Monday, February 28, 2005

Goodbee Opens Campaign Headquarters

Archie Goodbee is opening up his campaign headquarters today. And he's hiring. If you are interested in being his campaign manager better get to polishing that resume.

Recent comments on this blog suggested that the author of this blog might just be Archie Goodbee. I'm pretty sure that isn't the case, but I certainly think Goodbee should be authoring a blog, as I've pointed out before.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

All Access Past

Recently the Mayor has taken to calling himself "The Inaccessible Mayor" to make light of criticism that he isn't accessible to the people of Albany. The Mayor wants you to think that because you can phone in your concerns on his weekly show that this is all the access you could need and thus any criticism that he is inaccessible is a joking matter. Some people have commented on this blog that they agree with the Mayor. Here's what I think:

If You Aren't Part of the Solution, You Are Part of the Problem.

This is what Mayor Jennings and his supporters say in response to the lack of access to the Mayor. He will say, "get involved". This is a smart thing for the Mayor to do because it deflects the criticism and appears to shift the blame of any problem in Albany to the "negative" people that refuse to get involved. I'm one of those "negative" people. Let's talk about getting involved. The Soares campaign has stated that they had approximately 1,000 people volunteer to help out on the campaign. Whether this number is accurate or perhaps rounded up to the nearest impressive number, it doesn't really matter. I was one of those volunteers. I saw a lot of other people doing what I was doing and more. Donating their time and money to try to improve their city. I knocked on doors and talked to the citizens of Albany, made phone calls, went to fundraising events. We saw a problem and we were part of the solution. We didn't need, want, or certainly get the Mayor's help on this one. And if you were paying attention, he was pissed off about that. He refused to endorse the Democratic primary winner (Soares). Let me repeat that. The leading Democrat in Albany County refused to endorse the people's choice for the DA. Why? Because the Mayor has a problem with the people when they don't do what he wants. From where I'm sitting, that isn't democracy. What we did by electing David Soares IS democracy. And it was something new in Albany. No less an expert than William Kennedy said the Soares victory was a "sea change", a historical moment as "surprising as Jerry Jennings backing George Pataki for Governor". I liked his reference point. This was big. Almost as big as when Jerry deserted the Democratic party the last time. Almost.

Now before you get started on some type of "you just did that because you don't like the Mayor and you don't really care about the city like he does" rant, let's look at some other recent history.

ACCESS, OBSTRUCTIONISTS, MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACKS, BELLYACHERS, RABBLE ROUSERS and THE MAYOR

Perhaps you've heard of the Friends of the Madison Theatre. This is a group of people that organized to try to have some influence over the quality of their neighborhood. Getting involved. What results from their efforts remains to be seen. But I think you should read this column and pay particular attention to this section.

"Fortunately, neighborhood groups are organizing to save the Madison and the "walking style of neighborhood" threatened by a drive-through and expanded parking. Their vigorous opposition is driven in part by active professionals who have recently moved into Albany and don't accept top-down governance from City Hall."

Organizing, vigorous opposition, not accepting top-down governance from City Hall. See the involvement? See how it doesn't say "open dialogue, support and guidance from City Hall". That is because there is no such thing as dialogue with City Hall. Any dialogue is a one way conversation and it is run by Mayor Jennings. Remember that as we take this walk through the city. Next stop Arbor Hill.

Arbor Hill

I think we can all agree Arbor Hill needs help. And we know the city has a plan. But were the people of Arbor Hill involved in the plan? And how about the Mayor, his consultants and his political allies from the common council? Perhaps you should read this article. I'll hi-light some choice quotes:

"For years, residents of Arbor Hill, one of Albany’s poorest districts, have cried for neighborhood improvements: more options for low-cost housing, increased youth services and beautification projects, just to name a few."

"But members of the community say that working with the city on turning their neighborhood around has been frustrating. Typically, they say, city officials ignore residents’ ideas for improvements to Arbor Hill, instead trying to force their own revitalization ideas on the neighborhood. "

"Particularly notable absences were Arbor Hill’s representatives from the Albany Common Council, Michael Brown and Sarah Curry-Cobb. Neither returned phone calls for this story."

"When three-fourths of the Arbor Hill Neighborhood Advisory Committee failed to show up for a committee meeting last week, residents expressed concern that the mayor’s plan to renew their neighborhood may be stalling."

Not only did the residents not get ACCESS 3/4's of the committee members and politicians didn't even bother to show up to present the plan to the community. How would you feel if it was your community? You'd probably wish you had a $1,000 so you could attend the next fundraiser for the Mayor and give him a piece of your mind.


Wellington Row

Let’s take a walk over to Wellington Row. Despite the “renaissance” that the Mayor says the city has experienced, the Wellington Hotel has sat vacant for the last 17 years. Wealthy investors in England bought it, kicked everyone out and want to tear it down. So they have let it decay. And the Mayor has done no code enforcement on the building in the 11 years that he's been in office. If the Mayor doesn't do this, the citizens don't have any recourse. This is his job and the Wellington is a fine example of how he isn’t doing his job. This is a building that made the New York State Preservation League’s list of Seven to Save in the year 2000. 4 years before the problems this summer. And then a decorative cornice on the top of the building began to sag. And then the next day the Mayor said the building would be torn down. A group of concerned citizens thought there should be a bit more thought and discussion before tearing down a large portion of the historic streetscape right in the middle of down town. These people took to the streets, raised their voices and waved their signs. It was the only option they had since the Mayor doesn’t allow ACCESS in this type of situation. If you waited to “phone in” to the “accessible” Mayor on his radio show, the building would’ve been torn down. This group even hired a leading structural engineer that was an expert in buildings like the Wellington. And his report said that the building didn’t need to be torn down. What was the Mayor’s response to these citizens getting involved? He was pissed off. He called them “Monday morning quarterbacks” and said, “where have they been for the last 20 years?”. It is very clear that he doesn’t want your involvement unless you agree with him. Otherwise you are an obstructionist or being negative. And when the Times Union was critical of the Mayor’s handling of the situation his response was that if the TU thought the Wellington was a problem than why didn’t they buy it and fix it up. Do you see a pattern here? If you criticize the Mayor his response is, “why don’t you fix the problem?”. Even when it’s as ludicrous as telling the TU to buy a building that isn’t for sale or equally as outrageous as even thinking that if a reporter reports on a problem, the reporter should solve it. He wants them to “get involved”? Sorry Mayor, do your job right and stop complaining or we will find someone else to do the job.

Back to Arbor Hill

At this year's state of the city address a woman from the Albany Community Land Trust, not-for-profit group that repairs vacant homes and sells them to poor families in Arbor Hill asked if the Mayor was going to let groups like hers have a seat at the table (access) for discussions on community development. The Mayor’s responded “I want people who care. I don't want obstructionists. If you are genuine, come and see me”. Translation: If you agree with me I’d like your help, if you don’t you are an obstructionist.

