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

Thursday, November 29, 2007


The GOP's money-grab has real potential. Unfortunately, it's so transparent and humorous on it's own that it's difficult to poke fun at in a post. For example, Tuesday's Human Resources meeting was a veritable cavalcade of comedy. The big topic was the money-grab.

-4th District Councilman William Dunne wanted to know why the raises weren't addressed two years ago? Why did it take losing the Council majority for the mayor to seek the raises.

Mayor Gump's response: "Why did Mr. Dunne wait to get the majority to start talking and acting like a council member?"

We can't decide whether Tutunjian's comment was imbecilic or merely moronic. Aside from the fact Dunne's inquiry is legitimate (to which the mayor obviously had no legitimate reply), what's changed? Dunne's been holding Harry's archless feet to the fire for nearly four years. Instead of addressing the issue, Tutunjian went bush-league and sounded foolish. Maybe life isn't a box of chocolates.

-Councilwoman Marge DerGurahian pointed out that three people scheduled for the raises received raises in 2007.

-Deputy Mayor Dan Crawley repeatedly interrupted Council members until he was politely told to "stop flapping your gums," by Mr. Dunne. Crawley indicated that he had a stake in the raises. Perhaps, if Mr. Crawley finds 'public service' so onerous, he should polish his resume for the private sector.


Following-up on our post last week. Talespin had this:

The rumors about Mayor Harry Tutunjian and his administration upsetting state Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno are true. He, or members of his administration, called the press regarding plans for SEFCU to build a $10 million project on Sixth Avenue and the senator was none too happy.

And it also not only upset SEFCU but Columbia Companies as well, the same company who wants to build a Hilton Hotel on Hoosick Street. At the council committee meeting, SEFCU President and CEO Michael Castellana said it was "very upsetting" that a reporter from another paper was calling him up before the deal to buy two acres of land from the city was done or even presented to the council. Joe Nicolla, of Columbia, dropped the senator's name - probably a dozen times - while talking to reporters. We don't blame the reporter from the other paper for making the calls, we blame Tutunjian, or better put his people, for leaking the information without the big dog knowing.

Given SEFCU's reputation and the plan they have for Sixth Avenue, both of which in our opinion are outstanding, we hope Tutunjian and company did not screw it up by putting at risk any potential state aid or for simply spitting in the senator's eye by trying to take credit when it may not be all theirs to take.

It's difficult to see Bruno taking it out on Troy because of Tutunjian's antics. As for credit? Why would Tutunjian get any credit for SEFCU's plans? Either SEFCU wants to relocate certain departments to downtown Troy or it doesn't. It's tiresome to see public officials take credit for private sector endeavors.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


The candy store is under new management.

Incoming Council President Clem Campana on the raises:

The proposed raises by Mayor Tutunjian for himself and a number of his political appointees exemplify government at its worst. Instead of proposing the raises as part of the annual budget approval process and before the recent mayoral and council elections, the Mayor waited until after the election, and before the new city council takes over on January 1st, to announce these proposed raises.

These proposed raises cover the salaries of the Mayor, the Deputy Mayor, and a number of exempt employees. The proposed raise for the Mayor would bring his salary to $95,000 in 2008 and would give retroactive raises to the other exempt employees for 2007 and additional cost of living raises in 2008. Furthermore, to ensure that the proposed raises are not tampered with, the Mayor went one step further and proposed a change in the City Charter that only a 9-0 vote of the City Council could reduce an employee’s salary. One justification that the administration gave was that these actions are needed to protect the jobs of political appointees when the democratically controlled city council takes over.

These actions are transparent at best and illegal at worst. More importantly, it is an insult to every citizen of Troy who voted in the last election and who had a right to understand all the issues when pulling the lever.

At the first meeting in January, I will propose a number of local ordinances to rescind the pay raises and eliminate the need for the unanimous vote to reduce salaries. In their stead, I will be proposing a number of new ordinances. First, I will propose that any salary increases for exempt employees must be proposed in the yearly budget. These salary increases should be part of the established budgeting process and cannot be an after thought or a political stunt because power changes hands.

Second, while we cannot take back the raises given retroactively, we can and will make the taxpayers of Troy whole. I will propose that the salaries of all those who received the retroactive pay raises have their 2008 salaries reduced to the initially budgeted 2007 levels. I will not allow the taxpayers of Troy to suffer because politicians want to protect their own.

While the City Council cannot reduce the mayor’s salary, the voters of Troy can. Finally, I will also propose that a referendum on the mayor’s salary be placed on the ballot for all citizens of Troy to vote on. In 2002, Republicans objected when term limits were eliminated for the City Council and the mayor. Led by then Council President Tutunjian, Republicans began a campaign to reinstate the term limits, using the slogan, “let the people decide.” Upon learning of the vote to reinstate term limits, Councilman Tutunjian stated, “The people were allowed to decide, and they have spoken.” It is time again to let the people of Troy speak.

On the other hand, Councilman McGrath sees vindictiveness!*

"It's political vindictiveness," said Councilman Mark McGrath, R-District 2. "A lot of these people do deserve a raise. They are going to be political casualties because (Democrats) are politicizing this whole issue."

Ryan Fitzpatrick has the full story.

It's comforting to know that McGrath will continue the grand tradition of slinging bullshit. We'd miss that.

Can McGrath actually believe that the decision to seek raises for GOP appointees after the election wasn't political? If 'these people' deserve raises now, didn't they deserve raises a few months ago? Obviously, the administration believes they've deserved raises since January of 2007. Why didn't McGrath act back then? Why didn't Harry?

The reality, for what it's worth, is that most will see cost of living increases and the silly unanimity provision for adjusting salaries will be stricken. Even McGrath is against that unprecedented idea. In fact, McGrath agrees with most of Campana's reforms. Mark should remember where carrying water for lame duck mayors gets council people (give Collier or Walsh a call, Mark).

Update: The latest.

* McGrath saw the vindictiveness on YouTube and promptly e-mailed the mayor.

