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

Friday, September 28, 2007


We've discussed General Cities Law Sec. 23, as well as the City Code and Charter. Is there anything else out there that may be implicated in the sale of City Hall?

The answer is: Yes.*

Meet General Cities Law Sec. 20:
§ 20. Grant of specific powers Subject to the constitution and general laws of this state, every city is empowered:

1. To contract and be contracted with and to institute, maintain and defend any action or proceeding in any court.

2. To take, purchase, hold and lease real and personal property within and without the limits of the city; to acquire pursuant to the provisions of the eminent domain procedure law, real property within or without the limits of the city for the construction, maintenance and operation of a sewage disposal plant, together with necessary rights of way for extending its sewage system to, and connecting the same with such disposal plant, to acquire or purchase real property and/or personal property within or without the limits of the city necessary for the construction, maintenance and operation of a water supply system for such city together with necessary rights of way for extending its water supply system to and connecting the same with a source or sources of water supply; to acquire by purchase, if the city is able to agree with the owners on the terms thereof, and otherwise in the manner provided by the eminent domain procedure law, real property within or without the limits of the city for the construction, maintenance and operation of drainage channels and structures for the purpose of flood control, when plans for such purpose have been approved by the state department of environmental conservation, together with necessary rights of way for extending such channels and structures; and also to acquire real and personal property within the limits of the city, for any public or municipal purpose, and to sell and convey the same, but the rights of a city in and to its water front, ferries, bridges, wharf property, land under water, public landings, wharves, docks, streets, avenues, parks, and all other public places, are hereby declared to be inalienable, except in the cases provided for by subdivision seven of this section.

What the hell does that mean?

Perhaps an example would help. A few years back, a municipality and a private citizen entered into a contract for the sale of just over half an acre of waterfront property.

In an action against a city for specific performance of a contract to convey waterfront property, summary judgment dismissing the complaint was properly granted where legislative approval permitting the city to sell said property was not obtained, since General City Law Sec. 20(2)divests the city of the power to convey publicly owned waterfront property except by special act of the Legislature. Although plaintiff submits that the statute does not bar specific performance of the contract since the subject property was neither acquired nor dedicated for public use, that contention is not only contrary to the unambiguous language of the statute, but overlooks the unique nature of water property which has been expressly declared to be inalienable, and is entitled to special protection by virtue of its geographical location rather than by virtue of its use. The Legislature did not see fit to include a public-use limitation in the statute, and none shall be engrafted by the court. Nothing in the contract imposed an obligation on the city to seek legislative approval, which in any event, is a purely discretionary act which cannot be compelled. Accordingly, nullification of the contract was required inasmuch as municipal contracts which violate express statutory provisions are invalid.- Gladsky v. Glen Cove, 164 A.D.2d 567

The Court goes on to state why such property is treated in this manner:

...waterfront property, as we have noted, is entitled to special protection by virtue of its geographical location rather than by virtue of its use. Unlike a public playground, which may cease to be a playground if its use is altered, waterfront property is intrinsically unique. That the discontinuance exception does not, and should not, apply to waterfront property becomes all the more compelling given the significant ecological, scenic, and aesthetic qualities inherent in it. Accordingly, the plaintiff's reliance on General City Law § 20 (7) is misplaced.

Under the Surplus Property provisions of the Code, the City can divide property. Perhaps the administration will attempt to retain a portion of the property immediately adjacent to the river. The State may have something to say about that. We'll leave all that to the lawyers.

One bothersome thing is the fact that none of these potential issues were discussed at the public hearing. We were all supposed to swallow Harry's "To good to be true....but it is," assurances.

That's not to say roadblocks can't be removed. Any project of this magnitude is bound to potential problems. Why not be up front about those problems and inform the citizens how those problems will be addressed? Why wasn't a representative from the appropriate State Agency/Department invited to speak at the hearing?

Finally, why did the local media hype the announcement of the 'sale' and not delve a bit deeper into the possible problems with the scheme? Harry gets front page headlines for an announcement but the real life, nuts and bolts issues raised by that announcement gets page 2, 3, 4 treatment.... if it's treated at all. We're not singling out The Record. Only Fred LeBrun looked at this in-depth and even he missed the larger, potential problems of the deal.

*Our thanks to a number of Capital District attorneys who weighed-in with their thoughts and aided us with this post.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


According to the Department of Criminal Justice, crime is down in New York State!

For the first six months of 2007 crime (reported incidents, not arrests) has dropped. Overall crime is down 5% with violent crime dropping 6%. Rape and robbery have dropped by more than 10%.

No doubt we can expect Mayor Tutunjian to straddle the coattails of this statewide trend and issue a press release about Troy. Lets take a look at some numbers:

Overall, crime is down:

12.1% in Albany;
11.5% in Kingston;
9.5% in Poughkeepsie;
14.6% in Schenectady;
14.9% in Syracuse.

Violent crime is down:

4.8% in Albany;
19.5% in Buffalo;
18.7% in Yonkers;
12.6% in Rochester.

Robbery? down in Albany, Buffalo, Kingston, Niagara Falls City, Poughkeepsie, Rochester, Schenectady, Syracuse, Yonkers, Utica.

Overall, crime is up in:

Binghamton - 5.0%
Newburgh - 21.9%
Troy - 1.8%

The slight rise in overall crime looks isn't the real concern. Violent crime? Up in Troy, 5.9% Robbery? Up in Troy, 17.9% Murder crime up...burglary up.... And now, the Mayor's Press Release:

Troy Mayor Harry Tutunjian announced today that based on Department of Criminal Justice statistics, the City of Troy is now safer than Newburgh, NY. Although conceeding that the robbery rate in Newburgh was much lower than Troy's, the Mayor insists that Troy is still the place to be. "No one wants to be robbed," said the mayor. "But, if you have to be robbed, make sure you're victimized, here, in Troy, surrounded by lovely Victorian architecture and quaint, boutique shops. Afterwards, try some chowder. We had a festival in August."


Where does Public Safety Chair, Carolin Collier stand on this rise in crime? Well, when crime rose under a Democratic administration, you didn't want to get between Carolin and a reporter:

"The DCJS figures show that in each of the seven crime categories tracked, an increase occurred from 2001 to 2002, including a 12 percent spike in violent crimes and a 15 percent jump in property crimes.The statistics had some city officials seeking answers on Thursday.

"Mayor Pattison has told us on numerous occasions over the past several weeks that crime is down in Troy when defending his administration's policing policies," said Council Member Carolin Collier, R-District 6. "One can only wonder why the mayor and the police commissioner (Mark Whitman), through the numerous public safety committee meetings that have been held, haven't advised the council of this large increase in the rate of crime.

