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

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Hope everyone had a great holiday.


Long time area Assemblyman Pat Casale announced he will not run for re-election. Casale has been the Assemblyman for the 108th District for the past 14 years, doing whatever Republicans in the Assembly do, which isn't much. Thus ends a decade and a half bout of narcolepsy.

The big question will be, who's big enough to fill Casale's seat? According to Talespin, Rensselaer County legislator, Martin Reid, is on the fast track to the Republican nomination. Apparently, Mr. Reid is tired of screwing the locals and wants to take a shot at the entire state.

We want to be the first to endorse Mayor Tutunjian for the 108th Assembly District. We believe he'd be a worthy successor to Mr. Casale. We'd also enjoy the drama that would develop in the Troy political arena with Tutunjian's departure. Word has it that Councilman Mark Wojcik thinks he has what it takes to be mayor. In fact, we've already seen signs of support for Mark.

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The Record's James Franco has done some excellent pieces on the Brian Benoit trial and follows-up with an interview with a juror. It's an interesting look at what a jury is thinking behind closed doors.


We recently posted a guest column on the dangerous doggy legislation. The next day, this story. Irony, got to love it.

Our legal team has carefully reviewed the legislation in question. On the whole, we still support destroying animals that attack people, especially small children. However, the actual resolution is poorly drafted, full of holes and ambiguous. It's a lazy effort, all too common with our current administration and our current council. It doesn't even provide exceptions for canine attacks on elected officials or activists.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


Part Two of Mahlon Goer's guest column on Troy's new bad doggy legislation.

Death by penis?

But whatever. Most politicians want to be able to say they did SOMETHING. Right? ANYTHING. Whether or not the law is enforced is another matter entirely. So, what exactly did the city council do for Troy?

In Troy, a dog can be found dangerous without having injured anyone or anything. A dog can also be found dangerous for "attacking" any other animal without provocation.

So, if your dog chases the squirrels in your backyard? Technically speaking:

If your dog scares the bejeezus out of the neighbor's cat that is once again poking through the iris next to your driveway? According to the Troy City Council:

If your dog should go after a mouse . . well, okay, you get the point.

And what are the consequences for a dog that "attacks" another animal -- any other animal -- in Troy?

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You got it. Mandated euthanasia. No ifs, ands or buts about it. Judges have no options. The city council just removed any discretion they had.

And if your cat-hating dog somehow escapes the death sentence? Better enjoy the time left to you because that'll be the last dog you'll ever own. For as long as you live in Troy, at least.

But don't forget the chain. You will have to walk you dog on a 3 foot, 300 lb rated chain. Never mind that it doesn't have a wrist loop to hold on to and doesn't have a clip to attach to your dog's collar. Never mind that under that law it would be perfectly fine to send a two-year-old out to walk the dangerous dog on the 3 foot chain.

So sad. So unnecessary. So unfair.

And so very, very inefficient.

Here's what we want to know: How does Councilmember Wojcik and his colleagues on the Troy City Council envision enforcement of this mess?

Just in certain areas of Troy? Are the new sanctions just for the emasculated, penis-envying owners of pit bulls? Because unequal enforcement of the law is illegal. Justice is blind.

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Isn't it?

More importantly: When are Troy's public policy makers going to get serious about a dog bite prevention program for school-aged children? All of these ordinances and death penalties are too little, too late. Why wait for another bite to happen? How about enforcing leash and licensing laws starting today?

Wake up and smell the dog!

In their zeal to hop on the breed profiling bandwagon, Councilmember Mark Wojcik and the entire Troy City Council seems to have lost track of a few basic facts. Such as. . .

Not a single reputable organization with any expertise and experience with the issue of dogs and public safety supports the negative stereotyping of pit bulls, or any other breed of dog.

Not the New York State Veterinary Medicine Society, American Kennel Club, American Veterinary Medicine Association, American Dog Owners Association, National Animal Control Association, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Humane Society of the United States, and many, many more.

