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

Monday, November 30, 2015

BUDGET BLUES

With a cut here, a slice there, Mayor Rosamilia has stated that the tax hike could be as low as 4.9% That only works, of course, if there's a meeting to vote on a tax cap override. Such a meeting has been in doubt but it appears it will go forward.

The 4.9% possibility also throws the issue back to the City Council. Council President Wiltshire previously stated that he could stomach a 5% increase but not a 8% increase. The extra 3% hurt his tummy. We remain skeptical that anything will happen. The 'No's' simply refuse to cooperate.

That said, we have thought long and hard about this situation during Godfather commercial breaks. The conclusion arrived at? While making for semi-interesting drama, this is not the end of the world.

Mayor Rosamilia has his detractors like all mayors. He certainly has his flaws. In particular, his administrative and public relations skills are about as developed as your average mollusk. The budget issues are not one of those flaws. No more than any other mayor.

Lets look at some of the excuses given for tax hikes and/or threatened layoffs.

There's this excuse:

"Based on the current level of spending and a relatively flat increase in revenues, we
have projected costs through .... Major category expenses included an assumption of
salaries at an increase of 3% for each year .... Salary increases at this rate
(3%) are in place for the CSEA and UFA bargaining groups per their contracts through
.... The other large group (PBA) is currently undergoing bargaining
negotiations. However, based on prior negotiations, we feel safe in assuming a three percent
(3%) salary increase for that group as well. Furthermore, given the current trends, we have
assumed an additional 30% of total salary costs to account for employee benefits, and an
increase in other operating categories of 3.9%."


Translation: Expenses go up.

It is ultimately this administrations goal to close these budget gaps through the
measures described above. However, if these means are not sufficient, an alternative plan will
be presented which includes a potential tax increase and/or layoff. In the worst-case scenario,
the budget gap in ... ($1,202,474) would be closed by implementing a 7% property tax
increase equating to approximately $1,050,000. In addition, the City would implement an
employee reduction of at least 5 positions through attrition and/or layoff. This reduction would
equate to approximately $208,000 provided the average salary of each is $32,000 and fringe
benefits of 30% are anticipated.


Translation: We may need more money.

Or this excuse:

"We've done just about everything we can do to put together a budget to continue the quality of life of the residents. By reducing some jobs from the budget, we're able to keep the tax increase to what I believe is a minimum level."

Or this excuse:

"...healthcare costs are projected to increase 7.3 percent for 2011, having already jumped 13.8 percent in 2009 and 6.5 percent in 2010. Altogether, there has been a $1.5 million increase in healthcare costs from 2009 to 2011. Despite employees making health care concessions during the last round of negotiations, it does not necessarily mean the cost to the city is reduced."

Or this excuse:

"There is also a "staggeringly high" 41 percent increase in pension contributions, an amount that may change after the city receives the final amount from the State Comptroller's Office on Oct. 15. Of that 41 percent, the city was able to amortize $1.4 million. Because of the amortization, the pension increase will be around 13 percent, but Mazzariello stressed that the increase will have to be paid eventually. "All we're doing is prolonging the inevitable, and postponing those payments to the future," he said."

Then there is the use of reserve funds to keep tax increases low or non-existent.



These, of course, our quotes from the prior administration when dealing with their own budget woes.

There was the threatened 19% tax increase for 2010.

The administration explained:

"Obviously, this is a very serious situation," wrote Crawley. The city's current situation stands in stark contrast to statements made by Tutunjian to The Record last fall that there was no financial crisis in the city because the total amount of money in city reserve accounts then neared $22 million.
"When I say we're in the best shape we've been in for 20 years, it's true," said Tutunjian at that time.

When asked what had changed since then, Tutunjian said that the city received a bill from the state earlier this month informing his administration that its pension costs were going up by $2 million in 2010.

Ultimately, the proposed budget called for a 4.25% tax increase, later reduced to 2.54% by the City Council.

There was the year when spending went up but there was no corresponding tax increase.

The 4.9% tax increase isn't even the largest in the past decade. If you recall, Tutunjian's first budget raised taxes 6.5%. In the first two years he raised taxes 8%.

That is not to criticize Tutunjian. The 'excuses' his administration made for budget woes remains the same today. It remains the same for many northeastern cities. What some people here and there are the internet seem incapable of understanding is that costs increase over time. In particular, healthcare costs and, of course, contractually mandated raises, COLA's etc. Technology needs updating, roads need to be maintained.... If revenues remain flat or even grow at slower rate than prices, guess what?

Cuts can always be made. There is always something that can go. Sometimes increasing revenue costs money. For instance, we could sell our terrific water to some neighboring municipalities that have a water problem. Most are across the river and we simply do not have the infrastructure to deliver the product. Do we want to invest in that infrastructure?

Do cuts in services help attract investors? Would people be willing to go to private garbage collection?

The point is, this annual budget dance (some years are easier than others) does not represent a systemic problem as much as it represents a new reality. Cuts, like tax hikes, only prolong the inevitable.  Cuts are a one-shot. Tax hikes are a one-shot. Eventually, you can't do either.

Got to love Troy politics. It's never dull.









Saturday, November 28, 2015

NEW TAX HIKE WILL BE DISCUSSED...

AT A VERY SPECIAL MEETING

First up, we would like to welcome Mark Robarge to the scrum. Mark is a new editor/reporter at The Record. We hope he follows in the footsteps of the areas good political reporters: Chet Hardin, Shawn Charniga and Tim O'Brien. This article is a promising start. A bit more meat-on-the-bone than we've seen in the past (or at least since Cinema Art closed).

According to the article (and as we reported on November 21, 2015), the new revenue enhancement proposal would mean a roughly 5% tax increase. This proposal would still be in excess of the real property tax cap and legislation will be needed for the override. According to the article:

"Rosamilia offered the compromise this week in a letter to current council members in which he calls for trimming an additional $463,000 in spending and adding another $250,000 in revenue to his initial, $68.6 million proposal. The plan stays true to Rosamilia’s pledge to avoid layoffs or cuts in essential services, but calls for eliminating four vacant positions in the city assessor’s office, central garage and recreation, as well as a $145,000 cut in the city’s contingency fund, increasing the amount of profit transferred from the city’s water fund by $250,000 and bumping up the total assessed value of property citywide by nearly $900,000."

Mayor Elect Madden responded enthusiastically: “It looks like his budget works, if everything falls into place,” Madden said. “It works on paper, but we’re going to have to deal with reality.”

Council President Elect Carmella Mantello (aka C-Lo) was equally enthusiastic: "They’re really doing nothing more here than rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic,” Mantello said.

C-Lo just doesn't appreciate that there's going down with the ship and then there's going down with the ship in style. Besides, she better get used to it as the new Titanic Cruise Director. The real question is, will Carmella make room on the door for Pat after the ship goes down or, like Rose, hog the entire door while Pat succumbs to hypothermia?

The Special Meeting is scheduled for Monday. It should be, as always, quite a spectacle. We do not believe the tax cap will be breached. The four nays (Wiltshire, Gordon, Robertson & Zalewski) seem intractable. Alas, if they had only shown such backbone in the past. The fact is, they do not want this to occur no matter the consequences. Three of the four seem more than willing to sabotage the incoming administration and council, which is their right, of course.

While Mantello's comment isn't completely false, 'they' have been rearranging, painting, sanding and refinishing the chairs on the Titanic for more than a decade and the ship is still afloat, albeit listing. We'll look at that in the near future.

In the meantime, shuffle board in Barker Park, anyone?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

IT'S OFFICAL

MONICA K.



