Reactions To "Blind Shots At A Moving
Len Morgenbesser responds, two letters from
Laurie Schaible, Barbara Judkins SHOUTS and a civilized back and
forth with Leo Levy
After reading my May 27 post, First Ward Common Council member Dominick
Calsolaro, who figures prominently in the article, suggested that
maybe I was "a little hard on Lenny."
OK, maybe I laid it on a little thick. But it is very much to Dr.
Leonard Morgenbesser's credit that he considers the article a step
forward in his crusade to eliminate illegal firearms from the streets
of Albany. Thus, he does not seem to be taking my criticisms personally.
Len asked if he could write a response to the article, and I am
glad to provide the opportunity. But as soon as I posted the article,
he made the following criticism:
I continue to remain steadfast that I
continue to offer an important public service by my media sourced
database which is the ONLY publicly available listing of incident by incident
of such gun crime in our City. I will review
your paper but I can only wish that you would have acknowledged
the importance of this data collection.
I think you may have actually directly or indirectly by noting
how the "establishment" (Mayor, Chief etc) are
feeling threatended by my advocacy.
I agree. Both the Albany Police Officials and City Hall refuse to
release crime statistics that should be free and readily available
for public examination. Why? Part of the explanation seems to be
that they have an outdated irrational desire to keep control of information.
The thought appears to be, "if we know something the public
doesn't know, then we can control what the public thinks." This,
of course, is sheer nonsense on their part. Like
the old song says, "Your
cards ain't worth a dime if you don't lay 'em down."
The other reason is raw, irrational fear. The Police Officials and
the Politicians are scared that the public will examine crime statistics
and come to their own conclusions about whether or not our authorities
are doing their jobs like they are supposed to, or sitting around
fingering their orifices and collecting our tax dollars for nothing.
To these Police Officials and Politicians who are trembling with
terror, I say to them the same
thing that the FBI Secret Police say to patriots who object to clandestine surveillance of American citizens: "If
you're not doing anything wrong, then what have you got to hide?"
So then, I applaud Dr. Morgenbesser for trying to pry this important
public data out of their hot, sweaty official hands. I could have
elaborated on their refusal to release public data... but the article
was long enough as it was. I am, as Mary Martialay of the Daily Gazette
told me, "a bit long winded."
Dr. Morgenbesser is also rather long winded, and he writes in an
odd, baroque style that I rather enjoy. Here is his reply to my article,
it is worth reading.
May 31 Response by Leonard I Morgenbesser PhD
to Daniel Van Riper’s
May 27th Albanyweblog.Com
“Blind Shots At A Moving Target”
I want to thank Daniel Van Riper for sharing his comprehensive thoughts
on May 27th with the community and for offering this opportunity
to post my response.
Since Dan’s posting, Albany has had another shooting (May
30th). This month alone, we have had eight incidents of gun crime
I have tracked in the media. All have involved shootings, and in
seven of the eight, seven civilians were hit by gunfire. In Calendar
Year 2007 alone, in the gun crimes I have tracked, 19 civilians have
been hit by gunfire. Observers will recall my finding, by securing
totals reported by the State from Albany PD, that my numbers on media-reported
gun crime may capture only about HALF of actual reported gun crime.
Yet with all of this persistent gun crime, we have some in this
community who tell me we do not have a problem, that things are under
control, that I am over-emphasizing this issue. Some even contend
that I am driving away future residents, that in the effort to bring
Nanotechnology to the Region, that I am scaring away future residents
by persistently pointing to the gun crime problem. I guess such individuals
believe that I have some magical powers, that individuals who are
considering residing in Albany and living in places like Austin,
Texas do NOT have access to the Times Union on the Web, do not have
the ability to read newspapers in either print format or on the Web.
I did not know I have such magical powers!!
Where are all of these illegally possessed handguns coming from
(studies tend to document that the overwhelming majority of handguns
used in crime are illegally possessed by the perpetrators)? And what
can we do about this as a community?
I try to do what I do best. I am a trained social scientist, in
the fields of both applied psychology and criminal justice/criminology.
First, I believe data is key. For too long in this community, there
have been debates over gun violence and other gun crimes, yet data
seems to be hidden. Why is that? Why is the basic data, incident
by incident, somehow in aggregate format hidden from public view?
Why are we not provided with a comprehensive annual report on gun
violence, including an analysis of where all of these illegal guns
are derived from?
