Glamorous safety: A volunteer paints
a bicycle helmet.
PHOTO: Alicia Solsman
safety is at the heart of an event honoring the memory of
a local fashion figure
we’re hoping for today, more than anything, is to get awareness
out about road safety for everyone,” said Jodi Banfelder,
organizer of the bicycling-safety event and benefit held Saturday
(June 23) in the memory of Diva de Loayza at the Warehouse
Loayza, local businesswoman and owner of the Some Girls boutiques,
died June 6 after being hit by a van while crossing Western
Avenue on her bicycle a week earlier. Loayza was not wearing
a helmet or carrying identification, two facts that originally
prompted Banfelder to take action. Banfelder had been friends
with Loayza for four years after meeting her at the Washington
Park dog field, and felt she had to organize something in
her friend’s memory to make sure incidents like Loayza’s are
prevented in the future.
was like I was on auto-pilot saying, ‘I gotta do something.
I gotta do something,’ ” said Banfelder exhaustedly, her eyes
lingering on two tubs of hot pink and bright purple paint.
Each tub was dipped into throughout the day as local artists
painted children’s helmets, an attempt to glamorize a particularly
bulky accessory. Personal identification tags, which can be
placed inside bicycle helmets, were donated to the event by
local law firm Martin, Hardin and Mazzotti.
Prize drawings also were held, with items made by local women
artists and crafters. One handmade lingerie-style apron up
for grabs was nicknamed “the Diva.”
family is interested in promoting helmet use, making sure
everyone wears them correctly and also carries identification
when biking,” said Joshua Poppel, executive director of New
York Bicycling Coalition.
NYBC is currently raising money in Loayza’s name to create
a comprehensive bicycling program throughout the Capital Region.
With the thousands of dollars already donated, NYBC is offering
a free bicycling-education class on Saturday, July 28. The
class will include information on road rules, directional
signaling and tips on how to avoid common collision scenarios.
By using the accident as a focal point for awareness, both
Loayza’s family and NYBC hope to bring attention to the organization’s
“Share the Road” campaign. The campaign’s goal is to see legislation
passed that would require driver-education classes to integrate
the shared-road concept into statewide curriculum.
fact is that anyone who wants to bicycle in Albany and many
upstate cities is really forced into a marginalized situation,”
said Poppel. “There’s no biking infrastructure, and either
people are forced into actions that aren’t the safest thing
or if they do ride on the correct side of the road, they draw
the ire of motorists. We’re saying we need to have these facilities
in place so that it is safe and people can feel comfortable
on our roadways.”
It’s not surprising to Banfelder that the community has reacted
so strongly to Loayza’s death.
no other word—she was just fabulous,” said Banfelder, who
was sporting a pair of silver drop earrings from Some Girls.
Loayza owned stores in Albany, Troy, Syracuse and Ithaca.
The boutiques offer clothing handpicked from some of the trendiest
designers around the country.
Loayza maintained a constant appearance in all four stores,
according to Jennifer Roman, an associate at Albany’s Some
Girls boutique. Employees’ comments about Loayza are similar
to those from friends and family: She was an engaged owner
who was always personable, caring and willing to help anyone.
As for Some Girls, “The stores are going forward,” said Roman.
“We’re going to continue bringing the Capital Region the best,
funkiest, coolest, trendiest clothes in the area, as always.”
Loayza’s family intends to keep all the boutiques open and
expanding with the same energy Loayza put into the store.
This, of course, may be a challenge, considering the many
accomplishments of Loayza, which, according to Roman, “She
did all in heels.”
more information about bicycle safety or to donate money in
Loayza’s name, visit www.nybc.net.
in Low Places
Giuliani sure can pick ’em. On Monday, “America’s
Mayor” announced that Andrew Ravenel would replace
his son, Thomas Ravenel, as Giuliani’s South Carolina’s
campaign co-chair. The appointment came a week
after the younger Ravenel resigned as co-chair
because of a federal cocaine-distribution indictment.
Andrew Ravenel, however, isn’t so fresh and so
clean either. In 2000, he referred to the NAACP
as the “National Association for Retarded People.”
When asked about the comment, Ravenel replied
that he had merely misspoken, saying, “I made
a rhetorical slip, and now they want to lynch
me for it.”