According to The Record, Mayor Elect Madden will select Economic Development Coordinator Monica Kurzekeski as his Deputy Mayor. We reported this on Sunday but got it wrong. We thought it would be Monica Kurzejeski, not Kurzekeski. We hate to grab the low hanging fruit, especially in The Record orchard, but typos in the headline? Tippos in the axual stori happun, but in the hedline?

Background on the future Deputy Mayor can be found here.

Madden's first mayoral decision is an interesting one. It's our understanding that there will not be a Commissioner of Planning...and that economic development will be Balkanized, with the Deputy Mayor in overall charge of the various development project. This is, in our opinion, a naïve plan. While we'd have no issue with Monica being tapped to be the new Commissioner, we think she'll be in well over her head balancing economic schemes with the deputy mayor's duties. That would be a lot on anyone's plate. The political equivalent of letting loose the former administration in an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Further, and perhaps more important to Madden's long-term success, is the lack of political savvy in the two top spots. Madden has to avoid Mayor Rosamilia's habitual eschewing of the occasional political street fight. There are people who want Madden's job and they will maneuver accordingly.

Good luck and congratulations to Monica.

THE RUMORS ARE TRUE

The chances that the real property tax cap will be overridden have diminished. Council President Wiltshire and District 1 Councilman Jim Gordon want to cancel the council meeting and the vote to override the tax cap. The grounds to do so are procedural. The argument goes something like this, though we don't pretend to be experts on Robert's Rules: The legislation to override the tax cap is the identical legislation that already failed. Therefore, the appropriate vehicle to reintroduce the tax cap override would be a motion to reconsider, not simply another vote. Then there's the fact that legislation must ferment for seven days before being put up for a vote....

At this point, it doesn't matter: The fat lady has sailed, the ship has sung, the metaphors have mixed. Wiltshire, Gordon and Zalewski have simply refused to do their jobs and have asked the administration to do it for them. They will not acknowledge that they have not only the authority but Charterial (Chartertustional?) duty to propose budget cuts and then negotiate those proposed cuts with the administration. Councilwoman Robertson (D-2) is a nonentity.

It's clear that Wiltshire would not vote to override the cap if the proposed increase was 2% This is his attempt to cripple the incoming administration. Councilman Zalewski (D-5) will follow suit. It may work.

One wonders if Madden is happy he may be playing Sisyphus for the next four years.

And a Happy Thanksgiving to our readers!



Tuesday, November 24, 2015

SABOTAGE?

From the Charter:

§C-70 I. Council and Mayor budget meeting. After the Council committees file their reports with the Clerk and prior to the final public hearing on the budget, a committee consisting of the Mayor, the Budget Officer, and the City Council members shall convene to review suggested changes to the recommended budget.  [Amended by L.L. No. 5-1994, § 47]


K.  Adoption of the budget. The City Council at a special meeting held after the final public hearing on or before the first day of December, or if that day falls on a Sunday, on or before the second day of December, shall by resolution adopt or amend and adopt the budget and submit the same to the Mayor for his/her approval...

From the City Council President:

From: Rodney Wiltshire [mailto:wiltshirefortroy@gmail.com]
Sent: Friday, November 20, 2015 3:31 PM
To: Cheryl.Christiansen; Adam.Sanzone; Anastasia Robertson; Andrew.Donovan; Bill.Chamberlain; Bill.Dunne; bodnard@hotmail.com; Chris.Wheland; Erin Sullivan-Teta; Gabrielle.Mahoney; galuski@troycitycouncil.com; George.Rogers; George.Vanbramer; Ian.Silverman; jgordon003@nycap.rr.com; Joe Licarrdi; Joe.Mazzariello; John.Salka; John.Tedesco; Kelly Cramer Esq.; kcrowe@timesunion.com; Lynn M. Kopka; Lou.Rosamilia; Marian.Drozd; Mike.Hayner; Monica.Kurzejeski; Peter.Ryan; Rhonda.Reed; Robert J. Doherty; Selena.Skiba; Sharon.Martin; Tom.Garrett; Warren.Mueller; Ken Zalewski
Subject: Re: meetings for 11-30-15


To all in the Administration,
 
The mayor and I spoke earlier today about the re-attempt to override the state’s tax cap and pass a budget that exceeds it.
I can only speak for myself, but as President, I will state that asking us to override the tax cap with the budget that has been presented is still not an option, and in order for us to even consider moving the agenda and the legislation, we expect to have a clear schedule of amendments by Monday with details of either cost savings, and or new qualified revenues that lower this tax increase dramatically.
 
Whatever cuts that you, as department heads, or administration staff need to make, need to be spelled out clearly; whether they include service cuts, staff, or other management decisions.  Identify in as much detail as necessary what the changes are to staff, salaries, personnel if particular, and services or schedules as you would propose them to be made.
We as a council will not be charged with making these decisions or choices for you.  
 
Please propose your plan that balances your essential services and staff with the needs of the taxpayers.
Again, these changes to the budget need to be clear, concise, and non-ambiguous.
This detail, and the overall tax increase, is a precursor to even considering the override.
 
Have a great weekend,

Rodney
 
We suppose a reply of: Fuck You would be frowned upon by Rosamilia.

Wiltshire has yet to discover the beauty and grace of brevity. May we suggest the following:

"Please do our job without us and please make sure services remain intact and taxes as low as possible."

It is clear that Wiltshire wants to sabotage* any effort to avoid State involvement. A Friday afternoon e-mail demands that the administration not only do their job but the Council's as well, by Monday? The tax increase must be lowered dramatically? All of that just so an override might be considered.

The mayor has proposed his plan. The Council now counters with their own plan, or, more accurately, their amendments. That's the process. It occurred under Pattison and Tutunjian and for the last four years. We would recommend cutting Wiltshire out of the process but that presupposes he's involved with the process. Ignore him and work with Gordon or Robertson. Zalewski is just following orders and doesn't understand, by his own admission, the budget or budget process. Gordon can be reasoned with, Robertson's worth a shot.

So, why the sabotage? Rodney clearly dreams of escaping Elba and marching on Troy once again. This time, under the banner of fiscal responsibility. Watch for Team Troy. They will be back in a year. Thwarted ambition can be a very destructive force. Another reason Madden will need a political animal in City Hall. Someone who has the institutional knowledge as well as a keen political radar. We're sure Pattison can recommend someone.

* From the French, meaning sabotage

Monday, November 23, 2015

MLK OVERHAUL

According to  The Record, "The Troy Industrial Development Authority approved an agreement Friday that could save more than $750,000 for the developer poised to undertake a $13.5 million project that includes buying and rehablitating the Martin Luther King Apartments.

IDA members unanimously agreed to a 30-year Payment in Lieu of Taxes deal with Omni Housing Development for the first phase of the project, which will reduce the number of units in the Troy Housing Authority’s apartment complex on Eddys Lane from 120 to between 77 and 84. Omni will make up for the lost units in the second phase of the project by buying property in the North Central neighborhood and constructing new buildings or rehabilitating existing structures to create an additional 37 units, according to Tim O’Byrne, Omni’s project manager."

The IDA will take a leasehold interest in the property and lease it back to Omni Development in order to protect the City's investment.

Frankly, we had no idea that a private entity could purchase public housing.

This is HUGE news! Humongous news! The Record printed a story  more than two paragraphs long, filled with facts and without typos.


TROY SCHOOL #1

From our friends at the Times Union: North Central, the city's poorest neighborhood, will get an economic boost of $1.8 million through a plan to convert the closed School 1 into 28 apartments. Redburn Development Companies, which has a track record of converting old buildings into residential space, outlined its proposal to the Troy Industrial Development Authority Friday.