"Council President Harry Tutunjian, R-at-large, said increasing crime rates concerned him as well, and that it's time something is done."It's time to take off the rose-colored glasses," Tutunjian said. "I've always said that we need more officers on the street and less in upper management."We need to get back to basic, everyday crime fighting." -The Record 12/27/02

"Councilwoman Carolin Collier, R-District 6, said Tuesday she was concerned that a 3.3 percent decrease in crime throughout the Empire State during 2002 has not been reflected in Troy.Collier, who has taken issue with the Police Department and its amount of overtime since being elected in 2001, wondered why Police Commissioner Mark Whitman had explained away Troy's 16 percent increase in crime during 2002 as a trend that was happening throughout the state.

"When the Troy figures were released, Commissioner Whitman stated crime was up throughout the state," Collier said. "However, we now find that crime is actually down statewide. Troy's figures stick out like a sore thumb. The taxpayers in Troy are spending over $10 million a year on crime-fighting techniques that don't necessarily seem to be working."

"There is no doubt the men and women of the Troy PD are doing their best, but the approach used by the administration appears not to be hitting the mark. I think it is reasonable to ask why is crime down statewide, along with New York City, but increasing dramatically in the city of Troy, New York? In fact, in the Northeast in general, crime is down over 3 percent." - The Record 6/18/03

"Because Mayor Mark Pattison and Whitman often talk about how crime is down in Troy more than any other city in the area, the news that crime had indeed jumped brought criticism, as expected, from the Republican side of the City Council.Councilwoman Carolin Collier, R-District 6, a staunch proponent of keeping overtime costs down, was disappointed that crime had risen after the city spent nearly a million dollars in overtime last year.

"These figures are of concern because while we are spending more in overtime in the police department, crime is increasing at the same time," Collier said. "We must be sure that we are making the maximum effort using taxpayer dollars to fight crime in the most efficient manner possible." - The Record 1/29/03

Collier's recent comments on crime in Troy under a Republican administration:

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


How many of you have ever wondered how Troy sells it's surplus property? Neither have we. Nonetheless, here we go.

In our previous post we took a look at two provisions allowing a municipality to sell property: General Cities Law Sec. 23 and The City Charter/Code.

Today, we'll take a quick peek at Section 83 of the Code: Surplus Property.

As you may or may not know, the City has quietly ordered the Bureau of Surplus property to declare City Hall and the parking garage 'surplus property.' The Administration is desperate to rely upon Sec. 83 for the City Hall/Verizon scheme.

§ 83-1. Purpose.

This article sets forth the procedure for management and disposal of surplus property owned by the City of Troy. The procedure is aimed at achieving the following goals:

A. To sell under terms as will provide the longest benefit to the City of Troy;
B. To sell under such circumstances as will expedite development, rehabilitation and beautification of property sold;
C. To sell under such circumstances as will inhibit the return of property to the delinquent tax list; and
D. To obtain the most advantageous price to the City.

§ 83-2. Bureau of Surplus Property. [Amended 9-5-1985]

A. Reports of the Bureau. The Bureau of Surplus Property shall review and report on its actions to the Mayor quarterly. The Mayor shall transmit such reports to the City Council.

B. Classification of property. All property owned by the City of Troy will be classified as surplus property except for property which is needed for City purposes. The City Assessor shall have the duty to circulate throughout the departments and bureaus of City government the list of surplus property to ascertain any City need for the property. Should any property be designated as needed for City purposes it will be omitted from the list of surplus property.

Section 83 is long and unusually boring, even for a municipal code provision. We will not print the entire section but if you click-on our link to Troy (over on the right), the City's website does have the Code. Or, you can go here.

The Administration's desire to use this section to legitimize it's deal with Judge is perplexing and nothing short of a tortured, mescaline-induced legal analysis would lead one to use Section 83 under the prevailing circumstance.

Property is either needed for City purposes or it isn't. If it is not needed, it can be classified as surplus. As far as we know, current City Hall is needed. Or, did the Bureau of Surplus Property draft it's report in a tent in Frear Park? The public hearing was conducted there and the Mayor works at city hall. Under what rationale can City Hall be currently classified as 'surplus?' There is no provision for declaring a property "soon to be surplus."

Even a quick read of Section 83 (and we invite the Media to do so), show that it's purpose is to manage in rem foreclosure. The procedures set forth certainly indicate that:

For Instance:

C. Management of surplus property. It shall be the duty of the Bureau of Surplus Property to manage surplus property.

(1) Where possible, inhabitable property should be rented. Uninhabitable property should be secured by the Department of Public Works to prevent damage or vandalism.

(5) A list of all tenants and rents charged and received shall be kept by the Bureau of Surplus Property. A monthly summary of receipts and delinquencies as well as copies of any requests for evictions which have been forwarded to the Corporation Counsel shall be submitted to the Comptroller on or before the 10th day of the following month.

§ 83-3. Promotion and sale of surplus property.

A. Inventory. As soon as possible after the recording of the in rem foreclosure deed, the Assessor or his/her designee shall visit each property to determine its condition and appraise each parcel at its fair market value.

(1) If the property consists of an occupied dwelling, the occupants shall be advised that they are tenants of the City and of the conditions of their tenancy.

(2) If the property consists of a vacant building, it shall be properly secured by the Department of Public Works.

C. Promotion.

(1) The Assessor shall mail letters to the last-known owners, informing them of the reconveyance program.
(2) The Assessor shall mail letters to adjacent owners of vacant land on the list and inform them of their right to buy at private sale.
(3) The list shall be circulated among City agencies, other public agencies, real estate brokers, developers and anyone else requesting such lists.

D. Newspaper advertisement. As soon as possible after the recording of the in rem deed, the Assessor shall cause an advertisement to be placed in the City's official newspaper, publishing the list of surplus property for sale and informing the general public when and where proposals will be accepted and when and where the auction will be held on property for which no proposal is accepted by the City Council. That advertisement shall be published at least one more time during the week following the first publication. Additional advertisements and promotional activity may be undertaken as deemed desirable by the Assessor.

§ 83-4. Terms of sale. [Amended 7-1-1999 by Ord. No. 10]

A. Regulated. Except for reconveyances, all sales of surplus property will be made only after the purchaser has agreed to comply with and signed a copy of the terms of sale.

B.Terms. The terms of sale shall be as follows:

(1) The property will be sold as advertised.

(2) A down payment of 10% of the purchase price will be required to be paid at the time the offer is received by the City or at the completion of bidding, if at auction.

(3) Within 30 days after the approval of the sale by the City Council, the purchaser will pay to the Bureau of Surplus Property the balance of the purchase price plus the advertising cost and payment in lieu of City, county and school taxes based on the City's appraisal prior to sale and prorated for the time prior to the first tax bill to the purchaser. Upon default of such payment, the City shall retain the down payment, which is not a penalty but liquidated damages. This period may be extended only for extenuating circumstances, as determined by the City Council no later than the second regular meeting of the Council following the default.

(4) The City Council reserves the right to reject any and all offers.

(5) In the event the City for any reason determines not to sell to the purchaser, the liability of the City of Troy and of its agents relative to the property conveyed is limited to the return of any payments made to the City of Troy, including the advertising fee.

