Sunday, October 4, 2015

T-Spin has moved

The T-Spin staff has packed up and moved over to
It's a full service website offering the latest in local, state and national news.
And yes, T-Spin will still appear under the "opinion" section of the website and you will be able to read about the goings on from the Capital District. Interaction is encouraged and you can still comment on the stories.
So, check out the new site at


Saturday, August 22, 2015

Two cops shot in Troy

TROY – Two police officers were shot near the intersection of 112th Street and Fifth Ave. at about 10:45 Saturday.
One suspect was shot dead.
The two police officers, Josh Camitale and Chad Klein, were taken to Albany Medical Center Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Camitale was shot in the leg while Kelin was shot in the shoulder area. A vest partially protected him. 

The suspect was taken to St. Mary’s Hospital. It's unclear if he died at the scene or at the hospital.

The officers were responding to a car-jacking when they came under fire. 

Troy police were assisted by agencies from around the Capital Region including Albany, Watervliet, Cohoes, the State Police and the Rensselaer County Sheriff's Department as well as officers from Troy Housing Authority.

More information as it becomes available.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

RIP Jeff Couch

One of the first times I worked with photographer Jeff Couch was on a Christmas Day when I was a newer reporter at The Record.
I walked into the empty newsroom – weekends and holidays were the thinnest of skeleton crews with only one reporter and one photographer on until the copy desk came in later in the evening. He was in the photographers’ cubby hole staring at a computer and didn’t bother turning around when I walked in, even though he must has heard the back door slam shut as it always did.
“Merry Christmas Jeff,” I hollered through the large, rectangle windowless window into the photographers’ on the way to my desk.”
“Fuck Christmas,” he said in a matter of fact manner without a hint of malevolence.
Right then I knew Jeff wasn’t exactly a people person. Actually, I thought he was kind of an asshole. And I was right on both counts. He readily admitted it most times. The asshole part I mean. And he didn’t care. He wasn’t known to put airs on for anyone or anything at any time.
Yep, Jeff was about as warm and fuzzy as the grizzly bear he resembled. He wasn't really an asshole, though, he just like to play one.
One thing I did later learn about him was while he might not have liked Christmas Day too much, his Christmas had already come and gone by playing Santa Claus for little kids during the Victorian Stroll.
He was actually kind of funny to watch. The grizzly bear turned into a puppy dog when he donned the red suit. I would bust his chops about how he cooed and kidded with the kids to get them to smile for the camera, and he while I expected the grizzly glare, he would just smile like one of the kids into the camera and say “fuck you, its fun.”
We had kind of a bond, I guess. I was from the mill town of Gloversville and he was from the mill town of Cohoes. We both tried to be tougher than we actually were and we played off it. It was always fun busting chops with Couch and more fun still teaming up with Jeff to bust the chops of others. At this point in time, I don’t recall anyone or any subject that was off limits.
I remember when his front tooth cracked off. He came over to my desk cursing up a storm and then seemed to think about the fact he didn’t have any money, or desire, to go to a dentist and said: “well, now I guess I can never leave Cohoes.” He walked away with a belly laugh knowing he stole my line.
He was like that about everything. Give him an assignment and he would bitch up a storm about it - but get the shot. Give him a dozen assignments on any Saturday or Sunday or holiday and he would bitch about it for hours – but get all the shots.
Plus some if there was a fire.
I’m pretty sure the guy slept with a scanner next to his bed, or his recliner, or wherever he laid his head at night. And if there was a fire, one thing as sure as that fire was hot to touch, we would have a Couch shot on the front page. He had a knack for getting fire shots, and nothing got his blood pumping like a good old-fashioned Cohoes fire.
It helps he knew all the firefighters and they gave him some special privileges – and some inside info too. I used to love covering fires with Jeff. I didn’t have to do much work, but it was still fun because we, more often than not, got some piece of the story nobody else had even a chance of getting.
He did take his job seriously. Even if he did bitch about it. I remember sending him to cover an event in Cohoes where Assemblyman Ron Canestrari was the guest speaker. Now, anyone who knows Jeff knows he didn’t like Canestrari. I never knew why for sure – it could have been something to do with his mother or the fact Canestrari didn’t hire him as a firefighter - but I know the beef went back at least a couple decades. I know of nobody who could hold a grudge like Jeff. Anyway, after he processed his photos he put five or six prints on my desk and not one of them had Canestrari in them. I said something like “uhmmm, Jeff we need a photo with Canestrari.”
“Well, I ain’t got any,” he said and walked away.
We had a few more words that included a bit of swearing and name calling and I went for a walk to cool off. When I got back, there was a print with Canestrari on my desk.
He took his job much more seriously than his health. And this he readily admitted and I’m sure, near the end, accepted. He smoked too much, did more than his share of drinking and if he had more than two pieces of a fruit or a vegetable twice in at least a decade it was a lot. And forget about any type of physical activity.
I remember visiting him at Sunnyview where he was re-habbing from his first stroke a couple years ago. I walked into the room, he smiled said hi and the next words out of his mouth were “do you have any smokes.”
While pushing his wheelchair outside, my conscience dictated I ask him if this was a good idea. He said “probably not,” and added with urgency “and don’t tell Jimmy.”
Jimmy is, of course, Jimmy JS Carras, who along with Tom Killips and Mike McMahon and Couch made up the best photography crew any reader of any newspaper could possibly hope for.
Change is the only constant, though, and none of those fine newsmen are there any longer. Neither am I. But, for a while, it was a great place to work and one reason was the miserable, hairy, grizzly bear/puppy dog of a man named Jeff Couch.