School 1 will be transformed into one- and two-bedroom apartments, Damien Pinto-Martin, Redburn's vice president of development told the IDA. The rents would be market rate.

The total project cost, including the property, is $1,891,000, according to Redburn's application for financial assistance with the IDA. The developer asked for exemption of $55,000 in sales taxes and $14,000 in mortgage taxes. No property tax exemptions were listed.

The building will house apartments that were expelled from other apartment buildings or apartments that need remedial aid.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

MADSITION TEAM

TRANSITION TEAM


Late last week Mayor Elect Patrick Madden announced the co-chairs of his transition team. The people who will try to ease Madden's evolution from not-for-profit pupa to beautiful mayoral butterfly.

We announced the Wallace Altes appointment earlier. The remaining co-chairs are Alisa Cahill Henderson, President of Duncan & Cahill, Inc. and James Spencer, Executive Director of Rensselaer Technology Park.

Duncan & Cahill is a general contractor and construction management firm located on Oakwood Avenue, Troy, New York. The fly-by-night firm has been in business since 1933. For those wondering about any political leanings, we do not know Alisa Henderson's politics. Duncan & Cahill has been a frequent, yet modest, contributor to County Executive Kathy Jimino's campaigns. They also contributed to Jim Conroy's 2007 campaign against Mayor Tutunjian. One of the few Inc's that backed Conroy over the incumbent Tutunjian.

In high school, Henderson was voted most likely to be co-chair of a transition team.

As the Executive Director of the Rensselaer Technology Park, James Spencer is  "responsible for developing and optimizing the Translational Pathways of the Institute's Innovation Ecosystem through Strategic Innovation Asset Development. Strategic Innovation Assets include institute-owned intellectual property (IP), startups and commercial real estate that supports commercialization and off-campus basic & applied research activities."

Want to know how impressive that is? It's so impressive that we don't understand a f%$#*g thing that means. Our Corporate-to-English translator is down. Another issue with Spencer is that he graduated from Brown University because he couldn't get in to Yale. May as well have gone to Princeton. His LinkedIn page can be found here.

We've been to the Rensselaer Technology Park and no offense to Mr. Spencer but none of the rides are any good and the lines are too long.

We are encouraged by these selections and  Madden's emphasis on the private sector. The answer to Troy's fiscal problems, easier said than accomplished, is simple: tax base growth. That's it. No surprises there. This will need to be tempered with a person or two who understand the limitations of the public sector.

This emphasis on the private sector is in contrast to the Council's transition team that appears weighed down with politico bloat, with that not-so-fresh feeling. However, the two groups have different concerns.

OTHER NEWS

In other news, it looks like the odds of Monica K. becoming Deputy Mayor have gone up. We hear it is all but a done deal. While we have nothing against Monica and no opinion on what position she fills, we wonder if Madden will have at least one political street fighter on his team. Someone who knows city government and the Byzantine politics of the city. Just in case the knives need to come out.

Finally, with the absentee ballots counted, Democratic At-Large candidate Carol Weaver lost to Republican Kim Ashe-McPherson by sixty votes. That a mere two votes per election district.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

DO-OVER

Under the Troy City Charter Section 55-(a)1.23(i) the Mayor has invoked the well-worn DO-OVER provision in an attempt to save resident's money. A special meeting has been called to seek another override of the Real Property Tax Cap. This time, it looks like the tax hike could be 5-6%. We think it could actually be just shy of 5% if they really give it the Old Troy Try.

We're sure that Mayor-Elect Madden as well as the incoming City Council would prefer a 5% tax increase rather than the alternative, which would a be a State Nanny for the next three or four years. While we wouldn't mind a Hollywood Nanny:



State issued nannies from the Office of the New York State Comptroller look more like:



Mayor Elect Madden had this to say:

"I'm going to have to focus on the budget. We're committed to doing everything to make this work." The obviousness of this statement doesn't really add to the conversation.

The new Republican majority wants to achieve cost savings and develop a workable budget for the future, Mantello said."Everything and anything has to be considered. The city has to be working more efficiently." The obviousness of this statement doesn't really add to the conversation.

What is of interest is a quote from current Council President Rodney Wiltshire's letter:

"Whatever cuts that you, as department heads, or administration staff need to make, need to be spelled out clearly; whether they include service cuts, staff, or other management decisions. This detail, and the overall tax increase, is a precursor to even considering the override," Wiltshire said.

At the Wednesday night vote, Wiltshire said the administration has not collaborated with the City Council during the budget discussions.

That Wiltshire intends to be at the vote is progress. Once again, though, he is shirking his, and the Council's, collective responsibilities. The Charter gives the Council the authority to propose cuts. This has never meant asking department heads to cut their own budgets. It has meant that the Council sits down, reviews the budget lines and recommends specific cuts. It's called work. While this did occur, the Council's cuts were the equivalent of going through the city's couch looking for loose change.

Wiltshire's comment that the administration has not collaborated with the City Council is demonstrably false. It is Wiltshire and a minion or two that will not meet with the administration. The fact that the Council President wrote a letter instead of requesting a meeting with the Mayor to discuss this says all there is to say.

Do Wiltshire, Zalewski, Robertson and Gordon know that if the cap isn't lifted the 9.3% increase will go into effect? Their constituents will pay more for less services. We're not sure each of them understand that simple fact.  Nor are we convinced all the people allegedly calling Councilman Zalewski asking him to vote no understand this fact. Wiltshire appears willing to ram the derelict  SS Team Troy straight into the SS City of Troy and the devil-be-damned that we don't have enough lifeboats.

Wiltshire said on Wednesday he would vote to override the tax cap if the increase was 5%. He has refused to lead so it is now time for him to step aside and let the adults do the work. Isn't it vacation time? We're not sure if we've ever seen thwarted ambition manifest itself in such a bitter, public manner.

We do have hope that the eventual increase will be 5%. We hope that Councilman Gordon will reconsider his vote. We have continued hope that Madden and Mantello continue to talk and collaborate and that January 1, 2016 heralds a drama-free period in Troy's history.

Friday, November 20, 2015

NEWS YOU CAN'T USE

REZONING

According to The Times Union:

The City Council agreed to rezone the Hillside and Beman Park neighborhoods. Both neighborhoods are currently R-3. The new zoning would be R-2, more restrictive and hostile to development. The change was pushed by a few people to stop Stewart's from expanding because we wouldn't want a business to expand into such exclusive neighborhoods.

Due to the new restrictions Nieman Marcus and Herrods have decided not to open locations in Beman Park or the Hillside neighborhoods. While we appreciate the desire to limit development in neighborhoods, this appears to be rezoning for one reason: To stop the expansion of a commercial enterprise that sits on Hoosick Street.

ONE MONUMENT SQUARE

The Troy Farmers Market will not relocate to the project currently planned for the former Troy City Hall site. Troy residents will need to buy their farmers somewhere else.

Speaking of One Monument Square, Council President Elect is stepping in:

From: Carmella Mantello [mailto:cmantell@nycap.rr.com]
Sent: Thursday, November 19, 2015 1:09 PM
To: MayorsOffice.
Cc: John.Salka
Subject: Re: Attention: Troy IDA (Please forward to Troy IDA)
 
Amendment to letter. Meeting date is Friday, November 20, 2105 not 2016. Thanks.

Sent from my iPhone

On Nov 19, 2015, at 11:32 AM, Carmella Mantello <cmantell@nycap.rr.com> wrote:
Dear Chairman O'Bryan & Troy IDA,

It is my understanding that the Troy IDA will meet on Friday, October 20, 2016 to consider an IDA application for the One Monument Square project. The developers of One Monument Square are seeking extensive tax benefits from the Troy IDA. The $11.7 million financial package includes $10.5 million in estimated property tax savings, $972,000 in sales and use tax exemptions, and $228,750 in mortgage recording tax exemptions. 
 