Center Square - Still Standing

Up the hill to Center Square. Hey, things look pretty good here. Not too shabby. What do these people have to complain about? Well they’ve got a little zoning issue on their hands. A building that was zoned for 2 family development that is owned by a wealthy local developer got approval for 13 apartment units. That is a lot of additional cars in the neighborhood where parking is already a huge issue and the people in the neighborhood are against the idea because they LIVE in the neighborhood. The zoning law says you need a variance to get anything but 2 units in the building. How do you get a variance? By going to the zoning board. A board that is appointed by the Mayor. The law says you can’t get a variance simply because you want to make more money. Which is what the developer is doing. He claims he can’t make money on a 2 unit building so he wants 13 units. And despite objection from the community, and the clarity of the law on this issue, the zoning board gave him the variance. So, what recourse do the citizens of center square have? Only one which is to take the city and the developer to court. And what did the city and the lawyers (appointed by the mayor) do? They petitioned the judge to have the case thrown out because they said the citizens in the neighborhood didn’t have “standing” and thus didn’t have the right to sue. This is big. The city told the citizens that the only power they have to affect the development of the neighborhood they live in should be taken away. If the citizens and the neighborhood association don’t have “standing” in their own neighborhood they have no rights. Then the Mayor and his appointees can give these “zoning gifts” to any developer that they want. And the developers will give lots of money to the Mayor’s campaign funds. And the local judge that the city petitioned ignored the laws and agreed with the city. Sorry citizens, you lose, you have no rights and that is how the Mayor apparently wants it. But the citizens continued to “get involved” and took it to the appellate court where wiser minds prevailed and they ruled in favor of the citizens. If they hadn’t this would’ve established a precedent for taking away the rights of any citizen to challenge zoning. That would’ve been a nice legacy for Mayor Jennings. In a city where he gets to appoint the people that make all the decisions and he has a large amount of control over all the decisions that matter…that wasn’t enough. If they won this court case he would’ve had complete control over zoning and development and the citizens would have NO voice. More details are available here.

And don't get me started about the convention center since it is very clear that the Mayor is not open to discussion on that. He has his report that he paid for that says its a good idea. End of discussion. He doesn't care if there are other reports. There will be no discussion.

And there are similar stories to tell about the outcome of the Lark Street redevelopment project, the project recently announced for the South End, the Park South project, the complete silence from the Mayor on the current voter fraud case….I could go on for a while.

Meanwhile the Mayor holds fundraisers for $1,000 a plate. Paying your $1,000 is the only true way to get access in this town. The radio show is fine as entertainment but it does nothing if you have a serious problem or want to help shape the future of the city. Perhaps now you can see what people mean when they say they don’t have access to the Mayor? Perhaps now you will see how hollow the “if you aren’t part of the solution, you are part of the problem” argument is? And if not, re-elect him. And hope that your plans for the city never conflict with his. And when you are telling people to “get involved” and “be part of the solution”, remember those thousand Soares campaign volunteers. In the next 6 months I think the Mayor is going to get a little more citizen involvement than he’d really care to see.

Now, I'm going to go have a drink. Comments welcome.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Ethics, Political Appointees and Developers

You've heard it before so I'll keep it brief. Political appointee (Karen Hitchcock) resigns due to ethics investigation involving her and guess who?.......real estate developers! It seems she was out for some of that "personal gain". But here's the catch. In NY if you are committing crimes while on the state payroll all you have to do is quit and you can't be held responsible. Bit of a loophole. Perhaps Bob Dylan should go back and rewrite his lyric, "In Jersey anything's legal, as long as you don't get caught"?

Asked for a quote Hitchcock reportedly said "I could've gotten away with it if it wasn't for you pesky kids....oh wait...I did get away with it...thanks people of NY for funding my efforts!"

Albany Voter Fraud - Gilkey and the 5th

So the voter fraud case gets an interesting development. James Gilkey who has previously admitted that he, along with Common Council member Michael Brown, had diverted 160 absentee ballots appears to have had a visit from the Men In Black. In his deposition as part of a Federal lawsuit he invoked the 5th Amendment 60 times. Kind of tricky to invoke the 5th when you've already admitted to the wrongdoing previously. Bet he spends a lot of time thinking about that conundrum. Mr. Gilkey claims the lawsuits were "bogus from the start". Again, the Dismissing the Allegations as Bogus tactic really isn't that strong when you've already previously admitted you broke the law.

So why is Gilkey so forgetful? Mr. Aaron Mair is reported as saying that:

"Mr Gilkey's sudden memory loss is a clear indication of criminal coverup at the highest levels".

That wouldn't go over so well in an election year. Talk about campaign issues. I think Mr. Brown will probably hear about this during the campaign as it is.

Minarik, "I See Red People"

Our old friend Stephen Minarik is in the paper today. Republican Leader Sees Victories. So who will be your candidates in these victorious campaigns, Mr. Minarik?

"I'm not interested in playing the speculation game. I know the news media likes to do that".

Hey, Stevie, its not just the news media. A couple of weeks ago you were the speculation game champ. Remember when you speculated that you'd like Rudy to challenge Hillary? Now do you remember?

And in case you were wondering how the Republicans are going to run their campaigns Mr. Minarik tips his hand a bit. Apparently Eliot Spitzer is a "job killer" and Hillary is the reason there are no jobs in upstate NY. Really? What about the guy that has been Governor for the last 11 years? Care to speculate on his impact on jobs in the state?

Bruno Friends and Family Savings Plan

Commissioner William Gorman ($120,800 a year) is resigning less than two years into the job. Tough times on hand for the Gorman family. His daughter, who works as a podiatrist, had to recently resign the part time job he gave her for $55,670 a year (Sorry, this was a one time offer and the job opening will not be filled in her absence). Sure she still has her full time job as a doctor but you can get used to that extra $55K a year really quickly. To the money quote:

"The dust-up over Gorman's daughter coincided with the resignation from OASAS of Bruno's brother, Robert Bruno, from his $127,500-a-year job as deputy commissioner. The move came amid intense scrutiny over unusual financial dealings at the state-funded treatment program he oversaw."

Asked for a quote Mr. Bruno said, "If it wasn't for you pesky kids and that damn intense scrutiny we could've gotten away with this"

You Said It

A letter in the TU today attacks democrats for using scare tactics to derail Bush's proposal to privatize (or as Republicans would say, "personalize") social security. The article also has one of the best quotes on this goals of Bush's plan I've seen.

"Democrats accuse President Bush of actually wanting not to fix Social Security but to destroy it, and throw seniors into poverty. As if Republicans are soulless monsters who actually desire that". Is soulless one word or two? Should that be hypenated? I'm going to have to check that out because I think its a handy word to have around when discussing the Bush government.

Perhaps the writer missed the Republicans at the Rick Santorum rally that were chanting "hey hey, ho ho, Social Security has got to go?". You can watch the video it it here. Let's do the math. Social Security Gone = Seniors in Poverty.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Dismayed? Prove it, Mayor Jennings

On today's radio show the Mayor had the following to say about Governor Pataki

"he's been involved in the redesign and revitilization of this city, to some people's dismay".

This is a bullshit comment. Democrats object to Mayor Jennings endorsing Governor Pataki. That is correct. But I challenge the Mayor or anyone else to find someone that lives in the city of Albany that would refuse the Governor's help in revitilizing our city or was "dismayed" by any help the Governor provided.

And Mayor, did you see the cover story in the TU yesterday on the Pataki's? That is why we object to your support of Pataki.

Inaccessible Mayor Jennings -Live on WROW

Federal Laws be damned! The people need to hear Mayor Jennings and only Mayor Jennings. So the radio show will continue. And things started to heat up a little today.

The Mayor apparently didn't like the recent criticism that he is inaccessible to the public. He now refers to himself as "The Inaccessible Mayor Jennings". In my opinion, no matter what side you are on, this is funny. A bipartisian joke. I'm not sure he meant it that way though.

The Mayor, and one of his callers in particular, are saying they aren't going to let "outsiders" take over the city. This is good. Scare the people into thinking "outsiders" are taking over the city. I think this tactic will work to motivate his base and it probably is a smart move politically. However, I live in the city (but I wasn't born here so perhaps I'm an outsider). And I'm pretty sure that the city will be taken over but it will be by "insiders" like me that are ready for some change. Beware the Insiders! And in case you are wondering the caller identified "Soares" as an outsider. Soares got more than half the vote in the democratic primary IN the city of Albany. I'm thinking us Insiders might be a force to be reckoned with. As self appointed official Insider Spokesmen I will also say that we welcome Outsiders and any people that want to move to the city and invest in it.

