Saturday, April 30, 2005

Saturday Fun

In case you aren't a regular Fox News watcher, here's the latest. Look at the big graphic that says "Blame Liberals for High Oil and Gas Prices".

Isn't it nice when your "news" channel is telling you who to blame for things?

So, who can we blame for the social security benefit cuts? Please, give me a headline, I want to blame somebody.

Ward DeWitt For Albany Treasurer

The fun part about democracy is when you get two candidates for one position. Not always something we do here in Albany. But now we've got a race for Treasurer. Ward DeWitt has announced he will be running for Treasurer of Albany. The current treasurer, Betty Barnette, has never actually run a campaign so I'm sure she is looking forward to her first real taste of democracy as well.

DeWitt starts off with an endorsement from the Working Families Party.

More Government For Sale

"Clearly, when it comes to advocacy in Albany, those with the money speak with a megaphone; and for the public, their voices are expressed through a whisper," said NYPIRG'S Blair Horner.

Time to dust off my megaphone.

Stop Her Now?

ALBANY -- The "Stop Her Now" effort of veteran Republican operative Arthur Finkelstein was being launched Friday with telephone calls aimed at "spreading the truth about Hillary Clinton and her dangerous plans for our country."

I'm still waiting for my call. Could she possibly want to "cut benefits for 70% of social security recipients"? That would upset me. Give me a call. We'll chat.

"Stop Her Now is spearheading a nationwide campaign to educate every American and expose Hillary Clinton as the radical socialist she really is," according to the telephone message.

"That's why we are launching a massive media blitz and public education campaign"

Sweet. Republicans for Public Education. Talk about "radical". Where do I sign up?

Please, kids, save your money. They want to raise $10 million to Stop Her Now. That ain't gonna do it. But if you really want to give, you might want to ask what sort of a cut Finkelstein is getting of your money. That will probably set you straight.

Albany!

Some of my big city friends like to deride us here in Smallbany. But none of them have 500 patents to their name. Or $500,000 on the way for their work as a chemical engineer.

Robert Langer "won the fifth annual Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research, the largest medical prize in the United States."

"Langer was born in Albany and graduated from P.S. 27"

"He wanted to make contributions that would improve peoples' lives, not improve the bottom lines of oil companies," said James J. Barba, Albany Med's chairman, president and chief executive.

Wouldn't it be nice if our President felt the same way?

Friday, April 29, 2005

WROW - Mayor Jennings

Well, it looks like last week's radio show with the Mayor where people actually asked questions about how their city is run was a one time event. This week started off with a line of the Mayor's friends waiting to chat. Ira, Boom Boom, etc. The only two points that were worth noting were that:

1) The Mayor thinks these people are "phony".

2) Back when the Mayor worked in the Albany School system, they did things right, and according to him, there were no behavior issues with the students.

Albany Political History

A great article in the Metroland on the politics in the city of Albany, past and present. Read it. The article points out some things that have been said here...follow the numbers. I won't even pick out the money quotes, just read it.

Contenders 2008, PT 2

You probably aren't hearing this introduction in New York yet, maybe they don't want to upset Pataki.


"Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) is said to be furious at Sen. Mark Dayton (D-MN) "after he enthusiastically endorsed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) for president in 2008 at a Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party event in Minneapolis earlier this month," The Hill reports. "Dayton introduced Clinton as "the next great president of the United States."

PS. Kerry needs to get a grip.

Tulip News

Nice color photo of the Albany Tulip Queen finalists in today's Times Union.

Still no mention of the story of the police admitting to punching a 14 year old girl in the face.

Bruno Lunch

There is an auction where you can bid to have lunch with Joe Bruno. Perhaps we could have a fund raiser for DIA to attend? Although, to be truthful, I'm not so good in social situations...what would we talk about? Maybe we could chat about our kids?

Contenders 2008

In an excellent example of how politics is becoming more and more like pro wrestling we have "CONTENDERS 2008". Sadly, its only 2005. Perhaps they want to take the spotlight off the current trainwreck of an administration.

"New York's Republican Gov. George Pataki, eyeing a possible run for president, will go to California this week to participate in a moderate GOP group's "2008 Contender Series," aides said Wednesday."

Aides say the Gov. Pataki weighed in at 207 lbs. Apparently Pataki thought his experience and time on the farm would help but he was promptly eviscerated by Arnold in the first round. Arnold said, "It's good to be back in the ring. They told me that Pataki liked to watch Predator repeatedly during budget sessions....he was no Predator. "

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Sweeney Sighting

So, John Sweeney (R-Delay) has been missing in action up here in NY. Not much to say on social security and the rest. And then the Times Union wrote an editorial that actually called for him to take the lead in asking Tom Delay to step down as Majority Leader because Tom Delay is a liar, likes to threaten judges, says that the idea of separation of church and state is wrong...among other things. Well, Sweeney sure is taking the lead....in rallying support for The Hammer.

Read it and weep New York, this is our guy.

"Reps. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.) and John Sweeney (R-N.Y.) have been meeting with 30 House Republicans over the past few weeks to coordinate a more aggressive strategy to defend Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), according to a Republican source familiar with the meetings. "

So with all that has been going down, and the fact that Delay is an out of control nut, things actually look good for someone to be able to beat Delay back in Texas in '06 (if he lasts that long). So the question is, if good old red texans can get rid of their problem Republican representative, shouldn't a blue state like NY be able to do the same?

Thanks to reader Mike for pointing out this article.

Corey Ellis to Run in the 3rd

Corey Ellis has announced his intention to challenge incumbent Michael Brown for the 3rd ward Common Council seat in Albany. From the TU:

"Our current representative has been a loud voice, but he has not brought hope to our community"

Now the TU refers to Michael Brown as "fiery". What makes one "fiery"?

Calling your fellow common council members cockroaches.

Sending out political mailings attacking your other common council members and using tax payer dollars to do it.

Refusing to show up in court for your involvement in a voter fraud case.

I think a new voice for the 3rd ward sounds like a great idea.

Resigning on Principles?

There are lots of reasons to resign. Ethics investigations, not wanting to have to attend a work sponsored prayer breakfast, health reasons, spend more time with the family...but resigning due to your belief in doing the right thing? That is a rare bird. But apparently the President of the NYS Counties board has just done that because he disagrees with the rest of the group:

"It has become increasingly evident to me that NYSAC's present board of directors and executive director has no interest in success for it's member counties or the taxpayers they are supposed to represent"

Seems like a noble reason to resign. However, the position was unpaid.

Weld Inspection

William Weld says he might run for Governor of NY as a Republican.

The NY Democratic Committee people said some things about Weld. The Republicans said some things. All quite dull. If you want some real fun quotes you need to go to Amazon.com and check out some of the reviews of Weld's Books:

"If the novel is accurate about politics in Massachusetts, I cannot see how Gov. Weld was ever elected."

"Bill Weld has written a book from his perspective, which unfortunately is not one familiar to most people. Being a former ivory tower federal prosecutor, wealthy by inheritance and definedly upper crust, Weld demonstrates little knowledge or understanding of how real folks in the trenches think, speak or exist. His cops do not ring true, his legal and political associates are one-dimensional and his love scenes combine the most banal aspects of a hippy diary and a French drawing room. The plot begins nicely but is highy predictable and easy to figure out. The book is well-written, and the author does have some ear for dialogue. Social or economic status, high or low, should not preclude anyone from writing about anything, but the ability to observe, listen and learn are key. Weld seems so secure in his own cosmos that he doeasn't care if it rings hollow with the reader."

"Maybe there's a story here beneath the propaganda, but I didn't wait around to find out. You shouldn't either."

Writing is tough, the critics are mean, and the pay sucks. Time to get back to one of those cushy government jobs.

Investigating the DA

Rennsalaer County DA Patricia DeAngelis has been catching some heat about having an employee of hers take college classes during the day while making around $60K a year. The employee has since resigned. Denied wrongdoing. A request of investigation by Democratic county legislature member James Monahan has been denied by the Republican members that have a majority (the DA is a Republican). Monahan has now called in Spitzer for some help. No word from Spitzers office. There should be plenty of quotes to follow that say, "this is a politically motivated witchhunt by the other side....blah...blah".

Apparently the employee in question didn't deny she went to college during the day. She said she did her job during lunchbreaks, nights and weekends. This really all could've been solved if she worked during the day and went to college on nights and weekends like most people do. That way she could've kept her $60,000 a year job. You don't find too many of those around here as a recent college grad.

Randy Daniels on Eductation

Randy Daniels wants to be the next governor of New York. From the NY Daily Sun (Registration Required), his views on Education in NY:

"I think we need to expand competition as much as possible because that is the only way we are going to get meaningful, sustainable reform. Competition is what is missing. So I want to see vouchers. I would like to see the cap on charters expanded. I'd like to see that expanded as high as 700 charter schools in the state; right now it's 100. I believe that charters and vouchers and every available tool we can give a parent to educate their kid, we should provide that."

