Friday, December 29, 2006
Two interesting rumors:
1) Mirch will be down to 2 jobs come January '07. We heard he's losing his constituent liaison gig.
2) We also heard that 3Job will be, or has, sworn a complaint against a certain former Troy politician for threats allegedly made against 3JB.
Both are unconfirmed but interesting.
SAY GOODBYE TO PAT
Pat Casale, a longtime fixture in area politics, is saying goodbye. We hope he has a long and happy retirement.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
The NY Times, as part of their investigation into Sen. Bruno, contacted our own Bob Mirch on his position as Sen. Bruno's alleged Constituent Relations person. The Times was amazed to find that Mr. Mirch is paid $30,000 per year from the Senate and does not have an office for this important position. In fact, any calls to Mr. Mirch through the Senator's office are directly connected to the Rensselaer County Legislature's office. The NY paper was also intrigued that Mirch could at the same time have another full time job.
The Times is also investigating how Thomas Connelly is on Sen. Kruger's payroll in NYC. They are trying to determine what if anything he does for the Senator.
There's also word from at least two sources that two (2) Federal Grand Juries are investigating Senator Bruno. We have no idea weather two Grand Juries could be involved in one investigation. Sounds curious.
Also just in:
3 Job Bob put out a flyer in the DPW today trying to rally support against the Democrats on the Council, blaming them for possible layoffs in DPW if the water rate increase doesn't pass tonight. Why else would the Administration be pushing this hard if they thought they had the illegal vote wrapped-up?
For a politician, being the subject of, or a person of interest in, a Federal investigation is never a positive. It may or may not be a career ender. A more telling sign of Joe's problems comes from his own Republican conference.
There is a typical pattern in political scandals: friends and colleagues offer support; friends and colleagues become "troubled"; friends and colleagues abandon their friend and colleague.
It begins one colleague willing to break ranks. In this case, it's State Senator John Bonacic of Orange County. Bonacic called upon his Republican colleagues to oust Senator Bruno, who will not be formally elected Senate Majority leader until the new year.
Bonacic has a point and many Republican Senators have to be angry with Bruno. If the story of the investigation had broke a few weeks before the election, the Senate might be in Democratic hands. As it is, under Bruno, the GOP has lost four Senate seats in the last four years.
Bruno's age doesn't help things. For the first time that we can recall, Joe looks his age and looks weak and vulnerable. At 77 years old, some GOP Senators have to be looking towards their own future. When they start jumping ship, they jump fast. If there's a revolt in Bruno's conference, we should know by New Year's Eve.
Bruno will say he has the votes. So did Marino.
As for more rumors, one has to wonder if any portion of the investigation involves the construction of Ken Bruno's palatial estate. What contractors were used, what were they paid and how were they paid. We can't help get the feeling that First Grafton is involved. Or is it horse racing, or both?
On a side note, Governor Elect Spitzer has named State Senator Michael Balboni to head the State's version of the Homeland Security Department. Balboni turned down a run for Attorney General recently in order to keep his Senate seat in GOP hands. Now, Spitzer will call a special election to fill Balboni's seat.
If Bruno, for whatever reason, resigns from the Senate, who will run in the special election for the GOP? For the Democrats?
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
A third vote is in all likelihood illegal (otherwise known in Rensselaer County as a mere technicality). However, the illegal vote will only require 5 illegal votes, not 6, because the resolution has now festered in the hands of the Council for a sufficient period of time.
When it comes to raising taxes and rates, no one works harder than the mayor.
Why the rush on the do-do-over? The water bills, with the new rate hike go out next week.
Mayor Tutunjian worked into the early morning hours drafting his list of people to blame and was not available for comment.
Who's to blame? Why not vote in our poll over on the right.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Friday, December 22, 2006
Troy Mayor Harry Tutunjian's penchant for raising taxes is well-known. In fact, he's never met a tax hike he didn't like. This year, property taxes rose 2.49% A modest hike. Where Harry also likes to get people is in the sewer and water rates. Those have gone up quite a bit in recent years. Those taxes (also called rate hikes) don't generate the same passion as property tax increases.
This year, Tutunjian's water rate hike passed by a vote of 5 to 4 (the Democrats and Marge voted against hitting the Troy taxpayers). The problem was, the legislation didn't get to Council members until the night of the vote. Therefore, six votes were required for passage.
ÃÂ§ C-38. Purposes and adoption of ordinances. [Amended by L.L. No. 1-1984, ÃÂ§ 1]
The Council may, by ordinance, provide for the government of the City, the management of its business, and the protection of its property; for the preservation of good order; for the protection of the public health; for the safety and the welfare of its inhabitants and the protection of their property; for the construction of public and local improvements; and for such other purposes as the interests of the City and its inhabitants may require. No City ordinance shall be adopted at the same meeting at which it is introduced or until seven days have elapsed since its introduction, except by the two-thirds vote of the Council members present.
Well, they tried again last night. Again, Dems and Marge voted against whacking the tax payers. Bauer, Wojcik, Collier and McGrath voted for the tax hike. Council Krogh was absent. The vote was 4-4.
The result means no increase. Since the vote had no majority, no reconsideration is possible.
Â§ 2-32. Motion for reconsideration.
A. No motion for reconsidering any decision of the Council shall be in order unless made by a Councilperson who voted with the majority, nor unless such motion shall be made at the same or next regular meeting after such decision shall have been made.
B. A motion for reconsideration being put and lost shall not be removed, nor shall any vote be a second time reconsidered without unanimous consent.
Harry now knows this because he sent a memo to CSEA President Paul Caroll proposing the termination of 15 Water Department employees to close the budget gap created by GOP incompetence. In the memo, Harry once again resorts to the blame game. Apparently, because the Democrats and Marge didn't vote for the tax hike, they will be blamed for the termination of 15 employees.
Introduce the initial resolution within the appropriate time frame;
Based on the previous vote, you may want to ensure that your other votes are available;
Read The Charter, Harry, or have someone read it to you.
Is this an example of the fiscal health of Troy? One utility rate hike is not passed and the Mayor threatens to terminate 15 employees a few days before Christmas? Is every dollar in the budget accounted for? What about the Federal Grants and the money saved by cutting loose 99 retirees from their benefits? Or was that set aside for next year. Maybe pave a few streets before election day?
Given Troy's fiscal situation, perhaps layoffs will be necessary. That's a debate that should be had, in full view of the public. That's what a leader does. A leader makes tough, unpopular decisions. A leader does not patch together budget after budget with ever-increasing tax hikes because he or she lacks the guts to confront those tough decisions.
More importantly, a leader leads by example. Stop blaming others for your failures. The HUD money? You had the memo in January of '04 outlining the issues. Carignan? You knew you were screwing over a local business and when confronted with the consequences you allowed another business to pay for your mistakes. You hired Spargo despite the obvious ethical issues surrounding the disgraced judge. The list goes on.
Now, just days before Christmas, you'll let employees toss and turn, worrying about their future because you do not know what you're doing (and blame others for your screw-up). Merry Christmas, Troy.
Another great Album Cover (featuring a future GOP At-Large candidate):
As the Feds follow the cash, Joe maintains that as a "part-time legislator" he is allowed to have other concerns. He's quite correct. And one of those outside concerns is a consulting firm, run from his home. One of his clients is Jared Abruzzese. Mr. Abruzzese, according to attorney E. Stuart Jones, has paid Bruno's consulting firm hundreds of thousands of dollars.
According to sources, Bruno started the "at home" business after seeing an advertisement stapled to a telephone pole, declaring "Make thousands a month while working at home." Bruno tore-off the phone number, made a call and here we are. You see, Bruno is only a part-time legislator. So, in order to make ends meet, he needed another job. It was a toss-up between an at-home consulting firm or greeter at Walmart. Bruno wisely chose the former.
What advice could Bruno give Abruzzese that was possibly worth "hundreds of thousands of dollars." Did Bruno help select wallpaper for Abruzzese's office? Or is the advice more simple, such as, "we advise you to retain us."
Why don't we know the identity of Bruno's other clients? There's no confidentiality laws preventing Joe from revealing the identity of his clients. Joes not a lawyer, priest or physician. He doesn't have to reveal the nature of the consulting work but he can't claim transparency while withholding the names of clients.