Ironically a little while later a caller that said he'd been living in the city "only a couple of months" and asked Mayor Jennings about why the city was so bicycle unfriendly and this raised the Mayor's ire a bit and the Mayor said, "why don't you get involved? Just because you are new doesn't mean you can't get involved". I don't know. Are we sure we want this Outsider getting involved?

And for those of you that like what the Mayor has been doing you are in luck. He was pretty clear about one thing:

"I'm not changing my style"

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Visionary Mayor Needed

Make sure to check out this excellent piece in the Metroland on urban planning. Some good history on why Albany has so many vacant buildings that are rotting in our neighborhoods and why the current system basically is set up (unintentionally) to make it very difficult to reverse this trend. It also mentions the idea of a different way of taxing property that would encourage investment and development in the city. This plan has worked in other cities. We need to change the tax system because the one we have doesn't encourage investment as outlined in the Metroland article.

" a property-tax system that is based mostly on the assessed value of a building, rather than the locational value of the land, encourages neglect and abandonment because they make property taxes go down, whereas investment in buildings is rewarded with higher taxes."

This isn't going to be easy. Its a big problem. But if we want a true renaissance in Albany it will be necessary. What is the first ingredient required according to the article?

"a truly visionary mayor who wants to have a lasting effect on the health of the city overall"

Read the article. And start thinking about how you can get a "truly visionary mayor" that won't tell you that your city has undergone a "renaissance" when the downtown is ghost town full of empty buildings and the city is resorting to eminent domain to "fix" problem neighborhoods.

The Great Pataki Pile On

Front page news on the Times Union about the Pataki's recent trouble. Apparently now that George isn't doing so well it is safe to "pile on" the Governor. If you want to know what might be troubling the Governor you can take this handy quiz. No need for me to pile on any of the Governor's other troubles at this point. But Libby's....

The article misses two other problems Libby has right now.

1) Apparently she may have "borrowed" the idea for the "New Yorkie" terrier in her book. Her lawyers have agreed she won't borrow it anymore.

2) But who the hell cares about this when you are an artist. It is the work that matters. What must really hurt is having your work savaged in the press. According to this review Libby has her main character say, "Of course, we only wear faux (which is French for fake) fur. I think faux fur is a million billion times better than real fur."

I wonder if Madison/Libby think faux jobs are a million billion times better than real jobs? In her case they certainly appear to pay better.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Archie Goodbee - The New Media

So the word is that Mayor Jennings will keep his radio show for a while and Archie Goodbee won't get equal time until he is an "official candidate". I thought Mayor Jennings "welcomes discussion" about his record? He does, but it has to be one sided. And during that discussion he gets to call you "kid" (I'm not sure if that is left over from his teaching days but does anyone else find that wildly out of place and disrespectful? Calling other adults "kid"? Know anyone else that does that?)

A suggestion to Mr. Goodbee. Get a website and start blogging. Or just start a blog. It's free. Let us know what you think. Listen to the Mayor's radio show and write a response to what he says. Tell us what you think about the Park South plan. On the Mayor's radio show this week they said that you had lots of big plans but that you didn't say how you were going to "do" any of this. They are attacking you. Tell us how you are going to do it. Eliot Spitzer has a blog and he isn't running until 06. Use this new free form of communication. Don't wait.

Bribing Your Politicians - It Works!

Great letter to the editor today in the TU. The NY politicians have recently agreed that they should still be allowed to received "gifts" from lobbyists. The letter educates us with some definitions.

GIFT -- "Something given voluntarily without payment in return."

LOBBYIST -- "A person who tries to influence legislation on behalf of a special interest."

BRIBE -- "Anything given or serving to persuade or influence."

Now "bribe" is a little bit harsh, isn't it? I've preferred that instead of "gifts" or "bribes" we call them "investments". Because the return on investment can really be fantastic. But I'm open to new ideas and perhaps will switch to the more appropriate "bribes" in the future.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Local man injured...more news at 11

A new study shows that you are 8 times more likely to get news about "accidental injuries" from your local TV news channel than about local political campaigns.

The news channels will say its because injury stories (and snowstorms!!) get viewers while stories on political campaigns don't. It is true we do get the government we deserve. So, I'm promising to drastically cut back my local injury stories and focus only on politics from now until the election.

Investigating Albany Voter Fraud

Remember when DA Paul Clyne called the people that wanted an investigation into Albany voter fraud "rabble rousers"? Thankfully we now have a District Attorney that is independent of the Albany Political Machine and is actually investigating the case. And things don't sound so good for James Gilkey or Common Council member Michael Brown. Perhaps someone will step forward and challenge Michael Brown in the election this year. Seems like it wouldn't be hard to make a case for change.

Welcome Mr. Goodbee

The TU editorial staff has written a welcome letter to Archie Goodbee. They agree that a challenge to the Mayor is good for Albany. And they bring up a very valid point.

"For all his political skill, though, we'd like to see Mr. Jennings try to argue that the problem [abandoned property and vacant buildings] isn't, if anything, worse eight years later".

Exactly. Mayor Jennings says he has created a "renaissance" for the City of Albany. Where? For Who? This will be the question he needs to answer. What has the Mayor actually DONE?

Monday, February 21, 2005

Minarik to Stay?

Apparently I'm not the only person that wants NY Republican Chairman to stick around. An unnamed "high ranking democrat" has told the Democratic Party Spokesmen to stop calling for Minarik's resignation (scroll to the bottom of the page for the article). Let's keep him around so he can continue doing business as usual like....

"Minarik — rebuked by Gov. Pataki for his statement — is still refusing to release details of the $50,000-plus in reimbursements paid to Michelle Stubbs, the $50,000-a-year servant the GOP is providing to the governor's wife, Libby. "

And in case you are a Pataki supporter like Mr. Minarik you might want to buy a copy of Libby's children's book because as Libby says, "George and I really need the money". The Pataki's made over $500,000 last year. Plus they have a live in maid paid for by the Republican party. And they "need the money?". Is it any wonder our state is in finanical dire straits if the Pataki's can't manage to exist on a half million a year?

WROW - Archie Goodbee!?

So according to Federal Law candidates for office need to get equal time on the local airwaves. As you know Mayor Jennings has an hour long variety show on WROW on Friday mornings. Now Archie Goodbee is requesting equal time since it is his right under Federal Law. The last time this came up(during the 2001 elections) Mayor Jennings dismissed those asking for equal treatment under the law as "bellyachers". Damn those pesky laws, don't they know this is Albany? Well, if they take away the Mayor's show he better get to work on that website. If you stare at it long enough its a lot like the game Pong, but you just get to watch the ball bounce and don't get to play.

Democracy Matters

While his coworkers were partying it up at the All Star game in Denver, NBA player Adonal Foyle was in Albany for the annual Democracy Matters conference. This is a group he formed and its purpose is to work towards clean fair publicly funded elections. Luckily most of the participants were very young so they have a long time to accomplish this somewhat daunting task.

