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The Candidates on the Record

Patricia DeAngelis

Rensselaer County Court Judge, Republican

Patricia DeAngelis declined to be interviewed for this series.


Robert M. Jacon

Rensselaer County Court Judge, Democrat

Why are you running?

I’m running because I believe I have a lot to offer to Rensselaer County based on my prior experience. I spent eight years as a judge in East Greenbush and [have been] practicing law for 31 years in Rensselaer County and the Capital District. The position requires maturity and insight, experience, and knowledge, and I’ve got the basis for that. The second reason being that I looked at the alternative and felt that that was unacceptable. I felt someone needed to step up to the plate and present to the voters a viable alternative.

Does Rensselaer County need this judgeship?

The rationale for the new judgeship was the increased caseload. My understanding, from the current county court judge, is the caseload has doubled. My own experience with the system would be that it seems to be functioning in the same manner it’s been for the 31 years I have been practicing. I have no reason to doubt it. In the event we were able to catch up we would be able to help out in other counties or help out in family court where there is a giant workload.

In a highly political climate, how do you stay impartial?

When you’re 62 years old you’re not beholden to anybody, and they didn’t come begging me to take this job. I went up there and said I want this job. The amount of support I’ve gotten has been minimal, so I really don’t owe anything to anybody. I have a degree of independence based on the fact I’ve had to stand up, take it and then agree to finance it, because ultimately it’s all about the money.

How do you think the lawsuit against DeAngelis will affect the campaign? [A lawsuit was filed against Rensselaer County District Attorney DeAngelis on Oct. 14 by former Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Sober, alleging she was wrongly fired for questioning unethical practices in the D.A.’s office.]

I think there will be some effect. It’s one more thing that the voters will consider when they make their determination. We are experiencing out in the field, going door to door, that it does affect people’s thinking. The people who mention the article, it’s had an impact upon them. I was out in Troy with an elderly gentleman, I said I’m running against DeAngelis, and he said, “Well, I don’t think it’s much of a race anymore.”

Do you support giving the Commission on Judicial Conduct more power?

My experience with them is that really the individual rights, the judges’ rights, need to be protected as well as the rights of the public to know what’s going on.

Can a judge address patterns of crime in the county?

Sure you can, in terms of the type of sentencing you administer. Anybody can sentence you to jail. What you need is someone who can apply the sentencing statutes and the resources and the probation department and social services, unified services, whatever you have available. Many people don’t really like to get up and go to work every day, especially the ones in trouble a lot. One of the things I liked to do when I was a town judge was sentence people to weekends and nights and make them go to work during the day.

How will your experience as an attorney influence you as a judge?

As a defense attorney, my job is to make sure [my client] is accorded his constitutional rights of due process, of equal protection and effective assistance of counsel and to make sure the presumption of innocence till proven guilty is actually implemented. When you are in court you frequently feel the judges listen to the D.A. and as an afterthought listen to you as a defense attorney, because the D.A. is there more often, sometimes every week. What I need to do is make sure that the courtroom is a place where everybody is on the same status. I could care less if I know the D.A. or the defense attorney. God knows, I’m going to know most of them. The fact is, though, my job is to interpret the law and apply it appropriately.

—Interview conducted by David King

What a Week

Who’s Doing the Hijacking Here?

Motivated by the indictment brought against Dick Cheney aide Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Democrats on Tuesday took Congress into closed session to investigate intelligence pertaining to the Iraq War. “The Libby indictment provides a window into what this is really all about, how this administration manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to sell the war in Iraq and attempted to destroy those who dared to challenge its actions,” said Democratic minority leader Harry Reid before invoking Senate rules that led to the closed session. Republicans responded by calling the closed session a “hijacking” and a “political stunt.” In the end Republicans agreed to have a bipartisan group check into how the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into prewar intelligence is going.

“It’s Not Over”

Speaking of Friday’s indictment of Lewis Libby, there is still a fair amount of speculation that more charges are to follow. Thanks to prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s comment that “it’s not over,” Washington insiders are reportedly abuzz with rumors that Karl Rove may still be in danger. The likelihood of a Rove indictment seems to be increasing, especially now that New York Times reporter Matthew Cooper claims he learned of Valerie Plame directly from Rove. “Before I spoke to Karl Rove I didn’t know Mr. Wilson had a wife and that she had been involved in sending him to Africa,” said Cooper. Cooper insists that if a trial goes ahead, he will name Rove as his source.

Things to Do in Denver When You’re Stoned

Possession of up to an ounce of marijuana is legal for adults now in the city of Denver thanks to an interesting argument. The Alcohol-Marijuana Equalization Initiative received overwhelming support due to proponents’ arguments that marijuana is safer than alcohol. Supporters cited national statistics that showed that alcohol fuels car wrecks, violence, binge drinking and—guess what?—alcoholism. Don’t trade your keg for a dime bag yet, though, as pot is still illegal according to Colorado law.

This Disease Has Not Gone Away

Members of the Nor’easter Caravan of the Campaign to End AIDS posed outside the Legislative Office Building in Albany before heading off to Washington, D.C. One of 10 caravans in a nationwide movement that has been nearly a year in the works, this group will join thousands of others this weekend (Nov. 4-7) for four days of lobbying, prayer, and other activism on AIDS-related “front burner” issues.