This is 2007, many Cities are involved in such comprehensive data
analyses, this is an age of supercomputers and detailed automated
databases, where is the City and County of Albany on this? Why do
I, since September 2002, have to maintain a daily vigilant review
of print media and TV websites late at night, tracking gun crimes
in Albany, instead of being able to rely upon government to daily
report on its websites ALL such incidents?
And furthermore, why do we seem to find somewhat limited media attention
to comprehensive analysis of this major community problem? Why is
it the case that I have not yet seen major media attention to my
longstanding advocacy for treating this problem as a public health
crisis? And where are the public health practitioners in the various
counties, and the public health academics in University settings,
on this issue? We have longstanding gun violence problems in Albany,
Troy and Schenectady, why are we not seeing the three County Health
Commissioners whose jurisdiction includes these Cities calling for
an Emergency Summit on The Gun Violence?
My comprehensive, yet as I have noted limited, database now of 428
gun crimes in the City of Albany covered by the media since September
2002 stands without question as a major contribution to public policy
debate on this public health crisis.
My data is available to all without charge. Take a look at it and
see what you can determine is necessary to end this plague of gun
violence and other gun crimes.
I am also an advocate. In 1993 I launched an advocacy on behalf
of fellow disabled people before the City and County of Albany for
improved handicapped parking enforcement. After much media coverage
and advocacy, Albany County (Legislature and Sheriff) developed Project
Access. I have tried to apply my advocacy skills to the ongoing gun
violence/gun crime problem.
Hence I have also attached my May 21 testimony before
the Albany County Legislature. Besides my endless appearances at
the Common Council and at times before CANA, I most recently yet
again appeared at the County Legislature. I have specifically asked
that Health Committee Chairwoman Nancy Wiley, who resides on Partridge
Street in Albany (4825744, 66 Partridge Street-Albany NY 12206) and
Public Safety Chairman Sean Morse of Cohoes (email@example.com,
4704126, PO Box 402, Cohoes NY 12047) arrange for County Health Commissioner
James Crucetti MD to appear at a joint public meeting of both Committees
to address, with public input, what Albany County Health Department
can do on developing a comprehensive approach to gun violence and
other gun crimes and other violence as a public health crisis.
Since May 14, we have had five additional shootings
in the City of Albany. Yet I have not heard from anyone on plans
for the recommended joint committee meeting by County Legislators?
Why is that? I would urge interested parties to contact two County
Legislators who have earlier expressed to me an interest in working
on gun violence (Wanda Willingham, firstname.lastname@example.org,,
221-9785) and Lucille McKnight, email@example.com,
463-9883). Since the Legislature’s Majority is Democratic,
they should also contact Majority Leader/Legislator Frank Commisso,
130 Cottage, Albany 12203, 438-5387). And since Commissioner Dr Crucetti
is part of the Breslin County Administration, they should also contact
Albany County Executive Michael Breslin (447-7040, CountyExec@AlbanyCounty.com)
And residents for sure should make their views known
to County of Albany Health Commissioner Dr James Crucetti MD ( firstname.lastname@example.org,
Daniel Van Riper contends that I “am not offering any direction
toward a solution to the problem”. I respectfully dispute this
contention. I have offered specific direction in fact.
I have put public health before the public as one possible “solution” to
this problem. In my most recent testimony, I alluded to other counties
such as Alameda in California (City of Oakland) and Duval in Florida
(City of Jacksonville) as examples. The public should go on the Web
and read of such cases and others and press our own County Legislature,
County Executive and County Health Commissioner to do likewise here
in Albany County. I respectfully challenge Dan and other possible
critics of my approach to comprehensively review such case studies
and advise me if they see some worth in this approach for our Region.
For far too long, the public policy debate has been focused on the
police and the City Administration (Common Council, Mayor)
The police will readily admit that they cannot solely solve the
gun violence problem. In fact, Chief Tuffey has admitted that larger
social problems are at work and need to be addressed. Solving gun
violence and other gun crimes is simply not the solve province of
Police Chief Tuffey and County Sheriff Campbell.
Why then, puzzlingly, do we find endless debates focusing on whether
we can somehow get the police to finally end this gun violence epidemic?
Why shockingly am I apparently the only visible and vocal advocate
before the government and the media on pushing for public health
as a way to approach this epidemic? Why cant this Capital Region,
a mecca of highly intelligent residents facilitated by experts at
various Universities think outside the box?
I have also asked for full involvement of the diverse faith communities,
the congregants, the lay leadership and the reverend clergy. Why
have we not seen a massive coming together of the faith communities?
This has occurred in places like Boston, why not in Albany? Where
are the spiritual communities?
