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

Thursday, August 30, 2007


According to Wednesday's Record (J. Franco, p. 4), DPW Commissioner Bob Mirch had a run-in with Beverly Khan, owner of Fourth Street Food Center Convenient Store (located on Fourth Street).

Ms. Kahn placed signs (or graffiti?) on a light pole. Well, Bobby doesn't want anything dangling from his pole.

Placing signs on city owned light poles is a code violation (unlike using taxpayer funded flyers to advertise for GOP events). Khan was previously warned about this infraction. According to Khan, public servant Mirch ripped down her signs. The police were called by both parties.

In order to cure Ms. Khan, Mirch then "layed hands" on her, spoke in tongues, handled a few snakes and the dispute was settled. Said Khan:

"He ripped down my signs and then grabbed me real tight by the arm and told me to get in the store and shut my mouth or there will be problems...Bob Mirch is a very angry person."

According to Mirch: "She is a liar." Mirch says she also called him "the devil." Reached by phone, Satan categorically denied being Bob Mirch: "I'd never live in Troy. Crime and taxes are just too high.

Funny, how many "liars" have run-ins with Bob.

Mirch and his pole are said to be in good condition and resting comfortably.

We'll be closed for the long weekend. Be safe.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


In a recent e-mail kerfuffle, Council William Dunne questioned Mayor Harry about a GOP 'Meet the Candidates' night concert at Powers Park. Although framed in election-time language, it's a legitimate inquiry.

Mayor Harry's response fairly bristles with election-time language. The Mayor alos points out...

The event in the park tonight is not being paid for by the residents of Troy, nor is it a part of the Powers Park Concert Series, which officially ended last Saturday. You may have known that had you taken the time to attend any of the shows. The concert in the park tonight is being fully-funded by the City of Troy GOP committee- including the band, the facilities, and any other costs associated with it. Today I spoke to Chairman Casey to confirm that this was indeed the case, and he assured me further that the City GOP Committee obtained a permit several months ago to use Powers Park this evening.

Fair enough, we suppose. A night with political candidates sounds as inviting as a visit to a proctologist that's run out of vasoline, but to each his own.

According to the city charter, the following must also be done:

§ 2-14. Permission for use of City property.

The Mayor is authorized to enter into agreements with any charitable or not-for-profit organization permitting noncommercial use of City property for purposes and events that will promote the public good and welfare. Such agreement shall be for periods of use not to exceed five days and in substantially the form of an agreement on file with the offices of the Corporation Counsel of the City. Such organization shall carry a public liability, bodily injury and property damage insurance policy, covering the property to be used, and shall keep and hold harmless the City, its agents and employees for any and all claims, damages and liability of any kind whatsoever relative to or arising for or out of the use of the property. The liability policy and limits of liability shall be as approved by the Corporation Counsel of the City but in no event less than $500,000 for each person; $1,000,000 for each accident for personal injuries; and $20,000 for each accident for property damage. A certificate of insurance coverage shall be submitted to the Corporation Counsel before any use of such property, and the certificate shall include the City as additional named insured.

Tutunjian has promised to supply Dunne with all the necessary paperwork. And we all know what a Tutunjian promise is worth.

The City GOP paid Troy $200 on May 10 for the fundraiser. Does that include payment for any police assigned to the concert? EMS services? Clean-up? There's no payment disclosed for any insurance policy to protect the City. Was the appropriate insurance coverage acquired by the GOP?

A municipality certainly may not deny a permit to a political party based on what that party stands for. That would violate the First Amendment. What the City is not allowed to do is promote a political gathering with city money. (click on thumbnail)

This is quite disturbing. Who the hell is Cranberry the Clown?

The taxpayer-funded advertisement states:

So, it's funded, in part by the City? But it's not? It does appear to be part of The Collar City Live concerts and taxpayer dollars were spent on the advertisement. Care to explain, Harry? On second thought, save it. One can only stand so much B******T, even during election season.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


It's difficult to determine whether the city administration is merely ignorant or if they have made a determination that the law does not apply to them. There's always the third choice, we guess, where the two overlap.

Troy has a contract with the Humane Society. The city pays the shelter $275 for each dog sent to the shelter via Animal Control (aka Doggie Po-Po, Animal Controlo).

To redeem an animal, a citizen pays the City clerk the appropriate amount, receives a receipt, and then takes their pup home. That's the way it works in most municipalities.

Last Thursday the full Council met to discuss legislation that would clarify what a person owed the city if their doggie was impounded. The City wants to (and since April does) charge each person $325. The proposition was voted down and it will not leave the Finance Committee.