We think he's stepped in the Mirch. Some of his colleagues may feel the same way.
It will be interesting to see if the standard for New York State politicians remains "He was never convicted" or will it be lowered to "He's never been indicted."
Personally, we've always liked Joe, as an individual. For a New York State, Rensselaer County politician, he's pretty decent and he's always been kind to us. We'd hate to see him go out this way. This just looks bad.
Album Cover of the Day:
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
We know Joe doesn't like the Time Union so, lets just say that according to Capital News 9:
Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno is being investigated by the FBI in regards to business dealings involving his consulting firm.
Senator Bruno said he was notified by the FBI about the inquiry into his private consulting firm back in the spring. But it wasn't until the story was leaked to the media that he came forward.
Bruno said, "I wanted to be up front and assure that I have nothing to hide to avoid speculation, unfounded rumors, distortions."
He wanted to be up front about it? Months after the fact? Isn't that like a guy getting caught cheating and then admitting it?
Anyway, there's absolutely no cause for concern. Such probes are common with a man Joe's age. If something is wrong, you want it caught early. Treatment is much more successful if it's caught early. And please, all of you, avoid speculation, rumor and distortions.
Great Album cover of the day, sent in by an alert reader:
Monday, December 18, 2006
A PORC, better known as a Civilian Review Board, analyzes complaints and police procedures and then makes watered-down recommendations that are ignored. So basically, it reviews what the police do, how they do it and then offers advice. It's like giving the police a Mother-in-Law.
We don't like feel-good measures with no teeth and giving a committee of citizens 'teeth' is never a good idea. A person may be smart: a committee is rarely smart. The intelligence and wisdom of committees never equals the sum of its parts.
A PORC is a way to make people feel involved without actually giving them any involvement of a consequential nature. If there's a problem in the police department, or any department, that's serious enough to be brought to the attention of a PORC, then it's serious enough to be addressed by City Hall or our City Council. That's what they're elected to do, isn't it?
This proposal is designed to shield Harry and Collier from addressing the problem in the detective bureau. They do not have the balls to criticize a police officer or two because they see that as criticizing the police. And criticizing the police may make the police angry. And they may cause trouble at the next election. That's the way political hacks think.
Let the police conduct the investigation. If that goes nowhere, let the Council investigate and do their job. If Collier can't, let some else do her job for her. The police do not need to worry about a group of civilians looking over their shoulder. They have bosses for that. If that fails, judges will toss cases. If all else fails, juries will toss cases.
Album cover of the day:
Friday, December 15, 2006
Looks like Senator Bruno has secured jobs for outgoing Lieutenant Governor Mary Donohue and former criminal defendant Henry Zwack. Both will like be confirmed for the Court of Claims. We're glad to see the gravy train keeps on rolling for such outstanding public servants.
The Court of Claims is generally an easy job and neither can do to much harm. Zwack's a joke and we have nothing against Mary but isn't it about time these two went out into the private sector and contributed to society? You know, maybe get off public assistance?
How many more times does Harry have to claim the city's not at fault for the tragic deaths of Hoan and Lan Son?
Based on the facts as we know them, no one is at fault unless the the power vent was improperly wired. That's not something an inspection would reveal. So, is someone blaming the city? Why does Harry seem so adamant about the city's lack of responsibility? Strange.
Even it if was the city's fault (which it wasn't) Harry can always have Nicoll & MacChesney pay the settlement of any suit.
There's a new website focusing on Troy's absentee landlords. We'll talk about that next week. We do not want to name names because there may be some serious problems with the nature and tenor of the site and some of the e-mails that have been exchanged. But for you, we'll delete the names and addresses so you can see what's going on.
We also have a letter about contract negotiations between the city and the PBA. Pretty funny stuff.
But now - more great album covers for your enjoyment.
No idea what the hell that's about.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
It's a rather bizarre article, to say the least. John's been missing votes, he's never in his cubicle and he never calls or writes. Thankfully, a colleague from Texas put together an interesting physical and psychological profile of the current whereabouts of our current congressman.
Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, a close friend of Sweeney's, says the four-term Republican is "frustrated and angry" and feels he was unfairly attacked a week before the election after the Times Union and other newspapers disclosed that police had investigated a domestic dispute between Sweeney and his wife on Dec. 2, 2005.
Sessions, asked why Sweeney was so angry and shocked about his loss, said: "John was disappointed that some frailties in his life were contributing issues to his defeat." He said Sweeney has been ill and his blood pressure had risen.
Sweeney believes he picked up "a bug" during congressional trips to Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Sessions.
"A bug got into his system and lodged in his brain," Sessions said. "It caused unimaginable pain and stress."
Sessions said he and Sweeney are best friends and that his two children refer to Sweeney as "Uncle John."
The truly sad part about this is Sessions children. How does one tell their children that Uncle John has a brain bug?
Maybe it was an earwig that crawled into his brain. Maybe it laid eggs! The horror...the horror.
It's the holiday season again. Time to lay aside politics and have some fun.
One of the unintended results of the compact disc era is the demise of LP's and cover art. No one really cares about CD art. No one really bothers to look at CD covers. Has anyone ever said, "The CD cover is really cool." The demise of album cover art is a real shame. Some things should never be forgotten. During the month of December, we'll feature our favorite album covers of the last thirty or forty years.
So, return with us now and enjoy these unique album covers, the likes of which we'll never see again.
Who can forget The Ministers Quartet and their number one album:
Or, the soothing melodies of:
Friday, December 08, 2006
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
We'll go with Insuro-Gate.
Most of you know that the case settled for $25,000. If the matter went to a verdict, and Carignan won, they'd receive approximately $30,000 + interest. Therefore, the $25,000 is not a nuisance settlement. Carignan got 80% of they wanted. A convincing victory.
The City will not be paying the $25,000. That amount will be paid by Nicoll & MacChesney.
The spin, about as convincing as O.J.'s search for the real killers, has begun:
"This was a political and malicious attempt to bring down my administration for helping the taxpayers of Troy save money," Tutunjian said in a statement released by the city.
And it would have worked too, if it wasn't for you meddling kids! Yes, Harry discovered the covert plan. Sue for breach of contract in order to topple his regime.
In point of fact (as those of you who have read the Mayor's deposition transcript know) refusing the $25,000 offer and and making Tutunjian take the stand and explain the "savings" would have been malicious. Funny, but malicious.
But, questions remain:
The administration has maintained that by switching brokers, the city saved $65,000. Doesn't it seem a funny way to thank N&M for providing us that savings? Thank you, Nicoll & MacChesney...now fork-it-up!
If the city did nothing wrong, why would anyone pay anything? We could understand nuisance value, $2,500 or $5,000. But $25,000? It seems odd that Harry would even approach a private business for that type of money if everything was kosher.
The administration was never able to explain how money was saved by switching brokers and using quotes secured by Carignan. Lets recap:
1- Harry said Corporation Counsel (probably Hicks, not Mitchell) and/or the Comptroller told him they'd save money;
2- The Comptroller said they were told in a meeting that there would be a savings but there's no documentation of that proposed savings. Someone just told them it was so.
3- There was such a good savings that a non-party is paying Carignan $25,000 on a $30,000 claim.
Maybe it's best not to ask too many questions.
Monday, December 04, 2006
Congressman Mike brokered a deal that would leave the $1.1 HUD money in Schenectady. In turn, Schenectady will give Troy $100,000 (plus lessons in administering a city) a year for ten years.
This is good news. No one could argue that Troy needs all the money it can get.
Stratton is not without his faults. We did not agree with his pay raise fiasco, but he does act in a professional manner. For example, Stratton's response to Councilwoman Collier's rather hysterical e-mail (see previous post):
I want to thank you for asking me to respond to the critical email circulated by Councilmember Carolin Collier concerning Schenectady’s recent decision to recapture and reallocate roughly $1.1 million in HUD HOME Funding that Troy had been unable to commit as required by federal law. My Development Department staff has been working in conjunction with HUD administrators and with Troy officials over the course of several years to bring Troy’s development programs into line with HUD requirements. The recent action to recapture and reallocate funding was not intended to benefit Schenectady and Colonie but, rather, was undertaken to safeguard these funds from outright forfeiture by the Secretary of HUD. Federal Law requires that the HOME Funds be committed or obligated within two years of their receipt. If the Consortium fails to discharge that obligation, HUD is required to freeze the uncommitted funds, take them back, and then re-award them to another Participating Jurisdiction.