A review of city records indicates that all members of the Troy IDA, except Chairman O'Bryan, had their terms expire on April 8, 2015. I would strongly suggest that before the Troy IDA acting with expired terms consider the large tax benefits for One Monument Square that this matter be tabled. This will allow the new mayor and new city council to act upon a new IDA. The mayor appoints all members to the IDA and they are confirmed by the city council. 
 
It is important to recognize that the voters of Troy selected a new mayor and city council, and they should be entitled to seek and/or reappoint a new IDA reflective of their philosophy. 
 
This project will have a significant economic impact regarding taxes and other matters in the future of Troy's development. 
 
I certainly appreciate all the work the Troy IDA has done, and hope that you will take my recommendations in the positive spirit that it is offered. 
 
Carmella R. Mantello
Council President-Elect

It seems clear that Ms. Mantello does not understand City government. Government, boards, commissions and authorities do not grind to a halt to await her majesty's coronation. We want to give Carmella the benefit of the doubt but this is the second time she appears to be playing politics. Remember Carmella, you do not choose new appointees, the council only confirms them. The Democratic Council did not block any of Mayor Tutunjian's rather dubious choices and Mantello would do wise to remember she is not appointing anyone, merely confirming the choices of the man the people elected as their mayor.

Yes, Mantello received the most votes of any candidate on November 3, 2015. It's also true that but for the ill-fated, election spoiling, Team Titanic, she might not be Council President. Her numbers would place her in 6th place in 2011 (the last mayoral election year), behind Jim Gordon and Billie-Jean Green. She received 1,100 votes less than Lynn Kopka did in 2011. So, while we don't want to rain on her parade, lets keep things in perspective. Carmella, listen to Hank Bauer, not Dworsky and Frankie L. Bauer was a solid legislator and freed from partisanship is a good tutor.

GOOD NEWS

A City Hall insider is pushing a plan that would result in a tax increase of 4.9%,  just under the bar set by Council President Rodney Wiltshire. This would result in a real, bare bones budget. The City Council did not approve the budget last night and may revisit a tax cap override next week. If the proposed tax increase is 5% or less, will Wiltshire stand by his word and vote to override?

Now you know... the rest of the story.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

NO OVERRIDE

Bouchon d'impôt remplacent échoue!

Last night the Troy City Council rejected legislation that would allow them to pay the City's bills. In order to pass a budget with a projected 8-9.3% tax increase the Council needed pass a local law allowing it to exceed the roughly 1.5% real property tax cap. The Council vote was 5-4 against.

Those voting for the override (who many have labeled "the adults") were Dean Bodnar (D-3), Bob Doherty (D-4), Gary Galuski (D-6), Erin Sullivan-Teta (At-Large) and Lynn Kopka (At-Large).

The nays (who many have labeled the adults) were Jim Gordon (D-1), Ken Zalewski (D-5), Rodney Wiltshire (At-Large) and Anastasia Robertson (D-2).

Councilman Zalewski had said for almost a week that he would be a 'No' vote. His vote was never in doubt. Councilman Wiltshire said that a 5% increase was palatable but they extra 3% was not. Councilman Gordon pulled a Zalewski and stated that a babysitter might be a good thing.

Councilwoman Robertson said, "Not another dollar for Amerikkka!"*

We don't yet know all the consequences, intended or otherwise, from this vote. Some may say they nays exercised fiscal responsibility. Others may say it is not fiscally responsible for a municipality to be unable to pay its bills. This is especially true because we know the source of the problem. Troy was not spending like a drunken sailor in Shanghai on leave in for the first time in 6 months (which sounds more and more attractive). Rather, the bulk of the problem came from pension fund payments, a problem that will plague cities like Troy in the years to come.

We do not believe that the Council, as a whole, made a serious effort to find appropriate and real cuts. We do know that the entire Council never met to try and work this out. certain members, due to personality differences, acted more like petulant children than leaders. One actually threw a juice box against the wall when it was bedtime.** Cutting supplies is not a serious effort. That's a Band-Aid.

Another Councilman who shall remain nameless (Wiltshire) spent more time casting blame and playing victim (Wiltshire) than he spent working on a solution.

Is it telling or mere coincidence that every person voting 'no' will not be present to pick up the pieces?  Two of the four have telegraphed a certain disdain for the Troy Police Department. After what happened this summer, do we want to cut into ERT funding? Do we want to close two firehouses? Will this be the typical situation where citizens do not want a tax increase but want services unaffected?

Getting and keeping the fiscal house in shape should be a priority. Falling back on the New York State Comptrollers Office for oversight still seems like passing the buck.

We guess the question for our multitudinous readership is: Is last night's vote a net positive or negative?

* To the best of our knowledge not actually said

** To the best of our knowledge not actually done

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

TAX CAP OVERRIDE VOTE

What is the role of the New York State Comptroller's Office in this Tax Cap business? Funny you should ask.

Prescribes Requirements for Excess Funds to Be Placed in Reserve
The Comptroller requires excess tax funds be placed in a reserve fund if a local government:
  • exceeds the tax cap due to clerical or technical errors; or
  • exceeds the tax cap without complying with cap override rules.
Reserve funds are then applied to the next year’s budget.

For those who can't get laid, the full Property Tax Cap legislation can be found here.

Does that sound like the tax revenue that exceeds the cap is placed in a special fund and cannot be used for the reasons it was raised in the first place? Tough love.

KEN CROWE:

Meanwhile, Ken Crowe at the Times Union has some great tweets from the Council Meeting:

 
 


Officer Josh Comitale spoke against cutting ERT training and explained that ERT Training saved his life. Doubtful anyone will argue with that opinion.

We wonder if Chief Tedesco would actually regret having to disband the ERT Team. Also, might need new cell phones for police.

Bob Doherty (D-4) stated the city is in fiscal crisis and he would vote to override the tax cap. He also said that he would personally take in 13 Syrian refugees.

Council President Wiltshire is laying blame, according to Ken Crowe.

Councilman Gordon offered to cut 911 funds. He votes no.

We think Councilwoman Robertson may be the key. We can't believe we just wrote that. Doherty, Bodnar, Galuski, Sullivan-Teta, and Kopka will probably vote to override. Will Robertson?

Exciting stuff. We'll check back tomorrow. Good night and good luck.





TAX CAP

There is supposedly a public hearing tonight that will address a local law allowing the city to exceed the real property tax cap (proposed tax cap seen at left). We have not seen the notice and it is not currently on the agenda. Local legislation is necessary to exceed the tax cap and the final budget vote is scheduled for tomorrow night.

Councilman Ken Zalewski (D-5) has stated he will not vote to exceed the tax cap. The four-term councilman has taken the position that only the New York State Comptroller can manage Troy's budget. We're not convinced he's wrong.

Councilman Bob Doherty has stated that he will not vote to exceed the real property tax cap until the final tax in crease number is known. That number is hard to pinpoint because only four council members were willing to meet with the Mayor yesterday: Kopka, Sullivan-Teta, Doherty and Galuski.

Council President Wiltshire and District 1 Councilman Jim Gordon do not appear to be actively participating in the process, according to one source close to The Troy Polloi. One Councilman was too busy "unfriending" people on facebook because there un-friend wasn't sufficiently supportive during the campaign.

RUMOR MILL UPDATE

Monica Kurzejeski. Looks like Monica would actually tax a pay cut if she was offered and accepted the Deputy Mayor's position. She would have to resign her position with the Farmers Market. Also, based on reports, her best chance to move up at City Hall may be the Deputy Mayor's spot.