Monday, November 26, 2007


Well, lawyers and money.


The City Hall gang want to introduce legislation that would increase the salaries of Non-Represented employees.* Furthermore, the proposed ordinance would make it impossible to lower those salaries unless recommended by the Mayor and then approved by a unanimous** vote of the City Council.

As explained in Talespin:

The raises Incorporated in the new policy, dropped on the City Council last week, are 3.5 percent raises for the non-represented employees retroactive to Jan. 1 and continuing through next year. The council will formally address the measure next month.

Here's some specifics:

Most of the raises are in line with the yearly 3.5 percent pay hike given to members of the city's unions. The deputy mayor, the comptroller, the city engineer and the commissioner of the Department of Public Works would all see salary increases from $75,000 to $77,625 in 2007 and to $80,342 next year if approved by the council. The mayor's salary is expected to jump from $85,000 to $95,000, a 12 percent increase. - The Record 11/20/2007

Jim Franco's take on the matter on Thursday seems about right.

Non-Rep titles can be found in Article III of the Charter:

§ 67-30. Employees covered.

The following "nonrepresented" employees shall be covered by the policies in this employment manual. A nonrepresented employee is any employee of the City of Troy not covered by any bargaining unit within the City of Troy.

A. Administrative:
Confidential Assistant to the Mayor
Deputy Mayor
Budget Officer
Deputy Director of Office of Management and Budget
Personnel Director
Personnel Associate
City Auditor
Deputy Comptroller for Financial Operations
Corporation Counsel
Deputy Corporation Counsel, full-time
Deputy Corporation Counsel, special projects
Commissioner of Public Works
Deputy Commissioner of Public Works
Commissioner of Public Utilities
Deputy Commissioner of Public Utilities
Chief Water Plant Operator
Superintendent of Water and Sewer
Commissioner of Planning and City Engineer
Commissioner of Recreation
Legislative Assistant
City Clerk
Deputy City Clerk
Assistant to the City Clerk
Confidential Secretary to the Mayor
Commissioner of Public Safety/Police Commissioner
Personnel Associate
Policy Analyst

B. Clerical staff:
Secretary to the City Council President
Private Secretary to the Corporation Counsel
Assistant to the Comptroller
Confidential Secretary to the Commissioner of Public Safety

C.Part-time administrative:
(1)Deputy Corporation Counsel;
Executive Secretary, Human Rights Commission;
Executive Secretary to the Civil Service Commission.

Mitchell's argument for the change is that Non-Represented employees should be treated the same as those represented by a union. This argument, aside from being a dire warning to children about the dangers of overusing nitrous oxide, is tantalizing. For instance, maybe this Charter provision should be applicable to all City Hall employees, regardless of status:

§ 67-10. Record of attendance.

Each employee, with the exception of department and bureau heads, must record his/her attendance on a time card or attendance sheet. Falsification of this time record is cause for dismissal. The time record shall be submitted to the Department of Finance weekly. Employees are required to report to work on time, both morning and lunch time. Tardiness will result in a payroll deduction. Accumulated tardiness of more than 1/2 hour in any payroll period (one week) shall be deducted from the employee's pay. Department and bureau heads shall submit an attendance memorandum bi-weekly to the Department of Finance, listing his/her absences from work for such period, noting how his/her accruals for such absences should be charged. Habitual tardiness is cause for suspension or dismissal.

"Excuse me Mr. Mirch," says a Department of Finance employee, "you haven't handed in your time sheets for the month." If they're to be treated the same, lets do it properly. And shouldn't those time cards be retroactive to January 1, 2007?


We believe that the real reason behind this ham-fisted maneuver is to preserve the job of the current Corporation Counsel. It's no secret that many in both parties would like to see a change in the Corporation Counsel's office. Despite his repeated claims to "Not be political," Mr. Mitchell has conducted himsself less like the attorney for Troy and the City Council than as legal counsel for the mayor. Yes, there is a difference: Harry n'est pas la ville.

Hence, the well-founded rumor that the City Council will hire an attorney to represent it's interests. Some names have been bandied about, but we suspect that Victor DeBonis, who ran unsuccesfully against Mr. Wojcik in the 1st, will be asked to fill the position. Whether he accepts or not, is anyone's guess.

The necessity for the Council's own counsel is beyond dispute. We'd suggest a part-time position. It may be difficult to lure away a qualified attorney from their own practice for a full-time job that may last only two years.

Also, we now have an actual check-and-balance in City Hall, with a Republican Mayor and and Democratic City Council. The learning curve for Harry may be significant. We suspect that it will take an Article 78 proceeding or two before he realizes that, like the mayor, the council has it's perogatives.

As for the raises? In and of themselves they are not unreasonable. Even full-time political positions require a bump-up every now and then in order to attract decent people and to take the sting out of their campaign contributions. The way the issue was handled leads us to believe that Tutunjian does have a learning disability. Instead of explaining his rationale for the raises, he refuses to speak with the press. When he does open his mouth, it's to trade barbs with a City Chairman. Why a Mayor would trade jabs with an opposing party's chairman is inexplicable.

In fairness, Tutunjian has recently backed down from the unanimity requirement. Council President Bauer has been sent to carry water for the proposal. The vote is scheduled for December 6, 2007.

* Non-Represented employees are those employees that are without representation

** Unanimous should not be confused with anonymous but may be confused with eponymous.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007



November 21, 1621: The Pilgrims teach Squanto that maize is actually corn.

The Troy rumor mill grinds fast, but exceedingly coarse.


SEFCU proposed Thursday night to erect a $10 million office building on Sixth Avenue if the city will sell it a two-acre parcel adjacent to the Kennedy Towers senior housing. The building would be for 150 employees in the credit union's insurance business.

The City Council voted unanimously to have Corporation Counsel David Mitchell open negotiations with SEFCU for the sale of the property at Sixth Avenue and Federal Street, estimated to have a value of $350,000 to $400,000.

Full story over to the Times Union.