At the request of Congressman McNulty, I have spent much of the past week brainstorming with my Development and Legal staffs in an effort to find a responsible mechanism to assist Troy recover these funds in a way that will allow Troy to effectively utilize them. We have communicated a proposal to Mayor Tutunjian through the Congressman and we will be meeting later today to hopefully reach an agreement that serves the interests of both cities and ensures the continued viability of this critical stream of urban renewal funding. I am confident that after you learn the details of my proposal, you will be able to respond constructively to your fellow council members and demonstrate that the course Schenectady has been forced to pursue was both responsible and in the best interests of the citizens of Troy.
As always, I look forward to continuing to work with you.
Brian U. Stratton, Mayor
We guess class and professionalism in elected circles isn't entirely dead in the area.
Rather than cast about for someone to blame, McNulty and Stratton provided a solution.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
What else explains this warm, fuzzy e-mail:
From: Carolin [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Tuesday, November 28, 2006 12:25 PM
To: 'Clement Campana (E-mail)'
Cc: Citycouncil.; Deb.Witkowski
Subject: HOME monies
I am in receipt of your fax sent to the City Clerks office at 5:04 PM on November 27, 2006. I have had discussions with Comptroller Deb Witkowski regarding the HOME monies that Mayor Stratton feels he is entitled to take away from us. I am also very aware of what theses monies are used for and its importance to our city. What you are not aware of is that Mayor Stratton has tried to steal Troy’s monies in the past and was called to task on it then by Congressman McNulty. Comptroller Witkowski has agreed to update everyone on this situation at our Finance meeting this Thursday. If you are not happy with the results of this meeting, I will be calling a planning meeting in the near future for further updates and discussions into this matter. I do not feel at this time that representation from TRIP or CEO is needed or required as they have nothing to do with what Mayor Stratton is proposing to do. The questions you should be asking as a elected official of the City of Troy is does Mayor Stratton have the right to take contractual monies away from Troy and why is HUD allowing him to continually undermined their process.
If you have any further questions or concerns please feel free to contact me or Comptroller Witkowski.
Councilwoman Carolin Collier
Clem, didn't you receive the memo? The one that authorizes Collier to determine what questions you should be asking? Only Ministry approved questions are allowed.
Here's a few:
1. If Stratton is stealing money from Troy, why hasn't he been arrested?
2. Has Stratton confessed and if so, was his confession obtained after he requested counsel?
3. Does losing out to Schenectady damage a city's self-esteem?
Of course there's no need to have representatives from CEO or TRIP present, they might keep saying things like this:
Karen Gordon, CEO's executive director, said that was untrue.
"All the money I had under contract with the city to rehab property, I spent," she said. "I also think it is very ironic because a month ago the mayor came to visit me and asked if I could help him spend the money so he wouldn't lose it."
Gordon said she developed a plan and thought as of Friday that she would be working with the city to make sure the funds were not lost.
Patrick Madden, executive director of TRIP, said he received a letter from Troy's comptroller at least a year-and-a-half ago requesting TRIP to stop spending all program funds because the city would no longer allow it.
"There's got to be some confusion at City Hall," said Madden, noting he was surprised at the mayor's remarks. "It sounds like the mayor is saying one thing, but the comptroller asked us to stop spending the money."
Caroline Collier represents South Troy (the 6th ED). For those unfamiliar with South Troy, think of it this way, if Troy is the United States, the 6th ED is Arkansas. True, there's fewer cases of ricketts and less Nascar. Point is, it could use this money. As an elected representative from Arkansas, Collier may want to see the letter Madden received, may want to meet with Gordon, may want to find out how Troy found itself in this position. She may even want to ask Harry for any documentation he may have (from '04) setting forth this issue. We bet there's at least one, maybe two.
Instead, she blames a mayor that actually has a plan to use the money for his city.
This e-mail, combined with Harry's rapid response in assigning blame elsewhere leads us to only one conclusion: Business at the Dept. of F*ck-ups is still booming.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Wait a minute....just kidding. Judge Lynch denied the city's motion for summary judgment and the trial starts December 4, 2006.
Nothing says Christmas like the Mayor of Troy on the witness stand, trying to answer questions.
The Troy Polloi has requested a press pass for the trial. We await a response. Perhaps someone would like to cover the trial for us. Let us know. The pay stinks but the benefits and pension plan are pretty good.
The trial could cause friction within the ranks. Harry has thrown the Comptroller and Corporation Counsel under the bus on this baby. To the extent the City wins, it probably won't matter. If they lose, it will be, in Harry's own words, because, "...my comptroller and corporation counsel identified that they were able and willing to save us money, and I was okay with that, and that's why we went with them."
Looks like a jury will decide, as it should be.
Monday, November 27, 2006
Money available for 2002-2003 should have been earmarked for a specific project by 2004. Money from 2003-2004 should have been earmarked for a specific project by 2005. This failure occurred on Harry's watch.
As for the first screw-up, we should cut him some slack. Harry had only been mayor for a few months by mid-2004 (although he was Council President for the proceeding two years and, theoretically, knew what was going on).
However, blaming TRIP and CEO is disingenuous. You 'da big boss man, Harry. Time to step up to the plate. The City had oversite of the programs and should have been monitoring these things. Tutunjian would have been the first one in front of a camera if these funds had been awarded for projects in Troy, so guess who gets the blame?
A few queries:
1- Once the program went "in-house" did anyone bother to look at the numbers or did this information (the loss of the money) come as a surprise to the Administration?
2- Why do we find it difficult to believe that two Not-for-Profits did not utilize all the available funds they had access to?
3- Would a thorough review of the books, once brought "in-house" have been a more urgent priority than monitoring computer use at City Hall or tearing down marquees?
4- Does this mean we don't get the faux lighthouse?
NOT AT MY HOUSE
The Rensselaer County Deputy Sheriff's PBA took out a full page ad in The Record on Sunday accusing Bob Mirch of being a threat to public safety. The Deputy Sheriffs are fighting the elimination of road patrols in Rensselaer, a measure first suggested by Bob Mirch.
The add asks, "Who would you rather see respond to your house?" Then a picture of Mirch alongside a picture of two sheriffs with a dog.
Personally, we'd like to see Mirch, especially if he comes with music and his tear-away suit.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
It's a win-win for a city like Schenectady. Eye-sores are removed and a housing need is filled at "no cost to the taxpayer."
These grants are 'found money' and cities would be foolish not to take advantage of them. With Harry's penchant for demolition this is right up his alley and we can't wait to see what will be done with Troy's $1,000,000 HUD grant.
Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving and we'll see you next week.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Former Councilman William Pascarell died yesterday at the age of 83.
On Saturday, lawyer, story-teller, Civil Rights activist and WWII combat veteran, Harry O. Lee died at the age 93.
Monday, November 20, 2006
Looks like trouble is brewing in our own Police Department. That's too bad. Our PD had been relatively scandal-free compared to some other area municipalities. We hope any investigation is thorough, fast and resolves any potential problems.
It appears that certain actions by certain police officers have damaged some cases and have resulted in acquittals in others. For example:
Jason Jones allegedly confessed to stabbing his neighbor while an accomplice held the man's arms to his side, but a detective, Sgt. Mary Katherine O'Neil, said she heard Jones ask for an attorney before he confessed to another detective, Sgt. Joseph Centanni.An attorney was never provided. The confession dismissed by the judge. Jones walked.
Internal Affairs is investigating the incidents. However, Councilman Dunne wants the City Council to conduct it's own investigation. Mayor Tutunjian and Councilwoman Collier balked at the suggestion.
"It is not like the council has turned a blind eye to everything that has gone on over there," Collier said. "It is not getting involved in the investigation. That is not what our position on the council is about. But we want to see the problem solved."
