A weblog about the politics and affairs of the old
and glorious City of Albany, New York, USA. Articles written and
disseminated from Albany's beautiful and historic South End by Daniel
Van Riper. If you wish to make a response, have anything to add
or would like to make an empty threat, please contact
A Plague Upon The Hearst Rag
How dare the Colonie-based “Albany” Times
attack and insult the South End
Here’s an important basic fact to remember. Money flows
from the poor to the rich. This is so glaringly obvious that nobody
seems to think it’s true. But the world has always worked
that way and it probably always will.
If money moved the opposite way, then after a while the rich would
become poor and the poor rich. That sure ain’t happening.
But the corporate media would like us to believe that it is.
The Sunday, February 25 Hearst-owned Times Union happily spit
up all over the South End once again, this
time on their front page. Their primary message is the same old “isn’t
Albany an awful place to live.” But they took their anti-urban
propaganda a big step further this time. Check out this prominent
picture caption smack dab in the center of the front page, which
they carefully kept off their web site:
Pockets of poverty, such as Alexander Street
in Albany's South End, plague sections of Capital Region cities
despite the economic growth brought about by investment in Tech
Excuse me, did the Hearst Corporation declare that my neighborhood
plagues the Capital District? Take a look at their picture of Alexander
Street that went with their caption:
Now look at my picture, taken without the empty house in the
foreground. The street looks much nicer:
Right after I took this picture on Sunday afternoon, a distinguished
looking well-dressed lady stood in the middle of Alexander Street
to get my attention as I tried to drive away. She had been talking
to another woman who was busy hacking through the ice that the
City snowplows had pushed up on her sidewalk. (You can see the two of them in the background of my photo if you squint.)
“Excuse me,” she said to me as I pulled up and unrolled
my window, “why did you just take a picture of our street?”
She was shocked to hear that her street was being dissed and downgraded
prominently on the front page of the Sunday Hearst Times Union. “The
Times Union says on their front page that Alexander Street ‘plagues’ the
rest of the Capital District.” I told her.
I had to tell her several times before she could believe it. “No!
How could they? I guess I’ll go out and buy the paper,” she
said, and thanked me. Then she called to the woman hacking ice. “You’ve
got to hear this!”
I hope they organize and fight back against the Hearst Rag, maybe
lynch an editor or two. I do feel sorry that I helped sell a few
I think those bad boys and girls at Hearst got it backwards. Consider
this quote from their article:
"There's really no connection between the suburbanite and
inner city," said Robert Jones, associate professor of economics
and chair of the Economics Department at Skidmore College. Suburbanites "don't
shop, except for lunches. In the older days, the big department
stores were downtown."
No connection, professor? There most certainly is a connection,
but it’s not good for us here in Albany. Who plagues who?
We don’t need suburbanites to give us their lunch money.
We need for them to stop robbing our homes and emptying our wallets.
Every single day, a parade of suburbanite automobiles careen into
our City, spewing exhaust and running down pedestrians. These suburbanites
emerge from their death wagons and waddle into our buildings where
they scoop up our money. At the end of the day, this army of outsiders
climbs back into their spew-mobiles clutching the cash they’ve
collected, and drive at excessive speeds through our neighborhoods
back to their suburbs.
Once back in their sprawling, unsustainable “bedroom communities,” the
suburbanites spend the cash that they collected in Albany at strip
malls and on overpriced mortgages for crap-boxes slapped up on
dead end curvilinear streets. And they pay all of their ever upward
spiraling taxes exclusively in their own municipalities. Almost
nothing “trickles down” to us “welfare queens” here
Let’s be crystal clear. You people from the suburbs plague
the South End. That’s the connection that the Hearst Rag
will never spell out for their content consumers. It’s a
wonder our South End community has not become an empty scorched
over waste land because of daily suburbanite degradations.
But of course, the suburbanites couldn’t loot our community
without assistance from the City of Albany government. To give
one current example, note how carefully the City clears snow for
the benefit of suburban auto traffic, while at the same time not
merely neglecting our pedestrian commuting routes, but actually
going out of their way to block sidewalks.
Now, one could perhaps argue that the Hearst Rag was doing a service
here, exposing problems in the South End that need to be fixed.
