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

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Well folks, it been a fun ride.

We decided to end this blog after three-plus years of covering area politics.

When we started this blog, there was a Republican governor, Republican DA, Republican Congressman, Republican Assemblyman and a Republican-controlled Troy City Council.

Things have changed and it is more fun shooting up than down.

We may or may not return in the future so please check back occasionally.

Thanks to all of our readers, supporters and detractors as well as the areas elected officials. Without you, this never would have been a successful venture. In the world of local blogs, we think it was successful:

1- over 350,000 visitors;

2- over 4,500 comments;

3- Mentions in The Record, Times Union, Metroland + City Council meetings;

4- Comments from political candidates;

5- 3 indictments but no convictions;

6- 2 communicable diseases.

But, again, it was you, the reader, that made it all possible. So, thanks. Take care, be safe and always question our elected officials, even if its just to knock them down a peg. It's our duty it's fun and it's fat free.

A special thanks to the area print media, including people like Jim Franco and Chet Hardin. They always gave us a fair shake and did not dismiss the potential of this new medium.



Tuesday, August 19, 2008


The Troy Polloi is on hiatus for the next week or so.

Talk amongst yourselves.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


The Mayor of Troy has called a special meeting for August 20th to discuss leasing the Verizon building as a temporary home for City Hall while something happens on the waterfront. What that something is, no one knows...yet.

We have no problem leasing the 30,000 square foot Verizon Building as a temporary home for City Hall provided:

1) The lease is contingent on Troy actually getting the money from the State. We think that is suspect in light of what is going on in Albany at this time. Albany just lost a ton in aid which may prompt lay-offs;

2) Judge must disclose Judge Development's operating agreement and we need to know who the real parties in interest are in the group that sold the building to Judge. The Verizon Building has been the center of this issue. It was sold to Judge at a time when it looked like City Hall would be moving there. The City needs to know who benefited financially when the building was sold to Judge with the expectation that the City would then rent the building;

3) Judge must renovate the building for the new tenants, at Judge's expense. If we're forking-over more than 25k a month, the building should be in move-in condition;

4) Relocating should be put out to bid. If there are no other viable options, no problem. But again, Harry seems obssessed with handing money over to Judge Development, without inviting others to the table;

5) Lower the rent. 25k per month is too high. Please. It's not like people are tripping over themselves to rent the Verizon Building.

Monday, August 11, 2008


A moratorium has been placed on this blog. Time constraints will make it difficult to post for the next few days.

Feel free to engage in polite conversation.

Thursday, August 07, 2008


The New York State Division of Human Rights has dismissed Colleen Regan's claims of sexual harassment. Regan claimed that high-level GOP functionary, Richard Crist, had made numerous sexual advances which, when turned down, led to Regan's termination as a GOP staffer for the County Legislature.

According to The Record:

The division found that of the 20 alleged incidents claimed by Regan only two were within the statutory period. And, it found, Crist was not her supervisor, as Regan had claimed.

So, what happened? It looks like 18 of the allegations occurred too long ago to be acted upon. More importantly, the Division of Human Rights determined that Crist was not Regan's supervisor.

See, in legal terms, you can only properly harass someone if you have some type of authority over that person. Sexual advances made towards a fellow co-worker, no matter how inappropriate, is not harassment because the 'harasser' can not retaliate against the harasee. In the case of co-workers, such behavior is consider 'acting creepy' or, in some rural places, 'going a courtin.'

The Division of Human Rights obviously ignored the political reality in county government, where politics blurs the chain of command. They also ignore the fact that many women do not report this conduct for fear of being fired or labeled a troublemaker. The lesson here is report the conduct to the appropriate person, in writing, close in time to the incident. If no action is taken, move up the chain of command. If there is retaliation for making the report, that retaliation can form a seperate basis for a suit.

The Troy Polloi did not cover the harassment side of Regan's story. Unlike some, we refuse to accuse someone of sexual harassment without any evidence. Regan had her side of the story, Crist his and only those two know the truth. Those who claim "Crist didn't do it' or 'Regan is telling the truth,' are merely guessing.

Crist said he is keeping open the possibility of suing Regan for making the false claims against him but added "there are more important things for us to focus on."

Crist won't sue Regan. He'd face the same problem Regan faced: He said/She said. Regan can still sue as well. She won't.

We're far more interested in the following:

In an unrelated matter, Regan charged that Crist, Mirch and others used the county office building and county employees to run their own political consulting business. Albany District Attorney David Soares was appointed special prosecutor but there is no new information on the case.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


The Troy City Council has been sued over the one-year moratorium against so-called 'Mini-Dorms." Background can be found here. The basis of the suit is that the moratorium discriminates against little (or mini) people.

According to sources, the Mayor has prohibited Corporation Council from representing the City Council in the matter. Under the City Charter, part of the duties of the Corporation Council is to defend suits against the City, City Council etc.

This is an odd move, even for Tutunjian. Perhaps he fell off his Segway and struck his noggin (feel free to make up your own caption for the photograph that accompanies the link).

The suit seeks equitable relief. If successful, it would abolish the moratorium against 'mini-dorms.' As far as we know, no money damages are sought. So, what has the Mayor accomplished:

1) Violated the Charter;

2) Placed his own Corporation Counsel in a very bad position;

3) The Council will now hire it's own attorney, a sort of mini-patronage gig for a Democratic attorney;

4) The Democratic attorney will be paid with funds likely coming from the Corporation Counsel's budget;

However, the last point seems unfair. If the Mayor has ordered the Corporation Counsel to not defend the Council, then maybe the cost should be born from the Mayor's budget.

The Democrats could bring an Article 78 compelling the Corporation Counsel to appear and defend the Council. They would be successful. But why bother when Tutunjian has given them the opportunity to get their own counsel.

It's a win-win for Democrats but sets a poor precedent for the future. The Corporation Counsel is legal counsel for the City, not the Mayor. There's a distinction but we suspect that distinction is beyond the current occupant of the 2nd floor.

Friday, August 01, 2008


The issue of salary boosts to the City's highest paid employees was indirectly on the table again at last Thursday's Finance Committee meeting.

In a controversial move, City Council President Clement Campana, D-At Large, introduced a proposed ordinance during the council's Finance Committee meeting Thursday which would amend the city's non-represented employees' policy by eliminating unnecessary positions and allowing city expenses, including salaries, to be adjusted in order to reduce the operating costs of city government.

We love it when they talk non-represented employees policy. Gets us hot and bothered. OK, so far so good. Moving on:

The 28-page ordinance took many members of the council by surprise as they attempted to quickly scan over the document in order to have some sort of objective discussion about the proposal, which would eliminate longevity payments and a tuition reimbursement program for city employees, as well as a number of administrative and clerical positions.

We're throwing the bullshit flag on this because it isn't fair to the Council. The Administration, by way of the previous Council, did that crap all the time. If you have a proposed ordinance, let the Council members see it in advance, especially one that is 28 pages long. Come on! Some of these guys haven't read twenty-eight pages since they were assigned Animal Farm in 8th Grade (and they know who they are).

One amendment to the policy which drew the most criticism was the redaction of a sentence in the "salaries" section which read, "In no event shall any employee in Group 'A' be paid less than that which was paid to the employee in the prior year budget."Corporation Counsel David Mitchell, the highest paid, mayor-appointed city employee in Group "A," with a current salary of $85,700, immediately warned members of the council that they would be met with litigation if the proposal was approved with that sentence redacted.

Mitchell then asked Campana, as well as other City Council members and City Clerk Bill McInerney, if they knew who had redacted the sentence. When no one answered him, after a brief shouting match, Mitchell stated that the matter would be settled in court.

Now we get down to the outrage. Lets discuss:

The Council has every right to strike that wording from that section. It's called an amendment and legislative bodies do it all the time.

Mitchell has no basis for any lawsuit surrounding the striking of that language from the existing ordinance. Just ignore him, like McInerny does. Mitchell has learned that McInerney cannot be intimidated.

More important is the history of that section of the ordinance. If you recall, that section was added at last year's Pig Out, when the post-election raises were handed out. That section violated the Charter then and violates the Charter today.

As the Mayor made clear, he sets salaries for a number of appointees, including the Corporation Counsel (remember, ignore him), the Deputy Mayor and the Comptroller.....