More info at www.democracymatters.org

The Good Doctor

On the first page of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas it says:

"He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man"

If you write about politics then you probably agree that one of the best ever was Dr. Hunter H. Thompson. Apparently the "pain of being a man" finally was too much.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

The Truth Hearst

So if you've been reading this blog you know that the NY Republican State Chairman Stephen Minarik has been up to some pretty offensive things. But if you've been reading the Times Union you might not have picked that up. Now let's take a look at this. A couple of weeks ago David Soares made a comment that a local right wing talk show host tried to blow up into a scandal. It was a manufactured attack but it got some nice headlines in the TU's local section. Soares didn't lie, didn't call anyone a terrorist, just said that we should find jobs for the kids that are working as drug dealers. And you got some nice big negative headlines with the name Soares in them. Now, Stephen Minarik, the Chairmain of the NY Republican Party has said that the Democratic Party is the party of terrorists and produced a photo to prove it. If we disregard the hate filled sentiment and ridiculous nature of the first part of that statement (which the Times Union has) and just focus on the fact that the photo he claimed as his big proof was in fact a photo of a different person this would seem like a bit of a scandal. Remember this is the Chairman of the Republican Party of NY. Now down on the bottom of page 3 of the Saturday edition we get a story with no mention of Minarik in the headline. I've been aware of the TU bias in the past but this was a bit much for me. This IS a story. But then I did a little Googling and perhaps found the bigger story which we'll never see in the pages of the TU. The Times Union is owned by The Hearst Corporation.

"New York News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch and George R. Hearst, The Hearst Corporation chairman of the board, top the list of rather sparse campaign contributions from leading newspaper figures during the first part of 2004, according to campaign finance records filed with the Federal Election Commission."

"Hearst, who had previously given $1,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, added another $8,500 in donations since late 2003 to various campaigns. Those included another $2,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, $2,000 to the Republican National Committee, $1,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee, $1,000 to the Bush-Cheney campaign."

See any bias there? I think that explains what we've been seeing. Remember when the Editorial page attacked Eliot Spitzer for fundraising? Can't wait to see the Eliot bashing that goes on in the next 2 years. And to Mr. Minarik. We know you idolize Karl Rove, but you might want to practice his hate filled attack politics in a red state until you get a little better at it. It won't work here.

If you'd like to see how your State is represented by Mr. Minarik you can tune in as he is scheduled to appear Tuesday on MSNBC on Hardball with Chris Matthews.. Expect a lot of "the party of the far left" and "dean scream" talk. Don't expect any discussion of the lack of jobs or high taxes in Upstate NY. He really doesn't care about that.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Minaridikulous!

So NY State Republican Chairperson Stephen Minarik says that the democratic party is the party of terrorist supporters because someone that was a registered democrat (according to him, this hasn't been verified) got convicted of a crime and thus the rest of us Democrats are guilty by association. I guess no Republicans have ever committed crimes because if they ever had that would make them the party of....you get the point. This guy's reasoning is ridiculous. But he is standing by it. And what is his proof? He has a picture of this woman Lynne Stewart who was convicted of aiding a terrorist and the pictures shows her at a Democratic rally standing next to Jesse Jackson. Ok. But the problem is, that isn't her in the picture. It's Leslie Cagan, of United for Peace and Justice. Uh oh...is Mr. Minarik going to say that means that the Democratic Party is the party of Peace and Justice?!! The ironic part is that he probably would find it insulting to be called the party of Peace and Justice, so perhaps he might.

"Not exactly a Kodak moment for Chairman Minarik, is it?" said Democratic National Committee spokesman Josh Earnest.

So is Mr. Minarik apologizing or backing away from his statement? Not at all. Full speed ahead for Minarik. Keep digging that hole! All I can say is Mr. Pataki, I really hope you keep this guy around for the next 2 years. Ride that pony!! Mr. Minarik, PLEASE apologize instead of resigning. We'd really love to have you around for as long as possible.

WROW - Albany Mayor Jennings

In case you don't have the time to tune in to Albany Mayor Jennings' radio show here is a handy Cliff's Notes version for you. This is what you would've learned on any of the shows for the past 6 weeks:

1) That this show tells the "real story about our city" which he doesn't think you can get anywhere else.
2) The Mayor will say he is positive and he doesn't like negative people.
3) He will repeatedly mention that being Mayor is "hard work" and that he works "24/7" and that it is not an easy job.
4) He is willing to "discuss" his record with anyone. However, he never actually does this.
5) A woman named Gloria will call and say she is praying for him.
6) The Mayor will say that it will be bad for someone else to come in and run the city. He claims there is too much going on as result of his great leadership and having someone else come in at this time would disrupt this progress

Number 6 is interesting. This is another recent Republican strategy that the Mayor has adopted. He is saying it would be "dangerous" or "bad" for the city if we changed the adminstration. You don't want to change horses in mid-stream. While this is a good argument for him to make (it worked for Bush) it is another example of why we need term limits. If the Mayor truly cared for the well being of the city he would manage it in a way where a change in adminstration wouldn't have a negative impact. Our city's fate shouldn't be dependent on one person. If we had term limits politicians would have to at least work on some succession planning. If there were term limits he would not be able to use this argument and we could have our politicians having meaningful discussion about the policies that will affect the city as opposed to using these scare tactics and avoiding any real political discussion.

Archie Goodbee - Seeking a Headline

So Mr. Goodbee holds a press conference to announce he is running for Mayor of Albany. The Times Unions buries the story back between the obituaries and an ad for Vegas Night at the Cohoes Elks lodge. And what does the headline say? "Jennings' foe vows fight" Going to be an uphill battle to get to that front page and to get the Goodbee name in a headline.

Republican Lite?

We all know how Mayor Jennings likes to endorse Republicans and fund raise for them. And how he uses the Republican approach of attacking anyone that criticizes him for anything. Well directly on the heels of the Whitehouse "fake reporter asking softball questions" scandal the Mayor tries his hand at that tactic as well. At the Albany Roundtable it is standard practice for guest speakers to respond to written questions from the audience. Everyone does that except for Mayor Jennings. I thought this was the Mayor that would "welcome a discussion" on his record? Not likely. So instead of written questions Mayor Jennings insists he gets to choose the questions from the audience. What sort of questions did he get?

1) Someone wanted to know if he was related to Jeopardy Champ Ken Jennings.
2) Someone wanted to know if he planned to stay in office longer than Mayor Corning did?

Newly announced candidate for Mayor Archie Goodbee weighed in on that second question yesterday.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Meet the Challenger

Archie Goodbee officially threw his hat in the ring for the race to be Mayor of Albany. In this picture he seems to be enjoying himself. Going to need that sense of humor over the next 6 months....

Walmart and Your Rights

So the people of Ballston Spa are looking to get a one year moratorium on development so that they don't rush down the path to getting a new Walmart. Sounds reasonable. However, some people are upset, mainly the people looking to sell the land to Walmart.

"Stop impeding our business, stop infringing on our rights" Says the owner of the property.

Apparently in her mind we all should have the right to make as much money as we can regardless of the impact it might have on our community or neighbors. I'm not so sure I agree with that.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Go Ahead Jeff

So I'm sure you've heard about the gay male prostitute that was given a job to ask incredibly biased questions as a White House Reporter. No? Really? You'd think the liberal media would be on that.

Ok. This guy's name isn't Jeff. But that is what Scott and George call him. Check this out.

So you think "no big deal" this guy lobs softball questions. But let's take a look what he did before he was a White House "reporter" with access to confidential CIA memos. This guy was never a reporter before he showed up and was asking the President questions?! But he did have other talents....

Oh Jeffrey...or should I say Jim?

For all the info you could want on this story check out http://www.dkosopedia.com/index.php/Jeff_Gannon

Mr. Minarik - Out of Control Enough for You?

On Valentine's Day Stephen Minarik woke up an unknown state republican party chairman. And he made some rather foolish remarks about Howard Dean saying he was "out of control" and also mentioned that the Democratic Party is a party associated with terrorists. And now Dean is calling for an apology or for Minarik to resign. Is that "out of control" enough for you, Mr. Minarik?

George Pataki couldn't get Minarik to apologize for the remarks, let's see if Dean can. I'm betting Minarik takes one of the two options Dean has given him.

