Friday, September 29, 2006
The GOP candidate for Attorney General;
This guy wanted to be Governor;
This guy lives in Florida;
This place is insane;
Next week, we'll be focusing on the continued misuse of computers at City Hall and at the County.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Harry compared hiring the ethically challenged Spargo to, "signing Derek Jeter."
Jeter, a beloved Yankee shortstop, is probably heading to the Hall of Fame. Spargo is lucky that he still has his law license. So, the comparison is spot on.
Spargo, when hired, did not reside in Rensselaer County. He never did and was never going to move here. He's a Berne guy. Harry knew this but still hired him, knowing that Spargo would be violating the residency requirement. Now, we're not accusing Harry of being unethical. We're just saying that he does unethical things. There's a big difference.
Spargo left the employ of the City back in July. The reason given was that he didn't have time to work for Troy and pursue his election law practice. Spargo is now a "consultant' for Troy. Truth is, under pressure from fellow Republicans and the editorial page of The Troy Polloi, Spargo decided Troy wasn't worth it and he moved on to greener pastures. He's still getting money, but now he's a "consultant." Well, according to The Charter, the City Council has to approve money paid to consultants. Has that been done?
Derek Jeter, Harry? For Troy, Tom Spargo was more like Padres outfielder, Johnny Jeter. Johnny amassed just over two-hundred hit in his career, with a lifetime batting average of .244.
Unfortunately, this all comes down to arrogance. It happens with most administrations. These clowns have been arrogant for some time now. The Code and Charter are ignored at will, appointed political hacks think they're more important than elected representatives and laws are selectively used to attack political rivals or those critical of the administration. It's not talked about much in the press yet, but it's out there and it will come back to bite them in the ass. Pattison became arrogant, only he was smart enough to ensure he didn't take the fall, City Council Democrats did that for him. Now, for Mirch, Mitchell and Harry, in his own passive-aggressive way, it is only a matter of time before it happens again.
If we're still using baseball metaphors, Harry, this move makes you look like a Berra: Dale, not Yogi.
Later this week: Did the city suspend Corporation Counsel Dave Mitchell's prescription drug plan?
Monday, September 25, 2006
E-mails from people who say they were present indicate that the race was very close and, because of the 'weighted-vote' system, decided by only a few votes.
Here's an excerpt from three e-mails. We can't vouch for their accuracy but find them interesting. The names have been withheld to protect the innocent.
According to one e-mail, Mr. DiFiglio did not go to the meeting and did not send a proxy. We have to wonder if this had anything to do with LaPosta's candidacy for City Chair. There were apparently some Troy votes that went to Wade, to the opposition's surprise.
That's a wrap. Congratulations to Mr. Wade. As Mahoney will probably tell you, running the Titanic isn't an easy job, but it sure is a thankless one.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
According to more than a few sources, Mahoney is coming back. More than one member of the committee has stated that the Premo debacle has soured Wade's candidacy.
Any rumors? Any over-under? Any bets? The window closes at 3:55PM.
Having no experience in these things, people tell us that the vote will go by municipality. That is, in alphabetical order. If the towns come in heavy for Wade it will be interesting to see what Troy does. Or, maybe the proxies will decide the whole thing before a vote goes off.
Reports indicate it's getting ugly, with threats of reprisals, nasty literature and people not on the committee, like Brian Premo, sending out literature in support of Wade. It's also been rumored that at least one Wade supporter is telling people that various elected officials are supporting Wade when, in fact, they are not.
On the flip-side, rumor has it that anyone supporting Wade will not be considered for any juicy, patronage jobs in the Spitzer government.
All rumors, of course.
Intra-party street brawls. Gotta love 'em.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Workers from the Department of Code Enforcement have removed the Marquee from Troy City Hall and the doors of the well-known adult entertainment landmark have also been padlocked....
Chuck Drozd, City Auditor, resigned yesterday. Drozd allegedly peeked at some porn while at work. Another city employee, from the Engineering Department, is on unpaid suspension (we could not confirm from where he was being suspended but it's probably from a relatively high elevation) for similar allegations and for lying about his place of residence on a job application.