(6) No representations of any kind are or have been made by the City of Troy or its agents as to the title or physical condition of the property or as to the existence of any improvements thereon.

(7) This sale is made subject to the condition that:

(a) If there is a structure on the premises which is able to be rehabilitated or inhabited, it shall be repaired in conformance with the building, housing and fire prevention codes within six months after the date of the deed.

(b) If there is a structure on the premises which is not able to be rehabilitated or inhabited, it shall be demolished within six months after the date of the deed.

(c) If vacant land is purchased for building purposes, a building shall be erected of such type of construction as to conform with the surrounding area and comply with building, housing and fire prevention codes within one year after the date of the deed.

(d) If vacant land is not purchased for building purposes, it must be cleaned and maintained so as not to be a nuisance or detriment to its neighborhood within six months after the date of the deed. The above-mentioned time periods for repair, demolition, maintenance or construction may be extended for up to six months by the Bureau of Surplus Property, upon submission by the property owner of a compliance plan which has been approved by the Commissioner of Planning and Community Development. Any further extensions of time may be made only by the City Council, upon request of the purchaser.

(8) The deed shall contain a clause that if the purchaser, his/her successors or assigns shall fail to comply with the appropriate conditions, the City has a right to reenter the property without refunding the purchaser price.

(9) The purchaser shall not alter, remove or otherwise change any items contained in or attached to any building or land to be purchased from the City of Troy until the full purchase price and charges are paid and the deed from the City is received by the purchaser.

Will there be compliance with these provisions, not to mention the other requirements under Section 83? Why the need to fit a lease-to-own deal into a Code section obviously designed to sell foreclosed properties? Seems like a rather involved section of the Code to use when other less complex and involved methods are available.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


It may be the first time in history that a mayoral candidates Mom weighs in on her child's candidacy. In this case it's Toni Consuello talking about her son, Christopher, the WFP candidate for Mayor of Troy:

Toni Consuello says, "He was put up to go up for election and he was told that if he didn't do it, he was going to get fired."The candidate's mother says her son's boss, Public Works Director Bob Mirch, is forcing him to run on the Working Families Party line, specifying that he should not run a campaign.

The candidate has been very silent in response to Mom's interview. Perhaps he's been to busy driving the Harrymobile around town. Mirch has had no comment.

So, what's Toni Consuello's motive to lie.* Her interview certainly does not help Christopher with his DPW Boss, Bob Mirch. And where did Toni Consuello get her information?

If you've seen her taped interview, Toni Consuello looks like a concerned Mom, worried that her son is being used and intimidated. Hardly the type to thrust herself into the spotlight with a lie.

Christopher has every right to run for office. Mirch has every right to take over the WFP. That's the system. Due to their enrollment size, minor parties are subject to hostile takeovers. It comes with the territory. Those with plenty of time and nothing more constructive to do...plot and plan minor party takeovers. Mirch has a true genius for such work.

What has not been discussed, not on Fox News, not in The Record, is the propriety of a DPW Commissioner using a DPW employee for political purposes. The relationship between Mirch and Consuello is hardly equal. The situation lends itself to, at the very least, the appearance of impropriety.

That's not to say it can't be done. There's no law against it and, depending on the circumstances, there's no ethics code violation.

The larger issue is leadership in City Hall. Why won't Mayor Tutunjian protect City employees from being used by the DPW Commissioner? Why won't he crack down on Mirch's antics. Whether it's using County and City employees for political purposes, abusing a store owner or ridiculing a handicapped citizen, Harry seems unable to control his own DPW Commissioner.

He also stood by silently as his Corporation Counsel treated those at the recent public hearing in a rude, disdainful manner.

It's time for Tutunjian to cut the puppet strings and retrieve his testicles from the Department of Public Works. If he doesn't, we are left wondering who is in charge?

Tomorrow: Is City Hall surplus property?

*Like others that have issues with Mirch, Toni Consuello will not doubt be branded a liar. Funny, how many 'liars' have issues with Mirch.

Monday, September 24, 2007


Welcome to our multi-series posts on the sale of Troy City Hall.

We're just simple, unfrozen, cavemen bloggers. The government world is complex and scares us. Talk of public hearings, bring-it-on litigation, grant all frightens us. We don't know what the Mayor is talking about or Conroy or the Council or Mitchell. It's confusing and it makes us ascared.

We do know that various statutes address the municipal sale of real property. The starting point is General Cities Law Sec. 23.

b. No sale or lease of city real estate or of any franchise belonging to or under the control of the city shall be made or authorized except by vote of three-fourths of all the members of the common council or corresponding legislative body of the city. In case of a proposed sale or lease of real estate or of a franchise, the ordinance must provide for a disposition of the same at public auction to the highest bidder, under proper regulations as to the giving of security and after public notice to be published at least once each week for three weeks in the official paper or papers. A sale or lease of real estate or a franchise shall not be valid or take effect unless made as aforesaid and subsequently approved by a resolution of the board of estimate and apportionment in any city having such a board, and also approved by the mayor. No franchise shall be granted or be operated for a period longer than fifty years. The common council or corresponding legislative body of the city may, however, grant to the owner or lessees of an existing franchise, under which operations are being actually carried on, such additional rights or extensions in the street or streets in which the said franchise exists, upon such terms as the interests of the city may require, with or without any advertisement, as the common council may determine, provided, however, that no such grant shall be operative unless approved by the board of estimate and apportionment in any city having such a board, and also by the mayor.

In any city the question whether any proposed sale or lease of city real estate or of any franchise belonging to or under the control of the city shall be approved shall, upon a demand being filed, as hereinafter provided, be submitted to the voters of such city at a general or special election, after public notice to be published at least once each week for three weeks in the official paper or papers. Such demand shall be subscribed and acknowledged by voters of the city equal in number to at least ten per centum of the total number of votes cast in such city at the last preceding general election and shall be filed in the office of the clerk of such city before the adoption of an ordinance or resolution making or authorizing such sale or lease. If such demand is filed, as aforesaid, such sale or lease of real estate or such franchise shall not take effect unless in addition to the foregoing requirements a majority of the electors voting thereon at such election shall vote in the affirmative.

No, it's not quite as exciting as it looks.

Clearly, Mayoral Candidate Conroy is correct. Three-fourths (or 2.5 hectares) of the City Council must approve the sale of City Hall. Or not.

For you see, local municipalities may enact local laws governing the sale of real property that supersede the General Cities Law. It's not polite and it hurts the feelings of the General Cities Law, but it can be done. And Troy may have done just that.

Walk with us. We're heading over to The City Charter/Code. But watch your step. Now, lets see. Where did we put that.....ah, here it is.

§ C-73. Purchasing procedures.

B. Sale of real property no longer needed for City purposes. Whenever the City Council shall by ordinance determine that any real property owned by the City is no longer needed for City purposes, it may direct that said real property shall be sold, leased, space therein leased, or otherwise disposed of in the form of a franchise or license to particular purchaser for a stipulated sum and may not be sold, leased, space therein leased, or otherwise disposed of in the form of a franchise or license if said bid is less than its fair market value and upon such other terms and conditions as it may determine appropriate, excepting that before park property is sold there must be legislative approval by the State of New York.

