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

Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Unless you're Amish, you've heard about the Spitzer-Bruno feud. In a nutshell (an appropriate receptacle), two of Spitzer's top aides had the New York State Police monitor Bruno and gather information on the senator's travels. The information compiled was then released to embarrass the senator. The duo hoped to establish that Bruno was using State resources (limousines and helicopters) for political purposes, not for government business. The two Spitzerites did exactly what they tried to prove Bruno did: Misuse government resources. For Spitzer it resulted in a Super-Sized Crappy Meal with a heaping side of irony.

Bruno's use of state helicopters, while eye-opening, complied with the letter of the law. Bruno used state aircraft ten times in 2007. Each trip included at least some state business. Such mixed use is allowed. Attorney General Cuomo found no criminal wrongdoing by Spitzer's people. Some of the more recent stories can be found here and here. Cuomo's full report can be read here if you have Adobe Acrobat.

Without repeating the obvious, here's a few thoughts:

This story brings us full-circle. We're dealing with the use of government resources for political purposes. It a systemic problem in this state at the local, county and now, state level. This is no different than the use of government phones or e-mails for political purposes. No different than the allegations made by Colleen Regan. The only appreciable difference is the scope of the activities and the stage upon which they played out. The essence remains the same: The use of public resources for political purposes.

As for Spitzer himself, he's been taught a valuable lesson. We're not all Upstate rubes and there's something strangely satisfying to know that a Rensselaer County politician so deftly outmaneuvered a steamroller from the Big City.

If Spitzer is really smart, he'll take his lumps, break out the vasoline and welcome the probe, admitting full responsibility. Then, he'll move on. It's a big story for this area because of Joe. It will fade away just as quickly without any permanent harm.

What Spitzer seems not to understand, or more likely ignores, is that there exists institutional rivalries in this state that transcend party. The leaders of the institutions, namely Bruno and Silver, cannot be targeted the way an Attorney General may target a criminal defendant. The skills that make a successful District Attorney or Attorney General do not necessarily make for a successful governor. Spitzer better learn a few new skill sets. Silver and Bruno both have egos and member concerns that may be at odds with the governor's agenda. That's a fact of life Spitzer will have to live with or it's going to be a long four years.

The real winner hear is Cuomo. Joe gets a win as well, but it's minor. His time is almost over. Bruno should also shut his mouth soon. His constant whine has already grown tiresome and he's begun to overplay his hand. Bruno is one of the three most powerful men in the state. He also runs a private 'consulting' firm but won't reveal the identity of his clients. It remains difficult to take his righteous indignation too seriously.

Still, we cannot let that obscure the issues. Public officers and employees should not be using any government resources for political purposes. What should happen to those that do utilize city, county or state e-mails, phones, faxes or other resources for political purposes? Your opinions on the proper punishment are welcome.

Friday, July 27, 2007


Yesterday, Troy Police made courtesy calls on members of Troy's Most Wanted List. The sweep began at 6:00AM and was Christened Operation Day Break (or, as we like to call it, Operation Wake-up Mother F%$#@*!).

The lucky winners received a pair of stainless steel bracelets, an armed escort and an all-expenses-paid trip to one of the city's busier get-away spots.

For Mayor Tutunjian, who has presided over an unprecedented violent crime wave, it will mean yet another rise in violent crime.

We'd like to thank the men and women of the Troy Police Department for addressing these issues despite the lack of leadership in City Hall. Nice to see someone doing something.


Troy has been warned to brace for a Fudge Fancy shortage. City Hall will not be implementing its Cookie Emergency Plan but will ask residents to observe opposite side of the table dining rules. Guess the Vanilla Bean never got the Renaissance memo. Although Bella Napoli partisans, we'll miss the Vanilla Bean. Sad when another Troy business shuts it's doors.


Pursuant to New York State Election Law, most candidates for public office are required to file their financial disclosure on-line. Why have so few complied with the law?

