to work with: J. Christopher Callaghan vies for state
are fodder for challenger’s campaign
If Republican J. Christopher Callaghan
is successful in his attempt to oust Democrat Alan Hevesi
from the office of state comptroller Nov. 7, he may want to
send Hevesi a note thanking the incumbent for helping him
Callaghan has been unloading a campaign
arsenal stocked with what he calls the many “foibles” of the
comptroller’s office under Hevesi’s watch. “Fortunately, Mr.
Hevesi continues to provide material,” Callaghan said.
The most recent blow to Hevesi came
last month with the widely reported “Driving Mrs. Hevesi”
scandal, during which the comptroller admitted to spending
more than $82,000 in taxpayer money for a state employee to
chauffeur his wife.
Prior to the media buzz surrounding
the chauffer affair, the comptroller race had received relatively
little attention from the press as compared to other contests
this election cycle. The lack of coverage can be explained
by the cloud of unfamiliarity surrounding the comptroller’s
job description, by the technical nature of the relevant issues
or simply because Callaghan has, since the beginning, been
considered the little‑known underdog. One month out
from the election, it has yet to be seen whether the Hevesi
scandal will mark the beginning of a reverse of tide.
“I feel the better informed the public
is, the better for my candidacy,” Callaghan said. “I think
I will do a better job than Mr. Hevesi has done, and so the
taxpayers of the state of New York will benefit from my election.”
The comptroller, acting as chief financial
officer of the state, makes decisions that ultimately can
affect tax rates for local governments and individual residents.
“The position is an important one,”
Callaghan said. “The comptroller can help set a tone in Albany
that I think needs setting—a tone of frugal government, a
tone of concern for the taxpayer, who has to foot the bill
for all these ideas they cough up in Albany.”
More specifically, the comptroller
is charged with overseeing and, when necessary, auditing state
agencies, public benefit corporations and local government
operations. The comptroller also serves as sole trustee of
the state’s pension system, a multibillion‑dollar fund
that pays retirement benefits for civil employees.
Under Hevesi’s watch, the state pension
fund has increased by more than $10 billion. He’s also credited
with exposing and correcting improper budgeting practices
in several large and well‑known state organizations.
Without discrediting these successes, Callaghan alleges that
Hevesi has neglected the primary purpose of the office by
misusing his power, prioritizing audits that will gain the
most media attention and bringing partisanship into an office
that should be nonpolitical.
“When you’re busy grabbing headlines
and trying to make policy, the nuts and bolts of the office
get neglected,” Callaghan said. “I think that’s what happened,
and that’s what I want to change.”
He summed up his campaign in one word:
professionalism, a characteristic he alleged the comptroller’s
office has lacked under Hevesi’s guidance. To evidence this
alleged absence, Callaghan has used campaign speeches, interviews
and his Web site to call attention to what he defines as Hevesi’s
mistakes. He has reminded the public of how Hevesi lost sensitive
employee data four months ago. He’s criticized Hevesi for
failing to make good on an arbitration settlement with the
New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent
Association. He alleges that Hevesi has invested state pension
money in the companies of his supporters.
“He says that there’s a wall between
his campaign contributions and pension investments,” Callaghan
said. “I say that it’s more like a mirror.”
Repeated messages requesting an interview
went unreturned by Hevesi’s press office.
also called himself the more qualified candidate, holding
a resume that details years of experience in the financial
sector. He has practiced government accounting for 35 years.
He served for nearly a decade as Saratoga County treasurer,
and he currently holds the title of president for the New
York State Association of County Treasurers and Finance Officers.
Callaghan contends that his financial
background better prepares him for the bean‑counting
position than Hevesi, who he said has a primarily political
resume. Hevesi, before serving two terms as comptroller for
New York City, represented Queens in the New York State Assembly
for 25 years. He’s also a former professor.
“I won’t comment on his term as city
comptroller because I really didn’t pay too much attention,”
Callaghan said. “But, during his term as [state] comptroller
he’s run the office as a political scientist, not as an accountant.”
