Monday, January 29, 2007
Friday, January 26, 2007
Detective O'Neil's career is on the line. O'Neil has enjoyed a fine reputation as a detective. No one knows why her career has been placed in jeopardy. While acknowledging the confidential aspects of the Internal Investigation report, that does not stop us from speculation.
The very night the announcement was made, Bill Lambdin speculated that O'Neil was targeted for failing to come forward with her knowledge of Centanni's actions in a timely manner. Centanni, of course, is the Detective who alledgedly denied accused murderer Jason Jones his 5th Amendment Rights.
If that is the case, that O'Neil failed to act expeditiously, seeking her termination is grossly disproportionate to her failure. If O'Neil didn't move fast enough, it implies that Centanni did something wrong. Why the same punishment for the active wrongdoer and the one who sinned by procrastination? It hardly gives police officers that want to do the right thing incentive to step forward. This new Administration policy sends a chilling message to any public employee in the City of Troy: Don't come forward about any possible wrongdoing.
Or, is this merely a preemptive strike? Does the Administration want to bloody O'Neil's reputation so that her testimony will be characterized as sour grapes? And is that because the Administration knew of, and condoned, Centanni's alleged behavior?
The second thing we noticed was a what at first glance looked like a throw-away line in Mr. Franco's January 20, 2007 article:
Also in question is why the DA's office did not find out about the conflicting stories until seven months later.
Also in question? Who posed that question?
It would hardly be out of character for the "Buck Stops There" regime to try and pin the blame on someone else. We have our disagreements with the District Attorney, but blaming Ms. DeAngelis here is a stretch and unfair.
At last week's press conference, Mayor Tutunjian spoke eloquently about the need for police officers to be like Caesar's wife. Such sentiments would have been less ironic coming for those surrounding Tutunjian (Corporation Counsel Mitchell or Chief Kaiser). While a judge, Council President Henry Bauer also violated 5th & 6th Amendment Rights? Did the Administration seek his removal? In fact, Bauer received a vote of support from a majority of the City Council. After his removal, Bauer was hired by Tutunjian, then endorsed by Tutunjian and will be backed by Tutunjian if he, Bauer, runs for DA. The lesson? If you're a cop, you'll get fired, if you're a GOP politician, you'll get hired.
Will the media ask the Mayor about that hypocrisy before they trip over themselves rushing to endorse Tutunjian?
We think O'Neil will beat the rap and rightly so.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
The Young Democrats are starting a local chapter. From a press release:
Rensselaer County Young Democrats: Revitalized and Optimistic
Young Democrats in Rensselaer County are meeting monthly and inviting anyone under 35 years of age to join their ranks. Following the recent power shift in both state and national politics, a reformed and rejuvenated Rensselaer County Young Democratic Committee met recently to discuss ways young adults can become active in their PartyÃ¢ÂÂs future.
The Rensselaer County Young Democratic Committee will hold meetings on the first Wednesday of every month at 6 pm at Democratic Headquarters at 5 Broadway in Troy. The next meeting will be held on February 7th.
At future meetings the group will adopt a constitution, elect officers, and become a charter member of the statewide association. The Young Democrats are looking forward to participating in several campaigns during the upcoming local races, and plan to capitalize on the PartyÃ¢ÂÂs momentum gained in the midterm and statewide elections in November.
Present at the group's first meeting was County Democratic Chairman Thomas W.Wade, who offered advice and encouragement to the revamped organization that he helped establish more than thirty-five years ago. Also in attendance were representatives from the Albany County Young Democrats who offered their suggestions on building an effective committee.
For more information, see the RCYD page on Yahoo Groups or contact Greg Mihalko at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good to see a group like this in Rensselaer County. Sorry to see it start only after a huge Democratic sweep. The Dems have never used groups like this with the consistency or the effectiveness of the Republicans. The National Young Republicans has been a breeding ground for future Republican leaders and many of the people we know and loath today have come out of the Young Republicans (think Ralph Reed).