PS. This really is funny coming from a guy that is on a losing team with zero prospects for improvement. It reminds me of when Stephon Marbury said he was the best point guard in the NBA. And then the Knicks lost 10 games in a row. We don't hear much from Stephon Marbury anymore. And 2 years from now when it is Spitzer, Schumer, and Clinton in charge in NY I'm sure we won't hear much from this nutjob.

PSS. I think its pretty clear Steve Nash is the best point guard in basketball and that Eliot Spitzer is the current Steve Nash of NY Politics. Mr. Minarik, please, PLEASE do your best to convince George Pataki to run for re-election. Please.

Letter Calls for Chairperson Barnette's Resignation

A letter to the TU today calls for Albany Democratic Chairperson Betty Barnette's resignation. I'm not sure if that is the first time THAT has happened since 1921, but it is another sign that the times are changing.

Game On!

Archie Goodbee says he's running against Mayor Jennings in the primary.

"I welcome him to the discussion. That's all". Mayor Jennings

Now, there is someone else that could use a little media coaching. "That's all." I'm looking forward to running that as a headline the day after the primaries.

Pataki vs. Minarik

I think George Pataki's approval rating might have just gone up a point in my book. He isn't willing to stoop to Rovian depths like the NY State Republican Chairman Stephen Minarik. While this is a small achievement, it is something. Minarik recently said that the Democratic party was the party of terrorist supporters like Lynne Stewart. Pataki said this was

"not in the realm of appropriate political discourse"

Those are some words you'll never hear from Karl Rove. So when Mr. Minarik took the job he said to save money he wasn't going to have a media person. I'm not sure what is funnier, that it is blatantly obvious that he needs a media person more than anyone or that a Bush Republican wanted to try to be fiscally conservative?

And the best part is that Minarik is standing by what he said and is "dismissing the criticism". Keep digging that hole, Stephen.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

You can't even see the strings..

So Karl Rove pulled some strings yesterday and the NY Republican State Chairman and puppet Stephen Minarak sprang to life and started to smear Howard Dean

“Howard Dean is the personification of today’s Democratic Party – elite, radical, out-of-control and sadly out of touch with ordinary Americans”.

Wow. Too bad that is wildly inaccurate. But those Republicans don’t bother much with the facts. Then Minarak went on to describe democrats as the party of terrorist supporters.

George Pataki has a 34% approval rating. New Yorkers overwhelmingly support Eliot and Hillary. I guess desperate times call for desperate measures.

Election Year Politics

The Albany Zoning board voted against approving two new Charter Schools. As you know Charter Schools are quite controversial and much of the public is against them. But they also are backed by people with very deep pockets. And if we know one thing its that the zoning board and Mayor Jennings are known to side with anyone with deep pockets. And whenever the issue of charter schools comes up on the Mayor's radio show he really dances around the subject. Try calling and getting him to state his position.

This is an election year so perhaps the plan is to delay the new Charter Schools until after his re-election?

Pay for Play Pataki Scandal

In today's TU we return to a familiar topic. The quote:

"[the proposals] have now become a means to make the governor's friends and campaign contributors wealthy"

To the quiz:

Was the quote referring to?

a) The Great Pataki Canal Giveaway Scandal
b) The Pataki Casino "Gamble Your Way to Security" Plan
c) A raise for Chancellor King
d) The 21st Century Freedom Pac Scandal
e) Mrs. Pataki's "consulting" business...Scandal

Take as much time as you need.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Developers for Fair Growth

Wouldn't it be great if there was just one store where you could go to get everything? And everything would be really cheap, including the salaries of the people in the store. Apparently there are some small minded people in Ballston who don't agree. They have been going around stealing the "Yes, Walmart" signs that have been provided by the local citizens in support of Walmart...oh...actually they were provided by the Walmart corporation who is in support of Walmart.

How many unionized Walmart employees does it take to screw in a light bulb?

The punch line is kind of long on this one. Check it out.

No, Walmart.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Classic Quote

You know the story. Politicians and developers want to build and make money at all costs. Lowly townspeople or cityfolk band together and raise their collective voices against this idea because it isn't good for their community. Politicians and developers ignore the people. And it all goes to the courts. It could be anywhere, but this time its North Greenbush.

"Of course, the town and the developers are going to march into court hand in hand...." J. Eadie, President of the Neighborhood Association.

As you know, I prefer the government to represent the wishes of the majority and not just the wishes of the developers a.k.a. leading campaign donors.

Candidate!

Its tough to focus on democracy and politics when you don't have any candidates. So thank you, Shawn Morris, for announcing your intentions to run for President of the Common Council. Now, perhaps another candidate to make this interesting?

Job Openings

District Attorney Soares just fired one of his assistant DAs. The details about the reason for the firing are in the TU and they certainly seem legit. And the guy that lost his job (Peter Torncello) doesn't seem too worried and he sums it up pretty well by saying, "he was my boss and it was his prerogative to do what he did...I'll be fine". Personally I'm surprised it took this long for the ax to fall. Imagine if you got fired and then got to go back to your job 6 months later as the new boss? I know in my case, heads would roll. It would be like a full season of the Apprentice rolled up into one 2 hour season ending special. With no commercial breaks. Soares is the boss. If you don't like it, don't work for him OR take a page from his book and run for District Attorney yourself.

Friday, February 11, 2005

WROW - Albany Mayor Jennings

So last night was a historic night in Albany politics and Mayor Jennings and the Albany Democratic Machine took another significant blow. What was the Mayor saying today on his radio show:

"we're in this thing together"

"we need to continue to work together"

Seems like we're one big happy family now. Working together! I think the "continue" part might be a bit of revisionist history but...

So about those citizens that would like to have some voice in the city Government? Are they going to be allowed to "work together" to find solutions for the city? Let's wait and see if we get a legitimate challenger to the Mayor and then I think we might see a little more space at the table for concerned citizens that would like to "find solutions, not create problems". But really that makes sense. You want to ease into your democracy, not jump right into it after its been absent so long.

Not since 1921....

Big day for representational democracy in Albany. This is the first time there has been a weighted roll call vote in Albany County since 1921. Despite efforts by Mayor Jennings to control the outcome of the election of the new Election Commissioner for Albany County, his candidate lost (this is becoming a pretty common phrase related to Albany elections- Soares, Walsch, Clancy, various school board members, judges...the list goes on). To Lebrun:

"This is big. This is very big.....Jerry Jennings took a heavy prestige hit Wednesday night" F. Lebrun

Only an hour to WROW and Mayor Jennings weekly show. Should be fun.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Eminent Domain

So if a part of the city that has value due to its location is allowed to decay to the point where the city pulls the Eminent Domain trump card, would that be considered demolition by neglect?


Fabulous Investing Scheme

Tired of not getting a good return on your money? You might want to consider investing in Pataki Inc (aka 21st Century Freedom State PAC). Check out these fabulous investments:

Verizon gave $128,000 to the Governor's Virginia based PAC and...got $66,000,000 in NY Government contracts.

Kawasaki Rail Car gave $50,000 and (make sure to count all the zeroes) got a $2,300,000,000 contract to build NY subway cars.

Wellcare Health turned $60,000 into $100,000,000 in Medicaid contracts.

Stop wasting your time with traditional investments and check out the 21st Century Freedom State PAC. Invest in Freedom.

Hurry Up and Wait

A bit of comedy in the paper today. The city decided not to enforce the fine on Sebba Rockaway for the Hotel Wellington. This is the hotel that Sebba has owned for 17 years. Why did the city decide not to enforce the fine?

"I don't know that we wanted to do it that quickly" Albany Corporation Counsel John Reilly

This coming in the same week that Mayor Jennings said that the city would be "a lot more aggressive" in dealing with owners who let their property deteriorate.