Lying about where he lives? Was Spargo sent to deliver the bad news? Right, Spargo doesn't lie about where he lives he just violates the law. Now, rumor has it that if asked, they'll say Spargo is a paid consultant, not an employee, and therefore, he doesn't have to reside in Troy. If that's the case, they are still violating the law because Spargo has not been approved by the City Council.
So, did Drozd get into hot water because he a) allegedly looked at porn; b) used city property for non-city business or c) a combination of both?
I think we've learned some valuable lessons today:
1) You can violate the law, just don't lie about it.
2) You can be a disgraced shake-down artist and get a job but you can't look at hoo-hoo's or pee-pee's;
3) There are public jobs that pay 50k + and still allow time for internet surfing.
Drozd made his own bed and now must live with the consequences. Viewing porn at work is improper. Viewing such material should be done in the sanctity of the home. It still doesn't explain why Drozd got the 'dog-and-pony show' treatment from the administration. Why did they call channel 10?
Just when City Hall was getting fun it's back to playing Tetrus.
DEMOCRATS ON THE MARCH!
In less exciting news, though obscene in its own way, the County Democrats will meet Sunday to decide who will lead them to defeat in the next election.
Rumor has it that Tom Wade has enough votes to defeat Lynn Mahoney. John Darling has also been talked about as a potential Dark Horse. It is not known if Darling has actually been approached or would even want the job.
There is also a possibility that the Democrats will choose a wholly new form of Chairmanship with each election district having it's own multiple-mini-chairpersonships.
Finally, it looks like Frank LaPosta will be City Chair. We can only hope he brings the same dynamic energy and enthusiasm to the City Committee that he brought to his mayoral campaign.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
This seems to be the topic of late: according to The Record...
City officials met Monday night in executive session to discuss allegations that an employee hired by the City Council was misusing a work computer. Sources close to City Hall said the purpose of the meeting was to discuss the status of City Auditor Charles Drozd, who has been accused of having pornography on his work computer. Police recently went through the employee's work computer, the sources said, but they have not recommended any criminal charges at this point.
There's some interesting things here. Lets discuss.
First, some of our readers, those that consider 7th Grade post-graduate work, will deliberately misconstrue what we are saying. So listen carefully: we are not pro-pornography (unless it's really good pornography). We do not advocate viewing pornography at work (unless it's really, really, really good pornography or unless you work in the porn business and you have to view porn for work purposes).
Also, we do not know if the allegations are true. Lets get that out of the way. These are allegations only.
If an employee is viewing pornography at work (the above examples excepted) then they should be disciplined. The real issue is, what kind of porn? Is it that badly lit stuff, or higher grade porn?
1. Note, Drozd is hired by the City Council. The City Council went into Executive Session because this was a personnel matter. Council President Bauer had 'no comment' for WTEN. How did WTEN find out about the meeting? We guarantee it wasn't from a Council member. It was from someone in the administration. Take a guess.
2. If reviews were done on other computers, lets see what other people were looking at on City time. Is this about porn or about using city property for things unrelated to work? Lets see who's logging into sports sites, gambling sites or .... political blogs.
3. As everyone knows, Drozd is Marjorie DerGurahian's brother-in-law. As everyone knows, the administration had Marge bullet-voted out of the Council Presidency because, in part, she refused to be their puppet on every issue. Is this more about Marge than Drozd? Is this payback? It's low, dirty and despicable, which is certainly their style.*
4. Should Marge recuse herself from any Council action taken on this issue? An intriguing question. In today's climate, we say no. In a world were Justice Scalia goes on hunting trips with Dick Cheney while cases involving Cheney are pending before the Supreme Court, we hardly think Marge needs to recuse herself from any action. Remember also, that recently, a then North Greenbush council member voted a pay raise for his boss's wife. Judge Hummel said there was no conflict. Recusing yourself for ethical conflicts is just so last week.
