Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Goodbee to Offer Plan to Fix Albany Gang Problem

In a welcome sign of the beginnings of his campaign, Albany Mayoral candidate Archie Goodbee says that Albany has a gang problem and that he has a plan to fix the problem. Goodbee had a press conference today to discuss this issue and will be holding a town hall meeting this Friday to meet with community members and listen to their suggestions. More from from News 9:

"At a news conference in downtown Albany, Goodbee said Mayor Jerry Jennings has his head in the sand, and has done little to solve the issue of youth gang violence. Goodbee said if elected he will clean up the streets by instituting a program called the Boston Strategy."

He said, "In a recent report, one of the police spokespersons indicated he didn't even know about gang violence until two pre-teens brought it to his attention and mentioned the name of the gangs."

"The Goodbee campaign will be holding a town hall-style meeting this Friday to hear suggestions directly from the community. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Sweet Pilgrim Baptist Church on Clinton Avenue."

Guardian Angels Return to Albany?

Interesting.


"The Guardian Angels are patrolling the streets of Schenectady, and soon they could be on the streets of Albany as well.

Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa is expected to meet with Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings Tuesday afternoon to discuss a possible return to the Capital City.

The Angels first came to Albany back in the mid-80's, but were gone by the early 90's"

Bob Sheehan To Run in the 8th

Well if you people in the 8th Ward were getting jealous of all the activity in the 7th, you can rest easy. Bob Sheehan has announced he will be running in the 8th. And he says he's for " more open, transparent, accountable and balanced city government" so you know I like him already. To the announcement:

Bob Sheehan, a 42-year old resident of Marsdale Street in Albany today announces his candidacy for Alderman in the 8th Ward of the city. The seat is currently held by Democrat David Torncello III.

A long time enrolled Democrat and 18 year Albany resident, Mr. Sheehan cites his previous work with the Helderberg Neighborhood Association as invaluable to help him be an effective Alderman. He is also motivated for public office as a parent of a school-aged child, and as a member of People Advocating Small Schools (PASS).

“I welcome the challenge of running for this position and continuing to interact and hear the concerns of the residents in the 8th Ward. I look forward to discussing the issues that are particularly important to people throughout the ward. Issues important to me include maintaining the residential character of the neighborhoods in the ward, and exploring additional services the city should be offering to residents as our population ages. I will also bring my commitment, enthusiasm and independence to represent all the residents of the 8th Ward.”

Mr. Sheehan went on to say: “As one member of the Common Council, I recognize the importance of working together with other members to advance ideas, policies and legislation that will lead to a more open, transparent, accountable and balanced city government. I will fully support any such initiatives.”

A formal announcement in the ward is planned for later this week.

Tech Valley Academy?

You would think a place calling itself Tech Valley would be a prime candidate for a "tech themed highschool". Today's editorial in the Times Union agrees this would be a good idea. However, the NYS Legislature can't seem to agree and of course there are those that are saying if we are going to have a new school, it should be a charter school. This one will probably drag and be delayed regardless of what is best for the kids. Not a problem for Tech Valley though, plenty of young Indian and Chinese kids will be willing to come take those high tech jobs for high pay.

Scaringe Update

Appparently the officers that were involved in the Scaringe shooting in Albany are going to be asked to take permanent medical leave and not return to active duty. They haven't been on duty since the shooting. According to the article one of the officers has confronted Mayor Jennings over this issue as he disagrees with how he has been treated and how this situation has been handled.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Sentencing

As any regular readers know, I'm a strong supporter of D.A. Soares. There has been discussion on this blog at times by some people saying that they didn't think Soares would be a good DA because he wouldn't prosecute criminals. The talk was that it would be only a matter of time before criminals realized what you can get away with in Albany and then all hell would break loose. Of course, i think that is just people who liked Paul Clyne talking. Regardless, in case you are wondering, if you as a citizen want to help stop crime in your neighborhood...firing a shotgun out your window at people in the street is still considered a crime in Albany. To the press release verbiage, as I'm a blogger, not a reporter:

ALBANY, NY – District Attorney P. David Soares today announced that JERMAINE BOYD, 29, of 301 First Street Albany NY. BOYD was sentenced to fifteen years in state prison plus five years of post release supervision by the Honorable Thomas A. Breslin. BOYD had pled guilty to one count of Attempted Manslaughter in the First Degree on April first of this year.

The indictment alleged that on December 8th, 2004, at about 1:34 PM, the defendant fired two rounds from a 12 gauge shotgun. One of the shots struck Emmanuel Albea in the back and killed him.

At the time of his arrest, BOYD claimed that he shot out of anger at the drug dealing that was taking place in front of his house and that he had felt threatened by the drug dealers. District Attorney Soares said, “This sentence shows that my office is actively prosecuting crimes with guns as aggressively as possible. Now Mr. BOYD will be spending the next fifteen years of his life in jail” he said.

Assistant District Attorney Brian Farley represented the People for the Office of the District Attorney.

Friday Fun

Some fun facts about the blog and other odds and ends.

Update: Before you read this you should know that i've gotten two e-mails letting me know that the Metroland circulation is 40,000 . So, I'm only one 40th of the way there. The 13,000 number i tossed out came from one of their ads that said "more than 13,000 Metroland readers will be eating their meals in Capital Region Restaurants at Least Twice". So, Rex Smith has nothing to worry about (other than the complete lack of in depth coverage of local issues) and the Metroland appears to be in good shape, too. But, if I could get one 40th of their advertising revenue and still maintain my staff at its current low levels....anyway perhaps i need to start running music reviews. So, Buy the new System of a Down record. Its folk/protest music for the 21st century. And if you don't like it, enlist. Back to our earlier scheduled programming.

Milestones - A few minutes ago the 1,000th unique visitor showed up for the month. A new record for a month. Those 1,000 visitors have read over 17,000 pages this month. Charles, Ford, you're famous! Now, that may not seem like many people to you, but when you think of how many people vote in a primary in a year with no statewide elections....it starts to become significant. And that number should ramp up quite a bit as the elections get closer and perhaps the blog gets some media coverage in some of the other local press. The new site will allow for ads as well. Perhaps some candidates will be interested in getting your attention and helping support the new site? In comparison, I think the Metroland circulation is 13,000 people.

I Know What You Do - One of the fun features I have in my stats reports for the site traffic is what words people use on search engines to find the site. Some of today's words of interest:

"how to run for mayor - Albany, NY "

Hopefully this wasn't one of our current candidates....perhaps someone else is thinking of entering the race? Either way, they ended up at this site which is probably a good place to start.

And then we have some evidence of people already searching for dirt on their opponents:

"ward dewitt lie"

Betty, is that you? And we had such high hopes for a clean campaign. There were some other variations on this search but I'll keep those to myself (for now).

Mayor Jennings WROW

And it wouldn't be friday fun without a WROW update. To start the show Ira called in and called the Working Families Party communists. Ira is funny that way. Jennings didn't take the bait and said he was for unions and working families. Someone else called in and said Fred Dicker read an e-mail on the air that said you could buy drugs on Sheridan Ave. Mayor Jennings said this wasn't true. Anyone want to run a test on that? Thankfully the drugs I use are legal so I buy them at the convenience store but I'm pretty sure I could go start a new habit on Sheridan Ave if I wanted. And then Mayor Jennings talked a lot about the importance of education and our public schools and then revealed this bit of information:


"I think we should eliminate the school board"

I'm not sure that is going to help his relationship with the current board.

Enjoy your weekend. I'll be checking the papers for stories saturday morning since its the ideal time to bury a story on a holiday weekend but other than that it might be a slow news weekend around here.

7th Ward - 5 candidates and Two (2) Primaries!

There are now five people running for Common Council in the 7th Ward. The odd part is that two of them are Republicans. And the Metroland was good enough to ask them all the same questions. If you have some time, its an interesting read (sort of, maybe revealing read is more accurate). It looks like there is a pretty strong correlation between being a regular reader and participant in this blog and being able to answer all the questions. Check out Ford McLain on the Convention Center issue. He mentions the Brookings Report and actually has an opinion other than "good. jobs good." Meanwhile the other Republican candidate (Melinsky) doesn't exactly shine on his questions.

What should the role of the common council be with respect to the Citizens Police Review Board?

Melinsky "At this time I’m not really well versed in that. "

Maybe its just me but if I were running for office and going to be answering questions for a publication that 2 weeks earlier had run a cover story on police accountability (and the glaring lack of it that we have here), I would've expected that question.

And how about Mayor Jennings pick, Brian Scavo?

What should the role of the Common Council be with respect to the Citizens Police Review Board?

"I don’t know enough about that to give an opinion. The police are doing a good job. They could be doing a better job. "

And the Charter Schools answers are similiar. Wasn't there just a city wide (sort of) vote on this issue? I would want a candidate that at least could acknowledge that or discuss the issue. I think some candidates might want to start becoming regular readers around here and read what you people are talking about.