He also apparently believes in freedom, free markets and reducing the size of government.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Brodsky Gets AG Endorsement

Richard Brodsky has gotten the endorsement for NY Attorney General of the Communication Workers of America. Brodsky was a favorite around these parts for his role in investigating the Great Pataki Canal Giveaway Scandal.

"Richard is an outstanding public interest lawyer who has taken on tough cases and won," the union said. "He understands how to apply state law to important problems."

Meanwhile Andrew Cuomo has "has landed the backing of the powerful health care workers union Local 1199."

Support for Third Parties

A letter in the TU today from Anita Thayer in support of third parties like the Working Families Party.

"New York's 8-year-old Working Families Party has proven that third parties can be principled and productive. It was largely responsible for the two substantive accomplishments of the 2004 legislative session -- forcing an increase in the minimum wage and taking the first steps toward reform of the Rockefeller Drug Laws. "

"A third party with the power of cross-endorsement offers voters unhappy with a major party both the opportunity to cast a meaningful vote and the opportunity to send politicians an important wake-up call."

I can't argue with that.

PS. While Republicans (those not in NY) tend to do a great job of branding issues and using language (e.g. death tax) everyone else hasn't done such a great job with that. But you have to give the WFP credit for their name. Working Families Party? What's not to like? Are you against Working Families?

Bruno - Opportunity for Redemption

Well that fantastic on-time budget we got here in NY wasn't really as on time or "finished" as some people pointed out back when they celebrations were going on. Seems there were some constituencies that didn't quite get what they needed in the budget. I'm thinking Ken Bruno should get on the case and make sure they get their money. Who are these constituents? From the TU editorial titled A Reckless Budget:

"last week in a report by the Division of the Budget, which warned that the state may have no recourse but to suspend payment for health programs serving the poor and elderly if $2.2 billion included in the new budget fails to materialize by June 30".

So there we have it. We know Ken Bruno is good at making funding materialize. How about a little pro bono work? Come on, you've heard of the poor and elderly, right?

Just one more reason George Pataki won't be running for re-election.

Pataki - You Guys Noticed That?

In a very rare press session our Governor actually took some questions yesterday and thankfully someone asked him about Ken Bruno's recent lobbying success. From the TU:

"Anytime that you have anything that ... casts doubt that decisions are being made in Albany ... other than what is right for the people of New York it concerns you," he said. "We want to not just govern well, but I also want the people of this state to have confidence in how we are governing."

Which of course we can translate as "I'm not running for Governor again". Because if all of a sudden he is going to start saying that he wants to look into ANYTHING that casts doubts on the way decisions are being made in Albany...you know he's headed out the door. But, George, before you leave...about that billion dollars? And how about that illegal PAC down in Virginia?

But back to more Humorous Moments in Lobbying. Ken Bruno's dad's spokesmen had this to say on the recent fantastic lobbying success of young Ken.

"John McArdle, a spokesman for the elder Bruno, said the Senate plans to support lobbying reforms, and that changes won't be because of any one lobbyist's activities. He said Pataki's comments about Ken Bruno could have applied just as easily to former Pataki administration officials who have entered the ranks of lobbyists."

We couldn't agree more McArdle. They are all a bunch of highly paid bribers that work for corporations and could care less about the people of New York. Thanks for clearing that up. And yeah, you're welcome. About what you ask? My taxes paying your salary, that's what.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Sweeney Still Not Talking

A bit on John Sweeney (RSI*-NY) and social security in the Legislative Gazette. They claim he is dodging questions on social security. When questioned "Sweeney responded by saying that he needed to see more of the numbers". Sweeney's spokesperson, Melissa Carlson then followed up saying, "John doesn't think it's fair to state his opinion on social security until he is actually receiving a social security check. How can we expect him to have an opinion if he doesn't know how big his check will be?"

*RSI - Representative of Special Interests

People of NY - We Like Mocking You - Keep Paying Those Taxes

We all know how Ken Bruno effectively bribes our government officals because of who his daddy is, right? Does anyone that has ever worked a day in their life for a paycheck disagree with this? If so, I recommend you open your own lobbying firm in Albany. I hear its really fucking lucrative. Good luck. To the Times Union Headline:


Aide denies Bruno's son had pull
Holy shit!! An aide denied it!! It must be true!! Hey John Sweeney's son denied he kicked that other kid's face in...make it a headline. Hey, I just told my mom I didn't want to come over for her meatloaf because my roof was leaking. Headline that!! Mayor Jennings said he has fired several police officers for their misbehavior. Lies. But they are good sounding lies. Headlines away!! The Bible says that the filibuster is immoral!! Headlines! Wait....this just in... my "aide" just denied that I'm pissed off at having my taxes being wasted....oops...fired that aide...got another one and they are denying that i ever said I like paying taxes in Albany so the city can spend millions paying off all the lawsuits against the Mayor and the police department (keeping that aide).
Someone lied and an aide denied.....who in particular is lying this time around?
"Stephen Solarsh, executive director of the New York Ambulette Coalition, said the younger Bruno was hired not because of his last name..."
There is more to that last quote but it is irrelevant. Solarsh had already lied. WE(SOME OF US) AREN'T THAT KID PICKING HIS NOSE NEXT TO YOU IN THIRD GRADE!! WE KNOW YOU ARE LEGALLY BRIBING GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS. SPARE US THE LIES. SHAME ON YOU. I HOPE YOU ARE ALL ATHEISTS BECAUSE IF YOU AREN'T YOU NEED TO SPEND SOME TIME DOING WHATEVER YOUR GOD ASKS WHEN YOU ARE SHAMELESS LIARS. CHECK YOUR BOOK. I'M SURE ITS IN THERE SOMEWHERE.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Rep. Louise Slaughter Making NY Proud

We like accountability around here. And L. Slaughter of NY is acting like she invented it. Amen.

This is a copy of her letter to Scott McClellan. We'll have more on him later but he's the spokespuppet for Bush. Make sure to chuckle when you get to the point where they say "we have yet to receive any direct communication". Scott McClellan is a paid liar. If anyone wants to challenge me on that...go ahead, punk.

LETTER TO SCOTT McCLELLAN:

April 25, 2005

Scott McClellan Assistant to the President and Press SecretaryThe White House1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NWWashington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. McClellan,

We write to ask you to identify who in your office, or in the White House generally, gave Mr. James Guckert a.k.a. "Jeff Gannon" virtually unfettered access to the White House. In reviewing the response to our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to the Department of Homeland Security several of our specific concerns were validated. While your office and the White House have claimed Gannon was treated as just another reporter, the records we have obtained affirm that Gannon was granted access to the White House which appears to be unusual for any reporter. Out of concern for not only security, but also avoiding White House dissemination of propaganda, we request an explanation to the following:

The Department of Homeland Security's records indicate that Mr. "Gannon" entered the White House Complex 196 times in the past two years. He attended 155 of the 196 press conferences held at the White House in the two year period. This is disconcerting considering that your office and "Mr. Gannon" have maintained that his access was sporadic. At what point is a "hard pass" required?

The records show that Mr. "Gannon" was allowed access to the White House 38 times when no public press events occurred. He also spent hours in the White House both before and after press events took place. With whom did he meet on those occasions and what was the subject matter of those meetings?

On 13 occasions there is a record where he checked in with security, but is never registered as leaving the White House complex. How do you explain this?

Your Media Assistant, Lois Cassano, requested a total of 48 day passes for Mr. "Gannon" which helped facilitate his access for nearly 200 times over the last two years. It is nearly impossible that she would have made Gannon such a priority without direction from a supervisor. Would you like to revise your claim that, "I don't involve myself in that process, it's handled at a staff level."[1]

These records appear to confirm our concern that Gannon was treated in a manner that deviated from standard White House procedure for determining who receives press credentials, and to what degree members of the press and public are granted access to the White House complex. In fact, these entry and exit records only raise more questions, as your office has issued conflicting statements about his activities and apparently abused the press pass policy to avoid a full-fledged background investigation and allow Republican propaganda to be disseminated through a counterfeit media operation and a fake reporter.

Mr. McClellan, we have yet to receive any direct communication from your office in response to our repeated requests for information. The American people deserve to know what is happening in the White House Briefing room. It is unacceptable that you continue to deny them this information.

Sincerely,
/s
Rep. Louise Slaughter House Rules CommitteeRanking Member
Rep. John Conyers, Jr.House Judiciary CommitteeRanking Member

Mayor Jennings - Sorry, Cohoes...