The Supreme Court of New York State found that insufficient evidence has been offered to indicate that pit bulls are naturally prone to viciousness or violence, or are unsuited to domestic life - Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Div., 11/24/98

Pit bulls are extremely popular dogs, the vast majority of which are owned by loving and responsible owners.

Oh, yeah, and 44.9% of households include a dog these days, according to the latest surveys. Which makes dog owners one heck of a big voting bloc.

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So wake up Troy! My dog votes! Does yours?

Mahlon Goer, member, Dog Federation of New York

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


We were taken to task for supporting the dangerous dog legislation that recently passed by the Troy City Council. Here's another take on the legislation from Mahlon Goer, today's guest columnist.

Penises, Politics, and Pit bulls:
A Cautionary Tale

By Mahlon Goer

The rhetoric from Troy on dangerous dogs hit a few speed bumps this spring. Picking our way through the wreckage, we noted that City Councilmember Mark Wojcik led the charge against pit bulls.

Quoted in the Times Union:

We wish we could outlaw pit bulls. . .We want to make it as hard as possible for anybody who has a pit bull in this city." - Troy City Councilmember Mark Wojcik

From the Troy Record:

You can drive through certain areas of Troy at any given time
and see pitbulls all over the place. - Troy City Councilmember Mark Wojcik

This same lawmaker, elected public servant, and, it seems, dog expert, social scientist and psychotherapist, also apparently believes that:

the 'pit bull' is the dog of choice of the drug dealer, the street-level criminal's security or perhaps an emasculated male with penis envy. - Troy City Councilmember Mark Wojcik

Penis envy??? Oh, my.

Is Councilmember Wojcik concerned with problem dogs and problem dog owners, or is something else going on here? Anyone who owns a pit bull, anyone at all, who perhaps lives in certain areas of the city. . . is associated with drug dealers, street-level criminals and even emasculated males with penis envy? Is that the message?

Why profiling is a bad, bad thing

Councilmember Wojcik should be forewarned that this kind of distorted message, "the negative stereotyping/profiling/discriminatory kind of message”can backfire in a big way. Just ask ex New Jersey State Police Superintendent Carl "Driving While Black" Williams, for example.

Or maybe the U. S. Department of Justice, fresh from settling a civil right's suit on behalf certain areas in Chicago.

Or, best yet, check out a recent piece in The New Yorker magazine entitled 'What pit bulls can teach us about profiling' in which noted author Malcolm Gladwell quotes New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly:

We have a policy against racial profiling. . .It's the wrong thing to do, and its also ineffective.

Speaking of ineffectiveness, lets get back to Troy.

The City of Troy is barred by New York State law from enacting local law based on negative breed stereotypes. In other words, Troy is prohibited from creating bad legislation which would collaterally penalize the vast majority of caring and decent dog owners with well-managed dogs.

So, on May 4th Troy's city council moved to strengthen the city's dog control laws.

For the second time in three years.

Yup. Three years ago Troy amended the dog control ordinances. And animal control failed to enforce those changes. . . More recently, the city council brought in legal counsel from the NYS Dept. of Agriculture, and was told that Troy already had good ordinances on the books.

Part-II tomorrow.

Monday, May 22, 2006


The recent removal of the Cinema Arts marquee stirred the public to action. Many (we'll call them preservationists) were disturbed that an historical building (the CA), in an historical section of Troy, was unnecessarily altered without following the proper procedures.

The outcry caused Mayor Harry to hold a meeting. Both the administration and the preservasionists were able to voice their concerns on a variety issue. Then, Mayor Harry threw down a challenge. He challenged someone to buy and rehabilitate a property on 8th and Hoosick. The property would be auctioned off for $1.00.

It was a cynical move and not a challenge at all. It was a trap and far too many people fell for it.

We have driven by the property numerous times. It is, in a word, a dump. A shell. Perhaps there's a chance that the inside is in better condition than the outside, but that seems doubtful. Who in their right mind will buy the place and rehab it? Rehabing that building would be rehabilitation in name only. It does need to come down.

