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

Monday, February 29, 2016


Yes, it is February and, for those of us who follow the news, were are treated to the usual, dusted-off, articles about the Friends of 112th Street Dinner. The Friends Dinner is a chance for 350-400 old, doughy, pasty white guys to meet and, tell bad inside-baseball jokes and use bawdy language.

The Friends can do what they want, of course. If that sounds like a fun night to you, God Bless and have fun with that Do-It-Yourself Root Canal Kit. But...must we be treated to the usual article year-in, year-out? Anyone who has been around for a few years could write the article. Franco still writes the same article every year and The Record and the Times Union and Vandenburgh will tell us how he wasn't able to make it.  And yes, we all know, you can't talk about what was said at the dinner. We get it.

Wouldn't the space be better used for, oh, we don't know......NEWS? And yes, we just wasted space on it.

For instance, what is the Madden Administration's position on a possible refinancing of the debt? Refinancing the debt would extend payments for an additional ten years but save the city $2,000,000 a year. That is certainly, at the least, worth a discussion. The idea of extending the payments another ten years sounds exasperating but our police department, fire department and CSEA are still without contracts. That will need to be addressed soon and there will be a price-tag. More on this coming soon.

Or more articles on the mental health crisis facing the nation. Afflictions such as paranoia can strike anyone, young, old, rich poor, white, black. So, let us just say upfront, we are worried about former Mayor Tutunjian. He is one of the last people could see having a mental health disorder but we are worried for the former mayor.

One, maybe two conspiracy theories in a row is one thing. But three? In a row? We don't know anything about Kanye West and his role in the sound system. We'll leave that one to Harry.

But Harry, why would the President of the United States demand a Federal investigation into a death, in Texas, on a private hunting reserve? What jurisdiction would the Federal government have? Why would an investigation be needed in the death of a very sick man when his family doesn't even want an autopsy? What are you suggesting, Harry? Did Bill Dunne strike again?

Secondly, the President doesn't appoint people to the Supreme Court. The President nominates people to the Supreme Court and the Senate votes yea or nay. In this case, the Senate, as is their right, has said 'don't bother, we ain't voting on anyone.' Does Harry think, in the above scenario, Obama would even get a hearing?

Finally, Biden needs delegates, Harry. There is not an incumbent rule, that automatically gives an incumbent president delegates for a party's presidential nomination.

The Troy School District should be proud. Better beef up the civics portion of the curriculum or:

What Are the Symptoms of Paranoid Personality Disorder?

People with PPD are always on guard, believing that others are constantly trying to demean, harm, or threaten them. These generally unfounded beliefs, as well as their habits of blame and distrust, might interfere with their ability to form close relationships. People with this disorder: 

  • Are reluctant to confide in others or reveal personal information due to a fear that the information will be used against them
  • Are unforgiving and hold grudges
  • Are hypersensitive and take criticism poorly
  • Read hidden meanings in the innocent remarks or casual looks of others
    • Perceive attacks on their character that are not apparent to others; they generally react with anger and are quick to retaliate
         Cannot see their role in problems or conflicts and believe they are always right
  • Have difficulty relaxing
  • Are hostile, stubborn, and argumentative

  • We have to go now, they are coming for us.

    This post brought to you by ZOLOFT:

    Because we know where you are Mayor, and we want to capture your Alpha Waves.

    Saturday, February 27, 2016


    Too Troy Skools have made the list!

    Two Troy schools have made the State's list of Struggling Schools. PS 2 is listed as a struggling school that remains in receivership according to the Times Union. Joining PS 2 on the podium and listed as a priority is Carroll Hill.  Carroll Hill is, coincidentally, the school in closest proximity (near) the Campbell Avenue (road) sinkhole (sinkhole).

    District 2 Councilman Mark McGrath has asked the City Clerk for all information on School 2, including invoices, receipts and report cards. Councilman McGrath was informed that the School District is not governed by the City of Troy but is a separate corporate entity.

    "We need to know why School 2 has been receiving PILOTS from the IDA, loans from the IDC and if they have been paid back," said the Councilman. McGrath suspects that former Planning and Economic Development Commissioner Bill Dunne may have funneled money to the school in exchange for the principal's position. Councilman McGrath then went to Ace Hardware for more sterno and airplane glue.


    Rotterdam has joined to list of municipalities with water main breaks. Former Mayor Tutunjian hurried to the sinkhole, tweeted  "no Rotterdam sinkhole when I was Mayor", and waited for the press to arrive. He is currently still at the site.


    Troy is 200 years old and the Rensselaer County Historical Society is celebrating with their Bicentennial Exhibit! What does one get the city that has everything?

