Monday, September 29, 2014

Complaint: Chief Tedesco doesn't like Irish cops (UPDATED)

I've been told by a very good source that McAvoy was trying to keep peace that night (you'll have to read the post to know what night I'm talking about) and not part of the problem. I'll say again, if there wasn't an IA investigation I would not have written about it in 2011 nor mentioned it here. I'll also say again, McAvoy and Coons are both well respected, good cops. I'll also say again, ethnicity has nothing to do with why Coons hasn't been promoted to captain.

In one of the funniest stories I’ve heard in a long time, Sgt. John Coons filed a complaint with the Division on Human Rights claiming that Chief John Tedesco refuses to promote him to captain because … are you ready for this … he’s Irish.
In the complaint, according to the Times Union, Coons claims Tedesco bypassed Coons in favor of his friends and fellow Italians, and unless Coons goes by his nickname – Coonsi – his name doesn’t end in a vowel.
Coons was ranked second on the captain’s list but was passed over in 2011, 2013 and 2014. He was promoted to sergeant in 2004 after making a lateral transfer from Cohoes to Troy in 1993.
The way Civil Service works though is you take a test and whoever is doing the hiring or promoting can pick from the top three slots. If, in one round, the person with the highest score is picked, for example, everyone slides up a notch and the second best test score becomes the best and the third becomes the second and the fourth becomes the third and is eligible for the next hire or promotion.
It gives whoever is hiring or promoting some flexibility in the process while ensuring the person getting hired isn’t just a political hack, next door neighbor or nephew.
Coons retained attorney Eric Sanders, of New York City to file the complaint. He’s the same guy who represented Anthony Conyers, a black officer who sued because he wasn’t promoted to sergeant. He’s now a sergeant but is considering another lawsuit claiming he is not getting the appropriate training, acc 
ording to the TU.
I don’t think the Division on Human Rights has any teeth though. In other words, I don’t think it can impose sanctions or penalize the TPD or Tedesco at all.
On the flip side of that, a captain makes $30,000 more than a sergeant so if Coons doesn’t think he will get it before he retires – which of course will impact his pension for many, many years to come – what’s the harm in pushing the envelope.
Let me say I’ve known Coons for a long time, probably almost as long as I was at The Record. He was always seemed like a decent sort and always went out of his way to shake my hand, talk about Troy politics or compliment me on one column or another. Even if he didn’t like the subject matter or the slant I took he still said he liked reading them.
Professionally, I’ve never heard a bad word about Coons. I always got the impression he was a solid cop who got into the business for all the right reasons and never forgot them
Until one night on Saturday, April9 2011, shortly after Tedesco snubbed him for captain in favor of Joe Centanni, who tied for third on the captain's exam while Coons placed second. And yes, as the vowel implies, Centanni is I-talian.
On that night, Coons and his cousin now Assistant Chief Buddy McAvoy had a few too many and ended up at the Red Front, where Centanni’s mom works. They started giving her somewhat of a hard time and other employees decided the best course of action was to call the cops on the cops.
I’ve certainly spent my fair share of time in and around Troy’s watering holes and still hold true to that old adage of “what happens downtown stays downtown.” The above scenario would have fit into a “what happens downtown” even though the Red Front isn’t technically in downtown. And it would have stayed right there if it weren’t for the internal affairs investigation it sparked.
When a complaint is made by the public about a police officer it may or may not warrant IA involvement, and I’ve been around long enough to know Tedesco didn’t have to order an investigation into the matter. But, like Coons, McAvoy is a good cop who was passed over for a promotion to chief and odds are the two cousins made their respective displeasure known not only at the Red Front but around the TPD too. There is no doubt in my mind Tedesco was sending a message to the two that he was the chief – like it or not.
Well, Coons and McAvoy didn’t like it and probably still don’t but that won’t make Coons a captain anytime soon and I hope a complaint to the Commission on Human Rights doesn’t either. Nothing against Coons at all, but the chief is the chief and as such he promotes who he wants so long as it's within the parameters set forth by Civil Service.
Maybe that night at the Red Front has more to do with the fact he isn’t wearing captain stripes than the fact he’s Irish.  

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Candidate for Troy judge practiced law with a suspended license (UPDATED with DOCUMENTS)

