reaching a settlement with the family and making various policy
changes, the city of Albany declares case closed on the death
of David Scaringe
New Year’s Eve 2003, Albany was convulsed by the killing of
David Scaringe, who was shot by a stray bullet as two police
officers, Joseph Gerace and William Bonanni, fired at a car
that had sped away from a traffic stop [“Death and Disbelief,”
Newsfront, Jan. 8, 2004]. Last Wednesday, Jan. 5, the city
announced that it was settling a lawsuit brought by the Scaringe
family for $1.3 million, the largest settlement of its sort
for the city, and recapped a range of policy changes that
have been made in response to the death.
Throughout the year, many friends of Scaringe, as well as
others who were troubled by the implications of the shooting,
joined together to call on the city to take significant action
to ensure such a thing wouldn’t happen again, both by disciplining
the officers involved and by changing department policies
[“Here’s Your Outcry,” Newsfront, April 29, 2004]. Some, including
Scaringe’s fiancée Karen Jabonaski, joined forces with the
citizen group Citizens for Accountable Police and Government,
who were trying to draw attention to questions about the firing
of Cmdr. Christian D’Alessandro and use of seized asset funds.
Though officials reached out to the family at the time of
Scaringe’s death, response from city officials on calls for
policy change and discipline were restrained, even terse,
for much of the early part of the year. They wouldn’t speak
at all until the grand jury investigation was complete. After
the grand jury concluded without returning an indictment in
early May, the Albany Police Department wouldn’t share any
details of its own internal investigation. In fact, it only
recently became clear that the officers had been disciplined
at all, though the details are still being withheld for privacy
reasons. The officers have not returned to active duty; they
are on leave due to job-related illness.
At the same time as they promised to review them, Mayor Jerry
Jennings and Albany Police Chief James Turley said repeatedly
throughout the early months of 2004 that they believed their
policies on vehicle pursuit and use of deadly force to be
sound. But last spring, a woman in West Hill was injured when
someone being chased by police ran into her vehicle. Then
Jennings was reported to have been distressed and motivated
to push for change in August, when eight police cars, one
unmarked, passed his own vehicle in a chase that headed out
of the city to Thacher Park. (Then and now, only two, and
no unmarked cars, are allowed in a pursuit.)
The APD’s vehicle-pursuit policy was in fact amended in September
and its policy on use of deadly physical force was amended
in December. In both cases, restrictions on the use of firearms
and standards of public safety were spelled out in more explicit
and restrictive language. Officers are now specifically restricted
from firing at a vehicle in an attempt to disable it.
APD spokesman Detective James Miller said that the changes
were not inconsistent with earlier statements that the policies
the APD had were good. The intent—in the case of vehicle pursuits,
for example, to “balance the risks associated with a pursuit
against the risk of terminating a pursuit”—were already there,
said Miller, but “ultimately it was determined that there
were some vague parts that needed to be clarified. The policies
were fine, but they needed to be clarified and to have stricter
The Scaringe family cited the policy changes as one of the
reasons they were willing to accept a settlement.
The city and the family are also establishing a scholarship
fund in David Scaringe’s name in conjunction with the Albany
Police & Fire Foundation that would go to police candidates
or students with an interest in law enforcement and public
Things Come in Threes? Three booted cars
in a row on Division Street in Albany last
Friday (Jan. 7).
photo: Chris Shields
minutes later, carrying two boxes of wine glasses]
to buy some fine glassware for your home?”
[Two minutes later]
man to the same person waiting at an Albany bus
on Madison Avenue
Great, as Long as There’s No Risk Involved
dramatic discrepancies between exit polls and
actual vote counts, conspicuous differences between
the availability of voting machines in Democratic
districts and in those of their Republican neighbors,
and reports of Republican-funded groups tearing
up new Democrats’ registration forms and “challenging”
voters, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he
has not seen any evidence of fraud in last November’s
election results, so there was no reason to join
two congresspeople from Ohio and California Sen.
Barbara Boxer in objecting to the final electoral
vote tally last week. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.),
who also remained silent during the objection
process, said later that she appreciated her colleagues’
efforts and that there should be higher standards
for voting accuracy.
