Back to Metroland's Home Page!
 Columns & Opinions
   The Simple Life
   Comment
   Looking Up
   Reckonings
   Opinion
   Myth America
   Letters
   Rapp On This
 News & Features
   Newsfront
   Features
   What a Week
   Loose Ends
 Dining
   This Week's Review
   The Dining Guide
   Leftovers
 Cinema & Video
   Weekly Reviews
   The Movie Schedule
 Music
   Listen Here
   Live
   Recordings
   Noteworthy
 Arts
   Theater
   Dance
   Art
   Classical
   Books
   Art Murmur
 Calendar
   Night & Day
   Event Listings
 Classifieds
   View Classified Ads
   Place a Classified Ad
 Personals
   Online Personals
   Place A Print Ad
 AccuWeather
 About Metroland
   Where We Are
   Who We Are
   What We Do
   Work For Us
   Place An Ad

James Sano

The Candidates on the Record

James Sano

Albany Common Council, Ward 9, Incumbent, Democrat, Working Families

Looking at the last few years, is there anything you would have done differently for Ward 9?

I really don’t have too much second-guessing. I was thrust into the office when the mayor appointed me in 2001, and there was no honeymoon. The minute I got in here, the [$15 million] Weiss Road project was announced. My only regret is that it would have been nice to have a month or two to catch my breath and get a little better feel for the people—you don’t want to first meet people when they’re angry.

There are quite a few temporary residents and students mixed in with resident homeowners in the Ninth Ward. How do you maintain a balance between landlords, their tenants and the resident homeowners?

More of what we get is medical students, pharmacy students—the graduate-student type. When I do get a constituent complaint, I go right after them using our community police officers. If I can get the name of the students, I’ll try and get in touch with the college. On occasion, I’ve paid a visit to the household and told them that this type of behavior isn’t going to be tolerated. I don’t have a crystal ball, though, so if I’m not told there’s a recurring problem, I won’t know about it.

What role should the Common Council play with respect to the Citizens Police Review Board?

I understand [the board’s] frustration about not being able to pursue the investigations they’d like, but . . . I’m not so sure [granting the board subpoena power] is the way to go. I want to make sure that [the police] get their due process. You have to be mindful that it’s not just done in-house and swept under the carpet, but I don’t think that’s happening. To go a step further than that, where [the board] can become the jury and beyond, I have a little problem with that. What happened to the policemen’s rights? There was a complaint that came out of [the board] about rudeness by the police, and it’s not that I’m not concerned about rudeness . . . but out of 178,000 calls, for someone to bring to me a complaint of only 70 incidents of rudeness, is that really a problem? It just all needs further review.

How do you weigh constituents’ desires for community-minded development in your ward against its commercial potential?

Actually, we’re going through some of that right now. There’s an ambitious project going forward with St. Peter’s Hospital. We have to balance between what the hospital and the surrounding community want to do. We can’t put the cart before the horse and not address an already deficient problem: lack of parking. I have no sympathy for not doing the planning correctly. The basics come first, like parking.

How do you feel about revising the city’s charter and the balance of power between the mayor and Common Council?

I believe in a strong form of mayor. Let’s not kid ourselves, [the Albany Civic Agenda] had an agenda. Review begins with “A” and ends with “Z”—it doesn’t begin and end with “M,” and that stands for “mayor.” [The ACA] was trying to be a decree by mob—and a mob with a torch in its hand is no different than a mob with a petition in its hand. I don’t think it was the proper way to proceed. It had a lot of problems with it that could have led us into extended litigation, and then the taxpayers would have been paying for it. If they could remove the politics and weigh it on its own merits, then we can see where it goes.


Ernest Sohotra

Albany Common Council, Ward 9, Republican

Looking at the last few years, is there anything you would have done differently for Ward 9?

I live on Hackett [Boulevard]. People think it’s a speedway. The school system is so messed up and the kids aren’t getting a good education. The schools are out of control—when I went to school, the teachers were like God. These are things I’m concerned about. These are small things, but they’re really not. We need to have a better school system, teachers should have more rights and police should have more control. There should be more trees planted along the streets, too. I’m out there just to make life better for everybody.

There are quite a few temporary residents and students mixed in with resident homeowners in the Ninth Ward. How do you maintain a balance between landlords, their tenants and the resident homeowners?

I personally don’t think it’s a bad situation right now. I’m an immigrant, I was born in Pakistan—people need a place to live when they move here. The students have to go to school, and sometimes they do things that kids do.

What role should the Common Council play with respect to the Citizens Police Review Board?

The police need to have more control, but I think the Common Council should have control of how the city works.

How do you weigh constituents’ desires for community-minded development in your ward against its commercial potential?

I would rather have businesses move in and help the community. The mayor wants to put a convention center downtown—that’s not a good idea. Where are you going to get the people? You’ve got a convention center in the Empire Plaza, but it’s always empty. And we’ve already got the Pepsi Arena for conventions, too.

How do you feel about revising the city’s charter and the balance of power between the mayor and Common Council?

I think the Common Council should have more power than the mayor does.

—Interviews by Rick Marshall


What a Week

You Want to Use Those Benefits?