5. Is this a big deal? Nope. Not when Harry rewards guys like Tom Spargo. Not when they lie about how money was saved. That's obscene.
6. The Council needs to assert it's independence and tell the administration "thanks, we'll take it from here." Or maybe they should buy Drozd a gift. As far as we know, if Drozd did do anything, he didn't break the law. Now, Mirch broke the law. Mirch verbally abused a city employee. Is a traffic ticket a big deal? Of course not. But, Mirch tried to worm his way out of it by using his public position. What did Mirch get for embarrassing the city? A gift from the City Council.
* Caution. We will delete and ban anyone that insults or somehow associates DerGurahian with these allegations. People are not responsible for what their relatives do or do not do. If that were the case, Harry should start explaining LoPorto's tax issues. In short, don't be dicks. It's embarrassing enough for all involved.
Monday, September 18, 2006
....or whined. Of all the Democratic failures in Rensselaer County, the failure to challenge Senator Bruno has to top the list.
If this were any other year, the failure would not be as great. We could view it as 'run-of-the-mill' Democratic incompetence. But not this year.
There exists a very real possibility that statewide, the Democrats will run the table. That means, Spitzer, Clinton, Hevesi and Cuomo victories. The only real fight may be for Attorney General but Pirro has been so incompetent that she should consider moving to Rensselaer County and becoming a Democrat.
The only area where the Democrats might not prevail is the State Senate. They may take control. They may not. They will likely pick-up seats.
It will be a big Democratic year. While Rensselaer County isn't the epicenter of the New York State political world, the Democrats missed a great opportunity to make some noise and add to the Democratic victories this fall.
Here's our thinking, if we're the County Chair(s): It's going to be a big sweep this fall. Spitzer's moving into the Governor's Mansion, Clinton's heading back to Washington. Hevesi will be comptrolling for another four years and Cuomo will be Attorney Generalizing. How does Rensselaer County get in on the action? How do we make some noise?
Here's an idea: find and adequately fund a legitimate opponent to the second most powerful Republican in the state. Maybe you take him down. Maybe he barely wins. Either way, Democrats in Rensselaer County will have been heard. They will have shown some muscle.
Instead, they find a Republican who can't be bothered to register as a Democrat and then they fail to get him on the ballot.
It will hardly be news when Spitzer, Clinton, Hevesi and Cuomo win. If, and it's only an if, the Rensselaer County Democrats had taken out Senator Bruno, that would have been statewide political news.
Now, we'll never know.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
20th Congressional - Update
A recent poll shows incumbent John Sweeney defeating challenger Kirsten Gillibrand 47% to 39%. That's probably the closest Gillibrand has gotten to Sweeney in the polls.
Frankly, we don't buy it. Until polls consistently show Gillibrand within striking distance of Sweeney, we still see this as a comfortable Sweeney victory.
In a way, we hope it is a Sweeney victory. Much like Albany Eye, we're waiting for Sweeney to pull a Wilbur Mills. Perhaps not in the Tidal Basin, but maybe somewhere on the banks of the Hudson with a gal from Grand Street.
No Help from Harry
A group of Hockey Dads went to the city for help. It seems that the Frear Park skating rink is falling down. The kids can't play hockey there and they couldn't get ice time anywhere else in Troy. The closest place was Bethlehem.
The group met with our mayor who basically said he hopes the place falls down. The fathers are now chipping in to try and fix the place up.
You know, if it were the Burgh, Harry's attitude would have been different. He loves to kiss Burgher ass. We'll try and get the details.
This raises an issue that has always bothered us. Citizens banding together to use their time and money to fix parks and other municipal properties. We have nothing against the people willing to do this type of thing. It's selfless and demonstrates a hell of a community spirit. Point is, it's not their responsibility. We pay taxes for just that reason.
Does this canard still play? Take a drive through the city. Weeds, potholes, garbage. It looks like Troy in the pre-Pattison days. The Republicans and their allies in the press have repeated this lie for so long everyone repeats it without actually looking around. Talking points are great as long as you close your eyes.
