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September 4
, 2009


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 me.

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September 4, 2009

Watching The Big Primary (Part Two)

To read Part 1 about the mayoral race go here. And remember to vote on September 15.

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal Comic #385
Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal Comic #385

* * * UPDATE * * * Mayoral candidate Corey Ellis clarifies his position on gay marriage and LGBT rights

This review of ward and City wide Democratic Primary races in the City of Albany is long, so for your convenience here is a jump-off to the sections so that you don’t have to search for your favorite campaigns:

President of the Common Council - Update - Update#2
My 1st Ward: The challenger is a chicken - Update
7th Ward
10th Ward: Scalzo has got to go
5th Ward: Veronica Horne - Update
11th Ward: Split vote
2nd Ward: Return to darkness
3rd Ward
6th Ward: The great compromiser
4th Ward
Kathy Sheehan is our next Treasurer
Auditor: Lots of noise
Wards 8, 9, 12, 13 and 14
15th Ward: Reign of darkness continues

President of the Common Council

* * * UPDATE * * * Leonard Ricchiuti sexually harasses paid employees of PAL, and the Jennings regime tried to cover up the crime. Great work by Albany Citizen One.

* * * UPDATE#2 * * * ACO tells the full story about Leonard Ricchiuti, the facts that the newspaper is afraid to print

I really don’t want to say this, but I’m going to say it anyway because I have no choice. I’m encouraging everyone out there to vote for Carolyn McLaughlin for Common Council president. She is the only choice.

I felt great apprehension when she announced her run. You see, she and I have not always seen eye to eye, but with effort we get along. It’s been my experience that she doesn’t handle criticism well, but then neither do I. We have that in common. So for a long time now she and I have tended to eye each other warily and keep our criticisms about each other to ourselves.

This has been possible because I don’t live in the 2nd Ward, the one she’s been representing for 12 years. I own property there, but I’ve never had to ask her for anything and I’ve never had to take a stand on her elections. But now that she’s running for a Citywide office I can’t stay neutral and I have to speak up.

To be specific, when she enthusiastically voted in favor of Jimmy Scalzo’s Walgreens on Holland Avenue during the now infamous lame-duck last Common Council session of 2005, I swore up and down that I would never support her. In fact, I swore that I would campaign against her. But, you see, I can’t do that now. All I can do is swallow and swear.

Carolyn McLaughlin Announcing Her Candidacy At The ML King Monument Last February
Carolyn McLaughlin Announcing Her Candidacy At
The ML King Monument Last February

Okay, I’ll say positive things about her. Carolyn knows exactly what the job of president is all about. An experienced legislator, she understands her colleagues on the Council and is familiar with the procedures for moving legislation. This is in sharp contrast to her dilettante opponent who, as far as anyone knows, has never set foot in the Common Council chambers to so much as spectate.

Carolyn has maintained and developed strong ties to the South End 2nd ward that she has represented for the last 12 years. I’ve seen her be present and often part of just about every neighborhood project and organization in her ward that I’ve attended. The McLaughlins are an old South End clan that goes way back, I swear she’s related to half the people in the South End.

Carolyn McLaughlin With Corey Ellis
Carolyn McLaughlin With Corey Ellis

In short, she is qualified to preside over the Common Council, has strong personal ties to our community and probably won’t make a mess of things. Carolyn might actually grow in the job and become independent, I see that possibility in her. When she finally gets her “seat at the table” that she’s always talking about, I expect that she will stop pandering for that place.

All very well, but the other part of the president’s job is to take over the corner office of City Hall if the mayor quits or drops dead. I can’t say I’m thrilled about Carolyn as mayor, but I believe that she has enough management experience to keep the City together through the remainder of a term. If nothing else, she could entertain the City by giving rousing, inspirational speeches, which she does very well.

Okay, here’s the alternative to Carolyn. Her opponent is Jerry Jennings’ hand picked candidate, a retired Albany cop named Leonard Ricchiuti. Politically, this guy is a babe in the woods, totally clueless. Like, check out this great bit of found poetry from the front page of his expensive looking campaign website:


I Will Fight For Safer Streets & Neighborhoods

I Will Fight Skyrocketing Taxes

I Will Fight The Spread Of Blight

I Will Fight Government Special Interests

I Will Fight Absentee Landlords & Code Violators


As a lifelong resident of Albany, I have a deep commitment to this city, and to our neighbors who live in it. I have dedicated nearly 30 years of my life to the youth of Albany promoting REAL SUSTAINABLE CHANGE...


I am your PAL Lenny

I am your Community Policing Officer Lenny

I am your DARE Instructor "Officer Lenny"

I am the Lenny you've turned to these past 25+ years when you needed a helping hand.

This is great stuff. I want him to write more, and get William Shatner to recite it to musical accompaniment. Unfortunately, no part of his beautiful website tells how he plans to accomplish any of these wonderful things. Except the part about how he plans to fight. I’m sure that as an ex-cop presiding over a bunch of politicians he’ll do plenty of that.

Leonard Ricchiuti
Leonard Ricchiuti

Personally, if I were a member of the Common Council I would be deeply offended that Jerry Jennings wants this rank beginner to be in charge of a roomful of experienced legislators. It’s like His Majesty is presenting His middle finger to the idea of representative government in Albany.

Jennings appears to have invested a lot of money in Richiutti. Look at his fancy website for example, that’s a lot of cash ponied up real fast. When Ricchiuti showed up at the end of the Save the Pine Bush (SPB) dinner candidates night last Auguist 26, he led a retinue that included paid staff and a professional looking movie camera operator.

The speech that Richiutti gave to his camera guy at the SPB dinner sounded an awful lot like he was running for mayor. For example, he declared that he was in favor of community policing and closing the Rapp Road Dump, both radical departures from the Jennings administration. There was little of this “we need someone who will work with the administration” stuff that we usually hear from Jerry’s minions.

