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

Thursday, November 30, 2006


Does Collier have a crush on Clem Campana?

What else explains this warm, fuzzy e-mail:

From: Carolin []
Sent: Tuesday, November 28, 2006 12:25 PM
To: 'Clement Campana (E-mail)'
Cc: Citycouncil.; Deb.Witkowski
Subject: HOME monies

Dear Clem,

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


RJ Carignan's suit for breach of contract against the City of Troy has been tossed out of court by Judge Michael Lynch. City Hall must be breathing a collective sigh of relief. After all, Administration officials have assured us that the case would never go to a jury.

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, " 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


In the fine tradition of third-graders everywhere, the Administration is blaming everyone but themselves for losing up to $1.1 million in HUD grants. The chronicle of Administration incompetence can be read found in Tim O'Brien's article.

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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?


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


The City of Schenectady was recently awarded a $1.1 million HUD grant. Schenectady plans to demolish up to 9 old, dilapidated structures. The structures will be replaced with housing for low-income families.

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


Troy has lost two of the people that made it such an interesting place.

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.

Said Collier:

"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."

Said Tutunjian:

"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


Could someone please loan Three Job some money so he can buy some shame?

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


We are experiencing technical difficulties. Do not adjust your antenna.

In the meantime, read about our well-run County government.

Or how about a nice, internal probe (take a deep breath and relax).

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.


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


"The results speak for themselves." Feel free to talk about the election.

Also, if you have a minute, send someone around to make sure Vandenburgh hasn't done anything rash. He sounded very upset yesterday, during his three-hour commerical for the GOP.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Two alert readers brought this to our attention. In the interests of fairness, we'll share it with you.

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


The Drozed saga continued last week, showing strains between the Administration and the City Council.

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);
Election results;
Negotiations between the PBA and the City on a contract for the police.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


The last time Siena polled in the 20th Congressional District, Congressman Sweeney had a 14-point lead. Sweeney supporters, including local talkshow host Paul Vandenburgh, were gleeful.

Here are the most recent numbers from Siena.



Will the December 2005 police report be released by the Sweeney campaign? This has been a tough case to follow.

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:

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"He grabbed my neck and pushed me around"


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"Everything's fine. It's just been a stressful time."

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.


Tim Gordon is running for a seat in the Assembly (108th). His opponent is Rensselaer County Legislator Martin Reid.

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


It's Endorsement time and will be turning things over to our new correspondent, Trojan Gal.


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.


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


Since we're not politicians, we feel free to admit mistakes.

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


We may have to change our endorsement.

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.