The challenge was a cheap, bush-league shot aimed to humiliate the preservationists, many whom the Mayor has called liars. The challenge detracts from the real issues of balancing preservation with new construction. Troy does have fine building and many of them would be worthwhile to rehab. The 8th and Hoosick property isn't one of them.

Harry should start spending the money earmarked for preservation. None of it has been spent (along with the money for paving etc). He's more than likely sitting on the cash until next year, an election year.

The preservationists must realize two things: not every building can or should be saved. They must also realize that people who purchase property should have a right to do with that property what they will.

It's a worthwhile debate cheapened by Harry's infantile challenge. The challenge was a cheap, bush-league stunt designed to make concerned citizens look like failures when the property in question is ultimately demolished.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


When we read stories like this, it boggles the mind.

A Capital Region man is among three Hartwick College fraternity members accused of forcing a pledge to do push-ups in urine-soaked garbage containing broken glass.

I'll let a bunch of jerks degrade me so I'll be able to hang out with a bunch of jerks? We are unable to confirm whether or not Congressman Sweeney was at the party.

Then there is this little story, from the great state of Missouri.

BLACK JACK, Mo. - The city council has rejected a measure allowing unmarried couples with multiple children to live together, and the mayor said those who fall into that category could soon face eviction.

How long before our pack of Neanderthals enact similar laws? We probably shouldn't give them any ideas.

We should have some interesting posts on the Carignan lawsuit soon, perhaps in a few weeks. Seems a few people in City Hall are very nervous.

Monday, May 15, 2006


Yesterday was Mothers Day so Happy Mothers Day to all you Mothers. We hope it was an enjoyable day (despite the weather).

Posting will be light this week. Another parole hearing. This time I think I have a chance.

Someone pointed out, rightly so, that we may have jumped the gun in our support for the 'Viscious Dog" legislation. We'll try to re-examine that next week. We may have. In retrospect, it does seem overly broad, much like the initial version of the recent "junk car" legislation. However, we still oppose introducing sharks into any local waters.

There's also been a lot of talk about demolition v. restoration following the marquee removal a few weeks ago. If you recall, Troy's Department of Fuck-Ups jumped the gun in taking down the Cinema Arts marquee. Franco's written on that topic exstensively.

And, of course, let us not forget Harry's recent sign silliness.

So, talk amongst yourselves and play nice.

Friday, May 12, 2006


We were too busy sorting through our Tara Lipinski photo collection to post about this story. Therefore, please welcome our guest columnist, Vespasian, fresh from the Circus Maximus.

According to The Record, Troy has have adopted a new policy prohibiting people from taking photographs of children ice skating at a public arena. The NYCLU has threatened to sue the city unless the policy dropped.

I found this story interesting because (1) I believe I can offer our Mayor some constructive criticism regarding his public relations tactics and (2) this policy is stupid.

According to The Record, Hizzoner said the following with respect to the NYCLU: "The same group that is fighting the use of surveillance cameras to protect residents in high crime areas is now arguing against a policy involving camera usage that aims to protect the youngest and most vulnerable members of our society. That is very ironic." Priam, Tutunjian is not.

I'm fairly removed from 10th grade Latin, but as I recall, irony entails some sort of twist, wherein the opposite of what is expected actually occurs. For example, it would be ironic for the Mayor to condemn meatball wedges.

So, here's my suggestion for the Mayor: Change your quote to the following: "The same group that is fighting the use of surveillance cameras to protect residents in high crime areas is now arguing against a policy involving camera usage that aims to protect the youngest and most vulnerable members of our society. That is very typical of people who so clearly hate America and it is definitely not ironic." Not only does this amendment correct the Mayor tryst with creative vocabulary, it also puts the enemies of all things good and righteous against the ropes, just like Frazier did to Ali.

But let's take a step back for a moment. Caligula tried to prohibit frescos from being made of the young, strapping, gladiators at the coliseum- and look what happened to him. Now, I'm not saying that Deputy Dan is going to round-up a few praetorian guardsmen and have the Mayor removed. Dan doesn't have the sand for that.