Diabolical Laugh Here
media tyrant Rupert Murdoch further solidified
his control over the spread of information in
the United States this week, announcing plans
to buy out the other shareholders of Fox. In the
deal, Murdoch will gain significantly more control
over all Fox properties and the DirecTV satellite
service, and be able to integrate those media
assets into his ambiguously named News Corporation,
which provides newspaper, film, television and
satellite services to countries around the world.
in the Dark
Department of Justice recently released a detailed
protocol for treatment of sexual-assault survivors.
Detailed, that is, except when the subject of
possible rape-related pregnancy comes up, in which
case the guidelines just say “treatment should
be discussed.” A total of 206 church groups, medical
groups, and reproductive-rights groups sent a
letter to the DOJ protesting the exclusion of
emergency contraception—an FDA-approved, pregnancy-preventing
method—from the guidelines.
speaks volumes: Robert Millman.
photo: Chris Shields
initial resistance, conservative talk bastion WGY-AM agrees
to accept a series of locally produced issue ads
an average day’s programming on local Clear Channel talk-radio
station WGY-AM 810, and you can expect to hear some unique
perspectives on the current headlines and social issues. From
women’s rights (“I’ve always loved the women’s movement, especially
when I’m walking behind it—it’s when you look at a bunch of
feminists from the front that it gets a bit more difficult,”
reasoned afternoon host Rush Limbaugh recently) to the psychology
of abuse (“Can you be a monogamous pedophile?” asked morning
host Glenn Beck), WGY and Clear Channel would appear to place
few limits on the subject matter they broadcast into homes,
cars and offices around the region. Yet, as Glenville resident
Robert Millman recently discovered, some topics are still
too taboo for the WGY listening audience.
is a paid radio moment,” begins Millman in one of seven 30-second
“issue ads” that he recorded, produced and negotiated air
time for on WGY. “We’re all nervous about losing our jobs—even
politicians. But they can cut a deal to keep their jobs safe.
When politicians redraw voting districts, they choose where
your vote goes, and they get elected again and again.
before they retire, they choose where your vote goes next,”
continues Millman. “That’s what redistricting is: a way to
steal your vote.”
which Millman planned to air during both the station’s morning
drive programming and—in the case of one ad—during Limbaugh’s
afternoon show, addressed a variety of topics including the
deficit and voting irregularities (“Voter suppression isn’t
a strategy,” says the ad. “It’s a crime”), as well as the
war in Iraq and Christianity. And in the spirit of putting
one’s money where one’s mouth is, Millman agreed to pony up
more than $700 of his money to get the short statements heard.
not afraid of discourse,” he explained. “I’m more than happy
to stack my idea of what’s right against anyone else’s in
a public forum.”
Channel and WGY, however, seemed less than thrilled about
conservative-friendly format becoming such a forum. Along
with right-wing pundits Limbaugh and Beck, WGY’s programming
includes shows hosted by Michael Savage and Sean Hannity,
two radio personalities who have made a career out of bashing—whether
on-air, in print or in person—anyone who questions the current
our programming staff would not approve your ads,” wrote a
Clear Channel spokesperson after Millman submitted the recorded
statements. The notice gave no further explanation for the
to Millman, repeated inquiries about which ads—or portions
of the ads—were deemed objectionable, as well as offers to
change the ads’ style or content, went unanswered by station
officials. It wasn’t until he sent a letter to Clear Channel
CEO John Hogan in San Antonio that he finally received a response
from the station’s local representatives, said Millman.
has the right to accept or refuse paid advertisements at the
management’s discretion,” wrote Greg Foster, operations manager
and program director for Clear Channel Radio in Albany, in
a short e-mail response to Millman received shortly after
Millman’s letter arrived in San Antonio.
Foster’s statement is indeed true—radio stations have the
right to reject any advertisement based upon its subject matter—Millman
and other free-speech advocates took to the snowy streets
last weekend to vent their frustration over what they see
as partisan bias in the station’s programming.
country is worth all of this,” said Millman, in reference
to both the cost of the advertising and the frigid conditions
he and a small group of supporters endured Saturday afternoon
during a quiet protest outside Clear Channel’s Albany headquarters.
The group later placed black tape over their mouths and stood,
American flag held high amid falling snow, next to the station’s
Millman acknowledged that the station’s refusal was perfectly
legal, he questioned Foster’s added assertion (from the previously
mentioned e-mail message) that “WGY operates without religious
or political agenda.”
topics of my issue ads . . . deficit spending, right to vote,
oil dependence, the Iraq war, dissent and Christianity . .