C-48 The Mayor shall fix, within the appropriations made therefor by the City Council and Mayor in the budget process, the salary or compensation of all officers and employees appointable by him/her. (Sec. K).

Setting aside the nuances of that section, in particular what can and cannot be done at budget time, it's clear that the Mayor fixes the salary of various appointees. And the fix was certainly in here.

§ C-21. Powers of City Council

(2) To amend this Charter by local law in accordance with the provisions of the Municipal Home Rule Law except that any local law which abolishes, transfers, or curtails any power of the Mayor shall be subject to mandatory referendum.*

The section at issue curtails the Mayor's power to set the salaries of appointees. Those salaries can be raised by the Mayor, with Council approval, but not lowered. Why the Mayor, and his attorney (ignore him) would want to curtail the Mayor's authority is beyond us. Beyond us or not, it violates The Charter.

So, their you have it. The Council should not back down, especially in light of threats. They should not have backed down before and should not back down this time. There's no shame in being sued for trying to prevent raises for political appointees. Even if you lose, it's a win. This Spring, when the issue first came up, some majority members seemed to panic. A lawsuit! Egad! No, no and no! The public doesn't give a damn about legal technicalities. They knew the raises stank, knew they were sneaky, and the Council wasn't going to take a beating from the public for trying to pull the trough away. Remember, they only people who were outraged were those who directly benefited from those raises.

What they do after that section is taken off the books, and when they do it, is another story.

* And, if possible, the express, written consent of Major League Baseball.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Whazzzup in the Twenty-First:


From The Times Union:

21st Congressional candidate Republican Jim Buhrmaster’s legal challenge of opponent Steven Vasquez’s petitions was adjourned in state Supreme Court in Albany until Wednesday morning. The two sides met with Justice Roger McDonough in chambers this morning and agreed to the adjournment.

Buhrmaster’s spokesman Josh Hills said Vasquez’s attorney and spokesman, Warren Redlich, needed time to gather witnesses in the case. Redlich, however, said it’s up to Buhrmaster to prove his case, and that Vasquez’s side might not call any witnesses.

Redlich said after reviewing the original petition, he’s confident that Vasquez can’t be knocked off the Sept. 9 primary ballot. He said 106 signatures are likely valid, which is about 40 more than Vasquez needs to stay in the race.


Albany County Clerk Thomas Clingan is the latest elected official to endorse Phil Steck in the race to succeed retiring Congressman Mike McNulty. First elected to the county-wide post in 1988, Clingan is a popular elected official in Albany County, which is expected to represent over 55% of the 7 county vote in the September 9 Democratic Primary.

Steck also went after the oil speculators:

Democratic congressional candidate Phil Steck said today that Congress should reform the Commodities Future Trading Commission (CFTC) before departing for the summer. He said that action is needed immediately because a great number of financial news reports continue to suggest that the price of oil will reach $200 by the end of the year. The price of oil was in the $20 range when George Bush took office in 2000.

“Speculation on the energy futures market is like the Wild West. The average consumer doesn’t really understand exactly how the market works, and speculators are raking in huge profits reminiscent of the heyday of Enron,” said Steck. “Oil companies and their lobbyists are writing our energy laws and have stifled reform on this issue in Washington .”

A number of economists have said that this energy speculation continues to drive up the price of oil, which is having a devastating effect on American consumers. They believe that speculation alone is to blame for $20-$60 additional in price per barrel.


Darius Shahinfar, Democratic candidate for New York's 21st Congressional District, today issued the following statement on the Bush administration's recent Middle East policy shifts of a "time horizon" troop withdrawal in Iraq and tentative steps to restore diplomatic relations in Iran:

"After years of intransigence, the Bush administration has finally begun to follow the advice of the Democratic Party and do what is necessary to bring greater stability to the Middle East.

"The Democratic Party, Senator Obama and I have been calling for action on troop withdrawals in Iraq and opening high level diplomatic talks with Iran for months. These common sense solutions to stabilizing the Middle East, lowering gas prices here at home, and bringing an end to this reckless war will help renew America's promise to its citizens and to the world."


Democratic Congressional Candidate Tracey Brooks tonight launched her television ad campaign delivering a message of standing up to the Republicans in Congress and making government accountable to people again.

"I am not like the other candidates in the race," said Brooks. "I have a different kind of hands-on experience working in our communities at the Schenectady Family Health Center, in the Community Services Corps, as a Girl Scout leader and basketball coach, and working with our families to help solve the very real and growing problems they're facing."

Brooks continued: "That's why I'm running for Congress – to help solve these problems, to take on the Republicans and special interests in Washington, and to make government accountable to the people once again. I have focused my campaign on the issues important to working families like providing affordable health care for all, standing up for a woman's right to choose, ending the war in Iraq and reinvesting that more than $12 billion a month here at home, and addressing those skyrocketing gas prices."

Finally, The Sanctuary for Independent Media is offering a free summer camp this week. Too bad it's already Wednesday:

For the week of July 28 through August 1, youths in North Troy
will get a chance to combine the things they love into a learning
experience geared toward multi-media communication skills they need.
Weekday mornings between 9 and noon, kids will gather at AME Zion
Church (103rd Street at 5th Avenue in Lansingburgh) to work with
poets, dancers, bike mechanics and chefs as the raw material for
their experiments with video making and computer animation. The
Sanctuary Summer Media Camp is free for the 25 young people who pre-
registered, as are the breakfasts and lunches kids get every day.

"This is the first year we've done this--the response has been
incredible," said spokesperson Steve Pierce. "Everyone involved is a
volunteer and thrilled to participate. If we can get the funding in
place, we'll offer an expanded program next year."

Activities include:

MONDAY Poetry workshop, video scavenger hunt
TUESDAY Dance workshop, video production
WEDNESDAY Bike workshop, computer animation
THURSDAY Audio for video production
FRIDAY Food sculpture, final presentation

The camp is being organized by the non-profit Media Alliance, which
operates The Sanctuary for Independent Media in North Troy
( Co-sponsors include AME Zion Church, the
Troy NAACP, 518 Positive Reinforcement, Troy Bike Rescue, Holy
Serenity Church of God in Christ, the Honest Weight Food Coop and
made possible in part by the New York State Council on the Arts and
hundreds of individual contributors. Food is provided by the
Nutrition Consortium of NY State Summer Food Service program of the
NYS Department of Health through the Rensselaer County Unified Family
Service--Department for Youth.

No word yet if Commissioner of Public Works, Bob Mirch, has phoned Homeland Security.

We also tracked down Brian Premo's website. We were using Yahoo and couldn't find the site. Then we Googled Premo. Don't tell anyone.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008



Nick Kaiser is now one of two candidates for Marco Island's top cop job. Kelly Farrell has the story. If Kaiser is selected, he's one lucky man. It looks like a great spot. It's not South Troy, but it ain't half bad.


According to the Times Union:

City Police Chief Nicholas Kaiser is a finalist to be the next top cop in Marco Island, Fla., Police Department, according to a news release issued by that community.
Kaiser is competing against four other candidates to head up the Florida community's police department.

Why anyone would want to leave the area for Marco Island is a mystery.

Chief Kaiser is not without his detractors. We found him to be a good man but not the strongest of leaders. He has a difficult job and the current administration has not made that job any easier. A concerted effort by the Administration last fall to oust Kaiser (an effort paid for by taxpayers) failed when the GOP lost control of the Council. That is the type of political distraction a Police Department does not need.

Interestingly, the Administration's choice for the head job, Assistant Chief John Tedesco, has also been reading the want-ads. Tedesco was up for the job in Guilderland, and received high marks, but didn't get the nod. He's also tested the waters in Massachusetts.

We hope Kaiser gets the job. Why he'd want to move to a dump like Marco Island is beyond us.


Robert Martiniano, Confidential Assistant to Council President Clem Campana, will resign his position effective this September.

Martiniano's tenure as Confidential Assistant was tainted by scandal over accusations that his position was a "No-Show Job." Well, taint isn't the right word. There was a concerted effort by some to manufacture a scandal, an effort that duped local television journalist Greg Floyd into not only investigating the allegations but running a story that failed to substantiate any of the allegations. They certainly get an A for effort.