Leonard Ricchiuti
One Of Ricchiuti's "Violation" Stickers

Of course he was just repeating buzz words and phrases picked up from progressive candidates and from bloggers. How exactly a Common Council president is going to implement these policies he did not bother to explain. Unless, of course, he expects to become mayor a little ways up the road. The general perception from many listeners was that by saying these things he was desperately trying to distance himself from the current regime so as to counter the entirely correct impression that he is Jerry’s chosen successor.

That’s the real issue buried deep in the heart of this presidential race. Jerry Jennings is getting ready to retire in exactly two years. At least, it is widely believed that He would like to. You see, as mayor He is earning points in the State retirement system and He will reach the limit in benefits accrued halfway through one more term. After that He may emulate His predecessor Thomas Whalen and leave Albany never to return.

For sure Jerry Jennings wants Leonard Richiutti to watch His back after He leaves town. He doesn’t trust Carolyn to be obedient, He hasn’t treated her very nicely. He has tried to run her out of office every single time she has run. When she announced her run for president this January at the ML King statue in my neighborhood, Jennings signaled His disapproval by refusing to tell DGS to clear the snow off of the monument before the event. Her “communications director” had to scrape with a shovel.

Setting Up For Carolyn McLaughlin's Announcement
Setting Up For Carolyn McLaughlin's Announcement

As for what kind of mayor Ricchiuti would turn out to be, the way he conducts his campaign may yield some clues. His staffers were caught red-handed defacing McLaughlin and Ellis signs with official looking stickers that read “Violation.” And I observed at the SPB dinner that some of his paid retinue were some of the persons who earlier this year were whispering nasty false rumors about Corey Ellis’ personal life.

Based on this conduct, I believe that Ricchiuti as mayor will shape up as the new Jerry Jennings: arrogant, autocratic, easily corrupted, a purveyor of dirty tricks and completely disengaged from the majority of the people of this City and our needs.

So think about it. Do you want this guy Ricchuiti running our City further into the ground? A retired Albany cop with no experience? The thought makes me shudder, the near reality makes me gasp for breath.

I can’t keep thinking about that stupid, highway commercial spot-zoned Walgreens, the latest unwanted blight imposed upon my neighborhood. We’ve got to put Carolyn up in front of the Common Council chamber.

I’m supporting her campaign for Common Council president even though after she reads this ringing endorsement she may never speak civilly to me again. Oh well.

My 1st Ward: The challenger is a chicken

* * * UPDATE * * * Dominick's son Dominick Jr. writes an extraordinary letter about the mayoral race to the Sunday Hearst Times Union

The current mayor desperately needed somebody, anybody to run a campaign against Dominick Calsolaro so that our First Ward Common Council member would have less time to campaign for Corey Ellis. At least, that’s what Dominick told Metroland. The ploy, naturally, is working. Even the most pathetic of challengers must be taken seriously if that challenger is being financed by The Jennings Machine.

Scott Mannarino
Scott Mannarino

That challenger is a fellow named Scott Mannarino, who is using his mother’s house on Southern Boulevard to claim residence in the First Ward. Actually, at the time of his announcement he was registered to vote in the 7th Ward at Brian Scavo’s rooming house, but I’m sure that little embarrassment has been rectified by now. Other than these two items he doesn’t seem to have any other ties to the First Ward, or to the City of Albany for that matter.

His prime employment appears to as a “court officer” for the Village of Altamont, basically standing around in a uniform eyeballing defendants while court is in session. (There seem to be a lot of Mannarinos residing in and around Altamont.) He is not a police officer with powers of arrest, he is a glorified security guard. Nothing wrong with that, perfectly honorable work which I’ve done myself. But “court officer” has been put out in front of the voters without explanation, a court officer is not a cop.

I had what turned out to be my one and only chance to ask Mannarino about his positions on the issues right at the beginning of his campaign. This was at the now infamous First Ward Committee meeting, the first one where something went wrong and the committee endorsed Dominick. I asked Mannarino, “Why do you think you could do a better job than the incumbent?”

I threw this easy softball question at him because I suspected that he couldn’t answer it. I was right, he flubbed it badly. As he attempted to answer and tangled up his tongue, he started to glare at me furiously. Yup, I thought to myself, he’s a security guard. A real cop would put on a blank face and stop talking.

Dominick Calsolaro In Lincoln Park, UFYO Event
Dominick Calsolaro In Lincoln Park, United Front Youth Organization (UFYO) Event

So it should come as no surprise that Mannarino chickened out of a golden opportunity to debate Dominick on the issues. This was at a scheduled debate last Wednesday at the VFW Sheehy-Palmer Post on Delaware Avenue. I don’t blame Mannarino for not wanting to face Dominick, the incumbent would have used his own very substantial record in office to wipe the floor with him.

It was the way that Mannarino chickened out of the VFW Sheehy-Palmer Post debate that was so nasty and repulsive. There were some sixty voters present, print media and bloggers, neighborhood sponsors, information tables, coffee and homemade cookies and volunteers from the League of Women Voters to officiate. After confirming that very morning that he would be present, Mannarino had his campaign manager call less than half an hour before the debate to cancel. What a wuss.

Let’s see, should I vote for a progressive incumbent who busts his butt for the ward and for the City, has fearlessly stuck his neck out to challenge the moribund current regime into doing what’s right, attends as many public meetings as he can and is always willing to drop everything to stand up for his constituents?

Or should I vote for some guy I’ve never heard of who can barely locate the First Ward and whose only stated position on any issue is cooperation with the current regime?

Do I even need to answer that?

While we’re at it. most people know by now how the 1st Ward Democratic committee accidentally endorsed Dominick Calsolaro, but then called a second meeting with a new set of rules to switch the endorsement to Jerry’s boy Mannarino.

Ward Leader Regina Goodbee
Ward Leader Regina Goodbee

Under the guidance of ward leader Regina Goodbee who works in City Hall, the 1st Ward committee has finally become powerless and achieved irrelevance in the community. In pursuit of this goal, Ms. Goodbee has demonstrated a gross level of shamelessness in supporting Jerry’s boy.

