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

Thursday, April 27, 2006


The following is Part II of our interview with Joe Cavallaro.

When we last left our hero, he had been arrested by the New York State Police. His crime? Trying to speak with someone in John Faso's Albany Office. Warning! The content of this interview may not be suitable for those over eighteen years of age or older.

TP: So they took you to Hunter.

JC: Yes, I was fingerprinted and all that.

TP: Did they say what you were charged with?

JC: Well, after everything was done at Hunter, they transported me up the throughway. It was a whole big production. Another trooper met us about halfway and I was transferred to that car and taken in. It was some special trooper unit, the Executive Unit. Like the Gestapo.

TP: What were the charges?

JC: Aggravated Harassment in the 2nd Degree. Judge Herrick came and arraigned me. It was the only time I've ever been arrested so I didn't know anything at all. Then, a sergeant comes in to talk with me. He says, 'You know why you were arrested, don't you?' It was for calling Faso's house. He said, 'You're not being charged with that but that's why you were arrested.' The trooper looked surprised when I told him that Faso's phone number was in the phone book. He also said that since I had no record they'd probably give me something called an ACD or ACOD.

TP: He tells you that the phone calls to Faso's house caused the arrest but that's not part of the complaint? So you have to go up to Albany, where the office was located rather than stay in Greene County?

JC: Exactly. Afterwards, I was released.

TP: How many court appearances did you make?

JC: I had to go up there seven or eight times. The trial was adjourned once, at my request. It was scheduled for June but I was working with the Sheriff Department's D.A.R.E Program on an event for kids. I guess I'm a real menace to society.

TP: Who was your lawyer?

JC: Mark Mishler, a civil rights attorney. I spoke with a few lawyers. Many of them said I would lose and they didn't want to get involved. I went to a few lawyers who didn't want to get involved.

TP: What were your legal fees?

JC: About $5,000. My business also took a hit.

TP: Did the prosecution ever make you that offer? The ACOD?

JC: Yes, an ACD. Something where if I stayed out of trouble for six months the charges would be dropped. I said I couldn't do that. I wasn't brought up that way.

TP: This circus actually went to trial?

JC: About a year later. A day or two before the trial, my lawyer calls and is nervous. He had just found out that Paul Clyne was going to prosecute. I didn't know the name but my lawyer said that Clyne had the law in his blood, was Mr. Justice or something like that. One of the top guys in the office. I was light-hearted about it and actually ended up helping him relax.

TP: Who was the judge?

JC: Judge Duncan. Great guy.

TP: How long was the trial?

JC: It went into a second day before the prosecution ended its case.

TP: Did you have to put on a defense?

JC: No. The judge dismissed the case.

TP: Was Faso there when the case was dismissed?

JC: Yes. Because we subpoenaed him. In fact, we subpoenaed eveyone involved. Everyone that spoke to me at the office, the trooper, everyone. The only person I didn't subpoena was Mrs. Faso. She was the only one that didn't hang-up on me. She was nice and I wanted to show her more respect than Faso showed my wife.

TP: Why did you subpoena Faso's staff? Weren't you afraid they would lie?

JC: No. I just knew that they would tell the truth. I just had a feeling that under oath, they wouldn't lie.

TP: Did they lie on the stand?

JC: No. They all told the truth. They said I was polite and courteous. And the tape they played showed that also. Linehan made a terrible witness for the prosecution. At one point she testified, about me calling the Albany Office, "You don't call the White House and ask to speak with the President. It doesn't work that way." Can you believe that?

TP: You're fucking kidding me?

JC: No, I'm not. She also said that it was office policy that, because of my geographic location, that I speak with Elaine Martin, in the Coxsackie Office. Harry Spector, a spokesperson for Faso, later said that there was no such policy.

TP: What was your sense of Paul Clyne in all of this. Was he enthusiastic or did he look embarrassed?

JC: Embarrassed. He wasn't into it at all. I figure he's probably got murder and rape trials to prepare for and his boss tells him to go do this. No, he didn't want to be there.

TP: Did Faso ever apologize?

JC: No.

TP: So Faso is in the courtroom, at least one day. Presumably, and he's a lawyer, he could have brought this nonsense to an end. He didn't?

