building? Michael Kitner stands in front of the Marshall
Ray Building on River Street in Troy.
That’s Our Stuff
men claim the Troy Department of Public Works took their property
wrongfully and won’t give it back
Michael Kitner went to court to argue that his property at
701 River St., the nearly-block-long Marshall Ray building,
was improperly foreclosed on by the city of Troy. According
to Kitner, the building was included in a foreclosure order
of 61 buildings in Troy in 2007. On Tuesday, he said, there
was a hearing before Rensselaer County Supreme Court Judge
Christian Hummel, and the judge vacated the judgment to foreclose,
returning the property to Kitner.
now tenants of Kitner are claiming that, while the building
was under litigation, some of their property was removed by
the city Department of Public Works. The tenants, contractors
Emmet Murphy and his brother, John Murphy, were renting storage
space in the building.
It was John Murphy who discovered the employees removing his
property from the building. “I was pulling over to get a donut
there at Napoli, and I happened to notice at the building
that there was a city truck there. I saw them loading a mannequin
that I knew was mine. I went around and confronted the guy,
and they had several of my brother’s and my things that we
were storing there on the truck.”
According to Murphy, the employees said they were told to
get things out of the building. When Murphy continued to say
that the items belonged to him, the workers began taking things
back into the building. Murphy asked the workers to let him
in the building, at which point he noticed that several items
were missing, including a $500 table saw.
are my things that I need and my brother needs to do work,”
John Murphy said. The workers then had Murphy follow them
to the Department of Public Works garage, where he met with
commissioner Bob Mirch.
said there wasn’t anything he could do for me, that I needed
to get a hold of Michael Kitner,” said John. “But my understanding
is that he was taking things out of there and storing them
somewhere at the Department of Public Works.”
Mirch said that he was unaware of any ongoing litigation taking
place at the building.
that was the case I didn’t know anything about it,” Mirch
said. “The corporation counsel takes care of the legal stuff.
I don’t get involved with that at all.”
According to the Murphys, the property was removed from the
building on March 27, two days after an order to show cause,
executed by Justice Hummel, was delivered to the city of Troy
corporation counsel’s office by attorney Richard Weisz of
Hodgson & Russ Attorneys.
was litigating the title of the building at the time the property
was removed,” Kitner said. “The order to show cause is a restraining
order, so that they can’t do anything with the property. It’s
the legal equivalent of freezing the property.”
Kitner produced a letter from Weisz stating that the order
was delivered. Interim corporation counsel Charles Sarris
did not return requests to confirm the receipt of the order.
Kitner also produced dated photographs showing Department
of Public Works employees at the building on March 27, in
seeming violation of the stay.
The city of Troy is being quiet about the current status of
the taken property and about the recently overturned foreclosure.
have no comment on ongoing litigation,” said Jeff Buell, Troy
public information director. Repeated attempts to contact
Sarris were not returned.
The Murphys have had a similar experience trying to contact
have some messages on their answering machine from me, and
that’s about as far as I’ve gotten,” said Emmet Murphy. “Everybody
is being avoided here.”
Mirch did comment on the foreclosure being vacated.
just think it’s amazing that somebody can not pay their taxes,”
Mirch said, “and then delay in the dealing with of legal papers
and then have a liberal judge overturn all the legal proceedings
that had taken place before.”
Since March 27, Emmet Murphy has been dealing with the corporation
counsel in an attempt to get back his property.
talked to the corporate counsel people,” Emmet Murphy said,
“and they said to give them an itemized list and send a letter
of the things that were stored there, and that’s sort of like
trying to remember everything that was in your mother’s attic.”
Sarris initially contacted Emmet Murphy, but then communication
dropped off and the Murphys have been unable to obtain their
Sarris, I talked with him once on the telephone,” Emmet Murphy
said, “and I had sent him a letter about the scenario. They
said that somebody would be getting back to me and getting
it squared away, and it’s all been about a month now and nothing’s
As of Wednesday, the issue had still not been resolved.
at the point now where we really don’t know what our next
step is,” Emmet Murphy said. “We just want our stuff back.”
different kind of tea party: rally organizer Jennifer
legalization advocates rally in a rejuvenated anti- prohibition
do not look like someone who smokes pot,” Rich Murawski told
a crowd gathered in Albany’s East Capital Park hours before
the Dead show on Friday. A former drug and alcohol therapist,
Murawski was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis 14 years ago,
and after using high doses of muscle relaxers like Soma, which
proved ineffective, he made a life- changing decision. “I
decided to try smoking marijuana, and it was transformative.
I’m living proof that it does work, but I’m being treated
like a criminal.”
Murawski’s was one of several testimonials delivered on the
steps of the state Capitol during a cannabis rally organized
by New York Citizens Against Marijuana Prohibition, a rally
that well exceeded its 250-person permit. Medical use was
far from the only case being made this day, and the gathering
could be seen as representative of a recent national push
toward legalization. The sentiment expressed on posters and
banners was that the movement in New York is not one toward
decriminalization, toward the marginal legalization for prescribed
medical purposes (already achieved in 12 states), or even
toward the legalization of industrial hemp (lacking the intoxicating
chemical THC), but rather toward full legalization of a plant
that advocates consider a panacea.
used to be a part of our country,” said NYCAMP spokeswoman
Abigail Storm. Citing its use as a fiber in textiles and construction,
fuel (ethanol), food (a whole protein that contains Omega
3 and 6 fatty acids), and touting its efficacy in fighting
cancer, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s, Storm
echoed the opinion of most advocates: that the average person
should be allowed to plant marijuana in their own backyard,
and that marijuana could be essential to a new “green” economy.
The argument is not new, but advocates insist that this political
climate is the most conducive one they’ve seen in years.
is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in the movement,” said
Jennifer Rogue, an event organizer and founder of End Prohibition
Now. “President Obama has given us a great opportunity right
now because he’s left it to the states to regulate cannabis.
If New York wants to tax, regulate, and legalize, we can.”
This optimism comes in stark contrast to the climate under
the Bush administration, which maintained the status quo on
marijuana’s Schedule I listing (which means, essentially,
that the Drug Enforcement Administration considers it to have
high potential for abuse and no acceptable medical application),
and cracked down on state-approved medical marijuana farms
in California. Last month, the debate returned to the national
level when legistators in some Southern states talked openly
of legalizing the cash crop as a way to generate revenue for
their states. Obama has been vague on this issue; asked about
marijuana legalization at a recent online town-hall meeting,
he said only that he did not think it would be a good economic
strategy. However, advocates believe he is far less likely
than Bush to interfere with states’ legislation, and so organizations
like NYCAMP are pressing harder on the state level.
Earlier in the day, cannabis advocates met with a representative
of state Sen. Darrel Aubertine, who chairs the Agriculture
Committee. Storm said his office has been “totally supportive.”
probably have a 75-percent better chance [of getting a legalization
bill before the Legislature] this year than last year,” Storm
said. “That’s how fast this movement is growing.”
The trick, it seems, will be in reversing a negative public
perception of marijuana use and cultivation, inculcated through
decades of the “war on drugs.”
now they say it’s political suicide to support marijuana legalization,”
said Rob Robinson, the event’s MC and former director of New
York’s chapter of the National Organization for the Reform
of Marijuana Laws. In light of the plant’s many uses and the
revenue that it’s taxation would bring the state, he said,
“We need to make it political suicide not to support legalization.”
loose ends this week-