They even solicited comments, something they never did back before
the internet forced them to give out the illusion that they have
become interactive with the content consumers.
You’d almost think that the Hearst editors care. But no,
this one dimensional slander is nothing but anti-urban propaganda.
This point becomes succinct when you realize that their content
provider made not even a passing reference to the South End Action
Committee (SEAC.) Nor will any Hearst publication ever explain
why SEAC came into being.
The short version of this story is that the people of the South
End have been rising up in anger, and the City (read: the Mayor)
has had to work to alleviate problems to appease the angry citizens.
The first uprising in 2002 was when we defended Lincoln Park Pool
from The Mayor’s privatization plan. He wanted to replace
our pool with something a third the size, hand it over to a private
concern to run and maintain, and of course there would be a hefty
fee for using the new facility.
I went leafletting door to door around my end of the park, spreading
the word. This was the first most of my neighbors had heard of
the impending loss of our pool, naturally the story had been almost
completely censored in the corporate media. Almost everyone I spoke
to was shocked and angered by what The Mayor was doing to us.
Lincoln Park Pool House
About 250 people showed up at the Pool House in Lincoln Park in
absolutely pouring rain to tell The Mayor what he could do with
his privatization plan. Some 50 people got a chance to speak, every
single one of whom derided his plan. (But the Hearst Times Union
article the next day - the first on the issue - falsely claimed
that opinion was evenly divided! Typical corporate media.)
You should have seen the look on The Mayor’s face when he
realized that us South End citizens were united against him. This
had never happened within living memory. Because we came out to
fight, we have our pool today. On hot summer days literally thousands
of thankful people jump in it to cool off.
The next uprising in 2003 was when The Mayor tried to locate an
asphalt plant next to the Port of Albany. This polluting horror
would have maimed and killed hundreds of people and depopulated
parts of the South End, Jennings had to face near riot conditions
and acts of property vandalism, as I’ve described elsewhere.
My biggest contribution to this fight was to write
an assessment of the developers behind the plant, a document that was passed
virally all over the community via email.
Forced again to concede to reality, the Mayor announced his change
of heart at a hastily arranged news conference on the steps of
City Hall. I recall that he had the same look on his face as when
he was forced to back down over the Pool.
These two uprisings appear to have convinced The Mayor that he
had absolutely no friends in the South End. Therefore, Something
Had To Be Done. So he launched a sincere effort to address and
repair the problems of the South End, problems caused by City policy
acting in collusion with systematic suburban looters.
This is the South End Action Committee (SEAC), which has made
discernible progress toward identifying the problems of the South
End and actually doing something about it. (Problem #1: empty houses
in need of repair.) I continue to crash their meetings uninvited,
and they all wish that I would just go away. Fortunately, we have
a thing called the Open Meetings Law, so they have to put up with
But I am happy to continue to report that they are ready to break
ground on several key projects this spring. And a lot of work is
currently going into a South End Plan that will be eventually integrated
into a Citywide comprehensive plan. I’ve been repeatedly
asked not to talk (blog) about it, but I will say that overall
it is moving in the right direction.
And it all became possible because of angry crowds in The Mayor’s
So why didn’t the Hearst Times Union mention SEAC in the
article? Why no mention of positive developments? The answer is
that the Hearst managers are trying to scare suburbanites away
Gas prices are on the rise again, and those run down but solid
100 to 150 year old houses all over the South End are starting
to look like a wise investment to more and more suburbanites. Imagine
what a suburban exodus to the City would do to already shaky suburban
real estate values. Perhaps the editors printed this article in
an attempt to keep their own property values high.
In addition, Hearst has a long standing policy of censoring or
mis-reporting anything about community or grassroots activism.
As a corporation, they cannot acknowledge or even recognize any
action or social movement that begins with regular individuals.
To corporatists such as the Hearst editors, all effective action
begins at the top and is imposed upon the citizens. It’s
the kind of thinking that has made the Soviet Union what it is
today. And the Times Union is going to the same place that the
Soviets went to.
The Hearst Times Union is a plague upon our community. However,
they no longer have much power to hurt us with their lies. Like
the suburban municipalities that it represents, the Hearst Rag
is unsustainable in the long run and already obsolete. The slanders
they heap upon us are their dying groans.