SEFCU's a good group and we're happy to see they want to come to downtown Troy. Of course, stories like these generate rumors. Here's two to chew on:

1) This announcement was supposed to be unveiled in conjunction with Senator Bruno's office. They're none to happy about being left out and may withdraw certain funding;

2) The land is supposedly park land and we all know the deal with park land and waterfront property....need State approval.....Mind, they're mere rumors.


Rensselaer County Legislator Kevin Harrington Calls for End of Public Gravy Train at State Thruway Authority
Rensselaer County Legislator Kevin Harrington is calling for the immediate return of TWO state vehicles improperly assigned to the State Thruway Authority’s Chairman, political appointee John Buono. Harrington noted that Buono also received the full salary of the President at HVCC as a former president at the same time the school was paying the salary of its current president. What was he doing, teaching the president how to be a president?

Now we learn from a State audit conducted by the Office of State Comptroller that Buono has two State cars assigned to his personal use 24-7 despite the clear provisions of Section 352 of the Public Authorities Law which states “the chairman and the other members shall serve without salary or other compensation, but shall be entitled to reimbursement for their actual and necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their official duties.” Since IRS guidelines require personal use of a vehicle to be considered compensation, the provision of a vehicle to Board members with permission for personal use is not in compliance with Section 352 of the Public Authorities Law. Two Board members had assigned vehicles with personal use permitted.”


Rensselaer County Democratic Legislators propose to eliminate the property tax hike.

The Republican response:

“The Democrat document was light on specifics and heavy on the politics. They refuse to acknowledge the outrageous fiscal problems caused by the failure of their party’s governor to deal with out-of-control state mandates,” said the Legislature’s Vice Chairman for Finance Richard Salisbury, a Republican.

Salisbury chimed in with the traditional Republican observation that counters Democrat attacks over the annual increase in the county tax levy.

“And residents should remember that Democrats have refused to join with Republicans in voting to lower the amount of county property tax increases over the last several years,” Salisbury said.

Gee, Dick, guess all those out-of-control mandates occurred in the last 10 months and not under Pataki? Salisbury fails to explain how the acknowledgment of his specious claim advances a solution for our over-burdened residents.

Can't wait until you guys have a majority in the County Legislature so you can deal with the problem.


Greg bows out with grace. We hope he stays involved with the GOP. We can ill-afford to have people of his caliber driven to the sidelines of Rensselaer County politics. Why didn't Bruno create a judgeship for this guy?

Next week we'll have some fun with Harry and his raises. In the meantime, have a safe and happy Thankgiving.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


There is a question whether or not the Tedesco letter in support of Carolin Collier, signed by Tedesco with his official title, was a crime. For those of you just catching-up, Assistant Chief John Tedesco signed a letter (or Teddy-Gram) in support of Ms. Collier using his title of Assistant Chief of Police. The letter was not sent on any official stationary.

We can find no support for the proposition that Tedesco broke any criminal law. It has been suggested that the letter may have violated Election Law Sec. 17-110:

§ 17-110. Misdemeanors concerning police commissioners or officers or members of any police force

Any person who, being a police commissioner or any officer or member of any police force in this state:

1. Uses or threatens or attempts to use his official power or authority, in any manner, directly or indirectly, in aid of or against any political party, organization, association or society, or to control, affect, influence, reward or punish, the political adherence, affiliation, action, expression or opinion of any citizen; or

2. Appoints, promotes, transfers, retires or punishes an officer or member of a police force, or asks for or aids in the promotion, transfer, retirement or punishment of an officer or member of a police force because of the party adherence or affiliation of such officer or member, or for or on the request, direct or indirect, of any political party, organization, association or society, or of any officer, member of a committee or representative official or otherwise of any political party, organization, association or society; or

3. Solicits, collects or receives any money for, any political fund, club, association, society or committee, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

Paragraph 1 does not include aiding a candidate. True, one could argue that the GOP received indirect aid because Collier ran as a Republican. One could argue that. Not us. If the legislature wanted to include 'candidate' in that list, it would have included candidate.

We believe that Sec. 17-110 was designed to prohibit the use of official power in a broader, partisan context, not necessarily in a single political race. For example, Tedesco could have sent a letter supporting Campana and one supporting Collier. That would not be aiding a political party, organization, association....It would be aiding a candidate. Tedesco was not writing on behalf of the GOP.

That's not to say that the Teddy-Gram was appropriate and not violative of an internal, departmental order, rule or regulation. We suspect it is but do not know for sure.


Thanks to Talespin, we have an inside track on who may be joining the Tutunjian Administration as we enter his second term.

The provision in the new proposed draft of the non-represented employee policy we agree most with is the restriction on employees coming to work under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. It states no city employee shall report to work with a BAC of .20 or greater. The legal limit to drive is .08.

Looks like the person who drafted provision is already in violation of same. All we can say is, send us an application.

And finally, we'd like to thank you, the reader, for your visits. Here's a look at traffic during election week:

Quite a few unique visitors that week. Thank you.

Monday, November 19, 2007


Today's Talespin has this to say on the Tedesco letter:

Seems there is some friction about a letter endorsing Councilwoman Carolin Collier in her failed bid for a fourth term representing District 6 in Troy.Word on the street is the letter, penned by Assistant Police Chief John Tedesco, got under the skin of Police Chief Nick Kaiser. Some say it was in retaliation to a letter of support of Collier's opponent, Gary Galuski, who handedly beat her, by Police Benevolent Association President Bob Fitzgerald.

Also, word on the street is there was a big pow-wow with the mayor, the PBA president, the corporation counsel and the two police chiefs along with the DA.Since Galuski beat Collier, we honestly don't see it going anywhere, but word is the Police Department was all in a tizzy over it.Further proof it does not take much to get the Police Department all in a tizzy.

Additionally, we've heard that the pow-wow featured shouts from.....well, lets just say that post -election, he's not acting like a jolly, old elf anymore.

We haven't seen the letter, so if you have a minute, scan it and send it along.