The Republican candidate for Troy City Court judge had her law license suspended from June 1999 to April 2005. And, she appears to have practiced law during that time.
Jill A. Kehn, according to a suspension order by the Appellate Division, failed to register “despite written notices sent to them by the Office of Court Administration and a notice sent by petitioner.” Attorneys must register and pay a $350 fee every two years to maintain their license.
The decision goes onto say Kehn, and a host of other attorneys included in the round-up type decision, “for the period of suspension, are commanded to desist and refrain from the practice of law in any form either as principal or as agent, clerk or employee of another, and are forbidden to appear as an attorney or counselor-at-law before any court, Judge, Justice, board, commission or other public authority or to give to another any opinion as to the law or its application or any advice in relation thereto …”
But, a determination by the Commission on Judicial Conduct barring a Troy judge from ever being a judge again indicates she represented a client on July 10, 2000, 13 months after her license was suspended.
The 2004 determination – which banned Troy City Court Judge Hank Bauer from the bench for life for a host of improprieties - states Kehn represented Marilyn Grant on an unlawful possession of marijuana charge. Grant was arrested on July 7 and Bauer set bail at $20,000. She returned to court on July 10 with her attorney, Kehn. There wasn’t a prosecutor present, but Kehn negotiated a deal that included an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal and time served. The Commission on Judicial Conduct did find problems with the sentence, but only mentioned Kehn’s name in passing.

She also worked in the Rensselaer County Sewer Department as an attorney from 2002 to 2005.
Ironically, Kehn’s name was mentioned in Republican circles to replace Bauer, who was removed from the bench about a month prior to his 2004 re-election bid, which was at the time in full swing.  
“During a period when I was primarily attending to my duties as mother of three small children and also caring for a father in law who was facing a serious illness, my license inadvertently lapsed for failing to renew a state licensing fee,” Kehn said in a statement. “When the matter came to my attention, the license was renewed and there was no disciplinary proceedings related to the lapse.”
Kehn produced a 2005 letter to Michael Novak, chief clerk of the Appellate Division, which stated “until a few hours ago, I was completely unaware that I was suspended in 1999 for failing to pay a registration fee.”
She said she had never received notification of her suspension and said she moved in October, 1999 and may not have notified the Office of Court Administration of her change of address until sometime in 2000.
“However, having received and submitted biannual registration forms on a regular basis since then, I had no reason to question my status with the court,” she wrote.
She also produced registration fee receipts for 1996 through 2001 she paid on April 19, 2000 as well as a receipt for 2002 to 2003 that she paid on Sept. 25, 2002 and one for 2004 and 2005 she paid on Oct. 18, 2004.
But, once an attorney is suspended, it takes a formal process and court order to get reinstated, which didn’t happen until 2005.
She said the issue of her license was reviewed by the Independent Judicial Election Qualification Commission, a panel that rates judicial candidates, both when she initially submitted her credentials and again when she appeared for an interview. 
“I am happy to report I came away with a rating of ‘Qualified’ following review by the Commission,” she said in a statement.
Kehn, according to her LinkedIn account, graduated from the Albany Law School of Union University in 1989 and according to the unanimous Appellate Division decision reinstating her license she was admitted to practice law in 1990.
She is running for two seats on the Troy bench, one currently held by Judge Chris Maier, who is running for re-election, and a position newly created by the state Legislature.
The third candidate is Democrat Keith Gorman.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Jail employee on paid leave for more than two years files suit against Sheriff Mahar


A corrections officer who has been on paid administrative leave for more than two years is the latest to file a lawsuit against Sheriff Jack Mahar and others for improperly accessing medical records.
Kevin Rogers, a CO at the Rensselaer County Jail from 1990 through 1996 and again from 2003 to the present, claims two nurses at the jail, at Mahar’s direction, accessed his records on at least three occasions. If the allegations are true, it violates a number of Rogers’s Constitutional rights under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA.
Rogers, who was the union vice president and makes in excess of $70,000 a year, has been on paid administrative leave because of allegations he used union funds for personal gain. According to sources, he has refused to plea bargain with the federal authorities who are looking into the matter. He has not been formally charged with any crime.
The Rensselaer County Jail
(The one in Troy, NY not Troy, Michigan) 
President of the now defunct Sheriff’s Employees Association of Rensselaer County, Mark Piche, was also under scrutiny for using union funds at strip clubs and high-end restaurants. In 2013 he pleaded guilty to tax evasion in relation to a restaurant his family owns, The Red Front in Troy. He did not face any embezzlement charges but sources say part of his plea to tax evasion was to testify against Rogers when and if the latter is charged and when and if it goes to trial. He also resigned from his position at the jail.
The two former union representatives were staunch supporters of Gary Gordon, a former Troy police officer now working as an investigator for the District Attorney’s Office, in his bid for sheriff against Mahar in 2011.  Gordon ran with the Democrats and Mahar is a Republican.  