"The investigation is ongoing and we will treat the results fairly and hold anyone who needs to be held accountable, accountable," Tutunjian said. "When there is a problem we will address it. My policy is I will not let certain individuals run down the city, whether it is City Hall or the Police Department."
Ms. Collier, we believe Dunne requested that the City Council investigate, not that it get involved with the current investigation. It would be a separate investigation based upon the idea that when a institution investigates itself, the findings are sometimes viewed with skepticism. However, Collier is correct that it would be outside the scope of this Council's role to actually do something. After all, the Charter does not give the Council authority to investigate city departments (unless, of course, you actually read the Charter). Anyway, Collier always seems like she's in need of a good probe. No time like the present.
Tutunjian's position is more problematic. Accountable for what? Violating the rights of a suspect? How are you going to hold him accountable, Harry? Let him run for City Council? After all, Bauer was booted from the bench for doing essentially the same thing. Sure, it was at a different phase in the system, but it amounts to the same thing.
A cop screws up and his career is over.
On Thursday Nov. 9th in the late afternoon, Mayor Tutunjian and Deputy Mayor Crawley were driving in the vicinity of the old Portico Warehouse (now Dan's Hauling) in the South Troy waterfront area. While cruising the area (looking for the dastardly hooker's gang perhaps) they noticed a very old Troy Fire Engine.
Being the good citizen's that they are, they immediately pulled out their radio and called Troy Police Dispatch to report a stolen fire truck and have the Troy Police evidence team come and retrieve the stolen goods. Well, while they were high-fiving each other in the fine tradition of Andy and Barney, they completed and filed a police report.
Evidently an astute city employee must have gotten wind of the filed report and quietly told Andy and Barney that the fire truck was sold for salvage in 2003, and get this, Mayor Tutunjian voted in favor of the sale at a monthly Council meeting. The police report is on file and available at the Troy Police station.
Sometimes they just make it too easy.
We won't belabor the point. For those still interested:
Brendan Lyons and Fred LeBrun discuss the status of the investigation.
We guess Sweeney was for releasing the report before he was against it.
The city recently settled the case of a woman who was injured when she broke a park swing. According to sources, the Plaintiff received $100,000. If anyone has any info on this one, send it along.
Also, a Civil Rights case brought by Pete Moschetti on behalf of Jack Rogers son will also be settled. That one will probably bring some big bucks.
We wonder if these will be included in Mitchell's report on his exemplary work.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
On the budget:
One legislator, Majority Leader Bob Mirch said he hopes the union will realize the dire fiscal straights and will ask them for help. One idea, he said, is to ask the members of the United Public Service Employees Union to delay their 3.5 percent pay raise, which is retroactive to last January, until next year. He said the $3 million saved would equate to 7.5 percent of the tax hike. In return, to "share the pain" he said he would vote to roll back the Legislature's $5,000 pay raise they voted themselves last year.
Only in Rensselaer County.
"It is that or layoffs," Mirch said of getting the union's cooperation. "We are cutting across the board and we will be having major layoffs in our own Legislative budget."The Legislature has to approve a budget by Dec. 4.
Bob, stop embarrassing yourself. Collect your three public paychecks and keep your mouth shut. You're part of the leadership that landed us in this mess. You're hardly the person to get us out. Kind of like getting dating pointers from Ted Bundy.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Friday, November 10, 2006
We didn't write much on the Sweeney - Gillibrand race for the 20th Congressional District. Other sites covered the race quite well, especially the Times Union blog, Capitol Confidential. We do have a few thoughts on the race.
1. We are not convinced Gillibrand would have won in the absence of the "domestic dispute" issue. Many of her people claim the race was close but it seems clear that either the original story or, more likely, the Sweeney camp's abysmal response doomed John's chances. So, which was it. The initial report or the inadequate response?
2. Sweeney's concession speech was odd. His actions on Monday were low-key and pointed to a man who saw the handwriting on the wall. Yet, he seemed visibly shaken at the final outcome. The speech was shrill and not his finest moment.
3. The GOP response to the "domestic dispute" report was hypocrisy at its finest. During the past 15 years, Republicans (no, not all) have relied upon the worst campaign tactics. They have accused Clinton of murder, those who did not serve a day in the military have attacked decorated combat veterans, including some in their own party. In Tennessee, the GOP Senate candidate ended up running on a slogan of "here's a black man after white woman." And, worst of all, the RNC paid for ads that were, in short, the classic definition of terrorism: Vote Republican or bin Laden will kill you and your family. After all, what is terrorism but using fear for political gain?
So, here come Kirsten. She has top-notch, professionals running a campaign against an incumbent in a heavily Republican district. We do not know who leaked the domestic disturbance report to the media. If it was Gillibrand, good. If the roles were reversed, the GOP slime machine wouldn't give using such a report a second thought. Boo-hoo.
4. Gillibrand will not be a backbencher for long. Like her or not, she'll become one of the new faces of the Democrats. She'll get a good committee assignment and don't be surprised if Pelosi taps her to make frequent appearances on shows like Hardball etc. Democrats know she'll face a tough challenge in two years and they'll want every advantage. They'll also highlight Gillibrand as one of the Democrats that knocked off an incumbent in a heavily Republican, mostly rural district.
REID - GORDON
Another GOP failure. Who ran Reid's campaign? If it was the same fellow that lost Nassau and North Greenbush, you have to wonder if he earned his pay raise in 2005. Hopefully, he'll run the county legislative races next time around.
Does anyone know the status of contract negotiations between the City and the PBA? Just curious what's going on.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
NewsChannel 13 obtained what appears to be a state police document that gives a different account than what was made public last week.
The document that made headlines last week called the incident at Sweeney's house a “domestic dispute.” A document obtained by NewsChannel 13 Monday shows the same incident number, but there's no mention of a domestic dispute.
In the incident report leaked to some newspapers last week, a state trooper described an altercation at the Sweeney home. It said the congressman was knocking his wife, Gayle Sweeney, around the house and that Rep. Sweeney had scratches on his face.
State police assign incident numbers to all of their calls. Last week's report was incident number 1330902.
A new document, with the same incident number, which sources say came from a state police computer, changes the nature of the call to the Sweeney house on Dec. 2. The new document calls it an "aid-assist citizen" and removes the description of the events.
Like last week's document, state police refuse to comment on, or authenticate the new one.
Unfortunately, Sweeney did his Houdini impersonation rather than confront reporters.
Meanwhile, Sweeney has received some unexpected help. Former pro-football star OJ Simpson has vowed to find the real report, no matter how long it takes.
Monday, November 06, 2006
Read all about it here and here.
Where to start?
Mr. Drozd is responsible for his actions and must suffer the consequences. He has suffered those consequences. He no longer has a job. It is doubtful that too many would disagree with the ultimate outcome.
Of more concern is how the Administration handled this matter from the beginning. The Administration has gone out of its way to unecessarily embarass Drozd's sister-in-law, Councilwoman Marge DerGurahian, one of their own. Harry and the gang are living examples that the ability to get votes in no way ensures any degree of class or dignity.
Initially, the Drozd matter was discussed in Executive Session. Unfortunately, someone felt the need to contact the television media about the session. Thus, beginning the circus.
After the session, Council President Bauer informed us that his only comment would be that Mr. Drozd resigned. However, there was an 8-0 vote in Executive Session to terminate Mr. Drozd.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, talk began about whether Mr. Drozd was entitled to unused vacation pay. According to City Policy (the policy for non-represented employees) such accrued vacation time is forfeit if the employee is terminated for disciplinary reasons.
Somehow a resolution is placed on last Thursday night's Agenda which would grant Mr. Drozd his unused vacation pay. But what a resolution! It's like no resolution we've ever seen and it may violate Executive Session rules of confidentiality. The resolution was withdrawn.
The Council looks bad here. That's partly their own fault but they received some help from the Administration.
Before we deal with this mess later in the week, we merely ask a few questions:
Mr. Bauer, was Mr. Drozd terminated or did he resign?
Which leads us to this question? If there was an 8-0 vote, did that vote violate Open Meetings Law? If, so, does another vote have to take place in conformity with Open Meetings Law or can the initial vote be somehow adopted as if it took place in an Open Meeting?