The substance of the allegation was that Martiniano was not physically in a City Hall office like the former Confidential Assistant. Which really explains a certain public sector mindset. The only problem with the allegation was that its proponents failed to produce any evidence of a No-Show job. Martiniano's role was not that of a glorified receptionist, a point that seemed to bother the former glorified receptionist.

That said, we have issues with the position of a Confidential Assistant to the Council President or one for the Mayor. It's a position that is funded by the taxpayers but can be used for the benefit of one political party. Martiniano functioned as Campana's 'right hand man' or right hand person. That's fine and perfectly acceptable in Troy politics. We just have doubts that the position is necessary (we harbor doubts that many other positions are necessary as well, such as Public Works Commissioner).

Good Luck Bob. We wish you every success in the future.

Monday, July 28, 2008


On Thursday, the Troy City Council approved a deal that would settle the City of Rensselaer's water debt.

Rensselaer would pay Troy $1.2 million for the bills it has not paid since 1998 plus $250,000 in interest. The $1.45 million would be paid by the end of October.

The agreement received not only unanimous approval, but every Council member voted for it as well.

What the hell happened? What happened to the $3.5 million the Administration says is owed? Will the Mayor veto this agreement? What about Councilmen Wojcik and McGrath not agreeing to anything less than the full amount owed? Will Madge ever find the baby she put up for adoption?

Councilman Brown's proposal, often the target for Wojcik and McGrath's condemnation, would have recouped more money and we all know that the only thing better than recouping money is the initial couping of money.

So what happened?

Lots of fun stuff to discuss this week and we hope to get to it all:

Martiniano resigns;

Revisiting the Non-Rep Policy;

And much, much more.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


The blog is being reassessed for the next few days. Talk amongst yourselves.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


If you're like us, it's been a long time since you took property reassessment in high school or college.

For those of you wondering: Is there a site that can answer my questions about reassessment, the answer is here. The Office of Real Property Services has a pretty good site that will meet many of your assessment and reassessment needs.

Try it for a limited time and if your not completely satisfied, return it in the self addressed stamped envelope provided.

One question we have is this: The Administration tauts commercial development and increasing the tax base. We know many of the projects mentioned do not pay property taxes. These are projects sponsored by the Industrial Development Agency. They receive a PILOT or payment in lieu of taxes.

Will properties with Pilots be reassessed so we can see the value of those properties and how much the developers are not paying. If tax reassessment is about redistribution of tax burden, exactly who is bearing more of the burden, average people or large, commercial endeavors.

Interestingly, not all commercial endeavors want Pilots. The Pilot for John Scanlon Market Block has been retired. David Bryce, who will purchase the property, does not want a Pilot.

On the other hand, the entity behind the Hoosick Street Hotel, has applied to have Pilot for Hoosick Hospitality LLC transfered to Hoosick Development Group LLC.

Industrial Development Agencies do many things but remain fairly off the radar for most citizens. We're not suggesting anything sinister, just that a reporter out there may want to do a feature story on what these entities do and how they do it.

You can find IDA info and well as their meeting minutes at the City's website. The meeting minutes can be found here.

Interesting stuff, particularly the meeting minutes. For example, at the March 19th meeting, Sondra Little said that since the IDA was required to post all it's activities on-line, Freedom of Information requests had increased. Her suggestion was to implement a FOIL "policy."

Does anyone shudder when they hear about government agencies or quasi-government agencies formulating FOIL "policies." It doesn't have to mean, but such policies usually make it more difficult for the average citizen to obtain information.

Monday, July 21, 2008


It's mid-summer so we're taking it easy. Light posting. It's less filling but tastes great.

In the race to replace Joe Bruno, Assemblyman Roy McDonald has dominated the coverage. However, there's another candidate: Rensselaer's own Brian Premo. He's the only Rensselaeroid in the race.

Premo showed just how serious he is about taking Joe Senate seat by funding his campaign to the tune of $70,000.

Brian Premo, the endorsed Democratic candidate in the 43rd State Senate District, has funded his campaign with $70,000 of his own money.

Rensselaer County Chairman Tom Wade issued a statement saying Premo always knew it would take money to challenge State Senator Joseph Bruno, R-Brunswick, and that’s why only Premo was willing to run against him.

We don't know if Premo's the best candidate the Democrats could offer. We do know, he's the only one to step forward and announce his candidacy when everyone thought Bruno was still in the race.

Ironically, Joe's departure may have hurt Premo's chances. Running against Bruno, especially this year, had some built-in themes for the savvy challenger: change, Bruno as part of the problem....Not saying it would have worked but it was a theme, a message to use. That's more difficult with McDonald.

One thought: It will be interesting to see if this race becomes more about Rensselaer County against Saratoga than it is partisan.

Found this interview with Premo. Short but it's a start. We can't find Premo's website. If he doesn't have a web presence, he should remedy that as soon as possible.

Another challenger for Bruno's seat is Joanne Yepsen, from Saratoga County. We know nothing about Joanne but based on the picture on her older site, we could definitely support her. She'd raise the Senate's cuteness factor by 200%. We're all about priorities.

Friday, July 18, 2008


Uncle Joe Bruno is spending money like a drunken sailor on leave in Bangkok after six months at sea. His latest? The big man just stuffed a cool $6,000,000 in Troy's G-string (we know, disturbing imagery).

City Hall will be torn down and replaced with a park, an underground parking garage and a possible mixed-use building housing new city government offices, officials said this morning.

The total project will cost $8 million, Sen. Joseph Bruno, R-Brunswick said this morning. He added that $6 million in state funds will be made available for the project, which includes an esplanade running from Monument Square north to the Green Island Bridge and other park and recreation improvements.

We're going to have an esplanade!*

Now imagine, we were going to give this property away to Judge Development for the Verizon building. Does the Verizon building have an esplanade?**

Now, we think this is great. But, before everyone sports a big woodie, it's not like Joe's spending his own money. It's our money. And, instead of luring 150 well-paying jobs that will keep college graduates in the area, we're building a municipal building.

Joe's gone after today. Next year we'll be bitchin' about Long Island getting millions from Albany by way of Dean Skelos. They're going to want their own esplanade, after all.***

We have a tribute to Senator Bruno planned. He's truly one of our favorite Republicans. On the other hand, the tributes written by area reporters have been shameful in large part. It's true that Joe spent a lot of our money on the area. It's also true that after all those years, we're still faced with this and this.

The U.S. Census Bureau released its latest population estimates Wednesday, with the data showing the predictable trend: Most suburbs continue to gain as cities see further slides -- with some exceptions.

In Schenectady, the latest figures show the population growing from 61,481 in 2006 to 61,531 last year. That's still down from where the city was at the last full census of 2000, when 61,821 called the Electric City home.

Saratoga Springs continues to see growth, from 28,589 in 2006 to 28,782 in 2007.
In Albany, Mayor Jerry Jennings said he is pleased because the city's population decline is less than half a percent. Albany now has 94,172 residents, down from 94,603 in 2006.

"It's more stable than in the past, but I am not sure how accurate it is," he said. "It's encouraging that it's stabilized."

In Troy, the city saw 75 fewer people calling the Collar City home, with the population dropping from 47,819 to 47,744.

Albany and Troy weren't alone among upstate cities. Buffalo's population of 272,632 was down 0.93 percent over the year; Rochester, at 206,759, was down 0.49 percent; and Syracuse, 139,079, was down 0.78 percent, according to the estimates.

On a lighter note, we saw this headline and thought it was another story about Mirch.

* What the hell is an esplanade?

** Seriously what the hell is an esplanade?

*** It's food, isn't it?

Thursday, July 17, 2008




Who: Democratic Congressional Candidate Tracey Brooks along with other Democratic and Republican candidates.

What: Congressional Candidate Forum hosted by the Jewish Family Services of NENY's Neighborhood Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NNORC) Program.

Where: Sidney Albert Albany Jewish Community Center, 340 Whitehall Road, Albany, NY 12208. 518-438-6651.

When: Thursday, July 17, 7:00pm-8:30pm.

Note: The event is free and open to the public. For more information call the NNORC office at 518-514-2023.