In his civil suit against the Sheriff’s Department, Mahar and nurses Katrina Dinan and Elaine Young Rogers claims his medical records were accessed without his permission twice in 2006 and again in 2013. The nurses allegedly used a system the jail had established with Samaritan Hospital to check medical records of inmates getting care at the hospital electronically.  
In 2013, Samaritan sent a letter to scores of jail employees telling them their records were accessed in a similar fashion and at least half dozen lawsuits similar to the one filed Friday by Rogers followed.
  The password to the Samaritan Hospital medical records was given to Young, who has since resigned her position after 13 years at the jail. This lawsuit, like others, claims Young did not properly secure the password and instead left it taped to the computer console or in her desk drawer.  
  The suit claims Mahar directed jail personnel to access the records under the guise of stepping up enforcement of sick time abuse – and even if that were the reason, it would still violate HIPPA.
“This is not the first time high ranking Rensselaer County officials have abused their power to access confidential information,” according the lawsuit filed by Rogers’s attorney Matthew Tully in federal court. “The employees of the Rensselaer County Jail, under the supervision of Sheriff Mahar, have a habit and practice of breaching the privacy of citizens and improperly accessing computer databases.”
The suit goes on to talk about Master Sgt. Anthony Patricelli, who was considered one of Mahar’s loyalists when the jail was fractured between Mahar supporters and those of Gordon. He admitted to directing employees to access medical records and was initially charged with the felonies of falsifying business records and computer trespass as well as official misconduct, a misdemeanor. He pleaded guilty to unauthorized use of a computer.
“Unbelievably, Defendant Patricelli was not disciplined by Defendant Mahar and remains an employee at the Rensselaer County Jail,” according to the lawsuit. “It is clear that Defendant Mahar’s failure to take action against Defendant Patricelli, in the face of unquestionably illegal conduct, that Defendant Mahar and Rensselaer County have ratified the conduct of Defendant Patricelli and other employees as it relates to the unauthorized access of citizen’s private information.”
Specifically, the suit alleges Mahar violated Rogers’s right to privacy, implementing policies and procedures that directly violate Constitutional rights, the failure to train and supervise employees under state law, violating the American with Disabilities Act, and computer fraud and abuse.
The suit demands a trial by jury and an unspecified cash amount be awarded.
Mahar could not be reached for comment.
Rogers is represented by attorney Gasper Castillo in the criminal matter that has yet to yield an indictment.
More information as it becomes available.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A third candidate for the Third Judicial District


While much has been made of who will get the Democratic Party nomination for the one open seat on the Supreme Court, a Republican is poised to get her party’s nomination later this week.
Lisa M. Fisher, 47, a Greene County resident and Kingston attorney, is expected to be the GOP’s pick and she will run against whoever comes out on top in the ongoing battle between Family Court Judge Margaret “Peggy” Walsh and county Legislator Justin Corcoran. The well-documented intraparty delegate fight will come to a conclusion one way or another when the party’s Judicial Nominating Convention takes place on Friday.
The Republicans also meet on Friday and the Conservative Party, which is expected to endorse Fisher, on Saturday.
The way it works is that delegates are picked by party bosses from the seven counties that make up the Third Judicial District. Those delegates are elected by voters and sent to a Judicial Nominating Convention where they vote for what is usually an agreed upon candidate. Rare is it when there are primaries for delegates.   
Delegates for Walsh, who cannot run for Supreme Court and Family Court at the same time, won 17 of 30 primaries so 17 from Albany County will likely cast their votes for Walsh and 13 will likely vote for Cocoran at the convention. It’s unclear how delegates from the other counties will vote.
One criticism of Cocoran – in addition to the fact he is a man – is that he is part of the old line Democrats whereas Walsh is favored by the “progressive” Democrats headed up by Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan. One criticism of Walsh is she already has the party’s nomination for a re-election bid for Family Court.  
Fisher has been in private practice for 17 years and has served as an assistant public defender for the Ulster County Public Defender’s Office, staff attorney for the Ulster County Department of Social Services, and Court attorney for Hon. Edward T. Feeney, Kingston City Court. 
A contested judicial race for the Third District is a recent phenomenon. For years, political party bosses for the Democrats and Republicans would swap endorsements to avoid a costly, seven-county race that depletes limited resources with little political return in the way of jobs.
The Third Judicial District consists of Albany, Ulster, Rensselaer, Greene, Columbia, Sullivan and Schoharie counties. The seat that carries a 14-year-term opened up when Judge Joseph Teresi, of Albany County, retired.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Abelove wins Independence Party line by 23

After 212 absentee ballots were counted, Republican Joel Abelove won the Independence Party line by 23 votes over his Democratic Party opponent for District Attorney, Carmelo Laquidara. Abelove had a three-vote lead, 417-414 on the machines at the end of Primary Day.
Heading into November, Abelove will have the Republican, Conservative and Independence Party lines while Laquidara will have the Democratic, Working Families Party and Green Party lines. 

