas Paine was rarely if ever reimbursed for his written work.

There is a site, however, that does combine the best of both worlds. We think of it as a watchdog site, following the sometimes Alice In Wonderland-like goings on in the Rensselaer County Justice System. However, the man associated with this site is a professional journalist, well-respected and well-liked throughout the Capital Region. He is above reproach as a professional and as a man. Justice Now should be on everyone's reading list. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 05, 2005


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By Huggybear

Word on the street is that the Republican powers that be are not happy with Marge DerGurahian, Troy City Council President. One reason might be her attitude towards the almost dead Business Improvement District, or B.I.D. Huggybear doesn't have an opinion on the B.I.D, but Senator Bruno is for it, as is Harry. Margie's political spine usually has the consistency of jello. Why the turn-around on the B.I.D? Could it have anything to do with local gadfly Ken Dufty? Dufty, who has an opinion on everything and feels compelled to express that opinion, is an outspoken critic of the B.I.D.

Word on the street is that the Republicans want to replace DerGurahian on this fall's ticket. But DerGurahian ran at-large and that's a big race to tackle. Incumbent Bob Armet will seek re-election but Messick is out. Whether Marge stays or goes, the Republicans will need at least one more candidate for the at-large ticket. Who could dat be?

Word on the street is that deposed Police Court Judge, Henry Bauer, has been told (that's right, told) that he will be running at-large.

Word on the street is that Councilman Jack Mahoney will be opening a new restaurant in the Old Daily Inn building. Huggybear wishes him luck and hopes he has every success.

Word on the street is that Harry "No-More-Consultants" Tutunjian didn't feel Corporation Counsel's Office was up to defending him and the City in the Carignan lawsuit. The City has retained Goldberger's firm (Goldberger is the labor lawyer retained to conduct labor negotiations on behalf of Troy). Mitchell gets paid $80,000 for what now?

More on Bauer and Carignan coming soon.

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.

Monday, May 02, 2005



On Thursday night, April 28, the Troy City Council sought public input on its 5-Year Strategic Plan. The plan, required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, details where and how certain Federal funds should be spent in the upcoming five years.

How many citizens attended the public meeting? Two! Of the two, only one addressed the Council. More people showed for Ted Bundy's funeral than on Thursday night.

Granted, slicing up HUD funds isn't the sexiest topic. Also, the Apprentice was on, as well as President Bush. But people, you have VCR's. You can watch the Apprentice when you get home. As for the President, he was doing his snake-oil salesman bit about Social Security. You didn't miss anything. That's dead in the water and even lacks Republican support.

Once the Council does decide on how to spend the funds, watch 'Sound Off' (easily the best and most entertaining part of The Record) closely. How you'll howl, criticize and lambast how the funds are spent.

Apathy is one of the greatest dangers facing our democracy. Once the people become apathetic, the politicians cease to listen. They no longer have to listen. Once you stop caring our elected officials and apppointed officials operate with no checks. That's a sure road to bad, ineffective government. We've had too much of that in this state already.

It took twenty years of late budgets before any state reforms were even discussed. The State legislature failed in it's obligations for twenty years before enough groups voiced their anger. Truly a sign that our democracy is tired. When public input is invited, people should show-up.


Fred LeBrun had a scathing column about DA DeAngelis in Sunday's Time Union. We're forced to point out that Fred's a bit late. Remember, you read it here first. We admit that we did not realize the number of resignations was twelve. That's more than alarming, it's a crisis. It's time for Ms. DeAngelis to step down from her position as District Attorney now, while she can salvage a career.

As Fred points out, the Rensselaer County DA's Office is considered a joke by area attorneys. That's unacceptable. Please, Senator Bruno, put Ms. DeAngelis on the Court of Claims* where she will be rendered harmless. Unless, of course, you already have a seat on the Court of Claims waiting for a certain former Rensselaer County District Attorney.

* The New York State Court of Claims has jurisdiction in cases where New York State is a party. A seat on the Court of Claims is also, but not exclusively, a reward for politically connected attorneys that have a demonstrable record of ineptitiude.