    Unfortunately, the exhibit opening was interrupted when an older gentleman attempted to destroy a mini-statute of Troy's first Mayor, Colonel Pawling (yes, before you ask, Colonel Pawling was named after Pawling Avenue).

    After the attack, the man threw down the hammer and the slowest foot chase in history commenced. Once apprehended, the suspect stated that Colonel Pawling was attempting to enter the exhibit through the Ladies Entrance.

    Friday, February 26, 2016


    Troy's illusion that it was somehow unique was shattered yesterday when numerous municipalities decided they wanted their own sinkholes. In addition to the now-famous Campbell Avenue sinkhole, Krumkill Road needed repairs and Old Niskayuna Road in Colonie got its very own sinkhole. Troy will seek royalties from the two competitors.

    On the Campbell Avenue sinkhole, it was tired by Monday afternoon. The coverage this has received in the media is ridiculous. One would think that every bridge leading to and from Troy collapsed, leaving the city isolated and forlorn.

    The bigger issue is that it seems very likely that the entire stretch of Campbell Road, say between Franklin Terrace and the old Barna's, is compromised and could be lost. This probably started after we were hit with the tail end of Irene. Ever since that event, that stretch of road, adjacent to that drop-off, has had issues. Our prediction is that the saturation that occurred with Irene will ultimately cause a major collapse along a significant stretch of Campbell Avenue. We'd suggest that the road be studied now, before it's too late. But, no one listens to us.

     In fairness, the Colonie sinkhole is better than our sinkhole. It is bigger, muddier and a vehicle actually fell into that hole. So they got that going for them.

    In other news, District 2 Councilman Mark McGrath proudly flies his  ignorance flag.

    From: Mark.McGrath
    > Sent: Tuesday, February 23, 2016 11:14 AM
    > To: Patti.O'Brien
    > Cc: Monica.Kurzejeski; Carmella.Mantello; citycouncil.; Patrick.Madden
    > Subject: LDC
    > Patti, as acting auditor I would request if you would obtain a copy of
    > the 2012 LDC loan and grant given to the Bombers Burrito project and all
    > receipts that have been paid back or are outstanding from that
    > transaction. I believe the city's comptrollers office would have that
    > information. Thank you

    Not for the first or second time, McGrath needs to be reminded by the Deputy Mayor:

    -----Original Message-----
    > From: Monica.Kurzejeski
    > Sent: Tuesday, February 23, 2016 11:32 AM
    > To: Mark.McGrath; Patti.O'Brien
    > Cc: Carmella.Mantello; citycouncil.; Patrick.Madden;
    > Subject: RE: LDC
    > Hi Mark and Patti,
    > You can request the information from the Troy LDC directly - either
    > informally or through FOIL. They are a separate entity from the City and
    > aren't reviewed by the City Auditor - they have their own independent
    > audit and procurement policies. I've added Justin Miller, their legal
    > counsel, to this email if you would like to request the information on
    > the Bomber's transaction.
    > Thank you,
    > Monica K.

    Now Mark, you can't be a watchdog until you understand the relationship between various entities. It is common knowledge, however, that Bomber's has paid back both loans. You may want to investigate the IDA's decision to aid the two failed enterprises under Tutunjian's reign (the publishing company and the market). Those loans have not been paid back as of this date and nothing suggests that they will be paid back.

    Also, Councilman McGrath seems to be operating under the notion that the IDA is taxpayer funded. It is not taxpayer funded. The IDA is actually funded by fees from private entities. How did we get this insider information? It is in the Authorities Law and actually on the City's website.

    If you need anything else, Mark, ask Monica. She seems to know what she's doing.

    Thursday, February 25, 2016


    ...unless something comes up.

    Repairs to the now legendary Campbell Avenue sinkhole are anticipated to be completed by Friday evening. Earlier in the week workers performed a colonoscopy on the sinkhole. No polyps were found but more fiber was recommended. The sinkhole was ordered to relax and stay out of work for three days.

     Some have questioned the timetable, or lack thereof, for repairs. Various contractors have intimated that they could have performed the repairs within 48 hours. What they fail to account for is Mayor Madden's political strategy. Madden has intentionally delayed repairs on the sinkhole as part of his re-election bid in order to inconvenience voters.


    In other news, former PBA President Bob Fitzgerald was in town yesterday to testify in an arbitration involving former Mayor Rosamilia's 'agreement' to shorten the years of police service needed to qualify for health benefits from twenty years to ten years. This 'agreement' caused quite a stirred when it was sent to the City Council last December for ratification after fermenting in the Mayor's office for over a year.