Meanwhile the Clerks Office is charging a flat, $325 fee for doggie redemption. The City says it will continue to charge $325. Jeff Buell went on to say the legislation only clarified ambiguities in the City Charter so the practice will continue:

"The charter does not say we can and does not say we can't so the policy remains in effect." -Jeff Buell, The Record, 8/25/08, p. 6.

This time the administration has a valid point. The doggie ordinance is ambiguous. The existing law is quite confusing, especially if you're a first-time offender.

E. Redemption; fees.
Any dog seized for any violation of this chapter or Article 7 of the Agriculture and Markets Law may be redeemed by the owner at the place of impoundment within seven days for licensed dogs and five for unlicensed dogs by producing a valid license and paying the required redemption fee. Redemption fees are $50 for the first impoundment of any dog owned by that person; $75 for the first 24 hours or part thereof and $3 for each additional 24 hours or part thereof for the second impoundment within one year of the first impoundment of any dog owned by that person; or $100 for the first 24 hours or part thereof and $3 for each additional 24 hours or part thereof for the third and subsequent impoundment within one year of the first impoundment of any dog owned by that person. [Amended 5-3-2001 by Ord. No. 7]

First, "$50 for the first impoundment of any dog...." Is that $50 US dollars? Canadian? New Zealand Dollars? And what dog? Any dog? Or a particular dog? We simply do not know under the existing, ambiguous, Code.

Next, what exactly does it mean to redeem a dog? Redemption has many meanings:

1) To recover ownership by paying a sum
2) To set free, rescue or ransom
3) To save from sin and it's consequences
4) To restore one's reputation, honor or dignity

The Code cannot mean #1 because $50 is not $325. What about #2? To set free? Probably not because that's how the dog got in trouble in the first place.

How about #3 or #4? Saving your dog from sin or restoring it's reputation, honor or dignity? For a mere $50? That's quite a bargain.

The Code sets forth the amount it costs citizens to redeem their pooch. There are no ambiguities. The city wants to charge people the cost to the city as well as the fine set forth in the law. That's fine. Personally, we could care less. Change the law. They tried to change the law. They failed. Now they will simply ignore the law.
Once again, Tutunjian proves incapable of performing the fundamental duty of his office: enforcing the law. A duty so fundamental that it is the first mayoral duty listed in the City Charter.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


Our condolences to Joe's friends and family. Troy lost a good man and a good friend on Friday.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


For background, see this post.

Beginning in 1996, Jeffry Jackson, and others, sent a series of memoranda to County Executive Henry Zwack. For instance: Read More...

On February 14, 1996, Plaintiff sent a memorandum to County Attorney Smith complaining that Local Law No. 6 changed N.Y. REAL PROP. TAX LAW § 1532 in that it caused three tax map technicians to be transferred from his office and further requesting Attorney Smith's opinion on the changes since he believed they were inconsistent with the duties of his office under the New York Real Property Tax Law.

On August 27, 1996, Plaintiff wrote a letter to the New York State Office of Real Property Services ("ORPS"). This letter made reference to, and Plaintiff enclosed a copy of, the county law and resolution as well as his memorandum to the county attorney. Within this letter, Plaintiff stated that though some duties performed by the tax map technicians remained the same, certain service related functions were no longer being used and, furthermore, there was a "potential to severely restrict tax map and assessment file maintenance.

On January 25, 1999, Plaintiff sent a memorandum to former-County Executive Henry Zwack detailing the duties of Plaintiff's office and asking those duties that were transferred be reinstated as required by the New York Real Property Tax Law. On November 23 and 24, 1999, Plaintiff sent two memoranda to County Executive Zwack expressing that, in his opinion, certain letters from assessors addressed the essence of Rensselaer County violating Article 15 of the New York State Property Tax Law and the only resolution to the problem was to restore the tax map positions to Plaintiff's departmental budget.

On or about February 12, 1999, Plaintiff sent a letter to Zwack expressing discontent that personnel changes put the Bureau of Tax Services "in an untenable position." As a result of Plaintiff's evocation of his concerns, the objections to the transfer of the tax mapping functions and personnel changes became points of contention between Plaintiff and Zwack. During this conflict and addressing Zwack's attacks on his job performance, Plaintiff sent a letter to Zwack defending the performance of his duties.

Tax bills for the year 2000 were issued by an outside contractor and Plaintiff advised County Executive Zwack of problems that may result because of inadequate computer resources. Plaintiff asserts that the transfer of tax mapping duties contributed to difficulties encountered in the issuance of the tax bills for the year 2000. Beginning in December 1999, the press got wind of the fact that trouble was brewing with the tax bills from Rensselaer County, namely that they failed to include penalties incurred by property owners. Thus, from late December 1999 into 2000 and beyond, a plethora of articles were published by the press. These articles not only discussed the numerous problems associated with the late tax bills and penalties owed to the County, but within some of these articles Zwack began to personally attack Plaintiff for these problems. In addition, several assessors' associates began expressing their views as to the situation regarding the tax bills as well as their opinion of Zwack's attack on Plaintiff. The articles further described Plaintiff's problem with the transfer of tax mappers and the tax mapping function that came as a result of Local Law No. 6 as well as other issues relating to Plaintiff's position.