As of today, a majority of the City Council candidates have not filed with the State Board of Elections. Some may not yet have active accounts because they have not raised any money. There's also a waiver for electronic filing if you do not have access to adequate technology, but that would be rare in this day and age.

Those who have filed include Dunne, Brown, McGrath and Zalewski. Collier and Wojcik have not filed their July Periodic Report despite having received $400.00 each from Tutunjian prior to the cut-off date.

Campaign Treasurers face fines up to $500.00 for failing to file.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


We swear we saw this on an episode of Cops.

Gayle (Gaia) Sweeney, wife of former Congressman John Sweeney, is afraid for her safety.

But, before you jump to conclusions, John Sweeney is also afraid of Gayle. Oh, he also admitted to being a liar of makes you wonder about anything he says.

Sweeney claimed he lied then to protect his wife because, he said, she was intoxicated and had assaulted him. The police report on that incident, which occurred late one night in December 2005, became public days before the November 2006 congressional election.

A State Police report published by the Times Union six days before the election had described both Sweeney and his wife, Gayle, as intoxicated and said she complained he was "knocking her around the house." At the time, Sweeney denounced the report and said the document was a fake.

This would all make more sense if someone named Cletus was involved.

It's never funny when someone's life crashes and burns. Still, we tend to pay more deference to the rich, powerful and formally powerful. For instance, imagine you are watching an episode of Cops and fill in the blanks:

______ claimed he lied then to protect his _______because, he said, she was _____ and had ________ him. The police report on that incident, which occurred late one night in December 2005, became public days before the November 2006 ___________.

Billy Bob
Baby's Momma
Opened up a can of Momma Whoop-Ass on
Nascar Finals

Would reactions be any different? Would Vandenburgh run to the defense of Billy Bob?

The former Congressman may also seek an Order of Protection against Kirsten Gillibrand for an alleged beat-down that took place in November of '06.

If John Sweeney is serious about these allegations wouldn't it be nice to see him become actively involved in some domestic violence awareness organizations.


It appears that Chairman Spain's lawsuit against County Chair Tom Wade was a big bust. According to unconfirmed reports, the lawsuit will be withdrawn and another notice will be sent out for a meeting on the proposed By-Law changes. Wade has the votes and the By-Law changes will pass.

The changes are, in our opinion, a good move. They would allow the County Chair to call a caucus when a town committee/town chair isn't running candidates. Does it give the County Chair too much power? Not if the local committees are doing their jobs. What's that job? To run Democratic candidates.


Metroland chose Democracy in Albany as the Best Local Blogger. Congratulations. It's well-deserved. Don't spend the award money all in one place, DIA.

Monday, July 23, 2007


The Mayor finally speaks out as violent crime in Troy soars:

Tutunjian said the numbers are the result of aggressive, proactive police work and pointed to a recent checkpoint that led to the seizure of drugs and weapons. "The numbers are there because you make arrests and you take guns off the streets and that results in a perceived increase in crime," Tutunjian said. "If we did not have that checkpoint set up, there would not have been a crime committed." - The Record 7/20/07.

As the Geico Caveman* would say: "What?"

Violent crime has risen under his regime because of aggressive, proactive police work - So, aggressive police work results in a rise in violent crime? Doesn't aggressive police work result in more arrests for violent crime? If there are more arrests for violent crime doesn't it follow that there is more violent crime? Or is Harry saying that the police didn't bother to make arrests before his inspired mayoralty?

The numbers are there because you make arrests - That would be true if every violent crime resulted in an arrest. The numbers are there because of reported incidents of violent crime, not merely arrests. Violent crimes do not always lead to an arrest. Furthermore, if you take guns off the street before they are used, the violent crime rate should drop, not rise. Has the Mayor thought this through or does he just parrot nonsense when on the defensive?