A Notice of Claim has been served on the City. Ironically, it involves the contract for landscaping the Gateway Improvement Project (hereinafter GIP). The landscaping done at the Menands Bridge has been the subject of much chatter lately. The locals are not pleased with what they believe to be the finished product.


Rumor has it that Commissioner of Planning & Whatever Else, Judy Breselor, has been let go. Not enough of a 'Yes' Girl, according to some. Or, are they making room for someone else? Someone who can turn the world on with her smile?


Ray Lemka's historic write-in campaign to win the Schodack supervisor's race fell 11 votes short Friday after a final count found an election night tabulation error, according to unofficial results from the Rensselaer County Board of Elections.

Incumbent Republican Supervisor Beth Secor defeated Lemka, 1,722 to 1,711, after the challenged votes were opened and the error was discovered in Lemka's write-in tallies.

Lemka's write-in votes from the 20 voting machines had not been reviewed since they were first counted late at night on election night, Republican Elections Commissioner Larry Bugbee said. - Times Union

Sunday, November 18, 2007


By now, everyone has heard about the letter written by Assistant Police Chief John Tedesco in support of Carolin Collier's, unsuccessful, re-election bid for the 6th District Council seat.

The letter from Tedesco was not on official Troy P.D. stationary. The letter was signed by Tedesco as Assistant Chief of Police. As a private citizen, Tedesco has every right to support any candidate. What remains to be seen is whether or not the use of an official title is of any legal or disciplinary consequence.

Post-election, the letter has garnered attention. We've also had unconfirmed reports that a Special Prosecutor may become involved in the matter. Why a Special Prosecutor? We have no idea. We have not scanned the Penal Law (nor will we) but it seems unlikely that the use of a title, no matter how inappropriate, would be a matter for any District Attorney....or should be. More likely, there may be a breach of some inter-departmental rule. In any event, that's the scuttlebutt. If a referral to an SP was made over a letter, it seems excessive.

More intriguing was the now defunct plan to create a Commissioner of Police during Tutunjian's second Mayorshiporality. Was Tedesco to be the Commish? Was the plan an end-game around Chief Kaiser? Will Ted and Kelly ever get back together?

Besides, Tedesco is all wrong for a Commissioner. We all know what a Police Commish should look like:

Anywho, something is afoot down at State Street. We'll keep you posted.

Friday, November 16, 2007


By now everyone knows that the DA's race is all but officially over.

Chet Hardin, over at Metroland, dons his kevlar vest and ventures back to North Greenbush. Does Aretakis have to pay us royalties for the Barney Fife references?

And, the lame-duck Troy City Council votes to put the Dave Mitchell Financial Security Act on the December agenda. Should be fun. Guess that arrogance lesson hasn't quite sunk in yet.

Still no final results in the Lemka-Secor election for Schodack Supervisor. We hear that a review of the write-in ballots will begin today or Monday. It's open to the public so go on down. Lemka leads by a mere ten votes.

Finally, an observant reader reminds us that back in April we suggested McNally could win the DA's race. Thankfully, they don't point out that we also predicted Jack Casey would be the GOP nominee or the embarrassing salivate typo.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Our new District Attorney is Rich McNally. The challenged ballots will be opened on Monday but it's over.

Congratulations to our new District Attorney.

And a word to all: Both men conducted themselves like true gentlemen this past week. Hats off to both.

We're happy McNally won. Although delayed a bit, it was a terrific election night for the Democrats. Things needed a shake-up in that office. However, we don't want ungracious comments directed towards Greg. Some grace in victory, if you please.



We can finally call John Sweeney a criminal! The former congressman pled guilty to misdemeanor DWI yesterday. Wrapping this up in one court appearance was a smart move by Sweeney. And to show you we're not hard-hearted SOB's:


Still going. With the number of challenged ballots, probably headed to court. By the time it's over we'll have forgotten why the Republicans denied DeAngelis the nomination.


This is our favorite town in the entire world!

Criminal charges have mounted against a North Greenbush contractor who was angered by political signs posted on election day by town Democartic committeeman Charles ”CB” Smith and tried to allegedly attack Smith and his wife Patricia Stout-Smith in the driveway of their Marion Avenue home.

Charles ”JR” Casale, who runs Casale Excavating, is doing the work on the controversial Water District 14 project. The project has cost overruns and was a hot campaign issue. Casale was arrested by police on election day after confronting the Smiths in their driveway, said Police Chief Rocco Fragomeni. He was charged with a misdemeanor count of possession of stolen property and was released and ordered to return to town court Tuesday, Fragomeni said.

Smith also obtained a stay-away order of protection keeping Casale at least 100 feet away from Smith and the North Greenbush Pipeline.

According to the written police report, Casale allegedly said ”I will poke your eyes out with this sign. I will kill you. I’ll push you through the window.”

Casale then left with the $30 sign and was stopped by police at Winter Street and Whiteview Road.

Casale’s attorney John Aretakis said in a prepared statement Wednesday that he will file charges against the police and the Smiths for provoking his client.

Uh....'I'll push you through the window.' A car window? Which could cause Smith to plummet three feet to the ground? And, he'd be blind....and dead so big deal. Also sounds as if Aretakis is going to use the Battered Contractors Syndrome defense, a well-documented phenomenon. With Aretakis involved we know this will be handled in a quiet, dignified manner.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


From Talespin. Hey, why reinvent the wheel.

The Times Union has by far the best set-up for area political junkies during an election: a blog for local politics, voter guides, full election results.....all on-line. We can't understand why The Record doesn't give Franco and the other boys and girls down to The Record the same least for a month or two before each election. A team/journalist blog dedicated to Rensselaer County politics would, in our opinion, attract many readers. There's certainly enough material to work with and The Record, when it devotes the time, does a better job covering the inside baseball stuff that would help a blog thrive.