While these articles were being published, Plaintiff sent several more letters and/or memoranda to Zwack and others regarding the tax bill issue, his personal reputation, and other related issues. Among Plaintiff's many correspondences were letters sent to the County Legislature trying to get them to return the tax mapping function to his office. Subsequently, and while articles were still being published and Plaintiff was still writing letters/memoranda, in May 2001 Zwack resigned as County Executive. Upon the resignation in May 2001, Kathy Jimino became the County Executive. During this transition, Plaintiff remained the Director of Tax Services though his term was set to expire on the last day in September 2001. However, because certain events limited Jimino's time to make a decision on Plaintiff's reappointment, Plaintiff stayed on as "interim" Director until March 1, 2002, when the decision was finally made not to reappoint Plaintiff.

Legal to English translation: Jackson told Zwack and others that Local Law 6 may become a big crap sandwich for the County.

Remember, Jackson is an appointee, not an employee. If an employee rights a letter or publishes a blog critical of a public official or a policy and is fired for that expression, there's a strong First Amendment case. That employee has been punished for speech. Here, we have something different. Something that strengthens the County's hand. Typically, appointees have no particular right to an appointment and certainly no right to re-appointment. That fact has to help the County. Right?

For a 1983 claim such as the one brought by Jackson, adverse employment action must be taken against the one exercising speech. Here, the failure to re-appoint Jackson is the adverse action. But, Jackson and Zwack were the ones involved in what became a public spat. Zwack resigned and therefore was not in a position to take any adverse action. Zwack was dropped from this suit, leaving Jimino holding the crap sandwich.

Of course, all this happened before 2003. We haven't found any updated facts. Let us know if you've spotted the updated facts.

In the third post, we'll tell you what the court did when the defendant's moved to dismiss the case.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


According to sources close to the Troy Polloi (not to mention two anonymous e-mails), the Democratic County Committee re-passed the revised County Party Bylaws.

We hear the vote was 130 or thereabouts to 15 or 20.

Schodack Committee person (and/or Schodack Town Chair) Tim Nugent lead the opposition along with North Greenbush Chair Jeff Spain.

Looks like Spain's lawsuit was moot, except for making the Dems re-do the meeting.

If the first meeting was invalid (and a judge ruled that it was) then Spain had every right to bring suit. Procedures should be followed and they exist for a reason.

Conversely, it would be nice to see the North Greenbush Democrats re-direct some of that energy into going after the GOP rather than each other.

Then again, if they did that would they still be Democrats?

All in all, we prefer the chaos of the Democrats to the eerie, Teutonic, lock-step discipline of the


What do you get a town that has everything? Why, another political party.

We like the Greenbush Party. It sounds....nice. Like they do a lot of gardening or something.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Last week we questioned the Jackson v Jimino settlement. According to County Legislator Mirch, the settlement was based on "up-dated facts."

At first blush, the story seemed relatively straight forward.... for Rensselaer County. Still, there remain unanswered questions. Why settle for $180,000 in August of '07 when you could have settled for $110,000 less than a year ago? What were the 'up-dated' facts? How were they 'up-dated'? Was it some new computer program? And why was Reverend Jackson suing the Rensselaer County Executive?

Since our government will not explain their change of heart, or what this was all about, we did some digging for those that may be interested. First, a little background.

Plaintiff Jeffry Jackson brought a civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that his First Amendment right to free speech was violated when Defendants failed to reappoint him as the Director of the Bureau of Real Property Tax Services in retaliation for speaking out about Rensselaer County Local Law No. 6.* Jackson also alleged that Defendant Rensselaer County was liable for actions taken by Jimino, as a final policymaker, for failing to reappoint him as retaliation for exercising his First Amendment right.

Plaintiff, a Rensselaer County employee for twenty-six (26) years, worked as the County Director of Real Property Tax Services for approximately ten (10) years. Compl. at P 1; Pl.'s Dep., dated July 27, 2004, at p. 6, lines 16-24, p. 9, lines 15-24, & p. 10, lines 1-13. As Director, Plaintiff was an "independent officer reporting directly to the county legislative body.Defs.' 7.1 Statement at P 5; Pursuant to N.Y. REAL PROP. TAX LAW § 1532, the Director's duties include preparing and maintaining tax maps as well as providing copies of the maps in accordance with N.Y. REAL PROP. TAX LAW § 503. Defs.' 7.1 Statement at P 6. Under N.Y. REAL PROP. TAX LAW § 503, the original tax maps are to be filed in the Director's office. Defs.' 7.1 Statement at P 7; In conjunction with other duties, the Director provides advisory services to city and town assessors. Defs.' 7.1 Statement at P 8; Pl.'s 7.1 Statement at P 8.