More Charter Schools Approved

One new charter school approved by SUNY. It will be called Henry Johnson but they don't know where they are going to put it. Another charter school is also in the works. Some might say the expansion of this program is a bit hasty as the results aren't in yet on the existing schools. Actually 4 out 5 people would probably say that. Regardless, the experiment continues. To quote the President I think we may be set our selves up for some "catastrophic success".

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Albany - Hotspot?

When in doubt follow the money. Especially when its big money. A NYC investment firm just dropped $38 million for a 390 unit apartment complex in North Greenbush. Why? From the Business Review:

"We are bullish on the Albany marketplace," said Gregory Lyden, a principal in Abacus (they are the buyers)

"Abacus plans cosmetic improvements at the 390-unit apartment complex and is looking for other investments in the Albany, N.Y., area. The company's principals are encouraged by the region's ongoing technology initiatives. "

"What we are seeing in Albany is a quiet transformation from a city which relied primarily upon the public sector for jobs to one which is increasingly gaining high-quality, technology jobs," said Abacus president Benjamin Friedman, in a press release.

For our sake, let's hope they are right.

Goodbee's Opponent Receives Tacit Endorsement of WFP

Looks like Goodbee isn't the pawn of the Working Families Party many in Albany have said he was. Their members met last night and decided not to endorse anyone in the Mayoral race. As usual this news was reported by the Times Union with a big front page headline in the local section that of course doesn't mention Goodbee but mentions Jennings instead which I will once again point out as media bias. With this brand of journalism the recent round of arson in Albany should've been reportedwith the following headline "Buildings Suffer From Lack of Water!".

Anyway, why didn't the WFP endorse Goodbee? According to WFP leader Karan Scharff they want to focus on:

"building a progressive majority on the Common Council and electing an independent treasurer."

So, a new NEW era of Albany politics begins. Can you win a race without the Working Families Party endorsement? Goodbee will try. As will McLain in the seventh. As will some others. And in case anyone is wondering, this blog strongly endorses Goodbee over Jennings.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Why Now? We Can Fix It Next Year

I've repeatedly pointed out how Mayor Jennings doesn't like criticism. He's been in office for over 11 years but if you criticize something he's done there is always an excuse. And his spokeman Joe Rabito is always there to help out.

So then a survey comes out that says the following:

"Blacks were about 13 percent of all professional workers living in Albany, according to the census, but hold less than 1 percent of the city's 86 professional-level jobs -- lawyers, accountants or engineers, as well as lieutenants in the police and fire departments "

What does Rabito say to this?

"Why is this coming up now?" said Jennings spokesman Joe Rabito.

That is his response. Joe is accusing Common Council woman Carolyn McLaughlin of playing politics in an election year. Then he goes on to say how hard they have been working to address the issue.

"We welcome council member McLaughlin's interest now. We wish she would have taken an interest before an election year, because we have been working on it for some time."

So, you've been working on it for some time? And this is the best you can do? Maybe you could appoint someone to address the problem. It took you 11 years to get a director of buildings and codes (white, male), maybe this issue was next on the list?

So that is the Mayor's position. What does one of the white males that works for the Mayor (Administrative Services Commissioner Joe Cavazos) think?

"While a certain percentage of the population may be women or minority, a smaller percentage of that group actually posses the necessary skills and qualifications to be considered for employment"

He has since backpeddled from this statement and made some promises:

"Next year, that number will be better"

I agree that the number might be better next year. But only if you change the administration. Hopefully a "certain percentage of the population" that are not white males will vote in September.

Disclaimer: The above criticism and commentary by the author of this blog was all politically motivated.

Update: The guy over at Smalbany.blogspot.com has done quite an analysis of this situation. He's getting a PhD from Yale so we should expect this sort of thing. He is purely taking a look at the data in an unbiased fashion. Probably the most rigorous vetting of data in the TU ever. And it is quite welcome around here. However, he is a white male....perhaps the city already has him on the payroll?

Also, one thing that no one seems to be addressing anywhere is the issue of gender. This isn't just about race. The issue is that Jennings is a white male. And both the white and the male groups are highly over-represented in city government. For those arguing that this is because the city only hires "the best" and doesn't show any bias towards gender or race, well, if that is the case, Albany must have some super race of white males as they appear to be significantly superior to all other groups. Who knew?

Update 2: While not statistically significant, the white male city employee who was pissing on my building early one morning most likely was not part of this super race.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Ward DeWitt Announcing For Treasurer

I think this was pretty well known around town but the official announcement is today. Here is some background from the campaign:

Ward T. DeWitt, Sr., an Albany native and former First Deputy Commissioner in the New York State Department of Correctional Services, will announce his candidacy Tuesday evening for the position of Albany City Treasurer.

DeWitt, 57, a longtime Albany activist and official, was involved in the successful 2004 campaign of Albany District Attorney David Soares. The veteran administrator, who has also served as President of the Albany School Board and as co-chair of the New Covenant Charter School Board, retired from state service in 2002. He currently resides in historic Arbor Hill with his wife and family.

DeWitt has been endorsed by Citizen Action of NY and the Robert F. Kennedy Democratic Club. He will run as a Democrat in the September primary election against incumbent Betty Barnette.

Bush in New York

President Bush will be in New York today. He is stopping in up in the Rochester area to talk about Social Security. You might be thinking, "hey, I thought his 60 stops in 60 days" of pep rallies for privitization was over. Well, it is over. The problem is that a USAToday poll that came out yesterday said only 33% of the country approves of his handling of social security. So, its up to New York to help convince some Republican Reps, who haven't exactly been cheerleaders for the cause.

And remember, if you make more than $20,000 a year, the President is proposing that your social security benefits be cut.

Charter Schools

The Chairman of Bright Choice Charter Schools has a letter in the Times Union today. He points out several things:

1) He is dismissive of the recent "joke of a referendum" that was the vote on charter school financing.

2) He points out what he calls the "stunning academic failure" of the Albany Public Schools.

3) He says we need more charter schools to fill the "void left by the district" because the "debate is about children and their futures, not just about funding formulas".

Nothing new there. Other than that I still don't see how it helps the children to run down the public schools? If you really cared about the children I think you'd be a bit more collaborative and positive. That is where this argument doesn't work for me.

Anyway, he put his e-mail in the letter if you want to share your thoughts with him.

Constitutional Amendment

Well the Washington Republicans didn't get to go ahead with their "constitutional option" on the filibuster today, but it appears that here in New York we might get a shot at the constitutional option. The Assembly voted to override Pataki's veto and let the voters decide if the Legislature should have more budgeting powers. Pataki of course thinks that having the Governor have less power is bad. So does Spitzer. But the good part is eventually we the people might get to have our say on the measure.

Jeanine Pirro - Playing It Coy

Well, Jeanine Pirro is going to be running for statewide office in New York next year. What is she running for?....She's not telling. Maybe Attorney General.....Maybe Governor. She says she'll decide some time later this year. Is it too much to ask that someone that wants one of two (or both) of the top jobs in our state actually make it seem like it was a little more serious choosing between the two than deciding whether she wants the fish or the pasta?

Monday, May 23, 2005

Power Naps?

So Bernie Goetz is running for Public Advocate in NYC. He ran for Mayor in 2001 but that didn't work out. How about this for a campaign issue:

"He is also advocating power naps for city workers; tax incentives for stores not to have metal gates; and, perhaps in a nod to his past, adjustable Tasers for the city police."

I bet there are more than a few city workers that might be willing to accept mandatory siestas.

In other less interesting news in the top of this article the Democrats are struggling to find a candidate that can beat Bloomberg.

Effective Lobbying Techniques

"The defendant has a temper. He is also a large individual who carries a concealed handgun"

Who is the defendant? None other than Ken Bruno. Perhaps I need to take back what I said about him only being a lobbyist because who his daddy is? Maybe he's been using some more straightforward techniques to influence people. Is it really necessary for a lobbyist to carry a concealed weapon?

Goodbee vs Jennings

So the first head to head match up (sort of) between Jennings and Goodbee is happening this week. This week Jennings will be speaking with the Citizens for Transportation. Goodbee spoke at their last meeting. Any CFT members out there? Would be interesting to hear an opinion.

CITIZENS FOR TRANSPORTATION 7 p.m. June 15 at the Albany Public Library, 161 Washington Ave., Albany. Speaker will be Mayor Jerry Jennings of Albany.

For those of you worried about what Goodbee has been up to, the word I've received here at DIA HQ is that he's organizing voluteers and getting ready to ramp up for the June petition drive (you need a 1,000 signatures to run for Mayor). And then its on to the heart of the campaign. Donations welcome.

Albany - Walking the Streets

I was walking down Central Ave yesterday afternoon and there were an awful lot of sirens, cop cars and ambulances. Never a good sign. Apparently they were all headed to Sheridan Ave where two young men were shot in broad daylight. It wasn't even a drive-by shooting. Apparently three young men just walked up and started shooting at the other two. Than ran off.