We'd like to promote the following blogs:
Democracy in Albany is a reform-minded blog that covers Albany politics, from City Hall to the Capital. DIA is progressive (and undervalues the many positives found in a hereditary/feudal system) but a worthy read if you want to stay up to date on Albany shenanigans.
The Albany Project should be of interest if you follow the state political scene. Like DIA, it is progressive, with an emphasis on reform. In it's own words: The Albany Project seeks to return New York State Government to its rightful owners - the people.
We also believe New York State should belong to the rightful owners: The Livingstons, Clintons and Schuylers. Personally, we don't want it back.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Last fall two groups held meetings and elected party officers. One group elected Jeffrey Spain as chairman. The other group elected Dan Ashley.
A few weeks ago, Hummel held a hearing. The Judge characterized the testimony as:
...so contradictory and convoluted that it was difficult to believe that the witnesses were testifying about the same series of events."
And left no doubt as to their party affiliation.
The Judge also ordered a prisoner exchange and ruled that all captured combatants must be accorded all rights and privileges under the Geneva Convention. If a vote does not take place in the next 30 days, all U.S. Troops will be withdrawn from North Greenbush by October.
Monday, January 22, 2007
When we talk Miranda, we're talking heady, 5th Amendment stuff. Here's how the Amendment reads:
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
To start with, who is Miranda and why should we be warning her?
Both the State and Federal Constitutions guarantee that individuals shall not "be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against" themselves (NY Const, art I, Â§ 6; US Const 5th Amend). In Miranda v Arizona (384 US 436, 461), the United States Supreme Court held that the privilege against self-incrimination protects individuals from "informal compulsion exerted by law-enforcement officers during in-custody questioning" as well as from legal compulsion to testify in court. In order to preserve this right, the Court prescribed "procedural safeguards effective to secure the privilege against self-incrimination" in the form of the now-familiar Miranda warnings.
There are two significant limitations on the application of Miranda. First, while an accused may not be compelled to "provide the State with evidence of a testimonial or communicative nature," a person can be forced to produce " 'real or physical evidence' ". Second, because the privilege applies only when an accused is "compelled" to testify, the safeguards required by Miranda are not triggered unless a suspect is subject to "custodial interrogation".
For evidence to be testimonial or communicative, it "must itself, explicitly or implicitly, relate a factual assertion or disclose information". While evidence that "reveal[s] a person's subjective knowledge or thought processes" is testimonial or communicative such is not the case when a suspect is "not required 'to disclose any knowledge he might have,' or 'to speak his guilt' ". This is because the policies behind the Self-Incrimination Clause "are served when the privilege is asserted to spare the accused from having to reveal, directly or indirectly, his knowledge of facts relating him to to the offense or from having to share his thoughts and beliefs with the Government" - from People v Berg, NY Court of Appeals, 1999
The aforementioned Miranda was Ernesto Miranda. Ernesto, in 1963, was twenty-two years old and unemployed. He was arrested for stealing $8 from a bank employee. One year later he was picked out of a lineup by a young woman who accused him of kidnapping and rape. Miranda denied guilt, but two hours worth of police interrogation resulted in a signed confession.
The police did not inform Miranda about his right against self-incrimination. The case went to the Supreme Court to determine whether 5th Amendment rights extended to custodial interrogations. They did.
Miranda was not in the clear. He was tried and his common-law wife testified that he had confessed the rape to her. Ernesto was convicted and sentenced to twenty-to-thirty years in Arizona State Prison. He was paroled in 1972. Three years later, Ernesto got into a dispute over a card game in a Phoenix bar and was stabbed to death. Those arrested were duly Mirandized.
The 5th Amendment gained fame during the 1950's when Americans watched men with names like Jimmy "The Cheese" Calamari and Frankie "The Nose" Scungilli invoke their 5th Amendment Rights before Congress.