Plaintiff states that when he became the Director of Real Property Tax Services, he took an oath to uphold the Constitution and laws of the State of New York, including those which involved the proper performance of his duties under the Real Property Tax Law. Defs.' 7.1 Statement at P 15; Pl.'s 7.1 Statement at P 15. During his service in this position, Plaintiff spoke out as to his concern over the legality of Rensselaer County Local Law No. 6, which transferred tax mapping services from his department to the County's Bureau of Research and Information Services ("BRIS").** Defs.' 7.1 Statement at PP 9 & 16; Pl.'s 7.1 Statement at PP 9 & 16. In his objection to the transfer, Plaintiff communicated at work and publicly from 1996 until 2002 through letters and memoranda about this issue and the potential effects on the administration of real property tax within Rensselaer County. Defs.' 7.1 Statement at PP 10; 17; Pl.'s 7.1 Statement at PP 10 & 17. Plaintiff asserted that the transfer of mapping services "made it difficult for the Bureau of Tax Services] to perform an essential element of its service function to assessors, severely hampered the administration of the local property tax throughout Rensselaer County, and made it difficult for the Bureau of Tax Services to supply tax maps to assessors and otherwise to perform its duties in a timely manner." Defs.' 7.1 Statement at P 11; Pl.'s 7.1 Statement at P 11.

Those facts come directly from court papers.*** We'll cease using citations because it makes reading really annoying.

For now, let us sum-up.

Jeffry Jackson, a County appointee, believed that Local Law 6 was illegal and that transferring services from his bureau to another would screw up property tax assessments. And he said so.

That's the general set-up.

*Local Law 6 can be found in Rensselaer County Local Laws, preceding Local Law 7.

**We had no idea the County performed Bris services. Rachmana Litzlon!

*** See, Court Papers at Ibid.

Monday, August 20, 2007


It's the eve of the County Committee meeting and we can hardly sleep. By tomorrow we'll know if the Democratic County Party Bylaws will be revised, galvanized and/or circumcised. The revised Bylaws passed overwhelmingly in June but Dems will gather again tomorrow night to vote and perhaps render a suit brought by North Greenbush Town Chair Jeff Spain moot.

In a recent letter, Spain argues that the revisions should not pass:

Rensselaer County Legislator Kevin Harrington responded to Spain's letter three days later:

- Contrary to Spain's assertion, the language of the proposed bylaws permits the County, Town or City Chairs to simply nominate a candidate for a vacancy in the County Committee. It is you, the Committee Members who decide these vacancies voting when they occur, not the County, City or Town Chairs.

- The County Chair is given NO power to over-rule anyone by this change. Committee members vote and decide.

- Spain is supporting Republican endorsed candidates. The County GOP has endorsed two of his candidates for town board and highway superintendent.

- You, the Members of the County Committee VOTED to appoint Charlie Smith, and Dan Ashley and myself to the County Committee. The County Chairman has no power to appoint anyone to the County Committee. Only you the membership have that power.

- Chairman Wade endorsed North Greenbush Highway Superintendent Mark Premo who has run twice with the unanimous support of the Democratic Party and is the largest vote getter in North Greenbush. He does not need Jeff Spain's blessing and would never endorse the Republican nominee as Spain is doing. Spain is attempting to purge anyone who will not obey his directives, including Mark Premo who has been highly supportive of our party. Chairman Wade's endorsement of Mark Premo was well deserved as will be affirmed at the Democratic Caucus which will rally behind him. Contrary to Spain's assertion, there is NO DA investigation of ANY member of this committee.

The lines are drawn.

An actual peek at the vacancy provision is anti-climatic:


(a) In the case of the death (including but not limited to dismemberment,decapitation and mauling by the county's rabid kitten population), declination, disqualification, resignation, removal from office of a member of the County Committee, or a failure to elect a member from an Election District, the vacancy caused thereby may be filled by the Members of the County Committee by the election of an enrolled voter of the Democratic Party qualified to hold such position and recommended by his or her County, City or Town Chairperson.

However, there is no truth to the rumor that in cases of vacancies caused by death the County Chair must sign the Death Certificate.

Of course, this nonsense distracts the Democrats from slightly more important issues: Issues the voters might even care about.