Why was the resolution drafted in such a way as to reveal the process (as opposed to the result) of an Executive Session?
Is the Non-Rep policy that would be violated if Drozd is given vacation pay the same Non-Rep policy that is "out of date" with regard to the new auditor's pay rate?
Finally, will Bauer wrest control of the Council back from the Administration so it can function as an independent branch of government or will it remain a non-binding advisory board for the mayor?
Later this week:
More on how the City handled the Drozd matter (unless we're bored with it);
Negotiations between the PBA and the City on a contract for the police.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Sweeney said that he and his wife would sign a properly notarized letter allowing the New York State Police to release the "official, genuine, Grade-A," incident report involving a domestic dispute at the Sweeney residence last December.
We have two simple questions:
Did the Sweeney's send the NYS Police the proper authorization for release of the document;
Do the Sweeney's, and their attorney E. Stuart Jones, have the document now?
Voters simply want to know if the December 2005 911 phone call went something like this:
Believe it or not, we are going to play Devil's Advocate for one minute.
Is it possible that the events that night went something like this:
1. It is a stressful time, between young John's criminal case, a looming campaign and the Congressman's health;
2. There is a non-physical argument;
3. Emotions ride high and Mrs. Sweeney calls 911 because she's at the end of her rope (and, according to the report in the TU, had imbibed some adult beverages).
4. The incident is investigated;
5. The final report may detail some things not flattering (on that particular night) about Mrs. Sweeney;
6. The Congressman will not release the report because he doesn't want his wife embarrassed further.
We're not saying that our scenario is true. But, a possibility?
This is not to suggest that women use 911 calls as weapons. Only that something spun out of control that night and that someone the Congressman cares about might not be revealed in a flattering light if the exact circumstances came to light. It could be simply that the 911 call ultimately proved unecessary.
Maybe we'll never know.
Without laying blame on any particular side, this has become the type of race that will drive potentially well-qualified individuals away from public life. No matter who wins, we fear this race bodes ill for future political contests in the area.
Gordon is the only real choice here. Reid is one of the culprits in the pay raise fiasco from last year. He's yet to explain his vote. He's also yet to explain why Rensselaer County taxes continue to go up and up and up. Voting against Reid is a great way to punish our county legislators for their fiscal greed and incompetence.
Sure, Reid's ads inform us that he's voted to cut taxes 5 times (or 6 or 7 or 8). What that really means is that instead of voting for a proposed tax hike of 12%, he voted for a tax hike of 8%. See, he voted to cut taxes!
Read about Gordon here, at his campaign website. We like the idea of having an Independent (albeit endorsed by the Democrats) assemblyman. Besides, why not go with a guy who has been endorsed by Spitzer? It couldn't hurt the area.
There has also been some interesting politicking in the 108th. The following is a press release from Keith Hammond and the WFP:
My name is Tom Comanzo and I am the co-chair of the Working Families Party Steering Committee in the Capital District. We are here today to reveal the truth behind a slew of political mailings distributed throughout the 108th Assembly District, falsely attributed to the Working Families Party. Keith Hammond is the candidate who is on the Working Families Party line in the State Assembly race. However, after Keith lost the Democratic primary to Tim Gordon, he immediately went on to endorse, and actively support, Tim's campaign.
The Working Families Party would like to encourage WFP supporters across the 108th Assembly District to follow Keith's lead and cast their vote on Row E for Eliot Spitzer, Congressmember and State Senator. Then they should vote for the best candidate for working families, Tim Gordon, on the Democratic line.
Myself and other leaders of the Capital District Chapter of the Working Families Party were extremely dismayed by the dirty politics used in this race. The mailings circulated by supporters of the Republican candidate use the Working Families Party message of more school funding, living wage jobs and affordable health care. These messages even use the unauthorized Working Families Party logo. They urge voters to support a candidate who is clearly no longer running a campaign. they are attempting to trick voters into wasting their vote. These mailings were neither produced nor approved by the Working Families Party leadership or membership.
I along with the other Working Families Party leaders are considering a protest to Fair Campaign Practices for the Capital Region. However, in the meantime, we are urging all residents in the 108th Assembly District who support the Working Families Party to cast their vote in the State Assembly race for Tim Gordon on the Democratic Line.
With high Democratic turnout and Reid's unpopularity within his own party, we think Gordon can win Casale's seat.
Friday, November 03, 2006
By Trojan Gal*
This was a hard one, folks. One guy named Eliot and one named John. Since Johns are my bread and butter, I have to go with John Faso. He has a full head of hair, all his teeth and is very well-groomed.
The one problem I have with Faso is his stance against gay marriage. I am sick and tired of politicians protecting homosexuals and giving them special rights. Why are they protected from the trauma of marriage. They don't have to plan and pay for a wedding, they don't suffer the marriage tax penalty, they don't have to deal with divorce and they don't have mothers - in law. Stop coddling the gays, John and let them suffer like straight people suffer.
Easy. Alan Hevesi. Why? Because he knows how to treat a lady. I do a lot of work in cars and I know that every gal dreams of a chauffeur? Especially when the cost doesn't cut into the household expenses. Good for you, Alan, baby.
Jeanine Pirro, hands down. Any woman who considers taping her husband is A-OK in my book. She's put up with enough crap from that loser. He's single-handedly ruined an otherwise promising career. She deserves something. Treat yourself to a statewide office, honey, and a facial.
CONGRESS - 20th CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT
Another John, this one Sweeney. Because like Alan, he knows how to treat a lady.
* Troan Gal lives and works in Troy, NY
There you have it. We hope the influence of our endorsements will give each candidate the added edge they need to pull it out next Tusday.
Well, it looks like the Drozd saga may finally be over. That and much more, next week.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
We were chastised for sounding too flippant in yesterday's post. We say, point taken. Every blog goes through rough patches. However, we try to work together to iron them out.
Obviously, domestic violence is a serious topic. Therefore, if you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, here's a good outfit to contact. Yes, they're one of those horrific not-for-profits but they do good work.
Finally, Warren Redlich, the Republican running against Mike McNulty has announced that not only has he not choked anyone, he has endorsed Kirsten Gillibrand. Say what you want about Redlich's chances, at least he's beholden to no one.
Tomorrow, The Troy Polloi's much sought after endorsements.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
According to the Time Union:
The wife of U.S. Rep. John Sweeney called police last December to complain her husband was knocking her around'' during a late-night argument at the couple's home, according to a document obtained last week by the Times Union.
The emergency call to a police dispatcher triggered a visit to the couple's residence by a state trooper from Clifton Park, who filed a domestic incident report after noting that the congressman had scratches on his face, the document states. No criminal charges were filed.
Gaia M. Sweeney, 36, told a trooper that her husband had grabbed her by the neck and was pushing her around the house, according to the document.
Here's the 'barely legible' document.
The couple is rumored to have argued about House Resolution 25778, which would make May 2, Dick Tidrow Day.
Perhaps this explains why Sweeney's latest ad, where he and Gaia are seated on a couch while Sweeney talks about attacks on his wife, looks more like a hostage video than a campaign commercial.
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Three-Job Bob Says Let Them Eat Cake (Only if the County Doesn’t Have to Pay for It).
By Politicus Ebonus Abyssus
With a nearly 26% budget increase proposed for the Rensselaer County budget, three-job Bob has suggested that all county services be eliminated other than the county jail. Forget for a minute that many of services are mandated by the State, Mirch is suggesting that we cut needed services to the most vulnerable of the County’s population.
While Mirch and his wife make well over $150,000 combined and have their health insurance paid for by our tax dollars, he has no problem eliminating the Health Department who provides flu shots to senior citizens and lead screening to our children. While Mirch and his wife own a vacation hide-a-way in Lake George, he has no problem cutting programs that support senior centers, eliminating the only socialization and recreation time that many of our senior citizens have. As long as Mirch continues to live off our tax dollars until retirement, he can act like Marie Antoinette and tell the peasants to eat cake. Just remember Bob, the peasants eventually revolted and helped Marie take a little off the top.
