Collaborate and Listen
a shooting shocks the neigbhorhood, Delaware Avenue merchants
bring their concerns to the Albany police
On the morning of July 2, the Delaware Avenue Merchants Association
assembled in the back room of Emack & Bolio’s for their
monthly meeting. The discussion began with an array of issues—another
new business moving into an empty storefront, a report on
the success of a recent neighborhood craft fair, the addition
of seven Delaware Avenue businesses to the 1st Friday lineup,
concerns about litter and illegal parking. But, for the business
owners in this burgeoning Albany community, their aspirations
and anxieties about the neighborhood had taken an urgent turn.
Two days earlier, a 16-year-old boy had been shot in the knee
on the corner of Second and Delaware avenues.
It was a rare act of public violence in an area that, recently,
has been defined by the openings of upscale eateries and new
art spaces, anchored by the Spectrum 8 Theatres, which, as
the third largest venue in the city, brings more than 5,000
visitors weekly to the neighborhood.
crime happened, the shot was fired, on Delaware Avenue near
my business,” said association president and owner
of Davey Jones Locker, Chuck George. “When people read that
there was a shooting on Delaware Avenue, they’re not going
to come here. . . . When people pull up to the corner of Second
and Delaware, they’re not even going to want to get out of
The merchants called on the Albany Police Department to hear
and address their concerns, and the department responded in
full force. The association meeting was attended by Police
Chief James Tuffey, Commander Tony Ryan of the Detective Division,
two representatives from the Patrol Division’s South Station
and new neighborhood beat cop, Officer Kevin Singh.
glad that people are up in arms about it,” said Ryan. “Whenever
there’s a shooting anywhere in the city, there should be outrage.
If you have 15, 16-year-old kids walking around who aren’t
afraid to pull out a gun, there should be anger. People should
be upset, and they should want answers.” The detective assured
business owners that the incident was not being taken lightly.
After Geroge expressed the merchants’ collective fears that
the victim’s return to the community would instigate a feud
or a gang war, Tuffey assured the association that the victim
was not from the neighborhood. “He gave an address in West
Hill,” said Tuffey, to which many of the meeting’s attendants
muttered expressions of relief.
Further concerns voiced by the merchants spoke to their desire
for ground-up policing of quality-of-life issues. Business
owners and residents complained of frequently witnessed drug
deals and marijuana use, of neighbors moving out of the area
for fear it is becoming “too dangerous.” Steve Alvarez, owner
of Delaware Avenue-based Empire Property Management Company,
which manages properties on three sides of the corner where
the crime occured, fumed about severe problems with littering
and noise. Multiple merchants complained about regular issues
with illegal parking.
going to be very blunt with you,” said Tuffey, “that shouldn’t
be the main priority of the police department,” emphasizing
the department’s heavy call load. “We need to prioritize.
Littering is a quality-of-life issue, and I want to make sure
we address that issue, but we need to prioritize.”
all part of the larger problem,” advocated George. “It’s a
problem with trash cans on the side of the road; it’s a problem
with fences not being properly repaired. Miscreants hang out
where they feel safe, and they feel safe on Delaware Avenue.”
Tuffey informed the association about a number of new initiatives
the APD hopes will address the merchants’ concerns. New legislation
will allow officers to issue noise tickets without the use
of sound meters. The upcoming Clean Up Albany program will
provide anti-litter education and directives. As part of the
Block By Block initiative, a citywide effort to address code
compliance, public safety, abandoned buildings and community-development
issues, a new non-emergency hotline has been initiated.
434-0123, and they will direct you to the right department,”
said Tuffey, “434-0123.”
The chief also encouraged concerned business owners and residents
to call him directly. “I get calls every day,” he said, “but
anyone will tell you, if you call my office, my secretary
doesn’t call them back. I call them back.”
cooperation between the police and the community, I think,
is better here than in most cities, to be honest with you,”
said Tuffey. “That to me is still something that’s a work
in progress. The question is,” he added, “how do we get that
culture, that it’s not us versus them, that it’s us and us,
working together, solving problems? I think we’re moving forward
in that direction.”
Tuffey sited Officer Singh’s efforts in reaching out to the
neighborhood, a gradual return to community policing, new
Police Academy communications training and the retooled Citizens’
Academy as examples of community-networking successes.
In addition to the Merchants Association, the Delaware Avenue
community has an active neighborhood association and neighborhood-watch
have all the components, right here on the avenue, to build
a real community successes story,” said Spectrum co-owner
Keith Pickard. “I hope that this demonstrates a genuine effort
from the police department, and I hope the effort will continue.”
claims that the Times Union’s management is not negotiating
layoffs in good faith
The phones at the Times Union have two different types
of rings: short bursts for calls from outside the building;
one long ring from inside. According to TU columnist
Dan Higgins, on Tuesday “everyone was waiting for that single,
long ring.” Rex Smith, the paper’s editor, was likely the
one on the other end. After spending months with an ax hanging
over their heads, the employees at the region’s largest daily
had finally reached the day when the paper’s parent company,
Hearst Corp., would begin a dreaded round of layoffs.
heard months ago that the layoffs were a definite thing. The
number kept changing, the date kept changing, and when things
are unsettled like that, people get really nervous and unhinged,”
This week, Higgins was one of the 15 full-time employees who
received the phone call from Smith. These employees were told,
Higgins said, that they were being placed on a 45-day paid
leave, but that at the end of that period they were “likely”
going to be laid off.
These employees were made to clean out their desks, added
long-time TU reporter and president of the Albany Newspaper
Guild, Tim O’Brien. Their swipe cards for entry to the building
were taken, as well as one employee’s work cell phone.
is how you put people on leave?” O’Brien asked. “It’s a sham.”
According to the guild, Hearst is supposed to give people
a 45-day notice before they are laid off. “Well, from our
perspective, the company hasn’t given them 45-notice that
they are laid-off,” O’Brien said. “We don’t know what this
45-day period is supposed to be.”
Another long-time reporter, Alan Wechsler, was put on leave
Tuesday. “It’s a painful situation,” Wechsler responded through
e-mail. “I find the random way in which the Times Union has
laid off people out of seniority quite unfair.
If the guild had its way, Wechsler would likely have been
safe from layoff, as his seniority would have protected him.
But the company chose to ignore seniority in its decisions,
and Hearst declared weeks ago that it had reached an impasse
over its negotiations regarding seniority, as well as outsourcing,
with the guild.
The guild has filed charges with the National Labor Relations
Board to challenge the impasse. Now, O’Brien said, the guild
will file charges over Hearst’s latest move.
Hearst provided criteria to the union that it used to lay
these 15 employees off, O’Brien said, without fully negotiating
with the union. The criteria upon which the employees were
judged was never communicated to the employees prior to the
layoffs. The company told the union that they still intend
to negotiate the terms of the layoffs and that the employees
on leave “could return after the criteria changes.”
The TU, however, itself reported Wednesday that
these employees were, in fact, laid off. The company, O’Brien
said, actually told the union negotiators that the reporting
in the article was inaccurate. Furthermore, Smith repeatedly
referred to these employees as “laid off” during an informal
staff meeting, according to O’Brien and others.
is clear to us that the company executed a plan without having
negotiated the criteria,” O’Brien said.
this isn’t making a lot of sense,” he said, “it is because
it doesn’t make a lot of sense.”
loose ends this week-