Friday, August 17, 2007


Mayor Tutunjian has unveiled a new strategy for his re-election campaign. We'll let him tell you in his own words:

Getting out and talking to himself? We know where this is headed.

"Hey! I'm talking to me! My door is always open to me. Feel free to come to me with any of my concerns!"


They'd need to be.

According to the TU blog, and today's Record, Mayoral candidate Jim Conroy has challenged incumbent Mayor, Harry Tutunjian to three (3) debates: A Debate, a Re-Bate and a Master-Bate.

Tutunjian, who has already scheduled three debates with himself, has not yet accepted the challenge.

Doesn't Conroy's proposal violate some provision of the Geneva Convention?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


One front in the Great Petition War of '07 has closed. The attempt by Smith/Ashley/Premo to gain access to the Conservative and Independence lines is finished. Instead of relying upon the sometimes suspect interpretation of others, we thought we'd post the relevant part of the decision by Judge Richard M. Platkin, a Court of Claims judge and the fact-finder in these cases. The following are pages 9-15 of the decision in Wos v Ashworth. Sorry for the small print. Read More...

The decision in Rich v Bloodgood (Independence line) was substantially similar, touching most, if not all of the same legal points.

Charles C.B. Smith admitted to being the unofficial coordinator of these efforts. Unfortunately, for Premo, the fact that he (Premo), a candidate, was involved in the actually petition drive, cost him the Conservative line. Under the law, if Premo had not been actively involved in gathering signatures, he would have had enough signatures to primary for the Conservative line. Because of Premo's active involvement, all signatures were thrown out, even the good ones.

This was an ill-conceived and ill-executed effort. The basic premise was fine. There's nothing wrong with trying to hamper party bosses in their effort to run one slate of candidates. Voters deserve a choice. However, Premo should have not taken part in the petition signing process and, indeed, should have had a seperate petition from the other 'candidates.'

It's our prediction that Premo will secure the Democrat line at the upcoming caucus.

There's also news on the GOP front in the NG Petition Wars but this post is long enough. More on that later.

No word yet on the Free-Soil Party petitions, although Buchanan probably has enough valid signatures.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Rensselaer County Chairman Tom Wade has invoked Rule 11.2 of the Party Bylaws, scheduling an official 'Do-Over' on Tuesday, August 21 2007 at Germania Hall.

The Committee will once again vote on revisions to the Bylaws. The most controversial provision revision would allow the County Chair to call a town caucus if the town chair refuses to do so.

The revised bylaws were originally passed in June but North Greenbush Chair, Jeff Spain brought a suit alleging that the vote approving the revised bylaws was improper. Apparently, Wade called for a voice vote instead of the One Potato-Two Potato method.

The whole point of this entirely pointless lawsuit was to ensure that no North Greenbush caucus was called. Why? That's up to you. If Spain had the votes for his slate of candidates why wouldn't he call a caucus? It now looks like a caucus will be held and if DeFreestville turns out, it could be interesting.

Other changes included in the revised bylaws:

The chair of the City of Troy Committee will henceforth be known as Formaggio Grande;


Less than a week after the citizens of Troy took back the night:

Six Saratoga County teenagers were arrested after a weekend vandalism spree that rolled across the city, Watervliet, Waterford and other parts of southern Saratoga County, Troy police said this morning.

More than 20 vehicles were damaged in Troy and the other communities that were targeted over the weekend in what police described as an "alcohol-fueled rampage." Other police agencies are assessing damage in their jurisdictions.

Saratoga County must be so proud.


County Democrats want to know what's up with the Jackson settlement? Typically, the GOP is mum.

Jimino's office has said she would not comment until the legislature votes on the settlement. It could do so at tonight's meeting.

Vote first and then you'll get the facts? Speaking theoretically, how can the Legislature decide whether to approve the settlement unless they know what "new evidence" warrants the abrupt, expensive turn-around?

Jimino is beginning to sound like Tutunjian, who never comments on pending legal matters....unless he comments on pending legal matters.

Local government reminds us of Central American governments, only without the ethics. And we sweat less. And we dress better.

Monday, August 13, 2007


and neither are First Amendment violations.

Rensselaer County settled a lawsuit with former appointee Jeff Jackson. The price tag: $180,000.

TROY - Rather than risk a trial, Rensselaer County decided to settle a $1.85 million federal lawsuit filed by a former longtime employee who claimed he was not re-appointed because he publicly bashed policy changes made by his then boss County Executive Henry Zwack.Jeffry Jackson's trial was set to start Monday in front of U.S. Magistrate Randolph Treece but all sides agreed to settle for $180,000. The county will cough up $125,000 while the insurance company will pick up the balance. The Legislature is expected to approve the deal at a future meeting.