Epstein's Mother


Albany, New York (July 16, 2008) – Phil Steck, Democratic candidate in the race to succeed retiring Congressman Mike McNulty (NY-21) announced today that he has raised over $320,000, including 872 individual donors. He reported $120,000 raised from 520 individual donors for the 2nd Quarter report to the Federal Election Commission (FEC). Over 95% of the money he received is from individuals and over 80% of those donors live and work in the Capital Region.

“I am very pleased to report that our campaign has successfully raised over $320,000 from 872 individual donors; 80% of whom live and work here in the Capital Region,” said Steck. “I am very grateful to people who have contributed to this community-based effort. Our fundraising has exceeded expectations and we are confident that our local approach to the campaign, including our fundraising, puts us in a stronger position to win this September.”


Democratic Congressional Candidate Tracey Brooks today announced ActBlue, the nation's largest online fundraising source for Democrats, has listed her on their Top 10 Candidates list for the week of July 7-13, making it the third time she has been ranked among the nation's top 10 Democratic online fundraisers.

"It's a tremendous honor to be among the nation's top Democratic online fundraisers for the third time, a group that includes Barack Obama," said Brooks, who also made the ActBlue Top 10 weekly lists for the first and second weeks of June. "This recognition is directly related to the hard work and dedication of our entire campaign team and is a reflection of our tech-savvy, grassroots, online-based approach to campaigning."

Brooks also headed over to the blogosphere today (now yesterday). You can find her interview over at The Albany Project. We're not taking sides in the 20th Primary. Like Brooks or not, she's smart and knows the issues. We hope the others follow suit and do Albany Project interviews, including Buhrmaster.


...has a run-in with the web. Welcome to the internet, where every misstep can be captured by the bane of all politicians, the print/Screen button.


Like Fox News, we are fair and balanced. There is a Republican in the race. Buhrmaster raised a handsome amount, under the circumstances.

As the September primary approaches, the outcome of this race remains unclear. Brooks and Steck were out early, raising money and collecting endorsements. Tonko has name recognition, as evidenced by a recent poll. Then, there's geography. You have to wonder if Steck and Brooks will split the Albany County vote, allowing Tonko to take it by a plurality. Just our thoughts.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008



State Senator Joe Bruno will resign from the Senate on Friday. Given the timing, the 43rd Senate District will be without representation until 2009. Abandoning his district is a strange way to go out, especially since the legislature is out for a large part of the Summer and there's less than six months left before the term expires.

Are we eligible for a Foster Senator? Maybe the Big Senator Program? We need a positive male role model.


From the crowd that gives you $30+ Grand in post-election raises, no more texting. Wouldn't you love to get your hands on those text messaging bills? Who knows, maybe we will.


Guess these guys didn't know that the Democratic Council has ended development in Troy.


In an effort to counter the growing perception of greed and cronyism over their post-election raid on Troy's treasury, Mayor Tutunjian announced that Attorney John Bailey's legal bill would be paid by the Tutunjian campaign.

A review of Tutunjian's July 15 filing shows that has not happened.

Tomorrow we'll catch-up on the race to replace Mike McNulty and the race for Joe's seat.

Monday, July 14, 2008


How to Know When the Administration Screws Up: A Primer*

The Administration's delay in the proposed sale of the Dauchy and River Triangle Buildings has jeopardized 120 Troy jobs. Now, see if you can spot the clue that the Administration screwed up and circle that clue. Go ahead. This will be on the final exam.

The approval of a proposed deal to sell the Dauchy and River Triangle buildings, located at 275-283 and 264-276 River Street, respectively, was delayed until the City Council's August meeting last week due to the fact that neither the council nor Mayor Harry Tutunjian submitted an ordinance authorizing the sale of the buildings.

An unofficial deadline of July 2 was previously established by the Herzog Law Firm, which represents the River Triangle partners who currently own the properties, for Tutunjian to sign off on a contract authorizing the sale of the buildings to David Bryce and Dan Yamin, of Cornerstone Communications, who hoped to expand his growing business in the Dauchy Building.

No contracts were signed on July 2 because an ordinance authorizing the sale of the properties was never submitted to or approved by the City Council. "I can't sign a contract without council approval," said Tutunjian, who noted that the council had first raised the issue of the sale and could have crafted its own ordinance which he would have then approved or vetoed.

If you circled the phrase "council approval" congratulations.

The Council was informed of the July 2 deadline on Saturday June 29 via letter from the Law Department. Why the Mayor and his Corporation Counsel did not forward the appropriate legislation to the Council in a timely manner remains a mystery.

But not really. This is the Administration's MO when they screw up or worry that there is a potential screw-up. It's the blame game and their attempts the lay the blame elsewhere are as thin as Mary Kate Olsen. Why the reporter did not ask the Mayor why Corporation Counsel did not draft the ordinance is another mystery. Reporters should try that. Not only are follow-up questions enlightening, who doesn't enjoy watching Harry try and think on his feet?

Only the Mayor can enter into an agreement on behalf of the City. A review of the Council meeting minutes* shows the typical pattern:

1) Corporation Counsel drafts an ordinance authorizing the mayor to enter into an agreement, contract etc.

2) The proposed ordinance is sent to the appropriate committee for whatever legislative voodoo is necessary.

3) That ordinance is introduced by a council member at the request of the Mayor and approved.

It's no secret that the Mayor despises this City Council and believes they are incompetent. He and his henchmen have said so. So, why rely on the Council to do the work the Mayor is supposed to do? It simply doesn't make sense. Furthermore, the Mayor has a track record of screwing these things up. Remember SEFCU?

The only thing this Administration does in a timely, competent fashion is protect their raises.

Thursday, July 10, 2008



The city was awarded $604,425, of which nearly $375,000 will to directly to the Troy Police Department. The remainder will be split between the Rensselaer County District Attorney’s Office, the Rensselaer County Sheriff’s Office and the Rensselaer County Probation Department.

The funds will be used to purchase GPS devices. * A mistake, yes. It's not pleasant for the unfortunate resident. However, if you want aggressive policing, the occasional mistake is going to occur.


and nobody came?

TROY - It was the empty seats that made a statement Monday night, at an information session about a plan for a city-wide reassessment in Troy.

The public and the City Council were invited, but none of the nine council members showed.

And then, the disappointment.

"The fact that they didn't show up tonight to hear the question and answers and presentation is not a good sign for the residents," said Mayor Harry Tutunjian. "They're elected to make tough decisions and when they choose to stay away, it's disappointing to me."

Another bad sign for the residents is a Mayor that sends notice to Council members two days before the meeting is scheduled. Perhaps, if Council members received notice before Saturday, July 5th, some may have showed, including his his own party.

On the other hand, as a seperate branch of government, they are not at the mayor's beck and call. If the meeting was so important, perhaps the Mayor could have coordinated this better. It's all very disappointing.


Phil Steck, Democratic candidate for Congress in New York’s 21st congressional district, is calling for immediate federal and state action to allay the fears of Mohawk River Valley residents of more disastrous flooding.

“It is a disgrace that state and federal officials have done nothing while the people in this region live in fear of the next big flood,” said Steck, who spent the weekend personally knocking on doors at the homes of over 200 residents in the Villages of St. John sville and Fort Plain. “After all we’ve seen in New York and across the country, you would think the politicians in Albany and Washington would have learned.”

Stech also received another endorsement:

Albany ’s 4th Ward City Councilwoman Barbara Smith, a prominent black feminist, has endorsed Phil Steck in his campaign for Congress. Smith’s written work on racism, gender and class, have appeared in a variety of national publications.

As for Tracey Brooks:

In the wake of repeated local gun violence and the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, Congressional candidate Tracey Brooks today asked local communities, law enforcement agencies and gun safety advocates to join her in a renewed pledge to keep our kids safe, keep guns off our streets and out of the hands of criminals.

Brooks also supports:

-Requiring firearm license applicants to be 21 years old to carry, posses, repair or dispose of firearms.

-Banning the sale, use or possession of 50-caliber or larger weapons.

-Childproofing devices and legislation that prohibits weapons, like pistols and revolvers, without mechanisms incorporated into the design that effectively preclude an average five year old from firing it.

-Bills, like the Children's Weapon Accident Prevention Act, which require safe storage of weapons.

-Weapons safety programs in our schools and communities.