Laquidara won the Green Party via a write in because the party didn’t endorse either candidate. Conversely, the Independence Party endorsed both candidates, which was surprising since the party has almost exclusively endorsed Republicans at least at the local level.
Ablelove is a former Assistant District Attorney who ran for DA four years ago. Laquidara was a judge in the City of Rensselaer before joining the District Attorney's Office. He ran for county court judge two years ago.
Minor party lines can make the difference in any election. Here is breakout of active enrolled voters in Rensselaer County according to state Board of Elections:
Blank (not enrolled in any party): 28,659
Democrat: 27,650
Republican: 23,999
Independence: 7,380
Conservative: 4,440
WFP: 1,147
Green: 282
Other: 41
Total: 93,598

Monday, September 15, 2014

'Draft Mark McGrath' signs were funny, but they weren't a prank

In what is one of the funniest political gags in a long time someone, or a group of people, littered the landscape with campaign signs for a candidate that has been nothing but coy about his future ambitions.
Black and white “Draft Mark McGrath” signs were put up hours before the Uncle Sam Parade stepped off and minutes before speculation over who was actually responsible for putting them up hit social media and the telephone lines.
Without even reaching out to him, McGrath, the former councilman in District 2 who has not really given a straight answer whether he will run for mayor next year, sent a text saying he had nothing to do with it.
Some believe that’s the case. Others aren’t so sure.
Still others swear Kevin McCashion, the Twitter animal who coined #troycrazy, was behind the entire plot. I don’t know if he is or is not, but I know he did Tweet a photo of a “Draft McGrath” sign that was placed in front of what he claimed to be the home of Councilwoman Anastasia Roberston, D-District 2. You have to admit that’s pretty funny.
But, since now is the time when the jockeying starts for any mayoral hopeful, the signs can’t be discounted as a simple prank. In the very least, it has people talking. If it was a prank, it was hysterical. If it wasn’t, it’s a pretty clever maneuver.
McGrath along with Councilman Jim Gordon, R-District 1, are the two credible names bantered about with the most regularity as Republican candidates.
Gordon, I think, wants it more than McGrath and Gordon probably has more support among the Republican Party proper than McGrath. But, Gordon would also have to give up his Council seat to run for mayor and he has a full time job. McGrath is retired from the state Comptroller’s Office and really has nothing to lose with all the time in the world to try
McGrath, appearing on Talk 1300, said he isn’t liked by the mainstream of either party. And while that much is true, it is common knowledge being a political outsider plays well with voters and he just recently started making it a bigger issue that it is. He was elected to four terms with Republican support, after all.
His shoot from the hip style is endearing to those who agree and infuriating to those who don’t. I think though, that style plays well with the voters – if not the insiders - of both parties too. That said, he is an enrolled Conservative adding another dimension to the mix should there be a primary.
Gordon, on the other hand, works in a political job and is a Republican through and through. While he has, in his first nine months on the Council, played nice with the Democratic majority, the Democrats are split so his vote and the vote of his GOP colleague, Councilman Dean Bodnar, R-District 3, are needed by Council President Rodney Wiltshire. And for those votes the Republicans got committee chairmanships and appointments. It wasn’t done on the count of any ideology outside of partisan politics.
That said, Gordon has worked his way up the ranks doing a host volunteer work for the party and his Lansingburgh neighborhood. Something McGrath can’t really put on his resume.   
To make a long story short. I don’t think the signs were a prank at all. I think they were a well-planned - and well-played - move to force the Republican hand and come court him to run for mayor. McGrath may or may not have known about it, but there are some in the GOP who think he is their best shot at beating Mayor Lou Rosamilia should he run for re-election next November - or any other candidate for that matter.
(As an aside, I was talking to someone who was postulating on the possibility of a Wiltshire vs. McGrath race next year. He said, and I paraphrase: “It would be a macho kind of race … you know, who can bench the most weight, who can run up The Approach faster and who can win a stare-down contest.”)          

Saturday, September 13, 2014

McCoy: Clyne will step down as party chair and BOE commissioner

Albany County Executive Dan McCoy, appearing on Talk 1300 Saturday, said Matt Clyne has decided to step down as Democratic Party chairman and from his post as Board of Elections commissioner.
Stepping down as chair - an unpaid, largely thankless job - comes as no surprise after he got trounced in his re-election bid to a committee seat on Primary Day and likely wouldn't win re-election anyway. But as BOE commissioner he earned $88,000 and the spot is filled by Democrats on the Legislature.
Clyne could not immediately be reached for comment.
McCoy would not say who he would like to see as the next county chair or take over as the party’s representative at the Board of Elections. Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, who has called for Clyne’s ouster and heads up the “progressive” faction of Democrats, could not be reached for comment.
The intraparty rift between the old line Democrats, of which Clyne is a part and McCoy is tied into, and the progressive Democrats came to a head when Clyne tried to bounce off the ballot a slate of judicial delegates in an effort to ensure the Supreme Court nomination went to Legislator Justin Cocoran.
The strategy failed, the courts put the ousted slate of delegates back on the ballot and, according to the Times Union, won at least 17 of the 30 primaries. Those delegates will likely back Albany County Family Court Judge Margaret “Peggy” Walsh for Supreme Court at the judicial nominating convention later this month.
Walsh is also running for re-election to her spot on Family Court. It seems to contradict one of the biggest grips Sheehan and the “progressive” faction of Democrats have is that not enough people – read that “their people” – were benefitting from party controlled jobs.
Walsh cannot wear both robes at the same time, so should she get the nod at the judicial nominating convention the Democrats will hold on Sept. 19, she may have to drop out of the Family Court race and allow the committee to fill vacancies to fill the slot. Petitions for the three-person committee were circulated in June along with other nominating petitions.
The organizational meeting, where the party will pick Clyne’s replacement, will occur before the end of the month.
The county committee won’t have the choice of choosing Clyne, but who they do pick could swing towards the “progressive” Democrats or the old guard. Some names bantered about include Common Council President Carolynn McLaughlin, the party’s secretary, who the TU described as not fitting in nicely with either faction and County Legislature Noelle Kinsch, the wife of city Treasurer Darius Shahinfar.
Who is picked for Family Court Judge to replace Walsh is not clear at this time. As is who will replace Clyne at the Board of Elections.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Primary Day winners and losers

