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September 9, 2006


Email for March, 2006

Throwing Our Kids In The Dump, March 12

Email For January and February 2006

Feb. 26 Revitalization Out Of Spilled Blood
Cavaleri's Is No Longer There Feb 12
More Than Zoning Feb 6
A Long Rumination On The City Of Albany Landfill Jan. 30
The Mystery Of Holland Avenue Jan 22
Shivering For Dr. King Jan 17
Where's The Art? Jan 15
Trying To Cow The Next Governor Jan 12
Michael McNulty And Impeachment Jan, 7
A Great Day For Terrorism Jan. 1, 2006

Email for For March to August, 2006

Throwing Our Kids In The Dump, March 12

Hi Dan,

I was unaware of the charter school being built on top the old dump before I read your article. I too, am opposed to charter schools. (my DIA post this morning explains my feelings)

I presented testimony at the DEC's Brownfields hearing last Wednesday and there was one person whose family has been affected by toxic vapor intrusion into her home who also presented testimony.

She is one of the fortunate few who has had a vapor barrier in her home by the EPA. She claimed the barrier greatly reduced the presence of toxics in her home, which prior to its installation had been of a very high very concentration

The reason I mention this is that I wondered if such a barrier was installed prior to the pouring of the concrete slab foundation of the new school. It seems from you article that one wasn't required.

I think , now remember I detest these schools and the concept promoting them, that it would be far cheaper for Albany's tax payers to insist one be installed while the school is being constructed, rather than after facing numerous lawsuits from outraged parents and losing.

Just my thoughts.

Here's a link to a short article about the woman I mentioned above:

Keep up your good work. I don't know if you read DIA's blog. He's refrenced your story in his posting yesterday,"Charter Schools" and also provided a link to it.

Jim Travers


As far as I could see, Jim, there was nothing resembling a barrier. Just the usual foam slabs, which you can see in the picture. It should be interesting to watch how they cover up the health problems among the unfortunate kids lured into that facility.


Well, I said I was getting tired of all those positive emails. Here's a detailed response from Tom Carroll, which arrived March 20:


A few points in response to the charming article slamming the daylights out of me.

1. The article alleges that "In this position, he [that's me!] can collect a large portion of the taxpayer's money for himself and his organizations." This is simply untrue. The Brighter Choice Foundation, the Foundation for Education Reform and Accountability, and I receive no money from the taxpayers. I personally do not receive a dime from any charter school, not even from the two Brighter Choice Charter Schools, which I chair. The various public charter schools, under state law, do receive public funding, but I receive absolutely no compensation from any charter school or any taxpayer-funded source.

2. The references to "corporate" are meant to imply further that I or the entities I head are for-profit. These entities, however, are nonprofit organizations. Although the New Covenant Charter School is managed by the for-profit Edison Schools, I have absolutely nothing to do with that particular school. All the other charter schools in Albany are purely nonprofit, just like any public school, and have no outside management contracts with any one.

3. I never said several of the things that Mr. Van Riper alleges I said at my presentation before CANA. If he tape recorded the public presentation, I challenge him to produce the tape unedited and back up his outrageous claims. For example, I never said of democracy that "it's very overrated." I did say, which happens to be true, that the charter school approval process is subject ultimately to elected officials, just not the local school board. The SUNY trustees are appointed by the elected governor. The Board of Regents are elected by a joint session of the state legislature (which means numerically, by the Assembly Democrats). So, the claim of "taxation without representation" falls apart quickly.

4. I do not detest unions. My own mother was a school union official -- and no, she hasn't disowned me. I did indicate during my presentation that the existing Albany teachers union contract prohibits a longer school day and a longer school year, as well as limiting the ability of school leaders to get rid of poorly performing teachers. Bill Ritchie, the head of the Albany teachers union, attended my presentation at CANA and did not dispute these facts.