Monday, September 11, 2006
By now, everyone is aware that approximately 99 former Troy city employees and/or family members will be losing health benefits on November 1. Here's some background to date. Franco also devoted most of his Thursday column to the issue.
According to the city, the recipients are not actually eligible for the benefits even though some have been receiving benefits for decades.
No one, with a few possible exceptions, likes the idea of cutting people's benefits, especially those for the elderly. The obvious issue however is whether or not people ineligible for benefits have been receiving them. If so, those benefits should stop. Theoretically, a municipality doesn't exist to hand out gifts, be it cell phone ear pieces or healthcare.
The beneficiaries have also been given time to make alternative arrangements. Presumably, many will be eligible for medicade or medicare. This coverage might not be the same as before, but it is not as if they will have no healthcare at all.
The city has also taken pains to give 'everyone' time to secure alternative coverage. Unless you're a Democrat. Despite claims to the contrary, at least one Democrat was told that his coverage will end immediately. As usual, this crowd has to 'play politics' with everything.
Unfortunately, this issue will not be tied up with nice ribbon and bows and easily resolved. Not all of the 99 are in the same boat.
For instance, there are 19 former firefighters included in the 99. They are receiving benefits by way of a Memorandum of Agreement signed by Dworsky (who else?), Richard Caola and Ward Reardon. According to that agreement, effective January 1, 1991 Troy would:
1. Pay one-third of the health care costs of retired firemen in 1991 (if they are not covered by other agreements);
2. Pay two-thirds of the costs in the following year;
3. Pay the full cost in the third and in all subsequent years.
Memorandum of Agreements are enforced throughout the state. This is not the first time this issue has come up and it won't be the last. It will be interesting to see if the firefighters put up a fight. It could be another costly lawsuit.
The questions that immediately spring to mind are:
1) Did Dworsky, as City Manager, have authority to enter into such an agreement?
2) If so, why isn't the city honoring the agreement?
3) How did a recent retiree, with only 6 years on the job, get full benefits? Was he a Republican or Conservative?
4) Did any beneficiaries rely upon the city's coverage to their detriment? Did they give up something for this coverage that they otherwise have been entitled to?
5) Why was at least one former city official given no notice?
6) Did this come to light because people overestimated sales tax revenue and some fancy footwork is needed to balance the impending budget?
The city says these folks are not entitled to benefits. That may very well be the case. However, the people in charge of this city are not the most honorable or decent individuals. It's not a stretch to see this team go after the elderly to make ends meet for the upcoming budget. If we've all learned one thing the past few years it's that you cannot take what this administration says or does at face value. They have a habit of lying. Distrust and verify.
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
By Res Ipsa Loquitur
What is the reason for the Troy Republicans’ dominance at the polls since 2003? Just like the old Nike ads with Michael Jordan and Mars Blackman: Is it their vision for Troy? No Mars! Is it a conservative electorate? No Mars! Is it the hijacking of the minor party lines? You’re damn straight Mars!
That’s right my political junkies and junkettes, the recent Republican dominance at the polls is nothing more than the manifestation of a hijacking operation. But instead of a plane bound for Paris, these terrorists have stolen our democracy and hijacked the minor party lines.
Lets look at the facts shall we? Since the 2003 election, there have been three minor party lines on the ballot, the Conservative Party, the Independence Party, and the Working Families Party. Also, since 2003 only the Working Families Party has endorsed a Democratic Candidate. Furthermore, in 42 city races during this time, not one Democrat has been endorsed by either the Conservative or Independence Party. Now some of you may suggest that this numerical conundrum is merely the result of minor parties hoping to give the citizenry an alternative to two party political system, but alas my faithful friends, you are sorely mistaken. During this time period, all 42 Independence and Conservative candidates were also the Republican nominees! So what gives? What is so special, so incredible about these candidates that they could go a perfect 42 for 42? Much like a 4th Street crack-whore* in the middle of a heat wave, something reeks to high hell in Troy.
