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

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.