It appears that Schodack write-in candidate Ray Lemka is holding his own after the absentee count. According to The Record, Lemka enjoys a 10-vote lead in his race to unseat Supervisor Beth Secor. Thirty-two ballots have been challenged.


Charles "JR" Casale was charged with possession of stolen property for stealing a political sign off the lawn of Charles "CB" Smith on Election Day. The sign read: "Your Casale Excavation Team: Evers - Deso - Spain," and was in reference to a slate of candidates running against a slate backed by Smith and company. Smith is alleging Casale threatened him with physical violence and would have followed through if Smith did not lock himself in his car. While locked in the car, according to Smith, Casale was trying to get in, and he was calling 911.The fact it came down to almost blows in North Greenbush is not surprising. What is surprising is that it came short of coming to blows and that it took this long to get there. We wish we were there but there is always next year. While his slate lost, one thing Smith does not do is give up. - Talespin, November 12, 2007


An emergency meeting of the Troy City Council scheduled for Thursday evening was abruptly canceled. The emergency? Protecting the jobs and salaries of appointees. Look for the administration to attempt to pass some half-assed (or maybe whole-assed) legislation requiring a unanimous council vote to reduce the salaries of such positions as Corporation Counsel.....

Sounds like an emergency to us. Should be fun to watch.


The South Troy Gateway Project has many residents up-in-arms. The $55,000 project was supposed to tidy-up the Menands Bridge area in case company dropped in unexpectedly. The project is now complete and many area residents (and not just those living under the bridge) are more than disappointed in the result. We haven't been down that way in a while so we can't comment on the aesthetics of the completed project.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Did the GOP lose it's grip on the Troy City Council because of the City Hall deal? The Record's Jim Franco thinks so:

One reason I can come up with is voters are smart. Another is City Hall and the plan to swap it with the Verizon building on Sixth Avenue. Not necessarily a bad plan or a good plan, but the mayor pitched it as the only plan and people don't like being told they only have one option.

One thing the mayor's plan does not do is put City Hall out to bid to see if the city was getting the most it could get for the property. Any no bid contract just reeks of corruption and back room deals and paying off pals.
Franco's reasoning is sound and we agree with much of it. A few observations:

1) Franco notes: "Any no bid contract just reeks of corruption and back room deals and paying off pals." Franco goes on to say: "But people don't like it when an elected official sells their stuff without putting it out to bid to see who else may be interested. It's an obvious safeguard against elected officials undercutting everyone else and selling stuff to their friends."

Franco states twice that he is not suggesting Harry is corrupt or selling stuff to his friends. This seems like a "Some of my best friends are black" moment.

We agree that the City Hall Sale felt like a turning point in the election. Odd, that something so popular could have dealt a death blow to Harry's chances of entering a second term with a friendly City Council.

The other potentially fatal issue was crime. Not whether violent crime was on the rise but the GOP's flaccid reaction to this visceral campaign theme. Tutunjian's response and the response of the GOP Council candidates as a whole was inconsistent. Proving he is not quick and agile enough to play defense, Tutunjian initially denied the Division of Criminal Justice Report. Later, he amended his denial and admitted to a 'spike' in crime. Wojcik (Dist. 1) admitted crime was an issue in his neighborhood. Bob Krogh (Dist. 5) did as well. Meanwhile, Maria Talarico (At-Large) assured people that crime was down. Later, it was amended to, "crime is down in September." Not a great October campaign theme.

Franco likens the 'City Hall fiasco' to former Mayor Mark Pattison's attempt to end term limits. It's all about the arrogance:

The voters saw no reason to boot him out of office. But, they also saw him getting just a bit too strong handed, even arrogant, in the way he and his administration, governed. And for that they gave him a check and balance, a City Council majority of a different party.

In that sense, the City Hall fiasco was merely the bacon bits on the potato skins. There is a long list of arrogant, heavy-handed behavior by Tutunjian and his henchmen. This time, however, his penchant for press releases may have hoisted Tutunjian on his own petard.

Feel free to weigh-in and vote in our new poll over on the right. Just watch out for that petard.

Monday, November 12, 2007


Here are some numbers for you political number junkies. Absentee votes, like batteries, are not included.

For the men, we have this visual, again, the Democratic vote:

Raw numbers (Demoractic tally on left of each column):

The absentees are not included. For some reason, we do not have numbers for District 2 in 2003 when Jack defeated Wayne or Carr's numbers in '05, though we recall there was a 100 vote or less difference.

As for the number of people voting:


More on Former Congressman John Sweeney:

CLIFTON PARK - Former U.S. Congressman John Sweeney was arrested early Sunday for aggravated driving while intoxicated after State Police troopers said they saw Sweeney's BMW swerving on the Northway, according to police reports.State Police stopped Sweeney on I-87 in Clifton Park at 1:20 a.m. Sunday. A 24-year-old woman, whom police did not identify, was in the front seat with him. A field sobriety test was conducted with Sweeney's blood alcohol content registering .18, more than double the legal limit. - The Record

From the Times Union....

Sweeney can take comfort in the fact that he was closer to being sober than he was to beating Gillibrand in his last campaign. There's no truth to the rumor that Sweeney tried to prevent the breathalyzer results from being recounted.

On a more serious note. A comment notes that it is sad to see a life spiraling out of control. We agree. What's a twenty-four year-old woman doing with a drunk, middle-aged pudgy, former GOP Congressman that couldn't hold on to an rural, upstate district? We may sponsor an intervention.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


A private citizen was arrested early Sunday morning in an alcohol related, transportion incident. Details are blurry at this time.

Friday, November 09, 2007


We keep plugging along.


The shocker in Schodack continues. Write-in candidate Ray Lemka has a hyper-slim 14 vote lead over incumbent Supervisor Beth Secor. Beth...sweetie...he's...a...write-in...candidate! It's the political equivalent of getting your ass kicked by the captain of the chess team.

The write-in election did not go smoothly. Voters wrote Lemka's name on the Plexiglas window covering the paper ballot and on other portions of the machine. Machines ran short of paper and voters wandered away with pens. One voter, misunderstanding the voting instructions, ate the paper while others wrote Lemka's name on one another and delivered themselves to the Board of Elections.