I also encourage full exploration of all other approaches.
In the past I researched and discovered that in Memphis Tennesse,
the County Prosecutor developed a policy banning plea bargaining
county-wise on gun crimes. And that Prosecutor has the data to prove
that his approach has been effective in reduction of gun crimes.
I advocated such plea bargain ban before the County Legislature and
I have shared such information with the Office of Albany County District
Attorney David Soares. I later learned in an article authored by
David King of Metroland that the District Attorney’s Office
was not inclined to utilize this approach. As I recall, the contention
is that they utilize plea-bargaining to induce lower-level gun crime
offenders to assist the prosecution of higher-level gun crime offenders.
Citizens interested in expressing their views on this public policy
issue are encouraged to contact District Attorney Soares (487-5460, email@example.com)
I appreciate the District Attorney’s Operation Speeding Bullet
on comprehensive prosecution of gun crime offenders. I do believe
that a reconsideration of the Memphis approach to banning plea bargains
countywide for gun crimes would be worthy here in Albany County.
Why should gun crime perpetrators have the luxury of a plea bargain?
Finally I have fully supported the proposal by City Councilman Dominick
Calsolaro for a community-based Gun Violence Task Force. The synergy
to be developed by bringing together citizens, community groups,
business leadership, university experts, City and County Government,
public safety leadership would be phenomenal. Why is the Region which
went gung-ho on establishing all types of economic growth task forces,
task forces on Nanotechnology, visits by delegations to Austin Texas
so reticent and hesitant to establish a community-based gun violence
task force ESPECIALLY INVOLVING CITIZENS, WE THE PEOPLE WHO ACTUALLY
LIVE HERE IN ALBANY WHERE THE GUN VIOLENCE AND OTHER GUN CRIMES IS
Dan Van Riper offers an important perspective. He notes that illegally
possessed handguns in Albany are among others, in the hands of Black,
poor, male and young individuals. He indicates that the “dreaded
underclass” members who are involved in such illegal gun possession
are securing their firepower through “the corporate machine
that markets illegal guns through illegal channels”. He further
notes that “somebody is buying these guns, and the only possible
conclusion is that these overproduced guns are sold illegally and
owned illegally to serve the god of corporate profit”.
I sincerely believe that Van Riper is challenging citizens to understand
how a sizable proportion of illegally possessed handguns are coming
into the hands of some Albanians here in our City and County. I believe
those in Albany County who want to see action need to get active
with our local State Senator (Neil Breslin) and Assembly Members
(McEneny, Reilly, Canestrari, Gordon) and push for State Legislation
on this matter. I also think such interested citizens should access
NYAGV (New Yorkers Against Gun Violence) on the Web, as I believe
NYAGV is pushing for such needed legislation.
In conclusion, I think citizens should take this opportunity to
become more active on this issue, as I do believe that only by massive
citizen activism before elected officials and the media, will needed
actions be taken by our government.
I also believe, respectfully, that Dan has not sufficiently emphasized
the importance of my advocacy, both (1) providing comprehensive incident-based
data on Albany gun crime to the public, and (2) challenging the public
to push for public health approach to gun and other violence. I have
also referred to my advocacy to ban plea bargains for offenders countywide
in Albany Countywide.
Multiple concurrent approaches are needed to end gun violence in
Albany County. There is a need for State Legislation to address issues
posed by Dan Van Riper. There is a need for a public health approach
by the County and City of Albany as I have long advocated but not
yet seen. There is a need for massive outpourings of effort by the
various, diverse faith communities, which I have long advocated but
not yet seen.
And for sure there is a need for comprehensive data and data analysis,
which I have tried in my own persistent way and partly achieved,
but which I have advocated for for years now, to be launched by government
on a comprehensive basis, but which I have not yet seen. Why is that?
Some people in Albany tell me this is NOT my battle, that it is
a battle that must be waged by the inner city where much gun crime
occurs. Such observers point out that I reside in uptown, that we
do not have gun crime uptown, that it is NOT my battle.
This IS my battle, this IS your battle. A gun crime anywheres in
Albany is a gun crime against ALL OF THE PEOPLE OF ALBANY.
What are you going to do today and tomorrow to help end gun and
other violent crime in Albany? I am growing weary, I have been at
this advocacy since the 2001 gun homicides to two young men in Albany,
and recording the media-reported data since September 2002, this
has been an ongoing advocacy for about six years, and in some ways,
I find the situation growing worse. Can you please help?