But, wait. Why do it that way when you can have City Hall declared surplus property?

"The city published a finding Tuesday that City Hall and its parking structure are surplus buildings and should be demolished to maximize redevelopment." - The Times Union *

What the hell is that all about, you ask? After all, how surplus is City Hall when people are still going to work there every day?

Next time, we'll discuss "Surplus Property": How to identify it, who to call and what to do when you see it.

* Actaully it's a revised report. The original report accidently declared Tutunjian and Crawley surplus property that should be demolished.

Friday, September 21, 2007


Troy will feature the region's only four-way mayoral race this election season. Candidates include not only incumbent Harry Tutunjian and Jim Conroy but Elda Abate and WFP candidate Christopher Consuello. Conseullo is geared-up and ready to take Troy by storm. From Fox News:

One of the employees at Jimmy's Pizzeria in Troy is hoping city voters will deliver him to the mayor's office in November.Twenty-one-year-old Christopher Consuello works part-time at the pizzeria and full-time for Troy's Department of Public Works. He's running for mayor but his mother tells FOX23 News that he doesn't want the job. Toni Consuello says, "He was put up to go up for election and he was told that if he didn't do it, he was going to get fired. "The candidate's mother says her son's boss, Public Works Director Bob Mirch, is forcing him to run on the Working Families Party line, specifying that he should not run a campaign.

To see the video, just click on Troy Primary Problems. In the cynical, jaded world of politics it refreshing to have young, energetic candidates. It's even more refreshing to see the candidate's mother so enthused about her son's foray into public service. It's the gleam of pride in a mother's eyes that sold us on Consuello's candidacy.

Next week will spend some time discussing Tutunjian's plan to sell municipal waterfront property. We'll tell you why it's legal and why it's a good thing for Troy.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Last night the City held a public hearing on the City Hall-Judge-Verizon property swap. More details of the swap were released. Here are some of the stories from the past 24 hours:

The Record;

Times Union;

Times Union.

The purpose of the public hearing is to give the public information about this scheme and then, in turn, hear from the public. Some details were released. Unfortunately, one detail not released is the most important detail of all: the fair market value of the City Hall property. No one can analyze this scheme without that information. It could be the best deal on earth. It could be a rip-off.

"JDC would lease the City Hall property for $1 per year over the same time and would also be have the option to buy nearly two acres of riverfront land for $2.25 million, Mitchell said. He promised to release copies of the pending deal with JDC for public scrutiny in two weeks and an appraisal of City Hall by a company he wouldn't name on Monday." - The Record

Why wasn't this information made available prior to the hearing?

Tutunjian also assured the audience that the proper process was followed. Experience has shown that Harry's understanding of proper procedure and legality is, at best, dubious. We'll discuss that next week.


Looks like Democrat Pete Ryan (ED3) will take the WFP Line once the absentee ballots are counted.

There's also good news for District 5 challenger Ken Zalewski. He could pick-up the Independence Line.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Classic Troy. Thought we'd share.


Primary Results are in. The Record's coverage can be found here. We're sure you'll find complete results for the entire region over at the Times Union but their site is down at the present and we gotta go.

Congrats to the winners (even if they aren't really running or did not want to run). No whining from the Democrats, please. If the party leaders don't do the work and hustle to take over minor party lines, you really can't complain.

One question: Why no WFP primaries in Council District 2, 4 & 6?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Don't miss Thursday's very special Troy City Council meeting. So special, in fact that we almost missed the very special Notice:

And the public hearing to take place immediately before the meeting:

What do they want to use our grant money for?

Why, to demolish City Hall. So, in addition to giving the land away, we're also taking grant money that could go to existing businesses and doing the work for the private developer?

One would think, with the Troy Renaissance and all, that developers would be beg to purchase the city hall property, perhaps even engage in a bidding war for that property and not even blink at the cost of demolition.

Looks like Harry has broken out his knee pads.

More tomorrow on this brilliant deal.


The sheer shamelessness of the County GOP is breathtaking. From the TU blog:

The Democrats have picked a former Schodack Republican to fill the Rensselaer County Legislative seat vacated by the death Sept. 8 of Schodack farmer and District 4 GOP Legislator Edward R. Swartz. The Democrats met Sunday and tapped town resident and East Greenbush businessman Robert Zinzow to run for the spot this November.

Of course, not wanting to "play politics" the GOP had this to say:

The majority Republicans, who are scheduled to pick a replacement Sept. 24, fired off a press release this morning criticizing the Democrats for acting too quickly on their choice on the heels of such a tragedy.

“Quite frankly, I am surprised Democrats would put up a candidate, based on the tragic circumstances involved here,” said Chairman of the Legislature Republican
Neil J. Kelleher. “This is a community tragedy, not a political opportunity.” One Republican legislator hinted that their party should not be challenged for the seat out of respect for Swartz.

Quite frankly, we're surprised the County GOP leaders would use this tragedy as an excuse to play politics and blast the Democrats. After all, who issued a press release using the death? Classy, guys, real classy.

Monday, September 17, 2007



Tomorrow is Primary Day.

The big primary battles are in Albany County: Manning v Carlson and the Albany Comptrollers race. In Troy, Ken Zalewski and Tom Thornton will slug it out for the Dem nomination in the City's 5th ED and we'll find out if incumbent Marge DerGurahian will have a place on the ballot in her At-Large run.

Most of the Troy races are same-old same-old: Mirch diddling around with minor party lines.

The TU has the primary races right here.

Shawn Charniga covers the GOP races in the hinterlands and Franco weighs in on Watervliet and more.

If memory serves, WFP primaries in Rensselaer County are frequently won by votes of 3-2 or 2-1. One of the few times a dead car battery can change the course of an election.

Friday, September 14, 2007


On Monday night the PBA met. Among other things, they voted to endorse a number of candidates. They did not make endorsements in every race. Approximately 130 PBA members participated. The meeting was filmed on location. All candidates are presumed innocent until convicted in a court of law.


John Brown (D) and Clem Campana (D) received enthusiatic endorsements.

We've heard that Henry Bauer and newcomer Maria Talarico were also endorsed. Not sure about that. Would the PBA invite more than three candidates into a three way? That's not an endorsement. It's an orgy.

District Races

#1 - None

#2 - Mark McGrath (R)

#3 - Peter Ryan (D)

#4 - None

#5 - None

#6 - Gary Galuski (D)


Both Tutunjian (R) and Conroy (D) made their pitch for the PBA endorsement. The PBA declined to make an endorsement because, "We're washing our hair that night." Candidate Elda (Prohibition Party) was also present.

District Attorney

PBA voted not to endorse, despite County Chair Jack Casey's lobbying efforts at the recent PBA Dinner. Casey was overheard at the PBA dinner telling not a few members, "We're counting on you." Count again, Jack.

