Four Items For The New Year

January 7, 2016

Salaries, food and taxes, have yourself a nice hot cup of coffee
while you still can

Corruption In Cohoes For a while it looked like things were getting better for the small City of Cohoes, located on the northern end of Albany County. During the first decade of this century, when John McDonald was mayor, Cohoes saw its first population increase since the Harmony Mills clothing manufacturing complex located in the heart of town closed in the 1930s. Among Mr. McDonald’s successes as mayor was the renovation of the beautiful but vacant Harmony Mills buildings into apartments, and negotiation of substantial benefits for the City when the Canadian corporation Brookfield started up the long-dormant power plant at Cohoes Falls.

After Mr. McDonald became a member of the State Assembly in 2013, the mayor’s job went to George Primeau, who after 15 months called it quits citing health issues. So this past September there was an apparently wide open primary race (Cohoes, like the City of Albany, is a Democratic town) which was won handily by the controversial Chairman of the Albany County Legislature, Shawn Morse. There is much to indicate that Mr. Primeau carefully prepared the way for Mr. Morse, who happens to be his nephew, to take over his job.

Shawn Morse Sworn In As Mayor Of Cohoes, Jan. 1 Shawn Morse Sworn In As Mayor Of Cohoes, Jan. 1

When Mr. McDonald took office in 2000, he immediately lowered the mayor’s salary from $58,541 to $45,000 per year, which as a leading business owner in the City (Marra’s Pharmacy) he could afford to do. However, by the time he left office he had brought his pay up to $60,000 to pass on to his successor. This still left the mayor paid less than a row of senior cops and firefighters along with several City officials.

Shortly after Mr. Morse won the September Primary, uncle George Primeau indicated that he was raising the mayor’s salary to $75,000. Oh, and members of the Cohoes Common Council would go from $13,195 to $14,000. The Council approved the raises along with the creative shifting of funds and dipping into the reserves to pay for the new salaries.

A few days into his new term as mayor, Mr. Morse announced the creation of a new $60,000 per year executive secretary job, which according to rumor is very likely to go to former mayor Uncle George. What about those health issues, have we had a miraculous recovery? And the mayor’s executive assistant, a job which already exists, will be raised to $70,000.

Neighborhood In Cohoes Neighborhood In Cohoes

But the big news is that the new mayor is firing the very successful economic development coordinator Ed Tremblay, who was hired for the job by Mr. McDonald at $59,000 per year. Mr. Tremblay is being replaced by Mike Jacobson who will be collecting a whopping $125,000 per year. Now that’s a raise. Mr. Jacobson came to this area a few years ago from Florida after leaving his job as a vice president at American Express to take a job as director of Capital District Habitat for Humanity, from which he “retired” this past summer.

Mr. Jacobson appeared at the right time for Habitat and managed to get a lot of building projects started and completed, unleashing Habitat’s built up potential. Much of his success came from Habitat’s aura of goodwill and as a launderer of tax liability, basically he knew how to ask for donations. It remains to be seen if he can manage the same success for Cohoes above what Mr. Tremblay accomplished at less than half the salary.

As director of Habitat, Mr. Jacobson did some extensive reorganizing along corporate lines, consolidating departments and apparently increasing efficiency. He also worked to take over and absorb Habitat chapters in nearby counties under one corporate umbrella. As part of this he packed up the Habitat headquarters in Albany and moved those jobs across the river to Troy.

Mike Jacobson As Habitat Director On Alexander Street In Albany (With Common Council President Carolyn McLaughlin) Dec. 2012 Mike Jacobson As Habitat Director On Alexander Street In Albany (With Common Council President Carolyn McLaughlin) Dec. 2012

I brushed up against Mr. Jacobson when I was serving as a board member of South End Improvement Corporation (SEIC.) He was trying to absorb SEIC into Habitat in order to gain some of that organization’s credentials for Habitat. His effort was unsuccessful, all Mr. Jacobson managed to do was to divide the board and poach the then director of SEIC for a higher paying job at Habitat, which explains her enthusiasm for his plans. (Meanwhile SEIC is under the thumb of a new director who has gutted the board, decreased the number of projects and greatly increased administrative costs.)

Mr. Jacobson struck me as predatory, which I suppose may be a necessary requirement for the kind of thing he does. When he had a reason to know me he was the friendliest most personable person in the world, but when that usefulness ended I no longer rated notice. That makes me wonder how much he does that to other people, which might turn out to be a real problem for him in a small place like Cohoes.

As for Assembly member John McDonald, who represents my neighborhood in Albany as well as Cohoes, I asked for his opinion on the new mayor and the big salaries. His comment was no comment. But he added, “My record of protecting tax payer dollars is clear and thirteen years long. I could only hope that record will be surpassed.”

Coffee Will Make Headlines I don’t like to make predictions, but this one seems like a safe call. In the last few years medical researchers have discovered that not only is drinking large amounts of strong coffee safe, it is actually good for you. It turns out that it has curative powers, so much so that some doctors are now prescribing coffee for patients with hepatitis C and cirrhosis of the liver.

Your Favorite Way to start your day just got a whole lot healthier!

It’s coffee as a substance, not any one ingredient in it that is beneficial. According to Frank Hu, a nutritional epidemiologist at Harvard, quoted in Science News magazine, “It’s extremely difficult to impossible to tease out the effects of the individual components of coffee because there are so many of them. And they travel together.” Various international studies going back to 2012 have consistently confirmed results. For example, just one from the article:

Earlier this year, a European team reported that women who drank two and a half or more cups and men who drank three and a half or more daily were 72 percent less likely to develop liver cancer than people who drank less than about one-third cup a day. The study included roughly half a million healthy people monitored for 11 years.