    According to witnesses, the former PBA President popped his head into former Councilwoman Carolin Collier's cubicle to say howdy. Collier yelled at the former PBA President who smiled and took his leave of Ms. Collier. Fitzgerald currently lives in Virginia (no last name known).


    We were saddened, but not surprised, to hear that St. Augustine School will close. The school has been in fiscal distress for a number of years and could not pull themselves out of the all to familiar nosedive experienced by many of the areas Catholic schools.

    The Bishop laid the blame for the school's pending closure squarely at the feet of New York State for failing to pass legislation that would essentially credit private school vouchers. While that is a debate that can certainly be had, the Bishop made no mention of the millions of dollars spent by the church to cover-up and then defend priests who committed pedophilia.

    Hopefully, Sacred Heart and St. Jude's will continue the Catholic school tradition in the area. St. Jude's enrollment and reputation has grown since the closure of Our Lady of Victory. We do not know the fiscal health of Sacred Heart.

    Tuesday, February 23, 2016


    An actual metaphor was discovered on Campbell Avenue Saturday night. According to area scribblers:

    "Firefighters driving on Campbell Avenue felt a bump in the road Saturday that a City Council member said grew into the sinkhole that forced the city to close part of the busy traffic artery on Sunday.

    Council member John Donohue said the firefighters put up cones Saturday to warn motorists about the irregularity on the road.

    When Mayor Patrick Madden visited Saturday night, he said he saw an eight-inch depression in the road. Sometime between Saturday night and Sunday morning, the depression fell through, leading to the sinkhole

    "Imagine a Twinkie 8 feet deep, 20 feet long and 15 feet wide," said Madden. - Times Union
    Once the hole is cleared out, engineers will perform a colonoscopy to determine the cause of the hole. The hole will need to fast for twenty-four hours before the procedure.  
    According to The Record:
    "Initial reports of the sinkhole were called in to city police Saturday night, with the Department of Public Utilities barricading the hole in response. Councilman John Donohue, R-District 6, who lives near the sinkhole, said one of those initial reports came from city firefighters after they drove one of their firetrucks over the area that later collapsed and felt as if they had driven over a large bump.
    “If they hadn’t put those cones down, the next car that went over it probably would have gone right through,” Donohue said. "'Cuz, it's a hole. Which is like a absence of matter. So you can go right through. Maybe to China even."
    Donohue went on to theorize that an asteroid worm, "like in Empire Strikes Back" might use the hole to attack Troy.
     Mayor Madden announced that he did not seek to cast blame for the hole. "We must move past casting blame," said the Mayor, "and work towards filling the hole."
    Troy City Council President Carmella Mantello announced that the Troy City Council would form a Special Hole Sub-Committee to study the hole so the people of Troy had answers and would never be subjected to holes. Mantello theorized that the hole may lead to another dimension and volunteered Councilman Mark McGrath (D-2) to lead an expedition into the hole, calling him uniquely qualified to explore holes.
    Councilman Donohue (D-6) credits the cones with potentially saving lives and protecting property. He will call for similar cones to be placed throughout the city.

    Sunday, February 21, 2016


    The John Sweeny Award goes to...

    Tom Connolly, Vice-Chair of the New York State Independence Party is doing it old school. Connolly, a fixture in Independence Party politics in Rensselaer County, was arrested for aggravated driving while intoxicated. Connolly's blood alcohol content was 0.18. Connolly couldn't quite make it to .20 but not bad for the 57-year old politico. No word on what Connolly was drinking. We guess a blended scotch,  maybe a bourbon.

    Said Connolly: "I hope the fact my car was unregistered makes up for the weak BAC." Connolly said he would try harder the next time.

    Connolly's move is very '90's. No successful politician drinks and drives anymore. Prescription drugs are where its at.

    The Independence Party line was crucial to District Attorney Joel Abelove's narrow victory over his Democratic opponent in 2014. No word yet if Abelove will recuse himself or actually prosecute his political benefactor. In addition to his vice-chairmanship, Connolly works for the New York State Senate.


    Speaking of the New York State Senate, City Council President Carmella Mantello has ended her brief stint in the private sector and returned to full-time  public sector employment. Apparently, Mantello wants to be closer to the people and their daily struggles.

    This move is in direct violation of the Mantello Doctrine. According to the Mantello Doctrine:

    In these challenging economic times, with so many families struggling to make ends meet, it is only right that public servants draw only one taxpayer funded paycheck," she said, noting that Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, suspended his U.S. Army pension while he is serving in Congress. "I call on my opponent to join with me and pledge to the people of Troy that double dipping will not be tolerated in City Hall."

    Now, we could care less where Mantello works or how many taxpayer funded paychecks she receives. Double-Dipping (especially in mixed company) has never really bothered us. If someone is entitled to a pension and also has another public position, we could care less. However, we didn't create the Mantello Doctrine, we just report. You decide.

