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Parking and Planning

Even 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.

—Miriam Axel-Lute

Spreading Solidarity

Advocacy 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 labor movement.

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.

—Miriam Axel-Lute

Lies—and the Lying Hypocrites Who Leave Them on Their Web Sites

Nowhere does it seem truer that nice guys finish last than in politics. Last week, the progressive activist group 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 ( 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 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.

—Glenn Weiser

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