5. Yes, I have moved out of Albany and my children are educated in the 'burbs. So what? I don't recall the outcry when Lonnie Palmer, the former Albany Schools Superintendent, lived in Guilderland. Nor do I recall the outcry when Scott Wexler, the President of the Albany School Board moved his kids out of the Albany district and into Bethlehem's schools. Or when School Board member Paul Webster switched his children to the Niskayuna district. As an aside, no one at the CANA meeting at which I spoke sent their children to any district schools in the South End or Arbor HIll. Many of the smug charter critics had their children safely in School 19 or ASH, all the while complaining that we were creating additional options for parents whose children were not allowed to attend the same schools as their children. The hypocrisy was rich.

6. The suggestion that the "corporate media", the Hearst-owned Times Union, is in bed with us is comical. You even go so far as to say "they absolutely adore 'charter' schools." Have you been reading their editorials or Fred LeBrun's columns lately? They are doing more than their fare share to attack charters, so not sure why you think they are our toadies.

7. The most offensive line in the entire piece is the following line: "Poor black people are much easier to exploit than white people of any economic variety." It would be hard to come up with a more racist line. I assume the writer fancies himself a progressive or liberal, and I cannot fathom that he wrote a line that would have made the old George Wallace or Orville Faubus proud. We are creating more educational options for families in Albany. We are not forcing anyone to attend. That in a district that is 70 percent minority, many of the students attending charter schools are African American or Latino is hardly surprising. It has nothing to do with exploitation, and everything to do with parents making individual judgments of what is best for their children.

8. The writer apparently dislikes Mayor Jennings almost as much as he despises me. This hatred runs amok, however, when he starts to make stuff up. For example, the writer, after saying that the Mayor appoints the board of the Albany City IDA, states: "And the IDA has been giving a lot of loans to Carroll and Brighter Choice, basically for anything they want." I have never received an IDA loan, nor has Brighter Choice Charter School, nor has any of the charter schools authorized after Brighter Choice. Nor do we have any applications pending at the IDA. Again, the writer just made it up. Unbelievable.

Reasonable men and women can differ over charter schools, how they are funded, and how they are approved.

The personal attack on me and charter schools, however, was a bit over the top. I don't mind being slammed, but at least spend some time on basic fact checking.

Tom Carroll


Nice to hear from you, Tom! OK folks, let's see what points in the article that Mr. Carroll DOES NOT dispute:

1) His new "charter" school behind my house is built on unstable land that is 40 per cent water, and may contain toxic substances for which there was no adequate testing. The land kills trees. it is inherently unhealthy and should not be built upon.

2) That same building full of children may collect explosive methane and explode. It's happened before on other parts of that former dump. It could happen again.

3) His "charter" schools have lower test scores than even the poorest performing public schools.

4) "Charter" schools have advantages over public schools, such as the right to refuse students and the right to locate or dissolve at will, even though they receive public funding.

5) Tom Carroll believes that corporate decisions done in secret are more efficient and better than community decision making. The public has no right to have a say.

6) He believes that the State has a right to impose unfunded mandates on local communities. (Actually, he confirms that in his email.)

7) He believes that taxpayers should continue to fund advertising for his operation.

8) He would NEVER locate a "charter" school in his own municipality of Clifton Park.

I've noticed that corporate guys like Carroll never take responsibility for what they say. They always seem to play The Shadow Game, choosing their words carefully so as to be able to deny everything. Meanwhile, Carroll shifts the blame to others, never to himself. Whatever happened to personal responsibility? It must have gone out of style with the election of Ronald Reagan.

And by the way, I forgot to mention in the article that Carroll and his people are less than forthcoming about their own finances. If Carroll is not pocketing our tax dollars, somebody in the "charter school movement" is getting rich at our expense.

Email For January and February 2006

I am amazed that all of the email has been positive. I assumed that all kinds of people would be flaming me and threatening to slash the tires on my truck. I guess all the offended people are keeping quiet. It's the quiet ones you gotta watch out for...

Feb. 26 Revitalization Out Of Spilled Blood


Looks like you've been coalescing some of the thoughts that have been shared at the CANA Codes Committee meeting. Good for you.

Reading your blog is like a contemporary William Kennedy: replete with the cast of characters.

For your consideration: You state "consider Albany not so much as a place to live but as a place to tear down & abandon". I see it somewhat differently.