The movement is a major push to bring AIDS back into people’s awareness. It even brought the designer of the well-known pink triangle with the phrase “Silence Equals Death” out of retirement to create a new logo. The overriding theme of the movement is that the tools to end AIDS are available, and only the will and resources are lacking. The top issues are reauthorizing and fully funding the Ryan White Care Act, preventing Medicaid budget cuts or changes that would affect coverage of people with HIV, funding the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, backing debt cancellation for poor nations, and reviving HIV-prevention efforts based on science, not ideology.

After a press conference at which both local service providers and caravan members with HIV spoke, the group gathered on the steps for an interfaith prayer service led by the Rev. Jill Farnum of Emmanuel Baptist Church. Farnum led off the service by saying that to end stigma you had to go back to its source, and that much of the stigma around AIDS had come from the churches. She and other participants read prayers from various traditions, called out names of people who have died of AIDS, and sang “Amazing Grace.” Closing with a “message from the Hopi Elders” before people trooped off to cars plastered with the campaign logo, Farnum read “The time of the lone wolf is over. . . . We are the ones we have been waiting for.”

—Miriam Axel-Lute

Making Your Electoral Bed

When a newspaper aggressively handicaps a race, does it end up handicapping its own coverage opportunities as well?

Over the last month, local media have been buzzing about Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings’ style of communication—or, more accurately, his lack thereof—with the press. Where it was difficult before the Sept. 13 Democratic primary to avoid seeing or hearing the mayor’s name in the region’s daily newspapers, radio shows or television news, now the silence is deafening from the incumbent’s camp. And while some could argue that this sort of communication pattern is not only a wise political move but also business as usual in Albany, it may be worth noting what such a shift posits about the media’s relationship to local politics.

On Feb. 18, the Times Union announced the candidacy of Archie Goodbee Jr., a retired broadcast executive, in the mayoral race. The article described Goodbee’s professional and political history, and cited a few reasons why he should be considered a viable candidate. The headline of the article, however, makes no reference to Goodbee, but rather to his opponent—reading simply, “Jennings’ foe vows fight.”

Over the next few months, the format of the paper’s headlines echoed this initial editorial decision, with story after story describing the campaign—or, in some cases, providing a profile of the mayoral challengers—but rarely allowing the name of any candidate save Jennings to make it into the bold print. In one such article, published in April, it wasn’t until the second paragraph of the story that Goodbee’s name appeared, and only after he was first referred to as “the democratic challenger to Mayor Jerry Jennings.” Given the well- documented habit of readers to skim headlines in lieu of actually reading the content of stories, it becomes clear what important piece of information many Times Union readers may have been left lacking: the names of any candidates other than Jennings.

After the Democratic primary, however, media headlines took a dramatic turn. Where before the primary, even stories about Jennings’ opponents were headlined with references to the incumbent, phrases like “Green hits mayor on police policies” and “Green would tie residency to jobs” began peppering mainstream’s media’s coverage of the general election. Before the primary, Alice Green was consistently referred to merely as “activist” in headlines.

So why the sudden about-face in editorial policy? Well, some might argue that the Jennings camp hasn’t given the local mainstream media much to work with these days, as the mayor has chosen not to return calls or engage in any form of debate with his general-election challengers since winning the primary. With all of the silence from Jennings 2005 headquarters, it might seem logical that the papers begin wagging their fingers at the incumbent’s camp and place more emphasis on Green Party candidate Alice Green and Republican candidate Joe Sullivan.

Yet, while such an answer might seem appropriate, it could be argued that the media coverage itself might bear some of the blame for this lack of political discourse. In fact, the overwhelming silence of the general election could be considered a monster of the media’s own creation.

One aspect of the local mainstream media’s election coverage that has remained fairly consistent this year is the frequent reminders that, for the city of Albany, the winner of the Democratic primary usually goes on to win the general election. In at least one Times Union story, the paper reports that “winning the Democratic nomination is tantamount to winning office.” While hammering this point home among readers could be seen as an effort to fuel public interest in the primary race, there’s no question that this constant reminder has become a double-edged sword, causing many voters to lose interest in elections now that the primary is over.

Faced with a readership that has lost interest in the general election and an incumbent that refuses to engage in any drama-generating debate with his challengers, the headlines (and opinion columns) have begun aggressively calling out Jennings for his silence and giving his challengers’ accusations a hefty amount of bold print.

Yet, questions remain about whether the silence from the Jennings camp is a blemish on the incumbent’s campaign policy or the mainstream media’s style of election coverage. There’s an argument to be made that the Times Union’s suddenly indignant attitude is a bit hypocritical, given the level of importance the newspaper placed on the primary and all the attention paid to the incumbent in their pre-primary headlines. Would the public have abandoned its interest in the general election if they weren’t constantly told that the primary is the be-all-end-all in Albany elections? Would the mayor be more open to public discourse if he didn’t receive so much ink during the primary? This election, the public may never know.

In fact, the mayor’s silence, it could be argued, might simply represent his belief in what media like the Times Union have been saying all along: that the election has already been decided. And in taking such a hard stance against the mayor after the damage is done, critics wouldn’t be off-base in waxing Shakespearean about the media’s role in the election.

Simply put, one has to wonder whether the Times Union doth protest too much.

—Rick Marshall



“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.

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