    Mantello has also been double-dipping for the Troy City Council facebook page. In preparation for last weeks 'Arctic Chill', the City of Troy site posted some warnings and advice for taking care in frigid temperatures.

    Mantello lifted the City's advice, word for word, for the Council facebook page.

    There is nothing wrong with re-posting the Arctic Chill suggestions. This is disingenuous, however, making it look as if the advice comes from the Council and not City Hall. In and of itself, hardly momentous. It does show that Mantello is not above pilfering the work of others. Just saying. Remember, character counts.

    Thursday, February 18, 2016


    Lou was a pleasure to have in class but did not complete his assignments. May need to stay after for extra help.

    Few things make Democratus' 10th grade report card look good. One of those things is the New York State Comptroller's Audit of the City finances, 2012-2015. Troy should be glad that M.A. O'Brien wasn't grading them.

    Jim Franco, at the Talk 1300 Report, has a good summary of the findings and the report for those masochistic enough to peruse the carnage. Not recommended for tax payers with high blood pressure.

    Yet, is there anything in the audit, broadly speaking, that we didn't know? We know these practices went on during Rosamilia's reign. We knew it was going on during Tutunjian's reign. Yes, Mayor Tutunjian spent down reserves, juggled the water and sewer funds and consistently overestimated revenues. Tutunjian simply had the luxury of more reserve funds to dip in to when he didn't want to raise taxes. As the report notes, the Capital Reserve Fund went from $6.5 million to $900,000 from between 2006 o 2014.

    We're not sure what is worse, the idea that Rosamilia was simply incompetent  in fiscal matters, that he failed to have the intestinal fortitude to be honest with the residents of Troy or that Roseanne Barr had a successful television show for years. Troy spends more than it takes in! There, that's it. And we're not even an HVCC accounting professor.

    That's the big picture. Don't raise taxes, move money around to veil the problem.

    Who to blame? First, the Canadians, of course. Next, in no particular order, Mayors Rosamilia and Tutunjian. The various City Councils for failing in their watchdog role. And the voters. Both mayors submitted smoke-screen budgets. Most of our City Councils picked around the edges of the budgets but never truly analyzed the issues. And the voters. We allow these practices or ignore them and then act shocked when there are problems. Madden appears to be handling this head on, in an honest way. In fact, he really has no choice. The Band-Aid has been pulled off, the scab revealed. He's right that the blame-game does not move us forward. However, it is cathartic.

    There are other items in the report that are inexplicable and inexcusable.

    "We also found that the Comptroller failed to maintain individual accounting records for each capital project (project) and the Council did not monitor the financial activity of projects. As a result one project that we reviewed was overspent by $425,261, project expenditures were funded through the use of other projects’ funds, debt proceeds have been improperly commingled with other City funds and $85,334 in debt proceeds were used for an unauthorized purpose. Consequently, as of May 31, 2015, the general fund owed $688,929 to the capital projects fund and $85,334 to the special revenue fund, and the water fund owed $466,753 to the capital projects fund, which will negatively impact the financial condition of these funds."
    Isn't that just the cat's ass. No individual accounting records? Overspent by half a million dollars? That's a lot of hookers and blow. Isn't it a comptroller's job to know what comes in and record where the money goes?

    The underlying reality is this: Cost go up over time. Cuts should be made but cuts won't solve the problem. Taxes will need to be raised if you want to balance the books. That is just a fact. The politician who has the guts to propose cuts and be honest about a tax hike should have our respect. We shall see who is a leader and who is a politician.

    Now, tax hikes are not long term solutions either. The solution is as obvious as the problem. The tax base needs to be increased. That is a gamble. Every municipality will be a competitor for that tax base. We can focus on a few things that will help in the long run. In addition to an annual garage sale, we should work to improve the reputations of our schools. Troy needs young, professional families and high on their list of priorities is the school district. Reputations are not reality but our reputation is not good. Not terrible, but not good.

    That is just nipping at the heels of the problem. Until the tax base increases, we are screwed.

    Good luck out there.


    Wednesday, February 17, 2016


    Election season is fun. Just plain fun. Lots of news, lots of statements to critique, lots of dirty politics. Now, it's the refractory period. Dull stories about a crew of public officials that likely don't really have any more of an idea of governing than the average citizen. Sometimes less.

    So, we don't know where we will go with this blog. We may:

    1) Fold up until the next election;

    2) Hit only news we think is important;

    3) Post news items and allow the readers to comment and discuss.

    Frankly, we are tempted to choose 2 and 3 if that's what you'd like.

