Monday, April 20, 2015

Mark McGrath is running for his old seat


Mark McGrath, the spirited eight-year former councilman from District 2 who was term limited out two years ago, is running for his old seat.
“It’s been difficult watching the Council and the administration become the focal point of failure and ridicule around the Capital District,” he said when asked why he was running again. “People are disgusted.”
McGrath interviewed with the Republican Party Selection Committee Monday night. The enrolled Conservative Party member needs the GOP’s permission to run on their line as he did in each of his four successful elections.
The incumbent, Anastasia Roberston, a Democrat, has not announced her intention to run again but she is stepping up her public appearances by holding marches in response to the recent shootings in her neighborhood.
Although Robertson ran with Democratic Party support two years ago, she has since aligned herself with Council President Rodney Wiltshire, who is running for mayor. Wiltshire has been at odds with the Democratic Party proper, namely Rensselaer County Chairman Tom Wade.
Wiltshire did interview in front of the party’s Selection Committee, but that body picked Troy Rehabilitation and Improvement District Executive Director Patrick Madden. Wiltshire, though, has said he will take his case to the full committee in hopes of getting their support and has vowed to run regardless of that committee’s decision.
That’s the long way of saying Robertson will likely not get the Democratic Party support should she opt to run again in District 2.
Two mayoral hopefuls, former Councilwoman Carmella Mantello and Councilman Jim Gordon, R-District 1, also interviewed in front of the Republican Selection Committee Monday. McGrath had also toyed with running for mayor but the GOP would not give him the Wilson Pakula - the party's permission - to run on its line.
All nine Council seats are up this year with Districts 5 and 6 being vacant as their respective represenatives – Ken Zalewski and Gary Galuski – are term limited out. Wiltshire’s vacated his At Large seat to run for mayor and should Gordon pursue his mayoral aspiration his District 1 seat will be vacant as well.     

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Democratic Committee selects Patrick Madden for mayor

The Troy Democratic Party Selection Committee is expected to announce it is recommending Patrick Madden, the long-time executive director at the Troy Rehabilitation and Improvement Program, for mayor either later today or tomorrow.
The recommendation will now go to the full committee for a formal vote. The full committee could accept Selection Committee’s recommendation but could vote for someone else who interviewed or someone else altogether. A break from the Selection Committee, however, is unusual and would require a candidate to buck county chairman, Tom Wade, and city chairman, Jack McCann, both of whom serve on the Selection Committee.  
The Selection Committee interviewed a number of candidates for the city’s top spot including Council President Rodney Wiltshire and newcomer Earnest Everett, both of whom have announced their intention to run a primary if they don’t get the party’s support.
Also interviewed were county Legislator Ed Manny and Elizabeth Young-Jojo, the former executive director at the city’s Downtown Improvement District.
Madden, who is not enrolled in any party and can’t vote for himself in a primary, has headed up TRIP, a non-profit organization geared toward housing for low and moderate income individuals and families, since 1987. He is Rensselaer County Executive’s Kathy Jimino’s brother. Jimino is arguably the most powerful Republican in Rensselaer County.
Wiltshire was elected citywide twice and has publicly battled with Wade and the party hierarchy. He has stated he will take his case to the full committee to try to get the party’s endorsement but is prepared to run a primary should he fall short. He will also likely get the Working Families Party support and if that happens he will be on the ballot in November regardless of what the full Democratic committee does over the next couple weeks or the Democratic Party voters say in September’s primary. If Madden is successful in September, as the dynamics stand now, he will have one line headed into November’s general election.
Everett, on the other hand, does not have the ground troops the WFP will provide Wiltshire, and being a newcomer has less of a chance than Wiltshire to swing the full committee to his side. Everett could even have a tough time getting the required 421 signatures – 5 percent of the enrolled Democrats in the city – to get on the primary ballot. But, if the Wade Democrats want to derail Wiltshire, they would help Everett get the necessary signatures because, it is widely believed, he would siphon votes from the council president.
Nobody has formally announced their mayoral intentions for the Republicans but former Councilwoman Carmella Mantello is expected to do so next month. And Councilman Jim Gordon, R-District 1, has all but announced too. Councilman Dean Bodnar, R-District 3, said he is ready and willing to run should the party need him to step up but added he would not primary Gordon should his Council colleague get the endorsement.
Mantello, though, indicated she is moving ahead with her own campaign regardless of what the party does. Appearing on Talk 1300, she said she would seek the Green Party endorsement and create another line along the theme of keeping term limits in place in Troy.
An odd dynamic is that Madden is Jimino's brother and Gordon works for Jimino as the county's DWI coordinator.

Last month, Mayor Lou Rosamilia, a Democrat, announced he would not seek a second term.
More information as it becomes available.       