Although the bulk of Callaghan’s campaign
strategy thus far has been to focus on Hevesi’s mistakes,
he also is armed with policy proposals. Callaghan already
has released several ideas: a five‑part proposal for
improving and speeding up the contracting process for entities
that wish to do business with the state, as well as a plan
to reform the state pension system in a manner that Callaghan
said ultimately would save money for the state, local governments
and individual taxpayers.
Callaghan plans to introduce additional
policy proposals during the coming weeks. Once announced,
the proposals will be detailed on his campaign Web site, CallaghanForNewYork.com.
Callaghan, a longtime resident of Waterford,
has been active in Republican politics since 1969, but this
race marks the first time Callaghan has run for an office
at the state level.
He said he first became worried about
how Hevesi was running the comptroller’s office in 2004. As
his mistrust with Hevesi’s leadership continued to grow, Callaghan
announced he would run against the incumbent in March.
“It was not something that I planned
to do,” Callaghan said. “But, I thought there was a need,
and nobody else seemed ready to fill that need, so I decided
somebody had to and that I would be he.”
Even after the driving scandal, Hevesi
continues to lead Callaghan in the polls. He led 57 to 27
percent in a poll released Sept. 29 by Marist College Institute
for Public Opinion. The poll also found that only 39 percent
of voters had heard or read something about the misuse of
staff time. Of those who had heard of the scandal, only 36
percent said that they were bothered by it.
As Callaghan continues fighting an
uphill battle for comptroller, Hevesi has been notably invisible
in his reelection bid. Unlike Callaghan, Hevesi has not spent
the last few months making public appearances and stuffing
his campaign Web site with news releases. Callaghan offers
a link to Hevesi’s Web site, AlanHevesi.com, on his site.
The Web page, which was used during Hevesi’s initial campaign
in 2002, makes no mention of the reelection and refers Internet
users to the official New York Comptroller site.
Hevesi also has refused to honor his
challenger’s multiple requests for a debate, according to
“It is a very important race,” Callaghan
said, “and I think the voters, those who are concerned enough
to tune in, are entitled to see the issues discussed and fully
Exclusive: Foley a Democrat
Fox News has a nasty habit of confusing facts, especially when
it shields Republicans from the accused pedophile
in their ranks. In a segment from the Oct. 3 episode
of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, accused
sexual predator/ex‑Congressman Mark Foley
(R‑Fla.) was labeled a Democrat. That’s
right. Three times during the segment, the Republican,
who is at the center of a scandal that could derail
Republican hopes for the Nov. 7 election, was
. And, as was reported on Bradblog.com, the misinformation
was scrubbed, without explanation, from the late‑night
reruns of the show.
Proof of Insurance Required
Massachusetts has become the first state to mandate its adult
residents to purchase health insurance coverage.
By July 1, 2007, all residents must enroll in
an insurance plan or face income‑tax penalties.
The measure was signed into law in April and received
approval from the federal government this summer.
Residents with income below the federal poverty
level will be eligible for premium‑free
policies through a state plan, which began signing
up qualified individuals this week. Those with
household incomes above this threshold but less
than three times the federal poverty level will
be eligible for plans with sliding‑scale
premiums ranging from $18 to $106 per month. The
sliding‑fee program will begin in January.
A Preemptive Strike
for 25 men currently being held by the U.S. in
Afghanistan are hoping to undo a controversial
antiterrorism bill even before the legislation
has been signed into law. The bill would allow
the military to detain indefinitely individuals
determined to be “enemy combatants.” If officials
chose to bring charges, the case would be heard
before a military commission instead of a civilian
jury. Although Bush has yet to sign the bill,
he is expected to do so soon. The attorneys, who
filed a case in federal court on behalf of the
25 men, demanded the captives be released or charged.
This filing, known as a habeas corpus petition,
would be prohibited under the new legislation.
The case is the first of what is expected to be
many lawsuits challenging the legislation’s constitutionality.
Where’s My Line?
considers shutting down a portion of its water system, leaving
six homes dry
A major water‑line break last
winter took days to find, cost thousands of dollars to repair,
and, according to the mayor and the village board of Castleton‑on‑Hudson,
practically caused the entire village system to fail due to
the amount of lost water.