If anyone still has doubts that we have a serious gang problem in Albany let's hope they start to open their eyes and address the problem. I'm looking at you Jerry "we don't have gangs, just graffiti artists" Jennings.

If anyone wants to think about revitalizing Central Ave, I believe this aspect is going to be a big part of it.

And the first time this happens two blocks over, say around Washington Park, there are going to be quite a few for sale signs going up. Probably quite a speed bump for the current renaissance.

John Sweeney and His Constituents

Mr. Sweeney probably isn't worried too much about losing his seat but at least one voter isn't happy with his recent behavior. From a letter to the editor to the Times Union today:

"Mr. Sweeney provides the wrong kind of leadership and does not represent the values of the good people of New York's 20th Congressional District."

The writer goes on to mention the issues of Social Security and support of Tom Delay. If Sweeney is actually considering a run for Governor, as has been mentioned in at least one recent article, I think he's nuts. He might be safe in NY-20 but it he wants to bring that track record out to the rest of us I don't think he'd do very well. But I'd love to see it. And if he doesn't I hope those NY Dems are thinking of using some of that DNC money to challenge him.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Spitzer- Gay Marriage Should Be Legal

"A leading candidate to become New York's next governor reaffirmed his belief Saturday that gay marriage should be legal. But Eliot Spitzer declined to say whether he would make gay marriage a legislative priority if elected. "

Let the battle begin. Will Dobson and company now make this NY race interesting? Will the religious right be coming to visit us here in NY? Other rumors have John Sweeney possibly considering a race for Governor. Please, Mr. Sweeney, think big, dream...run.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Democracy In Action

Want to know why having a democratic process (even one that is rather flawed) in the city of Albany is a good thing? Ok. Here's the deal. Archie Goodbee and Benzie Johnson haven't run one ad, gotten any press coverage, nada....zip. But we know they are out there. And so does Mayor Jerry Jennings. And he has done some city wide phone polls. And he is working his ass off to win re-election because he has the results of those polls, and he is scared.

So, new projects are springing up around the city like tulips. Tired of the traffic over on central when you are shopping. All taken care of. Don't worry about who is paying for all this. Jerry's got you covered.

Your Fancy New Jets Stadium

People of New York. If you don't want to spend a BILLION dollars on a new stadium for the pathetic NY jets and their very rich owner, YOU will be responsible for us not getting the Olympics. Bad people! Bad.


"The U.S. Olympic Committee chairman warned the state's top lawmakers that New York will lose its chance to land the 2012 Summer Games if a plan for a Manhattan stadium is not approved, according to a letter released Friday."

You have been warned. How are we supposed to get all those steroid monsters to show up in our city and run really fast in circles if you don't want to pay higher taxes? For fucks sake, think of Mary Lou Retton!!! Wheaties!! Woody Johnson is a prominent conservative Republican who owns the Jets and like any good conservative Republican these days he is against steriod use (except for his Defensive Line, Linebackers, Special Teams, Wide Receivers, Running Backs, QB, O-line.....but not those whiny kickers) but he really wants a new stadium so we can showcase the amazing wonders of steriods to the world. So, shut up, pay your taxes. And you might want to consider taking some steroids because you will be a better worker, you will work harder, and you'll pay more taxes.

You've been warned (and advised).

PS. If paying higher taxes makes you depressed, take some Wellbutrin. Woody Johnson's company makes it and its really really good shit.

Silly Hillary

So, Hillary is scared the right wing nut jobs will make a big deal out of her visiting Iowa so her brilliant plan is to invite Iowans (rich ones) to DC. And to see how pathetic politics in this country has become you have to read how her aides are defending this.

"Campaign spokeswoman Ann Lewis declined to say when the event would be but said the sole purpose was to raise money for Clinton's Senate re-election in 2006, not to court support in a state that hosts the caucuses that kick off the presidential election cycle."

"There is no other agenda," Lewis said.

Oh, I feel better. The only agenda is to raise money.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Mayor Jennings WROW

Now regular caller Mike called up Mayor Jennings and asked him about the police officer that refused a breath test after crashing his car who didn't have his license revoked because the president of the police union stepped in. The Mayor said "the police union is stepping in....this was a DMV hearing we don't have any input on that...my people tell me we did everything right....everyone knows if you refuse a breathalyzer you lose your license....this cop will be held accountable".

It's very good to hear the Mayor saying that. Now about that investigation....

Saratoga and the Police Union

Check out this article about Saratoga. They just fired the Deputy Public Safety Commissioner. The police department said she wasn't behaving properly. If you read this article it seems that was the case. On the flip side the woman that was just fired (Erin Dreyer) just called into Paul V's show on WROW. Here are some quotes:

"The council has now handed control of the city to the police union"

"Several officers perjured themselves".

Obviously there are two sides to this story but I find this statement from the article somewhat odd:

"During the time Dreyer was in office, the grand jury alleged, she politicized the police department and had an extramarital affair with a police officer as part of an effort to drive Chief Edward Moore from office."

How does having an extramarital affair with a police officer work to get the Chief out of office? I'm not seeing 1 plus 1 equaling 2 here. And regardless of whether it was a good strategy, can you be fired for having an affair? The only other thing I see her being accused of is trying to "fix tickets". I assume that means having some speeding or parking tickets ripped up for people she knew. I want someone to try to tell me with a straight face that she is the only person that has ever done this in the Saratoga police department or ANY police department. I know someone that has probably had 10 tickets ripped up. Why? Because he's got the right last name. He deserved every ticket. Drives like a maniac. Because he can get away with it. Do I support this? No. Do i think it goes on all the time? Yes.

Now, if she was trying to get the police chief out of office, I'd say he had a pretty good comeback and certainly won this round.

Update: This article has a lot more of the details on this story, I'd start here. And its got a good quote from the Police Chief

"How can 22 people be lying and two people be telling the truth?"

Any way you look at this thing its quite a mess.

Above The Law - Albany

So, have you heard the one about the drunk guy and the judge? It's good. So, the guy was so drunk that he hit a parked car. Crossed the lane for oncoming traffic and crashed right into it. And then the cops show up. And he's all drunk-ass and refuses a breathalyzer. Here's where the joke gets a little wordy..work with me.

"A chemical test, such as a breathalyzer, shows the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC), which is the amount of alcohol by percentage in your blood. Your license will be suspended if you are arrested or detained for DWI, DWAI, Zero Tolerance, or any other alcohol or drug- related charge, and refuse to take a chemical test. "

So, anyway, we all know that right. So this guy gets arrested. But then when he gets to his court hearing he claims, this is the guy that was so drunk he crashed into a parked car on the other side of the road, he claims....this shit cracks me up....as far as he recalls he was never read his Miranda rights. So, you know when you're so drunk that you crash your car how sometimes you forget little things...not this guy. And the judge of course throws the book at him, right? Because in NY if you refuse a breath test, you lose your license, right? Actually not in Albany. Because the guy was a cop and the president of the police union showed up in court and said the guy wasn't arrested properly. Funny shit. So now the cops in Albany are even more above the law because when they get so drunk they can't drive and then they get arrested the other cops don't even know how to properly arrest them. And the top guy in the union has no problem showing up in a court of law and saying this is how it went down. Shouldn't the union president be concerned that some of his members can't even arrest a drunk guy? Shouldn't the union president want to set a standard for good behavior for the citizens of Albany..... So, the judge, didn't revoke the drunk guy's license.

The only good part to this story is apparently the officials at the Albany Police Department aren't going along with it.

"From the initial investigation of the accident to the subsequent DWI arrest, all steps were followed by appropriate procedures. The assistant chief on the scene consulted with the district attorneys regarding the incident and the appropriate charges."

So just who makes the rules around here? Mayor Jennings, what do you think?

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Ward 3 - Brown Vs. Ellis

New Metroland candidate interview this week and its the 3rd ward.

What's your top issue and what will you do about it?

M. Brown - "The convention center. "

C. Ellis - "Youth activities, absentee landlords/abandoned buildings and getting a library in the neighborhood"

So the incumbent Brown thinks a convention center is the most important issue for his ward?

I guess no regular readers of this site will then be surprised to hear me say "Ellis for the 3rd!"

Still on the fence? Want to read some of Brown's past history? Here you go.

Update: Apparently the Metroland isn't putting this bit on line. Too bad. I recommend getting it and reading it. Listening to Michael Brown answer a question about sufficient notice for a public hearing by admitting he use to misuse taxpayer dollars to send out mailings is pretty funny (and sad). Especially since that wasn't what the question was about. And then he blames the "modern day political boss" Richard Conti for ending this practice. Have any of you ever met Richard Conti? If you read this he sounds like one scary individual. I've met him. He seems like a nice guy but a modern day political boss he ain't.