JC: No.

TP: Did Judge Duncan admonish the prosecution or did he just dismiss the case?

JC: No, he kind of went after them. He did say my phone calls were for a 'legitimate constituent concern.'

TP: Did you ever get the signs?

JC: Yes. I called my state senator, Senator Bonacic. Had the signs within the week.

TP: Did he have you arrested first?

JC: No.

TP: Has anyone contacted you about putting up a 'Faso for Governor' sign?

JC: No.

TP: Have you contributed any money to the Faso campaign?

JC: Yeah, I'm taking out a second mortgage so I can contribute.

TP: If Faso is elected governor, do you think there may be an increase in anti-sign behavior?

JC: Absolutely. It might be very difficult to drive to New Jersey, unless you already know the way.

TP: Has this effected your business?

JC: Yes. I've lost customers, especially customers from the local area. You see, in a small place like this, no one wants to rock the boat. The politicians control everything and no one wants to get on their bad side. A lot of people here have jobs with the town and county and no one wants to be on the bad side of any politician. Even the Democrats. I went and spoke with the Democratic Town chair a few days after my arrest. She wasn't interested in what had happened.
On the other hand, the further you get from Hunter, the more support I got. People will stop in and tell me they respect me for standing up for myself and not rolling over. The story was in a lot of the papers and people remember.

TP: Is contacting your elected representative a gateway crime? If you're willing to do that what's next? Leaving the room without turning off the lights?

JC: I don't think so. I've been clean ever since.

TP: Any advice for someone who may want a sign?

JC: Make sure your re-dial button works.

TP: What type of governor would Faso make?

JC: Can you imagine? Look how he treated me when he was only an assemblyman.

TP: Thanks for your time.

JC: Thank you.

TP: Never call us again or we'll have you arrested.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Due to overwhelming demand and great feed-back (plus a family emergency), we'll be posting Part II of our interview with Joe Cavallaro tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Monday, April 24, 2006


Joe Cavallaro resides in Haines Falls, in the Town of Hunter, Greene County. He has lived there since 1973, after moving there from Brooklyn. Mr. Cavallaro owns and operates the High Peaks Motel and the Twilight General Store.

In 1998, Joe Cavallaro was arrested for the first and only time in his life. His crime? Trying to speak with someone in John Faso's Albany office.

We were lucky enough to sit down and discuss this incident with Mr. Cavallaro. We thank him for his time and hope you enjoy this glimpse into the character of John Faso, a man who wants to be our next governor. So sit back and enjoy the show. And now.....

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TP: To start off, are you a Republican, Democrat or other?

Joe Cavallaro: Registered Conservative.

TP: Have you ever voted for Mr. Faso?

JC: Yes.

TP: Why did you initially contact Mr. Faso's office?

JC: I had been approached by someone about my store being a designated Official Forest Preserve Information Station for the Catskill Forest Preserve. I'd get two signs. People hiking, camping or whatever, could stop in and get information about where to go, things like that. You know what the signs are? Two pieces of wood with yellow lettering. One for the store and one would go on the road. I thought it be good for business and for the area.

TP: How soon did you expect to get the signs?

JC: A few days before all this happened, I was talking with some Schenectady big shot who said, 'Joe, it'll take months for you to get those. Call someone.'

TP: Who did you call?

JC: My Assemblyman, John Faso. I called his Albany office. I thought someone in the Albany office could get something done.

TP: Who did you talk to on that first phone call?

JC: A staffer. I never even got the word 'sign' out of my mouth. Before I was arrested, if you asked anyone in Faso's office what I was calling about, they couldn't tell you. They wouldn't have even known about the signs.

TP: So, as far as you know, Mr. Faso does not have any irrational hatred of signs? No childhood sign traumas?

JC: I couldn't tell you.

TP: What did the staffer say?

JC: I was directed to call the Coxsackie office but I didn't want to call that office. A few years back I had called about something to do with an ice skating rink and the lady at the Coxsackie office and she was....I don't want to sound a box of rocks. You’d get nothing done with that office.

TP: So what happened?

JC: The staffer said they'd get back to me. A while later, Nancy Linehan, Faso's Staff Director calls me. She said, "You don't tell me who you are going to speak with. I tell you who you're going to speak with.”