2003 McCain-Feingold campaign-reform law experienced
a setback this week. The contentious law, which
makes it illegal for corporations or unions to
pay for campaign ads during a blackout period—30
days before a primary and 60 days before an election—came
before the U.S. Supreme Court in a case brought
by Wisconsin Right to Life. In the case, the anti-abortion
organization was penalized by the Federal Election
Commission for running ads during an election
season calling for Wisconsin senators to vote
against a filibuster. In a 5-4 decision, the high
court ruled that the ads didn’t campaign against
the senators, merely stated an opinion. Though
not overturning McCain-Feingold, the decision
has some analysts concerned. In his dissent, Justice
David Souter wrote: “After today, the ban on contributions
by corporations and unions and the limitation
on their corrosive spending when they enter the
political arena are open to easy circumvention.
. . .”
Because You Are Paranoid
reports released by the Central Intelligence Agency
Tuesday revealed agency misconduct was rife from
the 1950s-’70s. The 693 page document, requested
for release by the National Security Archive through
the Freedom of Information Act, detail an assassination
plot against Fidel Castro, wiretapping of U.S.
journalists, spying on anti-war and civil-rights
activists, and the testing of drugs such as LSD
on unwitting citizens. We guess we’ll just have
to wait another 30-something years to figure out
what’s really going on with those weird noises
we sometimes hear on our phones.
County Legislature hears the outcry over the controversial
Colonie Center bus-stop relocation
The controversial Colonie Center bus stops, located at 50
and 80 Wolf Road, have drawn plenty of public attention since
the shopping center moved the stops outside the mall perimeter
in May 2006, leaving most pedestrians to brave the mall parking
lot and, at times, four lanes of traffic. Public-transportation
advocates suspect that the mall would prefer riders be dropped
off out of eyesight, while mall management points to the addition
of national-chain retailers and restaurants changing the landscape
of the mall, and the Capital District Transportation Authority
say it’s a matter of unattainable navigation routes.
The Albany County Legislature is trying to find common ground.
just disappointing,” said Albany County Legislator Timothy
Nichols (D-District 20). “You know, it’s the first instance
that I can recall in the area where buses are directed out
to the street and not into the parking area. We’re excited
to see the investment and the new mall being built, but to
then have a negative policy like this come into play, it really
takes away from what they’re trying to achieve. This sends
the wrong message to the whole idea of riding the bus.”
Since 2006, CDTA mainline buses, which used to drop off passengers
at the former Applebee’s entrance, have been rerouted to drop
off passengers at the Wolf Road stops. Two specialty bus lines,
STAR service, equipped for the elderly and disabled, and Shuttlefly
continue to drop off riders at several mall entrances. Mall
management claims this is possible due to their smaller size,
which makes it easier to navigate the mall’s perimeter.
Citizens for Public Transportation petitioned CDTA and the
owner of the mall, Feldman Mall Properties Inc., to allow
the mainline buses to drop off passengers at the mall. After
members Lucile Brewer and Nancy Benedict spoke to Albany County
legislators at the June 11 meeting, the Legislature passed
Resolution 286, formally requesting that Colonie Center allow
CDTA buses to pick up and drop off passengers in front of
for the convenience of the community,” said Albany County
Legislator Virginia Maffia-Tobler (D-District 4). “With
some resolutions, everyone doesn’t accept them, and an individual
will stand up and argue the case, but there was no need to
debate this. It was passed unanimously; there was no one who
disagreed that this wouldn’t be a good thing to do.”
Nathan Smith, of CPT, said the legislative action is a step
in the right direction. “Everybody we talk to, from patrons
to politicians, even the stores in the mall—everybody except
the mall management—wants the buses to come in there. It’s
the town center now.”
Feldman Mall Properties, a private company that specializes
in buying malls and restoring them, purchased Colonie Center
in February 2005 for $82.2 million. In a little over two years,
the privately owned company had spent an estimated $70 million
in improvements onsite. With all of this money being pumped
into the shopping center’s economy, a lot of people are speculating
as to why the company refuses to reconstruct a bus stop inside
the parking lot.
Erick Jerard, public-relations representative for Feldman
Mall Properties, says it’s not about the money. “The redesign
of the mall’s front entrance is a key element in Feldman Mall
Properties’ multimillion-dollar renovation plan for Colonie
Center,” he said. “The outdoors seating areas created as part
of this redesign, which was fully approved by all governing
agencies, are incompatible with these buses.”
In a public statement from Feldman Mall Properties, Jerard
claimed that “mall management had suggested a few other possible
locations for a bus stop, including in front of Sears at the
back of the mall, but they have been rejected by the CDTA
for various reasons including scheduling and costs.”
is news to me,” said CDTA spokesperson Margo Janack. “Because
that’s actually where our previous bus stop location was,
at the Sears location.”