Update 2: I was incorrect that the article wasn't online and have been appropriately scolded by the Metroland. The good news is they scooped my idea of having all the interviews in one place on line so that you can access them at your leisure. If they start running rambling profanity laced diatribes I might just be out of business.

Ready, Set, Bribe

They set up some more bribe accounts yesterday.

"A panel appointed by the governor and legislative leaders quietly approved more than $440 million in borrowing Wednesday for projects the leaders will pick and New York's taxpayers will pay off over the next 30 years. "

The borrowing includes $235 million for "various projects" to be determined by Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and $209.5 million to be used at the discretion of Gov. George Pataki, according to board resolutions."

NY Attorney General Race

Endorsements are flying around everywhere these days when it comes to the AG race. And while there are currently 10 potential candidates for the job listed in this TU article, only two people are picking up many of them. Andrew Cuomo and Richard Brodsky. Brodsky recently got the support of several of his co-workers. Assemblywoman Amy Paulin:

"If you liked Eliot, you'll love Richard."

I'm certainly leaning towards Brodsky at this point. He was the leader in investigating the Great Pataki Canal Giveaway Scandal. He earned some points for that one. At this point I'm not aware of anything Cuomo has done that would make him a qualified candidate beyond who his Dad was...so I'm thinking he should become a lobbyist instead of the AG.

Jets Stadium - Your Dollars At Work

Joe Bruno wants a little more information on how many of our tax dollars are going to be going to building a new stadium for Jets. This is an interesting quote:

"I'm hearing total commitment is close to $1 billion (of taxpayer dollars)," Bruno said. "I don't know what the hell it is. It's time to get it more in the open."

So we are going to be on the hook for $1 billion. And one of our top politicians has no idea "what the hell it is" that is making up this billion. And yet....George Pataki wanted to force a vote on this issue yesterday. Feeling better about how your tax dollars are spent if the Governor is calling for a vote on $1 billion and no one knows "what the hell it is"?

But your Governor is just looking out for you, according to him.

"I just want to do what is right for the people of New York, that is to build the stadium, to get it approved, and I'm going to continue to push for it."

He really wants to give away your billion dollars. It's what is right for you.

Jets owner Woody Johnson has raised a lot of money for George Bush. He was even a Bush Ranger. Could it be that Pataki wants to make Woody happy so that he can help fund Pataki's presidential aspirations?

Unsurprising News -Jennings Endorsement

We can pretty much expect that every elected official and union and restaurant and anyone that does any business in Albany will endorse Mayor Jennings so this isn't much of a surprise that he has gotten another endorsement.

"Albany's Mayor received an endorsement Wednesday from members of the 1199 SEIU. The Union hosted a fundraiser for Jennings at its headquarters at 155 Washington Avenue."

Have fun trying to pick out the code word in this endorsement:

"We found that there's no better friend for working families and of bringing people together of different nationalities and of different cultures and who has led this renaissance that we are seeing in Albany than Mayor Jerry Jennings," said Dennis Rivera, Union President.

Who's the "friend of working families"? Why, Jerry Jennings, of course. He's such a good friend of working families I'm sure that Working Families Party endorsement is right around the corner.....right?

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

New Albany Blog

A new Albany blog. Not focused solely on politics so it might give you a break. And he makes food recommendations...which have been popular around here, too.

http://smalbany.blogspot.com/

The 7th is Getting Crowded

Another entrant has appeared in the race in the 7th ward. Joining Democratic candidates Cathy Fahey and Brian Scavo is Dan McGinn. On the Republican side we have Ford McLain.

And McGinn has a site http://www.danmcginn.org/

McGinn says the following:

As a member of the Common Council, I will concentrate my efforts on making Albany a better place to live by:


Revitalizing neighborhoods through the joint efforts of city and community groups.
Addressing the growing concern of absentee landlords by holding them accountable.
Making our neighborhoods safer.
Working with the business community to secure needed resources for our districts.
Working to hold the line on taxes.
Working to improve the quality of education within the City of Albany.

If you live in the 7th, get prepared to be answering that door bell.

Detour Iraq

This blog isn't about international politics but I just came across this blog from a soldier in Iraq and I thought that it was worth sharing. We aren't getting these viewpoints back here in the states. From his post today.

"Every day over here in Iraq I get up and put my uniform and body armor on. I wear the U.S. Flag on my right shoulder next to my combat patch. I earned the right to wear this uniform and I "earned" that combat patch during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Each day that goes by it gets harder to hold my head high while wearing that uniform over here in Iraq. It gets harder and harder as we learn more of the truth behind this war. How many died because of these "lies" as Mr. Galloway calls them. How many have I killed because of them?"

http://misoldierthoughts.blogspot.com/

Jennings and Sullivan

Republican candidate for Mayor Joe Sullivan has an interesting letter to the TU today. The way he sees it Jennings is vunerable, the Albany Democratic Machine is dead, and the city is about to be overrun by "the Liberal-Democratic-WFP coalition".

The part I really enjoy is hearing John Sweeney referred to as the Mayor's "close pal".

Read it.

Albany Charter Schools - No!

While the budget passed, the charter schools got a failing grade (and you know how those people love testing to determine outcomes).

Do voters believe the district should pay approximately $10.2 million in property taxes to charter schools in the city?

Yes 996 - No 4,519

Any questions?

For purposes of full disclosure, I was in the majority on this one, too. Could Albany be going the way of DIA?

Albany School Budget - Yes

The Albany school budget passed by a pretty large margin yesterday. If you voted, congratulations! You are now Voter (R-Albany) because you represented approximately 20 citizens when you cast that vote. We have 100,000 people in Albany (yes, I know, they can't all vote) and a little under 6,000 made it to the polls.

Albany School Budget: Approved 3,240-2,568

In case you want to vent at your higher taxes, I voted yes. Vent away. But make sure to also remember that your taxes have been paying to improve the city golf course as well. You just don't get to vote on that directly. I think educating kids is more important than golf. Vent.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Weren't we just saying...

A mere two posts ago we had a bit of a discussion going on how American politics is being turned into a family affair. Ironically we are now treated to the news that Nixon's son-in-law is planning to run for Senate against Hillary Clinton. His name had been tossed about before but now it appears he's in.

Meet Ed Cox.

Vote, Albany, Vote!

Today is the vote for the Albany school budget. Vote. You also can cast a vote in support of or against the idea of using public funds for Charter Schools. The results of that one should be interesting.

School budget votes aren't in the same polling places as your regular votes. Check this page to see where you vote.

Family Politics

Keeping with the growing American tradition of trying to create ruling families just like they had back in the country we fought in the Revolutionary War, Andrew Cuomo is gaining steam in his attempt to become the next Attorney General of NY.

"Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin (D-Queens) threw his support yesterday to Cuomo for the Democratic nod, bypassing his Queens Assembly colleague Michael Gianaris."

It's going to be interesting 20 years from now when Chelsea Clinton is running for office against the Bush twins.

Pataki and Bloomberg and YOUR Money

If you are ever involved in a lawsuit with the state of New York you might want to pull out this jem from your Governor.

"I don't think a lawsuit is a reason to postpone" Pataki said. "This is New York and people are always suing"

He of course was talking about the lawsuit that might delay the vote on our big fat gift to billionaire and Jets owner Woody Johnson. Pataki wants the vote to be held tomorrow. That vote would greenlight at least $600,000,000 of taxpayer dollars to go toward Woody's new football stadium even though the majority of New Yorker's don't want the stadium. What does Joe Bruno have to say about this?

"The proponents make a very strong case; the opponents make a very strong case," Bruno said. "The question is what's right?"

Joe, here's a little help. The answer: The opponents are right. Woody Johnson is worth well more than $600,000,000. Let him build his own damn stadium. Remember that budget that was missing $1,000,000,000 for programs for the poor and elderly in NY? How about we use the money to pay for those programs instead of giving our money to a billionaire's pet project?

Voting Machines

The voting machine saga continues. A quick summary:

The democrats want one statewide standard machine and would prefer the optical scan machines. Why? Well as Minority Leader Patterson says:

"Paterson said he believes these machines are more affordable, simpler to use and provide an easily accessible paper trail."

Republicans want to let each county choose which machine they use. Some forecast some problems with this approach.

"Another worry is that local elections commissioners may be unduly pressured by voting machine companies and their lobbyists."

The bit of that sentence designed to make you laugh and spit coffee is of course the "may be unduly presssured by...lobbyists". May be? Lobbyists have already dumped millions into this. Imagine the crazy lobbyist race that would occur if they had to bribe 62 individual county officials? Get a camera and you've got a reality show. The Amazing Bribe.

Fact Check: I also believe the article is misleading when it states the following (DRE's are the other type of voting machines):

" [DRE supporters] maintain DREs are hacker-proof and provide a paper trail that is just as easy to recount as that of an optical scan machine."

I believe the truth is they say that DRE's could be outfitted with the ability to provide a paper trail, but that hasn't been done to this point.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Committment Vision Leadership

Perhaps Mayor Jennings is reading this site. He has gotten rid of that awful site that he originally had and gotten himself a flashy new one.