    But, right now we have such great news as:

    In a shocker, Rensselaer County Republicans endorse State Senator Kathy Marchione for re-election. Marchione, representing the State's 43rd senate district, was at her hair stylist getting an estimate and could not be reached for comment.

    Rensselaer County District attorney Joel Abelove moved to dismiss 1st degree rape charges against Andre McClenos. Mr. McClenos is not, is not, a Rensselaer County legislator.

    Last week, the video depicting the shooting of Thaddias Faison was released. The video showed that our police officers acted appropriately, professionally and bravely. Again, no big surprise.

    Finally, rumor has it that former Council President and mayoral candidate Rodney Wiltshire is eyeing a return to politics. No, not a run for County Legislature, but Troy's Third Council District, currently represented by term-limited Dean Bodnar. All of this would, of course, be a run-up to a another mayoral run.

    We'd welcome the run by Wiltshire. If Madden does not run for re-election, we want to see a Wiltshire - Mantello race. God, we want to see that race.

    Sorry guys. It's a depressing day when our next President may be Donald Trump (bombastic demagogue), Ted Cruz (despicable), Bernie Sanders (unapologetic socialist) or Clinton (hapless). Is that the best we can do? Both sides should be ashamed of what they have wrought.

    Tuesday, February 16, 2016


    ...The Gift That Keeps Giving.

    January's water main break damaged more than the city's finances and did more than disrupt water service to numerous municipalities. It has also put a big dent in the wallets of at least two homeowners. Matthew Dolan and Paul Cook, both of 5th Avenue, have suffered foundation
    damage due to the flooding caused by the break.

    According to the Times Union, the Cooks face up to $17,000 in foundation repairs. Dolan's costs may be more than $13,000. Both were blown-off by their respective insurance companies.

    While Cook's damage appears to be as a direct result of water damage, Dolan's damages appears to be the result of saturated soil that seeped into foundational cracks. Dolan should continue to pursue an insurance claim. Insurance companies, like good catholic girls, always say no at first. Cook is likely out of luck.

    Our sympathy goes out to the two homeowners. There, but for the grace of God...and so on.

    Both owners could bring a claim against the City of Troy. That is a long term, long-shot, solution. Such a claim could take two or three years to wind its way through the courts. They also have a heavy lift. Suits against municipalities are difficult. There are strict time limitations and a host of governmental immunities that come in to play that protect municipalities.

    The would-be plaintiff's would also have to establish that the city was negligent. That is another tall order. There is really no evidence of negligence in this instance, although discovery might find some liability against the city.

    It would be very difficult to establish that the city was on notice of the specific defect that caused the damage. What about the report that expressed concerns about this very main, you ask? Good question but unless the report gave the city notice of the specific defect (the main will break here because of ...) that will not be enough.

    Even if the city is negligent, the city owes no special duty to the Cook's or Dolan. That is, they owe those two owners the same duty the owe all other residence, not a special duty. Unless, of course, the special duty rule does not apply. Perhaps one of our lawyerly readers can weigh in.

    We would advise against any settlement. Not that we don't feel for the owners, it's just a numbers game. This will become more and more common and city finances cannot be compensating owners every time aging infrastructure fails.

    Friday, February 12, 2016


    The City of Troy as advertising for a Comptroller. It has now been four months since Madden was elected and the city does not have a new comptroller? We know that numerous people have been interviewed. We do not know if any offers were extended and rejected or whether there have been no quality candidates.

    Do you think you have what it takes to be Troy's Comptroller?

    "This position involves the supervision of fiscal and information systems of the City of Troy including all operating and enterprise funds. The comptroller is responsible for City government financial operations in the areas of budgeting, accounting, treasury management, payroll, accounts payable, supervision and maintenance of a financial management system, and financial reporting to the Mayor, other city officials, the State Comptroller and the public. The position, reporting to the Mayor, is responsible for the supervision of employees in Comptroller’s office including payroll, benefits, purchasing, personnel, assessor, treasurer, and information systems staff.
    Applicants must demonstrate a history of leadership in financially distressed, under resourced municipal settings as well as the ability to develop and maintain a flexible, collaborative, adaptive, personally and professionally supportive work environment.
    Minimum Requirements:

    Graduation from a regionally accredited or New York State registered College or University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting, Finance or Business Administration is required, as well as five (5) years of progressively responsible experience as in a municipal finance, treasurer, or comptroller position in a New York State municipality. Applicants may substitute demonstrable training and experience for parts of this requirement.
    In the alternative, an applicant must demonstrate a proficiency in:
    1) Making change;
    2) Counting by tens;
    3) Using an abacus;
    4) Keeping a neat wallet or purse;
    5) Talking down Mark McGrath;
    6) Dealing with a City Council President that wants you replaced.
    Don't know if the "come work for a financially distressed city that is under resourced" is catchy enough to draw the caliber of professional that is sought.
    How about: "Hey,  you can't make it worse and at least it's a Job!"
    So, for all those who have the answers, submit a resume and see what happens. Tell 'em Democratus sent you.