The reason for the settlement:

"We were presented with the updated facts and the decision we made was in the best interest of the county," said the Legislature's Majority Leader Bob Mirch. "If this were to go to trial, the loss to the county could be substantial because you never know what a jury would do." - 8/11/07

Alls well that ends well.

Except, we just have a few, teeny, tiny questions. We're not naive enough to expect answers, not like in a Democracy, but we thought we ask anyway.

According to Franco's article, it sounds like a First Amendment case.* Those are tough enough to win when the Plaintiff is an employee (employee has a blog that criticizes public sector boss, boss fires employee for blog content....slam dunk) but an appointee? An appointee, in this case, serves a term and is either reappointed or deappointed. The County does not need a reason for not reappointing someone. So, what exactly happened with this appointee that he received $180,000 in a settlement? If his First Amendment Rights were not violated, why the payout? If they were violated, who did it and why?

Mirch cites "new facts" that justify the settlement. New facts on the eve of trial? Who's in charge of the defense and what new facts were uncovered at the 11th hour? Why do we doubt that any "new facts" were brought to light? Because it's Federal Court, where Discovery is about as open-ended as you can get. There's no sandbagging in Federal Court. All the facts and evidence are out there well prior to trial.

Less than one year ago the County Attorney advised the County to settle for $110,000.** The County would have paid $65,000 with the remaining $45,000 coming from the insurance carrier. That settlement proposal never made it to a vote. It went down in the Rules Committee. Who was responsible for not accepting the settlement: Mirch, Kelleher and Walsh. Only O'Brien voted to approve the deal.

Noted Mirch:

"Logic dictates we don't pay him $110,000 for something we don't believe," Mirch said. He said Jackson was not fired, he served at the pleasure of the sitting county executive and simply "wasn't reappointed. He's not entitled to anything." 9/10/06

Now, we pay $125,000 with the remaining $75,000 coming from insurance. We're not Rensselaer County Legislators but it look like the '06 deal may have been better. Perhaps the County should have retained Victory Lane for consulting services on this deal.

First Amendment violations: $185,000;

Rules Committee: $60,000;

Rensselaer County Government: Priceless.

New evidence? How about this:

Lawyer: "If we don't settle, Jimino and Zwack take the stand next week."

Client: "Quick, get me the new evidence file."

Guys, if you're going to have an attorney, you may as well listen to him. And while you're at it, show the United States Constitution some respect.

*The United States Supreme Court has ruled that the First Amendment is applicable to almost all parts of Rensselaer County

**Independent accounting services indicate that $110,000 is actually less than $180,000

Thursday, August 09, 2007


Note: Posting may remain light for the remainder of the summer. Nothing much is going on right now except for the petition issues out in North Greenbush. That issue is being covered heavily by a number of other blogs. We may chime in soon but frankly, it gives us headaches.

Councilwoman Carolin Collier sounds like a real rookie.

According to The Record, contract negotiations between the City and the Troy PBA remain snagged over the residency issue. Under a 1995 City law, members of the Troy Police Department must live within Troy City limits.

However, residency was part of the negotiations that took place between the City and the PBA at an August 3 meeting. Collier had this to say:
"I'm surprised that it would be part of the negotiations after the Council met and the majority said they would not touch the law but leave it the way it is." - Carolin Collier, The Record, August 9, 2007.

The law, Carolin? What's all this talk about the law? You're in Troy! In Rensselaer County? The law?

Collier's absolutely correct. As much as we are opposed to residency requirements, contracts that violate the law are void, or at the very least, voidable. The residency law needs to be addressed before that topic can be incorporated into any contract.

At a rough guess, we'd say at least 60% of the voting public favors residency requirements. Maybe more. Either way, residency appears popular and it's unlikely that the Council would rescind the law, especially in an election year. But, we're talking about Troy.

The law? That's funny.



Troy, New York (August 7, 2007)- John Brown, Democratic candidate for City Council-at-large, today proposed the City of Troy formulate a task force to explore development possibilities for the historic Proctors Theatre. Opened in 1914, Proctors was last operated in 1977.
Brown stated, “this majestic theatre closed its doors decades ago and since that time the structure has been deteriorating. We need to act. By saving this building we can breathe life back into this block of our downtown.”

Brown proposes the task force be comprised of citizens and experts and represent the city’s stakeholders. He pledged if elected he would introduce legislation to create the committee. The city council candidate stressed it should not be a partisan issue.

“This is about economic development and having a vision and a plan for the City of Troy. This task force should reflect the interests of our business community, our university partners and our City government.”, Brown continued.

One idea Brown said could be considered would be reopening Proctors as a theatre to be the permanent home of the New York State Theatre Institute (NYSTI). NYSTI was previously housed at the Egg in Albany and now performs at Russell Sage College.

