Off at the Mouth
Region citizens concerned with issues of gun violence will
have a forum to discuss the topic and to brainstorm ideas
for countering the problem on June 19, 1 to 5 PM, at the First
Lutheran Church at 646 State St. in Albany.
The forum, Community Workshop on Gun Violence in the Capital
Region, will feature presentations from a number of speakers
with differing perspectives on the problem of gun violence,
and will offer a roundtable discussion in which members of
the public are asked to participate.
of the problems happen now, between now and September, when
school is out and the weather is nice,” said Albany Alderman
Dominick Calsolaro (Ward 1). “Now there are a lot of people
out on the streets and maybe tempers get flared; we’ve got
to see if there is something we can do.”
The program is being cosponsored by Alderwoman Carolyn McLaughlin
(Ward 2) and the Council of Albany Neighborhood Associations,
and will be moderated by Albany Common Council President Helen
Addressing issues of gun violence isn’t new turf for Calsolaro,
a former chairman with the community-based criminal and social
justice program Weed and Seed for three years. Earlier this
year, Calsolaro crafted a resolution asking the city’s elected
officials, criminal-justice organizations and social groups
to create a task force to combat gun violence from as many
angles as possible.
The task force, an idea that drew strong public support during
a number of public comment periods at the Albany Common Council,
would be based on the successful gun-violence program headed
by Syracuse Mayor Matt Driscoll, Calsolaro said.
But instead of presenting the resolution to the council for
a vote on April 7, Calsolaro decided to hold it, even though
it received a favorable recommendation from the council’s
Public Safety Committee. A source close to the council told
Metroland that Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings influenced
Calsolaro’s decision by placing an 11th-hour phone call to
say he wanted to host a gun-violence-related event on his
terms. Jennings is sponsoring a conference on gun violence
with the City’s Department of Youth and Family Services in
Calsolaro said that was too long to wait and decided to organize
a workshop in advance to gauge public opinion so that the
conference in September could more accurately address those
concerns. Calsolaro said he sent a letter to Jennings asking
the mayor to moderate next Thursday’s workshop, but the mayor
offered no response.
had so many people contact me—groups and individuals—about
the gun-violence issue, that I thought that to wait until
September was too long,” Calsolaro said. “I’m doing my job
as a representative: I’m giving people a place and a forum
to come out and speak about their concerns about gun violence
publicly. I want to hear their ideas—that’s what I’m here
Sparing of the Green
throughout New York state retained the right to enroll in
the state’s Green Party, thanks to a recent decision handed
down by a federal judge in Brooklyn.
U.S. District Court Judge John Gleeson issued a preliminary
ruling ordering the New York State Board of Elections to retain
the records of voters enrolled in the party, despite the Green’s
inability to meet the state’s requirement for maintaining
legitimacy as a political party.
In order to receive ballot status in New York and the extras
that follow therewith (having enrollment records maintained
by the State Board of Elections, and the use of state voting
equipment for primaries), a political party’s candidate for
governor must have received 50,000 votes in the most recent
election. Green Party gubernatorial candidate Stanley Aronowitz
received fewer than 42,000 votes in 2002.
The Greens were granted the right to continue enrolling voters
through the State Board of Elections through the 2006 electoral
Mark Dunlea, chairman of the state Green Party, said the judge’s
decision allows the Greens to maintain contact with its roughly
30,000 enrolled members and take on new enrollees. Dunlea
said the list would also be helpful for organizing purposes.
use [voter enrollment records] very heavily as an outreach
tool,” said Dunlea. “We use that list to tell people about
a rally on the Rockefeller Drug Laws or to discuss wind power
and the bottle bill. Parties have a right to organize, and
not having the right to register people in the Greens would
definitely hamper our ability.”