No, the real problem with this policy is that it is just plain stupid. It's similar to regulating the ownership and use of handguns because a few bad apples might actually kill people with them. Actually, its worse than that. It's more like outlawing shooting targets because it will make those bad apples better shots.

In addition, it affords special treatment to a class of children that doesn't include my kids - kids you can be proud of. Why should they be afforded special treatment? Next thing you know, Hizzoner will be trying to outlaw chocolate because some people overindulge and become obese.

Now wouldn't that be ironic?


Although we chose to publish Vespasian's Editorial, we must disagree. We support Harry on this one, despite the fact the new policy may adversely impact Lansingburgh's budding Japanese tourist trade.

We support the policy so much, that we've implemented our own, similar policy. We've blackened out the faces of the various politicians over on the right. It's our hopes that such steps will reduce the salacious quality of those images and prevent someone from taking matters into their own hand.

Our suggestions, unlike Vespasian's, are designed to aid our Mayor rather than poke fun at him. First, how about a sign that prohibits pedophiles* from the ice skating rink? We just thought it would cut out the middle man. Secondly, photos of the sign tend to make you look silly. We suggest a companion sign. Something like:

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Finally, increase the penalty for disobeying signs.

*Pedophile derives from the Latin pedophilia, meaning lover of bicycles.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


We'd like to take some time to thank all those who linked to the Joe Cavallaro interview. For a 'lil 'ol blog like ours, the interview was a success. The week the interview ran, we doubled our readership (which promptly sank back down to 170 a day last week).

So, thanks go out to:


10,000 Things;

York Staters;

The Record's Talespin;

and the New York Daily News Political Blog.

Check out Dish and Dirt, an interesting and entertaining blog about dinning in and around Troy. Enjoy.

Monday, May 08, 2006


The Troy City Council recently enacted "Vicious Dog" legislation that would, in part, increase fines for owners of dogs that attack people or other animals. The legislation applies to any dog that attacks, but we all know it's primarily aimed at 'Pit Bulls' and other attack dogs.

At the outset, let us say that we whole-heartedly support the law. We know the arguments: it's how the dog is raised and trained, it's not the particular breed.....That may be so, but the legislation does not single out a breed despite the fact that certain breeds will be impacted more than others. The fact is, 300 people a year die in dog attacks and pit bulls are responsible for a majority of those deaths.

Pit bulls are like Germans. Sure, you can meet nice ones, but overall their track record for the last century ain't great.

Recently, a disgruntled RPI student sent an e-mail to Councilman MarkWojcik:*

From: Justin Stone
Sent: Monday, May 01, 2006 11:20 PM
To: Citycouncil.
Subject: Mark D. Wojcik

Regarding your policies on pitbull ownership,

I am a RESPONSIBLE pitbull owner who attends RPI and I am appalled that
a person with such obviously limited intelligence could ever obtain a
political office. Anyone who has done even the most minimal research
knows that pitbulls as a breed are not even near the top of the fatal
bit list. My pitbull is temperament tested, well trained, and handled
responsibly at all times. Yet you still desire to make it "as hard for
me as possible" to own my dog. The reason breed specific legislation is
illegal in New York State is because individuals much smarter than
yourself realized that the problem is the irresponsible owner (of any
breed) and not a specific kind of dog. Please, do some research (it
involves thinking I know) before you consider attempting anything more
drastic in your pointless crusade against one of the most loyal and
people friendly breeds. If you continue down your current path you will
discover that many pitbull owners are as determined, energetic, and
loyal as the dogs they love.

Justin Stone

A rather rude, impolitic e-mail for someone who'd like a councilperson to address concerns.**

Mr. Wojcik responds:

Mr. Stone,

Thank you for your interest in our proposed legislation concerning "vicious
dogs" on the Troy City Council agenda for the May 4, 2006 meeting. I have
to be honest though, I have to question your credibility as a college
student attending RPI. Being very familiar myself, of the various type of
writing assignments required of matriculated college students, including
research papers, technical manuals and fictional and non-fictional essays, I
sense that there was a obvious lack or interpretation of the facts as
presented in your e-mail.