In fact, insiders at the TPD say that McNally would have had the votes if the PBA had voted. Why they declined to endorse anyone is not known. Perhaps, because we have two choices for DA, no endorsement is necessary.

For the PBA, Troy is not the Collier City

The most interesting dynamic was District 6. The PBA voted to endorse Gary Galuski, challenger to three-term incumbent, Carolin Collier. It is one thing to vote to endorse. It's another to do so with such obvious glee. Whence this anti-Collierism?

We have heard that Collier is too close* (or perceived to be to close) to someone within the department who is unpopular with the rank and file PBA members. Who knows.

What good are endorsements? We're not sure. We do know they don't hurt. It's also a sign of strength for newcomers Brown and Galuski. It's also an opportunity to issue a press release:

Troy, New York (September 12, 2007) -- John Brown, Democratic candidate for City Council-at-large today was recently endorsed by the Troy Police Benevolent Association. The roughly 130 members voted to endorse only 7 candidates for the city and county races this fall. Brown was excited to have garnered their support.

Brown stated, “I am honored and privileged to have earned the support of the Troy PBA. These men and women protect our city everyday and they selflessly put their lives on the line for the people of Troy.”

Brown went on to say, “This endorsement solidifies the message of our campaign. We need new ideas and serious candidates to solve the problems our city faces. I am anxious to work with the Mayor’s office, the PBA, and the officers on the street to address some of the issues facing the department. I have a crime initiative that has been very well received by the men and women on the job and we need to look at things from the bottom up, not the top down.”

Some of Brown’s initiatives include fully staffing the police department, streamlining the booking system, and modernizing the police department’s tools.

Brown continued, “We need to keep our officers on the street. They shouldn’t be tied up in the station for 2 hours when they make an arrest. Maybe we look at hiring a booking officer or maybe we modernize the computer system we use but the booking system in place simply is not working. I am going to work with the officers to see what tools best work for them. We need our patrol officers to be out in the community and having them on the street is a major priority. We need to bring this department into the 21st century.”

The candidate concluded, “We have some the best talent in the Capital District on our force. We need to retain them and give them the tools necessary to combat the problems in our neighborhoods. And I will fight for that when councilman.”

All candidates may forward their press releases to The Troy Polloi.

* By close we mean professionally close, politically allied, nothing untoward

Thursday, September 13, 2007


We know it's election season when the signs change color and fall to the ground.


By Politicus Ebonus Abyssus

Signs signs
Everywhere there’s signs
Blocking up the scenery
Breaking up my mind
Do this, don’t do that
Can’t you read the sign

It’s election season and signs are popping up throughout Troy. No matter whom you support, or don’t support, signs are starting to catch our interests and imaginations.

As with the last several elections, Mirch and company are using their positions in city government to ensure that King Tut’s signs are up and Democratic signs are taken down whenever possible. Several citizens have told me they were forced to remove their signs supporting democratic candidates because they supposedly violated city codes. Because of the fear of reprisals, these individuals requested their identities be protected.

Additionally, a number of individuals have been approached by King Tut’s minions and offered money to exchange for displaying a sign. We heard that at least one person turned them down, but we suspect that many did not. While renting space for signs is not illegal, we hope that King Tut’s financial statements adequately reflect these payments.

We suspect that there will be more gamesmanship around signs. And we’ll make sure you are the first to hear the full story.

The inevitable sign wars begin. We haven't seen any signs vanishing....yet. Unfortunately, this seems to be part and parcel of campaigns in this area.

Ironically, many longtime politicos downplay the efficacy of campaign signs, believing they have no, or little, effect. They're akin to some sort of vestigial political organ that we maintain for no known reason.

Signs do cost money. Not Monopoly money, actual, legal tender. They are property. Taking them is stealing. In '05, Councilman's Dunne's signs disappeared as quickly as they went up. Jacon signs could be seen lying next to DeAngelis signs. Someone tore down Harry's Congress Street sign not long ago. A silly business. An illegal act. An frankly, poor form.


From a Conroy Press Release:

Jim Conroy, candidate for Troy Mayor, today again called on Mayor Harry Tutunjian to accept his proposal for a series of debates to be hosted by various groups throughout the City of Troy so that the issues that divide the City and the candidates can be fully voiced.

“I’m not quite sure why Mr. Tutunjian refuses answer our questions about issues affecting our City. He won’t even answer our questions on whether or not he will agree to the debate,” said Conroy.

“At least one of the groups has told both Mr. Tutunjian and I that in order to properly organize the debate, they would need to know by Friday (September 14) whether or not he will participate. To date, they still have not heard. It’s been more than four weeks; it’s time for Mr. Tutunjian to decide whether he is going to debate.”

On August 15, 2007, Conroy sent a letter to Mr. Tutunjian calling for at least three debates to be organized (one each) by the Rensselaer County Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Neighborhood Organization Alliance and The Record newspaper.

“I can look into the eyes of the people of our City and talk to them honestly and openly,” said Conroy. “Apparently, my opponent is afraid to do this.”

Say what you will about Conroy. He'll face some tough questions at a debate. Yet, he's offered to go out three times and face the music.

Our best guess is that there will be a debate, maybe two. Dodging a debate in a local race can have a negative impact on a candidacy.

The real question is, what good are debates? We know the theory behind them: citizens get to see and hear candidates and assess where those candidates stand on issues........Theory is a wonderful thing.

Reality? Tutunjian, Conroy (and Elda?) will pack the room with supporters. No matter how a candidate performs his (or her) supporters will praise that performance. The handful of people who sincerely do not know who they will support will leave as confused as ever.

The next day, The Record and Times Union will run the debate story. There will be quotes from the candidates. The reporters will (or better) point out each candidate's best zinger. Then our favorite part. They will interview an audience member, usually a female. Mrs. Audience Member will say, "I came here not knowing much about either candidate. But I was really impressed with candidate A and will be supporting him." Later, we'll find out that Mrs. Audience Member contributed $200 to candidate A's campaign back in June and that her husband, sister and brother-in-law worked for the candidate she knew so little about.

Actually, we can't wait.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007



We don't talk about the city to the west of us. That's mostly because it's all the way across the river. This year, however, it plays host to what may be the most exciting primary election.

Mayor Carlson (D) is facing a primary challenge from City Councilman Mike Manning (D, formerly I). Councilman Charlie Diamond ( a man whose personal and professional reputation is outstanding) has backed the challenger. From the press release:

Watervliet Councilman Charlie Diamond announced today that he is endorsing Mike Manning for Mayor of Watervliet.

“I am pleased to join with the Watervliet Firefighters Union, many friends and supporters of Mike Manning in endorsing his candidacy for election as Mayor of Watervliet,” said Diamond. “Mike Manning is intelligent and hard working, but most importantly he deeply cares about the people of our community,” said Diamond.

Diamond said that he understands that while some people in his position might have shied away from making an endorsement in a tough Primary election, he “simply could not sit on the sidelines when so much is at stake. Mike Manning has new ideas that will move our city forward and he isn’t afraid to tackle tough challenges. He has a vision for the future of our city, and I wholeheartedly support his recent call for the adoption of a Comprehensive Plan for Watervliet.”