Further, Dunlea said the judge’s decision took into account
voters’ rights to engage in political endeavors.
is very helpful for the judge to say the state cannot prohibit
people from using voter-enrollment records to associate with
those who have the same principals,” Dunlea said. “If I’m
in Rensselaer County, it is just so much easier if I can go
down to the Board of Elections and say, ‘Hey, can you give
me a list of everybody else in the county who says that they
are enrolled as Green?’”
The judge’s decision did not address voter enrollment in the
state’s Liberal and Right to Life parties, which also lost
official ballot status in 2002. The judge stated that the
Green Party had made strides in the state’s political arena,
calling it a “significant, active and growing political organization
in New York.”
to Hunger Action Network of New York state, if at first you
can’t convince legislators to adopt a higher minimum wage,
lobby, lobby again.
For the past four years, the Hunger Action Network of New
York state has been pushing county and state governments to
better serve their lower- earning workers by adopting a living
wage. The advocates are hoping the proposal will be adopted
before the state Legislature leaves Albany, but they aren’t
is an unequal distribution of power in our democracy, and
nowhere is it more clear than in the minimum-wage issue,”
said Mark Dunlea, associate director of Hunger Action Network
of New York State.
Hunger Action Network determines the living wage by calculating
130 percent of the national poverty level for a family of
three, as determined annually by the federal government. This
year’s official poverty level is $15,260; by the Hunger Action
Network formula, that would require a minimum wage of more
than $9.50 per hour (HAC recommends $10).
say that out of some political reality,” said Dunlea. “Even
at $10 an hour, it’s very difficult to support a family. I
think in Albany County, you’re looking closer to $15 an hour.”
The federal government last raised the minimum wage to $5.15
on March 31, 2000. There are proposals in the New York state
Senate and Assembly that would increase the minimum wage to
$6.90 and $6.75, respectively. Assemblywoman Susan John (D-Rochester)
and Sen. Guy Velella (R-Bronx) sponsor these proposals.
However, the Legislature has never raised the minimum wage
above the federal level, which causes Dunlea to be skeptical
about either bill passing, in part because it’s not an election
year for legislators.
York state legislators] throw bones to people when it’s time
to get re-elected,” said Dunlea.
The Albany County Legislature also is considering a proposal
for a minimum wage of $8.55. Other counties in New York State—including
New York City, Suffolk, Westchester, Putnam and Buffalo—have
passed living-wage laws.
However, Matthew McGuire, a spokesman for the Business Council
of New York State, said that businesses in many communities
compete with businesses in other states, especially small
retail businesses. If wages are higher in New York, there
is a definite competitive disadvantage.
think minimum wage should be set in Washington,” said McGuire.
“One minimum wage in all 50 states ensures a level playing
field among and between competitors in different states.”
McGuire points to a study done by the Public Policy Institute
of New York State, Inc., that shows living wages obviously
increase wages for those with jobs, but also eliminate jobs
for lower-wage earners. The Business Council has filed memoranda
of opposition to the proposals in the Legislature.
Receives AAN Award
Metroland news editor Nancy Guerin was honored last
weekend with an editorial award from the Association of Alternative
The award, first place in the News Feature category among
papers with circulation less than 50,000, was presented at
the association’s Alternative Weekly Awards ceremony, which
took place at the annual AAN convention in Pittsburgh.
Guerin received the honor, the highest award received from
AAN in Metroland’s history, for her feature on Schenectady
Mayor Al Jurczynski’s plan to lure industrious Guyanese immigrants
from New York City in an attempt to revitalize his own city.
portrait of Jurczynski and his Guyanese recruits are vivid,”
judges said. “She captures the optimism and incongruity of
the story in clear, lively prose.”
Guerin began her tenure at Metroland as a staff writer
in 2001, and was promoted to news editor in December 2002.
She is leaving the area.
Formed in 1978, AAN is a trade organization representing 124
weekly, free-circulation newspapers distributed in urban areas
throughout the United States and Canada. The association has
been recognizing excellence in journalism and graphic design
among alt-weeklies with its annual Alternative Newsweekly
Awards since 1996.