The city has a revenue requirement to function. It's like a Monopoly board. The city put its hotels downtown ( a/k/a Park Place) and in the Pine Bush ( a/k/a Pennsylvania Ave). Places like West Hill ( a/k/a Baltic Ave) and Arbor Hill (a/k/a Oriental Ave) are seen as not generating the funds needed for the city to meet its revenue requirement. And a tidy revenue requirement it is.

Now, I personally understand the motivation for the city to want to achieve and keep a good bond rating. Its necessary. But not sufficient. But good governance is a far cry from a good bond rating. And that would seem to be the unlying issue that has been kindling the activists for decades. And rightly so. After all, it's really all about the neighborhoods. They say that Pittsburgh is a city of neighborhoods. That is something that Albany needs to strive for.

As far as the creation of the landlords of last resort, they are a necessary reality in the post Clinton Administration housing policies, generated in the infinite wisdom by A. Cuomo & R. Lazio and blessed by N. Gingrich. By precluding the public sector to take on an essential responsibility and offload it to the private sector is an abdication which creates a travesty. Most landlords cannot deal with that criminal element. Their housing is held hostage, and often takes a royal beating. This creates an uncertainty in large swaths of cities across the country. Disinvestment follows.

"Urban renewal" will be held hostage until this issue is rectified.

Best regards,
Andrew Harvey


I can't believe all this positive feedback. Now I'm being compared to William Kennedy. Yikes!

The thing about these projects, Andrew, is that they're like unprotected sex. It makes you feel great about yourself for a little while and gives you plenty to brag about, but then the syphilitic baby arrives.

Do we build and maintain a strong urban foundation for the people and the neighborhoods, or do we engage in constant rapid expansion? There's a great temptation by the politicians to rapidly expand because of the sudden payoff, both in the public pot and their own pockets. But politicians are temporary, they need upfront results. Long term projects do nothing for their reputations and egos, not to mention their bank accounts. The next guy in office gets all the credit.

These hotels, the convention center, and lets not forget these idiotic corporate drugstores such as the proposed Walgreens on Holland Avenue, fit the constant expansion scenario. All of them, including the convention center, have a projected life of 15 - 20 years. The assumption is that the landscape is temporary, and when everything expires in 20 years you tear it all down and start over. Who wants to live in a temporary landscape?

And sooner or later the bill comes due. This January, out in the suburb of Colonie, town Supervisor Mary Brizzell, in her annual report, warned that the era of expansion for Colonie is over, and that they would have to start adopting urbanism. (Good luck with that.) Furthermore, the town could no longer maintain its roads, even with the massive state subsidies that are denied to Albany! Therefore, she said, they would begin to adopt a new roadway tax.

So, knowing that the suburban plan of constant expansion is an eventual economic loser, perhaps someone can explain to me why we have let Albany politicians suburbanize OUR landscape.

Be sure to read the Metroland article on how convention centers are proven losers. I was reading it last night online (via DIA.) It reminded me how Albany's politicians have such a cowtown mindset:


You out did yourself in the Feb. 26th Albany webblog article about the Revitalization of the lower Morton Ave, Albany. I find your writings to be so griping and honest. You give a clear version of the subject matter. I like the portrayal of the Mayor of the low-income, AHA Exec. Director Steve Longo.

I shared your article with my friend Brian of the TU I know he will enjoy the read. You just keep Blogging dvr and I will continue to be amused.

Luci McKnight, Albany County Legislator


Thanks again, Luci. Ha ha, maybe the Hearst Rag will print it.


Great article about the South End and Dorothy Royal and neglect and the completely confused ideas about security that are foisted on us daily. I know that by far the most dangerous thing most people do every day is get in their cars and yet that is never questioned. All that promoting of irrational fear sells ads. You are an excellent writer!

I also especially loved the article about Cavaleri’s – but it’s bittersweet.

Louise McNeilly
Charter member of the Dan Van Riper fan club


Wow! I've got a groupie! I wish I'd known back when I was a teenager that running my mouth attracts women.

