Have you seen the mailer? It's atrocious. It's out of bounds. It's great. It's true. We've heard it all. That was before we saw it. We have had our crack team of forensic politicos reviewing the Wiltshire campaign's (yes the WFP paid for the mailer but lets be honest) new mailer attacking Patrick Madden. They have dusted for prints, submitted lab samples and have determined that the mailer is not, out of bounds, beyond the pale etc.. It's also not great. It is, in true keeping with the local Working Families Party, an amateur effort that lacks the refined subtlety one expects from a shrewd political party or a Romanee Conti.
The mailer makes a number of assertions, some contradictory and all irrelevant or wrong.
First, "Patrick Madden was hand-picked by Troy Party Bosses despite having no relevant experience." - Wrong. Patrick Madden was endorsed by the party committee. An endorsement that Wiltshire also wanted but was unable to earn. We guess we are supposed to believe Madden will be the puppet of the 'party bosses', despite the fact that most mayoral candidates are picked by the so-called party bosses. Rodney was picked by the WFP bosses, wasn't he? Democratic boss-puppets are somehow worse than WFP boss-puppets? What exactly will the WFP want in exchange for their support?
No relevant experience. True, unless you believe running an important non-for-profit organization, working with budgets (probably showing up for budget votes), neighborhood groups, area municipalities and people from both parties is somehow relevant experience. That certainly doesn't require leadership experience.
Second, "Madden has accepted over $3,000 in contributions from Republicans, the largest from his sister, Kathy Jimino." And? Madden draws contributions from the Republicans? He gets money from his sister? I guess we are supposed to believe Madden will be a pawn of the Republicans. The line about Jimino is silly and makes the whole flyer looks even sillier than it should look.
Third, "Madden is not a registered Democrat, has supported Republicans in the past and will not register as a Democrat if elected." Again, so what? Madden is clearly not an overly partisan political animal. That is supposed to be a positive. Besides, aren't Rodney and Team Troy making themselves beholden to another party, the WFP? What does Rodney owe them for their support?
Finally, the City Council Video. If you recall,
It began when Jennifer Vasquez stood up at the April 2 meeting of the City Council and claimed that an employee from TRIP Inc. — which manages her apartment building — had sexually molested her daughter. She also alleged that she was being evicted for reporting the allegation to police.
"It was a very disturbing story," said City Council President Rodney Wiltshire. "Our jaws dropped."
In an interview, Vasquez told me that she took her claims to the council because she didn't know where else to turn.
Now, I should note that Troy police investigated the allegations and found insufficient evidence to support charges against the employee.
So the point here isn't to examine the allegation. Instead, I'm interested in what Patrick Madden, the longtime executive director at TRIP, did after the meeting.
Madden, in a series of emails obtained by the Times Union, lobbied city officials to have Vasquez's comments edited from a tape of the meeting that would air on Time Warner Cable. Madden wrote that Vasquez "had been allowed to slander us."
Here's the political angle: Madden is a potential Democratic mayoral candidate who has interviewed for the party's official nod. (Wiltshire is already running — but he almost certainly won't get the party's official nod.)
City officials agreed to edit the tape. Unlike other council meetings, the April 2 meeting is not online.
Madden insists his request had nothing to do with protecting his political viability. He noted that Vasquez named several TRIP employees, including the man she accused of sexual abuse, when she addressed the council.
"The proper place to deal with these things is at the police department, and not the public comment period during a meeting," Madden said. "There's no good that comes of it for anyone."
The city broke no laws by providing Time Warner with an edited tape, said Robert Freeman, executive director of the state Committee on Open Government, so long as it hasn't altered the tape it keeps as the official record of the meeting (From the Times Union, Chris Churchill).
Madden did what any responsible CEO would do: try and protect his organization and people from defamatory statements. The police investigated the allegations and no charges were brought. Ms. Vasquez was potentially going to defame a number of people and TRIP. He asked that those portions of the council meeting video be edited. He got his way. It did not have to happen that way. The Council could have said no. Further, the name of the Ms. Vasquez' daughter was edited out of the video as well (an edit fought by Councilman Doherty). Should that have been left in the video? Do we really want the name of a supposed infant victim broadcast on a Troy City Council meeting video.
So, the mailer is typical WFP product: Amateurish and heavy-handed. Remember, this is the same party that insisted on fighting the absentee ballot challenges that lead to the voter fraud scandal. They could have walked away but insisted on fighting the initial challenge. Legendary political operative Bob Mirch was constantly stealing their line in primaries. They are increasingly irrelevant considering the last few elections. The Democrats can win without them and have won without them.
We certainly do not plan on making specific endorsements in every race, just a few.
