with less stench: Albany’s landfill.
PHOTO: Chris Shields
Smell That Isn’t There
many years, the stench at Albany landfill seems to have abated
some say has been 10 years, residents who live near Albany’s
Pine Bush preserve have breathed in a stench that brought
to mind road kill or burning urine. However, according to
local residents and representatives of Albany, the odor has
become much less intrusive.
Mayor Frank Leak, whose constituents who live near the facility
have been complaining about the smell for years, said that
thanks to a new, temporary, black-plastic layer that has been
placed over the landfill and a system that more effectively
burns off gas inside the landfill, the smell is now much less
years it was real bad. It was like rotten eggs,” Leak said.
“This year we had a lot of warm nights, but there was no smell
also pointed out that a hotline established by Albany to handle
complaints about the landfill has received a shrinking number
of calls since May.
calls are coming down,” he said. “It is much less every month.
Last month, they were down to only about three during the
Hawver, executive director of the Albany Pine Bush Preserve
Commission, said the smell is no longer noticeable from his
office or during his drive to work.
Albany Common Councilman Dominick Calsolaro (Ward 1) insisted
that the hotline was not properly publicized, thereby making
it impossible for everyone who might want to complain to do
so. The number was given out at neighborhood meetings at the
Polish Community Center, but it has not been posted on the
city’s landfill Web site or elsewhere.
they should have publicized that they have a hotline,” said
Calsolaro. “They’ve gotta put it out there for people. I know
people driving by may smell it and may want to complain, but
they don’t have the number.”
acknowledged that he has noticed that the smell in the area
is not as overwhelming as it once was, but said that it is
still fairly constant. And he said that the city is touting
a reduced number of complaints when in fact only a small number
of people have the ability to complain in the first place.
He noted that the city has, in the past, acted on landfill
concerns without alerting the public or seeking input.
Services Commissioner Willard Bruce said that Calsolaro is
it [the hotline number] in a newsletter that went out to over
3,000 businesses. I don’t know where he is coming off on this,”
said Bruce, who also noted that residents of nearby Avila
Retirement Community were informed and Leak also told his
constituents of the hotline.
to Calsolaro, the city is trying to put on a happy face regarding
the landfill because of an application for a landfill expansion
that the state Department of Environmental Conservation will
soon have to review. Last year, the DEC fined Albany for the
stench, and the city is in no position to have its application
to expand rejected.
Jackson of Save the Pine Bush said she finds it odd that after
years of hearing complaints about the stench the city would
choose to take the problem seriously only in the last few
months. Jackson pointed to a meeting in February of this year
that was overseen by DEC officer Bill Clark at which more
than 200 residents showed up and complained about the smell.
“I find it very interesting that the city had a very severe
odor problem for years,” she said, “and only after the draft-scoping
session where over 200 people showed up and almost all of
them complained about the smell, did they really take care
disputed that the smell has been a problem for any longer
than three years, and said it is a problem the city has been
trying to manage since it started.
we had meetings with residents on the odors, we had people
who lived around there for 15 years who didn’t know there
was a landfill there until three years ago,” he said. “It
has been an on-and-off problem for three years, and it has
been much worse for the past year.”
said that, for whatever reason, the city has been paying more
attention to the Pine Bush and how the landfill is perceived
in general. “They are applying for an expansion, and I would
assume it is in their best interest to be in compliance with
their current landfill.”
for the landfill-complaint hotline is 453-8288.
Nine Months Later
when former Congressman John Sweeney said that
he didn’t hit his wife? Or when his wife, Gayle,
accused her husband’s congressional challenger
of releasing false documents to smear her family’s
name? Turns out that they were both lying! This
week, Gayle Sweeney, who faces a restraining order
from her husband and is involved in divorce proceedings,
told the Times Union that Sweeney and his
handlers intimidated her into lying about a domestic-violence
incident. A day later, Sweeney admitted he had
also lied about the dispute.
General Andrew Cuomo released a report this week
concluding that top aides of Gov. Eliot Spitzer
misused state police to document the travels of
Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R-Brunswick).
Spitzer reacted by suspending one aide and demoting
the other. Bruno, who currently is facing a number
of investigations of his own, responded tersely
to an apology made by Spitzer this week. Bruno
insisted he would “review the report’s disturbing
conclusions.” Insiders find it humorous that Bruno,
who is known to play fast and loose with the rules,
turned the tables on the sputtering steamroller.
the Fifth Amendment was getting in the way of
progress in Iraq. So President George Bush signed
into law the “Blocking Property of Certain Persons
Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq” executive
order. This draconian move allows the government
to freeze the assets of anyone it suspects of
“undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction
and political reform in Iraq.” How broadly this
language can be applied is the topic of fierce
debate. Many in the legal field fear this new
power will be used to undermine the Fifth Amendment’s
protection against seizure of property without
Kindler, Gentler Torture
an apparent effort to define what is and is not
torture, President Bush signed an executive order
last week prohibiting, among other things, “sexual
assault or abuse” when interrogating prisoners.
Though we aren’t exactly clear on what sort of
interrogation tactics the president is banning—information
about CIA tactics is classified—we are hoping
that this now legally forbids all forms of naked-man
local organization secures state and national money to help
keep a dairy in business
Bob Weir has been farming the same two plots of land all of
his life. His father bought the 276-acre plot of land outside
of Mechanicville in 1952, and steadily grew the family’s successful
dairy farm there. The Weir family has been renting the adjacent
52-acre plot for decades as well, which they use to grow the
corn and alfalfa that they feed to their cows.
a beautiful piece of farmland,” said Teri Ptacek, the executive
director of Agricultural Stewardship Association. ASA is one
of the few locally based land-trust organizations that focuses
specifically on agricultural lands. “It has 15- to 18-foot-
thick prime soils. You find these kinds of soils in the Pioneer
Valley, or Long Island, or the Midwest. It’s a rarity to find
that kind of land in the area.”
