blowing: Colleen Regan has things to say about her former
PHOTO: Chris Shields
staffer expands on her allegations of widespread abuse within
the Rennselaer County Legislature
month, Colleen Regan, a former staffer with the Republican
majority in the Rensselaer County Legislature, filed a complaint
with the state Division of Human Rights accusing her superiors
of sexual misconduct and the abuse of government resources.
This triggered a chain of events that led to Albany County
District Attorney David Soares agreeing to act as a special
prosecutor and investigate the charges.
Last week, in a second affidavit delivered to the Albany DA’s
office, Regan expanded upon her allegations, claiming that
members of the legislative majority routinely abused county
resources for their political campaigns.
Republican headquarters was not down in the Atrium [in downtown
Troy],” she said, “it was in the Rensselaer County Legislature.”
In the affidavit dated April 11, Regan details her accusation
that Majority Leader Robert Mirch (R-Troy) and Republican
liaison Richard Crist were in large part running their personal
consulting business, Victory Lanes, LLC, out of their legislative
and my coworkers witnessed various candidates, which were
running for an elected office,” Regan deposed, “frequently
visit the legislature on a regular basis during their election
campaign season to consult with Mr. Crist. . . . These candidates
were clients of Victory Lanes, LLC, and were seeking out Mr.
Crist’s expertise regarding their election campaign strategy,
while Mr. Crist was on the job at the county.”
She goes on to list the 11 candidates who consulted with Crist
at the Legislature, and for whose campaigns many of the staffers
were used. Troy City Councilman Mark Wojcik, Nassau Supervisor
Carol Sanford, and Troy City Council President Henry Bauer
are a few of the elected officials that she fingers.
Earlier in the document, Regan claims that Crist and Mirch
were charging “upwards of $5,000 a race, depending on the
individual and work involved.”
Crist flatly denied the allegations.
look forward to speaking with the special prosecutor, to clear
up these charges,” Crist said. “These accusations are completely
false.” (Mirch did not return calls for comment.)
The campaign work went beyond what was done for Victory Lanes,
Regan said. Staffers were used on every incumbent legislative
Republican’s campaign, not only on weekends and evenings,
as would be expected, but during office hours as well.
of our work there [at the Legislature] was of a political
nature,” Regan said. “I always said we were overstaffed. If
you wanted to go by just mere work that needed to be done,
other than political, you wouldn’t need all that staff.”
At the time, there were four full-time legislative assistants
on the payroll, she said. Regan was getting paid $21 an hour.
of the political campaign work staff carries out,” Regan’s
affidavit continues, “includes but is not limited to: prepare
fundraising mailers, solicitation letters asking for support
from committee members of various organizations, letters to
residents introducing the candidate and their platform, reminder
cards to vote on primary day, do me a favor cards . . .” and
understand when you come on board, you are going to have to
do some work for some people’s campaigns,” she said. “But
there is a difference. When somebody is running their business
out of a place of business, when they are getting paid to
do a job, but they are working their own personal business,
using county employees for their own personal gain—how do
you feel about that as a taxpayer?”
in the Doghouse
deputy defense secretary and Iraq War architect
Paul Wolfowitz’s new job as president of the World
Bank may be in jeopardy. Wolfowitz is facing criticism
for his admitted role in securing a job and pay
raise for his girlfriend, Shaha Ali Riza, at the
State Department. Riza is paid $193,000 a year—more
even than Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
the country mourns the murder of 32 students and
faculty at Virginia Tech this week, the violence
in Iraq continues unabated (and largely unreported).
At least 172 people, mostly women and children,
were killed Wednesday (April 18) in Baghdad when
a series of bombings ripped through a crowded
market. It was the bloodiest day in Iraq since
President Bush’s troop escalation. The veneer
of security in the war-torn country had given
way completely on April 12 when a suicide bomber
injured more than 20 people inside the Iraqi Parliament
building inside the heavily guarded Green Zone.
Meaning for “Adult Non-Fiction”
unidentified man in Neenah, Wis., won’t face any
criminal charges after he masturbated among books
at the town’s library earlier this month. That’s
thanks to a library-records confidentiality law
that prevents the library from turning over a
surveillance video of the man to the police absent
a court order. During the alleged incident, another
patron spotted the man and reported it to library
staff, who called the police. By the time the
police arrived, the man had finished his business
and left before he could be identified.
Enough Love for the Popemobile
have sold some pretty weird stuff on eBay—serial
killer Roy Norris’ fingernails (for $9.99) and
advertising space on body parts, just to name
a few. Yet when a piece of Catholic history is
up for grabs it proves difficult to seal the deal.
On Saturday, an auction for a 1999 metallic gray
Volkswagon Golf that’s believed to have belonged
to the Pope Benedict XVI ended—for the second
time in two years—without a winner. The highest
bid was for more than $204,000, but that amount
failed to meet the seller’s reserve price.
project could muddy the water—literally—in the Watervliet
A proposed food-distribution facility in the town of Rotterdam
has the potential to impact more than 40,000 Capital Region
residents—and most of them don’t even know it. That’s the
claim made by a handful of those who oppose constructing a
McLane Foodservice distribution facility at the proposed Rotterdam
The problem, explained local environmental activist Aaron
Mair, is that runoff from the site flows into a tributary
to the Normanskill located along the southwest boundary of
the property. The Normanskill, in turn, feeds into the Watervliet
Reservoir, which supplies drinking water to residents in both
Watervliet and Guilderland.