    Thursday, February 11, 2016


    We would like to clarify something about yesterday's post. Us thinks we mostly right with clearness and with concision. Perhaps not.

    For some unknown reason, some think we took a swipe at Ms. Kurzejeski yesterday, and Madden by implication, by noting that she does not seem overly partisan. Au contraire and to the contrary.

    The fact that Kurzejeski and Glasheen do not come out of the often bitter, brawling, gutter world of Troy politics is a positive and we are excited to see the results. It is a fresh approach and we hope it works.

    We do worry that we will misspell her name, but we can live with that stress. The point, however, still needs to be made: while citizens everywhere insist they dislike partisanship and desire clean politics, dirty politics still works.

    We did hear some funny news yesterday that could change the entire landscape of Troy politics.

    Apparently, the City Council (note, City Council) has an office. However, the new Council President has made it her office and will not allow other Council members to utilize the space. Ms. Mantello has the key and keeps it locked. Funny, yet petty. Former Council President Wiltshire did not do the same as it is the Council office, not the Council President's office. A minor but telling act.

    On the plus side, Council President Mantello is making a concerted effort to have the Council Chamber painted. Until that is achieved, we don't see a way forward for the City. We're thinking an off-white (no offense) or a soothing mauve.

    Now get out of here and hey, lets be careful out there.

    Wednesday, February 10, 2016


    Finally, an article on the first female Deputy Mayor of Troy. What took so long? Monica Kurzejeski was unanimously approved as Deputy Mayor last Thursday night. The remainder of the article isn't really an article. Rather, it's a press release. Couldn't someone do a more in-depth article on the first female deputy mayor?

    There is more here than a story about gender. A chief executive's choice of appointees says something about the chief executive and the tenor of the administration. More interesting is the fact that Ms. Kurzejeski is the first Deputy Mayor that is not steeped in the rough-and-tumble world of local, municipal politics. We're not sure if she's been steeped in anything. If she has been, that's between her and her god.

    Mark Pattison's Deputy Mayor was a Schenectady Councilman, a registered Democrat and a frequent attendee of political fundraisers. Deputy Mayor Crawley was heavily involved in Republican politics, in Brunswick and then Troy. Pete Ryan had been on the city council and also in the county legislature.

    Kurzejeski is not steeped in partisan politics. She was not a regular attendee of Democratic fundraisers. In fact, we are not even sure she is enrolled in a party. She may be the closest thing we have seen to a bureaucrat. That is, a bureaucrat in the classical tradition, not bureaucrat in the pejorative sense.

    Kevin Glasheen, also appointed Thursday night as Corporation Counsel, is a democrat. However, he is not what is commonly referred to as a "hack." He succeeded in the private sector and has not waded often into the muck of local politics.

    What does this say about Madden? His first real executive decisions are the selection and appointment of people that are outsiders to Troy, partisan politics. We'll have to watch and wait to see if the experiment works when Madden's opposite number, someone who is lifelong politicians, takes off the gloves.

    There's an interesting article here. Will a journalist explore the story?

    Congratulations to both Monica and Kevin.

    In other news, a Trojan Horse virus has infected the Troy City School District computer servers. Yes, a Trojan Horse virus - Troy City School District. Irony. Odysseus is considered a person of interest. Priam and Hecuba were not available for comment.

    Monday, February 08, 2016


    It will come as no surprise to anyone that one of the culprit's of Troy's current fiscal problems was the serial bonding done in the 1990's.

    From 1994-1995 the City Council bonded for $23,716,000.

    From 2002-2007, it was $11, 278,608.

    That is roughly $34,000,000 in serial bonding under a Republican controlled City Council.

    Democrat controlled Councils are not free and clear either.

    1996-2001 - $4,390,000

    2008 - 2011 $3,700,000.

    That is over $40,000,000 in bonding. Obviously, once the mayoral form of government was restored, things calmed down a bit. A buffer no longer existed between the voter and the city's chief executive. Before that, the Family had a lot of buffers. The bulk of the borrowing occurred from 1994-1995. We are fortunate that no one is left from those moribund days of debilitating debt. Well, one person remains, rising from the ashes of the disastrous 1990's like the phoenix of old.