The 5th Amendment should not be confused with the 6th. The 5th Amendment is sandwiched between the 4th and 6th Amendment, but the print can be small and without glasses it gets confusing. The 6th Amendment provides a right to counsel:
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.
As an aside, the first cases in New York State involving Miranda warnings came out of Rensselaer County. DA's M. Andrew Dwyer and Con Cholakis often locked horns with Public Defender Thomas O'Connor, Mary Donohue's father, when these Federal Rights became applicable to the states. (People v Sayers and People v La Belle).
For those of you not up to speed, we've linked to the related stories on this saga. Jim Franco of The Record has followed this story closely.
Rosa indicted for selling gun used in Burns murder - from The Record, 2/16/06;
Brian Benoit goes on trial - from The Record, 5/16/06;
Benoit statements come under scrutiny - from The Record, 5/19/06;
Benoit acquitted - from The Record, 5/23/06;
In early August, Judge McGrath denied a defense request tosuppresss the confession of Akbar Hemingway - from The Record, 8/8/06;
Hemingway is acquitted - The Record, 8/17/06;
Statement made by Jason Jones in the Dougrey murder questioned - The Record 9/8/06;
Judge McGrathsuppressess Jones confession - The Record 9/9/06;
Bouchard, Centanni and O'Neil reassigned - The Record 9/15/06;
Jones acquitted - The Record 10/19/06;
Rosa to plead to lesser charge - The Record, 10/26/06;
Rosa pleads to Third Degree Criminal Sale of Firearm - The Record, 10/27/06;
Bouchard relieved of duty - The Record 11/10/06;
Thompson confession tossed - The Record 12/6/06;
Three officers suspended without pay - The Record 1/20/07;
It's a start to some of the things we'll discuss in the future.
Friday, January 19, 2007
1. Make your comment relevant to the post. Even just a little bit relevant, by some stretch of the imagination. This is not your forum to discuss whatever you want to discuss, whenever you want to discuss it. If you want to set the agenda, start your own blog. That said, if there's a news item or something you want to bring to our attention or to the attention of the readers, fine. If the comment is merely a gratuitous attack, it is not fine. We try to fair and we have deleted personal attacks on politicians, whether Democrat or Republican.
2. If you want an open thread for open discussions, let us know.
3. Be responsible. If you plan on being irresponsible, find a designated driver.
4. We do not care if someone was arrested ten years ago, or who is sleeping with whom, or who is fat or who picks his nose, or who did drugs in the early 1980's etc. We're not the private morality police. If you think someone with a colorful past or someone with an imperfect private life can't be a good public servant, you're ignorant and know nothing of history.
5. These rules will not be strictly enforced. Still, try and abide by them. Violators will have their comments erased. Repeat offenders will be banned. This rule will be strictly enforced when accusations of criminal conduct are made.
6. If there's an issue, a rumor or a news tip, try e-mailing us.
7. Basically, don't be a dick. If you don't understand what we mean, than you're the dick.
These rules are the result of two or three people who just don't know where to draw the line or when to stop. They are obsessed with a topic (so much so that they are more disturbed than the object of their obsession) that bores everyone else.
The only other step is to moderate comments which means we'd have to review them before comments are posted. That would suck.
Thems the rules. Now, we have to go find our stripes for our new corporals uniform.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Reports from the meeting will be of interest. The rank and file's hostility to the creation of such a position is well-known. If Kaiser get's his way we fear it will be a blow to the morale of the department.
As long as we're talkin' police business, the internal investigation report on the recent controversy surrounding Detective Sergeant Joe Centanni is finished. It has been finished for some time and now sits on the Mayor's desk while the Mayor awaits a Cliff Notes version of the report, scheduled for release next year.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Thanks to an alert reader, we finally read Sunday's Times Union story about Our Joe's trip to Florida. Joe, you old dog, you. While in Florida, J&J took a detour:
On the drive back from the golf course, the men pulled into Rachel's, a high-class strip club and steakhouse in the heart of West Palm Beach. There, patrons are greeted by overly polite valets who spend much of their time parking Range Rovers and customized BMWs driven by an almost exclusively male clientele.