Saturday, July 25, 2015

Challenge to Everett's petitions headed to court

TROY - Council President Rodney Wiltshire is challenging the petitions of mayoral hopeful Earnest Everett in court.
Three candidates turned in more than the required 402 signatures to get on the ballot – Wiltshire, Everett and Patrick Madden.
Wiltshire turned in the most signatures with 1,261, Madden, who is not enrolled in any party but is the Democratic Party’s endorsed candidate filed 1,107 while Everett filed 855.
But, Russell Ziemba, a Democrat and former Council candidate filed specific objections to 508 of Everett’s signatures based on the belief they from people not enrolled in any party, enrolled in a party other than Democratic or enrolled as a Democrat but living outside of Troy. The case is expected to be in court next week.
The first step in the scrutiny of the signatures are by the commissioners at the Board of Elections – Democrat Ed McDonough and Republican Larry Bugbee. While Bugbee bounced many of the signatures McDonough ruled they were valid so now a judge will determine if each of Ziemba’s specific objections are valid.
 "It's disrespectful to me and my team and it's disrespectful to the people supporting me," Everett told the Times Union.
Everett did draw the first ballot position in the primary should his withstand the challenge to his petitions. Wiltshire will appear second and Madden third.
While the objections are technically filed by Ziemba, it comes from the Wiltshire camp. It’s widely believed Everett will syphon votes from Wiltshire should there be a three-way primary. Both Wiltshire and Everett are black, for starters, and they are both running against the established Democratic Party.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

AG charges RensCo CO Rogers with four felonies

Kevin Rogers, the Rensselaer County corrections officer who was sitting home making a full paycheck for four-plus years, is now facing criminal charges for improperly spending union funds, according to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
According to the complaint (see below), Rogers, as vice president and treasurer of the now defunct Sheriff’s Employees Association of Rensselaer County, spent more than $3,000 of the union’s money on strip clubs, restaurants and ring-side seats for boxing matches. Mark Piche, now a former CO, was president of the union. In 2013, he pleaded guilty to paying workers off the books at his family’s restaurant, the Red Front, which equates to tax evasion and resigned his position at the jail.
Now that formal criminal charges are filed, Rogers, who was making his $75,000-plus salary since 2011 when he was suspended by Sheriff Jack Mahar, is now off the payroll for 30 days. He will then return to the payroll while the criminal case winds its way through the court system.
At that time, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, through the FBI, began an investigation but issued an unprecedented letter to Rogers in December, 2014 exonerating him of all criminality. But, the letter did indicate any and all information was passed on to the AG’s office.
“Those who hold positions of trust must be held to the highest standards of professional conduct,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “We take allegations of misuse of funds contributed by dues-paying union members very seriously. Cases like this represent a betrayal of both the union’s members and its mission.”
According to the complaint – charging Rogers with four felonies including two counts of grand larceny and two counts related to forging a union check – there are three witnesses. Witness 1 told Witness 2 that he saw Rogers use the union debit card at a strip club. Witness 2 told authorities he reviewed the books and saw that Rogers did use the debit card to pay for personnel expenses unrelated to union activity.
The third witness told authorities that Pugnacious Promotions, a company that promotes local boxers and boxing matches, sponsored an event in July, 2010 and on Feb. 3, 2011. For the first, Witness 2 told authorities Rogers cut a union check for $1,200, the price of a ring-side seat. For the second, he was given a union check for $400 but altered it to $600, again the price of a ring-side seat. The complaint states other union members did not know about the expenditure and were not given the opportunity to see the fight.
  Rogers, I’m told by reliable sources, turned down a plea deal offered by the feds and I’m told now he won’t accept a plea deal now – should one be offered. But, the feds didn’t formally charge him so he might feel the pressure more to plea out and avoid jail time.
But, if the case does go to trial, it could be a year or two out and Rogers will be back on the payroll after 30 days so that could be an incentive for him to drag his feet too.
Rogers also filed a civil suit against Mahar and Rensselaer County accusing the sheriff and staffers of improperly accessing his medical records. That is still pending.
As far as the witnesses go, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who they are.
Witness 1, I’m willing to bet, is Piche. He was under the federal eye along with Rogers but pled to tax evasion and got a slap on the wrist. It’s long been known that part of that plea was to testify against Rogers. The two were president and vice president and were hang out buddies – and were known to hit the strip clubs and restaurants.
Witness 2, has to be Christopher Fumarola since he was never under any suspicion and had access to the union’s books. So did the authorities, I suppose, but they need someone to tell them – and any potential jury – what the numbers actually mean.
The third is obviously someone involved with Pugnacious Promotions.
The bottom line is did Rogers, who was duly elected by the union membership, have the authority to spend union money as he saw fit? And, even if he did have that authority, did he overstep that responsibility and use union funds for his personnel benefit.
I guess that’s what jury trials are for.  
Whatever the answer or the outcome, I hope someone does something to stop paying him for sitting home.   