TP: Charming.

JC: I said, 'the only person who talks like that to me is my 82 year-old mother. Then, click. She hung up on me.

TP: How many Faso staffers did you talk to when all is said and done?

JC: Two, the first lady and then Linehan. Then when I called, they hung up on me. I even sent a fax to make a complaint. I probably called thirty times and out of the thirty times, twenty-seven were hang-ups.

TP: The phone calls to the Albany office took place all in the same day?

JC: Yes. I just wanted to speak to someone. I'm a constituent. I wanted to speak with someone in the Albany office.

TP: Other than Mr. Faso, have you harassed any other assemblymen?

JC: Believe it or not, he's it.

TP: Would you like to harass my Assemblyman?

JC: Sure, give me his number.

TP: Did you ever talk to anybody in the Albany office again?

JC: Well, once, when I called back, a lady tried to talk with me. I think she felt bad about what was happening. Then, and this staffer testified to this at the trial, Linehan figured out who she was talking to and grabbed the phone and hung it up. Then I called back and I thought I was getting somewhere. They put me on hold and the next thing I hear is, "This is Trooper Roger Leavitt.” Honestly, I thought lines had been crossed.

TP: Because you hadn't called the troopers?

JC: Right. I honestly thought there was a connection problem. So this trooper starts telling me that I have to stop calling and If I don't, I will be arrested. This conversation is on tape and it was played at the trial. I started lecturing the trooper on the Constitution and all sorts of things. He even asked if the conversation was being recorded. I was like, 'do you realize what you're telling me? I can't call my elected representative's office? I was courteous, but I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I actually asked him how he could take a politician's word over mine. I told him that in a recent poll, politicians ranked below used car salesman for trustworthiness. When they played the tape at trial, the Judge said that I had been right on the law. Both the Judge and the jury laughed about that tape. Anyway, I even gave the trooper directions to my home.

TP: At some point, you call Mr. Faso's home?

JC: Right. The next day, I'm in my store and I think, 'what do you do when an office is out of control?’ You call the top dog.

TP: Woof, woof.

JC: So I called Faso's house.

TP: How did you get his phone number? Did you contact some underground network or pay big money for it on the black market?

JC: I used the phone book. A friend mentioned that he had had a problem and called Faso at home. I asked him for the number and he said, “I think it’s in the phone book.” We looked it up.

TP: What kind of phone book? A special, secret phone book?

JC: Just a big, yellow phone book. The kind everyone has. A third grader could have found his number. Faso's phone number was even pre-fixed with the letters, C-A-L-L.

TP: Pretty tricky on your part.

JC: Wasn't it? He wasn't home. His wife answered the phone. I just said, I'd like to speak with John about a problem. She said he wasn't home but she would give him the message. She was very nice.

TP: Did you get the sense that Mrs. Faso was being held against her will?

JC: Maybe. Probably.

TP: How many times did you call Mr. Faso's house?

JC: Well, the next day, he hadn't called me back so I phoned again. Mrs. Faso answered and said that he wasn't there but that he had been home and received the message. Later that day a trooper comes into the store, handcuffs me and carts me away. My wife started crying. I told her it would be fine.

TP: Did you go peacefully or did you contemplate some type of desperate last stand, like “you’ll never take me alive, copper!”

JC: I expected it. I wasn't really surprised. We drove to Hunter where I was finger printed and lodged. They call it ‘lodged’ like they’re taking you to the Holiday Inn. This is funny. On the way to Hunter, the trooper, and I'm not joking, stopped at The Hole Donut in Catskill to get some donuts. I couldn't believe it.

TP: In all fairness to Mr. Faso, he was a Republican Assemblyman in an overwhelmingly Democratic Assembly. Couldn't he have been very busy not getting legislation passed?

JC: True.

TP: Did you ever once, during this whole time, stop thinking about Joe Cavallaro the constituent and think about John Faso the public servant? Did you ever stop and think about how you could help serve John Faso?

JC: I did think about getting his staff some donuts from The Hole Donut.