I generally save the winners and losers column for New Year’s Eve but this past primary had a bunch of ins and outs and they are all kind of interrelated so it’s better to address them in this context than individually.


Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin: Won a write in for only the second time in the chamber’s history. He soundly defeated Democrat Phil Malone, a member of the East Greenbush Town Board, who got the Independence Party’s endorsement. McLaughlin not only won but he won by a nearly two-to-one margin in Rensselaer and Columbia counties. It’s not clear what happened in Washington County. McLaughlin has been the loudest and most consistent critic of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and that is probably the reason he didn’t get the Independence Party endorsement. He won anyway.
Zephyr Teachout: The Democrat did lose the primary to Cuomo (who will be mentioned below) but she had a hell of a showing in upstate and in particular the Capital Region (also mentioned below) where she trounced the incumbent governor.
Keith Gorman: The attorney running without support from the Democratic Party proper is 34 votes ahead of Corporation Counsel Ian Silverman in their bid to become a Troy City Court judge. I’ve heard he worked his tail off and I’ve also heard kudos goes to his campaign manager, Kathleen Campbell. Absentee ballots will determine who will take the second Democratic Party slot in November.
Chris Maier: He handily won the three-way primary against the two gentlemen mentioned above and that’s without a whole bunch of party support either. He and his wife, Family Court Judge Beth Walsh, just seem to go about their own thing and keep getting elected.
Jill Kehn: The Republican candidate for the judgeship mentioned above will have the Republican, Conservative, Independence, Green and Working Families Party lines come November. And yes, it’s another nod to Crist. There are two open seats on the bench and three candidates on the ballot in November, if the primary results do not change after the paper is counted and the election deemed official.
Rebecca Sweeney: She beat both Democratic Party heavyweights – Chairman Tom Wade and Council President Rodney Wiltshire – in the Rensselaer County Democratic Party Committee primary in Election District No. 8. What’s funny is that she was Wade’s running mate and one of the only reasons she was on the ballot is because she is the daughter to Mary Sweeney – a longtime Board of Elections employee.
Rodney Wiltsire and company: The faction of Democrats who, for the time being, got their city court judge candidate (Gorman) on the ballot and who tied Wade in Election District 8 in a race for the Rensselaer County Democratic Party Committee in the Election District the latter held for decades.
Tom Wade and Company: For holding onto the county committee by winning a number of races against candidates put up by Rodney Wiltshire and company. And, even though Wade tied in his own committee race against Wiltshire, he will likely get appointed to the county committee anyway.
Joel Abelove: The candidate for District Attorney is down by three votes in the Independence Primary against Carmello Laquidara but I’m hearing has an edge with the 212 absentee ballots. Laquidara will not be mentioned below with the losers, however, since the race was and still is pretty tight and I expect the same in the general election.
Rich Crist: The GOP operative had a major role in the Abelove and McLaughlin Independence Party campaigns.


Gov. Andrew Cuomo: Yes, he handily won the Democratic Party primary but he took a beating in the Capital Region. In Rensselaer, Albany, Saratoga and Schenectady County Teachout won by a nearly two-to-one margin. Pundits jumped at the potential reasons and they include the governor’s treatment of labor unions, his unwillingness to decide on fracking and his “my way or the highway,” bullying personality. I happen to think the SAFE ACT has something to do with it but either way, the Guv got trounced around here.
The Capital Region: Since Cuomo is known as an easy going, live and let live, let bygones be bygones kind of guy, I’m sure he won’t withhold any state funding or direct potential funding that could come here anywhere else. For example, maybe, just maybe, the new casino that could go to East Greenbush or the City of Rensselaer will be a shorter ride than Turning Stone – like Howe Caves.
 Tom Wade and company: Their city court candidate (Silverman) is likely off the ballot, their DA candidate (Laquiadara) stands a good chance of losing the Independence Party line and Wiltshire tied Wade in the race for committee in the Election District the latter held for decades.
Rodney Wiltshire and company: They may have done well in other races but they didn’t make too much of a dent in their bid to take over the Rensselaer County Democratic Party Committee. 
  Phil Malone: The candidate for Assembly got trounced in the Independence Party primary by incumbent Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin. And, the East Greenbush Town Board member had the party’s endorsement so his name appeared on the ballot. McLaughlin beat him in a write in.
Ian Silverman: If the primary results remain the same, the corporation counsel will not be on the ballot in November after losing the Democratic Party primary and primaries for all the minor lines.