Lessons? 1) Our voting infrastructure is not designed to handle close elections 2) There is a pen shortage in Schodack.


Less than forty-eight hours after the polls closed, Republican candidate Greg Cholakis went from being the assumed winner to 250+ votes behind Democrat Rich McNally. Not a position and candidate wants to be in before the absentees are counted. Still too close to call?

You may have noticed that the Troy Polloi steered clear of this race. It was, and remains, our sincere position that both men, while bringing different strengths to the position, would be good stewards of that particular office.


Fresh from their Tuesday night massacre of the GOP council candidates, the Troy Democrats are already flexing their new-found muscle via promised committee appointments.

In an effort to reach out to the GOP minority, Democrats have offered Mark Wojcik (Dist. 1) the Chairmanship of the Committee to Repair the City Hall Elevator. Wojcik, who early this evening swallowed a fist full of Aqua Dots, could not be reached for comment.

On a more serious note: Council President Hank Bauer sounded, not unexpectedly, gracious:

"Chappy will be a very good president of the council. People will be somewhat surprised that there's not going to be a lot of change. I suspect we will work through any problematic issues."

As for Councilman Wojcik:

Republican Councilman Mark Wojcik said, "I hope that they can agree we are going in the right direction and we do work together."
Remember that kid in school? They one that never got it?

Thursday, November 08, 2007


Lets switch our post-mortem gears and head towards the political Mogadishu of Rensselaer County: North Greenbush. But first, some history.

For newcomers, the political landscape in the GB's may be confusing. In short, due to the political acrimony of the past few years, the southern portion of Greenbush seceded and formed the Town of East Greenbush. A year later, a wall between the two towns was erected to keep refugees from the North Greenbush from fleeing. Talks about reuniting the two towns have stalled. Honest.

When is the last time a slate of candidates had every significant party line and still had to run a campaign? North Greenbush 2007, that when.

The results from the Times Union:

The Greenbush Party was a small, mobile force that lived off the land. In the space of a few weeks, they planted a few signs (about half of which have pulled a Judge Crater), sent a few mailers, did minimal door-to-door campaigning and made some robo-calls.

In the end, it looks like up to 3640 people braved the shrapnel and small arms fire to head to the polls. Incumbent Supervisor Mark Evers led the DRIC (Dem, Rep, Ind, Cons) Party with 2150 votes. The remainder of the DRIC's received roughly 2000 votes. The Greenbush Party candidates seemed to hit a ceiling of roughly 1300 votes, with Supervisor candidate Sabo almost reaching 1500 votes.

Al Spain was the exception. The only DRIC candidate not to get the GOP endorsement (Al only got DIC), Spain rain about 300 votes behind the DRICs.

Supervisor candidate Josh Sabo is also the town attorney. He'll be out of a job in seven weeks. Sabo, daunted by the task of moving his office, has asked former town attorney Linda Mandel-Clemente to help him move the files. You know, for client confidentiality reasons.

What have we learned? Signs have a tendency to run away. They are usually found later, in garages and trucks. We've also learned that if the goal of the Spain faction was to rid the town of the unholy influence of Ashley & Smith, they could have endorsed Democrats (actual Democrats) and still have been victorious.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


Here are links to some of the latest stories:

Tutunjian's victory: The Record;

Tutunjian victory: Times Union;

Democrats and their veto proof majority : The Record;

Shannon over Zinzow in County Legislative race: The Record;

Rensselaer County DA's Race tighter than ever: Times Union;

Schodack Supervisor's Race: Times Union;


The Troy GOP was stunned by their losses on Tuesday. Not surprised, not disappointed, but stunned. They expected a worse case scenario of 5-4, viewing Bob Krogh and Mark McGrath as vulnerable. Why McGrath? No idea. The veto-proof majority and Bauer's third-place showing has them dispirited (understandably so).

There's also a rumor that an internal GOP poll, conducted a few weeks back, showed the GOP winning District's 1,5,6, two of the three At-Large seats with Campana in a dead heat with Ciccarelli. Again, just a rumor.

In the DA's race, the most recent GOP polls showed Cholakis with either a 9 or an 11 point lead (reports differ). They weren't expecting a hard-charging, street fight but got one.

Troy DPW Commissioner Bob Mirch, Deputy Mayor Dan Crawley and Communications Director Jeff Buell swung by the Democratic festivities Tuesday night to congratulate the victors. They had to leave early to pick up Colleen Reagan.


Here are some unofficial results from the Rensselaer County Board of Elections.



We'll go into more detail in the days ahead, analyzing the results until nausea sets in. Surprises? Probably the biggest surprise was the strength of the Troy Democrats in the Council races despite Conroy's loss. Harry's coattails were....he must have forgot his coat.

Don't know the latest on the Lemka write-in attempt.

The District Attorneys Race is too close to call and we'll have to wait on the write-ins. Whatever happens, McNally has run the best race for DA by a Democrat in a long time.

Leave your thoughts but please, no gloating.

Congratulations to the winners and good luck in the future to the defeated.


Have at it!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


And out in Stephentown the GOP Highway Superintendent was arrested last night.

Troy Mayor Harry Tutunjian has already reached out and offered Mr. Gardner a position on Troy's Ethics Board.


We heard that Schodack was having some problems due to the heavy write-in campaign for Ray Lemka. Guess it's true.

Poll workers in the town of Schodack are sweating the effects of a write-in traffic jam today.

”We have a huge write-in turnout in the town today,” said Republican county elections Commissioner Larry Bugbee.

Backers of Republican Ray Lemka, 76, are trying to make political history. The retired town farmer has mounted a write-in campaign for the supervisor’s seat he barely lost in the Republican primary to incumbent Republican Beth Knauf Secor. Secor, 54, also has the third party lines. Lemka also lost the Democratic line after a court challenge.

The full post over at the TU can be read here.