Eliminating such services as sheriff’s patrols and maintaining county roads, as Mirch suggests, only shifts the responsibility for those services and the tax burden to the towns. Robbing Peter to pay Paul may absolve Mirch in his mind of the mess he helped create, but it does not help the overburdened taxpayer.
Mirch has taken no responsibility for this problem. Mirch and the Republican controlled County Legislature approved the use of over $29 million fund balance dollars during the last five years to support the general budget. Rather than ensuring that expenditures did not exceed annual revenues, the Legislature used the fund balance to support rampant increases in expenditures. Any true emergency now could only be addressed through another tax hike or borrowing. Mirch and company are not the only villains here, however. Jimino did nothing to curtail expenses and proposed using the fund balance to balance the budget, just not to the level that the county legislature approved.
Both Jimino and the legislature played fast and loose with our tax dollars. Now we have to pay the piper, to the tune of 25.9%.
And folks, don't forget our own Martin Reid. He now wants to bring his pay raise, tax hike experience to the State Assembly. There's no better way to climb the political ladder than through incompetence and failure. Go Marty!
Also, a brief note. There's a very interesting item on the agenda for the November 2 Troy City Council meeting. It raises a number of questions and we'll be talking about it later this week or early next week.
Good luck out there and hold on to your wallets, it's budget time.
Monday, October 30, 2006
Jeremy Phillips has sued the Rensselaer County DA's Office for a tidy sum. Phillips was held in jail for nearly a month based on an extradition warrant issued by our District Attorneys Office. When Phillips finally got to Rensselaer County, the Grand Jury failed to indict him.
When a Grand Jury fails to indict the case can, at best, be described as weak. Usually, the case is non-existent. Not knowing both sides of the case and not having consulted our legal staff, we defer to others the merits of the cause of action and the defense to those claims.
Of more interest is the fact that Phillips attorney is Warren Redlich. As many of you probably don't know, Redlich is the Republican* challenging Democratic Congressman Mike McNulty.
Of more interest is that Redlich has a blog. Redlich has posted the complaint. He has also discussed the case on his blog. In fact, last April, in a post, he characterized First Assistant District Attorney Joseph Ahearn as "Evil." Ahearn responded by rotating his head 360 degrees and vomiting a pea-green substance.
Redlich later apologized for the comment. A classy move in our book.
I WANT AN ATTORNEY!
This matter may have legs. In fact, we have come to learn that there may be a memorandum out there that conveniently disappeared. The memorandum was written by another police officer and given to a higher-up before Mr. Rosa kicked up a stink about his interrogation . That's just a rumor, of course. Right now, we have seen nothing to suggest that this event was anything other than an aberration in an otherwise decent police force.
SWEENEY V GILLIBRAND
Recent polls have been mixed. Siena has Sweeney leading by 14% Another poll has Gillibrand up by a decent margin. Our Lucky 8 Ball says, "Try Again Later."
The Siena Poll sounds more realistic. Can Sweeney win by 14 points, you bet. The nature of incumbency and the congressional district makes this a hard fight for Gillibrand even in the best of circumstances, which we now have.
However, the 20th's Guestbook shows that this may be a very tight race. Former President Bill Clinton and Senator Clinton are not going to campaign in a race where it's believed the Democrat far behind. Also, First Lady Laura Bush is not being sent to districts where the Republican incumbent is a shoo-in. In fact, Mrs. Bush was scheduled to campaign in Idaho's 1st Congressional District, a fact that may make Sweeney uneasy.
This will be one of the most interesting races to watch on Election Night. If Gillibrand wins or it's tight, the Republicans are in for a long night statewide and possibly nationwide. What's a close race here, we'd say Gillibrand getting 46% or more (depending on how the third-party candidates run).
Friday, October 27, 2006
The County GOP never seems to stop giving. They gave themselves pay hikes last year and now we can expect them to give us a nice tax hike. Not just a tax hike, a 25% tax hike. That's like what....adding almost a quarter to our tax burden. Thanks, small government, conservatives. Much appreciated.
This explains the tidy little sum they voted themselves last year. How can our legislators expect to pay their taxes in RensCo without a pay raise?
We'll have more on this outrage later. In the meantime, lets down some bran muffins and have a good Bob Mirch (hereinafter BM).
BM had this to say:
According to Robert Mirch, a Conservative who serves as majority leader for the Republicans, it's time for drastic changes, including the elimination of Sheriff's Department road patrols and the county Health Department, privatization of the Van Rensselaer Manor nursing home and, as a last resort, the elimination of county government altogether with the exception of the county jail."
My opinion is, county government cannot continue as we have for years and years and years," Mirch said. "The taxpayers can't take any more, they just can't."
Gee...Bob...where you been for the past thirteen years? What, waiting for a leadership position before you can get something done? Too busy with your other public payroll jobs? Too busy counting your pay hike from last year? Too busy taking over the WFP? At least you've finally admitted your failure as a legislative leader. That's the first step.
Friends and family of the county need to set up an intervention. We care about you, Rensselaer County. We hate to see you spiraling out of control.
Ugh....we almost didn't bother. She just looks and sounds so whipped lately. Yes, even the New York State Court of Appeals has called Trish's behavior "deplorable."
A sincere thank you goes out to The Record. Last Saturday, The Record ran an interview with Democratus. We'd like to thank them for that opportunity. It was a pleasure working with The Record on what might be the most significant interview of the year.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
When the crime statistics were released earlier this month, we heard nothing from our fearless leader in the mayor’s office regarding Troy. If you remember, Democratic city council candidates were relentlessly pummeled during last year’s campaign by the Republican city council candidates, genuflected to the god of Harry who, since elected, had reduced crime in Troy.
Lo and behold, crime in Troy in 2005 is up, with both violent and property crimes increasing over 2004 levels. According to the FBI statistics, which can be found at http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/05cius/data/table_06.html, crime increased by 2% between 2004 and 2005. Specifically, murder, assaults, larceny/thefts, and motor vehicle thefts all rose between 2004 and 2005. More worrisome, however, is that the rate of crime increased by over 3%. The number of crimes increased while the population in the City of Troy decreased. Not a good combination when talking about the quality of life in Troy, which Harry continues to tell us is one of his top priorities for the City of Troy.
While the statistics have shown an increase, they do not represent the true nature of crime in Troy. Throughout the City, there have been numerous incidences of vehicle damage, such as tires slashed, windows broken, or damaged side mirrors. Multiple vehicles but one incident both under counts the crime and under estimates the true financial damage to the taxpayers of Troy.
Let’s review recent or not so recent history. Harry claimed that the Guardian Angels were not needed because crime was not a problem and under control. A killer went free because City detectives violated his rights. And there are still questions about the residency of a number of police patrolling this City. Harry, campaign on this next year.
Politicians tell us what we want to hear. Leaders tell us what we need to hear.
Monday, October 23, 2006
The region, Bruno said, could lose out on the millions of dollars in pork barrel spending he has generated since he took the Republican Senate's reins in 1995.
"I was there for 18 years watching dollars flow to New York City and flow to Long Island," Bruno said of the period before that. "What did we get here? Pretzels."
Joe's animosity towards salty, baked goods is well-known. More incredible is his honesty. Not that we ever saw Joe as a particularly dishonest politician. At Saint Rose, he cut right to the chase. It's all about pork. This region has been treading water for the past two decades, surviving on state grants and gifts. We're hooked and Uncle Joe has been our main dealer. It's going to end soon, either this year or in two years. We may as well get used to the idea and go cold turkey.
Every few months we're treated to one of Harry's proclamations. Troy will get this or that (not that any of it has actually come to fruition) and "at no cost to the taxpayers." Right. Everything is bought and paid for by the taxpayers. Where the hell do they think state grants come from?
It's time to face facts: Our Sugar-Daddy will be gone, this year or in two years. Then we'll be able to judge the fiscal stability of area municipalities. It won't be pretty.
Or maybe Joe just needs more fiber in his diet.
*Bruno also took three hostages but they were later released, unharmed.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
As you all know, Public Officers must live in Rensselaer County. Does Mitchell?
We don't know where he lives and, according to sources, he's refused (illegally by the way) numerous demands to turn over his Annual Disclosure Statement. That statement could tell us a lot. For instance, where does he own real property?
