pieces of legislation bring an outraged public to Albany County’s
monthly legislative meeting
Heated public comment took an ugly turn Monday night at the
Albany County Legislature’s meeting when a young man in a
dark blue T-shirt with yellow block lettering that read “TYRANNY
RESPONSE TEAM” stood up to speak, began by pointing at gray-haired
Coeymans resident Jim Travers and asked, “You sir, who lost
your son: Can you tell me a little bit about that? What happened?
When was that? Mass murder you said?”
Chairman Charles Houghtaling struck his gavel and shouted,
“No questions!” as some in the crowd and legislative body
groaned in disgust.
Travers had spoken earlier in the evening in support of the
contentious Local Law A, which was responsible for bringing
out the Second Amendment supporters who made up almost half
of the audience. The law, if passed, would place increased
regulations on the purchase of ammunition.
Travers touched on the painful memory of his son’s death:
“I don’t know how many of you out there can share my experiences,
but my son was killed in a mass murder. . . . The man who
committed that took his own life. He was a licensed gun owner.”
Travers was one of the few members of the public to speak
in favor of the law. An elderly woman, who also spoke in its
favor, was booed.
he [Travers’ son] was allowed to have a handgun, it would
have been nice,” the young gun-rights supporter egged on Travers.
“Your son could have pulled out his gun and shot that dirty
bastard.” He then went on to compare the Albany law to the
gun laws in Nazi Germany, which preceded and, he argued, set
the stage for the Holocaust.
is a very simple issue,” said Legislator Phil Steck (D-Loudonville),
one of the authors of the legislation. “Penal law already
states that you are not supposed to sell ammunition for handguns
to anyone but a licensed handgun owner. It was a part of the
original gun-control legislation that came back in New York
in 1965. This local law is designed to make the penal law
enforceable and nothing more.”
idea is to have people show their drivers’ license, or similar
identification, and state the type of weapon they are buying
the ammunition for,” he continued, arguing that this record-keeping
requirement hopefully will assist law enforcement in tracking
ammunition used in illegal activities.
Opponents of the legislation argued, in part, that it’s not
the local government’s job to track and monitor citizens’
want to transfer it into an ideological battle,” Steck countered.
“They see it as an issue of absolute freedom, but these things
are a lot more complicated. Ammunition is a highly dangerous
Also on the agenda for the evening was a resolution to alter
an equally contentious—and arguably more frustrating—local
law: the ban on trans fat.
In 2007, Albany County passed a law to phase out the use of
trans fats in “local restaurants and other food- service establishments”
this year. It was a law intended to enforce a healthier lifestyle,
and one that Legislator Dan McCoy (D-Albany) originally supported,
“but I didn’t realize it was going to disadvantage the small
Which it does, said many bakery owners, who said there currently
is no product that can replace the trans-fat-rich shortening
used in a commercial environment. And the law is unfair, they
said, because it will not impact the large chains, such as
Price Chopper and Hannaford, which prepare their food outside
of the county but sell the products in their stores.
The resolution being considered was proposed by the Republican
minority and would exempt bakeries from the ban. It was moved
into the Law Committee for discussion.
Gilbert Ethier (D-Cohoes) sees the value in exempting the
bakeries, he said. “I don’t think it is very smart to mess
with people’s cookies and cupcakes.”
McCoy pointed out that bakeries can apply for one-year waivers
from the ban, which many lawmakers assure are “very easy”
The legislature voted to hold a public hearing on Local Law
A May 26, anticipating a vote at the June meeting.
You Really Running?
Calsolaro lost his party’s endorsement, ensuring a primary
for the Albany councilman this September—or maybe not
It took two votes by Albany’s 1st Ward Democratic Party committee
members to settle on the endorsement of Scott Mannarino.
The first vote went to the current Councilman Dominick Calsolaro,
an outspoken critic of Mayor Jerry Jennings, by 7 to 6 in
a silent ballot. Although the result went uncontested, according
to committee members who were at the vote, it was later ruled
invalid. According to Albany County Clerk Tom Clingan, all
ward votes must be done in a weighted ballot.
Another vote was called for. Calsolaro’s supporters boycotted
this second vote, and Mannarino won unanimously.
James Ponds wanted to vote at the second meeting, but was
not able due to a paperwork conflict. He said that, had he
been able to vote, he would have voted for Mannarino. He called
Calsolaro a “good guy,” but added, “You go with the good-old
boy thing, or you don’t get anything accomplished if you go
Mannarino, a first-time candidate for the council, was last
registered to vote at 7 Barclay St., which is not in the 1st
Ward, said an employee with the Albany County Board of Elections.
According to election Commissioner Matthew Clyne, a candidate
needs to be registered in his district one year prior to assuming
office, or he will open himself up to legal challenge.
Mannarino didn’t respond to calls for comment.
The house at 7 Barclay is owned by Albany County Legislator
Brian Scavo. Scavo has a Mannarino campaign poster on his
home’s front window, next to a Jennings sign, but refused
to comment about his support for Mannarino.
Regardless, this endorsement fiasco might soon be an unpleasant
memory. According to a leader in Albany’s Democratic Party,
it is likely that this dispute will be settled behind closed
doors. Mannarino might be persuaded to not take the nomination,
or to drop out of the race.
Maureen O’Brien, a Calsolaro supporter, said that the conflict
over the endorsement hasn’t hurt Calsolaro. In fact, she said,
it has probably helped him. Putting a candidate like Mannarino,
who is seen as a spoiler candidate urged on by Jennings, up
against the popular two-term councilman, has only inspired
Majority Leader Malcolm Smith (D-Queens) was treated to a little
bit of enlightenment May 6, when he got the chance to sit with
the 14th Dalai Lama. The spiritual leader was in Albany at the
invitation of the World Ethical Foundations Consortium, an organization
co-founded by Sara and Clare Bronfman, heiresses to the Seagram
fortune. The WEFC was “conceptually founded” by Keith Raniere,
the controversial founder of NXIVM.
in the Glow
loose ends this week-