With another winter approaching and
the line still in bad shape, the village now is faced with
the tough decision of whether or not to shut it down permanently,
leaving six families waterless around Nov. 1.
“I know that at first blush this looks
like the makings of a big bad village picking on a few residents,”
said village Mayor Nancy Perry. “I need to protect my village.
If I brought down that water system ’cause I was afraid to
make the right decision, I don’t deserve to be in office.
We certainly would never say, ‘Let’s shut off the line—good
However, that is exactly what the families
feel the mayor and village are saying.
“It was like, ‘We’re going to throw
it in your face and there’s nothing you can do about it ’cause
we’re a village,’ ” said one of the affected residents, James
Glavin. He said village officials didn’t do their homework
before making the decision. “What they’re saying they did
and what they actually did is not the same thing. They’re
making it hard on us. They’re just waiting for the time to
come and then they’re just going to shut it off; it’s just
Louis Salvo agreed, claiming the town
made a hasty decision without informing or considering all
those involved. “I have an agreement with the town, from 1995,
revised from an earlier agreement. I pay for my water, but
the agreement says that the only reason to shut it down was
“I have a well, but it’s not a good
well,” he continued. “For one, it’s on top of a septic system.
It’s poor quality and poor volume. The water in the whole
area has high sulfur. It’s not drinkable. I would have to
install a new well on the property and hopefully find decent
“Wells or injunction,” Sara Ayers,
another resident, argued. “At this point, we are waiting to
generate some publicity. If nothing else happens, than I guess
we’re just going to go ahead with filing an injunction.”
The last comprehensive engineering
report on the line was conducted by Crawford & Associates
of Hudson in 1997. When asked about the history and earlier
condition of the waterl ine, David Crawford said, “I vaguely
remember something about that line . . . I can’t remember
the specifics. I know we knew that the water line was bad;
there was no question about that. They had problems with the
water tank, problems with the wells.”
“If anyone goes and looks at that line,
you don’t have to be an engineer to realize it’s in tough
shape, it’s bad,” Mayor Perry said. When the break occurred
in 2005, “We were lucky we found it, it happened in a creek.
The Department of Environmental Conservation came to us and
said you can’t fix a line like that in the creek, there are
fish that live in that creek. We had to change the path of
the creek to fix it.”
Crawford agreed that the placement
of the line poses unusual problems.
“They basically laid the water line
in a stream bank,” he said, “and that’s kind of unusual, you
don’t do that any more. You wouldn’t be able to do that today.
The obvious reason now is that it’s so inaccessible to get
in there and do work.”
But, he said, there are potential solutions.
“If you could run a line from some
other part of the water system to these six houses that would
be a solution. Relocate that line out of the stream bank,
that’s a possibility. Bring it on the banks instead to the
stream bank itself. I suppose another long shot would be:
Can they drill a well for them?”
The mayor explained that the village
is trying to come up with other solutions as well. “In fact,
as recent as [Sept. 18], we sat down with our attorney and
water superintendent to discuss possible solutions to this
problem. It’s not as if we relish having to turn them off,
that is absolutely not the case. The town engineer is working
with water superintendent. . . . They are walking the line
from village to the water plant to see the conditions and
what would be involved to supply them with water. We have
been spending a lot of time on this.”
The village, Ayers said, failed to
follow procedure in dealing with this case, claiming that
neither she nor affected property owners have been able to
talk to the village board or mayor. And when asked for records
concerning the line and its condition, she was denied.
The mayor disagreed. “I thought that
would be first: ‘Can you help us drill wells?’ ” Perry said.
“I’ve never heard that from them, the first reaction I got
from them was, ‘I’m going to sue you.’ ”
She said she has repeatedly attempted
to contact the families and set up meetings in order to come
up with solutions to this problem.
“Basically, there’s a water line on
my property,” Ayers said. “If I can’t tap the water line,
there’s no point in allowing the line on my property. If we
no longer have access to the line, it should be taken out
and off our properties. That’s slightly facetious, but it
may come to that.”
Salvo agreed. “Once they shut this
water line off, that’s going to be an empty pipe, what are
they doing with this pipe? You just can’t leave an empty pipe
in the ground.”
loose ends this week-