But you've got a good point about Fear. We seem to be living in a society where Fear is harnessed and controlled as a motivating force. It is almost a commodity, wielded by governments, corporate media and other corporations. This is a subject that hides in the shadows, one that people... dare I say it?... are afraid to talk about.


Thanks for the enlightening discussion of issues in your most recent posting. I do think there are plenty of Albanians who want to move this city forward but don't quite know how to unify their efforts. It's way too easy to get discouraged. Increased violence and the increase in the number of kids from impoverished families in the public schools and increased crime in the city overall are pretty good barometers for the health of this city.

I agree with you about the attitude of the City of Albany as a "rotting carcass" that people feed off of for their personal gain and give back little in return. We need police officers and teachers who live in the city for starters. They will have more at stake in making this City a decent place to live. We also need a Council that is not beholden to a politician bent on rewarding big donors from the suburbs. It is too bad we have to wait four years to make more changes in leadership.

I will pass the word about your blog on to others. People need to hear repeatedly that there's a movement underway to make Albany a better place to live especially since the press does everything in its power to make you think otherwise.

Cathy Fahey, Common Council, 7th Ward


Thanks, Cathy, for promoting the blog. It may be long winded, but I try to keep it relevant and entertaining.

My goodness, what a radical notion, especially from an elected official! Cops and teachers ought to be part of the community, not to mention city employees and appointed officials. There is a direct connection between the anti-Albany suburban attitude and the decay of our neighborhoods. If you put people who hate Albany in charge of Albany, is it any wonder everything has gone to hell?

I guess that most of the easily discouraged have left the City. Some of us are too stubborn to give up, and we are fed up. I see two avenues where people work together. One is the Democratic Party, through which true representatives such as yourself are elected to office. The other is the Neighborhood Association movement, which has actually begun to direct policy.

But you are right, we all need to open new channels and bring people together. So many people are sitting around isolated and sullen, unaware that they can and must take charge of the fate of the City. And everyone is fed up with this old boy corruption. It seems that you are not the only person who took note of the "rotting carcass" analogy. I guess that struck a chord.



I've been checking your blog nearly every day, anxiously awaiting your next posting, and today - there it was. Definitely worth the wait!

Your story is excellent. I believe it's your best, so far. I especially enjoyed the line you chose to describe the mindset of many today: "It is the attitude that the City of Albany is a rotting carcass, and the purpose of holding positions of power is to eat as much of that carcass before it stinks too much to handle." .

I am not ass-kissing here. It's truly how I feel.

I spent most of my time in Albany trying to improve the conditions of those seemingly destined to attempt survival in it's poorest neighborhoods. Long ago, in the late seventies or maybe it was 1980, a met a cop named Al Russo (at CANA's first "Love Thy Neighborhood' conference) who really cared about the kids living in squalor. He's retired now, and I haven't known another so dedicated to trying to improve their lot.

I knew Dorothy Royal and I liked her. I sadly shook my head in disgust when I read of her murder.

I also helped homeowner Grace Pirozzi, now long deceased, get grants to help her rehab her building on Morton Ave. Her house was, is, the last on the south side next to the alley behind the now rehabbed former plumbing supply building on the corner of Elizabeth St. She would cry to me, why couldn't I do anything about the 'bad' kids who were using drugs in the alley and even on her porch. That was nearly twenty years ago.

It's a shame that things haven't improved, and that, in fact they have indeed have gotten worse.

Maybe a few of the new council's members will carry the day and actually do something
to clean up lower Morton & Elizabeth St's crime scene. At least I hope they'll try.

Oh, one last thing, the ghouls at the top of Albany's food chain survive on carrion, and have for all my memory. Hopefully, the new council has a large supply of wooden stakes.

Again, my compliments.

-Jim Travers Feb. 27


Thanks Jim, I'm glad the piece struck home for you. I hope it strikes home for our City officials. A lot of people have suffered because of what the City has done to the South End, most of them forgotten. Couldn't all these politicians have collected their tidy nest eggs without hurting innocent people?

As for posting frequently, you see what kind of stuff I've been writing. These articles take time to write. Truth to tell, I had no idea that I would be writing such long articles, but that's how it turns out. I keep hoping to make some short posts like a normal blog, and I probably will soon. but keep expecting long stuff. Once I get going it's hard to stop.