Wednesday, September 10, 2014

DA minor party primary goes to absentees

A mere three votes separate the two candidates for Rensselaer County District Attorney in the Independence Party primary and it will come down to paper ballots.
At the end of the night Tuesday, with all 82 Election District accounted for, Republican Joel Abelove had 417 votes while Democrat Carmelo Laquidara had 414. There are, however, 212 returned absentee ballots yet to be counted as well as two military ballots. It’s unclear how many affidavits, if any, were turned in at the polling places on Primary Day that not yet counted.
The two are vying for the seat vacant since Rich McNally was sworn in as a Supreme Court judge on Jan. 1.
The Independence Party is important to any candidate because there are 7,380 enrolled in Rensselaer County. But, the party with hardly a platform to speak of does have a catchy name that lures voters into pulling the lever on that line thinking they are being independent too.
Coupled with the Conservative Party line, which Abelove also has, the two minor parties can account for up to 15 percent of a major party candidate’s vote total in November.
Laquiadara, the former City of Rensselaer judge who became first assistant DA earlier this year, has the Democratic Party line and fended off a write in campaign to secure the Working Families Party line by a count of 107 to 41.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Troy City Court judge race shapes up after primaries

Keith Gorman, in his first bid for public office, is in second place by an unofficial count of 31 votes, 678 to 647, over Corporation Counsel Ian Silverman in the Democratic Party primary for two seats on the Troy City Court Judge.
Incumbent Judge Chris Maier finished well ahead of the pack with 1014 votes.
Silverman had the backing of the Democratic Party proper – as did Maier – and late in the campaign Mayor Lou Rosamilia sent a flyer to voters endorsing the city’s top attorney.
Gorman, a long time attorney, however, seemingly came out of nowhere and was staunchly supported by the faction of Democrats headed up by Council President Rodney Wilshire.
How many absentee ballots are out is unclear.
Meanwhile, Republican Jill Kehn and Maier won the Conservative Party primary getting 133 and 110 votes, respectively. Silverman finished a distance third with 44 votes.
Maier and Kehn won the Working Families Party primary with 40 and 32 votes, respectively. Gorman finished with 21 and Silverman with 10.
Kehn and Maier won the Independence Party primary with 103 and 90 votes, respectively. Silverman and Gorman finished well back with 44 and 40 votes.
Maier and Kehn also won the Green Party primary with 8 and 5 votes, respectively while Gorman finished with 3 and Silverman with 1.
If all things remain constant after the absentees are counted and the results are deemed official, Maier will have the Democratic, Conservative, WFP, and Independence and Green Party lines in November.
Kehn will have the Republican, Conservative, WFP, and Independence and Green Party lines.
Gorman will have the Democratic Party line and Silverman will not be on the ballot.
Here is a link to all unofficial primary results in Rensselaer County.     

Epic battle between Wade and Wiltshire ends in a tie - for second.

After months of maneuvering, snide remarks, threats and backstabbing the much anticipated county committee race between two Democratic Party leaders - Rensselaer County Chairman Tom Wade and Troy City Council President Rodney Wiltshire – ended in a tie.
And here’s the kicker: they tied for second behind Rebecca Sweeney who got 21 votes and will represent Election District No. 8 on the committee. That means Wiltshire and Wade, with 18 votes each, both lose. Now 
it’s up to the very committee they ran to be a part of to elect a winner.

The results are unofficial, and the final tally won’t be known for a couple of days but there are no absentee ballot voting for committee seats. There could, however, be an affidavit ballot or two out there if there were problems with a voter’s identity or registration at the polling place.
If it does end up in front of the county committee, the odds have to be in Wade’s favor since it doesn’t appear the Wiltshire faction picked up many committee seats countywide and Wade fought off a coup two years ago.

Neither Wade nor Wiltshire need the committee seat to pursue their political ambitions whatever they may be. Wade's two-year term is up this year and the party will hold an organizational meeting within 20 days of the primary but being on the committee isn't a requirement.

It's also not a requirement for Wiltshire to run for Council again or perhaps for higher office, like mayor.

But, going into any campaign winning the committee seat outright certainly would help their argument.

In Albany County, Democratic Party Chairman Matt Clyne his re-election bid for a committee seat to , according to the Times Union.
   Here is a list of all the unofficial primary results for Rensselaer County.