No checkpoint =no crime committed - This is the "If a tree falls in the woods" theory of crime. If someone transports illegal guns and drugs it's a crime whether there's a checkpoint or not. Under this novel theory, if someone commits murder and there is no arrest, there is no murder. That's one way to get the crime rate down. You could also decriminalize rape and robbery. That would lower the crime rate as well.

This daring, revolutionary crime theory is a boon to crime-plagued municipalities everywhere. It means that when official, New York State crime rate statistics show a rise in crime, there is actually a drop in crime. Correspondingly, a drop in the crime rate would mean a rise in crime. If the crime rate remains flat, it means that the same fifteen people are being repeatedly arrested for the same crime (there remains a difference of opinion on that point). What Harry is actually suggesting is that crime=arrest and arrest=crime and you cannot have one without the other and always the twain shall meet. Ultimately, abolishing the police department would reduce arrests to 0 and there would be no more crime. And Oceania is at war with Eurasia and has always been at war with Eurasia.

All this doesn't really matter, however, because as the Mayor previously pointed out, "statistics don't matter, results matter."**

The Democratic candidate for mayor, Jim Conroy, concedes that a 25% rise in crime is too high. Harry argues that the 25% increase actually represents a drop in crime. Perhaps they can reach a compromise and agree to a 12.5% increase in violent crime by 2009. It's a pledge both candidates can probably keep.

* We do not compare the Mayor's intellect to that of a caveperson. We admit that the Mayor's intellect exceeds that of a caveperson.

** This statement is supported by recent statistics

Saturday, July 21, 2007


School's been out for a few weeks and many parents are wondering why they decided to have children at all. How can you keep the kinder busy, especially on rainy days? Let the Troy Polloi help.

Parents, feel free to print out these fun games and activities.

Word Jumble: Jumble the letters to find the hidden word or phrase. Then, using the underlined letters, find the word of the week!

Maze: Bobby Squirrel needs to make some phone calls but he needs your help. Get Bobby Squirrel and Colleen Fox to City Hall before election day.

The following projects can be fun and everything you need to complete them can be found around the house.

1. Using a shoe box, pipe cleaners, glue and discarded Weebles, create a diorama of the Rensselaer County Legislature giving itself a pay raise.

2. Make a Mayor Harry doll. You will need 1 Teddy Ruxpin doll, 5 lbs of paper mache and 1 cassette recording of someone saying, "No comment."

3. Write, score and choreograph a one act musical about City Hall. Don't forget the kazoo solo.

4. Conduct 24-hour surveillance of Senator Joe Bruno. You will require: 3 friends, black clothes, black sneakers, black face paint, black binoculars, 1 black helicopter and a map of Bulson Road.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


The ethical roots of Rensselaer County politics run nearly as deep and steady as those of Birnham Wood. Area newcomers may find themselves befuddled if they gaze into the scandal-ridden maelstrom that is local politics.

Therefore, we offer this Part I Primer on area political scandals.

Glossary of terms and phrases:

Scandal - A scandal is an incident involving allegations of wrong-doing, disgrace, moral outrage or any lubricant. A scandal may be based on reality, or the product of false allegations, or (if we're lucky)a scrumptious mixture of both (Feality).

Many scandals begin with a Whistle-Blower.* The Whistle-Blower reveals the alleged wrong-doing. A true whistle-blower has actual, firsthand knowledge of the alleged wrongdoing, often times having participated in the wrong-doing or, at the very least, rented the hall where the wrong-doing takes place. Whistle-Blowers can be graded as follows:

a) Grade A - These WB's are innocent of any wrong-doing and blow the whistle while simultaneously resigning in disgust from the organization, group or entity that is the subject of the scandal. These are true WB's. Another important element in a Grade A WB is the fact that the WB was once a supporter of the organization or person being blown.

b) Grade B - A recently fired employee who has first-hand knowledge of recent wrong-doing. These are true whistle-blowers as well but they leave themselves open to claims of disgruntlement.

c) Grade C - This WB may have first-hand knowledge of alleged wrong-doing but may also be a detractor of the scandal's subject.

d) Grade D - Not a true WB. This person is typically a political opponent of the scandal's subject and often times merely regurgitates rumors. Many times the allegations involve possible ethical misconduct but not crimes. A Grade D Whistle-Blower is also known as merely a blower and is usually the one in the tinfoil hat.