I'll keep my rear end sponged off, just in case.

...And by the way, Jim is the guy who has led the fight to stop Jerry Jennings' scheme to locate a giant dump down in Coeymans, which I mentioned in the January 30 posting about the Albany "Landfill."

Your insight is very helpful.

I admit I don't have all the answers but it helps to get the issues out there to be discussed as a community. I would like to be part of the discussion if not part of the solution.

I believe strongly that the limited public housing should go to those individual and families who are ready to accept change in their lives and willing to meet community living standards. In the 90's when public housing raised its standards, and those that couldn't or wouldn't conform were forced to leave and migrate to forgotten neighborhoods that demanded little in the way of standards, like lower Morton Avenue or Orange St. This will happen again when we rehab the lower Morton Ave properties unless we face the issue head on as a community.

Steve Longo, Albany Housing Authority Feb. 26


Steve, I meant it when I said that you were doing a tremendous job. But your direct responsibility ends where the housing program ends. Albany Housing did not create Lower Morton, but the way the City government handles the people jettisoned from the housing is absolutely criminal.

We need to have an open discussion about this issue. Where do "these people" go? Show them the City line and say don't come back? Throw 'em all in jail? Round them up and gas them? Harvest their organs? Build a refugee camp in Coeymans on the site of the proposed dump? How about we declare Buckingham Pond a dumping ground and turn that neighborhood into the new lower Morton?

Have you got a better idea? Does anybody?

The only real long term solution is to make the neighborhoods economically diverse. There will always be people who are not pillars of society. Such people have role to play in a healthy neighborhood, and a healthy neighborhood, with some help, can carry such people.

For example, on my street is a guy who is a chronic alcoholic. His behavior and antics keep us all talking, and he mooches off of everybody. But he ends up doing odd jobs in the neighborhood, such as mowing lawns, raking leaves, shoveling snow, and various short labor intensive jobs. We all put up with him, and in his own way he contributes.

But if we had, say, ten guys like him on my street, then the street would be unlivable. This is the difference. Lower Morton, Orange Street and Park South are dominated by a mixture of guys like this and criminals. It is the deliberate act of concentration that is causing problems.

The City of Albany can't solve all the social problems. But the City can build neighborhoods that do not create new problems, and can handle a small number of problems.

Excellent Excellent piece. I applaud you!

-Linda Maria McGrail Feb. 26

Cavaleri's Is No Longer There Feb 12


Theresa Renzi, March 5


Such memories you bring back!

Back in 1972, when Bob Lamar was pastor and Helen Henshaw was the organist and choir director at First Presbyterian Church at the corner of State & Willett Streets, I auditioned for the First Pres choir and was actually accepted as an alto "section leader." I was new to the area, and Helen alerted me to the fact that there was a coffeehouse in the church basement and suggested that I try singing at some of their Open Mike nights. Her suggestion was life-changing.

While initiated as a ministry of the Focus Churches, the Eighth Step was far more than an alcohol-free drop-in spot. True, it had its share of - shall we say, Interesting People (Anyone recall Michael the Archangel?); it also was home to musical learners, bridge players, and entertainment wannabe's on weeknight Open Stages. Early managers included Tim White and Denny Mike, and then Jake Bryan, who built the weekend professional performer list into a veritable Who's Who of the best, and best-known, folk musicians (Pete Seeger, Michael Cooney, and Gordon Bok, to name a few) who were touring the Northeast from the 1970's into the 1980's. In those early days I watched and listened in dropped-jaw amazement that "Everyone" seemed to know "All the Words," and actually sang along enthusiastically with old English ballads and contemporary folk tunes alike. Who were all these people? They were students, state workers, housewives, tradesmen (We weren't PC in those days), doctors, lawyers, mechanics, teachers - - people looking for good music and good companionship. Among the friends made during those days were volunteers who helped keep the Clearwater afloat, the Fox Hollow Folk Festival humming, and the Pickin'n'Singing Gatherin' - well - pickin' & singin'.