Monday, September 8, 2014

DA candidates vie for minor party lines

District Attorney candidates Carmello Laquidara and Joel Abelove, a Democrat and Republican respectively, will square off for the Independence Party line on Tuesday.
The position became open after Rich McNally was sworn in as a Supreme Court judge on Jan. 1.
Laquadara was a judge in the City of Rensselaer and Abelove used to work in the District Attorneys Office.
There is also an Opportunity to Ballot, or a write in, for the Working Families Party and the Green Party. Laquadaro has the endorsement of each party and his name alone will appear on the ballot.
Abelove received the endorsement of the Conservative Party and there were not enough signatures collected to force a write in for that party’s primary.
It was surprising when Abelove did not get the Independence Party endorsement because it is largely controlled by the GOP, at least locally. Rather, the party endorsed both candidates and is going to let them duke it out on Tuesday.
The polls are open from noon to 9 a.m.
Here is a link to all the primaries in Rensselaer County.    

Three Troy judicial hopefuls vie for Democratic Party line; four battle for minor party lines

Three candidates are running for the Democratic Party primary for two seats on the Troy City Court bench.
Incumbent Chris Maier is looking for a second ten-year term and he will square off against Corporation Counsel Ian Silverman and attorney Keith Gorman on Tuesday.
Maier’s seat is open as is a second seat created last year by the state Legislature.
The Democratic Party has endorsed Maier and Silverman while the faction of Democrats that aligned themselves against Chairman Tom Wade - namely Council President Rodney Wiltshire and Councilman Ken Zalewski -  is solidly Gorman.
The Republican candidate is Jill Kehn.
The four candidates will also fight for number of minor party lines on Tuesday.
Maier, Kehn and Silverman are all on the ballot for the Conservative Party.
All four are on the ballot for the Working Families Party as well as the Independence and Green Parties.
Polls are open Tuesday from noon to 9 p.m.
Here is a link to all of the primaries in Rensselaer County.

Wade vs. Wiltshire in ED 8

       Primary Day is Tuesday, and one of the most interesting is a lowly committee seat in the City of Troy.

As first reported here, Chairman Tom Wade, who has been a committeeman for decades, will go head-to-head with Council President Rodney Wiltshire in Election District 8. Their respective running mates are Rebecca Sweeney and Rev. Tim Sherman.
It’s an anomaly in that political parties often have a difficult time filling committee seats let alone have more than two people to fill the slots in each of the 30 election districts city wide. And, it is because two of the party’s leaders are battling each other for the thankless, unpaid position.
The fallout began last year when Wiltshire accepted the Independence Party line from the Republicans setting him up for the presidency, knocking party loyalist – in other words a Wade ally - Lynn Kopka out of the spot.
Wiltshire, however, said he knew he wasn’t getting any support from the party and was fighting for his political life. As such, he was left no other option but to take any line available.
The president also alienated himself with the party proper by appointing GOP members of the Council to chair committees. His strongest ally, Councilman Ken Zalewski, also backed a Republican candidate, Dean Bodnar, R-District 3, during the election a year ago over the party’s candidate, Michelle DeLair.
When Wade and the Democrats refused to circulate nominating petitions for the two in June, the chairman threatened to bounce them from the party if they opted to run on their own. Obviously, they took that option.
There are only 344 enrolled Democrats in Election District 8 and of those 300 are “active” according to the Board of Elections. If 35 percent of those show up to the polls – or are taken to the polls by Wade or Wiltshire – it will be a healthy turnout.
Both sides are working hard too. Below is a letter written by Zalewski to a number of Democrats, including City Hall employees. Notice he “signed” the email as his Council title, president pro temp. As I said, Wade been involved in the nitty-gritty of Democratic Party politics for decades and nobody in the county can count votes – or get his people to vote – better than he.
In the end, regardless of who wins, and it could conceivably be Wade and Wiltshire, it won’t matter too much in any practical manner. Wade can still be chairman without being a committee man and not being a member of the committee does not prevent Wiltshire from holding onto his Council seat or running for higher office like mayor.
If one is on the losing end, however, it will be a blow to their egos and will certainly be used by enemies in either of their future political endeavors.
Polls are open from noon to 9 p.m. Tuesday.

There are a number of other committee primaries across the city. Here is a link to a map of the Election Districts in Troy. And here is a link to all the primaries in Rensselaer County.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Sources: Murder suspect turned himself in, confessed and then released