The New York Times has uncovered an internal memo from Wal-Mart’s executive vice president for benefits, insisting that the company’s employees are unhealthy and therefore driving up health-care costs. The proposed solution is to require physical labor in all positions to discourage the unhealthy from applying for jobs. The memo comes in the midst of Wal-Mart’s new public relations campaign about its improved health-care benefits, designed to make the company’s move into New York and Los Angeles easier.

The Two Saratogas

In response to incumbent Mike Lenz’s $500-a-plate fund-raiser, Valerie Keehn, candidate for mayor of Saratoga Springs, announced a $5-a-plate fund-raiser for this Thursday. Keehn won the Democratic line from former Deputy Mayor Hank Kuczynski (the endorsed Democratic candidate) in September. She has since gained his endorsement as well as endorsements from Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and Senator Chuck Schumer.

Mind if We Tap In?

With the way paved by a Federal Communications Commission rule enacted in August, the FBI is demanding that Voice Over Internet Protocol providers redesign their networks to make wiretapping live VoIP conversations easier. The companies claim that the redesign will stunt the development of new technology. The rule also requires that broadband providers provide easy access points for wiretapping. The American Council on Education, which represents 2,000 universities and colleges, claims that the cost of doing so would be crippling and has filed an appeal. The University of Wisconsin recently rewired its network; the cost was $18 million.

Hurry Up and Sweat

“DC Guessing Game Reaches Fever Pitch” read the headline on the Drudge Report Wednesday morning as administration officials and pundits held their collective breath in anticipation of indictments of Bush administration officials, possibly including Scooter Libby and Karl Rove, in the investigation into the leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame’s covert status. After the obsessive focus had spread around Washington to an unusual extent, a spokesperson for the special investigator left everyone in limbo: No indictments or legal action were expected yet after all.




Independence in the Balance

Albany School Board elections could give mayor more power over schools

This November, six candidates are vying for three seats on Albany’s school board. The choice voters make about which of these to elect to the school district’s governing body may decide not only how the local school system is run, but also the nature of its relationship to City Hall.

Among the candidates in this year’s election is a trio calling themselves the Committee for Children of Albany: Morris Cohen, a former associate commissioner of the NYS Department of Mental Health; Jackie Jenkins, an administrator with the city’s department of recreation; and Wayne Morris, a former school-district employee who has served on a number of committees run by the district. This group of candidates has re ceived heavy support from Mayor Jerry Jennings and many of his ap pointees. According to an Oct. 21 Times Union story, several of those appointees—including corporation counsel John Reilly and several other high-ranking city officials—collected signatures last August to get the trio on the ballot.

If all three CCA candidates are elected to the school board, they would join current member Bill Barnette, whose wife, city treasurer Betty Barnette, has similar ties to City Hall—creating a mayor-friendly majority on the seven-member board. The mayor, a former vice-principal, often has been at odds with the school board during his 12 years in office.

While many of the candidates would be new to the school board, longtime board member Barbara Gaffuri is running for reelection. Gaffuri, who doesn’t accept organizational endorsements, generally has had support from members of the PTA, on which she served for many years, and People Advocating for Small Schools.

Also on the ballot will be Judy Doesschate, a former president of the neighborhood association in Sheridan Hollow and longstanding member of local parent-teacher associations. Doesschate, whose youngest child is a student at Albany High School, said she hopes to improve schools’ relationships with the surrounding neighborhoods and to lobby for a greater share of state aid.

LoLisa McLaughlin, niece of Ward 2 Common Council member Carolyn McLaughlin, also will be on this year’s ballot. Endorsed by current board president Edward Brown Jr., McLaughlin said her work with the department of corrections has allowed her to see the pitfalls of ineffective education firsthand. The mother of two children currently en rolled in Albany schools, McLaughlin would like to improve early detection of at-risk youth in the district and look into the possibility of extending both the school day and school year—similar to the current policy of many local charter schools.

“I want to take a look at what the charter schools are doing that’s drawing parents to these schools,” she said, “and the longer day and year are certainly a part of that attraction. I’d like to look into implementing the same sort of policies in our city schools.”

Calls to the Committee for Children of Albany were not returned.

—Rick Marshall

rmarshall@metroland.net


Overheard

Overheard:

“Delaware Avenue’s haunted.”

“Delaware Avenue?”

“Yeah. Something bad happened there.”

—CDTA Route 18 bus, in the midst of a discussion of haunted houses.

 

Overheard:“Question his manhood.”

—Ralph Nader, at a press conference Tuesday supporting Alice Green, in response to a question about how Green could convince Mayor Jerry Jennings to participate in a debate.



Loose Ends

Corey Ellis [“The Candidates on the Record,” Trail Mix, May 19], who lost Albany’s Third Ward Common Council Democratic primary by 17 votes, is challenging incumbent Michael Brown to a “rematch” in the general election. Calling the primary a “virtual coin toss,” Ellis will run on the Working Families Party line on the Nov. 8 ballot. . . . A bid by Friends of Hudson to get the comment period extended a second time on a proposal to burn tires at the Ravena LaFarge Cement plant [“What a Week,” Sept. 29] came to naught as the state DEC closed comments on Oct. 3. Next, LaFarge will get to respond to the comments received, which were overwhelmingly negative.



Send A Letter to Our Editor
Back Home
   
Banner 10000006
Banner 10000007
wine recommendations 120 x 90
 
 
 
Copyright © 2002 Lou Communications, Inc., 419 Madison Ave., Albany, NY 12210. All rights reserved.