Brooks is also set to announce a major endorsement today, Vinnie Barbarino style:

Who: Congressional Candidate Tracey Brooks; Cohoes Mayor John McDonald; friends, supporters and special guest

What: Tracey Brooks will receive a significant endorsement in the 21st Congressional race.

When: Thursday, July 9, 11:00 AM

Where: Marra's Pharmacy, 217

Darius Shahinfar gathered enough signatures to make the ballot for September's primary.

Former Assemblyman Paul Tonko appears to be doing absolutely nothing. He also appears to be winning.

And finally, Congressional candidate John Aretakis bids adieu to his Washington ambitions, restoring a level of dignity to the race that is very disappointing.

* Yes, we know they entered the residence that was in the warrant.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


The Troy City Council agreed 9-0 to an agreement that would end the water dispute with the City of Rensselaer. The full amount of the debt - minus approximately 200k - would be paid off in ten years. This include a $1,950,000 balance and $500,000 in interest/penalties.

The City of Rensselaer recently counter-offered: a $1,400,000 lump sum small, unmarked bills to be left in a breifcase in the bathroom of the train station.

Naturally, Mayor Tutunjian declined the offer.

“It will come as no surprise that this latest attempt by Rensselaer to shirk their outstanding debt is unacceptable to this office,” aid Tutunjian.

“If Rensselaer’s proposal of $1.45 million is intended to satisfy the entire debt, the proposal will not be accepted and we will move forward with our court action.”

After shirking his responsibility for 3.5 years (as did Mayor Pattison before him), Tutunjian wants 'all' the money owed.

Rensselaer Mayor Dan Dwyer's argument is twofold: the first explains a lot about the City of Rensselaer, the second is more interesting.

First: "Dwyer has repeatedly stated that he did not believe he was responsible for paying those fees because he was not in office at the time the bills were not paid...

He's F-----g kidding, right?

Second: ...and because there was no standing contract between the cities which outlined punishments for missing payments."

The second point is of interest. No contract, no penalties. Which leaves us with balance + interest.

Troy, or at least all Council members, seem to have agreed on accepting $2.1 million over ten years. One observant reader wants to know the present value of 2.1 million. That is, what would someone pay today for the opportunity to receive 2.1 million in ten years. The short answer is something in the neighborhood of $1,400,000. The calculations get complicated because of the periodic 175k payments over the course of those ten years.

Troy has the upperhand in this matter. Rensselaer owes us money. At trial, Rensselaer cannot deny they took water, contract or not. Rensselaer obviously has at least 1.4 million on hand and is willing to pay this amount now or after a judgment.

Does anyone get the feeling that Rensselaer is jerking Tutunjian around? Despite the upperhand, Troy's mayor is looking weaker and weaker, running to the press and complaining. Take all deals off the table and just go to court. Various deals offered have been fair.

Monday, July 07, 2008


There have been several well publicized crimes in recent weeks. According to some, crime appears to be on the rise in Troy. However, well-publicized crimes does not mean that crime is on the rise. Only time will tell.

We do know that Troy's Street Crimes Unit has received good (and well-deserved) publicity in recent weeks. For example, the SCU nabbed Stanley Lewis in late June:

Members of the city Police Street Crimes Unit arrested an armed man Friday night who repeatedly resisted arrest and had to be tasered before he could be apprehended, police said.

Stanley Lewis, 46, was arrested near the intersection of Swift Street and Sixth Avenue around 10:22 p.m. as he was concealing a fully-loaded .380 caliber handgun.

That's a big gun, about three times as big as a .126 caliber handgun. And, these guys got him before he used it, which is the real trick, isn't it. In fact, Dean and the SCU (soon to be a new Law and Order franchise) are doing such a good job they have garnered praise from fellow officers:

From: Joseph.Centanni
Sent: Friday, June 27, 2008 5:25 PM

Hi- Thanks for taking a moment to read this. I just want to point out to everyone that it is important to recognize the impact that the SCU has had on reducing violent street crimes in Troy. Dave Dean has done an amazing job ( as always!) in taking this unit from an abyss and getting the most out of it. The positive press generated from Dave on behalf of Troy in the last 5 days has been awesome. Troy is SAFE!!

If you see Dave around, please thank him on behalf of a safer citizenry. Thank him for me also.
GO SCU!! GO DAVE!!!!!!!!!

Sincerely, Joe Centanni

P.S. I will be out of town for the next few days working on my eating disorder and pumping iron.

Nice, huh.

But, Centanni sent a follow-up:

From: Joseph.Centanni
Sent: Monday, June 30, 2008 2:27 PM

On 06/27/08, I made the error of leaving my computer unlocked while Dave Dean was around. By now you are all aware an e-mail was sent with my name on it. I would like to set the record straight and tell you all, that was not me. Dave Dean isn't doing that good of a job with SCU. The unit runs itself. Any credit for its success, should be given to the patrolman assigned, not Dean.

The real Joe Centanni

We'd list the recipients of both e-mails but that would be everybody: city hall employees, administration, council members etc.

The first e-mail is obviously over the top hyperbole and we'd be astounded if anyone took it seriously before they even reached the PS.

The second sounds rather harsh if the first was mere ball breaking. We've heard that Dean and Centanni sit next to one another (due to assigned seating). We've heard they're friends. We've heard they're not friends. Whatever the case may be, and despite the damn fine ball-breaking in the first e-mail, using someones e-mail without their consent is bad touch.

We understand that Internal Affairs is now involved.

As Mike Brady would say: I think we all learned a valuable lesson. What that lesson is remains to be seen.

Thursday, July 03, 2008


There's a lot of talk....OK....very little talk about the Charter Review Commissions. And, while we won't discuss what happens when former City Manager Steve Dworsky gets involved with things, here's our thoughts:

1. Charters should be reader friendly. Not just for bureaucrats and lawyers but for average citizens. Like any good piece of writing, the opening has to hook you. The first order of business must be the opening. The reader has to be compelled to turn the page. They have to want to find out what happens. A few suggestions on the opening:

  • "Whan that Aprille with his shoores soote..."

  • "It was the best of times it was the worst of times..."

  • "We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold. "

  • "Marley was dead, to begin with."

Or, feel free to use this:

"If you're reading this City Charter I'm dead and someone in City Hall is responsible."

2. There's been chatter about reducing the size of the City Council from nine members to seven members. We disagree. We think the Council should remain at 9 members. However, the number of chairs provided for Council members should be reduced by 2. That way, the last two members to arrive at a meeting have to stand.

3. If Troy is experiencing a Renaissance, the Mayor and his administration should dress the part: frilly collars, hose and cod pieces. Police, get out those Beafeater costumes.


We recently received this e-mail:

I'm a new reader. Someone told me about your blog at Francesca's -- one of the guy's starting the new Troy paper. You hear anything about that? I was there when Harry was rubbing elbows with the two guys starting it, getting his photo taken and stuff.

So, if you know anything about a new newspaper, feel free to chime in.

Have a safe Fourth of July weekend.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


We now return to our regular scheduled programming.


How do you know budget time is just around the corner? The City goes begging for dollars:

The city wants Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to pay a public safety fee per student that could generate as much as $1.26 million annually to cover police, fire and ambulance coverage provided to the campus.

City officials want RPI to pay to offset additional demands placed on city emergency sources due to the school's massive building program that includes EMPAC, the acronym for Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, and the East Campus Athletic Village.

The City would like RPI to pay $200.00 per student, per year.

City Council President Clement Campana said RPI needs to recognize that it places a lot of demands on city services.

"The public safety fee is something that is long overdue. Given the number of calls we make up there, it's fair to assess something," Campana said.

Campana would prefer the fee isn't directly assessed on the students by RPI. But he said a payment for public safety would improve RPI's image among city residents.

"It's always been the feeling RPI doesn't do enough for the city," Campana said.

And, of course, we have the trademark diplomacy of Deputy Mayor Crawley:

"RPI is noted for saying we're having a grand opening and inviting everyone before they have a CO," Crawley said. "If the invitations go out for October and their place is not completed, they're not going to get a CO."

One rarely sees that caliber of sophisticated diplomacy on the local political level.

The fact of the matter is that RPI benefits Troy directly and indirectly. The opposite is not true. Theoretically, RPI could move to North Adams and flourish. RPI does not need Troy.