Jennings 2005

Here's a taste:

"There are those that think they can do better, they will seek to divide this city for their own political purpose, they will point out differences again and again but there is far more that joins us as a people, as a city, than divides us. Our campaign will speak for the entire family of Albany regardless of race, color, creed, religion, sexual orientation or family status."

PS. Notice all of the photos on the site. See anyone that isn't white and over 40? (Jerry's tan doesn't count, but it is quite noticeable when he is standing next to Hillary).

Enjoy.

Louise Slaughter (D-NY) - The Truth Would Be Refreshing

While some NY reps in congress have been keeping a very low profile lately, you can't say the same for Louise Slaughter. If you've got 7 minutes to spare, watch this video on an interview with her about the recent memo that shows that BushCo decided to go to war in Iraq and then got to work on ways to justify it (911,911,911). Maybe all those liberals down in NYC will start giving upstate some more credit if they see this. To quote Slaughter:

"The truth would be refreshing"

CBS Crime Story

Did anyone watch CBS news last night? If so, did you see a segment on the APD cracking down on juvenile crime? A reader just e-mailed the following:

"A heads-up that CBS6 did a story on the Albany PD cracking down on juvenile crime. Problem is, in the teasers they showed last night Jennings was knocking on some young guy's door and then leading him to a police car, like he's a cop or something. Just an unbelievable publicity stunt in an election year. "

Anyone catch that?

UPDATE: This story may be airing tonight. Tune in if you want to see your crimefighting mayor in action.

Pataki Update - Slow News Day

If all we have to talk about is Pataki, its a slow news day. So what have we got?

Apparently he was made to wait in line for a TV show and

His people are also saying that the reason there were so many empty chairs at the prayer breakfast this year is that they invited fewer people this year because they didn't want to be overrun by hoardes of people seeking to pray with Pataki.

Two fun bits in one column. The part I enjoy the most is that when a "Pataki aide" is told that it's ok for Pataki to wait in line with the rest of the people the aide replies:

"No, it's not"

So we wait for a budget for the last 11 years and he can't wait in line? A real man of the people.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Lebrun Hearts WalMart

More letters in the TU in response to Fred Lebrun's love letter to Walmart. The letter from one Christopher Eastman:

"Fred LeBrun wishes he could be as principled as his colleague who doesn't shop at Wal-Mart because the chain doesn't advertise in the Times Union. A part of me wishes I could be as glib as LeBrun about the loss of local retail and the resulting empty storefronts in our eerily quiet downtowns, while all the traffic and activity has been transferred to what were recently rural areas.

It's burdensome that I care so deeply about supporting the local businesses in my community, but it's more convenient for me to walk two blocks to Trojan Hardware or Walt's Grocery, which is now closing, than it is to drive five miles to the many big-box chains that dot the American landscape. And I can't shake the knowledge that more of what I spend at locally owned businesses will remain in the local economy.

Too bad I'm not as confident as LeBrun that in the global race to the bottom, Wal-Mart's business practices won't continue to have a negative impact on my quality of life and that of others of my generation."

Ah, the global race to the bottom. Thanks, Mr. Eastman.

Albany Authors

Sometimes you just need to escape. Nothing wrong with a little escapism. It's the American Way. So, has anyone read "Responsible Men" by Edward Schwarzschild? He's from Albany and his first novel is picking up some pretty high praise. If you read it, chime in. If not, I plan on reading it and I'll let you know what i think. It's the new Sunday Literary Corner at DIA. What do you think, is Edward Schwarzschild a pen name?

Support Our Troops?

Time for some people to take those yellow stickers off their cars. Apparently a Troy police officer who was serving in Iraq is having to sue to get all of the pay that they owed him when he was gone. $1,300. I'm not a supporter of the war in Iraq but the way that our government has been treating the people that serve in the military has been shameful. And apparently that makes it all the way down to the lowest levels of government.

Lt. John Finn

The wife of Lt. John Finn has written a piece that is in the Times Union today. I think its something everyone should read. I would like to say thanks to Maura McNulty-Finn for writing it. Here is just one paragraph:

"Every city and town in our country has neighborhoods where people live in poverty and despair. We expect our under-funded educational system to solve all kinds of social ills, and then blame the schools when they inevitably fail. The real problem is that we, as a nation, have failed to invest in what matters most: excellent schools for all children, good medical care for everybody, sufficient housing stock, a climate that is stable enough to support our progeny, jobs that pay enough to support a family. Instead, we have an annual military budget that is about equal to what the rest of the world spends combined."

Jets Stadium and Corporate Welfare

Cover article in the TU on the new Jets stadium that the people of New York will be paying for but apparently don't want. How about it? Want to pay higher taxes to make another one of George Bush's friends even richer? I don't.

Sidenote: It will be interesting to see if the Times Union does a similar article on the proposed Albany Convention Center which will also be funded by the tax payers and which also won't make any money. To the money quotes:

"What are we supposed to get out of this stadium?" asks Ten Eyck, "It sounds like a great boondoggle for Manhattan."
"This is a project that the local community does not want, the local city does not want, the voting population of the state does not want and would waste hundreds of millions of state funding," Canestrari said."

"This would never fly in the private sector," said Sen. Eric Schneiderman, D-Manhattan"


"The notion that this is a good economic investment is a real stretch of the imagination" (Andrew Zimbalist)


So there you have it. An extra $1,000,000,000 in your tax dollars to pay for a new stadium for a billionaire. Seems like if anyone should be spending an extra billion, it should be him, since he has it already and we don't.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Voting Machines

NY Democrats want to have one statewide voting machine. Republicans want to let the counties choose which kind they use. Lobbyists were also split on the decision. So what would happen if every county could choose its own type of voting machine?

"Using different machines from county to county "is what Florida was all about," said Barbara Bartoletti of the League of Women Voters. "

So we elect these people, they are given a directive to choose a voting machine that is best for New York and they punt and say let the counties choose because they have to please their lobbyists first, the people of New York second.

"Members of the panel insisted nothing was final. But Democrats who had urged their colleagues to zero in on one machine said the fight was nearly over. "

Let me go on record as saying this is pathetic and these people should be ashamed.

GOP Spitzer Attack of The Week

The NY GOP's attack of the week (AOTW) this week comes from Assemblyman Patrick Manning courtesy of the Times Union. Yeah, I've never heard of him either. But apparently any Assemblyman that wants can write an 8 page letter attacking Spitzer and "leak" it to the Times Union. And they will write an article on it. To the AOTW:

"Being a good governor is about more than reading e-mail and telling a staffer to go file a lawsuit."

Wow. Apparently Manning has been talking to GOP Chairman Minarik. And with razor sharp criticism like that, does that really come as a surprise? Oh, yeah, they also said Spitzer is "suing all the jobs out of new york". You can't get through an AOTW without that coming up.

Park South - BBL Backs Out

In an odd turn, BBL has pulled its bid to develop Park South. This comes a day after the common council committee voted 5-0 in favor of WinnCompanies over BBL on their recommendation for the project. Apparently BBL wasn't quite clear on what the project was supposed to be.

"It seems like the city's master plan calls for wholesale commercial development in the area, but the neighborhood isn't really ready for that kind of project," Peter Cornell, president of BBL Development Group.

So they are saying the neighborhood isn't ready to be replaced with a commerical development. That seems like something a neighborhood would say. But, here is the interesting part. Council member Conti:

"This is not a commercial development plan, if that is what (BBL) was working toward. It emphasizes residential development."

So we came really close to handing a project to a developer that didn't even have the basic concept of what the project was....and these were the LOCAL guys. Or, that is just what they are saying as cover and they decided to pull out since everyone so far had said WinnCompanies was the way to go.

In another odd twist, Planning Commissioner Lori Harris has said that the mayoral committee will be meeting to make their recommendation on a developer next week. Doesn't seem like there is much to discuss. Would you like to select Winn or Winn? Apparently they are qualified and everyone likes them. So then they would have to submit their actual plan. And the Common Council would vote on that. Or, could the Mayoral commmitte pull the plug on the whole project?

Soares' Record

WTEN is reporting that the number of criminal prosecutions are down 25% since Soares took office.

"According to records that News 10 has obtained from the State Office of Court Administration, the number of criminal indictments and the number of cases disposed of by the new D.A. have dropped by 25 percent."

Soares' response:

"I don't think people should infer anything from the numbers," Soares said told News 10. "What we have implemented in this office for the first time is a felony screening committee where we sit down twice a week and evaluate the cases to see if we should indict them or send them back for misdemeanor disposition."

So the 2008 campaign for DA has begun. Check out this sentence from WTEN.

"Law enforcement sources say these numbers will lead to even more crime and to less safety on the streets."