Four years ago, Weir found out that his neighbor planned on
selling the 52-acre parcel to a developer who intended to
build eight houses on it. This plan would have been ruinous
not only would have put an end to Bob’s ability to use these
productive soils for his dairy operation, but also would have
completely destroyed the ability of his dairy to remain in
business because it would have put neighbors right up to his
farmstead,” Ptacek said. Weir’s barn is situated very near
the 52-acre parcel.
would have been an end to his dairy farm,” she said.
Unable to purchase the land outright, Weir sought out help,
which led him to ASA. ASA applied for funding from the state
and federal government to purchase the development rights
on Weir’s farm as well as the development rights for his neighbor’s
52-acre parcel. Weir was then able to use the proceeds from
the sale to purchase his neighbor’s land.
was a wonderful way to make sure that farmland, which should
never be anything other than farmland—it should never be cement—remains
farmland,” Ptacek said.
ASA has protected 7,000 acres of farmland in New York, mostly
in Washington County. Much of this land is through donated
easements, but the organization also has used state and federal
money to buy the development rights. This is the first time
ASA has used state and federal funding to save land in Rensselaer
County. But it won’t be the last time. In 2006, ASA received
two more grants to secure land in Rensselaer. The grants are
for 690 acres in Schaghticoke and 540 acres in Petersburg.
County is at a place right now, where we have to take action
before we lose our farmers and our farm base,” Ptacek said.
“Once you get below certain critical point, it is very hard
to retain the kind of farming that really drives the rural
Educate or Intimidate?
anti-abortion organization targets local businesses for their
charitable donations to Planned Parenthood
Twenty-five businesses in the Capital Region, many along Lark
Street in Albany, received ominous letters last month from
Life Decisions International, a national anti-abortion organization
based in Washington, D.C. These local businesses were informed
that Life Decisions was not only aware that they had donated
money to Planned Parenthood, but were given an ultimatum:
Either quit giving money to the pro-abortion-rights organization
or be put on a list circulated to anti-abortion activists.
appeal to you to make Planned Parenthood ineligible for future
support of any kind,” the letter reads. “If you are unwilling
. . . [your business] will be placed on a list of the group’s
advocates. . . . Businesses identified as Planned Parenthood
supporters may also be targeted for picketing and other legal
are two reasons people donate to Planned Parenthood,” said
Doug Scott, president of Life Decisions International. “One
is that they know what they do, and they support what they
do. The other one is just ignorance. They have no idea what
they [Planned Parenthood] stands for or what programs they
do. That’s why when we send out this information—we aren’t
trying to threaten, we are trying to educate.”
Once an organization is “educated,” Scott continued, then
that organization must be held accountable for its decision
whether or not to further support the pro-choice organization.
think it is impossible to give to an organization like Planned
Parenthood and then claim that you don’t support what they
do,” Scott said. “If I give money to the NAACP and I am a
member of the Ku Klux Klan, how am I going to explain that
to my comrades? If I am with the NAACP and I give money to
the Klan, then I am sorry, but I am supporting what they do.”
think it is clearly an attempt to intimidate,” countered Blue
Carreker, of Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood, dismissing Scott’s
claims that his group is seeking to educate.
that are targeted [by Life Decisions] are listed in our annual
report as having contributed to us,” she said. “If they made
the decision to contribute to us, usually they are pretty
comfortable with who we are and what we are doing.”
Planned Parenthood, a nationwide “health-care advocate and
provider,” is at the forefront of the highly contentious battle
over a woman’s right to choose whether or not to have an abortion.
The data collected by Life Decisions is received by a million
people around the country, Scott said, and the organizing
power of these people have brought massive companies, such
as AT&T and Target, into compliance with their anti-Planned
Parenthood agenda. Anti-abortion advocates engage in activities
such as boycotts and protests of targeted businesses. In all,
Life Decisions claims to have helped force 153 national companies
to stop giving to Planned Parenthood.
had given $50,000 a year for 25 years to Planned Parenthood,”
Scott said, until they were pressured into ceasing. “It depends
on the area, and how active of a group there is in the area,
but there are instances of people setting up local pickets
based on our information. It is a decision made on the local
level. It is not something that we organize, but we do encourage
Carreker said that although she has heard from many of these
25 local businesses contacted by Life Decisions, she is not
aware of any who have been cowed by the pressure. She added
that the response to letters has ranged from frustration to
anger to humor.
know that we don’t find it humorous,” she said. “There is
a history there of claiming some pretty outrageous things
about Planned Parenthood. I think media attention gives [Life
Decisions] more credit than they deserve. They are a fringe
group. Their impact is almost nothing.”
PHOTO: Chris Shields
Troy Food Co-op, according to its board of directors, is still
a few months away from a planned opening in October. In the
meantime, volunteers are keeping themselves busy spreading
the word, looking for members, and cleaning out the former
Pioneer Market at 77-81 Congress St. This Friday (June 30),
the co-op hosted a flea market to sell off all of the clothes,
records, and other assorted knick-knacks in the backrooms
loose ends this week-