We also heard, but cannot confirm, that Corporation Counsel Ian Silverman was told he would not be kept on in his current position. Silverman, anticipating the news, has secured other employment. This means that Kevin Glasheen may be in play for the top legal spot in the city.

This is not a knock on Silverman. A new mayor has every right to place "his/her" people in important jobs and it should not be seen as a reflection of the person replaced.

No reliable updates on any Domestigation news.

PS

To the person trying to hack into the Troy Polloi blogger account: Every time you try to reset the password we get a notification and are asked to confirm the reset. We are a professional operation. We don't get hacked.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

SLOW NEWS MORNING

We don't have much this morning.

THE BUDGET

The City Council is scheduled to vote on the budget on Thursday. However, they have to pass a local law to override the tax cap. That local law has to be passed like any other legislation and we've had no information that such a law has been proposed. According to the New York State Comptroller:

"Furthermore, we found that the City’s proposed real property tax levy is not in compliance with
its  tax levy limit  and City  officials have  not adopted a local law to override the limit.  Should the
City not take action to adopt a tax cap override or make cuts to the budget, it will be left with an
unbalanced 2016 budget that will not have sufficient revenues to fund operations. If this occurs,
the City risks triggering a reimposition of the emergency period under the City of Troy Supervisory
Board Act."


RIOT GEAR

The Troy Police have purchased $5,000 worth of riot gear. The equipment was purchased with grant money and no taxpayers were hurt during the purchase. The police now feel properly equipped in case they are deployed to the county office building for any disturbances.

DOMESTIGATE

According to sources, two county workers had their phones seized pursuant to a warrant as part of the ongoing Domestigation. No names though. This has not been verified so don't jump to conclusions. County Executive Kathy Jimino has not returned our calls.



Monday, November 16, 2015

YE OLDE RUMOR MILL

It's Troy and we're on the cusp of a new administration. The Rumor Mill has kicked into overtime. The first out of the gates, just days after the Madden landslide, was attorney Kevin Glasheen for either Deputy Mayor or Corporation Counsel. He is still in the mix according to our rumor monger.

Now, with a new administration less than 50 days away, the rumors are running faster than Mark McGrath's mouth.

First up, according to our sources, is Wally Altes. Wally Altes is heading-up the Pat Madden Transition Team (or PMTT). Altes is the former President of the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce. Altes is also credited with coining the term "Tech Valley." Actually, Altes coined the term Techneurial  Valley which was thankfully shortened to Tech Valley, which we've never actually heard any area resident use.

Altes was a supporter of Carmella Mantello in her failed run for mayor in 2011 and actually tried to convince Mayor Rosamilia to select Mantello as his Deputy Mayor.

Next up, we hear that Monica Kurzejeski is being considered for Economic Development or....Deputy Mayor. Didn't see that last one coming but again, these are just rumors.

For the same two positions mentioned above, the Troy Polloi has learned that another contestant has entered the game. Wait for it.....wait for it.....Jim Conroy, former Deputy Mayor under Mark Pattison.

Again, these are mere rumors and we know what they're worth. Still, the chatter is of interest. A Conroy confirmation hearing would prove entertaining.
                                                            
Finally, we have one of the most common of rumors, Amy O'Connor, as Corporation Counsel. Of course, Amy is sister-in-law to former Lieutenant Governor Mary Donohue, so the conspiracy mill will grind on. Mary was
originally married to Tom Kenny a well-known Democrat and attorney. More fodder for the Dem-Rep unholy alliance conspiracy theory.

Shit, maybe there is a conspiracy.









Sunday, November 15, 2015

DOMESTIGATE IS BACK



Jim Franco, over at GOP Radio, has the first real story about the Domestigate investigation. Domestigate, of course, is the sordid tale of politics, domestic disturbances, 911 calls and the illegal release of a copy of said 911 call. We may have to add the unceremonious removal of one character in our political passion play from the County Building on Friday to our Domestigate definition.

According to Franco:

"A warrant was executed earlier this week to confiscate the cell phone belonging to Gary Gordon, a retired city police officer and investigator at the Rensselaer County District Attorney’s Office, sources confirmed Saturday.

The warrant was issued as part of an ongoing investigation to determine if Gordon had anything to do with the release of a 911 recording where Melissa Gordon is heard telling the dispatcher her husband, Councilman Jim Gordon, had “held her down.” (emphasis added).

Franco does not know if Gordon's phone was taken or information on the phone was "swept" and the phone given back to Gordon. Gordon is a former Troy Police Officer, former investigator for the District Attorneys Office and failed Sheriffs candidate. He is an enrolled Conservative.

Gordon currently works for the Rensselaer County Board of Elections. What we don't know is if Gordon would have had access to the actual "held me down" recording, a copy of the "held me down" recording or was merely forwarded the "held me down" recording by someone else. This will have a major impact on Gordon's future.

As we explained before, having a copy of the "HMD" recording is not a crime. Receiving a copy of said "HMD" recording is not criminal. Posting the "HMD" recording is not criminal. It is the person or persons who made the recording that will be in trouble under a number of possible statutes.

There are a number of statutes that cover Unauthorized Use of Computer or Computer Trespass. This could be applicable if someone recording the "HMD" recording from a computer they were not authorized to use.

Then there are possession statutes. These cover criminal possession of computer related material. Possibly the most pertinent one is just that, Criminal Possession of Computer Related Material Penal Law  156.35:

"A  person  is  guilty  of  criminal  possession  of  computer  related material  when  having  no  right  to  do  so,  that  person  knowingly possesses,  in  any  form,  any  copy,  reproduction  or  duplicate  of any  computer  data  or  computer  program  which  was  copied, reproduced  or  duplicated  in  violation  of  law ,  with  intent  to  benefit himself or herself or a person other than an owner thereof."

Benefit is defined as:

appropriated from an owner thereof  an economic value or benefit in excess of two thousand five hundred dollars.
So, unless the County believes the recording had a value or benefit in excess of two thousand dollars, this statute doesn't seem to fit.

At least it's getting interesting again. Hats off to Franco. No word yet from The Record (not surprising) or the Times Union (surprising).

CONTENTS OF PHONE

The Troy Polloi does have breaking news. We have obtained a copy of the data on Gordon's phone. It isn't pretty. Please ask anyone under the age of 13 to leave the room.

1. Every Chinese takeout phone number in the greater Capital Region;

2. Note "call cardiologist."

3. ibook: How to Use the Audio Recording Features of Your Phone;

Then there's the Apps. Nothing there either.






Tomorrow, we'll check in with the Troy Rumor Mill. Who's in, who's out.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

MISCELLANY

CITY CLERK
It looks like the new Council majority will tap Patty O'Brien (or O'Bryan) as City Clerk. We understand she is a Democrat but a good friend of the Council President-Elect. Don't know her. Don't really care. Just some random news. We wish her luck.

DISTRICT ATTORNEY ABELOVE

There was a comment that we did not post that blasted our District Attorney for putting the Faison killing before a Grand Jury. We are not the biggest fans of the current District Attorney. Our readership knows that. Therefore, we cannot be considered apologists for the DA. However, we do have a reputation for being fair and balanced. That reputation must be upheld.


Abelove's decision to present the Faison killing to the Grand Jury was good practice for many reasons. It is certainly a common practice for DA's to send what appears to be a justifiable killing to an independent panel to make the decision. In this way, the family of the deceased and/or the press cannot accuse the authorities of refusing to charge the police. Let the Grand Jury do it's thing and it provides cover for any accusations of racism or favoritism. If the DA simply exercises his discretion and doesn't charge, he opens up his office to all sorts of criticism. It sucks for the officers but they did nothing wrong and no one can accuse them of being the recipients of favoritism.