As for a fee, why single out RPI? Why not Kennedy Tower as well. Why not assess a fee on students at Doyle Middle School? The police are up at Doyle quite a lot. Why not charge every resident a $200 fee and use it for public safety? We understand that attacking an institution of higher learning plays to the lowest common denominator and that's what the Administration does. There's just better ways to get money from RPI than veiled threats.


Going once, going twice....

The Troy Downtown Collaborative plans three meetings to gather comments and suggestions before the proposal goes to the Troy City Council for approval. Owners in the proposed district and the state comptroller’s office also must sign off on the plan.

Clearly, the BID is an important.....we believe it will....screw it. We really don't care.

Monday, June 30, 2008


The dispute between the City of Troy and the City of Rensselaer is resolved.....almost.

According to the Times Union:

The City Council agreed unanimously Thursday night to a deal proposed by Mayor Harry Tutunjian to get the city of Rensselaer to settle its unpaid water bills dating to 1999.

The proposed settlement of Troy's lawsuit against Rensselaer over the unpaid water tab is $2.1 million including interest, with $400,000 to be paid immediately followed by annual payments of $175,000 until the debt is paid. Rensselaer will pay interest annually on the amount owed.

The article almost makes you believe that reporters were present at the meeting.

The real story is that no plan was proposed by Mayor Tutunjian. Unless, it was Plan Nine. In fact, the Council attended the meeting with the expectation of reviewing a proposed plan that would settle the dispute. In reality, the Council was handed a fill-in-the-blanks proposal and plugged-in the numbers that will form the basis of the settlement.

Tutunjian had no plan, no deal and failed to participate in filling-in his own blanks. Corporation Counsel David Mitchell, who did participate, offered vague number ranges as to money owed.

It was ultimately agreed that approximately $1,950,000 was owed by Rensselaer. Approximately $500,000 of that total was interest. However, $168,000 in interest was forgiven at the recommendation of the Administration because the Administration couldn't establish whether that interest was owed by Rensselaer of East Greenbush.

Approximately $200,000+ in interest and penalties was also forgiven. This is the Brown deal, with some minor changes.

So what happened?

It's apparent that the Administration had no idea of the dollar amount owed by Rensselaer to Troy. If the Administration did have an exact dollar amount, the trial is a mere 6 weeks away. Why not wait and prove your case? Because....

....the recording keeping during this Administration and the last, on this issue, was poor. If they had an exact amount that they could prove, why didn't Mitchell make a motion for Summary Judgment so we could avoid the trial all together? We listened to the typical bluster from the Administration since they wouldn't settle for anything less than the entire amount, paid in full. But, now, even the three GOP Councilmen voted to a reduced amount.

Also, it's fresh cash. Money they will need to off-set potential tax hikes this fall.

We said this case would and should settle. That the settlement would involve a payment plan. If Rensselaer doesn't sign off on this ASAP, they're committing governmental malpractice.

The fun part of all this is to fondly remember the bluster earlier this year. GOP Councilmen, Tutunjian and Crawley all balked at Rensselaer paying a penny less than was owed. In fact, Councilman McGrath said that if Rensselaer paid less than the full amount, he would tell Troy taxpayers to call Brown's home if they had problems paying their own water bill. Well, Rensselaer is paying less than is owed and McGrath voted yes. So we guess those tax payers can phone McGrath's house now instead of Brown's.

Full of sound and fury in May but by June they go gentle into that good night.

Friday, June 27, 2008


Senator Bruno's announcement has dominated the news. Next week we'll return to our regularly scheduled programming.


Rensselaer County Executive Kathy Jimino will not seek Senator Bruno's seat, despite how attractive that seat may be. Why? She loves us too much.

“What has come to the surface in my own mind as I have weighed my decision is the love I have for our county, our people and my role as their county executive,” Jimino said in the statement.

And it's true. We can feel the love.

Jimino's decision is the proper one. Rensselaer County is already suffering from abandonment issues with the departure of Bruno. The fact that Assemblyman Roy McDonald has been all but anointed to run did not play a part in the decision.

With Bruno's departure, a number of Democrats are now reconsidering their options. For instance, fresh from her mayoral re-election defeat, Saratoga's Valerie Keehn is circulating petitions. Well, she does have time on her hands.


Here's the odd thing, the thing that keeps people speculating: Bruno may actually resign his seat before his term expires. Leaving his leadership post at age 79 makes sense. Resigning his senate seat with only sixth months left in the term is inexplicable. Or, maybe it's explicable. Perhaps his departure from leadership did not turn down enough Federal heat.

What happens if Bruno does exit early? We consulted the State's Owner's Manual.


The new Senate Majority Leader is Dean Skelos (R-Nassau). Here's his official Senate Biography.

In high school, Senator Skelos was voted 'Most Likely to Remind Women of the First Husband.'

We already miss Joe.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Following-up on the week's major story.

Did Bruno's abrupt departure strike anyone as a strange way to end 32 years (13 of them as Senate Majority Leader) public life?

The Times Union article notes:

The Brunswick Republican stunned allies and colleagues Monday, confirming he will not run for re-election after a 32-year Senate career.

Few people seemed to know of Bruno's intentions. "He called us in right before he told his members," said Edward Lurie, Bruno's former political director, referring to top staffers.

Bruno met for almost two hours with his Republican colleagues behind closed doors but declined to face about 50 reporters and television crews. An aide said Bruno would say more today.

The mood in the meeting, Morahan said, "was like a wake."

Bruno's departure from public life stands in sharp contrast to Congressman Mike McNulty who announced earlier this year that he would not seek reelection. At yesterday's press conference, Bruno did not look or act like a man that wanted to leave this job.

Bruno's abrupt departure is also out of character for the 79 year-old. Like him or not, Bruno is a fighter and it seems odd that he would abandon his post less than five months before a crucial election. The fact that the FBI probe continues lead many to speculate that there may be an announcement in the near future from that office.

In the meantime, it looks like Assemblyman Roy McDonald has the inside track to the Republican nomination. However, Rensselaer County's own Kathy Jimino has expressed an interest in the seat. Not mentioned for a Bruno replacement is Troy Mayor Harry Tutunjian or County Legislator Neil Kelleher. Why Joe would not back a fellow-Rensselaer County Republican is not know. Ultimately, no matter who gets the nomination, the Senator representing our County will have little seniority.

Meanwhile, Nassau County Senator, Dean Skelos has been elected the new Majority Leader. Skelos, one of the GOP's Young Turks is 60 years old.

If you're interested in complete coverage you can find it at The Albany Project.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


The signs were there to be read but this is still huge statewide political news let alone big countywide news. Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R-Brunswick) will not run for re-election.

For weeks, Bruno aids have been resigning to secure other employment, leading many to speculate Bruno would not run. Then, there's the impending GOP loss of the Senate Majority.

Here's The Record article and the Times Union article.

The practical implications are enormous for both Rensselaer County and the local Republican Party. We explored some of those implications back in April. More fun is the fact that with the departure of the County's 800 lbs. GOP gorilla, the party will be in the hands of some 100lbs. monkeys.

This will dominate the news for a few days so our regularly scheduled programming is on hold as we follow the developments.

Monday, June 23, 2008


Some good things to cover this week. We'll start out slow for your Monday.

Metroland's Chet Hardin has covered the Bob Martiniano - No-Show Job - story. Hardin's coverage is very similar to the Channel 6 coverage....except Hardin has the job description...and knows that Martiniano does not work for the State...and knows that .....

Funny stuff and the type of coverage Gregg Floyd could have done if he had bothered to research the issue. What's that called again? When you gather research and facts? Oh, that's right: Journalism.


According to the Times Union: The day before a 14-year-old boy was seriously injured going down the steep Thompson Street hill, city crews had started safety improvements, Mayor Harry Tutunjian said today.

"It's sad. We were working to try to prevent it," Tutunjian said about the work, which started Tuesday and includes erecting new guardrails, a fence and warning signs.

The Tutunjian Administration really moved on this issue, like Ernie Lombardi running to First. Hell, it's only been a year since a child was killed at that same location. It's not like they had notice that something like this could happen to a child. Why the year delay? Too busy with pay raises? Suing the Council? Stomping First Amendment Rights?

High Caliber leadership, indeed.