Prepared by Leonard I Morgenbesser PhD
May 31 2007
Here are the two letters from Laurie Schaible:
I read your recent entry on Dr. Leonard's efforts to get someone
with power in Albany to do something.
I agree with you, in that if someone white were hurt or murdered
in their own neighborhood, perhaps the solution would not be out
of our grasp.
I learned of Dr. Leonard's efforts through email lists that I have
been included in. I am a community advocate speaking out against
sexual assault, sexual violence, and childhood sexual abuse. You
might think these issues are unrelated....but the are very related.
You might also think that we would really want to do something about
sexual assault etc....another ailment that is at epidemic proportions.
I run into the same walls that block Dr. Leonard. Along
with the unwillingness to address the racial issue, there is also
the class and gender issues. (and of course, we do not want to step
on the toes of Parental Rights). We as a society have not made any
progress toward ridding the behaviors that destroy because we want
to protect those rights. We do not want to dictate, or become elitists,
and therefore, we do nothing. We just let it happen. Free will. Or,
can it be that we are scared that it will rub off on us, if we admit
what is happening?
Sexual abuse (I was abused by a neighbor as a child back in the
50's) is in every neighborhood, economic and racial class. But yet,
we do nothing about it. Trying to tag offenders is the only progress
we have made, which does nothing to stop sexual abuse. (I have an
article from Time Magazine, 1937, that ponders the same delimmas)
We need to be concerned about the offenders we do not know about.
We have some programs in place for survivors and victims, but not
enough and it is not reaching the people it needs to. We do not want
to admit that it happens in our own homes....we do not want to look
at our own feelings toward sex.
I am at a loss as well, because the real solutions are not one which
we are willing to invest in. Kind of like the environmental crisis
we see looming...for years we knew what the problems were, and have
chosen to ignore them, until now. And even now, we are just scratching
I remember years ago, I tried to engage our local schools' Lunch
Service Director into looking at the nutritional value of school
lunches. Ha Ha. Something that seems so easy and simple, yet so hard.
And here we are, 10 years later, and someone is finally doing something
about the school lunches. The point being, that majority rules. And
until the majority see a problem, nothing will get done. (Or, until
we see 30 fat people walk by....we don't realize there is a problem)
We need good programs in our schools, and parents that have been
taught good parenting skills, with follow up for those that need
it. We need some of those self righteous right-to-lifers to adopt
at least one child. We need good sex education programs (Oh yes,
the same old argument that sex sells and is all over TV, magazines,
books, but we cannot teach the responsibility that goes along with
it). We cannot even have a good healthy discussion about sex. We
need coping skills, and life skils taught - not just a six-week,
one hour class, two days a week, in school. And, what do we offer
the kids that do come forward with disclosures of abuse? Not only
sexual abuse, but physical abuse??? We are not willing to touch that
How in the world do we expect anything to change as far as the violence
is concerned? We have kids running arond the streets of Albany, kids
that LIVE there, and because they are destroying each other, we choose
to do nothing. Let them hurt, kill and maim each other. It does not
bother us. It does not impact our life. Oh, but we are so wrong,
because eventually it will impact our life.
I used to think the well educated were taught the right things...instead,
it seems that are taught how to keep the status quo.
You are absolutely right - we do not want to make the necessary
changes and sacrifices to make a difference. Do you remember the
mantra of the 70's, Question Authority??? What ever happened to that?
The Hippies aged, became main stream corporate workers, and forgot
the idealism, and most importantly, forgot to teach our children
those ideals. Not that I listen to Michael Moore very much, but he
and John Lennon have both highlighted the Fear Society. Green Day
recently recorded a cover of Working Class Hero...and it still fits
The ailments are not being addressed, as we know! And, it is not
just because of people like Dr. Leonard not having the solutions,
it is also because we are being silenced. People do not want to hear
the truth....they do not want to hear it again, and again...unfortuate
that some have to live it again and again.
Anyway - I work in Albany, off of Central Avenue, here is an excerpt
to an email I sent Dr. Leonard....
Sometimes I too look around in amazement at what is happening...
