cute couple: Tea Partier Spyder joins moveon.org’s Joe
Seeman to protest the Joe Bruno fundraiser outside the
left and right form a temporary alliance outside the Joe Bruno
protesters gathered at the entrance of the Desmond Hotel in
Colonie Tuesday, hoping to “sweep out political corruption,”
as many of their signs read.
Inside, a fundraiser was being held for former state Senate
Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, who was convicted of two counts
of corruption charges in federal court in December and now
faces enormous legal fees for his defense. The Joseph Bruno
Legal Defense Fund was created by Bruno’s allies, who believe
he was wrongfully accused of felony charges.
by Legislative Ethics Commission Commissioner John Nigro,
and attended by such local notables as prominent defense attorneys
Steve Coffey and E. Stewart Jones, the fundraiser served as
a focus for protestors questioning political ethics as a whole
and demanding, among other things, an “ethics reform.”
like Heinrich Himmler having a party for all the Jewish rabbis
in Rome,” said Paul Coffey, a member of the Albany Campaign
for Liberty. “It just doesn’t fit.”
For many, this event was seen as just one example of an entirely
flawed system. Though Bruno claimed he was merely trying to
operate within an already corrupt system, the protesters at
the Desmond believe it was his duty as an elected official
to change the system instead of capitalizing on it.
like the Nuremberg Defense,” said Kevin McCashion, Sons of
Liberty Coordinator, “it doesn’t work.”
According to Joe Seeman, member of Civil Action and moveon.org,
this fundraiser was yet another working of the political machine.
should be a shameful event,” McCashion said. “Bruno is gone,
but the political machine is still in power. Joe Bruno is
just the poster child, but the problem is a lot deeper.”
Taking money out of politics, it is widely believed, would
lead to reforms in other areas, including health care and
education. Many protesters—from the left side—suggested having
publicly funded elections in New York similar to those in
Arizona, Maine, and Connecticut.
is an issue connected to every single issue,” said Seeman.
This rally brought together otherwise conflicting party affiliates,
with activists belonging to organizations such as Citizen
Action, the Solidarity Committee of the Capital District,
Campaign for Liberty and Tea Party patriots.
with the Tea Party,” said “Spyder,” as one protestor identified
himself. “And these other people are with the Working Families’
Party. We’re basically political enemies, but when it comes
to right versus wrong, I guess we both just get it.”
Seeman and Spyder have not seen eye to eye on such issues
in the past.
first, I thought they were here because it was a Republican,”
said Spyder. “But after talking to Joe [Seeman], it turns
out he agrees with me, which is . . . really weird.”
Normally shouting to one another from across the street, Albany
area activists belonging to opposing organizations now have
the opportunity to collaborate on various issues in a more
civil way. A committee of conservative and liberal activists
has been formed to hold left-right panel discussions, where
speakers with a range of different perspectives can offer
their own opinions in an effort to find common ground. These
panel discussions are held at WAMC’s Linda Norris Auditorium
on Central Avenue. The next discussion will feature six speakers
talking about global warming to “try to find where we agree,”
said McCashion, who is moderating this event.
about people coming together in the face of something that’s
wrong,” he said. “Just like this Bruno rally. No matter what
side we stand on, we all know corruption is wrong.”
APD reaches out to the Common Council on community policing
By the end of January, the Albany Common Council’s special
advisory committee to the police will have held its first
meeting. That’s the plan right now, at least, according to
council President Pro Tem Richard Conti. Last week, the Albany
police presented their plan to the council at the Democrats’
caucus: Form a committee of council members, or council appointees,
to meet bi-weekly with officers from the force to help shape
a strategy for community policing.
Assistant Deputy Chief Brendan Cox said that the force had
started to discuss the advisory committee in December. “We
wanted to get together a committee that represents all districts
of the city,” Cox said. “This isn’t a new idea. There have
been past advisory committees. In the ’90s, when community
policing came to the forefront nationally and here, there
had been a committee.”
had been talking about the beats. We had been talking about
the beats for awhile,” Cox said. “But we don’t want to just
do the beats. We realize that we need to do a bunch of different
stuff. People talk about community policing, the main thing
that they talk about is beats, but that’s not the end-all.”
Currently, Cox said, there are cops who walk permanent beats.
Not many, though. There is an officer who walks downtown,
and there are officers who walk Delaware Avenue, he said.
“Internally, we’ve been talking about increasing the number
of these autonomous, permanent beats for awhile. But we realized
that, if we didn’t take a look at the whole department, and
if we didn’t take a look at how we were responding to the
community’s needs as a whole, then we were really doing a
disservice to ourselves and the public. So we slowed ourselves
down a little bit. We wanted to get as many people’s input
as we can.”
Cox said that the police would listen to what the community
is looking for, what their perception is: “We can go on what
we believe the community needs, but we might be missing something.
The community is the expert on that.”
Cox said that they would like to begin implementing the new
beats by April, but that April isn’t the end of the community
outreach or the committee.
The meetings will be open to the public, according to a letter
to the Common Council from Deputy Chief Steven Krokoff, who
has been running the day-to-day operations of the force since
the former police chief, James Tuffey, resigned. The officers
would like to see a preliminary report prepared by the committee
by April 1.
is not a heavy lift,” said Cox. “We should be able to do this,
and then we can build on that report.”
Beyond April 1, there is nothing set in stone, said Cox. Much
of the life of the committee, such as how long it will last,
whether it will meet biweekly or quarterly, is still up in
the air and will be decided by the committee and the council.
aren’t going to be dictating anything to this committee,”
Check metroland.typepad.com for the time and place for the
first committee meeting.
loose ends this week-