Check out this robo call that she recorded on Jerry’s dime and deposited on 1st Ward answering machines. I mean, we all know Regina first heard of Mannarino this past spring like everybody else when he was presented to the ward. In the message she calls him a “friend and neighbor.” Right. Plus he’s “normal” and “he’s going to bring back seriousness.”

If you’ve been wondering why the Democratic Party, despite having the support of an overwhelming number of voters across the country can’t seem to accomplish anything, perhaps we simply need to look at the 1st Ward and 7th Ward Democratic committees in Albany. Old boy stealth Republicans like Jerry Jennings and His minions are systematically subverting the party organization in Albany. Is Albany the only place this is happening?

7th Ward

I wish I could tell you about 7th Ward Common Council member Cathy Fahey’s opponent. I ran into Cathy and her husband outside the Spectrum Theater on Saturday night. She couldn’t tell me anything about her opponent either.

“I’ve heard she’s been distributing campaign literature,” Cathy said, “but I haven’t seen it. The other day a constituent called to say that she threw out the Tobin flyers on her stoop. I told her No! Save them, I want to see what she says.”

Cathy Fahey
Cathy Fahey

Like many other people I had hoped to find out about Ms. Fahey’s opponent on the same night that Dominick’s opponent chickened out of the debate at the VFW Sheehy-Palmer Post. But you see, Susan K. Tobin was also afraid to show up and debate Cathy. Cathy and Dominick sat in front of the room and told us what a great job they were doing, and everyone who was bored split for the candidates night at the SPB dinner at first Presbyterian church.

All I can tell you about challenger Tobin is that Jerry Jennings is financing her campaign and providing muscle. This is interesting, because Tobin is a professional fundraiser. She spent ten years as Annual Fund Director for Sienna College, and her current title is Director of Annual Giving at Albany Academy. (For those of you who don’t know, Albany Academy is a private school that does not receive taxpayer subsidies as do “charter” school corporations, thus they need to fundraise.)

The only other thing I can tell you is that Tobin has never run for office and has no involvement in the neighborhoods. Despite this, the members of the 7th ward Democratic committee reaffirmed their complete irrelevance by endorsing Tobin at The Current Mayor’s orders. This continues their tradition of laughable uselessness, having never endorsed either Cathy or her predecessor in the 7th, Shawn Morris.

Cathy Fahey
Dominick And Cathy Ready To Debate

Cathy Fahey is part of the positive minority on the Common Council, consistently standing up in the chamber to call for transparency and fiscal responsibility. The Delaware Avenue neighborhood people will tell you that she is active, independent and readily accessible. This, naturally, makes her an enemy of Jennings, which is why His Majesty is spending so much time and capital to undermine her.

Like in the 1st Ward, Jennings’ chosen candidate in the 7th is a complete zero and unlikely to win. But both campaigns serve as a distraction to some of His many hand-picked “enemies,” that is, anyone who won’t take orders. Thank you Jerry, for wasting everyone’s time and money..

10th Ward: Scalzo has got to go

Leah Golby has got Jimmy Scalzo by the you-know-whats and she’s not letting go. As the strategists like to say, her campaign is gaining momentum and riding a wave of intense voter dissatisfaction with the incumbent. No, scratch that. Ms. Golby is not riding, she’s a big part of the groundswell of reform that’s sweeping the 10th.

Leah Golby
Leah Golby

What I’m hearing is that people in Park South and Pine Hills are sick and tired of having a representative who by all appearances gets inebriated before Common Council meetings and who doesn’t make a lot of sense when he opens his mouth. I’m told that Leah Golby’s candidacy came out of recent angry and well attended public meetings in the 10th ward where dissatisfaction has been coming into the open.

Meanwhile, Scalzo appears to have known for some time that he’s done for. Earlier this summer he introduced a measure into the Common Council that called for much lower pay for Common Council members. [He did not call for fewer representatives, my error.] The gig is done with, he doesn’t need it anymore, why should he care? (Of course he didn’t write the legislation himself, I wonder who did.)

Scalzo seems to be making out all right with the Park South Revitalization project and with the private offices going up around Albany Med. It turns out he owns some pieces of property in and around the “developments.” He seems to have a lot of trouble remembering to pay taxes on these properties, but fortunately the City has been very lenient with him.

Jimmy Scalzo
Jimmy Scalzo

And then there was that little problem of back taxes that Scalzo owed on his part ownership of Quintessence restaurant on New Scotland Avenue. Very nice how that worked out. Now, I’m not going to dump on him for losing his business, as a small business person I know all too well how easy it is to fail. Tomorrow that could be me applying for dumb jobs and wondering how to pay off that leftover debt.

Still, I think it is entirely fair to say that at this point Jimmy Scalzo’s only interest in his own neighborhood is in cashing in on the Park South project and Albany Med projects so as to get out of hock. And maybe, if all goes well, come out ahead. But like a trained monkey Scalzo has had to render services in exchange for this indulgence from the powerful.

His most visible task has been to push through the spot zoning of a certain piece of property owned by Picotte on Holland Avenue. The parcel was changed to Highway Commercial. Seriously. Even the McDonalds on Holland Avenue isn’t Highway Commercial, that’s the preferred designation for suburban automobile slums. This made it possible for Jerry Jennings’ buddy Tom Burke of Picotte to plant an unwanted Walgreens on the site.

Jimmy Scalzo's Walgreens
Jimmy Scalzo's Walgreens

Ten neighborhood association, numerous small businesses and individuals banded together to file suit against the spot zoning for the Walgreens. The Jennings administration spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars and used City resources to fight us citizens. Tell me, have you ever seen Jennings make such effort with our money on behalf of a local small business that was not owned by a major corporation?

Jennings and Burke could not have gotten their little Walgreens payday without the acting efforts of Jimmy Scalzo. You see, Jimmy was carefully coached by Picotte’s lawyers via the City corporation counsel to properly introduce the spot zoning so that it met the letter of the law. This performance on Jimmy’s part was essential to sidestep lawsuits by angry taxpayers.