What other facts lead us to believe Mr. Mitchell is not a RensCo Resident?
1) He's registered to vote in Saratoga County (although he hasn't cast a ballot since 1999);
2) He sent Harry two $1,000 money order campaign contributions. Unlike checks, money orders lack an address;
3) He won't tell people where he lives;
4) He ignored a court order in the Carignan case and refused to be deposed.
We can only conclude one of two things: He's not a Rensselaer County resident or he's in the witness protection program.
Number four bears some consideration, especially in light of Mitchell's self-described exemplary service to the city. Mitchell disobeyed a discovery order in the Carignan case and failed to appear for a deposition. Counsel for the City did not seek to extend the discovery order. The implications could be serious.
The Carignan suit is scheduled for trial on December 4, 2006. Suppose Mitchell has information that could help the city. Can he testify? Presumably, Plaintiff's counsel will seek to preclude Mitchell's testimony on the grounds that he ignored a court order. Our in-house counsel tells us that Plaintiff's counsel will likely prevail and Mitchell will be precluded. Ouch! Absolutely exemplary.
Speaking of Carignan, on Tuesday, The Record ran a Jim Franco* story on the suit (could not find a link). Franco secured an interesting quote from the city's attorney, Brian Kremer.
"It's similar to shopping for car insurance--just because a person gets a quote from one company--does not preclude them from...calling another company for a quote."
Brian...no one said it did preclude them from getting another quote. Kremer's a fine attorney and we believe he does excellent work in the Labor Law field. His quote here is inexplicable. The obvious follow-up questions are:
1) Why did Comptroller Witkowski testify that there was only one quote?
2) Why did she testify that the one quote came from Carignan?
3) Why is there a letter from Nicoll & MacChesney stating that they (N&M) were unable to secure a quote?
Here's another fun fact from the Carignan saga. As every lay person knows, truth is an absolute defense to a defamation claim. Carignan claims they were defamed when Harry said the city saved $64k by switching brokers (a lie). What you may not know is that Truth, as a defense, must be pled as an Affirmative Defense. The City did not plead Truth as an Affirmative Defense. Why?
So much fun, so little time. Remember, the first person who can identify where Dave Mitchell lives wins a free Troy Polloi tote bag.
*The article mentions Mitchell ignored a deposition subpoena and refused to testify. We can only imagine Mitchell's reaction when he read that bit of exemplary reporting.
Monday, October 16, 2006
He obviously wants people to think he lives in Troy, or at least in Rensselaer County. But where exactly does our boy reside?
Word is it's in King Street in Saratoga Springs....or McMaster Street, at number 62.
Mitchell's residency issues also explains why he would not appear to be deposed in the Carignan suit. As you all know, the second question at almost all depositions is, "where do you reside?"
Even more interesting is what little history we could piece together. Mitchell was a Village Justice in Ballston Spa but mysteriously resigned. From the Saratogian:
"Following the resignation of Village Justice David Mitchell Thursday, acting Village Judge Richard Fox will be appointed at a special board meeting this morning to fill the remaining 12 months of the term.
Records obtained by The Saratogian indicate that from April 1999 to April 2000, Fox responded to 25 calls from the Ballston Spa Police Department when Mitchell was unavailable or did not return calls to his pager.
Mitchell's surprise resignation, which came on the heels of a state comptroller's audit indicating disarray in parking bureau and village court financial records, was not disclosed to Fox before it became public."
Did the resignation have anything to do with this?
Days after appointing new village Judge Richard Fox, village officials have revamped the accounting procedures for the village court.
A state comptroller's audit report, dated April 7, found a lack of complete, reliable information both in the recording of parking tickets and in record-keeping in the court. Six days later, village Justice David Mitchell resigned from his post. Fox was selected to serve out the remaining 12 months of Mitchell's term.
And lets not forget all the other fun stuff Mitchell was up to:
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.
There have been other incidents involving Zachary's and village of Lake George officials, Blais said. A large maple tree valued at $3,000 planted in front of the establishment was sawed through, causing permanent damage, and Blais said there have been other minor violations with the operation of the bar.
David Mitchell launched a lawsuit against Romano and the village of Ballston Spa in February claiming harassment, slander, libel and defamation, following statements made by Romano at a public meeting. That lawsuit does not list a dollar amount sought for compensatory and punitive damages.
No wonder Mitchell had to come to Harry's Home for Wayward Judges. Boy, Harry, you can really pick 'em.
Why did he resign with a full year left on his term of office? Was he really a high school wrestling star in Camden, NY? Did he get his $50,000,000 in lost profits?
So, if you know where Mitchell actually lives or how he came to be our Corporation Counsel, drop us a line. We're dying to know more about the man who is leading Troy into a new renaissance. Mitchell obviously values his privacy. We can't have that now, can we?
Thursday, October 12, 2006
We completely missed one of the most important days of of the year on Monday. For those of you who may not know, Monday, October 9, is a day set aside by the Federal Government to honor the first European to set foot in the New World. No, not the two-bit spice salesman from Genoa. October 9 is Leif Ericsson Day.
Yes, thanks to President Ford, October 9, is Leif Ericsson Day. When signing the proclamation, Ford said that "Ericsson landed in the America more than two hundred years before an Italian explorer first went ashore in the Dominican Republic."
Never mind that it was San Salvador, Gerry meant well. The brave Norwegian beat the Italian by a few hundred years. The Norse even colonized North America. So lets dump Columbus Day. Lets stop honoring the man who came in second and go with the First Place finisher. When will Troy get it's Leif Ericsson statue? How much longer do we have to wait?
Speaking of statues, on Monday The Record had a nice photo of our own ugly statuary being cleaned and buffed. The Uncle Sam statue is easily one of the ugliest statues around. Isn't it time to melt that thing down? Note to The Record: Sam Wilson conducted his war profiteering during the War of 1812, not the Civil War.
If we really want to honor Sam Wilson (and where but Troy would one honor a meat packer) how about a statue of Wilson in garb that a man of the early 1800's would have worn? For those of you who may not know, Wilson didn't walk around looking like a refugee from Fire Island.
This story is ludicrous. One hundred and twenty hours? Listen, the $100.00 an hour rate is fine. But a $12,000+ bill to prosecute, and lose, a misdemeanor and a violation?
We've consulted two attorneys on this and they gave us a pretty liberal breakdown of what this should have cost. They've erred, so they told us, on the side of the Special Prosecutor:
Interview a few people (if necessary) 5 hours;
Review any documents 5 hours;
Research the statutes and case law 8 hours;
Miscellaneous stuff 10 hours;
Coffee and donuts 4 hours;
Court time 10 hours.
That's a liberal estimate, very liberal. It comes to 42 hours. Now, no ADA is spending even 42 hours on this thing. That's good money that could have been used for pay raises for our legislators. Shame on you Tim!
Monday, October 09, 2006
Initially, we took the realistic view that people who are not entitled to benefits - shouldn't receive benefits. The fatal flaw in our reasoning was soon apparent: We believed the Administration. We know, we know. Even we make mistakes.
Now, there's a Memorandum of Understanding (hereinafter MU) and at least one Union contract that could very well cast doubt on the Administration's veracity. No shocker, that.
Last Thursday, at a Council meeting well-attended by some pissed-off old people (hereinafter POOPS), the Democrats and Marge wanted to extend the cut-off date for "the 99" from November 1, 2006 until December 31, 2006 (because many of the programs used by the retirees end on 12/31). They were criticized by their legal counsel, Mr. Mitchell, who said such a move would be "illegal." Then, Tutunjian extends the cut-off date anyway.
If we've learned something by taking a close look at this Administration it is this: If they say A, do not simply take their word for it. They have a knack for lying and/or not knowing what they're talking about.
The Memorandum of Understanding between the city and the Retired Firefighters is at the center of one potential lawsuit. According to the agreement, 19 firefighters should receive healthcare benefits and live happily ever after. They, along with the other 80, will have their benefits taken away in a few weeks. Initially, the City took the position that the Memorandum of Understanding was invalid. Now, according to sources, their latest line is that the city does not have the original MU on file. The implication being that the MU is a forgery. That argument, so patently ridiculous, will be laughed out of court.