Where I work, the building faces Central Avenue. If you go out the
back door, it is like a different world. Yes, there are a couple
of decent houses. (Sheridan Avenue). But if you really look around,
you see the garbage, the needles, the empty liquor bottles. You see
the houses broken and vacant. You see some kids, or adults walking
fast. And, the groups on the street corners. Not to mention the street
people - alot of them mentally ill wandering around because of laws
that date back years ago on de-institutionalizing. Setting the mentally
It is like being on a movie set, where there are only facades....fake
buildings and store fronts. Only, what lurks behind is much more
Are the young people taking aim at each other to wound? The recent
shootings suggest...And, If this escalates, there certainly will
be more bloodshed and lives cut short. More broken families. I wrote
a letter to the editor, but of course it was not published. It questioned
the article that was in the Times Union the other day about Dominick's
legislation. The Mayor suggested that the problem is being handled
elsewhere - in the schools. What a joke that is.
On another note....
A couple of weeks ago, I was in CVS on Central Avenue. There were
2 registers open and lines for each. A mom with a young girl, probably
three or four years old asked the clerk to use the bathroom. The
clerk behind the registered told her that she would have to wait,
because they have to take customers to the rest rooms. The little
girl was antsy - doing the dance. The Mom said, well, if we have
to wait too long I will have to take her out in the street. A minute
or so went by, the mom kept looking down at the little girl, and
the little girl obviously needed to go to the bathroon. The Mom announced
she would take her outside in the street.
I finished my business at CVS, walked up Central, and guess who
was at the front of my building, standing in front of her daughter,
as she squatted in the entry way to my building? Maybe she thought
the shades on the windows meant people couldn't see out?
I realize the little girl had to go - but the idea that she is allowing
her daughter to expose herself like that is beyond me. The bigger
message is what????
And, what does any of this have to do with what you wrote below?
The idea that people have given up hope, and decided on how they
are going to live - with the violence and destruction.
Thank you as well.
Please do add my comments. I keep speaking out in the hopes that
someone will do something, much like Dr. Leonard. I too have tried
to get a group of people together to discuss sexual assault and abuse,
prevention education, parental education and the legal aspects. (Dr.
Richard Hamil, well known for treating offenders, the Local Police
Chief, the DA's office, Rape Crisis Center Therapists etc.)
No-one politically wants to touch it. I understand what you were
saying about the Violence and perhaps Dr. Leonard does not want to
mention the racial issue - in my mind, that is because the minute
that gets raised, people shut down or become defensive. (Did you
ever watch a show on HBO, the Wire? Towards the end of the program's
tenure, a decision was made to allow illegal activity in a certain
section of the city. This resulted in lower crimes rates in other
areas. This is what Albany reminds me of now....)
Race does not apply to the issue of sexual abuse and the lack of
activity to educate and provide services. People of all nationalities
and gender are assaulted or abused everyday.
I keep pondering why nothing is being done about this either....is
it that it hits too close to home? We would have to look at what
we are doing in our own lives. We think sex is private. But, it is
plastered all over tv, billboards, movies, magazines. It is not private
- we tell ourselves that it is.
There is a lot to process in the blog posting...The idea that people
need to work together for the answers, and the thoughts that Corporate
America is the new King. He owns alot of territory and peoples lives.
We get up everyday, go to work, do our household chores, go to the
market, and go home to watch a little TV or whatever, go to bed,
and do the same thing the next day. We don't want to look around
too closely. We hope if we keep all our ducks in a row, that nothing
will come back to bite us. So, we can say we lived a good life. All
the while, not really doing much to help society in general. I wonder
why we don't teach things like civic duty in school? Starting at
the elementary level? Do we teach children the values of a job well
done? Do we help them find what they excel at? Is the Golden Rule
gone and forgotten? What ever happened to Community Service?
It infuriates me when the Politicians get up and say they are doing
all they can - they don't want to take the baby steps, the daily
necessary tasks, that it will take for real change. Maybe they don't
have the stamina?
Can it be that we as Americans, actually do look around and see
what is going on? For alot of us, it is too depressing and we need
anti-depressants or other legal drugs. Others drink, or enjoy comfort
food. We spend most of our lives numb because we are afraid to feel?
Afraid to stand up and say something? Afraid to admit what we have
done, or seen, or what we have allowed to happen? We have becomed
At the very least, Dr. Leonard will not go away, and that can be
a good thing. Maybe he will annoy enough people to the point that
something will change. There is always hope.
I could go on and on...thank you for your time!
And finally, Barbara Judkins SHOUTS at me:
WE NEED TO GIVE THE CHILDREN A VOICE AND FIND OUT WHAT THEY WANT
HOLD THESE KIDS PARENTS RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR CHILDREN ACTIONS.