Scalzo stood up in the Common Council chambers and performed his duty haltingly, needing some prompting at several points. I watched this performance. Clearly he had no idea what he was doing. But he looked sober for once and managed to dribble out everything that he had memorized more or less in the right order.

Pretty pathetic, but at least he didn’t curse drunkenly like he’d done a month or so earlier during a Common Council meeting. Laying claim to the Holland Avenue site for himself (it’s not in the 10th Ward, it’s in the 7th) he laid out a bizarre conspiracy theory that blamed the neighborhood activists who live near Delaware Avenue for causing the blight in Park South. “Where were YOU PEOPLE,” he bawled, “when my neighborhood Park South was in the shitter?” Exact quote. I heard it.

You know, I have absolutely no problem with Jimmy Scalzo getting drunk and, as numerous anecdotal accounts spanning many years have it, stoned on a variety of substances. Hey don’t get me wrong, I’m all in favor of it, party on dude. Share some of your stash with me. But an elected representative has no business getting shit faced on the taxpayer’s dime. I say, let’s give Jimmy all the free time he needs to get loaded in private. That’s the kind of privatization that we need.

Leah Golby Announcing Her Campaign
Leah Golby Announcing Her Campaign

This whole Holland Avenue spot zoning episode opened a lot of eyes about Jimmy, and it is one of the big reasons that Leah Golby decided to run for Common Council. In characteristic low key style, in Metroland she called the services Scalzo rendered for Picotte and Walgreens “a big mistake.” The other “big mistake” that induced Leah to run was Scalzo’s obedient vote against Charter Reform, specifically the citizen’s unsuccessful drive a few years back to transfer more power from the mayor to the Common Council.

The Wife and I used to chat with Leah a decade or so back [more like two decades, as Leah pointed out] when she worked at the Spectrum Theater. When I first contacted her via email earlier this year the first thing she did was to remind me of those conversations, which apparently made an impression on her. I recall the three of us standing in the lobby of the Spectrum while we told her about City politics. And I recall her fascination with and horror at the things we were saying.

If Leah Golby successfully kicks Jimmy’s butt and sends him flying, then Jerry Jennings will lose one of His most easily controlled servants. The 10th ward will gain a representative who puts her neighborhood first and owes nothing to the Jennings Machine. Her victory will be a major advance forward for the City of Albany.

5th Ward: Veronica Horne

* * * UPDATE * * * Veronica Horne, sad to say, has dropped out of the race

For the first time in living memory the 5th ward is in play. Not only that, but it’s a three way contest for the Common Council. It all started when Jerry Jennings decided to get rid of His incumbent, Willard Timmons, and replace him with another of His minions, Jackie Jenkins-Cox.

This was a very puzzling move by His Majesty. Mr. Timmons is a nice guy and I have to say that I like him personally. But he has always taken orders and performed as expected. I don’t believe he has defied The Current Mayor once in four years.

Willard Timmons
Willard Timmons

The Wife once asked Mr. Timmons to vote a certain way on a measure before the Council, I believe it had to do with the Pine Bush. Mr. Timmons listened carefully to what she had say. He then said, “My heart’s with you on that, but I have to do what they tell me to do.” If nothing else, you have to admire his simple honesty.

So why the hell is Jerry giving him the boot? I couldn’t say, you’ll have to ask Him yourself why He wants to change minions. So much for loyalty to the powerful as a means of job security.

But see, His Majesty didn’t count on two things. First, Mr. Timmons doesn’t seem to have heard about his demotion, so he’s running for reelection. And second, the Current Mayor didn’t count on the emergence of Veronica Horne.

The Wife spent some time chattering nonstop with Ms. Horne at a recent event. “She’s there with all the issues, “The Wife reported. Sure enough, Ms. Horne’s website does not fool around. Ms. Horne puts out there all the standard progressive issues of this Primary, but she takes each one a few steps further.

Some examples. She wants the police patrolling the neighborhoods and held accountable, but would also like to see police recruited from the very neighborhoods that they serve. Like everyone else running she wants an end to vacant buildings along with fairly enforced building codes, but also interestingly a call for rent control. She calls for “strong leadership” in our schools but also the creation of a “fund for single mothers.”

Veronica Horne With Her Brother And Campaign Manager
Veronica Horne With Her Brother And Campaign Manager

Her best line of all is the slogan, “Bring Stimulus Funding To The Ward.” Like, yeah, let’s talk about that. Why is all this stimulus money being spent repaving highways? Why not rehab these vacant houses, set up decent public transportation, make grants to small struggling businesses? What makes highways more important than those we the people who live here and pay taxes?

As far as I know, Veronica Horne is the only serious candidate running in this Primary who has questioned the way the stimulus has been spent. Of course this indicates that her focus is on bringing benefits to her Ward, which is what she is supposed to do as a Common Council member. To put it mildly, the 5th has been under served. It’s about time someone like Ms. Horne came along to get things moving.

I only hope that Ms. Horne and her campaign manager are ready to counter Jerry Jennings’ strong arm tactics inside the polling stations on Primary day. You know He’s not going to let another strong willed progressive enter the Common Council chambers, at least not without a physical confrontation or two.

11th Ward: Split Vote

Much has been written about this race. The 11th is virgin ground, unplowed, a wilderness waiting to be exploited. It has been under the thumb of the machine for a long time, back in the day this was Jerry Jennings’ old Ward. And His brother Joe was the ward leader, a guy who kept things under tight family control.

But Jerry has moved to the end of New Scotland Avenue, as far away from the City of Albany as He can get without actually leaving. And Joe became ill and passed away down in Florida a couple of winters ago. What we have here is a vacuum, and fresh air is rushing in.

Anton Konev Luke Gucker
Anton Konev and Luke Gucker

There are two progressive candidates, Anton Konev and Luke Gucker. I’ve known Anton for years, and have admired his in-your-face style of advancing issues and getting things done. He’s always been ready to make a lot of noise and draw attention if the issue is important. Without hesitation I contributed to his campaign right at the beginning.