COUNCIL DISTRICT 5
Former At-Large Councilwoman (no offense intended) Lynn Kopka is facing newcomer David Bissember. We like both candidates but have to go with Kopka. She has been a voice of reason during the last two years and has helped the current Council President when he has screwed-up a number of procedural issues. There are those that laugh at her efforts to reduce the feral cat population. Those that laugh at such humane endeavors...well, shame on them.
Anasha Cummings. There is room for Anasha and we think he brings something different to the Council. He is smart and despite what some may think, not the knee-jerk lefty some think. He also looks like a guy we could have a butterbeer with and he's always there to help us with our Care of Magical Creatures exam (sorry, its meant in a good-natured way).
Carey Dresher. Just check out the Dresher's resume. He's a professional, smart and energetic. The type of person we need on the City Council.
After much deliberation we endorse:
A careful examination of what Madden can bring to the office makes this an easy choice. Madden has run a large, not-for-profit agency for many years. It is an agency that works on housing and home ownership issues - one of Troy's greatest challenges. There is not a hint of scandal or ego. He is a sincere man that has kept clear of Troy's crazy, partisan politics.
In a refreshingly thoughtful statement, he discussed struggling with the decision to run for mayor. This caused our former mayor, Harry Tutunjian (not in office for four years), to exclaim, "If you have to struggle with the decision maybe you shouldn't be running."
Really, former Mr. Mayor - not in office for four years. A person takes the time to examine how a run for mayor may impact his family and himself, the agency he runs and, yes, the city he may lead and you question it? As if thought and self-reflection is a bad thing. Maybe Madden doesn't lust for power. Perhaps if you had thought about your decisions at all Troy could have been spared eight years of bullying and incompetence.
Rodney Wiltshire...damn, we wanted to like him ever since he was elected to the Council. We still want to like him. A young democrat with a future. He seemed to have good, progressive values, ran a private company, just the type of person the Democrats needed. And yet...
1. When Garry Galuski (District 6) wanted to chair a committee (not an unreasonable request from a member of the majority) Rodney responded, "I'm not going to be his house nigger." An overreaction as well as an immature response. We understand that Galuski was not, and has never, sought household help. We can give him a pass on that. Some stumble out of the gate.
2. Council President Wiltshire missed two budget votes. That's right, two. What did he have to say?
Last week, with the city in serious financial trouble, eight of nine council members gathered for a big vote on the 2015 budget. The empty chair, of course, belonged to Wiltshire. He was in Florida on vacation with his family.
Wiltshire said it was a timing issue. He expected the final budget vote on Nov. 15, so he scheduled the vacation for days that followed. When the vote was delayed, he missed it.
"I did everything in my power to be responsible about my duty and my job," Wiltshire said. "But because of all the problems we had with this budget, it didn't work out."
We could cut Wiltshire some slack. These things happen. We all make mistakes. Plus, every family deserves a vacation. Nobody should begrudge Wiltshire and his kin a few days in the sun.
But he also missed last year's final budget vote, which took place on Nov. 15.
What happened then?
"Honestly, I don't recall," Wiltshire said. "I know we were on vacation then as well."
His best line: "I hope that most people understand that my presence there wouldn't have made a difference one way or the other," Wiltshire said. That about sums it up.
3. The ridiculous hearings held earlier this year. First, he could not focus on one issue. Yes, the King Street fiasco was rife for questions (still is). But there was no need to investigate the RFP's for the former Scolite site. There was nothing wrong with the RFP's. He listened to a disgruntled contractor who cried foul when his RFP was rejected. The Council caved and Troy lost 60 jobs for no...zero...reason.
The King Fuels demolition. There was no issue there either. If a contractor happens to perform his duties in violation of various regulations, there are already procedures in place to deal with such violations. It has happened before. What could the council possibly have accomplished by asking questions on issues they clearly did not understand. It was clear that Rodney and Zalewski did not understand that the IDA is not the City. They also did not realize, or care, that Russ Revees had an axe to grind and they ignored all testimony that contradicted Reeve's testimony.
The hearings were scattered, unfocused, far to broad and any testimony that contradicted Wiltshire's pre-conceived notions was ignored. They exhausted the council's discretionary budget and accomplished? Anyone? Anyone? Nothing. The final report is full of recommendations (already addressed by state and federal codes, rules and regulations)but not one has been acted upon by this Council. One is forced to conclude that the whole exercise was fabricated to embarrass Mayor Lou and promote Wiltshire's political ambitions. While the events investigated have resulted in numerous indictments...oh, not yet? Soon? Any day now?
Wiltshire has had ample opportunity to lead. He hasn't. The only talent he has shown is for self-promotion.
We take no joy in pointing out these failings. Wiltshire has an excellent opportunity to be the Democratic nominee and will actually have an easier time defeating Gordon than Madden will have. There's just no there, there. Hopefully, if elected, Wiltshire will take the job more seriously than he has his current position.