Question for those in the know: Are the Friends of Proctor's Theater defunct since RPI now owns the building? Is the interior of the theater salvageable or is it a mere shell?

*All candidates are welcome to forward their press releases for publication

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Two men have been indicted for the January 2002 murders of Arica Schneider and Samuel Holley.

Bryan Berry and Terrence Battiste -- first identified as the suspected killers in a Times Union story in December 2005 -- are accused of killing Arica Lynn Schneider, 18, and Samuel ``Frost'' Holley, 27, in their Brunswick Road apartment in January 2002, according to an indictment unsealed today in Rensselaer County Court.

Berry and Battiste were pressured last year to admit to the murders or face the prospect of serving decades behind bars for a series of stick-ups, sources have told the Times Union. Both men are serving time in federal prison for unrelated crimes. The FBI has said they were part of a violent Troy-based crew called the reputed "Stick Men" that robbed drug dealers at gunpoint, at times pistol-whipping them.

This sounds like it could be a tough case to prove. By all accounts there is a paucity of direct evidence against the two men.

We'd like to thank the TPD for their work on this difficult case far. Special praise should go to John Riegert. His dogged determination and efforts were crucial in the success achieved so far.

Berry and Battiste may be innocent and should certainly be considered innocent until a jury determines their fate. That doesn't diminish the fact that the Troy Police Department refused to abandon a five year-old crime and two victims.


As we've done in the past, the Troy Polloi cordially invites all candidates to submit posts (as many as they want*) during the course of the campaign. If the posts are issue-oriented and stay clear of personal attacks,** they will be posted in full. Comments to those posts must also be issue-oriented and refrain from nasty, personal attacks, unless they're really, really good attacks. No one actually takes us up on these offers but we'll continue to make them.

We also offer*** similar services to the people of North Greenbush. This offer is open to anyone, be they ever so humble, who wants to set forth their views on the current state of North Greenbush politics. Here's your chance to be heard in a forum that has no stake in the outcome of anything in North Greenbush.

Let us come together and heal the hurt.


According to today's Record, County Chair Tom Wade will call a meeting of the County Committee to re-pass the re-vised bylaws. The initial passage of the revisions may have run afoul of the ten day notice requirement because amendments to the revisions were adopted at the meeting from the floor. Meaning, before the vote, committee members had approximately 25 seconds of notice for the actual revisions ultimately adopted.

In short, due to a procedural error, it's a 'Do-Over.' There's little question that the revisions will pass, with one caveat. Wade needs a quorum**** at the meeting so the vote can proceed.

* But no more than three.

** Fair criticism of an opponent's public record or statements does not constitute a personal attack.

***Offer not valid in HI, KY, CT and ME.

****A quorum, for Wade's purposes, is more than a liter but less than a hectare of the Democrat Committee.

Monday, August 06, 2007


New Car Smell

According to a number of thank you e-mails and eye-witness accounts, it looks like the TPD has a new, 2008 Dodge Charger. The background can be found here.

The Charger is now a Captain's Car, having been promoted from deputy. But don't worry, no one at City Hall is hoofing it. We were able to secure a replacement vehicle.

We sincerely regret any inconvenience this may have caused City Hall. We are always available to answer any questions and our door is always open.

North Greenbush Democrats

The North Greenbush Democratic Committee will hold on fundraiser on August 21, 2007.

Sounds like it should be a good outing. We just hope "Shotgun Start" doesn't mean what we think it means. To be on the safe side, Ashley and Smith may want to skip this one.

Code Enforcement

Troy Code Enforcement has expanded it's scope of work to include the Brunswick Little League Field on Route 2.

We did a white-out job on the vehicle number. We didn't want to get some poor slob in hot-water, not that there's much chance of that. Guess Harry doesn't have a zero-tolerance policy on the use of city property for personal or political reasons.

Friday, August 03, 2007


Court of Claims Judge Henry Zwack has been assigned to hear a Supreme Court challenge to the revised Democratic Party bylaws. County Chairman Wade has asked Zwack to recuse himself from the case because Wade testified for the prosecution at Zwack's 2002 corruption trial.

Attorney Josh Ehrlich represents those challenging the new bylaws. The challenge to the bylaws centers on whether enough notice was given prior to the Committee's June 11 meeting where the bylaws were passed and whether or not proposed amendments to the proposed bylaws could be adopted at that meeting. But notice isn't the only issue for some:

One town party chairman, Jeffrey Spain of North Greenbush, said the new bylaws will "centralize power" in the hands of County Chair Thomas W. Wade and should be thrown out because they were not properly adopted, according to court documents.