So, if you are a delinquent property owner...you better start getting worried somewhere around 2022.

Election Commissioner Needed

See why we need a full time election commissioner in Albany County? The democrats got together last night to try to elect an election commissioner and according to the losers it didn't go so well.

"I watched some stuff go on tonight that shouldn't have gone on" Betty Barnette

Betty, that was Democracy you saw. We understand you don't like it. Get used to it because we got some more on the way.

So, James Clancy appears to have been elected as the new Democratic Elections Commissioner of Albany County.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Um...George..about that site?

So Mayor Jennings has a problem. He really doesn't want something like this Democrats for Pataki thing hanging around what with Spitzer being a Democrat and all but.....its kind of hard to call up your "good friend" George Pataki and ask him to take it down. How would that make George feel? But, then again, that opening line is a doozy....

"In a stunning announcement, Albany Mayor Gerald D. Jennings - a Democrat - crossed party lines and endorsed Governor George Pataki"

Umm...George?

Mayor Jennings - On the Internets

So you are probably thinking..."I wonder if I should vote for Mayor Jennings?" And so you say, "let me check out the web to see what i can find." Well so far not much but the Mayor has at least set up a new web site. The URL is a little tricky to remember so I'll just link to the site for you Jennings 2005. Its a little short on content right now...

http://d10839.u24.mhhosting.net/ or you can use the friendlier www.jennings2005.com which will get you there for now.

Now if there was only a challenger. Note to potential challengers...flash intros are a really bad idea. Most of your voters are still on dial up.

Your NY Representative Making News

If you aren't aware there is a growing scandal in the white house press corp. And Representative Louise Slaughter has written a letter to the president requesting an investigation. The letter was generated after an open letter to Rep Slaughter from the staff of the Niagara Falls Reporter. You really should check out the details. It is amazing that this is going on in the Whitehouse. There is going to be a lot honor to restore...

If you want to send Representative Slaughter some thanks or encouragement click here.

Need to Oil the Machine

Looks like the Albany County Democratic Machine might be downsizing to just being the Albany City Democratic Machine. Tonight the city Dems (Barnette) will be trying to get their candidate (Karen Shay) as the new Election Commissioner while the County Dems will be trying for theirs (James Clancy). And the city Dems opened with a little dirty pool (aka Standard Operating Procedure). Betty Barnette mailed out a letter stating the results of the Executive Committe vote BEFORE the vote occured. Tonight should be fun.






Convention Center - Great For Meeting Planners!

Does Wall Street support the privatization of social security? Sure they do. Why is that? Because they personally will make a lot of money. Do they care if it doesn't make good economic sense for the average person? I think you know the answer to that one.

And so we get to our TU Letter to the Editor of The Day. The letter goes on about why Albany is a perfect destination for a convention center. Then the author goes on to make the case by saying, "I spoke recently to a state government employee who has a grant to run a conference for 2,000-3,000 people and can't bring it to Albany, which is her first choice." Then it goes on to mention some other rather tepid and qualitative arguments for the convention center. Read it and see if it makes you want to spent $225,000,000 in tax payer money on a convention center that local politicians admit will lose money.

Does the letter mention the Brookings Report that says the convention center industry is in a downward spiral? No. Does it mention anything about the overall convention business OR the downtown Albany community that the convention center would reside in? No. Does he mention if he has ever used the existing convention center in downtown Albany? No.

But guess what it does say?

"Some of my state and smaller national association clients...."

Ah ha! The author of the letter is none other than John Giordano, President of Plaza Meetings in Latham. Does anyone doubt that he will make a lot more money if there is a new convention center in Albany? Of course he will make money. But that doesn't mean the taxpayers will. And it certainly doesn't help downtown Albany since he is from Latham.






Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Albany Voter Fraud

The Albany Democrats will be voting to pick a new Election Commissioner this week. Why do they need a new one? Because the last one quit because of a voter fraud lawsuit. The first line of the article in the TU pretty much explains why he chose to seek another career:

"A federal lawsuit alleging election fraud in a special Democratic primary last spring has been partially settled with the Albany Housing Authority, but the case against the county Board of Elections will continue."

So who else might have to step down (or be voted out) because of this case?

"Those named in the case include candidate Jestin former Housing Authority employee Jamie Gilkey and Common Council member Michael Brown."

This one isn't over yet.

Mayor Jennings, Taxes and Re-Election

Another letter to the editor of the Times Union that criticizes Mayor Jennings and reminds people that he is up for re-election this year. The ISSUE in this letter is the ever increasing tax burden on the people of the city of Albany. The writer also points out that when everyone else's assessments went way up in 2003, the Mayor's house had no increase in assessed value. The writer reminds us that Nov 8th is election day this year but the real election will be in the primary since this is Albany. Now if we only had a candidate....

Monday, February 07, 2005

Spirited Debate

Last week Rep. John Sweeney, R-Clifton Park had the following to say on Social Security:

"While this is just the beginning of what should be a lengthy and spirited debate, the President did an excellent job of articulating his position and moving the discussion forward. "

Take a look at the editorial page of the TU today. 1 column, 1 cartoon and 4 letters to the editor all are saying that they think the Bush plan for Social Security is a bad idea. I'm sure Rep Sweeney isn't happy to see that. Elected Republicans around the country are trying to distance themselves from the President's proposal. And this weekend Vice President Cheney came out and admitted that privitization would cost trillions AND wouldn't address the solvency issue.

If Sweeney represents you, I recommend e-mailing him and asking him what he thinks of the privatization of social security. Oh, and the other editorial today mentions that Sweeney has been a big supporter of Tom Delay. Might want to ask him about that as well. Something like, "Once Tom Delay is indicted do you think he should step down?"

john.sweeney@mail.house.gov


Sunday, February 06, 2005

Great Pataki Canal Giveaway Scandal...Update

Now I know the Governor is a boring speaker. I'm keenly aware of that. As a general rule I try not to remember anything he says. But...I don't have personal interaction with him and I've never spoken to him in the last few months about his many scandals and his apparent lack of ethics. But imagine if you had...

You: Governor, this canal thing is bad. It was a crime. We need to withold the evidence.

Governor: When I'm president I'm going to fire Hillary Clinton.

You: Good idea. But Sir, the papers, they show you are guilty, we must withold them.

Governor: Yes, of course. You know I heard the democrats were going to resurrect Dean. Fools. I'll fire him too.

You: Thank you, sir.

Now imagine you are Executive Director of the Thruway Authority like Michael Fleischer (work with me here). Its been a while since you had this conversation. And you spent the time drinking heavily due to the fact that you broke the law and lie a lot these days but it was a conversation with the Governor about a CRIME. To the TU for the story:

During the Dec. 21, 2004, hearing, Brodsky asked Fleischer whether he had spoken to the governor about "withholding documents" related to the Canal Corp. and Hutchens deal.
Fleischer responded, "In terms of what documents go or not?"

"Yes," Brodsky replied.

"I don't recall," Fleischer said.

Really, Mikey? I'm pretty sure you are lying. The only plausible argument would be "I've had so many damn conversations with the Governor about scandals and breaking the law that I can't keep them straight". I'm sure that canal document discussion is pretty much burned into your cortex regardless of how many double scotches you down to try to make it go away. Republican Values. Oxymoron?

And while were at it, Brodsky for Attorney General.

Just the Facts

Another letter to the editor saying that we need a convention center in Albany. Do they mention the Brookings Report? Do they cite facts and figures about the convention center industry? Do they think? No. They just say we need it just like we needed the Pepsi Arena. So the Pepsi Arena lost money this year, is that good for Albany? Did you really need to see Yanni?

The facts say a convention center is a bad economic move (for everyone except politicians and developers). But why deal with the facts?

