Nadia Conseillant wants justice after Osborne towing
PHOTO: Chris Shields
is nothing new for Joe’s Osborne Street Garage, but dragging
a woman across a parking lot may be
Conseillant’s gold Mercedes wasn’t the only thing a driver
from Joe’s Osborne Street Garage had in tow Feb. 25 when he
took off from a McDonald’s parking lot in Albany. According
to Conseillant, the tow-truck driver dragged her across the
parking lot, ripping her coat, until she landed stomach-down
in a pile of snow. Conseillant laid in the snowbank while
the tow-truck driver left the scene.
was wrongful what they did to her,” said Ronald Bailey, who
witnessed the ordeal. “[The driver] disregarded her safety.”
Although both Bailey and Conseillant said the incident should
have incited criminal charges—Conseillant suggested it should
be considered a hit-and-run or, perhaps, assault with a deadly
weapon—the police report classified the incident as an auto-pedestrian
It took Conseillant about one week to obtain a copy of the
report, which she said is incomplete. The report cited pedestrian
“error/confusion” as an apparent contributing factor and stated
that Conseillant grabbed the bed rails of the tow truck, lost
her grip and fell to the ground.
pull does this guy have?” Conseillant asked. “I want to know.
The police department is not arresting him.”
The man who answered the phone at Osborne Street Garage said
he was “not interested” in commenting. The tow company has
long been the most controversial in Albany, triggering numerous
complaints to city officials and the media over the years
for everything from rude truck operators and illegal tows
to phsyical assaults on people trying to retrieve their vehicles.
Eric Thompson, a manager at the McDonald’s at Madison Avenue
and Pearl Street, was working when the incident occurred.
He explained that the fast-food restaurant has a contract
with Osborne. McDonald’s employees do not contact the garage
about illegally parked cars, but instead, Osborne patrols
the lot. When an Osborne driver suspects that a car is illegally
parked in the lot, the driver enters McDonald’s and makes
an announcement about the vehicle to confirm whether the owner
is on the premises or not.
Conseillant said she was in a hurry that Sunday when the incident
occurred. It was around 2:30 PM when she pulled into the McDonald’s
lot. She planned to grab lunch before heading to work at 3,
but first, she said, she and her fiancé had scheduled an appointment
to view a studio apartment just across the street.
She said she parked her car and signaled that she’d be right
back to the woman at the drive-through window. “I saw the
sign,” Conseillant said. “It says, ‘Tow-away. For McDonald’s
parking only,’ but that’s why I signaled them.”
Bailey was sitting in his car in the same parking lot waiting
for his wife and grandchildren. He saw the tow-truck driver
pull into the lot and enter McDonald’s. Bailey said his wife
later told him that while the driver was inside he asked patrons
to identify their vehicles.
Conseillant said that she was away from her vehicle for only
five minutes or so before she returned to the lot to see her
car loaded onto the flatbed tow truck.
She said that she argued with the driver about the legality
of the tow, telling him he should speak to the McDonald’s
manager or that they should call the police. When the driver
got into the cab of the truck, Conseillant said she continued
to speak with him. The door to the cab was open, and the window
was rolled down. “I’m in between the door, and my hand is
in the window part,” she explained.
hand was in the door, and he started taking off,” she said.
“ ‘Pay me,’ [he said], and I told him, ‘no.’ Again he said,
‘Pay me,’ and then he started to take off with me in the car
running right beside him.”
Conseillant said she had a grip on something, though she’s
not exactly sure what, on the door.
was running, and as I was running he realized, I guess, that
I didn’t shake off,” she said. “So what he did, he put the
car back in reverse. He had to stop the car, I think. I don’t
even remember that part, but I saw the car go in reverse and
then the door totally got me, but I still had some type of
grip because I got dragged. Everybody saw this. I don’t even
know if I got caught up in it, I don’t know, but my coat is
ripped. I got dragged up and into the snowbank.”
Bailey said it was he who then called the police. “The police
came. I gave them a statement. There were a couple other people
who gave statements, and the next thing I hear the police
are talking about there was no criminal act.”
An ambulance reported to the scene, and Conseillant said that
she was taken to the hospital and treated for her pain.
an animal,” she said of the tow-truck driver. “Somebody needs
to get that man off the street. What is the deal with him?
What’s the problem here? They should be making an arrest.”
Conseillant said she plans to retain a lawyer and hopes to
go to court over the matter. She doesn’t plan to retrieve
her car from Joe’s garage until the matter is resolved in
the shenanigans that he’s pulling,” she said, “I’m scared
to get it.”
Russia, With Love
days after telling Dateline NBC that the
Kremlin was sending a message to its critics that
they will be silenced “in the most horrible way
possible,” Paul Joyal, an American media analyst
and critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin,
was shot in the groin outside of his Maryland
home. Joyal, who four days earlier had told Dateline
NBC he believed the Russian government was
behind the fatal poisoning of a former KGB agent,
survived the attack. Meanwhile, in Moscow, respected
journalist Ivan Safranov mysteriously fell from
the fifth floor of his apartment building and
died, making him the 14th Russian journalist to
die under suspicious circumstances since Putin
took office in 2000.
deliberating for 10 days, the jury in the trial
of Lewis “Scooter” Libby found Libby guilty on
four out of five charges. Libby faces up to 25
years in prison and a fine of $1 million. Libby’s
lawyers announced that if they are not granted
a new trial they will appeal the current decision.