After reading this I feel 25% less safe. Don't you? I mean why bother using actual stats about crimes to judge the effectiveness of the DA's office when you can use facts about the number of indictments and then just have unnamed sources say this will lead to more crime. They tried to get a comment from Clyne for the article but he refused. He always was one not to stoop to the level of attack politics. Clyne 2008?

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Albany's 11th Ward

Great piece in the Metroland today. Hopefully they will do more of these. Simple question and answer bit for the two candidates in the 11th Ward. Incumbent Glen Casey and challenger Peter Caracappa.

Issues that seem to be shaping up that are addressed here:

  • Convention Center
  • Police Review Board
  • Charter Schools
  • Neighborhoods
  • Common council meeting attendence records (issue for incumbents)

Those seem like most of the big points. How about it? Any other things you think should be discussed by the candidates? What is going to win your vote?

This article is the type of information that will be archived on the new site. That way when it gets closer to the election, those in the 11th ward will have a place to find information about their candidates.

Sweeney and Delay - Made In America

It's good to have the facts about who is buying influence with your politicians, even when it's other politicians. If you want to see why Tom Delay gets a lot of support from his fellow Reps check out this list.

It's pretty impressive the amount of money he has given to his co-workers. Which keeps them in line and makes them reluctant to investigate his ethics abuses. However, not everyone gets paid. Like here in NY.

John Sweeney (NY-20) got $4,915

Pete King (NY 3) R $20

$20?! Did Delay see him in the hall and hand him the donation? Pete must've done something to piss off The Hammer because $20 seems like a bit of an insult when some of your fellow co-workers got $30,000. Anyway, that is how our government works. Corporations give to Delay, Delay bribes his co-workers, laws get passed in favor of corporations.

I don't see this last bit in the news much so I was surprised when it made it on to CNN. Check out what Delay is getting done with these bribes. Taking millions to insure that workers in the Northern Mariana islands don't have any rights. No big deal you say? Workers around the world have very little rights. True, true. But since the Marianas are a US province, you can make things there and slap a "Made in America" label on them. So Tommy Hilfiger can say your shirt was made in America. Stretching the truth a bit? You really should read this. And then if you ever see John Sweeney again, you should ask him about it.

Pesky Local Bloggers

An interesting story about how the local bloggers in Philadelphia rallied to support a candidate for office. And people are starting to notice. And, of course, the story is on another blog.

Albany School Budget

Next week we'll all be voting in the school budget. Take some time to read up a bit and see what you will be voting on (you will be voting, right?).

Note to Superintendent: It's a good policy to vote on the budget yourself.

I'm here to see the Governor

If you want to know who has the power...follow the lobbyists. And apparently the lobbyists have already begun to meet with Spitzer. 2006 is a long way off but they are playing the odds that Spitzer is going to win. And there was another poll yesterday that is probably making them pretty confident. So I guess that means that Pataki is just delaying his intentions to announce that he won't run again so that he can continue to pad that PAC account in Virginia? He claims he is waiting for the "appropriate time" to announce his intentions. I wonder what the dollar figure is that he has in mind?

Pataki Prayer Breakfast

Yesterday was Pataki Prayer Breakfast time. This year's event was a bit of a let down. Lots of empty seats. Are the people of New York losing faith? Some people appear to be:

"One Republican lawmaker who wasn’t there said he didn't want to be connected to last year's pay-to-pray scandal. "

I'm not sure I'm buying that. What's so wrong with a little pay-to-pray action? I think the real problem might have been the talent at this years event. The God Squad? Were Christian Bikers really the right choice?

But Pataki's people would not blame the talent.

"A spokesman for the governor says the numbers were down at the breakfast because they invited fewer people this year."

Note to staffers. Next year if you invite less people, put out less chairs. The empty ones don't look good for Pataki or God.

A Statue On Every Corner

I'm thinking Mayor Jennings just might be getting a little worried about the election. Perhaps those phone poll results were a bit disconcerting. I don't live in Arbor Hill so I can't say if this is really what the community wants in the way of neighborhood investment, but personally I think I would choose to spend the $565,000 in some other way. But that is why I'm not Mayor.

"This is not about politics. This is about paying attention to our community," said Jennings, who with Gov. George Pataki, announced $565,000 in grants that will change a polluted 1.5-acre former garage site at the corner of Henry Johnson Boulevard and Colonie Street into a park honoring World War I soldier Henry Johnson.

Who said anything about politics, Mayor? I thought we were all just here dedicating a new park and statue?

The really good news in this article was that two people just became homeowners in Arbor Hill.

"Brenda Parson, a 44-year-old mother of four and first-time homeowner, moved into her new two-story house eight days ago from the Hope VI apartments in North Albany.
"I had been approved to buy other homes in Colonie, but I wanted be in my own community," said Parson, a State Museum worker. "I felt like this is where I am supposed to be."

That is what is going to make a difference in Arbor Hill. And the Mayor was wisely there. Two trips to Arbor Hill in one day. Hmmm....

Park South

The common council committee on Park South voted unanimously for WinnCompanies of Boston to be the developer on the project. This is the company that also has been favored by members of the community and the head of the Park South neighborhood association. However, the decision is now up to the Urban Renewal Agency. From the TU:

"The Urban Renewal Agency, which includes Common Council President Helen Desfosses, City Comptroller Thomas Nitido, Corporation Counsel John Reilly, City Clerk John Marsolais and Community Development Agency Director Joseph Montana."

(I think I see a 3-2 split in the works)

Now, some of you might be thinking "hey, last week you said it was the Albany Local Development Corporation that was going to be making this decision...what's up?" That's a good question. On the city website it says the following:

"ALDC (Albany Local Development Corporation) is currently seeking proposals for a developer and development team for the implementation of the Park South Redevelopment Plan for the proposed Park South Urban Renewal Area. The Request for Proposals (RFP), issued on behalf of the City of Albany's urban renewal agency, the Albany Community Development Agency (ACDA), seeks an experienced developer and development team with the skills, resources, and commitment to successfully implement the Park South Redevelopment Plan."

So, are you clear now on who is making this decision? I'm not. But we now know what the Common Council's recommendation is so now it would seem that it would just be up to the Urban Renewal Agency....but wait.

"Development and Planning Commissioner Lori Harris told lawmakers that an internal committee composed of members of the administration of Mayor Jerry Jennings will also make its own recommendation next week to the Urban Renewal Agency. "

So we now have three agencies and one committee and now we are also going to get an "internal committee". Is it just me or is anyone else starting to catch the faint scent of inefficiency here? And it was only last week that Mayor Jennings said he had "no idea" who the developers were for this project. Better get cracking on that internal committee. We know its hard work being Mayor but you may be pulling some late nights catching up on your proposal reading, if you choose to do so.

Democracy In Albany - What, Why, How

As the audience of this blog has been growing rather quickly there have been some changes and not all have been positive. I'd like to lay out some rough groundrules that I'd like to try to have the participants follow. Soon all of this will change when I launch my new site which has built in tools to allow for community policing of the comments as well as participants being able to submit there own writing for inclusion on the front page, not just the lowly comments sections. And then...we can all comment on your ideas. Be warned....its not for the faint of heart but some of you might find it slightly addictive. To the rules.

The purpose of this blog is to try to provide information about politics in Albany and a forum for discussion about that information. As the author of the blog I am highly partisan but also a big fan of the truth. If you post a comment saying Governor Pataki is the best governor ever....please come prepared with some facts to back up your opinion. If not, prepare to be corrected.

I will sometimes use language that is not PG-13. As I like to say, if its good enough for a good christian like the vice president to use while discussing politics, its good enough for me. If that offends you, please consider sponsoring my blog for $4,000 a month, or read the Times Union. I will happily clean up my language for $4,000 a month.

Insulting and namecalling of other participants in the comments section is BAD. If someone is here discussing politics, they deserve some basic courtesy. And if it continues I may have to start using my god-like powers and delete some comments. Again, at the new site, this should take care of itself.

Thanks again to everyone for showing up. Play nice.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

One More Thing - Benzie Johnson Meetings

This was submitted to the new site in the works so I didn't see it right away.

"The public is cordially invited and encouraged to attend a meeting with Candidate Benzie Johnson at the Albany Public Library, Howe Branch, Schuyler and Broad Streets, Tuesday 5/10, 6-7:45pm; meeting is to discuss issues and answer questions facing the City of Albany, next meeting to be held at the Albany Public Library Delaware Branch, 485 Delaware Avenue, Tuesday 5/17, 6-7:45p.m. "

Note to other candidates - if you want me to post information e-mail me at democracyinalbany@gmail.com

One Last Thing - Park South

That didn't take long. Since I probalby won't be posting again before this meeting, here's the info:

"Ad Hoc Committee on Park South Redevelopment will meet on Wednesday, May 11 (immediately following the Councils 5:30pm caucus) to discuss the presentations made on May 5th by the two prospective developers for the Park South Redevelopment Plan, the Committee will consider making a recommendation in this regard. (City Court Room, 2nd floor, City Hall) "

This will be to discuss the choice between WinnCompanies and BBL as the developer. Of course the real choice won't be made by the Common Council but it might be interesting to attend and listen to the discussion. It might not be a bad idea for Mayor Jennings to attend since he claims he doesn't know who the developers might be. And this is a pretty big decision for the city (which he will be directly involved in making) so I'd feel better if he knew who the choices were.