In response to the endorsement, Mike Manning said that he couldn’t have a better teammate than Charlie Diamond. “Charlie has had a direct and profound effect on the lives of thousands of people throughout the Capital Region as a public servant and volunteer. I am extremely happy to have his support. I look forward to continuing to work with him to make Watervliet even greater.”

“I have known Mike Manning his entire life and he is a great person from a well respected Watervliet family. I have watched him as a Councilman for the past two years and he has had an incredible impact making city government more responsive to the people,” added Diamond.

Diamond urged the citizens of Watervliet to make the right choice on Primary Day, September 18th. His message to residents was straightforward, “When the citizens go to the polls, I hope they vote for change and new ideas. City residents have the opportunity to elect a Mayor who is responsive, dedicated, and committed to the people of Watervliet. They should vote for Mike Manning as if their future and the future of Watervliet depends on it – because it does.”

An interesting dynamic is at play over in 'Vliet. Charlie Diamond is extremely popular. He also works for Mike McNulty. McNulty has endorsed Carlson. Diamond's cousin is also named Charles Diamond (we'll call him CDII). CDII is Carlson's Treasurer and in his radio ads, Carlson takes pains to inform people his Treasurer is Charles Diamond.


At Large Candidate John Brown will be having a fundraiser this weekend at Ryan's Wake. Here's the info:

Brown's proved extremely adept at raising money and we suspect that RW's will be hopping this Sunday.


The 'swap' of City Hall for the Verizon building has interesting potential. This smells like election year BS.

There will not be a hotel on the corner of Hoosick and Lavin Court. Oh, they'll talk about it, look into it.....ain't happenin' folks. And that's a good thing. It's an awful location for a hotel. What will guests do, walk to Popeye's for some fried chicken and then to Samaritan for a side order of angioplasty? Please. Hoosick Street will not be another Wolf Road. If by some chance it does turn into another Wolf Road, it'll be the Brunswick end of Hoosick Street. Hell, even the Mayor goes to Brunswick to shop.

Land speculation is well and good but when will we hear that 500 private sector jobs are moving into the city, that our taxes are being cut by 7% and that young families are moving into the city? Parades and concerts are not a substitute for leadership.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


We wish City Hall would talk to us before they speak to the press. Especially when they're on unfamiliar terrain such as ethics.

From a great Talespin:

Getting information from City Hall is like pulling teeth. We requested, through the state Freedom of Information Act, the disclosure statements of all elected officials and department heads for last year and this year. They are supposed to be filed on an annual basis, and the Ethics Commission is supposed to review them to make sure the statements are actually filed. So, we requested a list of the members of the Ethics Committee as well as the minutes of their last three meetings. In response, 10 days later, we get a letter asking if we wanted copies of the statements or just wanted to review them.

Odd thing is, when we requested Councilman Bill Dunne's disclosure statement a few months back, we got a copy of his statement within days. The statements don't really say too much. They basically list other sources of income to make sure there are no conflicts of interest.

Ohh ... and they indicate where a person lives, and since the administration made such a stink over the residency of police officers, we thought it would be interesting to see where the people working in City Hall are living. As far as the Ethics Committee goes, it is not clear if there is one or whether it has held a meeting this calendar year. It isn't really a big deal,* but the mayor is still required to appoint an Ethics Committee and it is supposed to meet and weigh in on anything that may raise an ethical flag. We have to wonder how the committee feels about timeliness in responding to FOIL requests.

Franco is correct. The Charter mandates an Ethics Board (if you care about that kind of thing):

§ 43-16. Appointment of Ethics Board members; term of office.

A. Within 60 days after the effective date of this chapter, and no earlier than January 1 of each year thereafter, the Mayor shall appoint the members of the Ethics Board with the advise and consent of the City Council.

B. The term of office of Ethics Board members shall be three years and shall run from January 1 through December 31, except that of the members first appointed: one member shall serve until December 31 of the year in which the Ethics Board is established, two shall serve until the second December 31, and two shall serve until the third December 31.

C. An Ethics Board member shall serve until his or her successor has been appointed. Consecutive service on an Ethics Board shall not exceed two full terms.

Uhmm...'Shall appoint.' Not 'may appoint' but 'shall appoint.' Shall, as you all know, is a modal verb that represents simple futurity or necessity. But we're not telling the Mayor anything he doesn't already know. In fact, the Mayor did appoint an Ethics Board.

Surprise! You're on the Ethics Board! In case you didn't know.

And still on it since there's been no successors appointed. Of course, Tom Casey cannot really be on the Ethics Board as he is a political party officer but that's probably an issue for the Ethics Board. Perhaps they can discuss it at the next Ethics Board meeting...if there is a board....and if they meet....

*We believe it's a big deal, especially when one party controls the Executive and Legislative branches of government.

Monday, September 10, 2007


Our sincere condolences to Ed's family and friends.

Here's Ed's bio over at the Rensselaer County site.

Friday, September 07, 2007


We've always known City Hall was for sale, now it looks like a metaphor may become a reality.

Info, here, here, and here.

We reserve our opinion until more is known. Many of the articles refer to this as a "land swap." We don't know exactly what that means. There are also too many contingencies right now. More details are needed. For instance:

1) Will any evidence be destroyed when City Hall is razed?
2) Will Mirch have County workers walk to the new City Hall or will he still drive them?

Conroy calls the announcement an election year stunt. It could be. But, an election year stunt may still work and be a net positive. On the other hand, it wasn't too long ago that they were talking about a hotel.

If it works , however, the real positive will be that the private sector owns river front property, not the public sector (can we say jail?). The impact of a few new retail stores and a few new downtown residents however will be nil. Retail stores came and go. A few new residents living in apartments or condominiums will be a drop in the bucket compared to the families fleeing the city for the 'burbs.


The Democratic Caucus is over and the results....well, congratulations must go to Jack Casey and the GOP. Well done. It's well-played moves like this that make us enjoy Rensselaer County politics.

The Democrats have managed to turn their overwhelming '05 victory straight over to the Republicans.

While we're sure that many of the rank and file Reformed Democrats are sincere people, and sincere Democrats, we wonder if they heard the Conservatives and Republicans waiting outside the Caucus cheer and clap when the results were tallied.

We hope, however, that the stories from North Greenbush keep coming.

Congrats to the winners Wednesday night. If you lost, don't feel too bad. We have a feeling that a year from now you might be enjoying life a bit more than the winners.

Thursday, September 06, 2007


For the two or three that care, we offer another post on Jackson v Jimino.

See for this post and this one for background.

In order for a plaintiff to establish a First Amendment retaliation claim, the plaintiff must prove that:

(1) He engaged in constitutionally protected speech because he spoke as a citizen on a matter of public concern; Read More...

(2) He suffered an adverse employment action; and

(3) The speech was a 'motivating factor' in the adverse employment decision.