As mentioned before, last Friday's WROW call in show was a bit unusual as some callers were asking tough questions of Mayor Jennings. A previous call is transcribed here. And now the unlucky Cohoes caller:

Caller: Yes, hello. Hi…I’m calling…I’m I’m very troubled um how are we supposed to take people’s words I mean we had a situation in Albany where you had a cop who was drunk, who hit a truck and then ran off in his car to hide he found an open garage in the basement in of an apartment complex, was so drunk he couldn’t even get in there banged into the garage a few times to get his Corvette in there and then it set, it set the building on fire. The newspeople went to court on his day of court and you said, “leave him alone, he’s a good kid”. Why are we supposed to…

Mayor: That was a remark I made in passing to one of the local TV stations

Caller: Yeah. He’s a good kid though, huh?

Mayor: And you know what, he’s not a bad kid?

Caller: [Laughs] A three hundred dollar fine? That’s boy, you, ah, he was really reprimanded.

Mayor: You know, Jay

Caller: I hope you get a, I hope we get a new Mayor in Albany

Mayor: You’re in Cohoes so I really don’t care what you think, Jay. I do, but I like your Mayor. But as far as I’m concerned, you know what, that’s an incident that's been dealt with... the young man’s learned from. That’s all we ask, you know. Fortunately no one got hurt in it. And that’s, that is something we deal with in life. That is why this job is so challenging because everyone can do it better.

End of Call.

The Mayor says that all he asks is that we learn from these events. For once, the Mayor and I are 100% in agreement.

Election '06 - Sale Pending

It's really becoming a local tradition. Bloomberg buys the position of Mayor of NYC. Over in NJ, Jon Corzine buys himself a Senate seat and now is buying the right to the Governor's mansion. It's modern Democracy. No need to have corporate overlords fund your own campaign because you already are a corporate overlord! And it works. So, the NY Republicans have been shopping around for a good candidate.

"Mr. Weld, a former governor of Massachusetts, who is now a private equity specialist and a novelist in Manhattan, is the latest Republican to be mentioned by the party."

Now, I know you are thinking "Novelist?! If he isn't John Grisham I don't think I'm voting for a novelist". But don't despair. That sideline as a private equity specialist keeps him in the money while he waits for Hollywood to option his novels. And now for the no longer secret GOP strategy of finding a candidate that will run on the principles they truly believe in:

"If Mr. Pataki does not run, top Republicans say, it would be ideal to recruit a billionaire like Mr. Bloomberg (or even a millionaire, like Mr. Weld) who can run with his own money while the state party pours resources into battling Mrs. Clinton."

Apparently there is only one qualification necessary if you want their endorsement. If you know any out of work billionaires, pass the word along. The Times Union says this guy wants to run for Governor, but who is he kidding?

Bruno Business 101

So you are thinking of starting a business but are worried about cash flow? Don't want to just be eating Ramen Noodles for the first 6 months until you get your first sale? Well, you might want to take some pointers from Ken Bruno.

Step One: Pick snappy name. Albany Strategies.

Step Two: Open for business.

Step Three: Land a $60,000 contract from the New York Ambulette Company.

Step Four: Lobby to have $4.4 million put back in the budget for your client.

Step Five: Be successful and let it be known why it went down: "I worked it fairly hard".

If by working "fairly hard" Ken can turn $60,000 into $4.4 million imagine what he can do by working "really hard" or "extremely hard". I don't think they will have to worry about eating too many Ramen Noodles over at Albany Strategies.

Hillary's Challengers

Right now there are two Republicans saying they will challenge Hillary for her Senate seat.

Adam Brecht - A Wall Street PR Executive.

William Brenner - A guy that got a cover story in the Village Voice that referred to him as a "hayseed", but that was not in the pejorative sense of the word.

Other possibles are Jeanine Pirro and Edward Cox.

Time to start working on that name recognition.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Mayor Jennings WROW - continued

On Friday April 22nd there were several calls to Mayor Jennings' WROW radio show concerning his management of the Albany Police Department. This is the transcription of one of the calls:


Caller: Mayor, Uh, uh, I, I don’t know. In the last 18 months we had the police shooting, the Scaringe shooting down in Albany, and one of the cops involved had just come off a two year suspension, then you got the cops digging around in people’s e-mails, sending out fake subpoenas, illegal fake subpoenas, then you got this incident here and you got ah, I know of at least one other incident and I’m sure I haven’t hit ‘em all. And every single time Mayor, we hear you say that, you know, you’re gonna let the system take its course and hold them accountable. Can you tell me one time in the last 18 months any cop …and the other thing was the guy sending the robber home…can you tell me a single time in the last 18 months that anyone’s been held accountable?…ah, really held accountable? In the police department.

Mayor Jennings: Yeah, there’s several officers that aren’t presently working..that were held accountable, that have been held.. I’m not going to get into the specifics with you. You, you, you run down… and its easy to take these incidents and generalize about a department. Not fair, not fair, Mike. I think its..ah, you’re off base, we’ve investigated we’ll continue and I”ll hold the chief and his staff accountable in the incidents we’re talking about right now and we’re gonna continue to do it. But I’m not gonna you know kill people personally on this radio show, because some people… don’t like the incidents. We’ve had some unfortunate incidents…we’ve also had a police officer lose his life you know in the line of duty trying to protect the citizens here. Some people seem to just dismiss that. Because every day these guys go out there, they don’t know what they are going to be confronted with the men and women of this department and yes I have a fine police department. Do we have issues? Like any other organization you’re gonna have issues. Are we gonna deal with them? Yes we’re gonna deal with them. So… be careful….and just be fair.

The bold has obviously been added for emphasis.

1) What officers "aren't presently working"? If anyone knows of any examples please share them. From what I know any of the officers involved in these incidents are still working or just had a short suspension. And how many is "several"? Is the Mayor lying?

2) "Be careful"? You heard the man. If you choose to criticize him, you better "be careful".

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Times Union - What the *&#$#@!?

Being able to have favorable media coverage is a critical part of any political campaign. Having the media ignore any negative aspects of your behavior is probably even better. You can blast out the positives with your own TV ads. But the general population is only going to get the negatives from the media. And if the media refuses to cover the negative stories, you have to begin to question their political motivation.

Before I go any further I want to make one thing very clear. The top person in an organization takes responsiblity for the actions of all of the people in the organization. That is there job. And Mayor Jennings is the top person when it comes to the Albany Police Department. He alone can make real change. All organizations have problems. All people make mistakes. But if the members of the organization are not being held accountable by the man at the top, the message is clear.

Now go get a copy of today's Times Union. What is noticeably absent is anything resembling the following (From News 9), PD Spokesman James Miller:

"She was told on three occasions to back up or she would get arrested. When she didn't, he went to arrest her. At that point she struck him in the groin. He then punched her in the face, hit her in the right side of the eye. She was then arrested, brought to the hospital for treatment"

"An officer was assaulted. He acted appropriately as we see it right now. He has to defend himself as he's being attacked whether it's a 14-year-old or a 44-year-old," said Miller.

Also, absent are any photos of the girl's injuries. Check out http://www.fox23news.com/ and watch the bit titled: Livingston Student Accuses Police Officers

But you won't read this in the Times Union. Did they think the people of Albany wouldn't find this newsworthy? This from a paper who's editor said that they would "redouble our efforts at watchdog journalism". And let's not forget that the Times Union had their top columnist "apologize" for the Police Chief's recent lying episode. The paper "apologized" for the Chief and said it was ok for him to lie because "this is Albany and we are lied to every day".

The Mayor's behavior on his radio show yesterday also seemed newsworthy. But you won't be reading about that either (at least not in the TU). Stay tuned for photos of the Mayor with the Tulip Queen and then vote Jennings and sleep easy.

PS. Also not in the Times Union is any mention of the man that died in police custody. There currently is no evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of the police at this time, but you would think this might merit some attention. Someone got arrested for shoplifting and now they are dead.

Albany Police Update

Yesterday during the Mayor's radio show he really caught some heat for the Albany Police department's behavior over the last 18 months. People talked about the Scaringe shooting, they talked about how a bank robber tried to turn himself in at the station and was told to go away. They mentioned the cop that was drunk (off-duty) and crashed his car into a building and set the building on fire. They didn't like the fact that all this cop got was a $300 fine. They also mentioned that the police chief recently conducted an illegal operation and then admitted to lying to cover it up. No one even mentioned the federal audit that was highly critical of the way cash was handled by the PD.

And then there is the latest news of a 14 year old girl that is most likely going to be suing the city because she said that an officer punched her in the face. And just to be clear, the police admit that this happened:

"He then punched her in the face, hit her in the right side of the eye. She was then arrested, brought to the hospital for treatment," said Detective James Miller, Albany Police Department."

Now to be fair, the police say she kicked him in the groin before he punched her in the face. Now imagine this was anyone but a police officer, say a angry father at a sporting event where things got out of hand or just a guy on the street? What would we think of a man that had to resort to punching a 14 year old girl in the face? I know what I'd think. And I'm pretty sure they would be arrested. And they should be.