An actual analysis of the changes shows Spain's concerns to be unwarranted. If those are the actual concerns.

The revised bylaws do give the County Chair authority to call a town caucus if the town chair refuses to cauc. Notice of such a caucus will also be more informal, including smoke signals and signal flags. Town party members still choose the candidate(s). So, what's the problem? The changes targeted chairs such as Tim Nugent (Schodack) who do not run candidates for a variety of reasons. Other than Schodack, the only other town to voice opposition to the proposed changes was....North Greenbush. At the June 11 meeting, Town Clerk Katie Connolly took the lead in opposing the changes.

Since Wade could call a new meeting, with plenty of notice, and have the bylaws passed, this suit is more about this upcoming election than notice issues or concentrating power in the hands of the County Chair. In fact, the revised bylaws also give the Executive Committee greater authority to take action against the County Chair if the chair isn't doing his or her job. Again, that's not the issue.

The issue is that for far to long town chairs have been in bed with the opposition or have refused to run Democratic candidates because they, or family members, are on the GOP payroll in some form or another.

An interesting side note. Attorney Ehrlich was Spain's advisor in the ill-fated attempt by Spain to oust former North Greenbush Chair Dan Ashley and Charlie Smith from the County Committee. Prior to that, Smith has made a complaint about Ehrlich to the Committee on Professional Standards. Such a move really ups the ante in this game. It's one thing to endanger someones public sector job. That comes with the territory. Endangering someones professional career....that really raises the stakes.

In any event, Judge Zwack declined to recuse himself from the case. Should Zwack recuse himself? Probably. Given the recent track record of area judges (Bauer, Spargo, Doyle) you'd think Zwack would be extra, super careful. Of course Zwack owes his current job, and therefore pension, to Joe Bruno. Bruno is heavily involved in North Greenbush politics this year.....

Peeling back the layers of this onion is a smelly business.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


Recent polling by Marist shows interesting numbers in the Spitzer-Bruno kerfuffle. The poll also displays the bi-polar tendencies of registered voters.

62% of registered voters think there should be an additional inquiry beyond the New York State Attorney General’s report into what Governor Spitzer knew when his top aides misused the state police to gather information about Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno. 33% think the Attorney General’s report should end the discussion, and 5% are unsure. A majority of Democrats, Republicans, and independents believe the issue should be further investigated.

50% of registered voters think Governor Spitzer was aware of what his aides were doing when they tried to plant a negative story about Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno. 38% believe the governor when he says he had no knowledge of the incident. Republicans are most skeptical. 61% of Republican voters think the governor was aware of his staff’s attempt to embarrass the Senate majority leader. Democrats are more divided. 45% think Governor Spitzer was aware of what was going on, and 42% believe he had no knowledge of their actions. 50% of independent voters think Governor Spitzer has not been forthcoming about what he knew of his staff’s efforts to discredit Senate Majority Leader Bruno.

New York State’s registered voters, across party lines, overwhelmingly believe Governor Spitzer should be required to testify in an investigation regarding the actions of his staff. 80% of voters want the governor to testify compared with only 15% who do not. 5% are unsure.

47% of registered voters rate the job Eliot Spitzer is doing as governor as either excellent or good, inching up from the 43% he received in March. 44% do not currently approve of his performance in office and rate the job he is doing as fair or poor, an increase from 38% in the previous poll. 9% of registered voters are unsure how to rate the governor’s performance in office, a decline from 19% in the spring.

66% of registered voters think Eliot Spitzer is a good leader for New York State, and 58% think of him as a new kind of independent politician. A majority of voters still agree he is changing the way things work in Albany for the better although there has been an increase in the proportion of voters who disagree. 41% think his style as governor is too confrontational.

Although nearly one in four registered voters do not have an opinion about the job Joe Bruno is doing as Senate majority leader, half rate the job he is doing as fair or poor. Only 26% approve of his performance in office.
So, 50% believe he knew what his aides were doing and 66% think he is a good leader? Ironically, Spitzer is polling better Upstate than he is downstate. Bruno does better Upstate but his number are still poor. Only 30% of Upstaters believe Bruno does an excellent/good job.

Other interesting findings:

47% of registered voters believed that 31% of voters were 25% crazy;

56% believed Bruno should have been 'whacked' in the final episode of the Sopranos;

42% believe Governor Spitzer should be stripped of his Olympic medals;

88% of the clients of Bruno's consulting business believe he's doing an excellent job.

Despite how other regions may view this scandal, we in Rensselaer County have a lot to be thankful for. Dogged by his own Federal Grand Jury investigation and a dwindling Senate Majority, Joe hasn't looked his best. He's been irritable and cranky. This has certainly restored the bounce in his step. That rosy glow is back!