If you're upset at our defense of Abelove, we're sure he'll screw up soon. Don't worry.

ATTORNEY'S FEES

Recently we commented on the Administration's silence in the wake of requests from Officers Comitale and Klein for attorneys fees. Comitale and Klein were wounded in the shootout with Mr. Faison. The two officers retained legal counsel and were recently cleared by the Grand Jury. The PBA President recently alerted the press to the fact that the Rosamilia Administration had not responded to requests for payment of the officer's legal fees.

The Troy Polloi has recently learned a few facts to add to the story. First, yes, Mayor Rosamilia had spoken personally to both officers. Second, that at the time of the shame-letter, no formal request for reimbursement under the Public Officers Law had been made. A municipality cannot agree to pay until the request is in writing and various others conditions are meant. Finally, at least one of the officers hadn't even received a bill for the legal services.

Perhaps this was all a misunderstanding. Or perhaps someone in the Police Department sought to embarrass the mayor in his last few weeks in office. 

Speaking of the police, we understand that Detective Ron Fountain has decided to hang up his spurs. Fountain, a Troy High graduate, has been with the TPD for quite some time, dealing with some of the worst cases an officer can handle. Good luck to Detective Fountain.

Friday, November 13, 2015

WAVING THE WHITE FLAG

The final budget hearing took place last night. The angry villagers were there, complete with pitchforks and torches. And who can blame them.

The Council has recommended $600,000 in cuts. The Office of the State Comptroller says we're looking at a $2.4 million deficit. Council President Elect Carmella Mantello, after huddling with her transition team yesterday at City Hall, wants the Council to delay the final budget vote until December 1, 2015, the last day the Council can vote on the budget. The State of New York might have to babysit us once again. The dog ate my homework.

By the way, here's the Comptroller's letter.

Not being a policy wonk, not liking policy discussions, a few questions. There is $600,000 left in the reserve fund. The Council has recommended $600,000 in cuts. Are the cuts practical? Does anyone really care, at this point, if the reserve fund is emptied? Also, yesterday, there was actually some good news. The Appellate Division Third Department affirmed the decision in The City of Troy v 1776 Sixth Avenue Troy,  LLC. This is the case brought by Troy against their former landlords at the Verizon Building. The total award is approximately $350,000, which includes getting some rent back and about $25,000 for the elevator debacle.

Question:  Is that award already figured into the budget or is it found money? This could help close the gap just enough to make the tax increase reasonable. Someone should look into this. But not this guy:



This guy has just given up.


Two years ago, the District 5 Councilman ran for his final term stating: "Through my work, District 5 now has a strong voice and a tireless worker. Together, we will continue to move this city forward." Now, its abandon ship. And by the way, Councilman, you draw a salary. You are supposed to be a professional. You're not a volunteer. Times are tough. Leaders don't walk away. We're tired of criticizing you, Ken but damn.

Anyone else just giving up? Please let us know. Otherwise, get to work. It's hard to criticize someone who does the best they can, especially in tough times. Walking away? Shame on those that cut their constituents loose.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

WANTED - ONE PUBLIC RELATIONS FIRM

According to our good friend Ken Crowe II, over to the Times Union, The City of Troy has finally agreed to pay the legal bills of two Troy Police Officers wounded in a recent shootout.

The head of the police union said the city balked for weeks at paying the legal bills accumulated by the two officers who were involved in a shootout that left them hospitalized and a gun suspect dead.
"Nothing," Police Benevolent Association President Thomas Hoffman said was the response he got from City Hall during seven weeks of requests that the city cover the expenses of officers Joshua Comitale and Chad Klein.

On Wednesday, Hoffman went public with his complaint and within hours Mayor Lou Rosamilia's administration said it would pay $5,000 in legal fees for the officers.
 
First off, saying nothing is not balking. Balking would have been more like:
 
Hoffman: Mr. Mayor, will you pay the legal fees?
 
Rosamilia: Yeah, right! Like that's going to happen. Don't think so.
 
According to the story, the city has, in the past, paid the legal fees for officers involved in grand jury proceedings and civil suits. Under the Public Officers Law a municipality will usually pay for the defense and for any judgment in civil cases brought against public employees if they were acting within the scope of their employment. Not sure about criminal matters. What I suspect might have happened is that the city wanted to wait until the officers were cleared by the grand jury. A municipality typically won't be responsible for city employees if their acts are determined to be intentional, such as a criminal act.
 
If so, why the silence?
 
Like the frozen pipe fiasco, the city may have a very good reason for inaction. In the pipe case, homeowners are responsible for lines running to their homes. The city cannot be responsible for every frozen pipe in the city. Doing so sets a terrible and potentially expensive precedent. Not explaining the issue doesn't help. In fact, someone needed to tell Lou, just thaw the pipes and we'll worry about the precedent later. It's just good politics and bad PR not to. Here, again, silence.
 
Say what you want about Tutunjian, but as long as the person(s) involved had never criticized him or his administration, he would have been down at the house with a hair dryer or Bic lighter trying to thaw the pipes himself. Sure, he probably would have been working on the gas line and not the water line but you get the point. The former mayor understood PR. The current mayor never has, never will and now it no longer matters.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

DE JAVU

ALL OVER AGAIN.

According to Times Union reporter Ken Crowe II, the New York State Comptroller's Office may be back in Troy.

"The city faces the return of state control of its finances because of a potential $2.4 million deficit in its proposed $68.6 million budget for 2016, according to review by the State Comptroller's Office.
The audit criticizes the city for overestimating revenues for the sale of property, franchise and ambulance fees and sales tax. It notes the city's retirement appropriations may be inadequate.

"The overestimation of these revenues and underestimation of expenditures could have a cumulative negative impact of approximately $2.4 million on the general fund's financial condition," the audit states.

City officials received the audit Tuesday. It is filed with the City Clerk's Office.

"We've got to be monitoring the situation very carefully," Mayor Lou Rosamilia said.

"This is an excellent guideline for it," he said of the audit's recommendations and observations."

Monitoring the situation? Guideline? Less than sixty days in office and time to pull out the stops?

Of course, Rosamilia doesn't shoulder all the blame. We have a city council that could act as a watch dog. The prior administration depleted the reserve fund by approximately $12,000,000 in order to avoid the inevitable problems. Lou almost finished the job of emptying the fund. This is why slight tax increases should be considered even when not absolutely necessary. A 1% or 1.5% increase every year sure beats a 9.3% increase in one year.

Ya' know what? We're almost happy DiNapoli might take over. If that's what it takes, if we need a babysitter, so be it.

To be fair, and we're nothing but fair, it is not solely the fault of elected officials. the residents of old, industrial cities of the northeast need to take an honest look at the facts. Generous pensions, health benefits, cost of living increases and the debt service comprises more than 70% of the budget. Couple that with not actually knowing what will be in the municipal coffers when the budget is proposed and we get a guesstimate, at best.

Given the problem, we welcome State oversight. If our administrations can't do it, maybe Tommy D can.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

WANTED - ONE ATTORNEY


According to Tom "Boss" Wade, Corporation Counsel Ian Silverman will not be returning as the city's chief lawyer.

Silverman has been Mayor Rosamilia's only Corporation Counsel. Prior to accepting the Corporation Counsel position Silverman had been an assistant district attorney under Richard McNally. He started his career with a cup of coffee at Bois, Schiller.