I WAS TOLD I'M RESPONSIBLE FOR MY DAUGHTERS UNTIL THEY ARE 21 YEARS
OLD - WHY IS THAT HOLDING TRUE FOR THESE YOUNG KIDS THAT HAVE GUNS
AND COMMITTING THESE CRIMES? HOLD PARENTS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CHILDREN
ACTIONS AND YOU WILL AND SHOULD SEE A CHANGE.
I WAS THREATENED THAT I WOULD HAVE TO GO TO COURT AND ALL SORTS
OF THINGS WHEN MY DAUGHTER WAS BEING DISOBEDIENT AND DIDN'T WANT
TO FOLLOW SIMPLE DIRECTIONS. BUT SHE SOON FOUND OUT AT AGE 17 THAT
HER MOTHER IS ALL SHE HAS AND THESE PEOPLE OUTSIDE OF OUR CIRCLE
MEANS HER NO GOOD. SHE IS NOW MARRIED AND LIVING IN ALASKA WITH HER
HUSBAND AND KIDS HE IS IN THE SERVICE RIGHT NOW. I THANK GOD FOR
THE DIRECTION HE TOOK HER IN. MY OTHER TWO DAUGHTERS NOTHING, NO
PROBLEMS, NO DRUGS, GUNS, DISOBEDIENCE, NOT IN THE STREETS ANYTHING
BECAUSE I AM A RESPONSIBLE PARENT I WONT HAVE IT ANY OTHER WAY.
I WAS AN EXAMPLE FOR MY DAUGHTERS, ONCE I WENT TO COLLEGE MY OLDEST
DAUGHTER FOLLOWED SUIT AND WE BOTH GRADUATED TOGETHER FROM THE SAME
WE NEED TO PROVIDE AS A COMMUNITY SOMETHING FOR THESE CHILDREN.
I HAD A NEWS PERSON WHO INTERVIEWED ME WHO DIDN'T FOCUS ON WHAT I
WAS TELLING HIM ABOUT COMMUNITY PROVIDING THEM THE CHILDREN WITH
SOMETHING TO DO, AS WELL AS GIVE THEM BRAND NEW SNEAKERS FOR SCHOOL
SUPPLIES, HOPE SOME OF THE CHILDREN THEY HELP WITH BASKETBALL SKILLS
ARE NOW IN COLLEGE. MY YOUNGEST DAUGHTER INCLUDED.
THAT PERSON WAS MORE CONCERNED WITH WHAT THEY DID UNDERCOVER I WASN'T
AWARE OF WHAT THEY DID UNDERCOVER BECAUSE I ONLY SEEN WHEN THEY DID
IN THE OPEN. I APOLOGIZE IF I AM NOT STREET EDUCATED OR INVOLVED
THE LIFE STYLE OF A DRUG DEALER TH ATS NOT MY AIM NOR DO I CARE ABOUT
THAT. BUT I DO CARE ABOUT WHAT I HAVE SEEN THE COMMUNITY GIVE THESE
FOR EXAMPLE HONORABLE WILLINGHAM [Albany County legislator from
the South End- dwvr] AND HER HUSBAND USED TO GIVE THE CHILDREN PARTIES
AROUND HOLIDAYS ESPECIALLY ON HALLOWEEN SO THAT THEY CAN KEEP THE
KIDS OFF THE STREETS AND IT WOULD BE SAFE FOR THEM TO BE AROUND US
THE PARENTS AND OTHER PEERS WITH PARTIES GOODS, GAMES ALL THAT.
HONORABLE WILLINGHAM HAS NOW STARTED A SISTER'S IN ACTION GROUP
SO THAT THEY CAN BEGIN TO REACH SOME OF THESE MOTHERS AND OFFER THEM
SOME PRAYERFULLY POSITIVE DIRECTIONS AND WHATEVER ELSE IS NEEDED
IN THE COMMUNITY. THIS IS SOMETHING I HAVE SEEN SINCE I WAS YOUNGER
FROM THE WILLINGHAM'S THAT THEY DO WHAT THEY CAN. INSPITE OF THE
OUTCOMES OF WHAT IS GOING ON. AND I SEE HER AS A POWERFUL VOICE ESPECIALLY
MORE SINCE SHE LOST HER SON.