A plaintiff must also show that each defendant "was personally involved . . . in the alleged constitutional deprivations." If a plaintiff can establish the requisite burden, a defendant employer may still prevail by showing by a preponderance of the evidence that either "(1) the defendant would have taken the same adverse action against the plaintiff regardless of the plaintiff's speech; or (2) the plaintiff's expression was likely to disrupt the defendant's activities and that the harm caused by the disruption outweighs the value of the plaintiff's expression."

In a previous Motion for Summary Judgment, the issues of public concern, adverse employment action, causal connection, and Defendants' defenses had been addressed. The Honorable Gary L. Sharpe, United States District Judge, upon hearing oral argument from the parties, found that: 1) Plaintiff's speech qualifies as an issue of public concern; 2) the failure to reappoint Plaintiff based on protected speech constitutes an adverse employment action; 3) an issue of fact exists as to whether there was a causal connection between the protected First Amendment activity and adverse employment action; and 4) an issue of fact exists as to the reason Defendants did not reappoint Plaintiff.

The court then goes into a long discussion on whether or not Jackson was speaking in his official capacity (such that his First Amendment protections are curtailed) or as a private citizen. They decide that from 1995-1999, Jackson is acting in his official capacity. However, after that time period, things are different.
At the very end of December 1999 into the early months of the following year and so forth, certain events took place that cast doubt as to whether Plaintiff was still speaking pursuant to his official duties or whether his role transmuted to that of a private citizen speaking on a matter of public concern. On December 29, 1999, an article was published entitled "Clock ticking on tax bills" (TIMES UNION, Dec. 29, 1999). This article detailed the problems county and town officials were having in getting property tax bills prepared on time. Plaintiff was quoted as saying "it's going to take something of a 'Miracle on Seventh Avenue' to get everything done by year's end." Plaintiff attributed the delay to a number of factors, including switching to an outside contractor for computerized tax roll maintenance and bill preparation work. The article further noted that if the tax bills were not mailed on time, property owners would have less time to pay their bills before penalties would accrue.

On January 7, 2000, an article in the Troy Record was released which stated that "in an unprecedented error," Rensselaer County sent out their tax bills without including late penalties due to the County (JamieGilkey, Tax Bills Fail to Include Late Charges, THE TROY RECORD, Jan. 7, 2000.) The article stated that Zwack and his staff were investigating whether the Bureau of Tax Services or the private company hired to print the bills were responsible for the mistakes. The same day, the Times Union printed an article entitled "Halt reorganization, top tax official urges," which focused on Plaintiff and other town assessors asking the Rensselaer County Legislature to "scrap . . . the reorganization of the Real Property Tax Service," which they claimed in some form resulted in the delayed distribution of local tax bills ( Cathy Woodruff, Halt Reorganization, Top Tax Official Urges, TIMES UNION, Jan. 7, 2000.) The article referenced a memorandum sent to Swartz by Plaintiff in which Plaintiff noted the tax mappers were moved into BRIS and that the County was violating the Real Property Tax Law. The article further noted that Plaintiff referred to Zwack's plan "to trade tax services office space with . . . the county Personnel office . . . as inappropriate for his operation." Within the same article, Zwack attacked the "expertise" of county department heads in assessing where the tax mapping function and personnel should be located. Other assessors and Griffen weighed in on the subject as well. The same day these articles were published, on January 7, 2000, Plaintiff wrote a letter to Zwack notifying him that he became aware of the problems with the tax bills and that he was investigating the matter.

On January 8, 2000, the Times Union printed an article regarding "flawed" tax bills and, though there was no quote from Plaintiff, Zwack was quoted as saying that he believed the tax bill problems were the fault of Plaintiff "failing to accurately calculate the amount due on each bill. " (Cathy Woodruff, County Issues Flawed Tax Bills, TIMES UNION, Jan. 8, 2000.) Subsequently, on January 11, 2000, another article in the Troy Record stated the problems with the tax bills continued and Plaintiff was being blamed for the mistakes with the bills (Jamie D. Gilkey, Tax Blunder Mounts, THE TROY RECORD, Jan. 11, 2000.) The article cited to a confidential letter sent by Plaintiff to Zwack on January 7, 2000, regarding the change in procedures with BRIS.

Then on January 12, 2000, the Times Union printed an article regarding the previously inadequate tax bills that were sent out. (Cathy Woodruff, Delinquent Tax Re-Billing Approved, TIMES UNION, Jan. 12, 2000). The article discussed supplemental tax bills to be sent out to property owners and that Plaintiff told legislators he was in contact with the private company issuing the bills and would find out how quickly they could be printed. Citing to a memo written by Plaintiff, the article stated Plaintiff regretted that bills were not double checked to which Zwack was quoted in stating that all these problems were "clear evidence that Jackson is to blame for the error." A second article also appeared in the Times Union the same day wherein Zwack stated that because of the error on the tax bills, there would be no change in Local Law. No. 6. (Cathy Woodruff, Director Erred, Zwack Asserts, TIMES UNION, Jan. 12, 2000). Zwack again placed blame on Plaintiff stating that the mistakes on the tax bills were due to the failure of the Director. On January 17, 2000, a scathing editorial was published regarding Zwack's behavior as County Executive and how Zwack "characteristically blamed a career civil servant named Jeff Jackson" for problems occurring in the County. (Fred LeBrun, Editorial, Inspector Zwack's Cuban Caper, TIMES UNION, Jan. 17, 2000). Subsequently, on January 25, 2000, two articles were printed in the Times Union. (Cathy Woodruff, Towns Want Own Mapping System, TIMES UNION, Jan. 25, 2000 & Cathy Woodruff, Assessors Group Backs Tax Services Supervision, TIMES UNION, Jan. 25, 2000). The first article was from the assessors point of view regarding the computer network maintained by Rensselaer County, Towns Want Own Mapping System. Plaintiff responded to the assessors by stating "right now, we're trying to reassemble and repair something that we can feel good about again." He went on to state that he was not giving up on the network, but that the network was "only as good as the people who operate and maintain it." The second article pertained to the RCAA's endorsed proposal to return the tax mappers back to the office of Plaintiff and explained how the RCAA hoped the proposal would be approved by the County Legislature, Assessors Group Backs Tax Services Supervision. On the same day, January 25, 2000, Plaintiff wrote a letter to Chairman Swartz regarding some of the issues described within the articles, including the transfer of tax mappers, the legality of Local Law No. 6, computer problems at BRIS, and Plaintiff's reputation.