What does this mean in terms of effect on the drinking-water
supply? The answer is twofold, Mair said. First, contaminants
created as part of the facility’s daily operations could be
washed by rainwater into the water source. Combine that with
the fact that the current proposal allows for the distribution
center to operate on a septic system, and it’s a recipe for
talking about this stuff leaching into the water supply of
nearly 50 to 60 thousand people,” Mair said. “In my opinion,
this thing [the facility] should be rejected. I think residents
in the towns that will be impacted should litigate this thing
to high heaven.”
Residents in the adjacent communities may not even be aware
of the proposal, however, let alone the potential threat to
drinking water, because the issue remains currently within
the jurisdiction of the Rotterdam planning commission.
haven’t heard a word about this one,” said Jan Weston, Guilderland
town planner, and therefore couldn’t comment on whether the
project was a matter of concern.
Marcus Mastracco and his family reside in one of the neighborhoods
adjacent to the project site. He joined his neighbors in their
displeasure with how the facility could impact traffic patterns,
noise levels and other quality-of-life issues, but he added
that the potential environmental impacts of the project also
concern him, and the inclusion of a septic system on a property
connected to a drinking-water source struck him as odd.
The septic system, however, is “not intended as a long term
solution,” according to the draft environmental impact statement
for the project, which was submitted last month.
Instead, the town is planning to connect the facility to Rotterdam’s
wastewater treatment facility, said Peter Comenzo, Rotterdam
town planner. He said the sewer connection project should
be finished by next year, although the project has not yet
made it through a complete approval process.
Mastracco said he remains skeptical, however, especially because
the draft EIS contains no firm deadline for when the facility
will switch to sewer.
argument would be that until you have the sewer in there I
don’t think you should really be building something this large,”
Mastracco said. “What if the sewers never materialize? They’ve
been talking about them coming for seriously about 20 years
and it’s never happened.”
Mair agreed that the infrastructure should come first. He
insisted he is not opposed to development or the McLane facility
itself, but rather found the proposed location improper. “This
distribution facility, it’s a very important facility, and
it’s about jobs in the Capital Region,” he said. “My opinion
is that there are alternatives.”
Comenzo wasn’t able to answer specific questions about the
limits of a septic system for the proposed facility or the
plan to bring a sewer line to that location. He called asking
such questions somewhat premature because these questions
will be studied by engineers as the process moves forward.
He recognized they may be questions residents will put forward
during a scheduled public hearing on the draft EIS that’s
scheduled for May 1.
Sale or Bust
of a building listed for sale by the city of Troy sparks criticism
a very strange situation,” said Troy resident Richard Herrick.
“There’s no question something went wrong in City Hall.” Herrick
was referring to the demolition of a building at 319 8th St.,
a property that the city recently had relisted for sale.
Mayor Harry Tutunjian wrote in his weekly message on the city’s
Web site Thursday, April 12, that the city was trying to sell
the building, and said that the city would even take an offer
of $1—which the property had been listed for in 2006—if a
prospective buyer could present “the right plan.” Two days
later, a private contractor demolished the building. The move
has left many wondering why the city would pay to demolish
a building it was trying to sell.
beyond belief that something like this would happen,” Herrick
said, “especially when the mayor touted the ability for us
citizens to go out there and buy these buildings. It sounds
like one hand didn’t know what the other was doing.”
Herrick said that the city should instead use the demolition
money to stabilize buildings and make them usable.
tried to save the building as best we could,” countered Jeff
Buell, Troy’s deputy director of public information. “But
the notion that we should pour tens of thousands of dollars
into it is absurd. We must represent the interests of the
entire city, not just a few.”
The property initially was scheduled to be demolished after
last year’s $1 listing failed to make a sale. Only two offers
were received last year, the city claims. One did not include
sufficient capital to rehabilitate the building and the other
was not received in time.
fact that not one person inquired about this property in the
year that followed,” Buell said, “speaks volumes.”
In an April 16 message on the city’s Web site, Tutunjian explained
that the city had planned to hold an open house for the property,
but upon inspection, found it was too unstable. Thus, the
building was finally demolished.
Troy resident and activist Jim de Sève said that residents
weren’t notified in advance of the demolition. He said the
lack of notification showed “incredible disrespect and disregard
for the city and the taxpayers.”
is the engineering report on this building?” de Sève asked.
“Where are the photographs, the drawings, the report justifying
[the architect’s] decision?” He admits that he is not an engineer,
but said that he has renovated three buildings in Troy.
can look and judge if a building is sound or not,” he said.
“That building was safe.”
He also added that, as the city tried to sell the building
in the days before its demolition, a “for sale” sign was never
placed on the property. “Why didn’t they do that if they were
intending to actually sell the property and not demolish it?”
Buell said that, while an engineering report does not exist,
the building was examined by two engineers as well as code
he said, “the feelings of residents without engineering degrees
are superceded by actual science.”
attitude of my administration towards abandoned and vacant
buildings is simple,” said Tutunjian, in an e-mail response.
“Burned out, fire ravaged, or vacant properties in imminent
danger of collapsing will be demolished.”
loose ends this week-