I DIDN'T LOSE MY NEPHEW [a victim of gun violence- dwvr] BUT WHEN
I SEE HIM IN THE HOSPITAL DAILY STILL STRUGGLING TRYING TO LEARN
HOW TO WALK AGAIN, WHEN I SEE THE SADNESS IN HIS FACE DAILY; THE
LOST OF HOPE BECAUSE STREETS GOT HIS MOTHER DUE TO THESE DRUGS THAT'S
NOT GROWN IN OUR BACKYARDS; OR YOU CANT GO INTO THE STORES TO BUY
THEM. SO WHO'S BRINGING THESE DRUGS IN? I'M SORRY ITS NOT THESE LOW
LEVEL DRUG DEALERS, WE CANT GO TO THE COCAINE COUNTRY TO PICK IT
UP THIS IS MUCH BIGGER THAN US. IT HAS TO START WITH THE HEAD.
SPEAKING OF HEAD, BUSH IS SHOWING PEOPLE THAT THE ONLY WAY TO SOLVE
THINGS IS TO GO INTO THEIR COUNTRY THEIR BACKYARD TO DO THINGS BY
WAR - WHAT DO YOU THINK THE KIDS ARE LEARNING - IT STARTS WITH THE
HEAD, JUST LIKE A CHURCH IF THE CHURCH IS NOT RIGHT IT STARTS WITH
THE HEAD. THE PRESIDENT IS TEACHING US THAT EVEN THOUGH OUR BACKYARD
IS DIRTY ITS OKAY TO GO INTO SOMEONE ELSE'S BACKYARD AND TELL THEM
HOW TO LIVE FORSAKE OUR OWN. THAT'S NOT HOW IT SUPPOSED TO BE. BRING
OUR FAMILIES BACK TOGETHER LETS GET OUT OF SOMEONES COUNTRY AND LETS
CLEAN OUR OWN UP.
From Leo Levy:
I was waiting to find the time to prepare a comprehensive rejoinder
to your 5/27/07 critique of the activities of Dr. Leonard I. Morgenbesser
with respect to gun violence in Albany, but, frankly, other demands
on my time keep intervening and likely will continue to do so.
More importantly, it is clear from Len’s own response of
5/31/07 that is posted on your blog that Len really does not need
my assistance in making the case for the need for and the value
of his efforts. If anything, Len needs someone to prepare a synopsis
of his response; those who have dealt with me over the years know
that, being “brevity-challenged” myself, I am not the
one to assist Len in that regard.
I do not want to be completely silent in regard to your 5/27/07
piece. Accordingly, I am providing below the relevant portion of
my 5/28/07 e-mail to Len. I hope you will post that text and this
introduction on your website.
Thank you in advance – and thank you as well for your (usually)
perceptive commentaries on the state of affairs in the City of
Excerpt from Leo S. Levy’s 5/28/07 E-mail to Dr. Leonard
Dan is a person with whom I very often agree – at least in
the direction of his argument if not always in the magnitude/degree
to which he takes it. I strongly disagree with him in this instance – especially
since you have been nothing less than shrill in asking if people
would be responding differently to Albany’s gun violence
if it took place in your (our) neighborhood and, at the same time,
pointing out that we are all part of the same community. I will
try to let Dan know how I feel – either in person or via
e-mail – but I’m not sure when that will happen – and
I hope that you do not allow Dan’s comments to derail you.
As I’ve said before, you have drawn valuable attention to
this issue and, when the gun violence problem in Albany is more
systematically addressed, it will be to a large extent due to your
persistence (and, as always, I need to mention Dominick Calsolaro’s
persistence as well). Quoting myself, if I may, in my 5/25/07 e-mail
to you: “My best counsel is that you keep up your public
efforts to draw the interest of more of your fellow citizens – and
their representatives – to the need for a comprehensive approach
to the problem. I hope that such interest will not be prompted
by a tragedy that more intimately involves the members of the community
who are not generally directly impacted by gun violence and who
do not yet fully understand the effect of gun violence on the total
Thanks, Leo. I'll post this by tomorrow.
I think what prompted me to write the article was frustration,
partly with how the issue is going nowhere, but also with Len's
insistence with looking at the issue in very narrow terms. I've
spoken to a number of people, politicians and members of organizations,
who have quietly told me that they are also frustrated with his
lack of engagement in tackling this issue. Gun violence brings
up a raft of peripheral issues... even more than the ones I touched
I've been writing this article on and off since the end of last
September. I would have liked to have sat on it a few more weeks,
because yes, I was kinda hard on Len. It was not my intention to
degrade him or dismiss his efforts. But I did intend to give him
a kick and get him to see the wider picture. He's the guy everybody
is looking at for direction, I think he needs to look beyond where
he is now.
What I don't want to see is the white middle class sanctioning
a police war against the black underclass, busting heads and invading
homes in the name of ending gun violence. While this will assist
in gentrifying downtown Albany, this will only cause the gun violence
problem to pack up and move somewhere else nearby. Then we're back
at square one.
