though it contained acknowledgement of tough economic times
and concerns about gun violence, the annual conversation between
Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings and the Council of Albany Neighborhood
Associations on Jan. 7 sounded an awful lot like it was being
held in a growing city.
Topping the mayor’s agenda, which he presented in a modified
version of the State of the City address he gave to the Common
Council on Jan. 5, were parking and plans for a convention
center, issues he reiterated in response to most questions
he received from the floor. In response to one question about
mass transportation, the mayor noted that Austin, which is
often compared to Albany, not only got started on building
mass transit too late, but also delayed too long on its convention
center. On the parking front, he said, “It’s time to give
the neighborhoods a break. . . . I’m going to be calling on
you to inundate [your state representatives],” to request
permission for residential parking permits.
Planning—neighborhood and regional—topped the concerns from
neighborhood representatives, who emphasized the need for
mass- transportation options, residential parking, and appropriate
development, including reconnecting the urban street grid
at the Harriman Campus. Jennings made few specific promises,
but agreed that light rail along the Northway was desirable,
pointed to the controversial Park South plan as a positive
example of neighborhood planning in the city, and agreed that
the western end of the city could “become more urban-friendly.
. . . Let’s get bold, real bold,” he said.
groups whose issues and constituencies overlap often talk
a good line about working together, but figuring out how to
do that consistently is often a little trickier. A bright
spot has been the work of Empire State Pride Agenda and the
This holiday season, the Pride Agenda put out a call to the
gay community to boycott fashion retailer H&M in support
of a drive by the Union of Needletrades, Industrial
and Textile Employees to expose the company’s sweatshop manufacturing
conditions and harassment of workers who are trying to unionize.
Pride Agenda’s involvement was important, said Ross Levi,
Pride Agenda’s director of public policy and governmental
affairs, because H&M markets aggressively to the gay community.
Levi called the campaign a natural next step in a relationship
that began with strong union support for the Sexual Orientation
Non-Discrimination Act and the Dignity in All Schools Act.
The unions recognize that nondiscrimination and domestic-partner
benefits, for example, are important to their members, said
Levi, and the H&M campaign helps to show that “we will
support those who support us.” Pride Agenda has a program
called Pride in the Union, which is devoted to continuing
to strengthen these ties.
the Lying Hypocrites Who Leave Them on Their Web Sites
does it seem truer that nice guys finish last than in politics.
Last week, the progressive activist group MoveOn.org got slammed
in the media for including two ads comparing George W. Bush
to Adolph Hitler on its popular Web site. The commercials,
it turned out, had not been created by MoveOn, but were instead
two out of approximately 1,500 submitted by freelance filmmakers
for a contest of 30-second anti-Bush political spots. Under
sharp criticism, Wes Boyd, one of the organization’s founders,
apologized that the ads, which were removed from the Web site,
had slipped through MoveOn’s screening process. But this hasn’t
muted the right-wing outcry.
About a month earlier, however, the author William Rivers
Pitt pointed out on the Web page Liberal Slant (www.liberalslant.com)
that President Bush’s disproven claim from last year’s State
of the Union speech that Saddam Hussein had attempted to obtain
uranium from Niger was still posted on the White House Web
site. Sure enough, a recent visit to the site by this writer
confirmed Pitt’s report. The Web page www.whitehouse.gov/response/disarm.html
contains the following statement: “He (Hussein) recently sought
significant quantities of uranium from Africa, according to
the British Government.” The mainstream media, so quick to
pounce on MoveOn, have yet to pick up Pitt’s story.