    We blame ourselves for not delving into the current Council President's past voting history. We were willing to giver her a pass and, indeed, pulled a lot of punches during the campaign. Mantello worked very hard and earned her victory. After pledging to move beyond partisan politics, she has systematically played partisan politics. Specifically, taking shots at the malfeasance of the previous administration and staking out a position of being the Lord Protector of the taxpayer. Yet, she never tells us the entire story. Yes, Rosamilia was a hot mess on many levels, but things didn't begin under Rosamilia. The problems go much deeper and when Mantello slips in digs at the previous administration, her memory seems selective.

    Lets take a look at what Ms. Mantello actually supported while a member of the GOP Council majority in the 1990's.

    Ms. Mantello voted to table resolutions to reduce the City Manager's salary to $55,000. She voted to table a resolution that would reduced department head salaries by 10%. In addition:

    1995 - raise taxes - Aye*

    Issue $4,225,000 in serial bonds - Aye

    Issue $14,375,000 in serial bonds - Aye

    Eliminate 5 DPW positions - Nay

    Offer TPD and TFD severance and retirement incentive plan - Aye

    Issue $7,226,000 in serial bonds - Aye

    Increase plumber license from $50.00 to $100.00 - Aye

    Issue serial bonds $3,000,000 and $2,000,000 - Aye

    While heading up the Canal Corp. Mantello also fought to establish that entity as an independent agency, no longer shackled to the Thruway Authority. That's correct, a Republican advocating for yet another State agency and larger government.

    These are just a few of Ms. Mantello's votes during that crucial legislative season. Why people are deluded into thinking that the Council President has any credentials to be a fiscal watchdog is beyond us. Chew on that, tiger. How does it taste?

    Of course, its always possible that Council President Mantello's drive to hold public office is, in part, to seek absolution for her role in Troy's fiscal demise.

    * Should be said in a thick, Scottish brogue for full effect


    Friday, February 05, 2016


    = Not good.

    Mayor Patrick Madden delivered his first State of the City speech last night.

    According to the Times Union:

    The city must find new means — like a hotel bed tax — toward correcting its longstanding financial difficulties, Mayor Patrick Madden said Thursday in his State of the City address.

    "Getting through these next six years is our immediate challenge. There are no secret spells, incantations or silver bullets," Madden told a packed City Council chambers.

    "We did not get here overnight nor can it be fixed overnight. It will take some time to reclaim our fiscal health," the Democratic mayor continued.

    The city will see some fiscal relief in six years when the city finishes paying off its outstanding $34.5 million in Troy Municipal Assistance Corp. debt. These bonds rescued the city in the 1990s.

    City Council President Carmella Mantello said the Republican-controlled council is prepared to put aside political differences to work with the mayor. But proposals such as the hotel bed tax must receive a hard look, she said.

    According to Jim Franco at Talk 1300, the Council President has this to say:

    “It’s not just me, the state Comptroller essentially sat down with me for two hours and told us we will run a $2.5 million deficit by the end of the year if we don’t do things differently,” Mantello said. “We have to look at vacancies and we do have to look at a freeze. We have to make some tough choices we didn’t hear tonight. We are willing to work together but the Council is ready to make some really hard decision because the taxpayers can’t bear the burden of the mistakes of the past.”

    State of the City speeches are usually window dressing. We'll say this: at least this one was honest. Mantello also jumped in on the doom and gloom and still believes that cuts will make the City financially healthy. "The taxpayers can't bear the burden of the mistakes of the past." How far back do we go into the past? Just the last four years? The past twelve? Or do we go further, into the '90's and take a hard look at the bonding debacle that occurred in the '90's. Besides, lets be honest. Taxpayers always bear the burden of past mistakes.

    Madden wants to be the adult in the room: "Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer,” he said. “Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our responsibility for the future."

    It's a noble sentiment and a noble goal from a man that cannot be held responsible for Troy's financial missteps. We'll see. Sometimes the adult in the room still gets caught in the food-fight cross-fire.

    By the by, were Monica and Glasheen finally appointed last night? Missed the story if they were.

    Wednesday, February 03, 2016


    Every now and then the issue of one person holding two taxpayer funded positions arises. Usually during campaign season. Famously, former DPW Commissioner Robert Mirch pulled off a hat trick and actually had three taxpayer-funded salaries. The brilliant part about Mirch was that he also had small government, anti-tax Republicans defend this practice on his behalf as he laughed all the way to the bank. In 2011 so-called 'double-dipping' became an issue when then mayoral candidate Lou Rosamilia hesitated when asked if he would collect a mayoral salary as well as a pension from Hudson Valley Community College.