Silverman broke from some of his predecessors, namely David Mitchell, for refusing to act as a hatchet man. He was not combative by nature and not a strong presence in city hall. He seemed to get the job done, although the learning curve was initially steep.

In September 2014, Silverman lost the Democratic primary for the new City Court position to "democrat" Keith Gorman, by 23 votes. Gorman went on to face Republican Jill Kehn in the general election. It was a veritable who's that of the legal world. Kehn, who practiced without a license for over five years, would go on to win.

We don't know Silverman's plans but wish him well. There is a recent opening at the Appellate Division Third Department?

Now, the rumors will swirl about Silverman's successor. Traditionally, the Democrats have generally had better attorneys than the Republicans. The best, however, tend to advise from the sidelines and are too successful to hop into the game with both feet. Madden does not have to choose a Troy resident. He can chose an attorney that lives in the county. We think he should give Pat Morphy a call. Or Tom Hagen. If Madden chooses a confidant as his deputy, he'll need one insider that knows government, the players and how to avoid the landmines.

Chances are, it'll be someone we're not even thinking of.

THE NEW ECONOMY

Welcome to the future. This is the new economy. It won't be kind to those that depend on the old economy but it will allow creative and hardworking people to flourish. Grow the tax base, get property taxes down and work on the school district's reputation and Troy could do well.

Monday, November 09, 2015

WHO IS KEVIN GLASHEEN...

...and what dark secrets does he hide?

By now, people who follow Troy politics have heard the name Kevin Glasheen. Rumors abound that he has put fear in the heart of Ian Silverman or that Glasheen will be Deputy Mayor under Madden. Just who is this man? Where does he come from and what secrets does he hide?

Glasheen is an attorney, admitted to practice law in the State of New York in 1976. He is a 1975 graduate of  Boston College Law School. Currently, he is Of Counsel at Barclay Damon, an international law firm that has offices in Albany, NY, Washington D.C., Syracuse, NY, New York, NY as well as Toronto and Boston. Barclay Damon was, until recently, Hiscock Barclay. Glasheen has done work for National Grid and has also done municipal work for the City of Cohoes.

So, we have a few questions for this Kevin Glasheen before he even thinks about stepping into the meat-grinder of Troy Politics:

1) Can we see your birth certificate? We have no record of you before 1958.

2) What happened to Hiscock? What did you do to him? Who is this Damon fella?

3) Your resume says you were any Army Officer. Which army?

4) Boston College, eh. What's the matter, couldn't get in to Harvard?

All joking aside, we don't know how likely it is that Mr. Glasheen will join the Madden administration. We hope he does. He is a good man and a good attorney and he would serve Troy well in any capacity. We hope that capacity would be as Deputy Mayor. That leave the Corporation Counsels position open and it would be the first time in the history of Troy that the top three positions were filled by doctors. Also, we would have to call Glasheen Dr. Deputy Mayor.

So, if he's considering the job, we hope the answer is yes. But we still want to see his birth certificate.

BUDGET PROPOSAL

The Troy City Council did its job this year and drafted specific budget proposals that could reduce the proposed 9.3% by about 33%.  According to the Times Union, "The police department ranks would be cut to 127 officers from the current authorized strength of 130 by eliminating the three school resource officer positions." The three officers would return to their usual duties and no officers would lose their jobs. The general consensus is that the school resource officers are a net positive in many ways and this proposal seems shortsighted.

This proposal has already hit opposition from some people. Also, the GOP at-large candidates offered a platform that would increase the TPD by three officers. The most disturbing part of the entire story was this:

"Most of the items removed from the budget were supplies, equipment and some salary increases."

No more new pens and index cards? These are not the type of cuts that will fundamentally impact future budgets. These are the equivalent of one-shots. What is being done to ensure that a hefty tax increase isn't necessary next year. If Rosamilia's budget is "bare bones" then we will have a repeat of all this year after year. Troy has done a solid job of attracting small businesses. At the same time, costs go up year after year. A year from now, maybe we'll see Gordon and Wiltshire as the real winners.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

VOTES COST MONEY

How many of you have wondered how much each mayoral vote cost? Thought so.

We have assembled our crack team of accountants, they have grabbed their respective abacuses (or abacusi) and promptly fell asleep. Here's the breakdown. This does not include money spent in the eleven days preceding the general election. It also does not necessarily reflect the full amount of money spent by other entities (County, State Committees, Unions)  on behalf of a candidate. It does not, nor can it, reflect bribes, pay-offs, sales tax or other scurrilous behavior. We'll have a better picture in a week or so of what was flushed in the days that lead to November 3, 2015. 

Taking the Times Union numbers from their October 30, 2015 article we have the following:

Wm. Patrick Madden (D) - $54, 268.37

Rodney Wiltshire (WFP) - $46,915.43

James Gordon (R) - $26,978.15 (includes almost $10,000 spent by the State GOP on behalf of Gordon).

Jack Cox (RVP) - $6824.15



Madden = $17.96 per vote.

Wiltshire  =  $25.40 per vote.

Gordon =  $11.21 per vote.

Cox = $52.30 per vote.

 Madden easily wins the fiscal responsibility award. Spending more than Gordon, less than Wiltshire but having something more than a Certificate of Participation to show for it.* So, if you're  a fiscal conservative, this may be the candidate for you.

* This article does not intend to denigrate helicopter parents or millennials  who have either fostered or rose to maturity in an era where all are celebrated no matter how badly they suck. This article does not reflect the thoughts, positions or opinions of the Troy Polloi and any resemblance to persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

MANTELLO ANNOUNCES TRANSITION TEAM


Aside from the fact that a transition teams seems a smidgeon overkill, the choices Mantello made are more interesting for who was not included than for who was included.

According to Record reporter Molly Eadie, Mantello has asked Frank LaPosta (former Councilman, former City Council President and former mayoral candidate); Henry Bauer (former City Council President and defrocked judge); Andrea Daley (small business owner), Dean Bodnar (Dist. 3 Councilman); Mark McGarth (Dist. 2 Councilman-elect) and former City Manager Steve Dworsky to lubricate the new majority's entry onto the City Council.

The selection of LaPosta immediately makes the team bipartisan as he changes political affiliations twice a week.

Notice, to Mantello's credit, not one Republican currently, or recently, steeped in the GOP's city party apparatus. No Tutunjian, no Wojcik, no Crawley, no Gordon.

Hank has been out of the game awhile and was never overly partisan. LaPosta is overly bipartisan but has been staying clear of Troy politics, at least publicly. Bodnar and Daley, again, not rabble-rousers. McGrath is a rabble-rouser but was never a favorite of the city party, who he fought with just as much as he fought with the Democrats. Dworsky? Why people still seek his guidance is beyond us. Best advice, when Dworsky advises there's a good chance you'll want to do the opposite. Also, never say anything you don't want broadcasted to the entire city. Hopefully, the knife in the back doesn't go in to the hilt.

Mantello has also asked the administration for the names and terms of office for people serving on the various boards and commissions that litter city government. One wonders if she'll attempt to trade appointments for a few board/commission seats. Not a bad move as long as she doesn't overreach.

We'll assume good intentions on everyone's part, starting with the premise that both Mayor-Elect Madden and City Council President-Elect Mantello will be reasonable, compromise and not engage in unnecessary partisanship.

Friday, November 06, 2015

IT'S KOPKA

Kopka holds the 5 Council District.

DISTRICT 5 COUNT

starts at 11:00.

Exciting.

DEMOCRATIC PARTY



Yesterday, we discussed the problem the Republican Party faces going forward. Today, a note about the cloud that circles the Democratic Party. It's no big surprise. It's the Working Families Party.