On January 26, 2000, an editorial was published in the Times Union regarding the RCAA's distress over the removal of the tax mappers from Plaintiff's office. (Cathy Woodruff, Editorial, Assessors Rate a Taxing Lesson in Politics of the County, TIMES UNION, Jan. 26, 2000). The editorial detailed how the assessors began "pleading publicly" for the return of the tax mappers to Plaintiff's office after Zwack blamed Plaintiff for the tax bill errors. One of the assessors stated in the editorial that he expressed to Plaintiff that Zwack "made him the target and Zwack doesn't understand that Plaintiff is expressing the assessors' concerns." Thereafter, on February 4, 2000, another newspaper printed an article stating that Republicans in the Rensselaer County Legislature were asking Zwack to return the tax mappers back to Plaintiff's office (Jamie D. Gilkey, Lawmakers Address Tax Issue, THE TROY RECORD, Feb. 4, 2000). The article described how Zwack has "publicly questioned whether Jackson was performing his duties properly when more than 3,000 erroneous tax bills were sent to property owners." It also noted that Zwack's administration had attempted to forward a resolution specifically holding Plaintiff's office responsible for the errors but that the measure was ultimately amended to "delete Jackson's name" before being approved by the Legislature.

Kathy Jimino became County Executive in May 2001. A short time later, Plaintiff sent two letters to Jimino on July 19 and August 21, 2001, touching upon issues previously discussed by the press, mainly the tax mapping functions as well as Plaintiff's qualifications for his position. Then, approximately three months past the date Plaintiff's term as Director expired, the Troy Record published an article stating that Plaintiff was not expected to be reappointed as Director (Jamie D. Gilkey, Jackson is Being Dropped as Head of the Department of Tax Services, THE TROY RECORD, Dec. 2001). However, Jimino was quoted as saying "we haven't decided on reappointment yet . . . and he still serves in that position until a decision is made on it." Notwithstanding, the article went on to describe the "public spat" between Plaintiff and former County Executive Zwack and the extensive press coverage relating to the battle over the tax mappers.

The court found:

Based upon a review of this record we are left with too many questions* and thus there is a presence of a material issue of fact: Was Jackson drawn into the public debate on the tax bills in his official capacity or as a knowledgeable private citizen? Was he contributing to the civic discourse on this major public concern for Rensselaer County outside the scope of his official obligations? When Jackson's competence and character was being publicly impugned by Zwack, didn't he have the right to defend himself as a private citizen and publicly at that? In some situations, as here especially after 1999, the delineation is not truly black or white. As so eloquently noted in Garcetti, "we . . . have no occasion to articulate a comprehensive framework for defining the scope of an employee's duties in cases where there is room for serious debate . . . and we reject . . . that employers can restrict employees' rights by creating excessively broad job descriptions."

The Defendant also argued Qualified Immunity.

Defendant Jimino asserts that whether or not a constitutional violation occurred, she would be entitled to qualified immunity. Qualified immunity will shield "government officials from liability for civil damages when their conduct does not violate 'clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known.'

On the issues present in this case, at the times the relevant acts were committed, it was clearly established that while "a governmental entity enjoys significantly greater latitude when it acts in its capacity as employer . . ., the First Amendment nonetheless prohibits it from punishing its employees in retaliation for the content of their speech on matters of public importance." An "employee's right to be free from such retaliation has been clearly established since at least 1968."

So, where are we? The County failed to prove they did not violate Mr. Jackson's First Amendment Rights, therefore a Jury can decide the issue. Only, a jury will not decide the issue because the County folded like a cheap tent.

The County moved to reargue but that was denied in April. Which, of course, must be Mirch's "updated facts." So, there were no updated facts, only a Hail Mary that failed. So, in order to avoid having Jimino and Zwack placed under oath, the County settled the matter.

* We know what you mean

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


The North Greenbush Caucus is tonight and the Troy Polloi will be blogging live from the Elks Club.

No, not really. We just thought that, but for us, you'd never see the words 'blogging' and 'Elks Club' in the same sentence.

The Spanish Democrats are looking to nominate:

Mark Evers - Supervisor

Lou Desso - Council

Al Spain - Council

Katie Connolly - Clerk

Mike Carey - Highway Superintendent

Kyran Devery - Receiver of Taxes

The Unreformed Democrats appear poised to nominate:

Joshua Sabo - Supervisor

Bryan Dwyer - Council

Josephine Ashworth - Council

Jan Liberty - Clerk

Mark Premo - Highway Superintendent

Dennis Bonesteel - Receiver of Taxes

Moderate drama, to say the least. We'll know the outcome in approxiamtely 14 hours.


Rensselaer County, home of the most powerful Republican in New York State, is GOP territory. Troy, the largest city in the county is GOP controlled. What does that get us on the Economic Growth Report Card?

According to the conservative Business Council, Rensselaer County gets an F in economic growth.

That's an F in jobs, average wage per job, total personal income, per capita personal income and population. The Report Card for all counties can be found here.

We did get a D+ in sharing with others and a D- in reading comprehension.

Keep up the good work.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


From our old friend, POLITICUS EBONUS ABYSSUS:
There have been a number of accusations on this blog and in the press that Mayor Tutunjian has been playing fast and loose with existing City laws and ordinances by either failing to enforce them altogether or misusing them to punish and penalize rivals or the vocal opposition. From refusing to follow bidding requirements to issuing code violations where there were none, King Tut has ultimately made a mockery of his duty as the Chief Executive Office of the City of Troy and of the City.

King Tut and his campaign for re-election have gone one step further by violating existing City ordinances. Rather than going out to local events himself, the mayor has been sending surrogates in his place and has been parking a campaign car at a number of these events. One such event is Saturday’s Farmer’s Market where King Tut’s re-election car is continually illegally parked week in and week out. A concerned citizen saw this supposed violation of law and sent me this picture.

As you can see, nearly one-half of the car is in the crosswalk.

To be fair, let’s explore which ordinances were actually violated. Consequently, I dove deep into the abysses of local and state laws. While I am not a lawyer, I did stay at a Holiday Express last night. Therefore, I felt qualified to take this trek.

City code, Chapter 270-26.C (8) indicates the fine for parking in a crosswalk is $35. It does not, however, define the offense. Title 7, Article 32, Section 1202 (a) 1. d. of the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Laws indicates that “no person shall stop, stand, or park a vehicle on a crosswalk.” Again, I could find no specific definition of what parking on the crosswalk entailed. I went a step further and talked to both citizens and local police. Several citizens have indicated they received tickets for having only a part of their vehicle parked in the crosswalk and police indicated they have issued tickets for vehicles parked partially in crosswalks. Ultimately common sense must prevail and, I believe as should others, that the vehicle was illegally parked.
While King Tut believes he has divine rule and is above the law, ultimately he is only a representative of the people who elected him. And part of his job is enforcing the laws of the City, not ignoring or violating them. Harry, prove that you have character and enforce and follow the law, not subjugate it depending on a political whim.

Thanks, Mr. Abyssus. We can't believe someone mounted graffiti on that car. What a shame.


Finally, a mayoral candidate we can fully support.


According to The Pipeline, the Democrats have called a caucus. The gathering is scheduled for Wednesday, September 5, 2007 at 7:00PM at the Elks Lodge on Route 4 in North Greenbush. So bring your antlers.

Any registered North Greenbush Democrat may cauc, but if you choose to do so you have to clean-up after yourself.