here for the convention center: (l-r) Gov. Pataki and
This the Right Place?
continues as a site for the Albany Convention Center is selected
development, business development, community projects—I mean,
the sky is the limit.” That’s what Councilwoman Carolyn McLaughlin
(Ward 2) said she saw as she surveyed the grounds around the
Albany Bus Terminal this past Tuesday.
have to seize the moment!” she insisted just minutes after
the Albany Convention Center Authority announced it had unanimously
voted to select the 30-acre site as the location for the multimillion-dollar
But that is not what Councilman Dominick Calsolaro (Ward 1)
said he sees in the area. “There is nothing there. What’s
around there? I know there are some restaurants, but it’s
underneath 787. It’s not a very enticing place to be.”
Calsolaro supported locating the convention center in the
Washington Avenue Armory. “It’s in the center where the businesses
are; there is something there for people to do at night,”
Calsolaro argued. According to those involved in the process,
that site was eliminated due to traffic concerns.
Calsolaro feels that the chosen location will separate conventioneers
from the rest of what the city has to offer. He said the city
will likely bear the costs of making the convention center
more accessible to the rest of the city through overhead walkways
and shuttle services. County Legislator John Fredrick disagreed.
He said that the site allows for planning that will not leave
the convention center isolated from the rest of the city.
is sited so well,” Frederick said. “It’s going to be designed
well. It gives me a good feeling. They are not going to design
it so that it’s going to be a wall cut off from the rest of
the city. This is going to have a seamless flow of patrons,
shoppers, conventioneers, people going to the Pepsi, people
going to the Capitol and to the river. It’s going to be integrated.”
As for the existing bus station, McLaughlin said it can be
integrated into the convention center. She said that the center
could play host to a “transportation hub.”
not going across the river,” she added.
Before construction can begin, an environmental review must
take place that is expected to last for about a year, during
which time the authority will create a plan for the site.
There is also concern that the area is part of the Dutch colonial
stockade and is a sensitive archaeological site.
McLaughlin noted that her support does not mean that she has
no concerns as the project goes forward. In fact, she said
her role is just beginning.
governor, the mayor, the county legislature, the county executive,
they had an opportunity today to show how they could work
together to get to this point. Now is an opportunity for us
as local representatives to do our job. To make sure the benefits
that can come from projects like this are realized in the
community.” However, it is still an open question whether
the project, once realized, will turn any profit.
On Tuesday, a number of politicians said that organizations
that weren’t able to hold conventions in Albany will now be
able to have their conventions in the city. Gov. George Pataki
and Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings both claimed that Albany is
the greatest capital city in the country. But according to
Heywood Sanders, who was quoted in Metroland’s feature
“Convention Wisdom” [March 9, 2006], Albany might just have
to be greater than that to have its convention center turn
a profit and benefit the surrounding communities. He said
convention centers are not the boon that many communities
hope they will be.
A number of cities that are considered more tourist-friendly
than Albany—Raleigh, N.C., Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Baltimore,
Md.—have not had the kind of patronage they anticipated and
operate in debt. Sanders suggested that the more a community
needs revitalization, the more its leaders are willing to
gamble on a convention center.
the talk [about the problems plaguing convention centers]
starts, I always hear, ‘It won’t happen here,’ ” Sanders said.
“But they say that everywhere.”
know that the media survive by sucking dry the
marrow of the day’s popular stories, but the never-ending
coverage of the Porco tragedy hit a new low this
week. Popular media-watchdog blog AlbanyEye mused
that while on vacation last summer, Hurricane
Katrina had left it unmoved, but this year, vacationing
out of range of Porco coverage had caused withdrawl.
The July 31 post summed up what most local media
believe: “The Porco trial has a powerful hold
on us.” From a Times Union story that polled
the opinions of Chris Porco’s fellow diners at
Delmar’s Four Corners Lucheonette to the exploitative
overuse of Joan Porco’s image, nothing was too
tasteless if it satiated the Porco addiction.
Waiting for Castro
exiles in Miami danced in the streets this week
upon hearing news that Fidel Castro had relinquished
power, if only temporarily, for the first time
in his 47-year rule. The nearly-80-year-old handed
control of the country over to his brother, Defence
Minister Raul Castro, while he underwent surgery
for stomach bleeding. It is not clear exactly
what Castro is suffering from. Doctors say his
ailment could be anything from an infection to
was announced this week that Staff Sgt. Frank
Wuterich, who is suspected in the killing of 24
Iraqis, is going to sue U.S. Rep. John Murtha
(D-Pa.) for libel. Lawyers representing Wuterich
claim that Murtha’s comments about the case were
false and defamatory, and forced the Pentagon
to investigate the case “no matter how baseless”
the charges. Meanwhile, Pentagon officials announced
today that evidence collected by agents of the
Naval Criminal Investigative Service suggests
U.S. Marines deliberately shot women and children
Take the Heat
to intense heat, Saratoga Race Course canceled
the entire nine-race card yesterday (Wednesday,
Aug. 2). It was expected to be one of the hottest
days in Saratoga history, with the heat index
of nearly 110 degrees. The decision, which was
made by trainers, the track veterinarian, stewards,
and senior management at the New York Racing Association,
is a historic one: It was the first time in memory
that a full-day’s card was canceled.