Our favorite part of the story:

”People have been writing his name on the outside of that window,” Bugbee said. ”They have also written his name on other surfaces of the inside of the machine.”


The Troy Polloi will be bringing you election results live, as they happen in real time.

Or, we'll just watch the news tonight and report back tomorrow.

A few last minute news bites:

1) It's been reported that late last night someone broke into the Rensselaer County Board of Elections and stole today's election returns. We do not yet have any confirmation on this developing story.

2) Because of the bad weather, and the prediction of a GOP landslide, the Republican Party has suggested that people stay home, relax and not risk pneumonia on their behalf.

Monday, November 05, 2007


Our endorsement for Troy Mayor goes to James Conroy. Conroy is smart, articulate and tough. Despite his own baggage he challenged Tutunjian to debate after debate. The Mayor, for his part, summoned up enough political courage to meet Conroy once in an open debate.

More importantly, the current mayor has created, or allowed, a culture of intimidation and secrecy to permeate city government. It's as if Tutunjian is the miracle, love child of Forrest Gump and Huey Long.

Like most observers, we see Tutunjian winning re-election without any problems. What's the spread? We say 15-20 points. We say this without glee and in the fervent hope that, like most of our predictions, we're wrong. We'd like to see a close race.

If the City Council goes Democrat, we wouldn't mind seeing Tutunjian re-elected. That would be an interesting dynamic to follow.

Our 'predicitions' in any race are really mere guesses. We would not be shocked if the Troy City Council went 7-2 for the GOP or 5-4 for the Democrats. We wouldn't be surprised if Tutunjian won by 20 points or by 5.

Our best guess....Council 5-4 GOP, Tutunjian by 13.7%

For political junkies election day is like Christmas. So, Merry Christmas everyone.

Sunday, November 04, 2007


The Times Union wonders if people will vote in an off-year election.

The Troy Record issues it's endorsements for City Council District seats, the At-Large seats and Mayor.

Rensselaer County Polling locations can be found here.

A clever mailer by Brunswick Democrats.

Now go watch some football. Go on....

Saturday, November 03, 2007


Too many campaigns receive too little coverage. This is especially true when an incumbent is perceived to have an easy road to re-election. The lack of media coverage is almost nil when a candidate(s) are cross-endorsed by both major parties. When the candidate(s) are cross-endorsed by the minor parties as well....what's to cover?

Enter the Greenbush Party. In the sleepy burgh of North Greenbush a newly created party has received an inordinate amount of media attention in the final days of the election. While the GP has a hard, uphill battle, their guerrilla campaign against a slate cross-endorsed by four parties, Democrat, Republican, Independence and Conservative (or DRIC) is getting noticed and their message may be resonating.

For an outsider, and perhaps many an insider, the North Greenbush political scene is a dizzying labyrinth of alliances and interests, both public and private. An enigma, wrapped in a riddle, deep-fried in chocolate sauce. Something akin to pre-WWI Europe and the Great Game. Granted, they're a bit less subtle in North Greenbush, an iron fist in an iron glove.

From the Times Union, October 30, 2007:

The incumbent supervisor's political challenger is alleging that the town leader hid a more than $300,000 town deficit in order to craft an election year town budget that may show a slight tax decrease.

Joshua A. Sabo, the current town attorney who is running for supervisor on the Greenbush Party line, said Monday that Conservative Supervisor Mark A. Evers' budget is illegal.

From Metroland:

The Greenbush Party came into being back in August with the petitioning effort of a smart-growth faction of North Greenbush, driven by members of the Defreestville Area Neighborhood Association, among others. With the very strong probability that the major parties would be running an identical slate of pro-development candidates in the upcoming elections, the advocates behind the Greenbush Party felt it was imperative to offer the voters another choice. Easily gathering the more than the 500 signatures necessary to start their party, the Greenbush Party now poses the only serious challenge to the ticket that Evers, who is seeking reelection, tops.

From the Times Union November 2, 2007:

Warring political parties and several lawsuits have jumbled the slate of town candidates this year, resulting in challengers having to create their own political party to get on the ballot.

Incumbent Conservative Supervisor Mark Evers, who ran for election as a Democrat in 2005, has all four lines this year and most of his running mates have multiple lines as well. The majority, which crosses party lines, came close to running unopposed.

And, from Metroland again:

North Greenbush needs to worry less about bending to the special interests of developers and more about smart growth and comprehensive planning for its quickly growing community. Juggling the demands to keep its rural charms and at the same time bump up its tax base is proving a difficult trick for the current supervisor, Mark Evers, considering his apparent ties to the developers and contractors who see the potential for dollars along Route 4 and ignore the longtime area residents who’d rather not have a Lowe’s for a next-door neighbor. We believe that the level-headed town attorney Joshua Sabo has the right vision and the perfect attitude to find the tax base and keep the smart-growth folk happy. With the Democratic Party in dramatic disarray, everyone in the town wants some peace. Everyone wants that one vision to rally around. Hopefully the voters will not choose the wrong vision this Nov. 6.

Anecdotal evidence shows that, at the very least, people are asking questions about 1) collusion among the party bosses 2) lack of any choice on the ballot 3) the budget 4) contractor/developer interests and 5) What's Row F?

Do we think Sabo and the Greenbush Party will win? No. That's too much to expect and not really the point, from our perspective. For us, the questions are: Will the DRIC candidates respond to this week's coverage with a hard-hitting negative piece on the GP? Will the DRIC put on a full-court press this weekend? It will be telling if a slate of candidates endorsed by every major and minor party needs to step-up it's game three days before the election.

Or, is it all quiet on the North Greenbush front for the remainder of the campaign?

Friday, November 02, 2007


What must an outsider think when he or she drives through Troy and sees this year's political signs? Balistreri, Campana, Ciccarelli, Talarico, DeBonis?

Hank Bauer

Current Position: City Council President. He is running for his second term. He is a former City Court Judge. Started out running molasses into Canada with Mikey's father.