Part II of the interview will be published on Wednesday. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006



Upstream did an excellent series of posts on the saga of Ralph Tortorici. The posts are worth the time and underline the problems our justice system has in dealing with people who are clearly insane but do not meet the current standard of legal insanity.

Part 1;

Part 2;

Part 3;

There's also a post on Ms. Coleman, the prosecutor.

The posts are worth a look.

Luckily, the closest we've come to a Tortorici is John Romano, another sad case.


The witch hunt is on! It looks like the authorities are coming down hard on Doyle Middle School English teacher Brian Switzer. Switzer was arrested for engaging in on-line conversations with a 14 year-old student. He is charged with Endangering the Welfare of a Minor.

In a time when teachers are the subject of great criticism, do we really need to arrest the good ones? How many teachers are dedicated enough to use their own private time to get to know their students? It looks like Switzer really wanted to get to know his students, so much so that he even inquires about sexual preferences, puberty and personal hygiene. That's dedication and that's why Switzer wins our Teacher of the Year Award!

The victim's mother also gets a thumbs up. So many parents fail to get involved with their teenager's lives. Not this one. Not only did the mother know her daughter was 'chatting' on-line with Switzer, once the story broke, she swung into action and decided to find out what they were chatting about. That's called "pro-active" parenting and it's damn refreshing.

Monday, April 17, 2006


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By Huggybear

Word on the Street is that the City, in tearing down the Cinema Art Marquee, violated a court order. Looks like the CA's owner hired super-attorney Terry Kindlon. TK obtained a court order prohibiting the wrecking ball from swinging (or in this case sledge hammers). The city ignored the order. Not sure what the order was based on but it may have been something to do with the historical nature of the building. That's what we hear, anyway.

Funny, judges don't like it when their orders are ignored. Could be big trouble for someone.

Word on the Street is that the Feds will fine, sanction or otherwise spank the County for their Weed & Seed screw-ups. Not sure if they'll just have to cough up the $50,000 they "lost" or whether an actual sanction will be handed down. Wonder why the County won't have much to say and do with Weed & Seed anymore?

Word on the Street is that a 1st Street landlord has had numerous code complaints made against her building. The City has taken zero action. Could that be because she's a big GOP contributor?

Word on the Street is that Congressman John will not run for re-election. Seems he may be taking a job with Verizon. It will pay more and be a bit less stressful for the Congressman, who has recently had some medical issues.

Huggybear out!

Friday, April 14, 2006


We wish all our readers a Happy Easter, Passover and weekend.

We'll leave you with a few thoughts for the weekend.


There are two unaddressed items that will prevent Troy from it's supposed comeback, irregardless of which party or person controls the city: schools and the commercial tax base.

Today, we'll discuss the public schools. Troy's public schools, overall, suck.

Check out the Times Union site. Compare cost per pupil, teachers salaries, and academic achievements. Doyle Middle School and Troy High do not measure-up to schools like Shaker, who spend less per pupil and have a lower median teacher salary. Also, at Shaker, the poor students do almost as well, and sometimes as well, academically, as the 'economically advantaged' students.

That's just one school report. Although different school reports use different formulas the evidence all points in the same direction: Troy Schools are inadequate. And now, this!

We don't really know if the Troy Schools suck. That is the perception and as long as that perception remains, middle-class families will not move to Troy. These are the people you want. They work, they get involved in their children's schools and they own homes. They're not coming to Troy and they won't until something is done about the schools. If you do not think young couples with school age children research this topic, you're wrong.

Except for Schenectady, Troy residents have the highest tax burden in the area. What do you get for these outrageous rates: poor schools, garbage pick-up, some street maintenance and a park or two. That's about it. You get basic services at an overpriced rate.

A large part of Troy's future is not in the hands of City Hall or the City Council. Until the school situation is addressed, along with the deteriorating commercial tax base, Troy will, on a good day, do nothing more than tread water.

Have a nice weekend.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


Oh....Sit right back and you'll hear a tale....

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Last Thursday, the Troy City Council voted to award the rental of the marina to Joseph Berlino. The marina is currently operated by Rob Goldman and Tim Dufel.

The change in operations comes at a bad time. The canal system opens on May 1, giving Berlino less than a month to get up and running. We also understand that much, if not all, of the equipment and other accoutrements is owned by Goldman and Dufel, who will not be leaving it behind for Berlino.