The actual scandal can also be graded or categorized by seriousness (or sometimes by height and weight).

A Tier One Scandal, a rarity in local politics, is a real treat. A Tier One Scandal (or T1) involves at least one felony, the real possibility of jail time and, hopefully, a leggy blond. Unfortunately, a Rensselaer County T1 is too much to hope for.

Tier Two - More common locally, a T2 usually involves a possible misdemeanor or unethical conduct that can lead to unemployment or, worse, job-hunting in the private sector. A T1 can also involve a blond, but not a leggy blond.

Tier Three - The most common scandal. No crime is involved and the result is usually personal embarrassment rather than any official censure. No blonds are involved in a T3 but you get the occasional one-legged brunette.

Tier Four - Meaningless revelations that involve conduct that is not illegal or unethical. T4's are often brought by the subject of a T1 or T2 to take some of the heat off.

Other terms you should know:

Actually using the term Whistle-Blower is generally frowned upon. If you disagree with the allegations of a Whistle-Blower, the Whistle-Blower is a disgruntled employee or disgruntled former employee.

If you agree with the allegations, the Whistle-Blower is a brave public servant.

Acquittal - In a typical criminal action an acquittal usually means that the prosecution has not proved every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. In political scandal terms, an acquittal means that the defendant is innocent, pure, virtuous and a potential Court of Claims judge.

* A Whistle-Blower rarely uses an actual whistle, usually relying upon letters, e-mail or sworn statements.

Saturday, July 14, 2007


Aside from some shootings and rapes, it's quiet. Posting will be light for the remainder of July and maybe August.


According to Capitol Confidential, (via The Saratogian) former Congressman John Sweeney is suing wife Gaia (pronounced G-a-i-a). We do not have information about the suit. John could be suing for:

a) Divorce;

b) A copy of the 'real' Police Incident Report.

Love will find a way.


Rensselaer County Democratic Chair Tom Wade is being sued by Spain. That's all we know at the present. Could be Chairman Spain, Judge Spain or the nation of Spain.

We think it's about the Party By Laws. Yawn.


Last time Corporation Counsel donated $'s to Harry, it was by money order, with no address indicated. This time Dave Mitchell listed his address as 1 Monument Square, Troy, NY. That's fine. Who really cares if he uses his business address.

It's just odd. Harry has his campaign HQ (or campaign storefront) at 20 4th Street, Troy, NY (the former location of Heer Real Estate). That was recently purchased by a David B. Mitchell. Not sure if it's our David B. Mitchell. Could be a coincidence.

The driving abstract of a David B. Mitchell (who knows if it's our David B. Mitchell) lists his residence as 20 4th Street, Troy, NY. Could be a coincidence.

Whichever David B. Mitchell purchased the building, did so from someone named Weaver. Who happens to be the son of Dick Weaver. Dick Weaver has accused Chairman Wade of.....

We have no idea what it all means, if anything. It's just fun.

However, if the Tutunjian campaign is utilizing the first floor of 20 4th Street, they did not disclose any expenditures related to that use as required by law. There should be some record of rent paid or it should be listed as an In-Kind contribution. Or so we're told.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007



John Brown, Democratic At-Large candidate for Troy City Council, announced yesterday that Joe Riley will serve as his Campaign Chairman.

“I have known John Brown his entire life. He represents all of the best qualities of the people of Troy – he is a hard working, honest, family man,” said Joe Riley, the newly announced Campaign Chairman. “ John Brown is an independent voice that will represent the people with integrity. I look forward to helping him by raising money and securing votes.”