Saturday, April 11, 2015

RPI 'postpones' showing of 'American Sniper'

The Union Program and Activities Committee at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute postponed a Friday showing of “American Sniper” because of complaints from the college’s Muslim Student Association.
The blockbuster movie – based on the life of Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle and directed by Clint Eastwood – was replaced by “The Theory of Everything.” Rather than part of the regular Friday night movie schedule, “American Sniper” will be shown at a later date as part of an “educational forum” according to the UPAC Cinema Facebook page.
RPI has long upheld the values of respect and coexistence, thus it is only our highest concern that this screening would not create any tensions or hatred among students at RPI.RPI has long upheld the values of respect and coexistence, thus it is only our highest concern that this screening would not create any tensions or hatred among students at RPI. RPI has long upheld the values of respect and coexistence, thus it is only our highest concern that this screening would not create any tensions or hatred among students at RPI.RPI has long upheld the values of respect and coexistence, thus it is only our highest concern that this screening would not create any tensions or hatred among students at RPI,” according to the UPAC Cinema’s Facebook post. “It is our hopes that the educational forum, which will include representatives from the portrayal of multiple identities in the movie, would create a better environment of dialogue and understanding on campus.”
UPAC is a student run movie theater sponsored by the Student Union. The Facebook post says the "education forum" will be held later this semester or early next semester. There is no firm date mentioned.
One person, Andy Thrift, a former Fire Support Sergeant in the U.S. Army, responded to the decision to postpone the filming on the UPAC Facebook page.
“I wonder if you would do the same thing if students of German descent or Japanese descent would have requested to cancel Saving Private Ryan or Letters from Iwo Jima?” Swift wrote. “I'm guessing not.”
UPAC said it has received “numerous emails and even a petition suggesting that the cancellation is censorship, however this is not the case.”
“Censorship is an attempt to bring a subject out of focus; our action is an attempt to bring strong issues into greater focus,” according to the UPAC Facebook post. “We want to hold an educational event that invites members from MSA, the Student Veterans of America, and any other organizations that could take interest in this film to lead a discussion open to all RPI students and faculty members.”
Kyle was made famous by the autobiography: “American Sniper: The Autobiography of the most lethal sniper in U.S. Military History.” The movie was released in November, 2014 and has grossed $540 million, the highest grossing war movie to date. It received six nominations at the last Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
Kyle is credited with 255 kills in four tours in Iraq, 160 of those are officially confirmed by the U.S. Department of Defense.
According to the “Campus Reform” the University of Michigan also tried to pull the movie after the school’s Middle Eastern and North Africa Association and the Muslim Students’ Association “condemned the movie as offensive and asked it not be shown.” The Campus Reform website said the college has since decided to show the film along with a discussion.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Peggy Kownack is running for Troy City Council.

Longtime activist Peggy Kownack is throwing her hat in the ring for an At Large seat on the Troy City Council.
“I've submitted my resume for consideration as a candidate for Troy City Council At-Large to the Democratic Party and am waiting for an interview to be scheduled,” said Kownack, who is a regular attendee – and vocal participant - in nearly every Council meeting.
She said she was also contacted by people in the Working Families Party to run on their line as well.
Kownack is involved in a number of civic organizations and activities, most notably breathing new life into the Troy Central Little League.
While Kownack is a longtime enrolled Democrat, the fact the WFP approached her too is telling.
Council President Rodney Wiltshire announced he is running to replace Mayor Lou Rosamilia, who opted not to seek a second term, but he does not have the blessing of the Democratic Party proper, namely Chairman Tom Wade. He does, though, have strong support within the WFP.
Wiltshire said he too will send a resume and interview in front of the Democratic Party committee. There are some Wade Dem – I call them “Wade Dems” for the sake of clarity - names out there like Legislators Ed Manny and Cindy Doran, but no one other than Wiltshire has formally announced. Wade and Wiltshire, during individual appearances on TALK1300 said they are each prepared to primary.
While the mayor’s race will get most of the headlines – especially this year when there is a good chance of a GOP primary as well – all nine Council seats are also up for grabs.

Right now, on paper, the Democrats have a 7-2 majority. But, the real majority is an odd coalition of four Democrats – Wiltshire Dems - and two Republicans with three Democrats who remain loyal to the party left out of most, if not all, of the decision making.
It will be interesting if Wiltshire and the WFP can fill an entire slate to run against Wade Dem candidates or if they will target only certain seats.
Unlike Wiltshire, the other two At Large councilmembers – Lynn Kopka and Erin Sullivan-Teta – are Wade Democrats and it’s unclear if they will run again, if the Wiltshire Democrats will put up two more candidates or who the GOP will get to run for the three seats. It’s also not known if the Democrats will put up a third candidate to join Kopka and Sullivan-Teta on the ticket.
(As an aside, Kownack might be running with the Wiltshire Dems but she is far from likely to toe anyone’s line. We'll talk to her about it this Saturday on Talk1300.)
Here is a cursory look at the rest of the Council:
-In District 1, Councilman Jim Gordon, a Republican, has all but announced his intention to run for mayor - he is even holding a fundraiser on April 21. While it might be the only GOP stronghold in the city, people in the ‘Burgh will cross party lines for the right candidate.
-In District 2, Councilwoman Anastasia Robertson, a Democrat, is in Wiltshire’s camp and former Councilman Mark McGrath, an enrolled Conservative who ran with GOP support, is likely to run for his old seat. It’s not clear if the Wade Democrats will challenge Robertson.
 -In District 3 incumbent Dean Bodnar, a Republican, has two more years before he is term limited out. Bodnar is a Republican but he is more independent than a party loyalist. With chaos running rampant across the ballot this year, it would not be a surprise if everyone just leaves Bodnar alone and focuses their fight in other areas.
-In District 4, Councilman Bob Doherty, a Democrat, is squarely in the Wiltshire camp. The district heavily favors Democrats so it will be interesting to see who the Wade Dems put up.
-In District 5, Councilman Ken Zalewski is term limited out. He is one of Wiltshire’s biggest supporters but all three factions – Wade Dems, Wiltshire Dems and the GOP – have a shot at this district.
-In District 6, Councilman Gary Galuski is also term limited out. He is a staunch Wade Dem but like District 5 it’s a toss-up.
One sure is it’s going to be a fun year in the Collar City.