So during the radio show people were pissed off. And the Mayor lashed out at them and generally conducted business as usual and not once condemned the behavior of an officer that has admitted to punching a girl in the face.

Good thing none of those callers knew that while they were calling, an Albany police officer was sobering up after having crashed his car and then refused to take a breath test. That might have really put them over the edge. This police officer did not crash his car into a building and set the building on fire. So, he probably will just get $150 fine.

If I were running for Mayor or Common Council I think having a real Police Acountabilty Review board with the ability to issue subpoenas (legal ones) might now be my top campaign issue.

Pataki People In Iowa

Good news. Pataki apparently is still considering a run for president. Some of his aides were recently spotted in Iowa. Go George, Go! This is just another case of how if you are willing to pay someone to be a consultant, they will tell you what you want to hear. Need a convention center report with rosy predictions? Hire a consultant! Want to run for president even though no one else thinks its a good idea? Hire a consultant! For enough money they will tell you what you want to hear.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Mayor Jennings WROW

Wow. This one will probably go down in history as "The Show". Unfortunately a 14 year old girl got injured pretty badly 2 weeks ago and she is apparently going to be suing the Albany PD because she claims they were the ones that hurt her. The pictures are ugly. And the calls started coming in, and the people weren't happy. Lots of talk about "accountability" for the PD's actions (from the callers, not the Mayor). I'll have a full recount later but there were a couple of points that deserve to be mentioned now:

The Mayor never once mentioned the 14 year old girl or expressed any concern for her.

At one point the Mayor said, "You know what, buddy, you're from Cohoes, I don't care what you think!". That's our Mayor. Staying positive like he always does. Building bridges.

When they finally got someone on the line that was for the Mayor he said, "Liberalism is a mental disease...where can i get some of your campaign posters". I'm not so sure that is really helping his case.

For those of you who missed it, at some point there will be audio of it available on the web. I really think every Albany citizen should hear the first 20 minutes of the show. After that they went into damage control and the Mayor talked about tulips, the USS Slater, the golf course, HVCC, etc.

Albany Mayor Polling Results

Interesting that we never heard any results from that phone poll done last month asking about the Albany Mayor's race. I'd have to say that since no results have been "leaked" the news probably wasn't all that good for Mayor Jennings.

Tech Valley Communications Wins Inc Magazine Award

Tech Valley Communications has received Inc. Magazine's Inner City 100 award. This is good news for Albany. Business people love Inc. magazine. Especially small buisiness people. Perhaps some others will take notice. This is what downtown Albany needs more of, not convention centers. Building businesses in the city that are growing and employing people is the way to change the city. Building convention centers will do nothing to change the economics of Albany once all the construction jobs are gone (read the Brookings Report if you don't agree with this statement). Is it harder to build the economy one business at a time versus just spending all our tax payer money on a money losing convention center? Hell, yeah. Will it make Albany a much better city? Yes. Nothing worth doing is easy.

Congrats to Tech Valley Communications.

Some city friendly stats from Inc.

"This year, despite their challenging work environments, the members of the 2004 Inner City 100 list have thrived during the recent economic slowdown, in poor urban areas no less. Between 1998 and 2002, the companies created more than 11,600 new jobs. And the companies experienced an average growth of 872% over five years."

And if you are thinking of starting a business in the city, Ten Tips from Inc.

Strange Bedfellows

When I started this blog I surely wasn't expecting to be promoting Republicans but I would like to point out that Ford Mclain is doing something that every local politician should be doing. He has a blog and is using it to communicate. It's not costing him a dime but I now know more about Mclain than I do about any other candidate that has declared their intentions to run. Get it together candidates. Learn to type, get a computer, start communicating. It's free.

In this Red State/Blue State era its too easy to just write off the other party as the enemy. I suggest reading Mclains' piece on Log Cabin Republicans. Candidates, you won't get this type of coverage from the press, create your own coverage and get the word out. Let's inform some voters.

Zoning Rules? Aren't those just for poor people?

Regular readers will probably have picked up on the fact that I'm not too keen on the way that real estate developers appear to be above the law when it comes to zoning. And local municipalities and the elected officials that get cash donations from the developers are ready and willing partners. To the lastest version of the same story. This time it is Schenectady:

Chris Myers," the politically connected developer", wants to build townhouse condos on land that is zoned for single family homes. He has been previously rejected by the city's zoning board. Now, he's back again, claiming he "can't find buyers" for single family homes so he needs this zoning change. So, he wants the laws to be changed so he can make more money. Here's the thing, if you can't develop land under the current zoning, sell it. We didn't make you buy that land. You bought it. It isn't our problem if you can't make money on it. When I bought all that Pets.com stock a few years ago and I lost all my money, did you hear me asking my neighbors to bail me out?

What do the people think:

"You're making a travesty of the zoning process" Linda Crandall said, urging the city to reject Myers's request for a zoning change.

And now to the sad part. It always amazes me how little money it actually takes to bribe your local officials to make them change the rules in your favor:

"In the past year, Myers' companies have begun giving campaign contributions to Schenectady Democrats, including Mayor Brian U. Stratton. The Parker Inn[owned by Myers] donated $100 to the Schenectady City Democratic Committee in the first half of last year. Stratton's campaign committee received a $1,250 donation from the Parker Inn on Nov. 28. Concord Development donated another $200 to Stratton on March 7, 2004. "

Helena Heath-Roland

New judge in Albany:

"Helena Heath-Roland, a staffer at the Assembly Task Force on Education, will be sworn in at noon today by Mayor Jerry Jennings to fill a vacancy left last year by retiring City Court Judge E. David Duncan, who left after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70."

Heath Roland will be Albany's first African-America woman to serve as a judge. She also will have to run for re-election this year if any challengers emerge.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Sweeney Avoiding His Followers

Well In This Together may not have been able to get John Sweeney to speak but they did get some press coverage and some more fun quotes from Sweeney.

"Before Sweeney's speech in Albany, he did say the Social Security Coalition (an arm of the Working Families Party) is more about politics than issues and he would "not meet with them" to hear their concerns."

Why does Representative Sweeney not like democracy? I don't think he should be referred to as Representative Sweeney any more since he refuses to meet with the people he represents.

In his remarks Sweeney did mention that he thought that the Patriot Act is a good thing and " an indication of a restrained use by the government". I don't think I'm buying that one. This government thinks "restrained use" is a sign of weakness. Sweeney's buddy and overlord Tom Delay is nicknamed The Hammer. You don't get that kind of nickname for practicing "restrained use".

Goodbee Announces Hiring Campaign Manager

Archie Goodbee has announced that he has hired George Frame as his campaign manager. From the Times Union:

"Frame was officially introduced during a news conference Wednesday. Like Goodbee, Frame is an African-American. He is a retired regional director for the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal."

In other Mayoral news, none of the three candidates has been able to cobble together any sort of website or web presence so for now the people of Albany are left with this site for their source of campaign news. If nothing else, that should motivate Jennings, I would think.

Citizens Action Endorsing Albany Candidates

Cititzens Action, the group that helped get David Soares elected, has announced some endorsements of candidates for the Common Council:

Shawn Morris - President (Other current candidates are Sarah Curry-Cobb and Greg Burch)

Dominick Calsolaro - 1st Ward, Incumbent

Barbara Smith - 4th Ward

Cathy Fahey - 7th Ward ( Other current candidates are Brian Scavo and Ford Mclain. For some reason the TU article didn't mention Mr. Mclain. Tough to be a Republican in this town)

So who are the Citizens Action people and what do they care about?

"Deanne Grimaldi, co-chairwoman of the local Citizen Action board, said, "We are pleased to support these candidates who have shown a commitment to moving Albany forward in a positive, cooperative manner. "

"They have all worked with us on issues such as improving education, supporting more and better after-school opportunities for local children, and public safety and other quality-of-life issues here in Albany."

Citizens Action says they are still considering other endorsements and will announce them in May or June.

Hevesi and Social Security

State Comptroller Alan Hevesi weighed in on President Bush's Social Security plan:

"calling President Bush's proposal for private investment accounts "a fraud" and "an ideological assault by opponents of government, who believe government is the enemy, on the one social program that has worked better than any other."

Also from the TU, some insight on what your elected officials think:

"Sweeney is gathering information and working on a plan for a forum."

"Rep. Sherwood Boehlert has expressed skepticism but is still open to looking at reforming the program. "

"And Rep. John McHugh doesn't think personal accounts alone will fix Social Security's projected financial problems."

How long is it going to take Sweeney to "plan a forum"? Perhaps we'll get that forum some time in late '06.