More Racism?

So we've got the racist elected official in Nassau. He makes some anti Semitic remarks in a public forum and then gives a half assed apology. Fire him. Vote him out. Wake him up.

And then before the story is even dead(see letters to the editor) we get a nice piece by a white Jewish reporter basically chastising Donovan McNabb for saying its a big deal that he's a black quarterback in the Superbowl. He's only the third black quarterback in history to play in the superbowl. It wasn't long ago that there were no black quarterbacks. It wasn't a question of skill. It was pure racsim. And we get this article and the TU makes this reporter's chastising of McNabb the big cover story in the Sports section. He [Brian Etkin] is trying to say that racism is a thing of the past and McNabb should let it be. He goes so far as to say "I don't think of what Rush Limbaugh said". You don't? ! Shame on you. Last year Rush Limbaugh said that McNabb was overrated and only got praise because he was black. Last fucking year!!!! Sure he was on drugs but he still got fired. But Mr. Etkin would "argue that we've progressed". Really? Have you been to Nassau, Brian? He'd like to think he's "colorblind". If you were so colorblind, Mr Etkin, you would've written a different story. One worth reading. Shame on you.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Get that grant money now!

So the courts have said that 228 more ballots can be counted in the NY Senate race of Spano vs. Stewart Cousins. Spano currently leads by 58 votes. And the odds are that he will lose if they count these 228 votes. So, if representative Spano (R-NY) has promised you some grant money, I recommend you show up at his door and get it in cash NOW. Once those votes are counted and he loses, El Bruno will be cancelling those checks. (scroll down for story).

Racism OK in Private

After making anti-Semitic comments at a Nassau town meeting, a Republican councilman apologized. He said the comment was a "jest" and "not intended to be hurtful". Apology accepted....oh...wait...you have something else to add? "I was somewhat surprised my comments were made public, since no residents (or Jews?) were in attendance at the meeting in which the comments were made".

Translation: I've been making racists comments my whole life but no one has every ratted on me before.

Consistency

So, a while back the Times Union strongly (and in my opinion, wrongly) criticized Elliot Spitzer for his campaign's agressive fundraising. His campaign is trying to raise enough money to scare off primary challengers. The Times Union said his campaign needed to "get a grip". Well, I strongly disagreed with them and pointed out at the time that Mayor Jennings was following the same strategy and also pointed out that it was exactly what the Mayor should be doing. I'm sticking by my argument. All I ask is that the TU writes an editorial strongly criticizing Mayor Jennings for the following comment "If I have to I'll raise a million dollars" when there are no current challengers for his office. I'm sure that will be in tomorrow's paper.

Friday, February 04, 2005

WROW..Mayor Jennings!

On today's show a caller questions the mayor about the expensive new project that is being proposed. He says it isn't necessary, the existing facilities are sufficient. The Mayor replies in agreement:

"we need to take a step back and look at this thing"

"if it's not big enough, put an addition on it"

"the county taxpayers are paying for this"

"[these facilities] aren't making a lot of money"

Of course you are thinking "wow, I can't believe the Mayor has changed his tune about the Convention Center". Suckers! He was talking about the Eden Park Nursing home. Got to be careful how you spend money on nursing homes. Convention Centers on the other hand....spend away!!

PS. As usual the Mayor mentioned several times how being Mayor is "hard work" and "24 hours a day, 7 days a week". So if you were thinking of running for Mayor you might want to reconsider and leave the work to him. It's really %^*&!@ hard to be Mayor!!

PSS. Gloria called in and said the Mayor should be "a saint" because "you dress so perfect".


Bad Voters, Bad!!

Can we really believe Republicans when they say they care about the elderly and Social Security after you read this? These people decided not to vote Republican so Joe Bruno decides they don't get the grant money they were promised. Who are these bad people? Presbyterian Senior Services in the South Bronx.


Welcome My Son, Welcome to The Machine

So a while back Mike Conners switched from being a "lifelong democrat" to being a newly minted Republican to run against Breslin. As a reward he got $390,000 from the republicans for his campaign. Apparently he didn't waste any time in adopting the Republican Moral Values. Seems he headed out for a nice Thanksgiving Weekend with the family at a high end Vermont inn. And paid for it with campaign cash. I bet they have nice maid service at that place, too.


Job Openings

The night of David Soares primary victory Helen Desfosses declared that in the next election every seat would be challenged. Apparently she was including her seat as common council president. Some are surprised. Personally I think it makes a lot of sense. Do the math:

Libby Pataki: $350,000 a year plus a maid
Chancellor King: $250,000 plus $90,000 for rent, plus car and driver
The woman that buys the county's salt: $60-$75,000
Libby Pataki's maid: $50,000
Libby Pataki's maid's kid:$41,871 (athletic activities assistant - umm - he picks up basketballs after practice? Hey, they're your tax dollars.)
Part time election commissioner: $33,661
Common Council President: $29,162

She wants to "refocus her priorities". I'm cool with that as long as she isn't going for that "athletic activities assistant" job. That is mine!

Know When To Fold 'Em, Know When to Run

Gambling is fun. The president is gambling with social security. The Mayor is gambling on his convention center plan (and on the protection of the ghost of the Machine). The Governor? He's The Gambler! He's got a new plan to fix the state's problems (e.g over $45 billion in debt). The proposal is to pay some Wisconsin Indian tribes for land in Sullivan county so we can open more casinos. Turns out the state could get roughly $1 billion a year from the deal. Of course that would be $1 billion in money that people in NY state lost. Is this part of the new ownership society that will save us all? The weird part of his proposal is that there is $10 million that will be set aside for "compulsive gambling". I'm not sure that will be enough. We've got a lot of politicians here. And they like to live really well. They will burn through $10 million pretty quickly. Consider this:

The average compulsive gambler has debts exceeding $80,000 (Dallas Morning News, 1/4/84)

Pataki's exceed $45 billion!

Crime rates in casino communities are 84% higher than the national average. (U.S. News & World Report, 1/15/96)

"Gaming corrupts our dispositions, and teaches us a habit of hostility against all mankind."Thomas Jefferson

And I'm thinking of breaking this one out at the Pataki prayer Breakfast this year.

"But ye who have forsaken the Eternal, ye who ignore his sacred hill, spreading tables to Good Luck, pouring libations to Fate, I make the sword your fate."
Isaiah 65:11

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Word Play with Karl Rove

Coincidence? The very day the Republican National Committee puts out a press release warning "obstructionists" Mayor Jennings puts out a warning of his own to "obstructionists". So, is Mayor Jennings in the inner Republican circle or just hoping to join?

Obstructionists

John Sweeney and Your Retirement

Looks like some of our New York Republicans are going to be the focal point of a lot of pressure from both sides. On one side you have the president lying and trying to scare the public into agreeing to let him destroy social security. On the other side you have the people of NY and the country. And the people are going to want to know what John Sweeny (R-NY) stands on the issue. John, you are either with us or against us? So which is it?

Want to learn what John had to say about the State of the Union? Here is a highlight.

"It's clear that if we do nothing, future retirees and workers will face either massive benefit cuts or massive tax increases. While this is just the beginning of what should be a lengthy and spirited debate, the President did an excellent job of articulating his position and moving the discussion forward. "

Seems like John is against us on this one. John is up for reelection in '06. I'm betting he might start to change his mind after some "spirited debate".

If he represents you, contact him with any questions. john.sweeney@mail.house.gov

And at the end of his press release, he chastises the "obstructionists". He does this of course because that is a Republican buzz word for anyone that opposes their views. Right Mayor Jennings (R -NY)?

Obstructionists!