    His opponent, Carmella Mantello, did not hesitate staking out a position. In a Troy Record article (October 31, 2011) Mantello made her position clear:

    While Democrat mayoral candidate Lou Rosamilia says he will stop teaching at Hudson Valley Community College and forego his publicly funded salary if elected, Republican challenger Carmella Mantello announced no employee in her administration will be able to draw more than one taxpayer-funded paycheck.

    Rosamilia applied for an unpaid leave of absence from the local community college in the first few weeks of the fall semester and the request was granted at the college's board of trustees meeting on Oct. 25.

    Then, according to a letter to Rosamilia from the college, he would need to notify the school by April 1, 2012 if he plans to return to active employment at the end of that semester.

    The announcement of this plan of action comes on the same day that Mantello released a statement that, if she is elected, she would not permit any appointed city employees to receive more than one taxpayer-funded paycheck, including government funded pensions.

    Mantello's reasoning was sound:

    In these challenging economic times, with so many families struggling to make ends meet, it is only right that public servants draw only one taxpayer funded paycheck," she said, noting that Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, suspended his U.S. Army pension while he is serving in Congress.
    "I call on my opponent to join with me and pledge to the people of Troy that double dipping will not be tolerated in City Hall."

    Question: Does this still apply? Has Mantello evolved on this issue? Does it apply to those hired by the City Council?

    If you can name the double-dipper (under Mantello's definition), win a years subscription to the Troy Polloi.


    This week's pool winner was Ed Dinwiddie, who selected People's Avenue in the Water Main Break Pool. The next drawing will be on Friday. Remember, you have to play to win. We got dibs on lower Congress Street.

    Monday, February 01, 2016


    Record reporter Mark Robarge has a story on the Troy Police staffing shortage. The crux of the story is that the average height of a Troy police officer has declined over the past four years from 5' 10" to 5'8.5". We'd link to the story but the article requires payment and unlike Hugh Grant, we don't have to pay for it. No offense to Robarge, who appears to be a solid reporter,  compared to what the Record has had the past few years.  

    In the article, Police Chief Tedesco worries about staffing and morale in the police department. Even with the recent hiring of ten new officers (three with experience) another 6 vacancies are expected by the end of the year. Tedesco believes the low morale and staffing shortage, something he sees as connected, is at least partly the result of the shooting of two officers this Summer as well as working without a contract since 2012. That may be. Although, the shootings, in our opinion, showed the Troy Police at their best in terms of unity, professionalism and morale.

    The morale problem did not begin this year, or last year or three years ago. Everyone knows the root cause of the morale problem and 87.4% of officers will tell you, off the record. Many problems started when Tedesco became too cozy with Mayor Tutunjian. The chief was back and forth to City Hall (then at the Verizon Building) so often he wore a rut in 6th Ave. He thrust himself into partisan politics in a public manner like no other recent chief.

    This explains the overwhelming support given to Rosamilia and Madden by rank-and-file police officers. It's not because your average police officer is a flaming liberal, running around with Bernie Sanders signs. It because they knew that a Mayor Mantello or a Mayor Gordon was much more likely to give Tedesco free reign down at the station. When a man has IA (hereinafter IA) investigate a facebook post, that's not someone who should have free reign. To be fair, Tedesco gets high marks for his performance in the wake of the shootings.

    Does all of this explain the shortage? Perhaps. However, it does not explain the nationwide shortage one finds with a little research. The country is suffering from a police staffing problem: California, Tennessee, DC, Portland, Oregon, San Antonio, Richmond... An internet search found this to be a nationwide problem, much to our surprise (FYI, do not search 'short-staffed cops' unless your kids are out of the room. 'Jobs for cops' and 'Cop Job'also produces interesting results).

    Our police officers deserve a new contract. If anyone needed proof, last year showed that yes, police work is actually dangerous. But more needs to be done.

    In addition to a new contract, The Troy Polloi suggests the following to help recruit and keep officers.

    Purchase a few of these:

    And a few of these:

    Way cool. We also suggest a special Crossbow Unit. Trust us. Who wouldn't stay?

    The Chief also believes that some officers chafe under the seniority system found in many departments. However, many of those leaving are not going to non-seniority departments and will be starting at the bottom.

    There have been rumors swirling around the department for months about the investigation into Domestigate. The end of this month was supposed to "blow the roof" off of Police HQ. Now its been pushed back once again. The problem with the investigation is that no one inside Troy PD should be investigating the 911 leak at all. Whatever evidence that was initially gathered should have been sent off to the State Police, or FBI or someone other than IA. This places the department in a lose-lose situation, no matter the outcome.

    Then there was the end of the story. Very cryptic. Could Tedesco be bowing out this Spring, when he reaches the magical 62?

    As for the City Council and the police, no word on when the 5-Point Plan will be pursued as promised during the election.