And those who were looking for good Italian food found it right around the block, on the Central Avenue bus line, at Calsolaro's. Many 'Step regulars were also Calsolaro regulars, One of the most-regular of those regulars was Eighth Step manager Jake Bryan, who often engaged Dominick's father Joe in long and spirited conversations about real, good, Italian Cooking. Jake took me to Calsolaro's on our first date, and introduced me to Joe, and to Mama, and Calsolaro's was where we celebrated many family occasions from the earliest days when our daughter Rebecca munched on the Italian bread crusts while waiting for her own bowl of pasta. And even though our favorite booth was the one where we had our first dinner there, we always tried to occupy booths on alternate aisles of the Back Room so we weren't showing favoritism to either Nick or George, whose service was as impeccable as their crisp white shirts and jet black jackets.

Now, some 30+ years later, Fox Hollow is gone, as is the physical presence of the Eighth Step at First Pres. But many of the Fox Hollow and Clearwater volunteers continue to gift the Old Songs Festival and events with their dedicated energies. Jake's passion for cooking has developed into Chez Jake, the catering service he operates as a service for Not-for-Profit Fundraisers. "The Pickin'n'Singin' Gatherin continues to bond together a host of newcomers, as well as fostering service and leadership in a younger generation of the still-active early families, Pete and Dotty Spoor, both now deceased, would have been delighted to witness the election of their son Phil's wife, Lori, to the Board, as were Jake and I when we realized that Becca's election to the Board made her the first recorded Second-Generation Board member, since I was a Board member while I was carrying her in 1975!"

It may be true that the era of the small, family-owned Italian restaurants is winding down here in Albany. But as long as there are those among us who cherish memories of the food, and the atmosphere, and the companionship, and the spirit, of Calsolaro's and Cavaleri's, they will never be completely gone.

Mary Bryan
Current PSG Member, Past Board Member
Fox Hollow and Old Songs Volunteer
Former Eighth Step Board Member and
Weeknight Scheduler

More Than Zoning Feb 6

Loved your post. We are all asking the same thing -- what's in it for these councilpersons who voted for the zoning change?

I was at the council meeting when the vote went down. Over 20 people spoke against the project, and the only supporters were the developer and his lawyer. Not one of the council members who voted to support the zoning voiced any reason for their vote. It was if we all weren't there and didn't matter. It was my first close-up view of Albany politics in action, and I was horrified.

No wonder this city is has problems. We need a change.

Gary Winslow, Feb 6

A Long Rumination On The City Of Albany Landfill Jan. 30

Nobody wrote! Oh well. I know The Mayor read this one. I could tell by the way he looked at me at the February CANA meeting. Not to mention the way he specifically ran down several points in the article during the question period.

The Mystery Of Holland Avenue Jan 22


I'd love to see a copy of that letter if that's possible...

Miriam Axel-Lute
News Editor

Indeed! After a series of emails re-routed by Metroland's antiquated email system, and after the Feb 6 posting about the highway commercial spot rezoning, Miriam picked up the hot documents at my house and used them in a Metroland article. which doesn't seem to have found its way online. Oh well. Actually, credit goes to Louise McNeilly who took the time to FOIL the City for the documents.

HI Daniel:

I live near Washington park and I’m always up for reading more about our fair city. Do you have an RSS feed to go with your blog? Have you considered creating one?

Harry Peltz

Yes! Yes! I am busy nagging the Tech Valley firm that maintains this site, Jackson's Computer Services. She is dragging her Tech Valley feet on this. I even tracked down an RSS feed program that she can use. Does she install it? Noooo....

Hell, I'm lucky she lets me sleep in the house. It's cold out there.

Shivering For Dr. King Jan 17

OK Dan! Well you put it out there now....I will need you to take my overflow calls for scheduling all of these new dates since your website blog on MLK, Jr. Day. OK who is first and a report should be published on your blog as a follow-up of this historic dateless announcement.

Lucille McKnight, Albany County Legislator

Well, Luci, this IS the world wide web. Maybe you'll meet a nice yak herder from Khazakstan.