Later, I had several opportunities to talk to Luke, and I can tell you that he’s got a strong commitment to the issues that are important. I have to say that it’s too bad he doesn’t live in another uptown ward where he could challenge another Jennings minion. I have no doubt that we’ll be hearing more of this smart young fellow.

Both of these guys are running hard. By the way, there are two other candidates, I understand that they both have names and that one of them is backed by the Current Mayor. It would be a shame if one of these losers benefitted from a split vote between Mr. Konev and Mr. Gucker.

2nd Ward: Return to darkness

It looks like Carolyn McLaughlin, who has decided to stake all on a Citywide run for Common Council president, has, um, allowed a wide open race in her own Ward.

Victor Cain is on the board of Albany Housing Authority, a job which is appointed by the mayor. He may be in violation of the Hatch Act by running. He has also unsuccesfully challenged Ms. McLaughlin in 2nd Ward primaries.

Lester Freeman gained fame by pretending to run for congress last year, but he almost unseated Luci McKnight from her county legislature seat. Lester has made it clear that once in office he will be most accommodating to power. He is a long time City employee.

So it looks like the machine is going to take solid control of this part of downtown. This is not good.

3rd Ward

This is Corey Ellis’ Ward, the one he is leaving behind to run for mayor. Most of what I know about this part of town is what I read in the funny papers, so here you go with what I know.

Lisa Feaster works for the Albany Community Land Trust and is closely associated with Mr. Ellis.

Big man Ron Bailey, a loyal Jednnings minion, lost all of his qualifying petitions out of his car. But miraculously, with only two days left, he managed to retrieve enough signatures to get on the ballot. Bailey, by the way, was the functionary sent over to the South End to preside over the accidental endorsement of Dominick Calsolaro, a job which he flubbed.

Bailey falsely accused progressive candidate for Common Council Lisa Feaster of breaking into his car. The local corporate media, in particular the bottom feeding scumbags at Channel 13, played along with Bailey and amplified his libel. From what I’ve seen of Bailey, I think it quite possible that he staged the whole thing himself.

The third candidate is Lasone Garland-Bryan of the Garland Funeral Home family, who has or possibly still does work for the NY State Senate.

6th Ward: The great compromiser

[Mr. Conti responds in the comments below.]

Richard Conti
Richard Conti

Richard Conti likes to give the impression that he is in the middle, a “compromiser.” But recently he figured out a way to float bonds for the expansion of the financially failed Rapp Road Dump, thus creating a legislative victory for the Current Mayor. This Mr. Conti calls a “compromise.”

Now the only way to stop the stinking dump from expanding further into the Pine Bush will be for the citizens to file lawsuits against the City. Any way you look at it, Mr. Conti’s “compromise” is fiscally irresponsible.

I’ve heard from reliable sources that Richard has been campaigning for Jennings by going door to door and repeating the false rumor that Mr. Ellis is a homophobe. This partisan stab in the back carries great weight coming from his mouth.

Mr. Conti is going unchallenged . . . unless you consider Republican Terry O’Neil’s poetry to be challenging.

4th Ward

Barbara Smith has been one of the progressive minority on the Common Council. It looks like she has strong support for her reelection. Her focus is completely on her own ward and she has indicated that she does not have much in the way of higher ambition, at least not in the forseeable future.

Ms. Smith absolutely detests me, why is something she could best explain. Despite that, I can still enthusiastically recommend supporting her as an incumbent candidate because of her independence and her consistently progressive voting record on the Common Council.

Despite that, I can still enthusiastically recommend supporting her as an incumbent candidate because of her independence and her consistently progressive voting record on the Common Council.

Kathy Sheehan is our next Treasurer

Kathy Sheehan
Kathy Sheehan

Kathy Sheehan is smart, experienced, qualified, independent and progressive. That’s absolutely the last thing Jerry wants roaming around in His City Hall.

Betty Barnette is unqualified, the purveyor of Ghost Tickets, corrupt, useless. Her only qualification is that she serves Jerry unquestioningly.

Using this in depth analysis as a guide, I’ll let you decide.




Auditor: Lots of noise

All kinds of noise is out there about a new job that no one understands and may actually mean nothing. This was originally a sort of make-work position created by Jerry Jennings when He was wrecking the drive for Charter Reform, basically He managed to split the job of Comptroller into two jobs, treasurer and auditor. Perhaps He thought that two little comptrollers would be easier to subvert than one big one.

All I can tell you is that the auditor is supposed to audit City departments and make recommendations on how to increase efficiency. I don’t believe this job has any authority. Besides, if the mayor refuses to provide information to the auditor, like the Current Mayor did to the last two comptrollers, then the auditor will have nothing to do except complain or file lawsuits against the City.

Even the candidates admit that they don’t know exactly what they’re running for. I’m thinking that to make the job mean something we need someone in there who will annoy everybody and be visible, that way the auditor can develop some meaning. It might even be a good idea to elect someone who is barely capable of getting along with other people.

Leif Engstrom Darius Shahinfar
Leif Engstrom And Darius Shahinfar

Leif Engstrom fits this description perfectly, the less said about his personality the better. Mr. Engstrom appears to have taken an intense dislike to me the moment he laid eyes on me, but apparently I am not alone on that. He certainly has managed to offend me. Still, I’ve decided to pull the lever for him because I think that an antisocial nerd like him is the right person for the job.

Darius Shahinfar is clearly too accommodating to power, his goal is simply to get ahead. Last year he ran for congress, this year Albany City auditor. What a severe lowering of his sights, what is he thinking?

Wards 8, 9, 12, 13, and 14

John Rosenzweig, James Sano, Michael O’Brien, Daniel Herring and Joseph Igoe are all loyal Jennings minions who have gotten a free ride this time. All of them appear to have control of their own ward machinery, enough to discourage challengers. What a shame. What an opportunity lost for another four years.