REUTER (Times Union photo)
       According to sources, one of the suspects under indictment for the murder of Al and Maria Lockrow turned himself in and gave a statement confessing to the crime. But, because he was not read his rights at the time, police had to let him go and he wasn’t officially arrested until some 12 hours later.
A Grand Jury indicted Jacob Heimroth and Daniel Reuter on 19 charges in relation to the Aug. 20 brutal beating of the popular Lansingburgh couple. They are slated to be arraigned on Monday in Rensselaer County Court.
First, Reuter called police and told them about the crime and the location of the Lockrow’s Ford Escapade SUV that was stolen from their home by the murderers. It was found shortly thereafter in a Columbia County field. It had been lit on fire and severely burnt so the car offered little to investigators. On Sept. 1, Reuter physically went to the police station and gave a written statement.    
Police, however, had no choice but to release him because he was not read his Miranda Rights – which, among other things, advise suspects of their right to silence and to an attorney. Sources say the detectives were afraid that if he was officially read his rights, he would not have been as forthcoming with his statement that included confessing to getting high on drugs and alcohol and beating the couple to death. He also named Heimroth, who did not confess and who has been less cooperative than Reuter, sources said.
If police didn’t let Reuter go at that time, the statement could have been thrown out if the case goes to trial. But, since they let him go he was not in custody, the statement is considered voluntary and has a much better chance of being admitted as evidence.  
On Sept. 1, after Reuter was released, his aunt Sue Ann Ringwood attempted to set up a meeting between police and Reuter and Heimroth, but the two didn’t show. Reuter was arrested some 12 hours later in Schenectady and Heimroth was arrested later that evening in Troy.
According to sources, Reuter told police he was splitting time between his mother’s home at the Lansingburgh Apartments where Ringwood also lived, and sleeping in a tent near the Lockrow’s home on First Avenue. Ringwood was a clerk at the OTB in Lansingburgh, a betting establishment frequented by Al Lockrow. She has since been transferred to the OTB East Greenbush branch.
Al Lockrow and Ringwood had been close friends for years. She was questioned at least twice by police.
Ringwood is from Columbia County as are Reuter and Heimroth.
Sources say after the murder and before burning the car in Columbia County, the two went to the home of the girlfriend of the brother of former Troy Police Officer Michael Johnson. Hudson police arrested her in March for possession of heroin while she was in a car Johnson was driving. Johnson was suspended for 30 days for that incident but did not face any criminal charges. He later resigned as an Internal Affairs investigation proceeded and has since been arrested for an unrelated burglary.
The name of the woman whose home Reuter and Heimroth went after the murder could not be determined Saturday but sources did say she is cooperating with authorities.  
It’s unclear what time Monday the two will be arraigned.   




Friday, September 5, 2014

Video contradicts PBA president's statement

After watching the nearly10-minute video of the incident on Aug. 30 involving Councilwoman Anastasia Robertson, D-District 2, I have to say Police Benevolent Association President Tom Hoffman was given bad information, greatly exaggerated the story or outright lied to the Council.
At Thursday’s Council meeting, he called out Robertson for trying to bait police into a physical confrontation while officers were investigating a disturbance in North Central.
As Hoffman tells it, two cops heard a disturbance near Fifth Avenue and 101st Street at around 5 p.m. – people yelling and what not. When they arrived they found two women in a fight or just ending one. One woman took off, she was white. The other stayed around, she was black.
A crowd gathered and the officers called for backup. There were six police cars at the scene. Among the crowd that gathered was Robertson and she did indeed have a cell phone and was taking video.
That’s pretty much the end what Hoffman said that is backed up by the video Robertson provided Channel 6 news. You would think, after being told there were people videotaping, he would have fact checked his story before he told it … or maybe even looked at some of the video.
Hoffman said the officers were spit on and were being prodded into getting physical with the residents – many of whom were black – while attempting to capture it all on video. A member of the crowd was Robertson, he said, and pointed her out as one of the antagonists.
Councilwoman Robertson assisted and incited and encouraged public unrest and anti-police sentiment, all while not knowing all the facts of the case,” Hoffman told the Council in dramatic fashion. “Councilwoman Robertson was unethical, unprofessional and acted in a manner detrimental to her position on the city council and to the residents of this city. You can’t talk about public safety and aid in public unrest.”
Spend 10 minutes and watch the video by clicking here. As near as I can tell, there was some tension and the situation could have gotten out of hand but neither side crossed the line as the black women told officers she and her domestic partner had had a fight. There was one cop kind of being a jerk and one in the crowd too … there are jerks all over the place and they are the ones who usually cause all the problems.
Anyway, on the video you hear what sounds like Robertson’s voice telling people to “calm down” and “don’t make it worse.”
Robertson, who left the chamber as Hoffman was giving his speech, didn’t want to comment but said she will at a later time. She did tell the reporter nothing of consequence happened off camera and what she provided was what transpired. She didn't say why she was videotaping.
It was a rough week for Robertson. Before Hoffman spoke on Thursday, she addressed the crowd regarding comments she made on Facebook about the race riot happening in Ferguson, Missouri. On one of the posts she spelled America, “AmeriKKKa” and said there is an orchestrated effort by whites to exterminate blacks.
There is racism and there will be racism as long as there are bigoted, narrow-minded people – back and white. Racism goes both ways. I’m guessing, though, the vast majority of people are not racist. Like anything, it’s the fringe thinkers on both sides who cause all the trouble.