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His Own Man?

Ron Bailey has come out swinging in his bid to represent the 3rd Ward on the Albany Common Council

Ron Bailey is in his second two-year term as ward leader in the 3rd, the district that covers Arbor and West hills. He announced last week that he would be seeking to replace Corey Ellis as the councilman to his district this November. Ellis won’t be running in the 3rd again, as he has launched his own ambitious mayoral campaign, but instead of supporting the freshman councilman’s bid to purge City Hall of Mayor Jerry Jennings’ floundering administration, Bailey has positioned much of his campaign as an indictment of Ellis’ council career. Many insiders dismiss Bailey’s attacks and his candidacy as a proxy for Jennings. Bailey said that this accusation is unfounded.

“I am my own man, and when I disagree with the mayor, I say so,” Bailey said, pointing to his opposition to the convention center as one example.

However, his critics will point to Bailey’s support for 3rd Ward incumbent and Jennings ally Michael Brown, in 2005—first in his successful Democratic primary against Ellis, and then in his failed bid in the general election against Ellis, who won on the Working Families Party line.

“That’s why I am reluctant to talk to the Metroland, cause every time I say something, the first question out of people’s mouths is, ‘Well, didn’t you endorse Mike Brown against Corey Ellis?’ Well, this isn’t about Mike Brown,” said the 50-year-old Bailey. “Mike Brown is out of the picture.”

But then, Bailey is no fan of Ellis.

Bailey, who said that he is disabled and not working, runs the West Hill Civic Association, a nonprofit that “does what all those organizations do. We try to keep the neighborhood clean, and help the elderly.” The association used to have an office above the Silver Slipper, “but with the economy the way it is, now we just work out of our homes.”

Ellis, Bailey said, is too preoccupied “with everything outside his ward. He is not paying attention to his ward.” This is what he said he hears from the voters in his district. However, he said that he understands that the council position calls upon Ellis to vote on citywide issues, the same issues he would be expected to vote on if elected.

When asked about the crisis of a landfill nearly reached its capacity, Bailey said: “That’s a touchy issue. My thing is: Where do we put the trash? . . . I hear them say that the butterflies are more important than putting the trash out there. I’d have to really study that.”

On the council’s parking-tickets investigation, he said that he thinks that too much has been made of the issue: “We have been going on this since November. And I understand that the city has lost a lot of money on these ghost tickets. But the mayor said that it is done, it is over with. And I feel like we should have moved ahead and not gotten stuck on it. I am looking at the money now being spent, and the taxpayers are still spending more money.” He added, “Are we gonna get the money back for the ghost tickets? We are gonna wind up spending millions of more dollars” on the council’s and state comptroller’s investigations.

He derided Ellis’ push for the current council investigation: “This has all been about the ink in the paper.”

Yet Bailey is most critical of Ellis when it comes to the abandoned buildings that line the blocks of his neighborhood, and the ruined sidewalks and crumbling streets in Ward 3.

“The streets haven’t gotten done, the sidewalks haven’t gotten done,” Bailey said. “People are complaining that when Corey ran, he was talking about the abandoned buildings, jobs, the sidewalks, the streets, and it is all still the same. We don’t seem to be getting any financial help from City Hall and that means that our representative down there hasn’t gotten us any financial help.”

Key to Bailey’s campaign is a call for a return to community policing; he would like to see the North Station be reopened. Since the closing, he said, “the crime . . . has gotten worse.”

Jennings had originally supported the construction and manning of the North Station, Bailey said. As to why, years later, the mayor would stand by and watch as his police chief shut the station down, Bailey guessed, “Well, I guess he saw that Tuffey had his own idea on how the police force ought to be run. And with the mayor being in charge, he figured he’d let Tuffey run the police station the way he sees fit to battle crime.”

Ellis said little about Bailey’s attacks, only saying that Bailey “is not running against me, and if he thinks he is, it is unfortunate. I am not running against him. I have no comment.”

—Chet Hardin

What a Week


Residents Against Residence (Inn)

Negotiations over Pine Bush development will go through another round

The Albany Common Council voted Monday to delay the vote on a resolution approving the construction of a Residence Inn in the Pine Bush area. The resolution has been bounced back to the Land Use Committee to determine specific mitigation measures the council will require of the developer, Theraldson Development group.

The decision was made after Councilman Dominick Calsolaro (Ward 1) pointed out that the council has the authority as lead agency to require mitigation as a part of a building proposal. The mitigation in this case would either be payments double the value of the property to offset damage to the Pine Bush, or the purchase of six to nine acres of land for permanent preservation.

Calsolaro said that a resolution opposing the project passed by the Council of Albany Neighborhood Associations at their meeting last Wednesday was important in the delay of the vote.

“That had a big play too,” Calsolaro said. “They represent every part of the city, and they unanimously came out against it.”

Calsolaro also pointed to the work of the Pine Hills Neighborhood Association specifically.

“They’ve become much more active, and they have younger leadership with [president] Dan Curtis,” he said. “I think committee members are afraid of the influence that the neighborhood associations could have during a reelection campaign.”

In addition to the passing of a similar resolution, the PHNA encouraged residents to contact council members and voice their opposition to the project.

Curtis said that while the mitigation is not an ideal goal, it appears to be the best course of action for the time being to preserve the Pine Bush.

“I personally still am not comfortable with the idea of building the hotel, but ultimately this seems to be the safest bet for the Pine Bush,” Curtis said. “Here’s the opportunity to purchase more land to be forever wild and free from development.”

Calsolaro believes that if the council had voted Monday it would have passed.

“The fact that CANA voted unanimously against the project, coupled with my arguments, I think had an effect on them going beyond just holding the vote, but actually putting it back into committee,” Calsolaro said.

The Land Use Committee has not yet scheduled a meeting to discuss the issue, but Calsolaro feels that it will probably be fast-tracked as the window of opportunity for this proposal narrows.

“I think the patience of the Theraldson group is starting to wear thin,” Calsolaro said. “This is the last year of this council. If this does not pass this year, they have to start all over again from scratch. I’m hoping that we can keep delaying this as long as we can.”

—Cecelia Martinez

Loose Ends

-no loose ends this week-

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