15th Ward: Reign of darkness continues

Frank Commisso Sr.
Frank Commisso Sr.

Albany County majority leader Frank Commisso Sr. owns the Ward that is more suburban than any other part of the City and contains most of the Pine Bush. He could care less about the issues and concerns of the residents, such as the stink at the Rapp Road Dump. But the boss knows how to hold on to power inside his little piece of Jerry Jennings’ personal municipality.

And so, earlier this summer when all the candidates were carrying qualifying petitions, we saw the emergence of 25 year old Frank Commisso Jr. as the one and only candidate for the Common Council in the 15th. Here is a completely inexperienced guy with no connections... except through Dad. Junior cannot be anything but an utter tool of his old man, a mere cog in a new family dynasty.

Dad sent his own personal minions through the Ward and collected a thousand signatures for Junior and also for Jerry Jennings and His candidates. Can you imagine living isolated in the 15th and being confronted with these Commisso minions at your front door? I mean, you’d better sign.

Thus we see that Frank Sr. and Jerry are working together on this campaign and have agreed on their own spheres of influence. Folks, we have a long way to go before we take back our City from the power hungry purveyors of ruination. Let’s all go vote for the handful of good candidates that we have before us, then get back to work fighting the power and rebuilding our community.

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Posted by: Richard Conti
Posted on: 09/05/2009
The assertion that I'm going door to door campaigning for Jennings and calling Corey a homophobe is an outright despicable lie. How low can you get?

A) I am not, at this point, campaigning door-to-door;
B) I certainly am not doing anything in support of Jennings;
C) I do not believe Corey is a homophobe nor have I called him one.

I don't know who your "reliable" source is, but they are just plain wrong. Do people ask me from time to time where Corey is on LGBT issues ... yes they do, and that's a discussion I have. The question is out there in part because of Corey's response to the marriage equality question on All Over Albany and his absence from the Capital Pride Parade and Festival last June when several other city-wide candidates had a visible presence. Did you ever notice how every straight politician in the region wants to march in the St. Patrick's Day Parade but it's only a small core of electeds who consistently join in the Pride Parade.

Corey's response to the marriage equality question on AOA is the only time I have ever heard him speak to an LGBT issue. I think he knows he was not at his best. And any time I have this discussion with someone who asks I always note that on every LGBT issue that has come before the Council for a vote Corey has always voted the right way.

As someone who has been an out political activist for over twenty years and an out elected official ... I've been called a fag by other local electeds and on the receiving end of bias motivated harrassment and intimidation. Homophobe is not an epithet I would toss around lightly and certainly not to describe Corey.

Do I wish he had some passion on LGBT issues ... yes ... but he's not a homophobe.

Too bad I can't have an open honest conversation with you, anything I say would likely be twisted to fit some conspiracy theory of yours.

I feel strongly about LGBT issues because they're personal for me, I'm not going to abuse them or abuse a reputation and record of over 20 years of LGBT activism for political purposes. You're dead wrong on this.

As far as your "great compromiser" analogy, why bother even trying to begin the discussion...

Posted by: Dan Van Riper
Posted on: 09/05/2009

Thank you Mr. Conti for clarifying. It was more than one source, by the way. I do not make light of your LGBT activism. I am very pleased to hear that you are not campaigning for Jennings on the sly like I've been hearing about.

This election has divided the City into two political camps, the dirty past and the promising future. You can't belong to both. Which side are you on?

Posted by: Anon Canvasser
Posted on: 09/06/2009
Mr. Conti,

I and another canvasser who were at work in the 6th about 3 weeks ago both were told by several of your constituents that you had personally been talking to the fine people in Center Square door-to-door. What I was told you said was not that Corey Ellis is a homophobe but that "Corey Ellis is opposed to gay marriage." This is not true; he voted in favor of the resolution urging legalization of same-sex marriage on the Common Council. He has expressed a personal opinion on the matter when interviewed that he favors civil unions, but also stated that his personal view is not a factor in what he would do as Mayor. Let's not forget that what he can do as Mayor is zilch, except to show support and solidarity with the community and this he has done.

Do you deny that you were telling residents in your ward that Corey Ellis is opposed to same-sex marriage? And what may I ask is your goal in doing so?

Posted by: Anonymous Citizen
Posted on: 09/07/2009
According to McLaughlin's campaign literature, she is an HR executive for a NYS agency. Isn't that a Hatch Act problem?

Unfortunately, we're stuck with a lousy candidate in Ellis. Ellis could easily put the homophobia issues to bed, but cannot or will not. Gays are a important voting bloc in Albany, and have consistently voted for Jennings, who has in turn advocated for their causes.

Posted by: Anon Anon
Posted on: 09/07/2009
How can he put it to bed when it is supposedly not an issue? Conti denies saying any of this. There is nothing in the press about it certainly. Corey has been a supporter when the opportunity arose. If Conti can 'come out of the closet' and openly air his beef with Corey then perhaps there would be something he can put to bed. But as it is now there are just hushed rumors being spread around with absolutely zero basis. This is very low of Conti and it is clear that his intention is to 'swift boat' Corey and thus cozy up to Big Jerry.