First, to correctly state the facts about pit bulls, they have been bred
through the centuries as a dog trained for attack fighting. They also
possess characteristics that almost all other breeds of dogs do not possess
such as an extremely low inhibition to attack as well as the propensity to
maim or kill, whereas most other security dogs would back off.

But maybe you are offended that we may be "stereotyping" the pit-bull. If I
am to be guilty of stereotyping the pit bull, I guess it would be because of
the numerous attacks that have been initiated by a particular breed. Maybe,
it is also because the "pit bull" is the dog of choice of the drug dealer,
the street-level criminal's security or perhaps an emasculated male with
penis envy

And finally, on a personal note, and as a dog-lover, I can't understand why
people need to buy or adopt a potentially very dangerous dog, when the
shelter puts down hundreds of homeless dogs every year. And why people feel
that it is acceptable to harbor these dogs within an urban setting. Great
white sharks don't attack all people, but I wouldn't put one in
the Grafton Lake's State Park either.

Hopefully, the legislation will curb both dog attacks and penis envy, two worthy goals. We also applaud Mr. Wojcik for his brave stand against introducing Great White Sharks to Grafton. That needed to be said and he's the only elected official speaking out against such a proposal. In fact, we imagine a Great White in Grafton Lake would be quite dangerous for the few hours it survived in fresh water.

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Let's make sure this never happens!

A story related to the legislation?

* We received a copy of this e-mail from an unusual source and because of that are not totally convinced of its authenticity.

** Moreover, we don't know why this legislation would make it difficult for Mr. Stone to own a lovable, loyal pit bull that doesn't maim and maul other living creatures.

Friday, May 05, 2006


In keeping with the city's 'zero tolerance' for code violations Mayor Harry Tutunjian announced that the Corporation Counsel's Office will be demolished.

"They've had too many violations," said the Mayor. "First Bauer and now Spargo. We gave them twenty-four hours to remedy the situation and they failed to comply." Bauer (now President of the City Council) and Spargo are slated for demolition next Tuesday.

Don't worry, Bauer and Spargo will not be harmed. There's no actual zero tolerance for Judicial Ethics Code violations. Not in Troy.

What do you get a judge that has been de-benched for unethical conduct? Normally, that judge is ostracized. In Troy, they get put on the public dole.

There was Hank Bauer, booted off the bench for his unwillingness to follow the law. He took haven in Troy's Corporation Counsel's office before being elected to the City Counsel.

Now, disgraced judge Thomas Spargo joins the team.

Interestingly, Spargo's ethical lapses were not an impediment to public service in Troy. As mayor Harry said, in the afterglow of a Spargasm:

"To me, it doesn't mean anything," Tutunjian said. "We are searching for talented attorneys to help us run the city of Troy. To have someone of Mr. Spargo's caliber on our team is a bonus."

Really, Harry? Doesn't mean anything? Read the decision, Harry. Let's take a look at what Spargo did.

Essentially, Spargo shook down lawyers to contribute to his defense fund (ironically, this was much worse than the underlying allegation). Those lawyers had cases pending before Spargo. The findings of fact and the decision can be found here. * So, Harry, that doesn't mean anything to you? Well, now we know where you stand on ethics.

There's also a questions about whether hiring Spargo is legal. We could care less where Spargo lives, or anyone else that works for the city for that matter. But, to hire a shake-down artist and then say it "doesn't mean anything," abandons any pretense to ethics.

In another story, Harry compared Spargo to Derek Jeter, a completely ludicrous comparison. First, Jeter is a shortstop, Spargo an attorney. Even if he were a ball player, Spargo would not be a shortstop. More like a Gold Glove first baseman. Secondly, Jeter has not been forced from the lineup for throwing games. Jeter has a .315 lifetime average. Spargo only hit .274. The better comparison is to Black Sox star, Joe Jackson. Jackson was a talented, amiable man. He was also a crook.