According to Janack, before the new construction began under
Feldman Mall Properties Inc, all CDTA buses utilized a “ring
road” that surrounded the shopping center, and were able to
access all mall entrances.
went in and went out of the mall,” she said. “It was easy
Mall Properties Inc.] asked us to move our bus stop off the
property,” she continued. “We worked with the mall to develop
another bus stop location on Wolf Road. Under the circumstances,
it seemed that it was the best bus stop location near the
property, which would provide access to the mall and work
within the structure of our routes.”
Both mall management and CDTA have agreed to construct a pathway
and sitting area for “respite” between the CDTA bus stop and
the entrance to the mall.
Center will continue to act in the spirit of the Legislature’s
resolution,” Jerard said, “as we have all along. However,
it is important to note that the bus stop will not be returning
to its former location.”
Rensselaer County employee claims he lost his job for being
too vocal—and now he is headed to court
Jackson had been working for the county of Rensselaer for
27 years when he was let go in March 2002. It was a Friday,
he said, when he was called into County Executive Kathy Jimino’s
office. “She told me that she had a ‘gut feeling’ that this
wasn’t going to work out.” And that was it. After working
his way up the ranks of the Real Property Tax Services, and
serving for 11 years as director of that department, he was
told he would not be re-appointed.
as though I had proven myself and earned that position,” he
said. “So to be let go because of a ‘gut feeling’? It was
awfully troubling to me.”
after, Jackson began a lawsuit against Jimino, the county,
and former County Executive Henry Zwack, claiming that he
was removed from his position as retribution for his outspoken
opposition to a policy shift initiated by Zwack. The suit
focuses on the question of whether or not Jackson was within
his rights as an individual to speak out on issues he thought
were disruptive to the productivity of his department. (Zwack
has since been dropped from the suit.)
a court date set for Aug. 13, Jackson, who is currently the
assessor for the city of Rensselaer, looked back at an alleged
2000 meeting which he claims sums up the real reason behind
why he was fired.
in January of 2000, when I was still working for Rensselaer
County, I was summoned to Mr. Zwack’s office,” Jackson recalled.
“He invited me into his office. He was reading an article
in the newspaper. And he went into a real tirade.” Here the
story turns colorful, with Jackson claiming that Zwack began
to verbally abuse him, even threatening to ruin his career.
took me aback,” he said, “as to what he was going on about.”
Zwack was going on about, according to Jackson, was recent
newspaper coverage of the high-profile struggle the two men
had been waging over the structure and procedures followed
in the tax department.
Jackson said Zwack had made changes in the way Jackson’s office
was run. “It was a misguided idea about getting ready for
the future without any input from people who worked for the
changes included moving tax mapping out of his office, changing
the methods of inputting certain data, but the biggest change
was moving some of his personnel into another department.
This change, he said, immediately hurt the ability of his
department to provide services he thought they should be able
assessors were coming to me,” he said. “I was seeing that
the changes weren’t working.”
complaints from the towns immediately, he said. “I heard from
the towns, from the assessors, and I would speak to Zwack.
The assessors invited me to speak to anyone I could speak
to, to try to get this thing changed back, ’cause they saw
it as something that had been working fine for 20 years, until
this change was made.”
Jackson went to the press, which is at the crux of the lawsuit.
point, it really became a situation where I felt personally
that I couldn’t ignore this. I thought that I had exhausted
all avenues internally,” he said. “So I thought that, ‘I have
to do something.’ And the more articles he [Zwack] saw about
me, the more upset he got.”
Zwack left office, and Jimino was elected soon after. It might
stand to reason that the tension surrounding Jackson would
have eased with the change of executive. So why would Jimino
fire him? Zwack and Jimino, Jackson pointed out, are both
Republicans in Rensselaer County.
he said, march to the beat of the same drummer.
it is my opinion that had I said nothing, done nothing, not
invested myself in this at all, I probably would still be
employed by Rensselaer County. I think there was a cause and
effect between my speaking out . . . [and] the decision to
terminate,” Jackson said. “Why is it that a person who has
committed himself to trying to serve the public, worked there
27 years, all of a sudden is let go just because the county
executive at the time had a feeling things weren’t going to
Zwack nor the attorney representing Rensselaer County could
be reached for comment.
loose ends this week-