If you were at the Albany library last night you would have gotten to hear the Mayor answer some questions. On the question of his willingness to work with community groups trying to work to make Albany better the Mayor had this to say:

"I want people who care. I don't want obstructionists. If you are genuine, come and see me"

He was responding to a question from a representative of the Albany Community Land Trust. This not-for-profit group repairs vacant homes and sells them to poor families in Arbor Hill. Are these "obstructionists"? Are they genuine? How many homes has the Mayor fixed in Arbor Hill in the last 12 years?

I see two problems here.

First, the Mayor refuses to be criticized. If you object to his policies you will hear that you are one of the following:

1) An obstructionist
2) A monday morning quarterback
3) A hyprocrite. If you think there is a problem, you should fix it yourself (When the Times Union criticized his handling of the Wellington Hotel he responded that they should buy the building and fix it if they had a problem with it. )

Second, the problem with the Albany Community Land Trust is that they are "not for profit". The Mayor and his friends can't make money off of them so they don't get a seat at the table.

This Mayor really is becoming a great Republican.

I'd link to the article in the TU by Brian Nearing but they are requiring registration to see it.


Let's Go Orange!

Syracuse residents just got the "ok" from Pataki on getting a gift from the rest of us to insure that their new convention center hotel "makes money".

Details


Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Disobey and be Punished

I couldn't make this up if I tried. And thankfully others are already writing about it because I'm too disgusted to begin. The story is that wherever Republicans got voted out of office in New York the people they representing are being PUNISHED. Read more:

Senate majority punishes its own in CNY

And here as Joe Bruno's Revenge

To quote Roger Waters..."this will not do"

All in favor of democracy?


Syracuse Convention Center to us - Little help?

Turns out the Mayor of Syracuse isn't confident that his convention center is going to make money. I wonder where he got that idea. So, here is the deal - they will go forward with their convention center expansion IF the state guarantees $15 million in payment to them. That will guarantee the center "makes money" for the Syracuse area tax payers. The Mayor says this will be "good for local tax payers". He doesn't mention the rest of us who are going to have to chip in that $15 million. But there is another catch...

There is a pool of money set aside by the State for "Convention Centers" in upstate. The Syracuse people are coming to Albany this week to make their case for $15 million of that money. But....that is Gerry's money!! Gerry wants to build a convention center in upstate and his isn't going to "make money" either so he needs that cash. This is the same Gerry who is good friends with George who gets to hand out the cash. I love a good money fight. Let's Go Orange! Go get 'em Gerry! Stay tuned.

Not Staying Home to Bake Cookies

Libby Pataki is a highly paid consultant (of sorts). She is a busy lady. Of course she has a maid. What's the big story? Remember when the first George Bush went shopping as a photo op and he was spooked by the product scanner at the check out line? He had never seen one. When you are part of the ruling class you don't mingle with the masses unless its a photo op. Occasional good friend of the Pataki's,Chancellor King, has his own tax payer funded driver. These people hang out together. They UNDERSTAND that you don't pay for anything that you can get the tax payers to pay for. Does your friend need a huge chunk of real estate worth millions? Give it to him for $30,000. Is it illegal for corporations to donate more than $5000 a year to politicians in NY? Ha, set up a bank account in Virginia and let them donate away. Makes it a lot easier to figure out who should win those big construction projects. Want to have a "prayer breakfast" at work to raise money for the Lord? Encourage all your employees to attend and give and then punish any that speak out against it. And then blame any criticism as being "politically motivated". It works for the Governor. It works for Mayor Jennings. And the checks keep rolling in. I can hear the laughter in the halls of power. Maybe the Pataki's will offer to pay the money back. They are laughing because $50,000 is so insignificant to them that it amuses them that anyone cares about this. The Governor has driven NY State $46.9 Billion into debt. He doesn't care about that because its not his debt, its ours. They aren't laughing with us, they are laughing at us. The bigger deal we make out of a $50,000 maid, the more we are distracted from the real corruption.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Convention Center Radio Show

Here is a radio interview with the author of the Brookings Institute report. It is on a show called "Smart City". Check it out. You need Real Player.

Choice Quote:

"If we sat down and seriously considered where else we might invest those kind of public dollars...then I think we'd get a pretty different answer about the merit and worth of this type of investment."

And then they talk to that guy's boss. He is an expert on developing city economies. If you give a hoot about this stuff at all, its worth your 15 minutes. He repeatedly stresses that the ultimate goal of any investment should be to "attract and retain a talented workforce". He points out that convention centers aren't a very good way to do this. I highly recommend any local politicians listen to this and steal all his ideas. You'd get my vote.

And look, they are hiring at the Oncenter in Syracuse! Who knew there are no educational requirements to get a job as a dishwasher?

Syracuse Taxpayers Smarter?

Well, while we are taking our sweet time here in Albany to get a bigger stake of the highly lucrative convention center industry, those folks up in Syracuse are boldly moving ahead. Seems like they already have a convention center. But they are not content to sit back and just reap the rewards. They just decided to spend a bunch of their money on a brand new Marriot Hotel to add on to their convention center. These people will not be swayed from their vision by any reports from the Brookings Institute saying the convention center business is in a downward spiral. Onward brave taxpayers!

But check this out. The taxpayers are chipping in $30 million for this deal. And as we know from the Brookings report, Mayor Jennings, Jack McEneny and Fred Lebrun...convention centers are supposed to lose money. It's expected. So the tax payers are on the hook for $30 million and will lose money on their investment. So how about the other parties involved in the deal, are they going to lose money?

"convention hotel developers usually expect a 20 percent to 25 percent return on their investment. " Oh, so Marriot plans to make money on the deal?! How novel.

"Heuber-Breuer is to be paid $2.5 million as the project's construction manager, according to the agreement's project budget" Not too shabby. I bet Mr. Heuber and Mr. Breuer will make some nice donations to the politicians that are giving this the green light.

"The agreement also does not put a ceiling on the cost of modifying the parking garage to accommodate a walkway from the hotel, a risk if the garage needs major changes since the county is responsible for upgrading the garage" More debt for tax payers!

SO, after the tax payers have kicked in all this money to make a great new hotel for their convention center and make lots of money for everyone involved (except them) what happens if this hotel is sold to someone else?

"Despite the public subsidies, Onondaga Hotel Ventures would be the sole owner and the only party that would stand to gain if the hotel were sold at a profit"

And remember in Albany the project will also throw $20-$40 million to Wall Street to float the bonds.

So, everyone that comes to the table expects to make A LOT of money off of this deal except the taxpayers? Of course they do.

Albany County taxes just went up 28% this year.

If you are a taxpayer I think you can either 1) wake up or perhaps 2) get a job in government and start ripping the rest of us off.


New Hot Career - Election Commissioner

More rumblings about making the position of Election Commissioner in Albany a full time job. It's always been a part time job for a salary of $33,661 a year. But, with all the interest in elections these days they now want to make it a full time job and pay somewhere north of $80,000 a year. You might want to see who you know and get that resume polished up fast. There are reportedly ten people in line for the job already. So why the new full time job that requires a 60% raise?

[there will be new machines] "and I believe the responsibility will fall on the county to store them and take them to various voting places" Frank Commisso, Leader of the County Legislature

Note to Frank: Please find out if this is actually true before you hire someone full time to do it. Believing something is a good start, but KNOWING the facts makes me feel a bit better.

So once a year you need to move some machines around and for the rest of the year you need to store them and for that you only get $80,000?


Soares Comments

Mr. Lebrun writes about the recent "controversy" cooked up by a local DJ about David Soares. It's worth a read. There is a quote from Judge Larry Rosen, one of former D.A. Paul Clyne's supporters that is encouraging.

"You know, it is absolutely in the community's best interest that David Soares succeed"

It does kind of make sense that you would want your top law enforcement official to do a good job.