Where's The Art? Jan 15

thanks dan!
i love it. especially your openness & honesty about yourself.
thanks for being you
there is Pierre's blog address:

Nicole Peyrafitte

Folks, if you ever get a chance to hear Nicole sing, I guarantee that you will not forget her. The address is for her husband (sorry guys!) Pierre Joris, who has a wide ranging eclectic blog, including Nicole's singing engagements.

Trying To Cow The Next Governor Jan 12

Nah, no letters. But, I have noticed that corporate aparatchik Liz Benjamin hasn't written any more of this sort of nonsense about Elliot Spitzer.

Michael McNulty And Impeachment Jan, 7

Recently got a forward of your blog about McNulty. I don't usually read them, but yours was good. Intelligent, funny and sound politics in my mind, as I have mixed feelings about McNulty's stands on various issues. Thanks for the information.

Kathy Ray

Well, Kathy, I hope you keep reading mine! I promise not to blog about what I had for breakfast.

i really think th e blog is great because of the archival quality of it, we can go on and search or read later on something...
anyhow, i like the mc (sans) nutty story, he is a true wimp. i noticed that all along.
it was great to see guys last night, hope to see you more often and get to hang out a bit!
much love and happy new year
thank you both for your enlightenment.

Nicole Peyrafitte

OK, Dan. Thanks for including me and thanks for the "reality check".

I went to McNulty's press conference and, in retrospect, a lot of what he had to say was watered down pablum which didn't at all address the atrocities of the Bush administration. At the time I don't think I knew quite what to expect from him. Your blog entry was a good reminder of what we should expect our Democratic representative in Washington to be saying.

Keep beating the drum. I will pass your thoughts on..........

--Cathy Fahey Albany Common Council, 7th Ward

Wow. I've provided a reality check! That is a real compliment. Thanks Cathy.


Wow. I don't have the time to check it all out right now. Those are some long bits. But I like what I read so far and hope you plan to keep it up. If you do I may not have to come out of retirement. I'll post about your blog.

welcome to the fray.

-Democracy In Albany

Who is DIA? Who? Who? I can tell you several people he/she is not. If you want to see his/her big site about the political currents of Albany, check the sidebar of this page. I just DIA would put MY link on his/her title page. *snort*

A Great Day For Terrorism Jan. 1, 2006


Roger Green, Librarian

Roger has been badgering me to start a blog for at least the last year. I can highly recommend his blog Ramblin' With Roger which is linked to on the sidebar to this page. Don't forget to check out the 200 million pictures of Lydia.

Dear Dan,

Read yr blog with interest.

Happy New year to you and Lynne.

Joe Fennimore

Joe is my neighbor, and an extraordinary piano player and composer.

Hi Dan,

Will your blog have an rss feed so I can subscribe to it with my newsreader? Maybe I can link your side to which is mainly about people writing in what they like about Albany.

Hope you are well and let me know about both the feed and joining forces

Rene Netter

Aaargh. The wife must put up an RSS feed. And it is high time I added a link to to the sidebar.

I cannot be totally certain but as far as I know, Cory Ellis is a registered Democrat--he did not change his registration to Working Families Party.

I too have paid dues to the WFP but am not a registered WFP member. They along with Citizen Action and many progressive Dems, helped him get elected on that line but that does not make him a WFP--he is still a Democrat and we should be talking more about the progressive Democrats and the power we hold against the status quo Dems who have sold out to the conservatives or to themselves.

This same "mistake" was made re Lucy McKnight and her win in the Co Leg race--maybe she has changed her registration since then, I don't know--we will find out when she runs again (or we bother to go to the B of Elec and look it up)--Just thought I would let you know this.

Judith Mazza

The question, Judith, is under what party Cory Ellis was seated. So I asked Luci McKnight:

Hi Dan, I have been a registered Democrat (D) all of my life. I have been lucky in my life to get the attention of a "Fusion Third Party" called the Working Families Party (WFP) to bring to Victory in the Special Federal Legislative Election in 2004.

Many members of my Democratic Party did not want me to be the Second Legislative Representative but as we all know the people spoke and I won. I have also served as a member of the Democratic Committee structure since 1983 working as a Poll Watcher/Clerk in the 2nd Ward.