The Mayor's issue with the marina was that it operated as a port/shipyard rather than a recreational marina. Berlino will also pay Troy $1,000 plus 5% of the profits, more than Goldman and Dufel paid in the last 10 years. Goldman and Dufel also offered to pay $2,500 a year, but have only paid $5,000 and have missed some payments.

That last bit is misleading. An "offer to pay" is not a contract to pay. The City never signed the contract and Goldman and Dufel stopped payment. Why pay anything if you don't have to? Also, one would believe that Goldman and Dufel were not operating a profitable business. Again, this is not accurate. The City never made a deal to share in the portion of the business that made money.

We don't care who runs the place, but the timing is inopportune to say the least. Even someone in the business, Richard Powell, told The Record that it was too close to the May 1 date to switch operations. An amendment was put forth to table to vote until next year. It was denied. Apparently, Harry and the City Council, with years of salty, maritime experience under their belts, felt otherwise.

Seems like they're looking to squeeze out a successful business so they can rummage through the couch cushions to find some spare change. The money's running out folks. It's not an election year so prepare for a tax hike.

No matter. The Troy Marina has, and will continue to, play second-fiddle to Waterford's waterfront. That's the destination for recreation on the waterfront. Once again, Troy has let an opportunity slip away. No one administration is to blame for this lost opportunity. It's decades of mismanagement. When jails, public buildings and parking garages are built on waterfront property, there's a distinct lack of vision.

Monday, April 10, 2006


Reform-minded county legislators, acting in the public interest, have killed Fasoldt's attempt to reform the process that led to the legislative pay raise last December.

Raise your hand if you didn't see this one coming. If your hand is raised you must be one of those people that is shocked that O.J. hasn't found the "real killer". The fact that Mirch was on the committee should have been a tip-off to everyone that Kelleher did not take reform seriously. The committee has accomplished exactly what it was intended to accomplish: nothing.
Republicans also refuse to concede that the pay raise was not public knowledge before their votes were cast. If, by public knowledge, Kelleher means that he opened his back door and whispered, "we're getting raises," then he's correct. Does he mean it was out in the open, debated and highlighted in area newspapers? No, it wasn't.

And why not? The rationale for the raise was that the legislature had not received a raise for many years. Supporters of the GOP majority also point out that the Rensselaer County Legislature may be one of the world's greatest deliberative bodies, second only to the Anglo-Saxon Althing. If true, why wasn't this case made to the voters before the election? Why did they lie to Talespin? Why did they do the deed during one of the busiest weeks in the year?

On the upside, according to Shawn Charniga's article (The Record, April 6, 2006, p. 8), Kelleher "shushed" Mirch at the meeting. That's priceless. On the otherhand, Kelleher said it would be unfair for a legislator to have to run in November on the lone issue of whether or not they voted for a pay raise. We'll file that complaint in the 'boo-fucking-hoo" file.

Good government marches on!

Friday, April 07, 2006


We all enjoy Letters to the Editor in the area papers. Sometimes, though, it helps to know who's writing those letters: concerned citizens or political flunkies? Please welcome our newest staff member.....

By Politicus Ebonus Abyssus (bonus points for those of you who remember your Latin)

In last Tuesday’s Times Union, Shawn Van Wert had a letter to the editor on the recent pay raises, stating that Democrats in the fall election promised to work to reduce costs, yet voted for the pay raise. With appropriate moral indignation, he stated that the Democratic legislators would never get his vote again. Since Shawn is from Troy, I am sure that Peter Grimm, the lone Democratic Legislator from Troy, is shaking in is boots.

Yet, what does Peter have to worry about? Shawn has had several letters in various papers throughout the last few years, most likely penned by Crist, Buell, Mirch, or some other Republican operative. We know that Shawn worked for the Troy Department of Public Works and enrolled in the Working Families Party in 2004 at the behest of Mirch. At least while Mirch still controls jobs and these minor party lines, it is unlikely Shawn will take a step or put his name to a letter without Mirch’s approval.