Harry declared Troy the fastest or 2nd fastest growing polis in the region? From the Times Union:

Wilton issued building permits for 423 housing units in 2007, while the cities of Albany, Schenectady and Troy combined for just 66.

The numbers illustrate the continued northward and outward expansion of the Capital Region's population and the move away from older cities in favor of fast-growing suburbs.

In the city of Albany, for example, permits were issued for 48 residential units -- 20 apartment units and 28 single-family homes.

Troy, meanwhile, issued permits in 2007 for 14 single-family homes and no apartments, according to the data.

The city of Schenectady issued just four permits in 2007, all single-family homes.

Meanwhile, suburbs such as Halfmoon (permits for 223 units), Glenville (247 units) and Colonie (93 units) were far more popular with residential developers -- continuing the pattern seen in the Capital Region for decades.

Impressive. Remember, that's in 2007, before the evil Democrats took over and destroyed growth.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


State Supreme Court Justice Anthony Carpinello has hit the airwaves in his reelection bid. The Times Union reports a television ad and we have heard him on the radio. Caprinello sits on the Appellate Division, Third Department but must be a Supreme Court Justice in order to remain on the Appellate Division.

Carpinello will likely face Rensselaer County Court Judge Patrick McGrath. This is the first real race for Supreme Court that Carpinello has faced. Hitting the airwaves this early is also a sign that Carpinello (rightly) takes McGrath's campaign seriously.

McGrath should win Albany County and Rensselaer County handily. If that happens, Carpinello will have difficulty finding enough votes in the remaining counties to counter McGrath.

As you can see, the 3rd Judicial District has turned a bright shade of yellow over the past few decades. This is due to an influx of Court of Claims judges doing the work of Supreme Court Judges because so many of our elected judges are sitting on the Appellate Division.

If McGrath does carry Albany County and Rensselaer County by a solid majority, we just can't see Carpinello making-up enough votes in Greene County, Columbia County...which contain a total of 9 eligible voters.

Carpinello's big problem is that his current position, for all of it's import, is not high profile. He does not see or interact with jury pools. He is not the presiding judge on any high profile cases.

Both men are capable jurists.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


A quick Heard on the Street. We can't vouch for it's specific accuracy but an interesting rumor nonetheless.

It seems that at least three Troy Police Officers that recently left the TPD for greener pastures found that those pastures were not so green after all. These experienced officers want to rejoin the TPD. Experienced officers, you say? Who want to work here?

The one snag is the Administration. They won't rehire these officers unless the PBA agrees to some type of Pro-Harry Public Relations bit.


Monday, June 16, 2008


Some Troy criminal law news. From the Times Union:

The conviction of Michael "Murder" Hoffler, serving life without the possibility of parole for the 2003 murder of a police informant, was reversed by the Appellate Division because of a rare glitch in courtroom proceeding where potential jurors were given the wrong oath.

Here's the background:

At the beginning of jury selection, prospective jurors are all administered the "oath of truthfulness" as a group by the commissioner of jurors. With the oath they essentially pledge they will answer questions honestly put to them by the prosecution, defense and sometimes a judge to determine whether they are suited to serve.

A second oath, administered by the trial court clerk to seated jurors just before the trial begins, is a promise to fairly try the issues before them and render a verdict in accordance with the evidence and the law.

The court ruled that a review of the record showed the commissioner never gave the jurors the first "truthfulness" oath, instead reading them a rendition of the second one.

Hoffler was convicted in '05 for the murder of informant, Christopher Drabik. The decision can be read here.

Makes you wonder how many defense attorneys are combing through their files as we speak.

In other criminal news:

The state's highest court ruled Thursday that a Rensselaer man convicted six years ago of sexual abuse deserves a new trial because prosecutors withheld information from the defense.

Burton Jeffery Hunter was found guilty in November 2002 of sexually abusing a 17-year-old girl on Dec. 9, 2001, at his East Street home and was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Record reporter, Jim Franco, has written about five pounds of articles on this case. We can't find the links to any of them but if you can track them down, they covered the case quite well.

Which brings us to The Wankers of the Week.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Troy Republicans have been absolutely giddy over the prospect of a WRGB piece on Robert Martiniano, the Confiedential Assistant to the Council President. The piece aired Tuesday night and can also be found on WRGB's website (under recent videos).

In all honesty, it was a relatively fair piece, especially for one driven by disgruntled GOP operatives.

The Record picked-up on the story (apparently this is more important than the recent Metroland article on Troy's Corporation Counsel, a story The Record and Times Union won't cover). However, The Record did do something that Greg Floyd did not do: get the job description.

Floyd* was offered the job description, work product and time sheets but declined, stating he did not need them. What reporter needs all that information? It would just complicate matters.

Ironically, there was no written description of the job duties of former Confidential Assistant Vito Ciccarelli. So, what exactly are the duties? The description is in The Record article. Some may not like the description, some might think the duties should be different. That's a legitimate dispute. But a reporter, like Floyd, has a duty to find out what the job entails and what Martiniano has produced. Without researching that, what's the point?

Floyd should also have found disgruntled constituents, noticeably absent from the story. The only disgruntled person we saw was Mr. Ciccarelli. Nor could Mr. McGrath scare-up a disgruntled resident.

The video is certainly worth watching multiple times if for no other reason than Twila. That was hysterical.

With all due respect to Mr. Martiniano, and Mr. Ciccarelli, the Confidential Assistant is a small fish in the larger Troy and Rensselaer County world. Investigating wasteful public spending is a vital media responsibility. Perhaps they could start higher up on the food chain and work their way down to the little fish.

Some suggestions for WRGB and The Record:

Mirch's 3rd public sector job as Constituent Liaison for Senator Bruno. It pays three times what the Confidential Assistant receives and is held by someone who has a full-time job that he describes as "24-7." How does a constituent contact Senator Bruno's liaison? We don't know. The contact information isn't on Senator Bruno's website. How many hours does Mr. Mirch work for the Senator for that $30,000? We don't know because we were told Mr. Mirch does not keep time sheets for that job and better, doesn't have to.

Or, the billing records of Troy's Corporation Counsel's Office? Who is being paid for and for what services? Who is attending what seminars and training? Are those bills being sent to the Council for approval if they exceed $500.00 as required by the Charter?

Look into everyone, by all means. Just start at the top.

*In college, Mr. Floyd was involved in student government, Mr. Martiniano in the school paper. Martiniano wrote a number of pieces critical of Mr. Floyd.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


The Sanctuary for Independent Media has filed a Notice of Claim against the City of Troy. From Jim Franco's article:

The New York Civil Liberties Union formally filed a notice of claim against the city on behalf of artist Wafaa Bilal, who attempted to open a controversial exhibit at the Sanctuary for Independent Media.

On March 11 the day the exhibit — called “Virtual Jihadi” which is a video game where the objective is to track down and kill President Bush — was to open, the city closed down the sanctuary for code violations. The lawsuit, when filed will attempt to show the city violated Bilal’s civil rights.

“Wafaa Bilal would like city officials in Troy to understand that artistic expression is protected, no matter how offensive its officials may find it,” said Melanie Trimble, director of the NYCLU’s Capital District chapter. “The NYCLU will always defend artists from government suppression.”

The matter could have been averted by a simple apology from the Mayor. Now, Troy will face a lawsuit and probably pay an outside law firm a significant fee to defend Troy's clamp-down on free speech. Since it's a Civil Rights action the big fear is always attorney's fees. Those can be substantial. In a recent lawsuit against the Averill Park School District, for a Freedom of Speech violation, fees amounted to over $500,000.


A shake-up in the TPD as violent crime makes some headlines.


Democratic congressional candidate Phil Steck announced today that he supports imposing a windfall profit tax on oil companies, which would help to combat the rising cost of gas at the pump. Steck pointed to H.R. 6000, which was recently introduced by Congressman Dennis Kucinich, and is supported by over 60 members of the House, as legislation that is taking big oil interests head on.

“Big oil companies are gouging the American public,” said Steck. “For far too long, lobbyists have been stopping progress and stifling real energy reform. We need Congress to act right now to end this oil company profiteering.”

Steck also said that H.R. 6000, known as the “Gas Price Spike Act,” includes tax credits for the purchase of fuel efficient vehicles and provides federal funding to improve mass transit. Steck said that the individual tax credits for energy efficient vehicles would be worth between $3500 and $6000.