HouseKeeping Update

Well. There sure of a lot of you showing up these days. Headed well north of 1,000 page views today. And we've got some new voices around. Apparently we've gained enough steam around here for some people to take notice and tell us how foolish we are to think we can change things. From a comment made today:

"I have been reading this site silently for a few months and with much amusement. Thanks to your link, I have read so-called Republican McLain for the 7th's site (what real Republican would support gay rights) and his comments here as as well. And I have heard all of the rants and excited calls for reform that emanate from this blog's commentariat. And I love it all.

The most ironic aspect is your use of my mentor's quote in your banner.

As the Devil's Advocate, I am here to state this: you are all woefully inadequate to the challenge of taking on "the machine," or whatever it is that you call it. Albany will never see real democratic reform. Ever. There will never be a multi-party system, and anyone who believes it is possible is blind.You will hear more from me later, as I see fit. But, regarding Election 2005, all of you good government types should be prepared for a major letdown."

I say we keep amusing these people with our antics and get ready for election 2005.

So, on that note I'm going to take the next 24 hours or so off from posting. Got some other things to take care of. The new site launch has also been delayed but it will definitely be up by June 1st just in time for the real campaigning to start.

You will of course hear more from me shortly(as I see fit). Until then, continue with the conversation and please post links to any good articles in the comments section.

Thanks for reading and writing.

DIA

Delay $$$ <-- Abramoff --> $$$ McNulty

So you're probably tired of hearing about how your upstate Representative John Sweeney is a good buddy of Tom Delay. And how he won't meet with his constituents to discuss social security. You're probably planning your own campaign for '06 to get him out of office. These Republicans have been in power too long and are corrupt and will take money from anyone and at least we have Representative Mike McNulty....

Not so fast. Apparently McNulty was also flying around the world on planes paid for by Jack Abramoff, the lobbyists that was flying Delay all around the world. Which of course, isn't legal. Seems McNulty flew off to Pakistan with Abramoff at the same time Abramoff was lobbying for Pakistan (that sounds good for America, right?). McNulty is using the "I'd wish I'd known" defense just like Delay.

Nothing More To Be Said

You've got to be compelled to read more of an article when you read this:

"There's nothing more that needed to be said; we're right and (Pataki) is wrong," said John McArdle, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, R-Brunswick.

But then you start reading about "dueling constitutional amendments" and it isn't very exciting. Actually somewhat confusing. Is this what reform looks like? What does Paterson think?

"I decided that with all the confusion, what might be the best thing would be to have public feedback on this as soon as possible," Paterson said.

Ok. Our elected officials are confused and they want us to figure it out? Am I going to start getting a per diem?

Celebrity Lobbying

So you want to build a big stadium but the public is not in favor of it and you will be using the public's money to build it. You've spent your tens of millions in lobbying. Still getting resistance. What to do? Bring in Joe Namath. Joe wants the stadium. And we wouldn't want to disappoint Joe would we?

"I'm here thanking all those who have the foresight on how positive this is," Namath said. "I guarantee, I'd be highly disappointed if this doesn't go through."

Joe guarantees Super Bowl victories and his disappointment.

I'll be disappointed when my taxes go up to pay for a new stadium for a super rich Republican (Jets owner Woody Johnson actually was a Bush Ranger. You don't get to be a Ranger unless you raise $200,000 for Bush). If Republicans are for the power of free markets and lower taxes, you'd think they would want to build their own stadiums and not use public tax dollars. I guess you get over being a hypocritical liar when you are really rich.

Perhaps Woody hasn't been studying the NY GOP's Why Am I A Republican information. I think he missed these two points:

"I believe in the spirit of free enterprise, in which capitalism is the best means to keep our economy running strong, both now and in the future. "

"I believe that while government can and should be the provider of some essential services, it should function with limited taxation, financial efficiency and the adoption of innovations to allow taxpayers to get the most for their hard-earned tax dollars. "

Perhaps "essential services" include public financing for professional sports teams?

Weld - Another Plot Twist

We know Bill Weld likes a good story. So perhaps he is just trying to keep this interesting. He has apparently told all the people at his investment firm that he has no plans to run for governor of New York. But then he says "never say never". Sounds like a title to a book.

If nothing else we can brush up on a little history. If Weld were to run and win he would only be the second two-state governor ever.

"Sam Houston is the only two-state governor in history, having served as governor of Tennessee from 1827 to 1829 and Texas from 1859 to 1861. "

I bet Sam Houston never said never.

Zoning, Campaign Donations...Laws Changed for Developers

So back on April 22nd they were having some discussion over in Schenectady over zoning. Apparently the community had protested when a developer had tried to get property rezoned so he could build 64 condo units. That was two years ago. And the city agreed that zoning law didn't allow for the condos (single family homes were required by zoning). So two years and several campaign donations to the Mayor later and the developer reapplies for 46 townhouse units saying he can't find anyone who wants a single family home AND thus he can't make enough money. And the city changed their mind and granted the request.

So the message is clear. If you are a real estate developer and want to rewrite the zoning laws so that you can make more money, make sure to donate early and often to your local elected officials. If you are a member of the community, all you can do is either try to out donate the developer (good luck) or get a lawyer and sue the city.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Big Money, Politics...Jail Time

Hillary Clinton's Finance Director for her 2000 campaign goes on trial this week. Apparently he decided not to report $400,000 as a fundraiser. The interesting part is that a guy who was a 3 time convicted felon supposedly gave $1.1 million for the affair. He was supposed to be buying some "goodwill" by donating the money. Of course this brings up the obvious questions?

Why would you need to cheat on your campaign filings if you can raise money like Hillary can?

AND

How is it that a person, whether they are a 3 time convicted felon or not, can give $1.1 million to support a fund raiser? Doesn't that seem to be a little much for one person to give? Are our campaign finance laws that much of a joke?

Psst...Its the Pizza

In case you missed it the old NYC vs. Albany restaurants issue has once again become a topic of political discourse. NYC Public Advocate Mark Green has said the reason Bloomberg won't run for Governor is that there are no good restaurants in Albany. Now, Albany Mayor Jennings is firing back and demanding an apology from Green (Green is likely to run against Jennings pal Andrew Cuomo for Attorney General). Green says he was kidding. Jennings says come have a meal in Albany. They are working out the details of when they will dine in Albany.

When will NYC politicians learn to just say they won't come to Albany because you can't get a slice of pizza as good as you can in NYC? Is anyone going to argue that point?

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Republicans in Albany

"There are still no Republicans in Albany except when Jerry Jennings takes George Pataki to lunch." William Kennedy

Tweed and Albany Politics

Local boy Kenneth Ackerman has written a book about Boss Tweed. The article includes some stories of the Albany machine and lots of good fun Tweed facts. Apparently a large construction project is what ended his reign. If I were an elected official thinking of embarking on my own large construction project, I might keep that in mind.

Pride of the Democrats

Fun editorial by the TU's board about "Albany Politics". Last week I said Jennings would be "bat shit crazy" to accept the Republican endorsement for Mayor. This week they say the same thing, it just takes them a bit longer. For some reason the editorial is titled "Pride of the Democrats".

Then then go on to take some shots at the Working Families Party saying "It requires skipping a step or three to see how the Working Families Party is making it any tougher for Mr. Jennings by supporting a field of candidates for Common Council seats". Aside from being some really awkward language, can anyone tell me why they think this statement either shows a somewhat narrow view of politics or is completely wrong? I'll take a quick shot.

1) If all of the Mayor's current allies on the Common Council are replaced, that isn't good for the Mayor.

2) I know you naysayers are saying "nay, that isn't what they meant. What they meant was the CC candidates won't affect the Mayor's chance at re-election". OK. But if every ward has a competitive race and the WFP candidates do a good job at getting out the vote in their wards (which they did for Soares), than who do you think those voters are going to support for Mayor when they are out voting for their WFP endorsed common council (or treasurer) candidate? Now can you see how that might impact the Mayor's re-election efforts?

And after that sharp insight the TU proclaims Jennings a "very heavy favorite". Got any evidence for that or are you just relying on your gut? Remember when you didn't give Soares a chance? Go back and read some of those articles. Do you really think a Soares supporter is going to vote for Jennings after the way Jennings and Clyne and Barnette acted during that election? Really? Mike McNulty predicted "record margins" of victory for Jerry Jennings in this election. Perhaps you've been talking to him, however, he doesn't live here, so you might want to reconsider that. I'd also be interested in knowing how much of the editorial staff of the TU lives within a 20 minute walk of Washington Park. Lots of voters in that area. Ever talk to them? I do. The only ones that support Jennings are rich and voted for Bush. In the end, I think it is good for the TU to not give Goodbee or Johnson (or any others yet to come forward) a chance. It will keep more of those Jennings supporters home on primary day since they think its a lock.