More important, however, the analysis in the letter is faulty, regardless of who wrote the letter. None of the Democrats Shawn supposedly voted for in the last election voted for the pay raise. The pay raise was voted in prior to Peter taking office, when six Republicans represented the City of Troy. If you are going to be morally outraged, Shawn, direct it to those representatives of yours that actually voted in the raise.

If Shawn wants to feign moral indignation, maybe he should look at what has been going on with “Flora’s Law.” The Rules Committee killed it based on the potential impact it would have on county judges and the district attorney, whose salaries are set by the State, as Mirch pointed out. The truth is Mr. Mirch that a minor language revision, indicating that salaries not set by the county are not affected by this legislation, would remedy the issue. The truth is Mr. Mirch, that you are hiding behind word-smithing rather than doing what is morally and ethically right. Shawn, why are you not morally indignant about this game playing? Shawn, another thing. When you found out that Mirch made a total of $125,000 from three different government entities, where was your letter to the editor with appropriate moral indignation? Oops, I am sorry. Mirch would not have had you sign that letter.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006



Everyone knows that area Assemblyman Pat Casale is, in many ways, challenged. Now he may face a primary challenge. The challenger is from Bethlehem and one has to wonder if the newer, more sophisticated part of Casale's district is trying to flex it's muscle. Casale is probably safe, which is a good thing. Casale does good work. Or did. Who can forget the days when you could buy cheap pints and loose cigarettes from his liquor store (not to mention over-priced Chianti).

We'd like to see Mayor Tutunjian eventually replace Casale so we hope the primary challenge fails. We feel, in all honesty, that Harry embodies all the traits and qualities that would make him an outstanding New York State, GOP, Assemblyman. And we really mean it.


Looks like the City Council will vote on the new Junk Car Ordinance this week. And, it looks like the ambiguous language has been removed, meaning that it will pertain to junk cars, not all cars. Sounds like some people thought about it and didn't want to give His Mirchness carte blanche. Or maybe it was that whole pesky, property rights thing. Anyway, congratulations on a job well-done.


Dowd has a piece on Troy's iron industry heritage. He doesn't suggest changing Troy's nickname, The Collar City, but does want to honor our iron heritage. As everyone knows, Troy is called "The Collar City" because of the number of arrests that occur each year.

That's not true. Troy is called "The Collar City" because the city was once a leading manufacturer of..............zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Dowd's wrong. Let's change the nickname. Collar City sucks. Personally, we like City of Big Shoulders but our legal department says that's taken.

Let's change Troy's nickname. Please choose one of the following. The selection that gets the most votes will become the new city nickname.

1) The Gateway to Lansingburgh;

2) Dworsky's Folly;

3) The Iron Collar City (covering both bases);

4) Where Henry Hudson Turned Around;

Leave your suggestions in the comments section or in an e-mail and we'll announce the winner whenever we feel like it.

Monday, April 03, 2006



Another area judge has been removed from the bench. Here's Michelle Bolton's story.

The nail in the coffin was the allegation that Spargo pressured lawyers (lawyers with cases pending before him) to contribute to his defense fund. An ugly business.

Spargo was an excellent election lawyer, the go-to guy for Republicans in the area. If his license isn't endangered, he can certainly find work. Not that he needs to. According to sources, Spargo is from a very wealthy family, Revere Ware being one of the family's "minor" business concerns.

By all accounts, Spargo is a decent guy, but a poor judge. One local attorney lamented that since the allegations have been pending, Judge Spargo "seemed completely uninterested in being a judge. He was lazy and apathetic about doing his work."

Spargo's removal came as a shock to no one, including Spargo.

Pataki now gets to make an appointment. Will Chris Hummel, who was lost in the politicial shuffle last year between county GOP chairs and Bruno, get the nod? Hummel will make a good Supreme Court judge. Or will Pataki reward an area flunkie before he leaves office? We're hoping for Hummel but putting our money on flunkie.


The Times Union had an interesting piece in Friday's paper on average salaries in the area. Here's a PDF file with the complete U.S Labor Department report.

Police Officers came in at an average of $45,429 (presumably, overtime not included) with middle school teachers checking in at $55,180. We thought that odd until we remembered how dangerous it is being a middle school teacher in many area schools.