Sweeney - Elusive Animal Lover

Funny letter to the editor today about John Sweeney. While Sweeney isn't talking about any of the other big issues facing his constituents, he apparently has been speaking out against people eating horses. To the letter:

"It's reassuring to see that Rep. John Sweeney is vigilant in regard to the fate of our equine companions on starship Earth ("Ban sought on killing of horses for food," April 12). "

"It would be somewhat more reassuring if the congressman from Clifton Park could take an equally vigilant stance in regard to the issue of Social Security reform and make that stance known to his constituents."


Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Rep Joe Crowley (D-NY) - Close Call

Remember a while back when Representative Joe Crowley (D-NY) was rallying the lobbyists and telling them to go get his democratic counterparts in line and vote yes for the new bankruptcy bill? Well, around the same time Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the number two Dem in the house was also supporting the bill. And apparently those liberal wingnuts over at Moveon.org don't care what party you are in, they only care about doing the right thing. So, they have unleashed the hounds on Hoyer for supporting the bankruptcy bill. While some Republicans are probably shocked and just plain giddy about MoveOn attacking Democrats, some Democrats don't like the idea of MoveOn expecting elected officials to do the right thing for the people of the country and not just sell out to corporate interests and have thus expressed their displeasure. I'm sure Joe Crowley isn't too fond of the idea but he is staying mum on the issue. But I'm sure he got the message and immediately called Citibank and asked them to give him a campaign donation.

Thanks to WFP for finding this story.

A Lesson for National Republicans?

We know Tom Delay and Bill Frist don't read the NY Times and George Bush likes to brag that he doesn't read any papers at all. However, with Delay making it impossible for the majority party to be held accountable for any ethics violations and Frist trying to take away the only power the minority party has by ending the filibuster, it might behoove them to read about their minority brethren in the NY Assembly. Apparently here in NY the Assembly Republicans think the minority party should have some say in the government.

"It's important that the minority party have an ability to get them to the floor where everyone can have a say," Ms. Cummings [spokeswoman for Assemblyman Charles H. Nesbitt] said of the bills.

"Obviously it's a disappointment that the Democrats don't see the value of letting the full Assembly vote on criminalizing methamphetamine production," said Cummings.

Hubris is tricky stuff. When you're all drunk on power and the going is good, you think its going to last forever. Similar to a methamphetamine high (who knew it was legal to make that stuff?). But eventually they both wear off and you have to face reality.

And Now...Moments in NY Political History.

Just got word from an acquaintance that was "netted and detained" last year at the GOP convention. She was on the public library steps with a group of people. The police asked everyone to move to a particular spot. Everyone did in an orderly fashion. Then the police netted them Wild Kingdom style. Then they got shipped over to the piers and detained for 19 hours in holding pens. So this week she was in NYC with her ACLU lawyer meeting with the city officials. One of the fun facts that she reported was that there were 38,000 police officers on patrol in NYC during the GOP convention. Meanwhile there are roughly 18,000 Peace Keeping troops in all of Afghanistan. The ACLU told her this whole process could take 3 years to resolve.

CEOs Cry For Help

Ah, the rare and endangered noble American CEO. Humble servants working for the good of all the employees and citizens of our country and the world. Gates, Welch, Lay, Greenberg? Yes, Greenberg. In case your subscription to CEO magazine has lapsed and you missed it Maurice Greenberg was named CEO of the Year in 2003 by Chief Executive magazine. When they looked far and wide across this great land and reviewed all of the titans of industry, Hank (its always cool to have a nick name when you are CEO) was the top dog. In the award cermony Greenberg received a standing ovation after explaining how he had "improperly booked loans as insurance policies" and then really got the crowd into a frenzy with claiming he invented "bid rigging and even made my kids practice it every day before school". A titan among titans. We worshipped at his feet. That is, until old pesky Eliot Spitzer came along and started sniffing around. Greenberg has had to resign his position since he apparently was so good at improperly booking loans and bid rigging that he overstated earnings by a billion or two. And in case you missed it, Greenberg Jr, also a CEO (must be the genes) was also recently forced to resign from his job at Marsh & McLennan for "bid rigging".

The following bit didn't make it into CEO magazine but the Washington Post article had this gem. Greenberg didn't go quietly. Its great when the CEO loses it and his "disdain for shareholders" comes shining through:

"Traveling the world in the AIG jet, he was often treated like a visiting monarch and was on a first-name basis with many world leaders. He could not hide his disdain for shareholders, regulators, reporters -- or, in the end, his disloyal directors. "You couldn't even spell the world 'insurance,' " he yelled at them over the speakerphone from his boat in Florida as they met in New York three weeks ago to consider his fate, according to a Wall Street Journal report."

These CEO's are getting mad. And now CEO magazine wants to stop the madness before it gets too out of control. They have called for Eliot Spitzer to resign. They don't like how the Greenberg's have been treated.

"His treatment of (American International Group Inc.'s) Maurice R. Greenberg, coming on the heels of the forced ouster of Mr. Greenberg's son, Jeffrey, from Marsh & McLennan, is a case in point. Once again, Mr. Spitzer has charged in and discovered pattern of practices he doesn't like. He is applying a new set of values to reinsurance practices that had been in place for years"

This Mr. Spitzer and his "new set of values" must be stopped. He must resign. The CEOs have been doing this "for years" and they really don't want to give it up. It you'd ever been "treated like a visiting monarch" you'd understand why they don't want to have to change their ways.

City of Albany Lawsuits

There already is one $6 million lawsuit in progress against the city of Albany for the alleged wrongful firing of a police commander.

Now there is another $6 million lawsuit in progress against the city of Albany for the alleged wrongful beating of a SUNY student by the police.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Local Lobbying - We'd Rather Not Talk About It

Realizing that local lobbying was an issue in New York, state officials passed a law two years ago to try to "monitor influence". So how are things going so far?

"Disclosure law intended to monitor influence on municipalities appears to have minimal impact."

To the money quotes:

"Local lobbying can consist of a call from a well-known local attorney, a free dinner or a round of golf paid for by professional lobbyists. But many times, what's at stake are contracts worth millions in local tax dollars."

"local lobbying is probably restricted to major construction projects"

So, there is unreported lobbying going on to influence local officials to win major construction projects. Surprised? Like, when Mayor Jennings holds a private fundraiser in the restaurant in the office building that was built on property given to it by Mayor Jennings and the city for free....would that be considered lobbying? What if that company was also currently trying to win the contract for the major construction project in Park South and will also contend for the big daddy construction project contract of them all, the Albany Convention Center? Should something like this be reported? Because it seems like there might be some influencing going on here. Should companies trying to win multi million dollar contracts for the city be able to host parties and donate money for the Mayor's re-election campaign? The Mayor certainly thinks so.

My problem with this system is not so much that certain construction companies are getting rich building things with our tax dollars. Someone has got to build the projects. My problem is that these companies then can very easily make sure incumbents are re-elected by funding their campaigns and that is bad for democracy. When Mayor Jennings says he "will raise a million dollars if he has to" where do you think that money is coming from? Not the people of Park South.

Dr. Frist's Shame

Wow. Those people that thought the Times Union was liberal before must really be hopping mad. Last week they called for House Majority Leader Tom Delay to resign and recommended local Rep John Sweeney speak up and support this resignation (Sweeney stayed silent on the issue). Now this week they are saying Senante Majority Leader Bill Frist's behavior is shameful. I couldn't agree more. What is Mr. Frist up do these days? Trying to kill the filibuster. And how is he doing his killing? Why, with religion, how else would you kill?

Frist will be speaking at the Familiy Research Council this Sunday to talk about ending the filibuster (and of course, religion). This will be a nationally televised event. Check out the FRC's website. See the freshly scrubbed nice young white boy in the image on the left holding a gavel in one hand and a bible in the other? The text says, "We should not have to choose between public service and faith". That's right! These wack jobs are trying to say that if you want to be a judge, you have to be a faithless atheist (like those Democrats that want to filibuster their judges that aren't faithless atheists). And Mr. Frist would prefer a theocracy with his God of choice at the head of the table so he is drumming up support to get rid of the filibuster. Which, in America, is shameful.

GOP Assembly Drunken Coup Lulu Losers

The drunken bloodless failed coup last week at the NY State Assembly is now officially over. And as with any good coup the talk has turned to lu-lus. What are "lu-lu's" you ask? Well, when grown men and women get paid big chunks of extra cash at work for doing nothing, they tend to like to make up silly names for the money, because it really is sillly. Thus, the $15,000 "stipend" that coup leader Daniel Burling was being paid (above and beyond his salary and rather hefty per diem) to be Deputy Minority Whip, that money is considered a lu-lu. Really, why not? But since Burling called the Minority Leader Charles Nesbitt "wishy washy"and then failed at his coup, he will be losing his lu-lu. As will two of his brothers in arms.

And now the good ship New York is left without a Deputy Minority Whip in our Assembly. Let's see how the next week goes. I say if you don't notice any difference in your daily life, we don't fill the position and we use that $15,000 for something more beneficial for the people of NY. Our own personal little lu-lu.