Actually, it sounds quite classy:
Inside, $40 steaks and $90 bottles of wine are delivered by bow-tied waiters in a darkened four-star atmosphere. On two stages in the center of the club, female performers, some fully nude, move fluidly under pulsing strobe lights while tunes from rockers such as Tom Petty and Jimi Hendrix pierce the air.
Now, if they did that at The Joe, we might go more often.Seriously, we cannot condemn this behavior in strong enough terms. What, in God's name, is a 77 year-old man doing in a steakhouse?
And congratulatons to Brendan Lyons of The Times Union. We're less than a month into 2007 and Brendan wins our Reporter of the Year Award for writing an article about Joe Bruno that contains the phrase "moving fluidly under pulsing strobe lights."
THE KEN SHOW
According to the New York Times, (registration may be required) Ken Bruno is emerging as the central figure in the FBI probe.
As part of their investigation into the business dealings of Senator Bruno, federal authorities are examining a series of land deals involving Kenneth Bruno, who has emerged as a nexus between his father and a wealthy businessman, Jared E. Abbruzzese, whose financial ties to Senator Bruno are under scrutiny.
By now, everyone knows about the action-packed, high octane episode of McGrath & Tutunjian involving the YouTube video. Our crime-fighting mayor and his faith sidekick alerted police to possible criminal activity in the vicinity of the Community Grocery, on Sixth, in North Central. The dastardly villains were apprehended, the grocery closed down and truth, justice and the American way prevailed.
It's a great story. To bad it's not true.
The fact of the matter is, as any cop will tell you, no one was arrested for anything they did in that rap video. Secondly, the stakeout which busted the drug dealers while they were inside the grocery was scheduled prior to Harry receiving the video.
Officer John Comitale had been on to those arrested for some time and was working on bringing them down.
As far as we can tell, McGrath has not tried to take credit for anything. He's merely Harry's pawn in a concocted news event. It's sad to see Harry try and take credit for Comitale's fine work.
Just thought you should know.
NORTH GREENBUSH UPDATE
Finally, for those of you who crave NG Updates:
Reports are sketchy but Linda Mandel-Clemente was back in court on January 5, this time in Schodack. As best we can tell, the Special Prosecutor sought to vacate the plea agreement (whereby Ms. Mandel-Clemente received an ACOD for lifting some town records). For background, go here.
Clemente has an outstanding lawsuit against the town which wasn't disclosed to the prosecutor in violation of the plea agreement. Clemente resigned from the Planning Board pursuant to the plea agreement but has not discontinued an action against the town which seeks to declare her appointment to the Planning Board valid.
Mandel-Clemente is now represented by Kevin Engel. Engel is an East Greenbush Town Justice. The hearing lasted for three hours. We don't know the outcome or when a decision will be announced. We do know that all Schodack Town Court records were inventoried and accounted for before Ms. Mandel-Clemente was allowed to leave court (just joking, Linda, you know we love 'ya).
Monday, January 15, 2007
Two area reporters will no longer cover the east side of the river. The Times Union's Tim O'Brien, a longtime fixture on the Troy beat will now be a general assignment reporter, working out of the TU HQ in Colonie.
The Times Union's Kate Perry, now handling North Greenbush, will cover the Albany City Hall beat.
We're sorry to see Tim go. O'Brien is a good writer and has 15 years of experience covering Troy's Byzantine political scene. Tim was also the first area reporter to mention the Troy Polloi in a column (March 17, 2005). Prior to Tim's mention, the Troy Polloi received a pathetic 5-8 visitors a day. Now....
....an average of 275 unique* visitors a day, making the Troy Polloi Troy's number one (and only) political blog. There's no word on who might cover Troy, but the TU may go with two, rather than three, people for that bureau.
Good luck, Tim.
Perry's promotion is thought to be based on the fact that she's: a) a good reporter and b) the TU wants to keep her here. Perry wants to move back to Rochester.