Friday, June 06, 2008


The Troy City Council withdrew legislation that would settle Rensselaer's water debt. The legislation was withdrawn because of a procedural error: The legislation was not discussed at the most recent Finance Committee meeting as mandated by the City Charter.

This is another in a string of procedural errors that have plagued the City Council. Are procedural errors a big deal? Yes and no. They can be corrected and are inevitable from time to time. Governing in a democracy can be a messy business. The former Council was also plagued by procedural errors (many pointed out here) but since they did the Administration's bidding, such errors were rarely an issue.

Still, the Council has had time to settle in and it's about time they get their shit together and not give an impotent mayor ammunition.

That said, Rookie Councilman John Brown deserves much of the credit if Troy does get some or all of it's money from Rensselaer. Brown raised this issue during the campaign and has worked towards settling the debt since elected. One thing forgotten in this debate is that no matter what the Council does, it is our reading of the City Charter that they Mayor must sign-off on any agreement. If the Mayor vetoes the legislation the Council can override that veto but we don't believe the settlement would be valid. We could be wrong (not likely) but that's our read on the Mayor's powers under the Charter. A settlement would be a contract and the Mayor must execute any contract on behalf of the City.

Brown's actions have lit a fire under the Administration. Four years ago, the Mayor promised to collect this debt. Instead, he hired Rensselaer's Corporation Council and did nothing. He seemed more content to raise our taxes than collect the debt. Councilman Brown comes along and in 2008 the City finally files a lawsuit. Brown put the issue center stage and got the ball rolling.

The Administration's line in all this is to call Rensselaer "dead beats." They insist that Rensselaer should be treated like the Troy citizens that don't pay their bills. We'll be taking a look at how this Administration treats certain residents that don't pay their bills and the amount of those bills.

Peace out.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008



Now that June is here and we're behind on our community service hours, posting will be two or three times a week.


Why is Congressional Candidate Tracey Brooks (along with Governor David Paterson)trying to turn us gay?

Tracey Brooks:

...offered support to the Capital District Gay and Lesbian Community Council (CDGLCC) and announced plans to participate in CAPITAL PRIDE 2008, which runs from May 29 to June 8. Brooks also unveiled her platform on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues and offered a pledge of steadfast support to the LGBT community.

"I look forward to participating in CAPITAL PRIDE 2008 and congratulate the Capital District Gay and Lesbian Community Council on the organization's more than thirty years of activism on behalf of the Capital District's LGBT community. CAPITAL PRIDE promises to be a great success and I'm looking forward to marching in next Sunday's Pride Parade," said Brooks. "I whole-heartedly support the LGBT community and will fight for legal protections and rights for all LGBT people including the ability of two loving people to legally wed, and adopt and raise their children with full parenting rights."

Tracey Brooks supports the following:

A transgender-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act;
The Matthew Shepard Act adding our community to the nation's hate crimes legislation;
Same-sex marriage;
Repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act;
Repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell;
Increased funding for HIV/AIDS education, prevention and research and getting rid of the abstinence only programs that simply do not work; and,
Legislation that changes our immigration laws so that bi-national couples are recognized and the U.S. citizen of the couple can sponsor his or her non-U.S. partner for citizenship.

Congrats to Brooks. We thought this deserved greater attention. Few candidates are as clear and unabashed in their support for what some believe to be a controversial issues. But, if we find our children secretly downloading Judy Garland recording onto their Ipods, we're calling Brooks.


Phil Steck thwarts old guard and secures the Albany County Democratic Committee endorsement for U.S. representative in the 21st District

All it took was a cue from Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings, said Albany County Legislator Phil Steck, and the room began to clear out—a remaining vestige of the power the mayor once exerted over the Albany County Democratic Committee. Except this time, the mayor’s sway wouldn’t prove strong enough.

Candidate Tracey Brooks responded:

"Last night, Jack McNulty made an impassioned plea for party unity and democracy that we fully supported and that all the candidates supported but one.

I was heartened to see so many grassroots committee members supporting my campaign based on the right priorities, a different kind of experience and our message of making change happen.

We look forward to working with our legion of supporters in Albany County and in all seven counties of the 21st District as we begin the petition process, continue building on our momentum and move towards victory in the fall."

The issue was, according to Metroland:

"...the Steck camp was able to deflect an attempt by another Brooks supporter and father of the outgoing Congressman, Jack McNulty, to pass a motion stating that the committee should not endorse any of the candidates in the heated primary competition. It was a move that many had hoped the committee would have taken, McNulty reportedly argued, if for no other reason than to preserve “party unity.”

Steck was also endorsed by the Independence Party. Paul Tonko was endorsed by the Working Families Party.


Local attorney Brian Premo officially announced his campaign to challenge Senator Joe for State Senate.

And, of course, The Record, couldn't just print a story on Premo. They had to allow the GOP to toss in some digs. We're all for taking shots at politicians but typically, the official announcement story is about the candidate, not a show case for the opposition. There's plenty of time for that during the campaign. But, as long as they did, this is pretty funny:

Larry Bugbee, the Republican commissioner of the Rensselaer County Board of Elections, confirmed that Premo had failed to vote in seven regular November elections between 1993 and 2003 and that he had changed his political party affiliations several times over the years, from Democrat to Republican, and most recently back to Democrat.

And, a Rensselaer County Family Court Judge was censured by those damned, liberal hippies on the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.

Monday, June 02, 2008


A Troy City Councilman who requested an investigation now appears to be hindering his own request.

Councilman Mark Wojcik asked the City Council to investigate rumors that Councilman John Brown cut a deal with Rensselaer Republicans. According to the rumors, Brown, in return for support, agreed to save the City of Rensselaer money on their overdue water bill. Rensselaer owes Troy, depending on the day, anywhere between 2.3 and 3.7 million for water.

The unsubstantiated rumor resulted in Councilman Wojcik requesting an investigation. In response, Mr. Wojcik received the following request:

To date, the request has gone unanswered.

Just how is the Council going to fulfil Mr. Wojcik's request if Mr. Wojcok refuses to reveal the source of his information? These are serious charges and the Council should investigate. However, they need the cooperation of the man that leveled the allegations. Why won't he aid them? Also, why did Mr. Wojcik fail to request an investigation prior to 2008? The debt has been outstanding for many years, including those years when Troy and Rensselaer shared a Corporation Counsel. Yet, no request for an investigation by Mr. Wojcik.

It's imperative that Mr. Wojcik disclose the source of his information in order for the investigation to proceed. If not, one can only conclude that the entire rumor was manufactured for political purposes.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


A lot happened last week that we did not cover due to the long weekend.

TROY — County health officials Wednesday issued a rabies alert for the Lansingburgh area after two raccoons found in that area tested positive for the rabies virus.

The raccoons were captured in Knickerbacker Park and on Fourth Avenue between 119th and 126th streets. No human or domestic pet came in contact with the raccoons, authorities said.

Mayor Tutunjian issued a press release on the situation:

"County Health officials have issued a Rabies Alert for Lansingburgh. The City of Troy will not recognize the Rabies Alert and condemn the County's action. Spiritual leaders of all faiths, including Jewishism, are welcome in Troy and are encouraged to visit."


In other Harry news, the Mayor takes a tough stand on stabbings:

TROY -- Police were on the scene early today of a fatal stabbing that occurred on Eighth Street. Police Chief Nicholas Kaiser said officers responded to a 911 call about 10 p.m. and found a 28-year-old man lying on the sidewalk bleeding profusely.

The man, whose identity was not released, was taken to St. Mary's Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Said the Mayor:

"We don't want to see anything like this happen anywhere in the city," he said.

Ya' think? Maybe this policy will be incorporated into Troy's branding campaign.


According to Capitol Confidential, Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno is coy about his re-election plans.

When asked whether he would run for re-election this fall, Bruno responded:
“I am where I am today. Here I am with you, having this delightful conversation and we’ll see what life looks like.”

Meanwhile, over at Albany Amp, they had this rumor. If it proves false at least the comments are fun to read.

Finally, the Rensselaer County Democrats have endorsed Brian Premo in his run for the New York State Senate seat currently held by Senator Bruno. Maybe he'll even appear on the ballot this time.