Political Police Report

So the Mayor of Schenectady has called for the resignation of City Council member Della Ratta for allegedly breaking into someone's house and beating them. Della Ratta says he won't resign and he doesn't have to unless he is convicted of a felony:

"A City Council member accused of beating a man he saw with a former girlfriend has no plans to resign, his attorney said Monday. "

"He's been convicted of nothing at this point in time. This is basically a fight, and people have jumped to conclusions," E. Stewart Jones [Della Ratta's lawyer] said of Peter Della Ratta. "Let the case play itself out. ... It's preposterous for him to resign at this point in time."

Then, the lawyer goes on to defend his client's actions saying it was "completely spontaneous". Apparently if you act quickly and without any previous planning when you beat people, that is ok?

But really why should he resign? In Albany the police chief admitted to an illegal operation AND to lying to cover it up and he kept his job even when he admitted that his activities could "cost me my job". And then there was the cop that got drunk, hit a tractor trailer on 787 and then set his house on fire trying to park his car in his garage (and missing badly). He kept his job. So there is a local precedent for public officials that misbehave not having to resign. The only real difference is that the Schenectady Mayor has asked for a resignation and the Albany Mayor has not.

Monday, April 18, 2005

NY Politicians - Something to Think About

Words are nothing but words;
power lies in deeds. Be a person of action.

Mali Oriot Mamadu Konyate

Sweeney Comes Out of Hole, Sees Shadow

As you all know, Representative Sweeney has been hiding from his constituents for the past few months. He won't meet to talk about social security and he certainly won't say a damn thing about his friend Tom Delay. Now in a bold move he is re-entering public life with a talk at Albany Law School.

"Congressman John E. Sweeney will deliver the Edward C. Sobota ’79 Memorial Lecture at the Law School on Tuesday, April 19 at 2pm in Room 200. Congressman Sweeney will address homeland security."

Well, if the people at In This Together have it their way, he will also be addressing his failure to meet with his public to talk about Social Security. This Tuesday, the In This Together campaign will“track down” Congressman John Sweeney as he speaks on Homeland Security at Albany Law School and demand that he pledge to keep his hands off Social Security.

Hopefully, someone will have cameras rolling.

Term Limits?

Perhaps if Mayor Jennings is re-elected he will have a shot at being Time magazine's " best small-city mayor". Look what it takes to be their best big city Mayor.

" Daley's Hired Truck Program paid politically connected and mobbed-up trucking companies $40 million a year for little or no work. The Water Department, called a "racketeering enterprise" by the feds, allegedly took in $500,000 in bribes. And contracts that were supposed to go to minority, female and disadvantaged contractors have enriched "rich white guys who are friends of the mayor," said Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd)."

Actually Time Magazine didn't mention those bits in their piece, that came from the Chicago Sun Times. Sort of like Eliot and Hillary glossed over some of Jennings' less than stellar accomplishments when they endorsed him. The fact is that when you are in office for 16 years you are far more likely to use your office to make your friends (and yourself) rich. Power corrupts. This ALONE is why I think Jennings' shouldn't be re-elected. From the Chicago Sun Times:

"After 16 years in office, the scandals keep piling up for Mayor Daley. "

"But the mushrooming corruption merits barely a mention in this week's edition of Time magazine, which names "Richard the Second" the nation's best big-city mayor."

"Chicago's imperial Richard Daley . . . is widely viewed as the nation's top urban executive," Time reports. "

"The magazine credits Daley for promoting "splashy growth," hiring "skilled managers," expanding green space, reforming public schools, relocating CHA residents, luring Boeing to Chicago and overseeing big projects like Soldier Field and Millennium Park. "

"But there's scant mention of scandals: "Allegations of financial corruption have caught up some of his political allies, although Daley has personally avoided implication."

"Daley's Hired Truck Program paid politically connected and mobbed-up trucking companies $40 million a year for little or no work. The Water Department, called a "racketeering enterprise" by the feds, allegedly took in $500,000 in bribes. And contracts that were supposed to go to minority, female and disadvantaged contractors have enriched "rich white guys who are friends of the mayor," said Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd). "

"In the last 70 years, there has been more corruption under Daley "than any other mayor other than his father," said Dick Simpson, a University of Illinois at Chicago political scientist and former alderman."

I guess we shouldn't expect much of a magazine(TIME) that puts Ann Coulter on the cover.

More Minarik

At at time when Washington's Republicans are drunk on power and want to eliminate the filibuster, New York's Republicans are not quite keeping up with the national trends. Not only has State GOP Republican Chairman Stephen Minarik III had a couple of false starts on some Rovian smear campaigns, now he and Pataki's smeary consultant Arthur Finkelstein are feuding over who hates Hillary more. One has launched a Stop Hillary Now campaign and the other has launched a Stop Her Now campaign. In this case it really doesn't matter who is doing what, but they are mad at each other for bringing so much attention to their inability to come up with even one unique idea that might work. And they still don't have a candiate to run against Hillary so right now their "Stop" plan isn't quite complete. Even the TU calls Minarik silly in their editorial today. Here's to hoping we get Minarik all the way through the '06 elections.

In other news for a slow news day the TU reports:

"Pataki, who, along with Giuliani, is said to be considering a presidential run, is widely expected not to seek a fourth gubernatorial term."

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Hitting the Bars As A Way To Learn?

Sometimes you pick up the paper in the morning and you have to put it right back down. Go get some coffee, splash a little cold water on the face, try to get things right. And then its back to the paper. And the story is still there. In the very same week where Mayor Jennings belittled parents for meeting the kids outside the Livingston school with donuts, the Mayor decided to go out drinking with the college kids in Albany to really get to see what goes down in Albany. Meet the kids with beers!! They'll like that. And along for the ride and comic relief was SUNY Albany president Kermit Hall with one of the funniest quotes ever in the TU.

"You can't understand the way places work unless you understand the anthropology and culture of them"

The "places" in question were Pauly's Hotel, Sadie Klutz's, The Lampost and other Albany bars. Hey, Kermit, you don't mind if I call you Kermit, do you? Great. Anytime you've got five minutes I can fill you in on how "the places work". We can meet up at Pauly's. You can leave your $0.50 cent words at the door and save that money for some really cold crappy tasting beer.

So, back to our Mayor. 12 years on the job and he wants us to believe he doesn't know "what its like in the bars". Ok. Perhaps he was looking for gang activity? I hear the Tri Delts aren't too happy with the Sigma Chi's these days.

Activists in the Seventh!!

I'm not sure what kind of government we are going to have in Albany if these "activists" keep running for office. They are always so "active" and involved in their communities. Makes me suspicious. Perhaps they want to help?

Things are getting busy in the 7th ward in Albany. Ford Mclain has already announced he is running for the seat on the Republican side (and it may just be me but so far he kind of sounds like an activist himself...). Some guy Brian called into Mayor Jennings radio show yesterday and said he was running (the guy sounded like a real pro if that is how is decided to announce...but I'm assuming he is the Mayor's pick for the job). Word is that it was Brian Scavo. And now, according to the TU, we've got ourselves an "activist". Cathy Fahey has announced she is running and got the "immediate support of the incumbent[Shawn Morris]". (I'd link to it but they don't appear to have it on the site). Apparently Fahey worked on the Soares campaign which according to the TU makes her an activist. Who knew it was so easy? I worked on the campaign, too. Can't wait to tell my mom I'm an activist.

Political Police Report...continued

Someone should start a blog just for this topic.

"A Rensselaer County legislator wants local lawmakers to look into why District Attorney Patricia DeAngelis allowed her confidential assistant to attend college classes during work hours while collecting a $61,500-a-year salary."

How could this happen? Who would've hired someone and then let them attend college classes while being paid with tax payer money?

"Ellis, who is the niece of former county Republican Chairman James Walsh, was hired by former District Attorney Ken Bruno in in 1997 at a salary of $26,000".

Wow. Making double the money she was when she started eight years ago AND not bothering to show up for work. That Kenny is quite a talent scout.

Perhaps Kenny could hire her over at Albany Strategies and pay her some real cash. Albany Strategies is a connections first type of shop.

Benzi Johnson Enters Albany Mayoral Race

Benzi Johnson officially announced he would be running for Mayor of Albany. In his announcement he said he would be:

"letting the message be known that the quality of life does not take 12 years to begin"

Sounds like Mr. Johnson might not be enjoying Mayor Jennings' "renaissance" as much as Mayor Jennings appears to be. Mr. Johnson, welcome to the race (now get a website or blog).