Meanwhile, jurors in the case said that they found
their decision difficult, as they felt Libby was
simply “the fall guy.” Federal prosecutor Patrick
Fitzgerald announced that his investigation into
the Valerie Plame case is finished.
Soares’ Miami steroid bust has grabbed national
headlines this past week as connections were made
between the steroid ring and famous national athletes.
Athletes so far implicated as possible customers
include Olympic and WWE wrestler Kurt Angle and
former baseball player Jose Canseco. When Sports
Illustrated called a number attached to the
file for a customer named Evan Fields, the man
who answered just happened to be boxer Evander
like a you! Don’t Opress me!
of State Condoleezza Rice released a human-rights
report this week that criticizes Kazakhstan for
its increased restrictions on free speech. One
of victims of the Kazakh crackdown just happens
to be a fictional resident of the country—everyone’s
favorite Kazakh reporter, Borat Sagdiyev. The
report criticizes Kazakhstan for censoring Borat’s
Web site, www.borat.kz. A Kazakh official threatened
to take legal action if Sasha Baron Cohen, the
man behind Borat, did not take the site down.
Cohen, who is Jewish, responded in character,
announcing, “I . . . fully support my government’s
position to sue this Jew!”
human-rights abuses, student and labor groups unite in an
attempt to remove Coca-Cola products from UAlbany
Colombia, you could get killed for organizing a union,” said
Manuel Ortiz. “[Colombia has] the highest rate of assassinations
and murders of trade unionists anywhere in the world. Coca-Cola
knows what’s going on, and they’re just trying to ignore the
Ortiz is a member of the local chapter of the Labor Council
for Latin American Advancement, which joined forces last Thursday
(March 1) with local student and labor groups to support Killer
Coke, a campaign led by longtime labor organizer Ray Rogers.
Killer Coke alledges that Coca-Cola has has turned a blind
eye to the brutal crackdown by paramilitary forces on union
organizing efforts at their bottling plants in Colombia. The
campaign aims to remove Coca-Cola products from college campuses
by making students aware of the company’s neglect for human
Locally, they are focusing on the University at Albany, which
has an exclusive contract with Coca-Cola to sell Coke, Sprite,
Vault, Fanta, Nestea, Minute Maid juices, and Dasani water.
The event was sponsored by University Auxiliary Services,
which has the contract with Coca-Cola and handles various
other UAlbany student services. UAS executive director Julia
Filippone said that they want to present a variety of viewpoints
in keeping with the university’s goal of being a “marketplace
of ideas,” and that is why Rogers was brought in.
encourage students to be responsible about their information,”
When he was first approached about Coca-Cola’s record, Rogers
said that the accusations seemed to be “off the wall,” but
after investigating and uncovering numerous cases where employees
of Coca-Cola bottling companies had been murdered by paramilitary
forces for trying to unionize, Rogers’ organization, Corporate
Campaign Inc., adopted the cause.
made a commitment that we would get involved,” he said. “We’re
going to put a stop to what’s happening in Colombia.”
Rogers said that the campaign has gotten Coke products removed
from 34 schools—most in the United States, but some in England,
Ireland, Canada, and Italy, including some large universities
like New York University and Rutgers.
The student groups have set an arbitrary deadline of March
27 for UAlbany to sever their contract with Coke, which expires
in 2008. Jackie Hayes, a UAlbany doctoral student interning
with the Killer Coke campaign, said that the students plan
to make phone calls to university officials, protest outside
administration buildings, and finally deliver to the administration,
“preferably in a wheelbarrow,” all the evidence of Coke’s
The students groups said that it would be ideal for the university
to deal with multiple companies instead of one exclusive contract.
Hayes said that supporting local businesses would be a good
choice. “It’s a lot easier, I think, to hold local companies
accountable, because it’s really difficult when you find out
a company like Coca-Cola is committing these human-rights
and environmental abuses—they’re impenetrable,” she said.
“They put a lot of money between themselves and their customers,
and so there’s really no way to hold them accountable for
anything that they’re doing.”
don’t know if [local companies] can meet our needs,” said
Filippone, needs that include 200 vending machines, more than
50 fountain mixes, and sales of 1.5 million bottles per year.
But she said that, while bidding on the contract has yet to
begin, bids will be accepted from any party and that local
companies are not out of the question.
The Killer Coke press conference and panel discussion Thursday
drew a crowd of about 35. Hayes said that a lot of students
aren’t even aware of the fact that UAlbany has an exclusive
contract with Coke, let alone that the company has a poor
human-rights record. “I think a lot of it is that people haven’t
heard what’s going on,” Hayes said, “because Coca-Cola does
a really good job at fighting that getting out and puts so
much money into public relations.”
Ray Rogers agreed. “You have to understand that Coca-Cola
is a company that spends billions of dollars a year—about
3 billion dollars a year, actually—in advertising to create
an image or a reality that has nothing to do with the ugly
reality that is the company.”
That reality, according to Rogers, is the kidnapping, torture,
and murder of union organizers by paramilitary forces. Rogers
detailed the accusations during the panel, describing environmental
abuses as well. He said that he would like to debate Coca-Cola
representatives directly, but that they will not debate him.
By the end, his lecture took on a decidedly anti-corporate
tone, and Rogers suggested that perhaps they could take on
loose ends this week-