The Albany City Hall beat is a promotion for Perry. While we're sure that Albany City Hall has it's charms, it can hardly compare to North Greenbush's wild west atmosphere.
Both reporters were approached to work for the Polloi but negotiations broke down over the issue of being paid.
In 2006 the Troy Fire Departmen raked in $650,000 in overtime, the Police Department over $885,000. It sounds like a lot of money and it is a lot of money. The bottom line is, we want those men and women out there on the streets and, unlike some, we don't expect them to do it for free. Nor did we give a damn where they live.
In other police news, the word came down from upon high that police officers are no longer allowed to read the Troy Polloi. First a block at City Hall and now this! Sound a bit more like Stalinist Russia than the Home of Uncle Sam.
Now, we guess we'll have to discuss the true story behind the YouTube arrests later this week. The long and short of it is, McGrath, Harry and the video had nothing to do with any arrests. Troy's Finest were already on the case. The connections between the arrests and the video were concocted by the Administration (though McGrath did not attempt to take credit for anything) to raise McGrath's profile for a possible At-Large run.
*An IP address that logs in more than once a day is recorded as only one visit.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
When former Rensselaer County District Attorney Ken Bruno sought to lower the property assessment on his stately pleasure dome, he discovered the ugly truth about this region.
It's 2007. We thought this type of discrimination was behind us.
Unfortunately, Judge Hummel found one problem with Ken's petition:
"Petitioner has merely alleged discrimination, but has failed to support his conclusions with any evidence," Hummel wrote in his decision
The town assessor gave the court a detailed explanation for its decision, Hummel wrote, and Kenneth Bruno himself had valued the house when built as worth between $375,000 and $400,000.
Since the town assesses property at 10 percent of the full market value, Hummel ruled, Bruno-the-younger's assessment of $38,200 falls well within that range. The court noted that the rate was also a reduction from the original $41,000 assessment as a direct result of an initial complaint by Bruno.
How long will heterosexual white, male, former DA's and sons of prominent state politicians have to endure this type of discrimination? We demand a probe! Hand us that box of latex gloves.
We know Christmas can take a toll on your wallet. Please find it in your heart to give whatever you can to help Ken. A spoiled white boy is a terrible thing to waste.
On an upnote for the Bruno clan, Our Joe won a brilliant victory, retaining his position as Senate Majority leader. The conference vote was unanimous, with Senator Bonacic abstaining. Bonacic was acting as a stalking horse for Long Island Senator Dean Skelos. If the report is true, that means even Skelos voted for Bruno. Bonacic may want to have a talk with his pal, Skelos.
MORE GOOD FOR UPSTATE
With most of the real state movers and shakers hailing from downstate, it's good to see local Assemblyman Ron Canestrari moving into the Assembly Majority Leader position. Every bit helps.
NORTH GREENBUSH NOTE
Former Supreme Court Justice and former Deputy Corporation Counsel for the City of Troy, Tom Spargo will be making a special guest appearance* at Thursday nights council meeting in North Greenbush. Spargo will be appearing on behalf of an M. Carey (Mariah?). Carey alleges that the subdivision recently created by former Democratic Chair Dan Ashley is illegal. That's about all we know.
*This will be the first guest appearance at a North Greenbush meeting since the ill-fated Charro debacle in 1978.
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Who remembers this board game favorite?
What may be the only remaining copy of Troyopoly was auctioned off on Christmas Eve via eBay. The winning bid? The game sold for an impressive $32.82 (U.S.)
The one interesting note is that the seller is from Essex, England (that's in Europe).