Plan for 5 Casinos Appears to be Dead

Those of you that use the NYS Thruway or the Catskill Mountain region will be happy to hear that the plan to put 5 casinos in the Catskills has been derailed. Regardless, Pataki says he won't be stopped but he says that a lot these days but a recent poll that shows NY voters saying that they would vote for "Anyone, really I'd vote for anyone other than him to be Governor, even my ex-wife....at least she was serious about wanting to get me a job" appears to show that it doesn't matter what he wants.

Friday, April 15, 2005

NY Dem Reps Selling Their Souls

From a post on WFP's blog we learn that one of our NY Dems actually led the efforts to pass the big business handout Bankruptcy Bill. From The Hill:

"Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) summoned Democratic lobbyists to the Capitol for a meeting last week and then dispatched them to solidify pro-business Democratic support for the bankruptcy reform bill, adopting a practice regularly used by the Republican majority and its business allies on K Street."

Our NY representatives - taking the big bribes just like they were good Republicans. To the money quote:

“They ought to be ashamed of themselves,” said Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.) “This bill is a measure of how bought-off both parties are.”

Shame? For a bribed politician? Oh, Representative Obey. You must be spending too much time in Wisconsin.

Mayor Jennings - WROW

After some time off Mayor Jennings is back on the radio. Considering all that has gone on in the past few weeks you would have thought there would be some excitement, but there wasn't much. Highlights:

Don't burn your leaves in the City of Albany. No open fires please.

Some guy named Brian called up, praised the Mayor for all of his recent endorsements and then mentioned he is running for the open common council seat in the 7th ward. The Mayor then scolded Brian for this since you aren't allowed to "advertise" on the program. Laughter ensued. I wonder who the Mayor will be endorsing in the 7th? Right now the only declared candidate is Republican Ford Mclain. You can check out Mclain's campaign blog here.

Some woman called in and questioned him about the recent illegal investigation by the Police Chief among other questions she had about the Albany PD. Mayor Jennings danced around the issue, said he had faith in the PD and we didn't hear anymore from that lady.

Albany Drunken Republican Coup Attempt

This story is very enlightening. I think the three main points to take away from this story are:

1) New York Republicans needs to start getting a unified front together because things aren't exactly going their way these days and they can't afford the infighting. The part about the failed Loyalty Oath in this story is quite comical.

2) The next time you hear NY Assembly members claiming they "worked until midnight" you need to ask them "was that because you spent most of the night at a restaurant getting drunk instead of actually working?"

3) Don't get drunk and gripe about your job AND then go back to work and try to take your boss' job.

From the NYTimes:

"The political drama, strange even by Albany's low bar for weirdness, goes like this: Over dinner and drinks here at Café Italia Tuesday, Republicans at the table said, they began discussing grievances about the style and the staff of Mr. Nesbitt, the Assembly minority leader.

After the wine was drained, they returned to the Capitol for late-night votes, and whispers spread about holding a vote of no confidence in Mr. Nesbitt. Yet before the agitators could line up votes against Mr. Nesbitt, word of the would-be coup reached him, and he began rallying forces to his side.

"It looks like the coup plotters forgot the two rules before attempting any coup: You need to count votes, and you need to know you can win," mused State Senator Nicholas Spano, a Westchester Republican, who was around for the 1994 coup that ousted Ralph Marino as Republican majority leader in the Senate.

Just before midnight Tuesday, Mr. Nesbitt called for a meeting with the chief agitator, Assemblyman Daniel J. Burling of Wyoming County, a member of the Republican leadership team. Sitting down in the minority leader's office, Mr. Burling said, he was asked to pledge loyalty to Mr. Nesbitt. Mr. Burling refused and was asked to leave immediately."

There is more in the article. A fun read.

Goodbee Lives In Albany

So apparently we haven't been hearing much from Archie Goodbee because he's been dealing with lawyers to make sure he actually lived in Albany. The good news is that the lawyers say the guy has lived in Albany long enough to be a candidate. But it appears he just snuck in under the wire. While Goodbee has been around Albany his whole life, he has been living at 21 Tice Road in Guilderland until late last year.

So, with that out of the way, perhaps its time to start making some noise, candidate Goodbee. Weren't you supposed to have a radio show on PYX 106? Time to start getting the word out.

Albany Building Codes

No one is going to argue that Albany has a problem with building code enforcement and vacant buildings. This past year the Wellington Row issue made it pretty clear the city is not doing its job to properly enforce building codes. At the time of the Wellington issue Mayor Jennings made it clear that since there were over 800 vacant buildings in the city so the should't be blamed for any lapses in enforcement. From the Metroland:

“There are 800 other vacant buildings in this city,” said Jennings when questioned about the city’s sudden concern for the Wellington. “We deal with them when we can.”

So, it appears that according to the Mayor the reason we haven't had good code enforcement is that the problem is just too big. So, Mayor Jennings has now appointed a new Director of Buildings and Codes, Nick DiLello. Mr. DiLello will now " take on the thorny task of enforcing city building codes". And Mr. Dilello is up to the task because he is confident in the abilities of the existing seven enforcement officers on staff. DiLello:

"There is more than enough staff in the department to go around"

Someone should tell Mr. DiLello it's not good to contradict your boss on the first day on the job. Even if you are right. But, aside from that, welcome aboard Mr. DiLello! Some code enforcement is sorely needed in the city of Albany.

Political Police Report

Hopefully this won't become a regular column. To the allegations and indictments:

Schenectady - From the TU - "Mayor Brian U. Stratton joined the growing list of Democrats calling for the resignation of City Councilman Peter Della Ratta as a special prosecutor assigned to Della Ratta's assault case announced Thursday that a grand jury will hear the case and consider felony charges. "

Originally this story was reported with Della Ratta beating up the 21 year old kid of a woman that confronted him at a common council meeting. That doesn't appear to be the case anymore (althogh there weren't any retractions or corrections in the paper). Now they are saying he broke into the home of the 21 year old and beat him because he caught him with his ex-girlfriend. Which is worse for him because that will get him some extra felony charges.

And apparently Della Ratta isn't planning on resigning.

Troy - From the TU - "City Councilman Bill Dunne has been placed on paid leave from his state job while a personnel matter is being investigated." No more details at this time and no one is talking.

Troy Update - School Board member arrested for welfare fraud. Could face jail time.

Ballston Spa - Now this one isn't actually a politician being accused of a crime, just a politician vouching for someone accused of a crime.

"U.S. Rep. John E. Sweeney's son and two other young men were indicted by a Saratoga County grand jury Thursday for allegedly attacking and seriously injuring a Stillwater resident during a brawl last summer. "

Rep. Sweeney:

"First and foremost, I have every confidence in my son's innocence and I am certain the judicial process will reflect his innocence. There was no evidence or justification for the charges that have been made and I am deeply disturbed by the lack of a thorough investigation during the early stages of this incident"

Unfortunately, the other kid had broken bones in his face and some teeth knocked out so obviously everyone's stories aren't adding up. So, your tax payer dollars are probably going to end up paying off some civil suit at some point.

In National crime news, John Bolton recently spent some time lying about his past.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Unset Delay?

Yesterday the Times Union wrote an editorial calling for Tom Delay to step down as House Majority Leader and they also called on Rep. John Sweeney (R-NY) to speak up and support this action (don't hold your breath on that one). Now you might wonder what all this nonsense is about and who this cat Delay is? Why are people calling him the "bugman"? I thought his nickname was "the Hammer"? Those sorts of things. I'm sure all those questions will be answered in time. But for now you should see what Delay said in the NY Times today.

"We set the jurisdiction of the courts," Mr. DeLay said. "We set up the courts. We can unset the courts."

Once you get over the shock of having to hear one of the most powerful politicians in the country butcher the English language I'm sure you will agree that the idea of "unsetting the courts" is rather upsetting.

Update: I realized that you are perfectly used to hearing a powerful politician from Texas butcher the English language so that probabably didn't shock you at all.

Mayor Jennings - Seeing Through Things

Let me just start off by saying that I'm not making this stuff up. I really wish I was but what you are about to read is, sadly, true. Would you like the good news or the bads news first? Good news? Ok.

A while back a bunch of 13 year olds in Albany stabbed some other 13 year olds. Thankfully, no one was killed. However, it was linked to gang violence and now we have four 13 year olds serving a year each in a Juvenile detention center. And that isn't exactly a good starting point for kids. So, what has Mayor Jennings said about this gang violence among the children of Albany? Nothing. So, like anything else in Albany, if you want to make a positive difference in your community, you need to bypass City Hall and do it yourself. Which leads us to our good news. Let's start with the headline:

Community Reaches Out to Students at Livingston

Sounds good, doesn't it? How about this?

"Several dozen parents, the D.A. and two Albany City judges plan to show up at Livingston armed with, among other thing, Dunkin Donuts. "

"After several violent incidents in or near the school, including a serious gang assault in which a 13-year old was stabbed, the parents and public officials will be at Livingston at dismissal time to talk with the kids. "

"I think that it's important for them to know that there are adults everywhere who care about them," said organizer, Barbara Smith. (that is Barbara Smith who is running for Common Council in the Fourth Ward).