. are all subjects regularly discussed on WGY,” reasoned Millman.
“But what I’m saying about [these issues] doesn’t agree with
the half-truths Rush Limbaugh and the rest are telling us.”
persistence in his quest to get alternative viewpoints on
the local airwaves might soon pay off, as a conspicuously
more agreeable WGY recently agreed to air the ads—provided
Millman includes his e-mail address or other contact information
at the end of his statement.
I’m not the only one who’s disappointed with both the radical
right and the Democrats these days,” laughed Millman. “So
if this lets some of them know that we’re not all happy about
the direction the country is headed, I consider it money well
calls to Clear Channel and WGY for comment were not returned.
the Offender, Heal the Victim
is justice served? (l-r) Fred Boehrer and Jon Rice.
photo: Alicia Solsman
for restorative justice say their system picks up where conventional
criminal justice ends
harm is done to someone and the offender is locked away, is
the government’s work really done?
That was the question posed by speakers at a recent forum
on “restorative justice,” a style of conflict resolution gaining
support here in the United States as more questions are raised
about the effectiveness of the nation’s criminal-justice system.
the people who have been harmed have little or no role in
the conventional criminal-justice system,” said Fred Boehrer,
moderator for the forum and a member of the Albany Catholic
The aim of restorative justice, which advocates describe as
a “victim-driven” system of handling conflicts, is to make
the offender truly aware of the scope of his or her actions
by bringing everyone affected by the incident together. By
taking a community approach toward handling conflicts, supporters
claim that the number of repeat offenders is reduced, and
local residents are spared the cost of handling matters through
the standard court system and—in some cases—incarceration.
Simply by giving the victim—whether one person or an entire
community—the chance to tell an offender how life has changed
because of the incident, supporters of restorative justice
insist that many conflicts can be resolved without court dates
or jail time, and the lives of both the victim and offender
can regain some (relative) normalcy.
isn’t a system where you can do whatever you want to me, we’ll
talk about it and you can do it all over again,” explained
Jon Rice, a clinical social worker who was involved in training
some of the local law enforcement—including recently elected
Albany County District Attorney David Soares—in taking a more
oriented approach toward settling conflicts. With Soares’
election, Rice and other supporters of restorative justice
hope that the benefits of this style of justice might be experienced
justice] simply takes advantage of the full potential for
communication that comes with being human,” said Rice.
Like Rice, many of the speakers at Tuesday’s forum acknowledged
the difficulties of winning over a public trained to view
any proposal that would reduce the number of people sent to
jail as “soft on crime.” Yet, according to some of the day’s
speakers, systems of restorative justice are not only in use
outside of the United States, they are playing an integral
role in resolving conflicts big and small.
New Zealand and Australia, the juvenile-justice system is
almost entirely restorative in its approach,” said Dennis
Sullivan, author of Restorative Justice: Healing the Foundations
of Our Everyday Lives and professor at the University
at Albany. “The U.S. has actually lagged behind when it comes
to looking at the big picture in justice.”
Sullivan added that restorative-style justice systems are
widely used in Canada and Europe, as well as in countries
like Rwanda. While the systems are often first used as a method
for resolving lesser crimes such as theft or vandalism, Sullivan
said that such systems have also helped heal communities that
had otherwise been plagued with abuse and other harsher incidents.
For Rice, a recent case he was involved in proved to be the
best indication of the potential for restorative justice.
After spending many months working with a man who had abused
a member of his community, Rice said that he had seen a world
of difference in the man’s perspective on what he had done.
was like night and day,” said Rice of the man’s transformation.
However, Rice knew that the community affected by the man’s
actions had seen little of this transformation, and as such
wasn’t likely to understand its extent. If a more restorative
approach had been taken, argued Rice, the community would
not only have been informed of what was happening, but would
have taken an active role in bringing about that change.
we repaired his understanding of right and wrong,” reasoned
Rice, “but we didn’t do anything to repair the community he
house of Stephen Myers, a leading figure in New
York state’s abolitionist movement, which was
discovered and acquired by Paul and Mary Liz Stewart
of the Underground Railroad Project this
summer [“On Beyond Tubman,” June 3, 2004], was
listed on the National Register of Historic Places
as of Nov. 30, 2004. The Stewarts report that
more than 50 volunteers have been working to clean
up the property, and the project has received
a $10,000 grant from the Bender Foundation toward