The Troy Democrats should deal with this issue sooner rather than later. They cannot have this minor party costing them money and votes. This year, the biggest impact the WFP had on the mayors race is money. The primary was a colossal waste of money for Madden and the WFP. Money better spent in the general election. In the Council races, the impact was probably two council seats (we're thinking 6 and one at-large). Will this continue or was this just an exciting fling after a marriage had settled down into dull predictability? Was Rodney the sinewy cabana boy who caught they eye of a middle-aged WFP whose husband was off chasing fresh, long-legged secretaries?

Human nature says the latter rather than the former. Excitement fades. The cabana boy gets deported.  Excitement is difficult to sustain absent really good prescription drugs. The Democratic Machine has three choices when it comes to the WFP: 1) ignore them; 2) call Lenny Montana;* 3) bring them in to the fold.

The first option is short-sighted. Option 2 is attractive and can be done with a modicum of organizational effort. This involves opportunities to ballot, a lot of expended energy and enrolling loyal, lifetime democrats in the WFP. Mirch 'em.

This current crop of WFP'ers has never adequately explained the rationale for their campaigns. We're not saying they have to, only they haven't. There have been a few empty platitudes that don't hold up under scrutiny. That's an article for another day. It does make Option 3 difficult. It's hard to extend an olive branch when the other side has not actually explained why they ran into the arms of the cabana boy. Still, when the average age of the people at Ryan's Wake looked to be about... OLD...maybe you want to take notice. Remember, even if the cabana boy is deported, there's always that tennis pro.

The reality is that 20% of the Democratic candidates on Tuesday night were also WFP candidates. A number of others are probably quite sympathetic to a good chunk of the WFP agenda. Team Troy was a counter-productive effort. We don't blame the council candidates or their voters. These are obviously sincere people who want what is best for Troy.  Leadership had a different agenda.

We suggest Democratic leadership sit down with some of the candidates. They should be encouraged to run for committee seats (if registered D). Once that is done, a few can be put on the Executive Committee. They can have the say they want. If they think the Democratic Machine needs to be reformed, you can't do it from the outside. If the branch is extended and rejected, there is always Option 2. The WFP agenda will not be advanced through the Republican Party. The WFP lost every race they ran on Tuesday and therefore won't be advanced through the WFP. The Democratic Party has no incentive to advance the agenda of people who cost them the council. So, go to marriage counseling, switch country clubs and work it out like adults. Last we checked, a win-win option beats a lose-lose option.

ABSENTEE BALLOT

District 5 absentee ballots will be opened today. There are over four hundred absentee ballots. We are not sure how many came from District 5. Democrats are confident that Kopka has it. They also believe Carol Weaver has a shot at over-taking Kim Ashe-McPherson. A shot, mind you. A possibility, not a probability.

They do not expect any change in the D1 or D6 outcome.


*Extra credit for those of you who know this reference without looking it up.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

INSIDE THE NUMBERS



We aim to please here at the Troy Polloi. Late last night, we received a message we thought we would share.

Dear Democratus: I am so confused. The Democrats were split and the Republicans kept saying Gordon would win. Franco gave Gordon 3-1 odds, Wiltshire 5-1 odds and Madden 7-1.* But Madden won but the Republicans have a majority on the council but, but, but...Also, my mother-in-law came to visit and won't leave. Please explain all of this.
                                                                                          Confused in Troy

Dear Confused: We have assembled our crack squad of political statisticians, the very same that accurately predicted the election outcome. Let us take a trip into the numbers.

Not too much though. Numbers get boring after awhile. First congratulations to the winners and condolences to the defeated. The Democratic Party had a great night (not without some clouds on the horizon). The Republican Council Candidates had a great night (not without some clouds on the horizon).

Despite a challenge from the Working Families Party, the establishment Democratic candidate (who has never held office and who is not yet a registered Democrat) won easily against Republican candidate Jim Gordon. Technically, it was almost a landslide at an 8% spread (a landslide is 10%). Without Wiltshire in the race, it would have been a devastating defeat. The establishment Democrat (who has never run for office and who was an enrolled blank) also defeated the anti-establishment candidate (who was a two-term councilman, Council President and a registered democrat) easily.

Without Wiltshire in the race, does anyone doubt that Madden would have captured half of Wiltshire's vote? That's would be a resounding show of support. Now, for the districts.

District 1 - A straight up majority win by political newcomer Jim Gulli. Rounding up, it was a 53%-47% victory. Gulli's victory was not decisive in a district that many said was a Gordon stronghold. Gulli got less votes than Gordon did two years before (699 to Gordon's 770) and Ryan received more votes than the 2013 loser,(623 to Scales 590). The Democrats are hoping this loss turns into a win with the absentees. Very doubtful. We think the absentees break the way the general breaks. Counting on the absentees is wishful thinking. If Ryan had bothered to get the WFP line, or Green line, it's a much closer race and maybe a win. This is not a safe seat unless you're a McGrath. Not that McGrath. The other McGrath.

District 2 - McGrath 534 to Robertson's 310. Let the big dog eat. This is McGrath's district whenever he wants it. While his defeat looks like an unprecedented victory, it actually mirrors the thorough ass-kicking McGrath gave a hapless Bob Martiniano in 2009. That was McGrath 537 to Martiniano's 308. This isn't even McGarth's best vote count. In 2011 McGrath received 610 votes. That said, Robertson's defeat looks almost as bad as my mother-in-law after a pub crawl. And a well earned. ass-kicking it was.

District 3 - Bodnar beat Steele by about the same percentage he beat his opponent in 2013. Even if Steele had all the WFP votes, she still loses. A swing district though.

Based on past voting, all three districts seem relatively unscathed by the upstart Team Troy. In fact, it is likely that Wiltshire supporters aided Ryan's numbers. We are not convinced that a different democrat in District 2 would have altered the outcome in any significant way.

District 4 - Doherty's best showing and the worst showing for an R since the Nick Helper debacle of 2009. A Democratic district.

District 5 - Give Kopka not all, but just half, of Bissember's vote and it's a landslide. A landslide against a well-known, Eastside favorite who had five lines. Casey received fewer votes (630) than Seamus Donnelly (740) and we're not even sure what a Seamus Donnelly is. A Democratic district.

District 6 -  Give D'Arcy less than half of Corey Jenkins vote and Donohue loses. Donohue's numbers are almost twice that of Ned's 2013 race but well short of Mahoney's 2011 effort.

At-Large - Without delving too deep into the at-large contest, does anyone believe that but for Team Troy, Weaver or Dresher would be on the Council and not Ashe-McPherson? Again, this does not assume all Team Votes go to the Democrat, only half that vote.

That's a 6-3 Democratic majority. But it's not. Team Troy did run and the GOP candidates did win districts that they should not have. That's a democracy and there's no sense in the Democrats whining about it. The fact that Team Troy cost the Democrats a majority on the City Council does not reduce the GOP majority. The point here is that the Republicans have the most precarious of holds on the Council that could easily evaporate in two years.

When it takes a split opposition vote and 3-4 lines to obtain wins in Districts 1-6 and one at-large seat, there's much work to be done to hold that majority.

That said, we believe this council, with an exception or two, will work with the new mayor and the new mayor will work with the new council. Most will want to make a good impression on the voters. Lest we forgot, it wasn't Bodnar or Gordon that undermined Rosamilia at every turn. It was Wiltshire (D-At-Large) and Zalewski (D-5) that did so, sacrificing Troy's interests to that of their own ambition. With both gone, their minion, Doherty, will get-along-to-go-along. After the past four years, we'll give Mantello and McPherson a fair shake. The council can't be more dysfunctional than the last four years.

*Ironically, better odd than Franco writing for a newspaper again