Votes for Sale Pt 14

Interesting article in the TU today on what politicians are spending campaign funds on. Apparently they are effectively no rules on that. So, you could give Joe Bruno money for his "campaign" and he could then go give $16,225 to Kingston Buick. When he files his campaign finance information he doesn't even need to say why he spent the money. Illegal? Not in New York. Is it any wonder its hard to unseat incumbents with this sort of legalized bribery going on?

Another article on how politicans can put their relatives on the payroll (surprisingly this one doesn't mention the Bruno family as an example). Instead its John Sweeney putting Mrs. Sweeney on the payroll even though Sweeney's spokeswoman said Mrs. Sweeney has "no previous fund-raising experience and no other clients".

With all this being legal its pretty pathetic that politicians ever get convicted of anything.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Problem Solving

A letter to the editor in today's Times Union.

"On Mayor Jerry Jennings' talk show on WROW (590 AM) a woman called and commented on the terrible condition of Albany's streets and roadways, asking why the city couldn't fix the roads. The mayor's response was this, "If I fix the roads, then you'll complain about the speeders."

"Mr. Mayor, here's a suggestion. Fix the roads and stop the speeders."

Friday, May 06, 2005

Mayor Jennings WROW

Now for those that thought the last post signalled a shifting of opinion on my part as far as Mayor Jennings was concerned....sorry.

I've commented extensively how I don't think public officials should lie to the people. I'm not budging on that one. And today the Mayor did some nice back pedaling to cover up a lie from two weeks ago. The old "what I meant" approach when explaining how he holds people accountable for their actions by saying there were "out of work" police officers. Apparently what he meant is that some officers were reassigned to desk duty. Funny, when I'm "out of work" I don't get paid. Perhaps I'm in the wrong line of work.

And then, minutes later, he came up with a whopper of a lie. It went something like this (not actual transcription but pretty accurate).

Caller: I think the common council is doing a great job with Park South. I went to the meeting they were great. Lori Harris is great. Everyone is great.

Me: skeptical of the validity of this caller.

Mayor: Lori is great. Everyone is great.

Caller: But I'd really like to say that I think Winn should get the contract. They were great and really understood that it wasn't about replacing Park South but improving it.

Mayor: Well, i know there are two developers looking to get the project....I don't know who they are....

Really?

When you held your recent fundraiser at Angelo's 666 Prime on Broadway, that never came up? You know, the building that was built on the land that was given to BBL by the city for free? No one mentioned that BBL might be looking for that Park South business? Perhaps than you didn't order the Angel Hair Led Duke Pomodoro while you were there. That would be Led Duke as in BBLe Duke.

When you accept contributions from the owners of BBL, do they not mention these things?

So let's say you aren't lying, Mr. Mayor. And let's say I live in Park South where eminent domain could be used to take my house from me if the developer wants to. And let's say that developer is going to be selected shortly. And the developer is being selected by the Albany Local Development Corporation. As a member of the ALDC and the mayor of my city, should I be troubled that you have no idea who the developer (that might be taking my house from me against my will) is? Don't you agree that is troubling? Or, perhaps, more likely you have had the Angel Hair Led Duke and you were just lying. I hear it's very good.

Credit where credit is due

A little live blogging here. Mayor Jennings just took a call from Mike who had called two weeks ago. Mike said he got cut off the last time and wanted to follow up. The Mayor talked to him, didn't cut him off and answered some tough questions. Some of the answers were weak cover for his statements in the past (I'll get to that later), but he did the right thing by letting Mike talk. So for all of those that say I don't give the Mayor credit, here it is.

A little earlier the Mayor's old standby Ira said he thought the Albany PD was the mayor's Achilles’ heel and that if he lost the election that would be why. Didn't see that one coming from Ira. Lots of suprises today.

And once again we owe Mike some thanks for asking the tough questions. And for making it clear that the people of Albany don't have a problem with the individuals of the Albany Police Department in general, its the leadership that is the issue. Like Ira also pointed out.

Transformational Mayor

When William Kennedy speaks, DIA listens. The guy helped keep Dr. Hunter Thompson on track. He can do no wrong. To the money quote:

"He transformed Albany, this very old city that had resisted change to the point that it was crumbling in its arrested development"

"Almost overnight he achieved the impossible: the dismantling of the longest-running political apparatus in American history, thereby giving the city its first chance in a century to present itself to public scrutiny with pride and intelligence," Kennedy said.

Ah. Remember the good old days with Mayor Whalen. The city could present itself to public scrutiny with pride and intelligence?

And the guy's dog's name was Finn McCool.

Lebrun - I can only apologize so much

So remember when the Albany police chief lied to cover up an illegal investigation? And remember when Fred Lebrun wrote a column apologizing for the chief? Yeah? Well you can put those warm and fuzzy thoughts out of your head. Fred ain't your bitch. And if you fuck up, he's not just going to go around apologizing for you (note: Fred's apology offer is still valid for police chiefs, mayors, editors, rich guys that want to go hunting...just not the rest of you). But he still might tell you to apologize if you've done something wrong. Yeah, he's on the apology war path today. And those board members at SPAC better apologize. And in case you are wondering about the man's principles:

"I feel guilty about it. I wish it were not true and that I could be as principled as my colleague, but what is, is."

It takes a big man to admit he has no principles. What is, is.

When Manikins Attack

ALBANY - In a bold move by the city of Albany, 57 Manikins were arrested yesterday and the citizens of Albany had their first good night of sleep in years. The Manikin issue has been a blight on Central Avenue for longer than most can remember. Apparently they have even taking to wearing clothes to appear human. To the TU, interviewing the new Albany Director of buildings and codes:

"We found dressed manikins out on the sidewalk"

Dressed manikins. Do you know what that does to the children? Some were even wearing those flashy tight jeans that show off all their artfully crafted curves.

The citizens of Central Avenue rejoiced:

"It's about time. I had trouble walking down the street. How many times do I have to ask them to stop staring at me before they listen?"

"Whores. They looked like whores out there in their fancy clothes with those perky tits. Burn in hell you whores. "

However, there were some naysayers. One city resident and local shop owner wasn't so sure this was the bright beacon of hope it appeared to be:

"Now that the city's done this, they have to follow-up. You can't do something like this once every 30 years."

No, you can't.

PS. I believe this is the first bit of local news to make the front page headline since this blog originated. Could that be because its an election year and Mayor Jennings needs a little help? Call me a cynic. Apparently this is much more significant than when a 14 year old girl gets hospitalized after being punched in the face by a police officer.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Accountability In Albany

Cover story in the Metroland about accountability with the Albany Mayor and Police Department. They even brought in an expert to review the info. His comments:

“If you have recurring problems, it’s because there’s a lack of supervision or a lack of good policies, or [the department doesn’t] learn from bad incidents.”

“Ultimately, if you have a mayor who doesn’t care, no particular structure is going to work.”

Now he wasn't specifically blaming Mayor Jennings with this quote, just saying that in general you need a Mayor that cares, or things won't work.

And then it's on to the "things not working" part of the article. They have created a list of all of the incidents in the last 18 months. It's like a handy little take out menu for any of you thinking about calling the Mayor's radio show tomorrow to ask him about this. However, my bet is there won't be any calls tomorrow. Probably just interview the Tulip Queen since it is Tulip Fest.

This Is Reform?

More reform fun:

"The danger here is if people are going to take principled positions only when it increases their power," said Assemblyman Richard L. Brodsky, a Westchester Democrat.

Bruno and Reform - Been there, done that

Hoping the meek beginnings of reform in NY were a sign of better things to come? Might want to listen to Mr. Bruno on that subject:

"We have reformed the entire process. We are in continuous review. ... We're on it. The process worked this year."

New York Voting Machines

From the NY Times:

"In the state capital, 'nothing gets done until everything gets done,' said Blair Horner, legislative director of the New York Public Interest Research Group. 'All issues have to be on the table and negotiated at the same time. It's madness.'"

Check out the article. Apparently the reason we can't get new voting machines for the whole state is because one Assemblyman (Kosinki) wants a raise. How very selfless of him.

Update: Another helpful reader doing some fact checking. Now I know.

"Kosinki is not an Assemblyman, he is a Republican Commissioner of the State Board of Elections. "

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

NYS Leadership and Accountability Conference

Today was the first day of the 14th Annual New York State Leadership and Accountability Conference in Albany. Up first on the agenda:

9:00 a.m. Welcome

9:30 a.m. Can Government Be Improved… And Is it Worth the Bother?

Apparently the answer was "not worth the bother" so they all went home. Here is what they were planning to talk about at the rest of this ambitiously named conference.

14 years in and they are just asking that question now?