I tend to be a very loyal public servant for my constituency and my Albany County Government and look forward to serving them well.

Luci McKnight, Albany County Legislator

Okay, but that didn't answer the question. So...

Furthermore Dan, the Majority Leader and the Democratic Caucus unanimously voted me in ad a full Democratic Member after my 2004 Victory.

I still represent the Causas on the New York State Assoc. of Counties as the Second Vice President, the Capital Dist. Regional Planning Commission as the immediate Past President and a member of the Youth Detention Center Board of Directors. Moreover County Executive recently appointed me to serve as president of the Albany County Youth Board of Directors.

The Albany County Democrats who are in charge of "governing" have no problem with me and my status as a D/WFP affiliation. Just a clarification.

-Luci McKnight

OK Luci, what I understand from what you are saying, you had to be voted in by the Democratic Caucus in order to take your seat as a Democrat. Now presumably, if they had all hated you (like if you got caught eating babies, or something) they could have chosen NOT to seat you as a Democrat. Correct?

So, this probably means that the Democratic Caucus of the City of Albany Common Council will have to vote on whether or not Corey Ellis takes his seat as a Democrat. Presumably they will vote him in unanimously like your peers did with you, but you never know with that bunch.

This is all new territory. I expect we're going to see a lot more of this in the future.


That is correct. Once a person is elected, now a new set of rules and processes must occur.

The Albany County government has its set of chartered rules as does the Albany City government. The county is a by-partisan body but the city has always been solid Democratic. When you win on a Third Party line, a "Fusion" in this county/city, the powers to be have never sit down and developed a long term plan on how the victor with serve as an elected political entity.

In my case, I have been in office since 1992 but for a first timer things could be different. I have name recognition, a strong community base and involved on all local and state levels. Often people speak about being politically progressive but we all must be mindful of where do you go to serve and be effective after your victory on election day. How do you incorporate your progressive ideology in the larger discussion especially if one is out numbered in their governmental body. I hope I was helpful in bringing some clarity to this complex discussion. Let's keep talking.....

-Luci McKnight


Mr. Van Riper:

I was the third party candidate - er, the Republican nominee - in the 7th Ward race with Ms. Fahey and Mr. Scavo. We (McLain for the 7th) ran a very clean campaign, and Brian was more of an annoyance, so I do not know how you qualify the race as "hard and nasty."

Unless there was stuff going on of which I was not aware, I would be interested in where you get this perception.

Good luck with your blog.

Ford McLain

Thanks, glad to have you checking in.

Well, I was referring mostly to the primary. I base my perception of "hard and nasty" on stories that residents and business people have been telling me. Mr. Scavo made his presence known to a lot of people up and down Delaware Avenue during his campaign, and he was clearly trying to play hardball. His tactics definitely raised Ms. Fahey's ire. As a campaign strategy, that may or may not have been good. He certainly was running an underdog race, and had to do something out of the ordinary. Personally, I think it is going to hurt him in the long run if he plans to run again.

So no, for the record I was not trying to implicate the third party candidates, although I did note Mr. Scavo associating with some Republicans outside my local polling place on Primary Day. I will duly note your correction as soon as I get the letters section up and running.



Fair enough. I was just curious. I had fun in that campaign. I was being sarcastic, of course, referring to myself as a third party candidate (Row A is not third party).

On polling day, Brian was talking to whoever was around.

As I have said numerous times, the numbers was got belied our impact in the race. It was the first time that folk had a real choice. I think that the Brian factor clearly hurt me a lot more than it did Cathy (actually, it helped Cathy in the end: without Brian, and based on the feedback I received and the endorsement of Cathy written by Metroland, it could have been a classic Republican-Democrat race, which would have been good for the Ward).

I for one was proud of the race and had a lot of fun.

Ford McLain

Dear Mr Van Riper,

I found your web site through DIA's site. I enjoy your commentary and I wish you well with it. Now I understand why my order at Andy's is usually screwed up!

Charles Winslow

Jimmy Scalzo works at Andy's on Delaware Ave. these days. They're the best subs... even if Jimmy is making them.



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