The description of the product:
RARE BOARD GAME, TROYOPOLY, THE GAME OF TROY, NEW YORK, HOME OF UNCLE SAM. THE OBJECT OF THE GAME IS TO BECOME THE WEALTHIEST RESIDENT OF YOUR COMMUNITY BY BUYING, OPERATING, AND SELLING LOCAL BUSINESSES. A CUSTOM BOARD GAME FROM PRIDE DISTRIBUTORS Inc, FUND RAISING Div.7453 Anne Ct, W.BLOOMFIELD, Ml 48033. CIRCA 1985. I THINK THIS IS QUITE A RARE GAME AS I CAN`T FIND ANOTHER ONE ANYWHERE ON E-BAY FOR SALE. CONDITION IS VERY GOOD AND I THINK IT IS COMPLETE. THERE IS A LITTLE CURVE TO THE BOARD WHERE IT HAS BEEN IN THE BOX UNUSED FOR SO LONG, THIS MAY FLATTEN OUT IN USE, BOARD FACE IS VERY CLEAN. A VERY NICE ADDITION TO YOUR COLLECTION.
So, if increasing taxes and water rates have put the squeeze on your wallet, head down to the basement and rummage through those dusty bins and boxes. You may strike $32.82. At the very least you may find one of these:
Monday, January 08, 2007
The results of our first poll are in and the people have spoken! It's a tie! Wayne Foy ran a tight race but always lagged behind Tito (pronounced Tee-Toe) Jackson and was eventually overtaken by Ape Men from the Future.
We asked you, "Who is responsible for Harry's incompetence?" You answered as follows:
Democrats - 11% (19)
Wayne Foy- 23% (42)
RJ Carignan - 3% (5)
CEO and/or Trip - 7% (12)
Ape Men from the future - 25% (45)
The CIA - 6% (11)
Tito Jackson - 25% (45)
The correct response, according to our panel, is:
In response to the poll, Mayor Tutunjian issued the following statement:
"I voted for Tito."
NORTH GREENBUSH FOLLIES
On Dec 15th 2006 North Greenbush Supervisor Mark Evers (Conservative) gave two checks totaling $82,300 to J.R. Casale. The checks were for payment on Water Dist. #14. Unfortunately, the payment was not approved by the Town Board. There's nothing wrong with Evers actions except.....It violates the law!
Evers made the payment the day after a town board meeting where the board specifically told him that they would not approve any additional payments to Casale Excavating. Evers got the checks by going into the town Comptroller’s office, directing that the checks be made out and then walking across the hall into the building Dept. and handing the checks to Casale.
Town Law, Section 118 requires that “prior to any payment for a claim, the Town Board must approve the particular itemized voucher.” Yes, the law even applies in North Greenbush.
Looks like some amateurs are getting into the act. Not content to leave the new medium in the hands of professional media people (like us), someone named Ed Dague is authoring In Medias Res. Ed's name rings a bell. We believe he may have been involved in television at one time.
Dague's blog may provide some interesting insight into the area's television media. Then again, it may not. We wish him well.
WHY DOESN"T HE CALL?
How many nights do you sit by the phone waiting for Mr. Right to call? You gave him your phone number, really put yourself out there: Why doesn't he call? The bastard's probably married.
Looks like area Democrats await The Call to Albany. Eliot has a lot of jobs to fill. Hang in there.
Many area Democrats did work hard for Spitzer. Was it out of principle or was it to share in the spoils? Hmmm.
Interestingly, according to our sources, there's also been not a few people hurrying down to the Rensselaer County Board of Elections to change their enrollment to Democrat. Should make things interesting as we move into an election year. The Troy GOP is already worried about losing the City Council. It's unlikely Marge will get their endorsement and Bauer wants another job. That could mean they need to scrounge-up three people to run At-Large, an expensive, time consuming race.
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Do not forget to vote in our very first poll. The poll will close on Friday. Right now, Tito Jackson and Wayne Foy appear to be in a dead heat. We thought Ape Men from the Future was an obvious choice but we'll leave it up to you.
There's not too much going on right now so we'll resume regularly scheduled posting next week. In the meantime, it's always fun to stay up to date with the latest on Brunopoly (we call the shoe).
December 29, 2006 Times Union;
December 31, 2006 Times Union.