Strengths: Survived so long because he always makes money for his partners. Realizes that blood baths are bad for business.

Bauer has the proper demeanor for a City Council President. He presides over sometimes cantankerous council meetings with a calm, thoughtful, deliberative and respectful manner. Everyone has their moments but we cannot recall Bauer ever taking a cheap shot at a colleague from either side of the aisle. Wanted to expand into the DA's Office but thwarted by Jack Casey.

Weakness: Bauer has the power to do good but chooses not to. He plays it safe at times when the Council needs not only a parliamentarian but a leader. That he has the ability to lead the Council as an autonomous branch of government is unquestioned. That he will do so is another story.

Clem Campana

Current Position: City Councilman, At-Large.

We like Clem Campana and it's not just because we like saying Clem (although it is soothing, C-l-e-m). Try it and put the emphasis on the 'm'. Campana has a tough dignity that we admire. Like Bauer, he doesn't bad mouth his colleagues and tends to be a voice of reason. Despite all that, we're supporting Campana.

Strengths: Clem resides in Woodrow Court, a street of one and two family homes, in close proximity to one another. Woodrow Court is an authentic Troy neighborhood. The people are solid, hardworking citizens, the type of people that make Troy a great place. They understand what it takes to be a good neighbor. You cannot swing a dead cat on Woodrow Court without hitting a Campana sign or supporter, and God knows we've tried. If he's good enough for the people of Woodrow Court, he's good enough for us.

Weakness: Reluctant to order hits on political enemies.

That leaves one open At-Large seat and four candidates. In no particular alphabetical order:

John Brown (D)
Vito Ciccarelli (R,C,I)
Wayne Foy (D)
Maria Talarico (R,C,I)

John Brown

Strengths: Young, smart energetic and his record as a dedicated abolitionist is second to none. The Democrats did a smart thing in bringing Brown into the fold. Brown's campaign has placed an emphasis on police and crime issues (Brown is against crime). The Council desperately needs new blood and whether it's this time around or next time, Brown is the real deal.

Weakness: Hasn't made his bones in electoral politics. Lack of vowel at end of surname may prevent him from becoming a made man in Troy politics.

Vito Ciccarelli

Current Position: Assistant to the Council Boss. Driver for Tutunjian when Pauly calls in sick.

Strengths: Loyal foot soldier. Well-known in Lansingburgh.

Weaknesses: Doubts about whether he's ready to run his own Family. When Riley jumped into the race, Vito was placed under the protection of Moe Green and sent west in order to learn the casino business.

Maria Talarico

Current Position: Owner and operator of Capital Concierge Inc., a personal concierge and assistant service.

Strengths: Bosses neighbor. Has people in police department. Unparalleled ability to ignore crime statistics.

Weaknesses: Angered some of the Under Bosses when she started her current business. Told by one Under Boss: "I don't want it near schools and I don't want it near kids. Keep the trade in the upper middle class. Let them lose their souls."

Wayne Foy

Strengths: Smart and tough, but not a hot-head like Sonny. Has experience as a Councilman.

Weaknesses: Doubts about whether he's running or actively campaigning.

We don't know Foy's plans but would like to see him be the next City Chair for the Democrats.






Who knows? Minor Party lines are more important in the At-Large race than district races. This gives the GOP slate an advantage. Our best guess is Bauer, Campana and Brown. A different outcome would not surprise us.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


Campana, Brown Decry Republican Dirty Tricks
Fake letters are aimed to mislead voters

Democratic Councilman Clem Campana and Democratic candidate for Council-at-Large John Brown have recently learned that Republican operatives are planning to send out letters falsely signed by each candidate asking Democrats to “bullet-vote” for one of the candidates.

“This effort is an attempt to undermine the strong team approach that John and I have taken this year,” said incumbent Clem Campana. “We are very concerned about this illegal tactic inspired by a desperate attempt to thwart my friendship with John and the strong grassroots campaigns we have run this year.”

Campana and Brown said that they learned of the letters from an anonymous source and chose to go public to pre-empt this malicious and ill conceived tactic. The anonymous tipster told them that Republican operative planned to send one letter falsely signed by Campana asking voters to “bullet vote” just for him, and another letter falsely signed by Brown asking voters to bullet vote” for just him.

“I have spent my campaign talking about issues and working hard to get to know the voters by campaigning door-to-door.” Added John Brown. “The people will see through this kind of mudslinging and they know that Clem and I are a team.”

Campana and Brown said that if the letters come to light they will turn them over to the appropriate authorities for investigation.

To show our unbiased unbiasness, we believe Campana and Brown are way off the reservation on this one. Sure, if the GOP had a track record of fake phone calls and anonymous letters we might buy it. But this? Inconceivable.


This was actually a surprise.

For one thing, the credit for much of Troy's revival, especially its vastly improved fiscal status, belongs to former Mayor Mark Pattison, who was barred by the city's term limit law from seeking a third term four years ago. There is no mistaking that Mr. Pattison set the city on a course for revival by having the courage to raise taxes and save the city from bankruptcy. That sent a signal to investors and developers that Troy was serious about getting its house in order. And that set in motion many of the projects that are now becoming reality.

Congrats to Conroy. The Republicans, including Mayor Tutunjian, continue to bemoan any tax raise that occurred under Pattison while simultaneously applauding their own responsible, revenue enhancing measures. Ever notice that they don't give those tax raises back to the residents? If they were not necessary, give them back. No excuses, just lower taxes by 20% Or is the money raised by those taxes being spent by the GOP?


The County GOP has failed to not only file it's 11 Day Pre-General Election filings but it's 32 Day Pre-General Election filings. What's the hold-up? You have paid staffers. Is there something you don't want to disclose before the election? Push-Poll payments perhaps? Even the Greenbush Party has filed.

Finally, congratulations to The Record's Jim Franco. Rumor has it that he's the new, permanent City Editor.

We'll take a look at the At-Large race tomorrow. Then, it's on to Tuesday.