My point is that it is not a simple problem. It reaches right to
the heart of society, deep into the murky depths. And, like Pine
Bush preservation or ending the War Against Iraq, you're not going
to get anywhere without stepping on some important toes and pissing
off some people who are very interested in keeping things the way
they are. Len has done a great job of annoying the authorities,
now he has to get them to hate his guts. It's the only way.
But you see, I did post Len's gun violence compilation. I don't
think it is posted anywhere else online, is it? Perhaps I should
put a link to it on the sidebar.
From Leo, a tale of how he lost a good job because of high principles:
Thanks, Dan, for your response to me – and for amplifying
on your frustration. I do understand the historical and social and
racial complexities here – and the dangers inherent in seeking
THE GOVERNMENT to address such matters.
You likely will appreciate a tale that I haven’t told for
a long time. Sometime around 1967, I interviewed for a research position
with the Suffolk County [Long Island] Office of Economic Opportunity – and
caused a bit of consternation when I pointed out that a big step
toward the elimination of poverty on eastern Long Island could be
taken if the peers of those who were interviewing me paid a living
wage to their domestic help and agricultural workers. I actually
was offered the job – and accepted it – and then declined
it before starting when I was told that problems with a grant would
require a significant reduction in the salary that I had been offered
and the possible elimination of the position. I stayed in my NYS
job – moving from NYC to Highland to Rochester and then to
Albany. It was my work with NYS Parole and Corrections, by the way,
that first brought me into contact [more than 20 years ago] with
You and I should not distract ourselves by debating each other
with respect to a matter on which we are in substantial agreement.
(Well, I shouldn’t speak for you. As for me, the list of
other things that I should be doing is growing inordinately long
as I sit here spinning out e-mails like this – and trying
to cut down to manageable size my draft letter to the TU about
the chutzpah that Tom Carroll had printed on the front page of
last Sunday’s “Perspectives” section. But I digress,
I do wonder if you are not placing too great a weight on Len’s
shoulders. Isn’t it a bit backward for “politicians and
members of organizations” to be “frustrated with [Len’s]
lack of engagement in tackling this issue”? This is one guy
who is singe-handedly harassing the Mayor, Police Chief, an untold
number of academics and bureaucrats, and the members of the Common
Council and County Legislature! If “politicians and members
of organizations” are “frustrated” with Len, let
us hear from them publicly about initiatives that they want to take – and
that he is preventing them from taking (?) – and let them leave
Len in their dust. I doubt that Len will complain about that. (I
see that Len just sent out an e-mail that closed with a thank you
to you. Please don’t be annoyed with him about that.)
You don’t have to reply to this missive. If you do, it probably
will generate another e-mail from me – and whining about
what else I should be doing.
Of course I have to get in the last word:
Leo, I'll burden you with one more email.
I've been emailing back and forth with Len since the article came
out... he sure takes criticism well! I guess you're right that I'm
putting too much weight on Len's shoulders, but he has decided to
put quite a bit of weight on his shoulders already. Maybe if he shifts
the weight he can put some of it down, or hand it to someone else
A lot of caring, decent people like you or Len worry about race
and class as it relates to this issue. (Pay The Help a living wage?
What're you, some kinda commie?) But somebody has to start talking
about it out loud... LOUDLY.
And I don't hear anyone addressing the corporate manufacture of
guns. I've been trying to avoid analogies to drug manufacture and
distribution, but instead of having the cops pick up street characters
why not go after the manufacturers of the product? Well, the top
authorities, like the drug trade, have much invested in the manufacturers.
Thus, with guns and with drugs, all we'll see is a constant street
war against the underclass.
And biggest of all, absolutely NO ONE wants to talk
right to bear arms " and the 2nd Amendment. You see how the
gun advocates attended the one gun conference we had and were treated
like invaders? Both sides need to negotiate, or the next conference
will also fall apart over this divide.
And remember, the police have a real bizarre attitude
toward gun ownership. I didn't really go into that. You ask almost
any cop and they will tell you that they support the right to gun
ownership, but talk to the police officials in a public setting
and they all for gun control so as to maintain their monopoly on
violence... which is usually framed as "protecting the safety of our officers." At
that conference in 2003, I thought that the police present were
more directly disruptive of progress than the gun advocates. All
I'm saying is that these divides need to be dealt with head on.
Alright, I'll shut up and leave you alone. Screw Tom Carroll into
the pavement for me, eh?
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