So now for the bad news. What does Mayor Jennings have to say about this effort?

"I think it's kind of a knee-jerk reaction that the kids are gonna see right through," said Jennings.

I'm not making this shit up. But now for the truly unbelievable bit.

"Mayor Jenning says he does not understand. "To go up and give kids donuts at dismissal, god forbid if one of them is a diabetic "

Ok. Deep breath. Calm down.

So, Mayor Jennings thinks the kids will "see right through" this effort by the parents, judges and DA to get involved with the kids. Ok. I think they also will see right through the Mayor's efforts because its easy to see through what he is doing to help these kids which is....NOTHING. Not hard to see through that.

I'm thinking a re-election slogan for Mayor Jennings could be:

"Keeping Your Streets Safe and Donut Free"

NY Budget - Clear As Mud

Most dysfunctional legislature in existence? Worse than Liberia? I don't think so. The NY Legislature is back to working like the well oiled machine it has always been. Three men, $1 billion dollars of your tax dollars, closed doors and....its business as usual and we are functioning quite well.

"The new state budget contains more than $1 billion for unknown projects and purposes."

"No one can say what will become of the money, because it is subject to deals worked out among Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Gov. George Pataki. Most of it will be borrowed without the approval of voters and divvied up without public scrutiny."

At least Representative Parment is still speaking up:

"There's more than a billion dollars subject to three guys," said Assemblyman William Parment, D-Jamestown, one of the few Democrats who voted against budget bills that created more debt. "You think they're going to have you over to the Red Room for a debate on it?" he asked rhetorically, referring to the open budget talks leaders had this year in the governor's chamber.

Business as usual. Except unlike the old days they now are wasting your tax dollars "on time".

Watchdog Journalism Update

Back in January the Times Union's Editor Rex Smith said that this year:

"One of our newsroom's key initiatives for 2005 is a renewed commitment to watchdog journalism"

Now we all make some crazy wild assed New Year's resolutions that we don't follow through on (e.g. some of mine - fix the hole in the roof, upgrade to Milwaukee's Best, publish that novel, pay some taxes...etc.) so I can understand if you make it through the first quarter of the year without following through on them. However, if ANYONE has seen ANY indication of a story that might fall into the category of "watchdog journalism" in the Times Union in 2005, please let me know. And, no, I don't think reporting on Libby Pataki's various shady economic practices after every one else in the state has already written about them qualifies.

Albany Convention Center - It Lives?

"Five members of a nine-member convention center authority have now been selected by County Executive Michael Breslin, Mayor Jerry Jennings and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver."

Apparently the convention center isn't as dead in the water as some may have thought (or, like me, hoped). Just got to get that Governor on board. To the money quote from the Times Union.

"[Mayor] Jennings said Tuesday he was confused"

It's about time they started reporting on that bit. But back to the convention center story. Although Breslin announced his choices yesterday and expressed his concern about the whole process, Mayor Jennings now claims he was on the case weeks ago.

"I've already submitted my two choices to that office, and I questioned Mike a few weeks ago why he hadn't done that yet," the mayor said. "Sometimes getting approval from the appointments office is the most time-consuming part of the process."

Hmm. Jennings and Breslin seem to be squabbling over this. Wasn't it just last week Breslin was endorsing Jennings for re-election? I guess its time to go back to the old "Jennings and Breslin don't get along and thus we have two competing political entities in this town" story so the people can be tricked into thinking they might have someone looking out for their best interest. Don't believe the hype. They both get their cut of the pie. And they will fight to keep each other in place. Because if one goes, the other is next on the chopping block. Back to the money quote:

"[Mayor] Jennings said Tuesday he was confused"

And apparently we still have no idea how we all will pay for this convention center:

"Plans call for a convention center and hotel complex within a mile of the Empire State Plaza, although a multiyear state lease of the facility and a county hotel bed tax that would have paid for the work were dropped from the law shortly before it was passed after frenzied negotiations."

Soares And Public Integrity

"I told the people of Albany County I would bring best practices," Soares said Wednesday during a news conference in his personal office. "Public integrity begins at home."

Apparently before Soares showed up the DA's office handled evidence storage the way my crazy uncle handles storage around his place. Throw it in a plastic bag and pile it up whereever. Which results in my uncle sometimes having trouble finding things. "hmmm...where did I put that old stuffed wolverine..." And apparently they had trouble at the DA's office, too. Missing? $25,000 in cash.

Anyway, Hevesi is on the case and they are going to start keeping track of evidence at the DA's office.

"Hevesi, who said he's never seen anything like it, pledged to continue to work with Soares to establish a way to better account for seized property: "This is unique in my experience and I want to compliment the district attorney for the way he's handled this."

Me, too. Nice work, District Attorney.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Privitization Rearing Its Ugly Head?

First Russia privatizes its oil industry and now NY wants to privatize non-profit health insurance? It hasn't worked out so well for Russia. But I digress.

"Here's how the scheme would work: First, Albany would approve the conversion of one of the state's largest non-profit health insurers — the HIP Health Plan — into a for-profit company. "

This is going to raise some quick cash to make it seem like our state budget is sound. What's Hevesi got to say about this?

"The governor's plan pushes far too many problems into the future, instead of providing solutions today," State Comptroller Alan Hevesi said recently. No matter. The vultures are circling.

Union leaders certainly will get a cut.

Lawmakers will fund their pet projects — including, perhaps, the stem-cell-research foundation that Silver covets.

Mayor Bloomberg may even get a $300 million check from Albany to help pay for his West Side stadium.

And taxpayers, of course, will be left holding the bag. Again. "

I kind of like the way these cats write. Maybe I could get them to come on board here at DIA.

Doesn't it bother any other tax payers that we are funding the Jets? The Jets?! Even the Mets would be a better cause. We are probably buying Broadway Joe free drinks with our tax dollars. He'll probably want to kiss all of us for funding this stadium.

Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY)

From the house floor today. Making New Yorkers proud. At least those of us for honesty, integrity and accountability. How about it Representative Sweeney, you are for these things, right?

"Madam Speaker,

A dark cloud of corruption hangs over this House of Representatives. And with no Ethics Committee or reasonable ethical standards to speak of...there is no hope that the dark cloud will recede, and the daylight will be let in.

By systematically dismantling the House Ethics process, the Majority has denied this House the right to investigate its own members and thus betrayed our Core American values.

Honesty...integrity...accountability... Values which should be the hallmark of this government - have instead been thrown under the bus by an arrogant Majority... Casualties in a misguided campaign to shield from accountability those who abuse this House.

This House cannot function without an open, accountable, and independent ethics process... And the molestation of that process by the Majority is an abuse of power that cannot stand.

It is for these reasons I have repeatedly asked The Chairman of the Rules Committee to hold a bi-partisan ethics hearing... As guardians of the Democratic process - our Committee has a unique responsibility to protect the integrity of this hallowed institution.

What are we waiting for?

The dark cloud must be lifted, the air must be cleansed and the ethics rules of this House must be fully restored... The very credibility of this government, and its ability to lead the American people, hangs in the balance."

Assembly Coup?

It can't be good when they are calling you "wishy washy" in public.

"Charles Nesbitt, the state Assembly's Republican minority leader, is facing a possible coup attempt against his leadership, several of his GOP colleagues in the chamber said Wednesday morning."

"This is a fluid thing," said Assemblyman Daniel Burling of Wyoming County, a leader of the anti-Nesbitt faction. Burling called Nesbitt's leadership "wishy-washy" and said he was ready to take over as minority leader if his colleagues wanted him to.

From silive.com

Albany Convention Center - Losing Momentum?

Yesterday Albany County executive Mike Breslin appointed his two picks for the Albany Convention Center Authority. He was the first person to nominnate anyone. Pataki, Bruno, Silver and Jennings also get to nominate people but have yet to do so. Apparently Breslin is getting worried about the lack of progress on the convention center and wanted to kick start the process.

"The City, and more importantly the State, must take the next step to move forward," Breslin said, in a press release. "I am concerned with the lack of progress that seems to be threatening the momentum and cooperation we had last year."

Fred Lebrun was just talking about this a while back. He seemed to think there was an odd silence surrounding the project. Since the convention center will be funded by our tax dollars, is guaranteed to lose money, and will do nothing to help the local economy after all the construction jobs are gone, I think this is a good thing. Read more about convention centers and why they don't help local economies.

What Arbor Hill Deserves

Letter to the Editor today in response to Common Council member Michael Brown's recent letter. The letter is from 3rd Ward Committee Person, Corey Ellis.

"Too long have the problems of Arbor Hill been ignored. It's not enough to comment on a crisis or tell folks what they shouldn't do. We need and deserve less rhetoric and more action."

Read it.