political newcomers set their sites on North Lansingburgh
in Troy are closely watching the City Council race in District
1. Republican Mark Wojcik, who currently holds the district,
is stepping down this coming year due to term limits, and
the Democrats are banking on lifetime Lansingburgh resident
Kevin McGrath to take back the seat that was once held by
a Democrat, and expand their 6-to-3 majority.
think the McGrath name plays very well up there in Lansingburgh,”
said Councilman Bill Dunne (D-District 4). “I would certainly
say it’s better than even money.”
McGrath said that the biggest issue for the district is crime,
which can be attributed to the overabundance of absentee landlords.
According to McGrath, landlords irresponsibly subdivide their
houses in an attempt to maximize the number of tenants in
one dwelling. This creates problems of overcrowding and floods
the market with cheap housing, which translates into crime.
McGrath said that the landlords live mostly in New York City
and see their properties as rent checks rather than as part
of the community.
was always a community of pride and togetherness,” said McGrath.
“This whole epidemic of absentee landlords is changing the
quality of life. Businesses that have been here forever are
The Republicans are running Jim Gordon, who is heavily involved
in community programs; the neighborhood watch program that
he cofounded recently secured a federal grant. The money is
being used to build a park at 112th Street and 1st Avenue.
really what sparked my desire to run,” said Gordon. “There
are a lot of people motivated to improve their neighborhoods.”
Gordon agreed that absentee landlords are a big issue and
blames permissive zoning laws that have shackled an evolving
Troy to outdated guidelines.
Although the two candidates believe that the biggest issue
is crime related to the absentee-landlord problem, they differ
in their approach on how to stop the overcrowding. Gordon
would like to see the city completely change its zoning classification
to prevent the kind of overcrowding that the current system
allows. McGrath sees it as an issue of code enforcement and
said that fines need to be upped to discourage landlords from
violating city code.
landlords will just take the fine for the broken heating or
the leaky roof instead of fixing it,” said McGrath. “You need
to increase the fines.”
Dunne agreed that Troy’s zoning laws are outdated, but said
that a complete review and overhaul of Troy’s zoning structure
isn’t feasible in the current economic climate. He said the
Democrats have a different approach to fighting the absentee
landlords, which includes passing a temporary moratorium on
subdividing houses and a landlord registry that keeps track
of those homeowners who don’t live in Troy. McGrath said that
an additional provision of the landlord registry requires
landlords living 35 miles or more from their properties to
designate a local contact for that property in case of emergency.
Gordon admits that a zoning review may be costly, but said
that most of the work is already done and that there’s federal
grant money available to assist with the proccess.
code in the city of Troy hasn’t been updated for somewhere
in the neighborhood of 35 years,” said Gordon. “You have to
adapt and innovate for the times and our current zoning flaws
are putting a tremendous amount of stress on our infrastructure
and on our city.”
Gordon also said that Troy’s business zoning should be examined
to promote growth in an area that he said prohibits it.
see Jim Gordon as Mark Wojcik, part two,” Dunne said.
Gordon said he’s not interested in party politics and just
wants to get things done. He gave the Democratic Party credit
for helping his neighborhood watch program secure funding
for their park, which was opposed by Republican Mayor Harry
all people want to do is burn bridges and build walls I think
what we’re going to find is that the general public won’t
accept that,” said Gordon. “Ultimately, my agenda is going
to be dictated and laid out by the residents.”
McGrath said his record speaks for itself. His brother, Ed,
held the District 1 council seat before Wojcik. He grew up
in nearby Corliss Park and calls himself a product of the
Lansingburgh Boys Club. Another brother, Patrick, is a New
York State Supreme Court justice.
think from watching political races you always run scared,”
said McGrath. “There’s no substitute for work ethic. I know
as long as I put people before politics, and I go out and
knock on doors, I know I can make a difference, whatever happens.”
likes to think of itself as Lansingburgh, not North Troy,”
said Dunne. “Kevin [McGrath] understands their issues and
their concerns; I think he’d bring a fresh perspective to
representation for the folks of Lansingburgh.”
going to be a heck of a race,” said Gordon. “I plan on knocking
on every door I can.”
Union publisher declares an impasse in contract negotiations,
a move the newspaper guild says it will challenge
Union publisher George Hearst declared an impasse Tuesday
night regarding ongoing contract negotiations with the Albany
Newspaper Guild. In an e-mail sent at 6 PM Tuesday, employees
were notified of the declaration and told that the recently
rejected contract proposal—voted down Sunday and Monday with
a 125 to 35 vote—would be imposed effective June 24.
Albany Newspaper Guild president Tim O’Brien said that this
action is punishment for guild members voting ‘no’ on what
he calls an “awful” contract proposal.
is union busting, pure and simple,” O’Brien said. “We have
worked hard to offer concessions and the publisher has given
his employees the back of his hand.” The contract that will
be imposed June 24 will permanently end the collection of
dues and the right of the guild to take grievances to arbitration,
as well as take away the $500 proposed annual bonus for employees.
O’Brien said that the union will take legal action.
believe we are not at an impasse,” he said. “The fact that
he [Hearst] isn’t getting exactly what he wanted exactly the
way he wants it is not an impasse.”
This declaration is the latest move in an ongoing conflict
between the Times Union and the Albany Newspaper Guild.
The Times Union canceled its contract with the guild
in April over contract disputes regarding proposed layoffs
and outsourcing of jobs. The contract rejected by the guild
earlier this week was the “best and last offer,” according
to Hearst. In the letter sent to O’Brien declaring the impasse,
Hearst writes: “Specifically, the parties have been deadlocked
over fundamental differences concerning . . . layoffs and
subcontracting. . . . You propose further meetings to discuss
proposals which would require the Company to compromise on
these two essential issues. We are not willing to entertain
any further compromise on these issues.”
fact of the matter is that when we had our vote, I walked
into his office,” O’Brien said. “That’s the professional thing
to do. Sending an e-mail through his secretary at 6 o’clock
at night, that’s disrespectful.”
O’Brien is mostly concerned about impending layoffs.
believe that this means, come June 24, he’s going to start
the process of laying people off,” O’Brien said. “We do intend
to meet within the next week to go over exactly what it is
that he proposes to do and what his time line is.”
According to O’Brien, the Times Union is required to
give 45 days’ notice of layoffs, and that the guild has the
right to bargain during that 45-day period over who’s on the
layoff list and over any jobs that the Times Union
seeks to outsource.
will be going to the national labor relations board to challenge
the declaration of impasse,” he said. “We also will continue
mobilizing membership and the community. The community has
been very clear that this type of behavior is not acceptable
in the Capital Region.”
O’Brien said that, should the impasse go through on June 24,
they will hand in hundreds of cards canceling the subscriptions
of people wishing to boycott the newspaper.
didn’t want to go there,” he said, “we offered compromise.
He’s forcing our hand, and he was forewarned that, if he did
this, this would be the result.”
George Hearst did not return a phone call for comment.
loose ends this week-