Brown stated, “ Troy has experienced difficult economic times in both city government and its business community. I have spoken and listened to the people who live and work in our historic city and they have concerns. They are concerned about public safety. It was recently reported that crime is on the rise in our community. They are concerned that Troy will loose the hometown qualities that they love so much. I want you to know that I share those concerns. Working together we can develop programs and policies that insure our streets are safe and our economy is vibrant and productive.”

Troy City Councilman Clem Campana also said that he was excited to have John on the ticket and looked forward to campaigning with him. " Troy ’s citizens need representatives in government with John Brown’s work ethic, intelligence and energy. I look forward to campaigning with him this fall.", Campana stated.

“Joe Riley and Clem Campana are individuals whose support means a great deal. They are caring and committed Trojans,” said Brown. “They have earned people’s respect through their good works and deeds. Support from people like Joe and Clem will help make the difference this election.”

As Deputy Director of the New York State Legislative Bill Drafting Commission, John has extensive experience in the legislative process and a deep understanding of government. Brown is a graduate of Siena College in Loudonville and LaSalle Institute in Troy.

The Troy Democrats should be excited about Brown and his campaign. Because he's a shoe-in? No. Because he's young, smart and aggressive. Brown held a fundraiser before he had even secured the At-Large nomination. That may have rankled some but the Democrats need young, aggressive candidates for '07 and the future. In Brown, they have one.


The big story, of course, is the power outage experienced in Troy yesterday. National Grid pulled-the-plug on Troy, shutting down businesses and even forcing the County building to close down early. The Rensselaer County Legislature has called on National Grid for answers.

"When the power went off-line," said one County employee, "we lost a lot of valuable information. I had almost finished updating the master list of Republican contributors. A co-worker was in the middle of drafting a fundraising letter and another was working on a campaign mailer. Now that's all lost."

A National Grid spokesman explained that Troy's health care proxy had ordered the withdrawal of all artificial life support.


Metroland's Chet Hardin interviewed Colleen Regan back in April. Here it is.

Monday, July 09, 2007


According to the Times Union Local Politics Blog, the Rensselaer County District Attorneys Office has opened a file on Rensselaer County Democratic Chair, Tom Wade.

Presumably, the file involves allegations made by Dick Weaver that Wade required political contributions from patronage workers. Weaver worked for Wade thirteen years ago.
From The Record:

His former employee Dick Weaver was out front last week at a press conference proclaiming he, "can no longer be silent."

Funny, he was silent for 13 years after he was fired from the Board of Elections by none other than "Boss Wade."

"I am ready to waive immunity and ready to meet anywhere and at any time to tell the special prosecutor what I know - that Tom Wade used his power as Rensselaer County Democratic Party Chairman to extort campaign contributions from the employees at the county Board of Elections," Weaver bellowed outside the county building last week.

OK, we have consulted with our legal staff, and what Weaver is proposing would probably be hearsay and not carry much weight with anyone. If there is an investigation into the allegations, our guess is whoever is doing the investigating would be better served by questioning employees who were actually assessed. Archie Robinson claims he was one of the employees, but it seems logical that in order to extort money from someone, there has to be an implied threat in case the money does not come forth - in this case, the employees' politically appointed jobs. But Robinson resigned, under pressure from Wade, after he coughed up the money, not because he refused. - Talespin 7/2/07

What exactly is Weaver going to tell a prosecutor? As pointed out above, anything current Weaver has to tell would be hearsay. It might be really, really good hearsay, but hearsay nonetheless.

Weaver also said he was ready to "waive immunity." Great! Thanks Dick. As empty gestures go, that's a fine one. Immunity from what? Why does Weaver need immunity? Did Weaver commit a crime? The fun thing about a grant of immunity is that it means you won't be prosecuted. Anything that happened at the Board of Elections thirteen years ago is well beyond any statute of limitations.

It's a tit-for-tat thing. Although, in this case, the tit* is far more interesting than the tat.