At the very least, Harry could level with us. He's probably helping Spargo pad his pension. That's what politicians do, they help each other out. In this case, it's rewarding highly unethical behavior and Troy deserves better.

Interestingly, Corporation Counsel Dave Mitchell mysteriously resigned his judgeship up in Ballston Spa. Then, of course, he sued the village. Isn't that like suing the good people of Ballston Spa? There's nothing in the articles to say Mitchell did anything unethical. The resignation from the club however, is intriguing.

Zero Tolerance? Not for Judges that violate ethical standards. They're always welcome in the Home of Uncle Sam.

What do we tell the children?

* A close reading of the decision makes you wonder why some other people are not in hot water

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


Another guest post from the very thoughtful Politicus Ebonus Abyssus:

The Troy City Administration continues to implement programs that look pretty but that do little to move the city forward. While Harry understands fluff and pageantry, he has no understanding of the substantive changes that this city needs to grow and become viable. Harry reminds me of an ice skater who cannot do the triple lutz but looks good in the outfit (Try sleeping with that vision in your head!) – all show and no stay.

While Harry has touted the paint and sidewalk grant programs and the zero tolerance policy for code violators on the radio as improving this city, these only deal with cosmetic problems. Such programs do little to attract businesses and to improve the infrastructure. A better example of this is how the city repaired the streets last year. While many intersections were paved, little was done with the remaining portions of the streets. Did Harry believe only the intersections had potholes? Better yet, does Harry think that the citizens of Troy are so stupid that they believe that the streets were repaired just because the intersections got paved? A slight of hand does not get the job done, Harry.

More businesses are closing, leaving more vacant building, lots, and storefronts, ultimately reducing the tax base and impacting on revenues for both the city and the school districts. The water delivery system continues to be ignored unless a pipe breaks. This city needs to create programs that attract and retain businesses, address a sorely aging water infrastructure, and create more homeownership. Illegally knocking down a historical sign because it belonged to an adult movie theater while leaving the scaffolding up at Proctors, which had a similar problem, only shows that the City’s administration true motivation is political and self-serving, not moving the city forward

Monday, May 01, 2006


Congressman John Sweeney has wrapped himself in controversy this week for allegedly getting plastered at a Union College Fraternity party. It's made the news and has been featured here and here, among other places.

After reading the articles, all we can say is, shame on you, John. How can you disgrace New York's 20th Congressional District with such outrageous behavior? Resign now and salvage some dignity. Really, John, Keystone Light? Come on! If it had only been Sam Adams (especially the Winter Lager), you might have survived this incident. But Keystone Light? Disgraceful. Have you no shame, man?

In all seriousness, we must defend Congressman Sweeney. Let us surmise he was intoxicated and there were people under age at the party. Has it come to such a point that public figures can't do anything a little off-color? Must they be sterile automatons, worried that every aspect of their private, as well as public lives, will be scrutinized? Sure, Keystone is an awful beer and it was a poor choice, but it was a frat party. It's not like they can afford a half-keg of McEwan's. And we should offer thanks. We're lucky Sweeney wasn't caught rushing the fraternity, using his ass cheeks to drop bing cherries into martini glasses. Now that would be news. Besides, Sweeney committed no crime. It's not as if he were a black man riding his bike in Troy.

Now, lets take a look at the photographs:

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Forget Sweeney (who looks like he's passing something other than legislation): We like Bob Marley there, back in the corner. What exactly is he smoking? Is it a 'straight' cigarette or perhaps something more aromatic. Perhaps some fine, Guatemalan North Slope Trip Weed?

Finally, a word to the kids. Fella's, hanging with a congressman at a party is slightly less interesting than hanging with your dad's accountant. It's so sadly establishment. Now, if it's the '50's, and you get a photo with Kerouac, that's cool. The '60's, Mick Jagger. But a congressman? Very lame, indeed.

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Later this week, Harry has a Spargasm.