Posted by: Carla4Lenny
Posted on: 09/07/2009
Lies Lies Lies, please stop and read what you are saying about Lenny and Carolyn, are you on crack? Carolyn is Jerry's hand picked choice, the people on Lennys team are his family members and a hand full of life long friends, the entire campagin was at that event. Lenny has recived no money from Jennings, None, Zip. $0.00.. Jerry's close minions'(your word) all are working for Carolyn, You seem to have no clue about what you speak. You say Ricchuitis people were caught "red handed" What a total lie.You should be able to give is there names then? a discription? no? It was Carolyn, with only three signs she tricked the media, and you too. Lennys people would never stoop to such gutter politics, No Need, we are kicking her but, thats what desporate Carolyn is doing, first she atacks his law and order creds, then its his race, now its sexisim, shes in the gutter all the way. Lenny has atacked her pityfull record, not her signs, or her personaly. Dan M. Albany co chair was on the top of her petitions, in the committee to fill vacancys, a clear indication of her backers, Dan is Jerys handpicked choice for party chair, you do know that much I hope. All in all if your compleat lack of knowledge about Lenny, and your willingness to misslead the public concerning the facts make your opinion and "endorsment" valueless. You are very short on facts long on lies, and misdirection...Carolyn "violated" her own signs in a calculated ploy for sympathetic attention, It worked. A Politicians move, Im glad you think its important to be so good at this, I think it stinks and does the voters a huge disservice. Tricks and Lies are her whole campagin, and If albany misses this chance, and choses Carolyn (lies a lot) mcnothing, its all of our loss. I like Lenny because hes helped me raise my two boys in that little league park, hes just a very good man...another thing, 8,9,12,13,14 these ae unchalenged Jerry guys, why are they not working for Lenny too? oooops did you miss that tid bit? And why is Commisso puting Carolyn signs up if hes "Jerrys boy" or minion" If your theory is Lenny is just a Jennings tool? No love from the fello tools? you havent thought it through...When Jerry heard thru the grape vine Lenny was running he sent his cheif to tell Lenny not to run, well Lennys running anyway, sorry to spoil Jerrys orchestrated political dance, but Lenny chose Lenny.Jerry chose carolyn. Lenny has been to many council meetings to fight for the kids of PAL, dozens of them over the years, this is another pile on machine lie. The camara man is unpaid. None of Lennys staff people are paid. none of them. Your so full of holes on this it really strains the credibility of yourself on any of your postings. Its just so inacurate...carlyn hired an expencive PR firm, wher did the 30k suddenly appear from to do that? hmmmm Jerry's PAC? yep, did you mention that when you were glosing over Carolyn links to city hall? Lennys the real deal, See ya at the polls: )....Carla4Lenny

Posted by: Rob
Posted on: 09/08/2009
To Richard Conti, Corey Ellis actually was at the Pride Festival in June. I don't know whether he marched in the parade, but I definitely saw him gladhanding at the afternoon festival.

Posted by: Conti: Jennings Puppet
Posted on: 09/08/2009
Did you ever notice how every straight politician in the region wants to march in the St. Patrick's Day Parade but it's only a small core of electeds who consistently join in the Pride Parade

Conti is surprised and infuriated by the fact that politicians in Albany (McCoy, Jennings, Mceneny....hmmmmm) want to march in the St Patricks Day Parade, an IRISH pride day. Conti, just to bring you up to speed, they also have some other cultural parades around NY, like the Puerto Rico Day parade and the Columbus Day parade...SURPRISE, Puerto Ricans dominate the former and Italians the latter. Everyone HAS to march in your parade or else they are against the gay community? I did not see you at the last Puerto Rico Day Parade, so I have to ask you Mr. Conti, when did you first develop your anti-puerto rican racist views, or have you always been a hater of the Puerto Rican community?

So what is BJ really doing for your support?

Posted by: Ron the Not Anon
Posted on: 09/08/2009
The fact that people keep talking about Ellis's supposed homophobia makes it an issue. An issue very easy for Corey to elmininate.

If you're a progressive, you need to be pro-gay. It comes with the territory.

Posted by: Luci Mcknight
Posted on: 09/08/2009
Well, I offer my two cents to this 2009 Primary Election. This year I have no political contest so I signed up for some needed surgical repair of my rt. shoulder. Furthermore, I don't want to give any one the impression that the 2nd Ward or 2nd Legislative District is going into a state of deep darkness. trust me, I will not stand by and let this happen. I am still the longest serving female Legislator in this region/state. So, listen up!

The City Wide candidates that have my vote are two South-End natives, Ellis for Mayor and Mclaughlin for Common Council President. I have had the honor of working with Leif Engstrom as Planner of CDRPC for a decade and know first hand that he is a capable and qualified person to be the first City Auditor. Not knowing her personally, I called Kathy Sheehan last week to extend my support to her as our next City of Albany, Treasurer. Due to redistricting a portion of my 2nd Legislative District is along Delaware Avenue and I throw my support to the 7th Ward Common Council member incumbent, Cathy Fahey and my collegue, friend and incumbent 1st Ward Common Councilman Dominick Calsolaro, a great public servant.

As for 2nd Ward Common Councilman -- it is sad to see these two choices. Freeman has yet to concede to his failed attempt to unseat me for my Legislative seat in 2007. He is now employeed by the State of NY not City Hall. Hatch Act violator, Victor Cain is owned by his master and will be no help for this minority community. Maybe we should look at Mr. Crumble?

So, there you have it! I am ready to work to really move us forward. No need for any more Robo calls! Thank You

Posted by: Democrat4unity
Posted on: 09/10/2009
Lucy, you did not mention in your "endorsement" that Carolyn is your sister. That kinda skews your perspective, and makes your "endorsment" disengenious at best. Another Mc-nothing at work. Also did you say we should vote for a republican as you predict that the democrats will be two "sad choices" I will remember that when you run again, when your asking folks to suport you as a dem, not! Every democrat in the district will be made awear of your selfish choices. So Lucy, listen up, as your no longer a team player, and you heve done nothing to earn your votes, you are done. so is your "endorsed" sister, see ya at the what does your gender have to do with your effectivness, or lack there of? your crass effort to use gender politics is "sad", and lame an also will prove inefective in this day and age. racisim, sexisim, thats your M.O, your cheesy failed inefective sister Carolyns mc-laugh-ln also, I cant wait to see the end of her, Ellis also...woo hoo only a fwe more days and the people will shut you all up, I cant wait!.'. Did you see this Betty? I hope so.