Also, Ed McDonough's recent letter to The Record should put to rest those silly rumors that the current Election Commissioner was going to throw the former Commissioner under the bus.** More wishful thinking.

Doesn't anyone know how to throw a scandal anymore?

* That's an expression and does not refer to an actual tit.

**That's an expression and does not refer to an actual bus.

Friday, July 06, 2007


According to sources the City of Troy has purchased at least one new Dodge Charger, with police package, to be used by (so we're told) the Deputy Mayor. There's also unconfirmed reports that Director of Operations Bill Chamberlin has a nice, new Charger as well.

What's a 'police package?' A police package from Dodge may include the following:

100-amp battery power feed in trunk
160-amp high-output alternator
160-mph calibrated speedometer
800CCA heavy-duty battery
cloth front bucket seats with manual lumbar and rear fixed bench seat
column shifter
easy path wiring grommet between underhood and passenger compartment
emergency rear-door-lock override
night therapy advanced sleep micro memory foam pillow
external oil coolers
four-wheel independent performance suspension
heavy-duty brakes and linings
integrated titanium-plated all-season coffee-cup holder
integrated engine hour meter
P225/60R 18 V-rated all-season performance tires and 18-inch steel wheels
performance-tuned steering
police equipment interface module
police equipment mounting bracket
rear door locks and rear window switches inoperable from the rear seats
severe-duty cooling system
2 1/2"H x 16"L x 12 1/2"donut storage container with hinged snap on lid
software-controlled alternating head- and taillamps
special electrical wiring for police market applications
speed control
stealth mode switch for interior lighting
cast iron, three level, dual grate, adjustable hibachi

This information has been quite hard to confirm but more than one person has noted that a new Dodge Charger (not for police use) has been seen at City Hall. Oddly enough, the vehicle does not have city plates.

The new Dodge Charger is equipped with a police-style radio and is very boss.

If you recall, back in 2005, the Administration purchased two Ford Focus' (or Ford Foci). The Mayor and Dan posed for pictures and everything. Why no publicity about the Chargers? Maybe a press conference?


1) Why are our dollars being spent on high performance vehicles for non-emergency personnel;
2) Why do Administration officials need such high-performance vehicles;
3) How much did the City spend on vehicles for it's officials;
4) Can't officials be given older, Crown Vic's and any new vehicles be given to the Police Department, where they're needed to help fight the rising crime rate;
5) Can City officials use Segways;
6) Did Harry buy a shiny, new black Crown Vic?
7) Is that enough questions?

On a sad note, we've also learned that Mr. Chamberlin's radio handle is SW 1, or Solid Waste 1. With a handle like that you may as well call yourself Poop One.

The new Charger will replace this older city vehicle:

If you're going to purchase a Charger, it should look like this:

And shouldn't be hidden away under City Hall.

Monday, July 02, 2007


Uncle Joe sure gets around....on our dime. Check out the latest at the TU.
ALBANY -- Three times this year, Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno has used taxpayer-funded state aircraft to fly to political fundraisers in Manhattan while certifying he was on official state business, according to documents obtained by the Times Union.

Our Joe even gets ground support from the New York State Troopers when travelling to fundraisers. As far as we know the Troopers haven't had to stop an attack on the Senator but they do, on occasion, provide covering fire before Joe enters the Senate chamber. The Senator's office had justification for the expenditure of tax-payer dollars:
Bruno's staff claims he faces constant threats to his life and safety and is therefore provided security details.

Some might laugh, but think about this: Every former New York State Senate Majority Leader is now dead! Coincidence?

Speaking of crime, last week Mayor Harry chatted with the citizens of Troy about the skyrocketing crime rate in the Collar City. Apparently, even the criminals appreciate being out and about, using the cleaner streets.

The Mayor urged citizens to call, e-mail or visit city hall to discuss the crises. Take our new poll over on the right and let us know if you've taken the Mayor up on his offer.