There's also an issue with former crossing-guards who may also have an agreement that belies the city's position.
This move now makes much more sense. Harry had to hike taxes again. How much more of a hike would there have been if "the 99" were still getting benefits?
This should be interesting.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
City Hall in Troy is also implicated. Emily Hartnett e-mailed the following invite to someone at City Hall. The e-mail was then forwarded to all Council members? Good move, that. Here's the original:
From: Emily Hartnett [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, September 27, 2006 3:41 PM
Subject: Dinner with Laura Bush & Congressman Sweeney - PDF Invite attached
Here's the forwarded e-mail:
To: Carolin Collier \(E-mail\); Clement Campana \(E-mail\); Flora.O'Malley; Henry Bauer \(E-mail\); Marge DerGurahian \(E-mail\); Mark McGrath \(E-mail\); Mark Wojcik; Peter Ryan \(E-mail\); Robert Krogh \(E-mail\); William Dunne \(E-mail\)
Date: 9/27/2006 4:10.18 PM
SubjectDinner with Laura Bush & Congressman Sweeney - PDF Invite attached
It's a pretty invite. Very understated, with soothing earth tones. Less than an hour turn-around time, too. Not bad. A pity potholes don't get filled that fast after a complaint.
We await the findings of the City Hall investigation into these activity.
On to the County: Here's a few examples.
From: Sweeney for Congress [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Monday, August 14, 2006 7:14 PM
To: Legislature - Minority
Subject: Rudy Giuliani - John Sweeney Event
From: Sweeney for Congress [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Friday, August 18, 2006 5:39 PM
To: Legislature - Minority
Subject: Giuliani/Sweeney Rally: Come Meet and Greet Rudy Giuliani and Congressman Sweeney In Glens Falls
From: Sweeney for Congress [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Saturday, August 19, 2006 4:19 PM
To: Legislature - Minority
Subject: IMPORTANT CHANGE: Giuliani/Congressman Sweeney Meet and Greet
From: Sweeney for Congress [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Sunday, August 20, 2006 4:04 PM
To: Legislature - Minority
Subject: REMINDER: Giuliani/Congressman Sweeney Meet and Greet
From: Sweeney for Congress [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Tuesday, August 22, 2006 8:15 PM
To: Legislature - Minority
Subject: August 22, 2006: Congressman Sweeney Update: Outpouring of Labor Support Continues
From: Sweeney for Congress [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, August 29, 2006 7:35 PM
To: Legislature - Minority
Subject: August 29, 2006: Congressman Sweeney Update
From: Sweeney for Congress [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Wednesday, September 06, 2006 7:01 PM
To: Legislature - Minority
Subject: Congressman Sweeney Update: Congressman Sweeney recieves* Important UTU Endorsement and Campaigns at Local Fairs
We really wanted to see something like this:
From: Sweeney for Congress [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, September 06, 2006 7:01 PM
To: Legislature - Minority
Subject: Congreshman Sweeney Update: Congreshman Shweeney(hic!) Parties at Area Frat Housh (hic!)
We're sure that Sweeney updates are positively riveting reads. Still, he shouldn't be using public property to campaign and raise money. Please, stop abusing our property, Congressman Sweeney. You should not be campaigning via our computer system. For a guy who writes laws you sure have trouble following them.
Will the County call on Sweeney to stop sending e-mails or will the abuse continue?
* probably should read 'receives' not 'recieves'.
Monday, October 02, 2006
Last week, Mitchell e-mailed a City Councilman after the Councilman made a legitimate inquiry of the Comptroller's Office. Mitchell's response fairly bristles with uncontrolled anger:
"In your eyes,..."
Therein lies the answer to the continued problem within the culture for which you desire to maintain in this City. Rather than focusing your efforts in assisting to make this City a better place to live, work and visit for all, your mindset is centered solely on a world as seen in "your eyes." You are foreclosed to others view points and perspectives.
You are- unfortunately - trapped within a venomous culture of obstruction, controversy and partisanship that has for far too long been part of this climate. I will not participate in that culture and will continue too try to change that mindset in an effort to re-focus your efforts on optimism and a positive future.
I have now know you as a Councilman for almost three years and I know you are committed in what you believe. Unfortunately, your beliefs are flawed and they are counterproductive to making this City a better place to live, work and visit. Great things are happening in this City and you are invited to participate in an era that historians will most certainly regard as significant in the rebirth and renaissance of the City of Troy.
Additionally, I will assume you intended to say "opinion" not "option" and certainly, I would expect you to contact me with any question regarding a legal "opinion" that involves the City of Troy. However, you will contact me with any question regarding the entirety of Law Department, for if you do not, your question will not be answered.
Finally, as a City employee, and given my exemplary performance record as the Corporation Counsel, I expect a modicum of appreciation from you- but once again- you disappoint.
You now have some juicy rhetoric for your website, have fun.
Should you have any further questions, please stop by anytime.
David B. Mitchell
City of Troy
The e-mail was sent on the afternoon of September 21st, from City property. And yes, reading between the lines one does sense a certain Helter-Skelter tone (not unlike Paul's letter to the Corinthians).
Franco did an outstanding job of pimp-slapping Mitchell in last Monday's Talespin. But, lets give credit where credit is due. So, what's wrong with this picture?
Dunne requested information from Comptroller Witkowski. Dunne asked a simple question: Was Thomas Spargo being paid as an employee or consultant? A question most people would consider a payroll/human resources question. Witkowski violated the charter by not responding to Dunne. Instead, she forwarded the request to Mitchell. Why?
Mitchell responded with the answer and then told Dunne to refer all legal questions to him (Mitchell). Then, we have the emotional breakdown, by e-mail, set forth above.
Mr. Mitchell, we would suggest that any exemplary Corporation Counsel should really read the City Charter.
Â§ C-22. Requests for reports, information or estimates. [Amended by L.L. No. 6-1979, Â§ 1]
Any officer of the City is required to furnish reports, information or estimates to any Councilor of the City of Troy.
Â§ C-60. Office of City Comptroller.
A. There shall be in the Office of Management and Budget, the office of the City Comptroller. The office of the City Comptroller shall be responsible for the overall financial administration and operations of the City and be organized into such offices and bureaus as determined by the City Comptroller.
B. In addition, the office of the City Comptroller shall:
(9) Prepare and administer the payroll of the City.
Pursuant to the Charter, Witkowski must provide the information to any council member. Mitchell cannot serve as a gatekeeper. That's if you follow the law. We know they don't.
Also, we suggest Mitchell read up on his job description.
Â§ C-76. Department of Law.
C. Duties of Corporation Counsel. The Corporation Counsel shall act as legal advisor to the City Council and to the Mayor...
Sending warped e-mails to council members is noticeably absent from the job description.
Any exemplary corporation council should be aware of his duties and responsibilitiesties. They should also be aware that there are certain things they cannot legally control. Council members, pursuant to The Charter (the law) have certain privileges that cannot be legally diminished. An exemplary corporation counsel understands this and follows the law.
Mitchell has repeatedly demonstrated contempt for the residents of Troy by failing to abide by the law. He refuses to answer questions posed by council members, he obstructs access to information and he has directed department heads and other officers to do the same. The system cannot work to the advantage of the citizens if the opposition does not have access to information.
Mitchell works for the Council and the Mayor (according to the Charter, in that order). It's time that Council President Bauer stand-up for the Council as a sovereign entity and demand that Mitchell perform his legally assigned role and conduct himself as an employee of the Council. The Mayor should warn Mitchell against using the city's e-mail system for personal attacks against council members.
The Charter exists for a reason. It must be followed. The failure to follow the law leads to lawsuits. You can blame the Plaintiff's for bringing suit against the city, but that doesn't alter the reality: public officials that abuse the law are the one's that cost us money.
Drozd resigned, before being fired, for misusing city property. Another employee was fired for the same offense. They looked at porn. Mitchell represents a greater danger than Drozd ever did. Mitchell obstructs the opposition from it's proper function, that is, acting the part of the watch-dog.
Later this week, we'll look at more abuse of government property and we'll try to figure out where Mr. Mitchell resides.