Posted by: Steve Crumble
Posted on: 09/10/2009
As for the 2nd Ward, something beautiful is happening. I have registered more young people, people who have been forgotten about for so long, they to forgot that they count also. It is a privelege to remind them. The 2nd Ward is exactly what you call NEGLECTED!! I don't know the other individuals running against me, except for Freemans failed attempt at the Legislative seat in 2007. That is why I asked Freeman for advice and less than two weeks later I found out he to entered the race. That's POLITICS!!! Back to the 2nd, we need someone to stimulate energy back into the people and then the people will stimulate energy and life back into the community. Just to say the least the 2nd Ward will be expecting alot more of the Mayor (regardless of the outcome) in 2010. It is also wonderful what Veronica Horne in the 5th Ward.

Posted by: Leo
Posted on: 09/10/2009
Lenny Ricchiuti apparently had other priorities than participating in the NAACP forum with Carolyn McLaughlin this evening. Too bad -- but reminiscent of the behavior of such candidates allied with Jerry Jennings as Barnette, Mannarino (1st Ward) and Tobin (7th Ward).

Posted by: Parade of one
Posted on: 09/11/2009
I don't see what the fuss is about in the parade talk. If I March in the Native American Parade, does that mean I hate Columbus? If I don't march in the Native American Parade does that mean I have small pox? At the very best it's grasping for straws. Pols march because they hope it will get them votes, or they've got nothing better to do, were personally invited by a friend, heck, maybe just because its FUN! I don't think it's fair for anyone to hypothosize why someone didn't march in a parade - it's poor logic to say "if you're not with us you are against us."

That said I'm having a parade next week on Washington Ave. from 3-4pm on wednedsay. The parade is the "I love Albany Parade." If you don't show up it means that you don't love albany. That means you should move to Colonie. Where everyone is a homophobe because they don't even HAVE and LBGT parade.

Posted by: Conti - Closeted Jennings Crony
Posted on: 09/11/2009
Parade of one: Yes this is my point. Conti is a fine representation of some of the illogical and suicidal tendencies of the gay movement. I take comfort in knowing that he is actually a poor representation of the movement as a whole and so I can discount him and still keep good company.

Posted by: Openly4Jennings
Posted on: 09/12/2009
All this hot botton touchy feely bs is so lame, who cares all ready, lets just pick the nicest people, who seem to serve the best, and is they are usless dead weight give them the heave and try sombody new?

Jerry- doing a Great, job stop hateing

Lenny Ricchuiti for common council president, Lenny has all readdy been doing a huge service to the city with no juice, lets give hime some! I will be excited to see what this man would do if givin control of the direction of allocation of our city governments resurces!

Kathy S---treasurer- time for new blood and fresh practices in line with this new era of accountibility.

Darius-S-- This man of the law is perfect for the Job, I hope he is there for life!

Posted by: Lucy Finnaly speaks the truth!
Posted on: 09/12/2009
Lucy you sure you want to say, "Furthermore, I don't want to give any one the impression that the 2nd Ward or 2nd Legislative District is going into a state of deep darkness. trust me, I will not stand by and let this happen. I am still the longest serving female Legislator in this region/state. So, listen up!"

Wow, first off the second has long since slid into a state of darkness dispair and violence. Thanks for reminding us its all been under your usless "leadership".
Lucy you got you job do do you willing nesss to "serve" mayor whallens "needs", the whole city knows this.. please do pretend to be what you are not,an Effective Leader! I know of nothing you have accompliched that you can hang you hat on, your whole life has been a total watste, now your pushing your do nothing sister carolyn Mclaughlyn for albanys common council president? UUGhhh..enough is more pity vote, or race elections vote for the best choice or stay at home. Lucy your fired!

Posted by: emma vargas
Posted on: 09/12/2009
vote for lenny is the best choice ,he is a good man and hard worker.

Posted by: Albanygirl
Posted on: 09/14/2009
your helping to propigate lies wont stop lenny from crushing Carolyns blind abitions, Lenny Fan! Go Lenny! Run Lenny Run!

Posted by: Dan Van Riper
Posted on: 09/14/2009

These last two commentators must be some of the "Lennybots" that ACO has been talking about:

Posted by: Dan Van Stupid?
Posted on: 09/15/2009
Why did you internet thugs think you could beat Lenny? Did you think all your lies and harsh words could keep a man of the people down? Lenny has the "right stuff" hes the "real deal" and you phonys just hatchet him up for breakfast, what a lost oppertunity for you to make a friend of one of albanys favorite son's. All the dirt and lies you toss is a disgrace to free speech. May God fogive you, and thank God you don't speak for more then a tiny minority in this city...Wow what a nast bunch, and ACO is the scummyest of the lot of you. You give yellow journelisim a bad name. Today All of Albany will tell you what I all ready know, Lenny is the Best by far! Lenny 4 Albany 4 Change, Believe it!

Posted by: AlbanyObservr
Posted on: 09/15/2009
Bizarre. There is so much subtle racism going on in this campaign I can't believe it. Lucy McKnight endorses Carolyn McLauglin and someone accuses her of only doing it because Carolyn is her sister. Carolyn is NOT her sister. They are not, as far as I know, even related. They are, however, both people of color. This must confuse some people.

Posted by: Elaine
Posted on: 09/15/2009
Dan, Thanks for your blog. Reading it helped me chose the best people.

Posted by: Danvanstupid!
Posted on: 09/16/2009
You were able to keep a good man from winning the primary, so I guess your not as stupid as i thought...nice hatchet job.

Posted by: Soundpolitic
Posted on: 09/17/2009
Oh, come now "Danvanstupid!" While bloggers like Dan and I do our part to spread information and our opinions, I highly doubt that Albany Weblog was the deciding factor in the race. That should be attributed to the efforts made by the victorious candidate and their team of volunteers.

Great run-down, Dan.

Posted by: Terry O'Neill, Esq.
Posted on: 09/23/2009
Thank you so kindly for the little mention. I'd just remind you that Mario Cuomo once infamously said: "We campaign in poetry,but govern in prose." It is precisely that attitude that caused his administration to grow more tired, stale and dour with every passing year.

I'm only half Irish, but I was interested to learn that back in the days of the Gaelic chieftains, there was nothing a "Big Man" feared more than the pen of the satirist.

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