Over the next few weeks, I will attempt to explain the phenomena, however, I encourage...no wait, I implore any of our Conservative, Independence or Republican readers to explain the overwhelming success of Republican candidates at obtaining the endorsement from both the Independence and Conservative parties. So, my dear friends and party faithful, the gauntlet has been thrown down and the battle lines drawn. Is there any explanation for the 42 out of 42 or is it just political corruption and opportunism hijacking the electorate and sending our city into the toilet?
* A recent poll found that crack-whore was the most popular simile for Troy, followed closely by armpit, hoo-hoo and Isles of Langerhans.
Saturday, September 02, 2006
....is a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel. His twenty-two years of service as an Infantry Officer, military diplomat and Russian and Eurasian specialist included troop assignments in the U.S., Europe, and the Middle East with mechanized, motorized, and airborne Infantry units, and concluded with consecutive diplomatic postings in Moscow as an Assistant Army AttachÃ©, and in Vienna, Austria at the U.S. Mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. As a soldier and military diplomat, he has nine years of international experience in Europe, Russia, Central Asia, the Balkans, Egypt, and Africa.
Frankly, Raleigh's CV seems a bit light. After all, up until he resigned in disgrace, Congressional Republicans were led by an ex-cockroach exterminator. Now that's a useful background for a congressman. So, the big question for Raleigh is, "Why does he hate America?"
Needless to say, Mr. Raleigh has impressive credentials. He's been to places that Sweeney can't locate on a map and the President can't pronounce. Given his background, perhaps we may at least listen to some of the things he has to say on national security issues.
Raleigh is no lightweight. But, why is he challenging an incumbent Democrat? Well, in his own words:
Today we launch the first congressional primary campaign in this district since 1996. Between now and the Democratic Primary on 12 September, we will convince Democrats to convince fellow Democrats--neighbors, family, friends, and co-workers--that it is time for change in Washington. We will convince fellow Democrats that it is time to end the disproportionate importance of money in political campaigns, to end the unhealthy, sometimes sinister, influence of money in legislative decision-making. We will convince Democrats that it is time to send to Washington someone who will put the national interest and the common good above politics when it comes to addressing pressing domestic challenges; it is time to send to Washington someone who will choose cooperation and solutions over blame and gridlock. And during a time when the nation finds itself in the midst of a prolonged, complex, and extended war, we will convince Democrats that it is time to send to the Congress someone who has served in the Armed Forces, someone who has served in the intelligence community, someone who has served in embassies overseas, someone who understands--or at least appreciates--the complexities of the post-911 security environment, the post-Cold War world, and the nature of the threats confronting America and her allies. We will convince Democrats to choose leadership over complacency. We will convince Democrats to vote in the 12 September Democratic Primary and to vote for Tom Raleigh because they want their vote to count.
That's an interesting message. Some think that Raleigh is trying to 'Lamont' Mike McNulty. Only there, Lamont ran against Lieberman by criticizing the Connecticut Senator's lack of partisanship. Here, Raleigh is claiming Mike is too partisan.
We do not take sides in primaries. However, it seems a bit inaccurate to accuse McNulty of being too partisan. McNulty's record is very moderate, which accurately reflects the district. He's not generally known for being a partisan grenade thrower.
McNulty, despite being in the minority, has a proven knack for bringing home the bacon to the Capital Region, whether it's for the Watervliet Arsenal, the Stratton Air Force Base, the Port of Albany or other area projects. And despite what people say, when it comes to Congressional Representatives, it's all about the other white meat. Also, to his credit, he didn't duck a debate with his opponent like some incumbents are wont to do.
It looks like the Democrats in the 21st Congressional District have two good choices. The odds are against Raleigh. If Raleigh does lose, we hope he doesn't abandon seeking office in the future. He's a serious, credible candidate.
Why doesn't a serious Republican primary the doofus we have on this side of the river?