takes center stage in former soldier’s “Clean Money” campaign
against Michael McNulty
September marks the first time in a decade that voters in
New York’s 21st Congressional District will have a choice
in a Democratic primary for U.S. representative. Retired Army
Lt. Col. Thomas J. Raleigh announced July 20 that he would
enter the race against incumbent U.S. Rep. Michael R. McNulty.
McNulty, who has been in office since 1988, has been reelected
eight times by wide margins and has said, “It is good to have
a primary from time to time.” Now, he faces competition on
issues such as the war in Iraq.
At a press conference last week, Raleigh declared, “Our campaign
will focus on three themes: spreading democracy, confronting
domestic challenges, and national security. Of the three,
national security is far and away the most important.”
McNulty, an early supporter of the war, is now a vocal opponent
and had joined the call to bring U.S. troops home. While Raleigh
apparently advocates a gradual reduction of troops, he also
has said he would continue to try to secure the international
community’s support for America’s Iraq policy.
who served in the U.S. Army for 22 years, said he believes
that since 9/11, the United States has failed to appreciate
the complexities of global threats.
we have been witnessing in Washington the past few years is
not politics as usual,” he said. “It is politics at its worst.”
At the press conference, Raleigh preempted his audience by
posing a few questions to himself about the war in Iraq. “Do
I support the immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces for Iraq?”
he asked. “If immediate means tomorrow, or next week, or even
next month, the answer is ‘no’ simply because it is impossible
to withdraw so quickly.
damage we could cause in the region by conducting a precipitous
withdrawal from Iraq would be greater than the damage that
has resulted from invading Iraq in the first place,” Raleigh
said. “I’m in favor of a phased withdrawal, the timing of
which ought to be based on security conditions on the ground.”
It is in the interest of the United States and Iraq, he said,
to rely on a gradual reduction.
McNulty is quick to point out that he supports a timetable
for withdrawl, too.
propose that we . . . start withdrawing our troops, and make
our position very clear to the Iraqis. If they want this new
government and this new way of life,” McNulty said, “they
have to come forward, volunteer, stand up, and defend it.
Bring our troops home.”
Raleigh pointed out that McNulty voted for the war and asserted
that the congressman remained silent on the issue, claiming
that McNulty “didn’t take a stance about it for 16 months.”
been speaking so constantly,” McNulty said, “and [I am] very
clear now after the 9/11 Commission that Iraq is not the war
McNulty explained that the Bush administration misled Congress,
and it wasn’t until the 9/11 Commission surfaced that it was
conclusive that the war had been based on misinformation.
9/11 Commission concluded that there were no weapons of mass
destruction, no ties between Saddam Hussein and 9/11, and
no nuclear capability,” McNulty said. They then realized that
“we went after the wrong guy.”
In addition to their differing opinions to the war in Iraq,
the candidates are running dissimilar campaigns. Raleigh is
running his campaign in the spirit of Clean Money, Clean Elections
as advocated by Citizen Action [“The Ties That Bind,” July
6, 2006]. McNulty, who cosponsored the bill and believes in
the cause, has decided to run his campaign without the guidelines
Instead, McNulty said he will run his campaign at the level
of his opponent, just like he did 10 years ago against wealthy
opponent Lee Wasserman. “If Tom has a limited campaign, I’ll
have a limited campaign,” he said. “If he wants to run a grassroots
campaign, I’ll be happy doing that, too.”
campaign seeks to fundamentally change the nature of the political
campaigning in this country.” Raleigh said. “Money still matters
too much in politics, both in terms of political campaigns
and access to the congress.”
of dollars are being raised and spent to run congressional
campaigns, even in small media markets,” Raleigh said. “I
will not be a party to it.”
Raleigh’s campaign goals include raising 2,000 $5 campaign
contributions, limiting his maximum contribution to $100,
accepting no contributions from political action committees,
and winning the race with $50,000.
McNulty, on the other hand, has been quoted as having, to
elected,” Raleigh said, “I will be beholden to, serve the
interests of, and be responsive to the citizen of the district,
and not to any corporate or special interest.”
Given a choice, he said, the people “will vote for a change.”
loose ends this week-