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

And then there were 29 (UPDATED: And it's back to 30)

It appears the Republicans do have a candidate to run in the heavily Democratic District 4. Joe Navarra will run against incumbent Bob Doherty (of the Wiltshire camp) and Barbara Jones Higbee (of the Wade camp.) So the number of candidates is back up to 30.

The astounding number of candidates, 30, running for a limited number of open seats in Troy, 10, has shrunk by one.
Pamela Troue, who was running in District 2 with what is commonly known as the “Wade Democrats,” or the slate headed up by mayoral candidate Patrick Madden and supported by Rensselaer County Chairman Tom Wade, has opted to drop out.
That leaves incumbent Councilwoman Anastasia Robertson, who is solidly with the “Wiltshire Democrats,” or the slate headed up by mayoral candidate and council President Rodney Wiltshire, to square off against Mark McGrath, who is running with the Republicans for the seat he was term limited out of about 18 months ago.
Troue is caring for her ailing mother and said a run for council is too much of a commitment at this point in time.
With petitions due no later than July 9, here is a list of candidates and their respective teams. That list could change dramatically depending on whether or not the candidates get enough signatures to get on the ballot.
Wade Democrats (or those endorsed by the Democratic Party Committee proper, with party enrollment next to their name)
Mayor:         Patrick Madden (not enrolled)
At Large:      Erin Sullivan-Teta (I)
                       Carol Weaver (D)
                       Cary Dresher (D)
District 1:     Laurie Ryan (D)
District 2:    
District 3:     Charlie Clifford (I)
District 4:     Barbara Jones Higbee (D)
District 5:     Lynn Kopka (D)
District 6:     Wayne D’Arcy (D)

Wiltshire Democrats (or those endorsed by the Working Families Party with their enrollment next to their name)
Mayor:         Rodney Wiltshire (D)
At Large:      Peggy Kownack (D)
                       Anasha Cummings (D)
                       David Martin (not enrolled)
District 1:     Jessica Ashley (G)
District 2:     Anastasia Robertson (D)
District 3:    
District 4:     Bob Doherty (D)
District 5:     David Bissember (D)
District 6:     Corey Jenkins (D)

Those endorsed by the Republicans:
Mayor:         Jim Gordon
At Large:      Carmella Mantello
                       Kim McPherson
                       Andrea Daley
District 1:     Jim Gulli
District 2:     Mark McGrath (C)
District 3:     Dean Bodnar
District 4:    
District 5:     Tom Casey
District 6:     John Donohue

Those not endorsed by anyone
Mayor:         Ernest Everett (A Democrat)
                       Jack Cox Jr. (Revolution Party)


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

(UPDATED) THA Commissioner Paul Moses arrested for welfare fraud

Paul Moses, a tenant commissioner on the Troy Housing Authority Board of Directors, was arrested this morning on three felonies related to not reporting income and collecting social services benefits.
After an investigation headed up by the state Inspector General’s Office with assistance from the Rensselaer County Sheriff’s Department and the THA, Moses was arrested at Bradley’s Tavern, a bar on Fourth Street where he worked off the books.
He faces the felonies of welfare fraud, grand larceny and filing false instruments. According to sources, Moses, 58, was on Medicaid, which is health care reserved for only the income eligible, food stamps and he lives in the Taylor Apartments of the THA, where rent is based on reported income and is often subsidized by the federal government.
His future as a tenant commissioner on the THA board is uncertain as is his eligibility to continue living at the THA. Tennant commissioners are elected by THA residents and serve two-year terms. The other five members of the board serve five-year terms and are appointed by the mayor.
If it is proven that Moses was working under the table at Bradley’s, the bar owner could be in trouble too for things like tax evasion. Sources say the owner is cooperating with the investigation, which is ongoing.

Here is a link to the Inspector General's press release.

According to Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott, Moses allegedly defrauded the state out of nearly $50,000 over a nine year period. According to her welfare fraud investigators, he allegedly accepted some $8,730 in food stamps rom 2009 to 2015 and $40,842 in rental subsidies from 2006 to 2015. On both applications he claimed he was not making an income.

"Food stamps and rental subsidies are not meant to fraudulently enhance the quality of life for a corrupt housing representative," Leahy Scott said in a release.

Rensselaer County District Attorney Joel Abelove said: "People who feel they have a right to defraud the welfare system in our county will be caught and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
More information as it becomes available.