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Well Above Average

To the Editor:

I am deeply disappointed with the way in which my comments to Liz Healy at the Underground Railroad History Project conference at St. Rose were taken out of context, edited and used as a quote that did not reflect my experience that day [“Taking New Passengers,” Newsfront, March 4].

Ms. Healy approached several folks, including me, after the keynote speaker and even before the first workshop. She told us she was performing a survey for Metroland and asked us what brought each of us to the conference. This is when I told her how I came to be there. Next she asked each of us how we would rate the keynote speaker. My friend and I indicated that her talk was average (note: we did not say below average, bad, yucky or any other derogatory comment). Next she asked each of us why we felt she was average. I indicated that I (personally) had not learned a lot of new information from this speech.

I feel that my comments were written as if I was disgruntled and felt that I was not receiving information I needed. This is not true. I was simply giving an honest assessment of one small segment of the conference. Unfortunately, I thought, incorrectly, that this survey information was being compiled to provided a balanced look at the entire day. I am sure that overall comments about this terrific day were way above average. I guess I have learned a valuable lesson in keeping my mouth shut.

I also feel that I need to write this letter as an apology to the conference organizers as I did not expect, intend or wish that my comments would be used in this way. This conference was informative and well done. I was truly blessed by the day.

Sandra Spaulding

My Constituents Know Better

To the Editor:

In recent weeks, the stories reported in Metroland have included less news and more creative writing than usual. As a result, readers have seen an increasingly misleading presentation of local issues, particularly when it comes to Albany’s police. The coverage is now so skewed that there is no choice but to set the record straight. The latest example of Metroland’s decline can be seen in the publication of Wanda Lubinski’s letter [“Who’ve You Been Talking To?,” Feb. 19].

Having come in last place when she ran for a Second Ward council seat in 1997, Lubinski is best known as a failed candidate for office in the city’s South End. Her latest landslide defeat came in a recent CSEA union election. Both Wanda’s community and her fellow union members have clearly demonstrated that Lubinski does not represent their interests or their views on important issues of the day. Suggesting she is a voice of reason regarding any major issue totally misses the boat. While she craves attention, Wanda has never been a constituent of mine. And my primary responsibility is to represent the people of Arbor Hill, West Hill and Sheridan Hollow—not Lubinski.

Unfortunately, Wanda’s comments went beyond a disagreement on issues and degenerated into the type of name-calling best left to children in schoolyards not grown-up public policy discussions. Unlike Lubinski and Metroland reporter Travis Durfee, I am constantly in contact with people in my community—not just a handful of self-appointed activists chasing the press. Indeed, every time I go to the grocery store, ride on the public bus or engage in any other activity, the people I represent let me know their views. And the fate of former Cmdr. Christian D’Alessandro [“Commander, You’re Fired,” Newsfront, Feb. 12] is not on their list of concerns.

Indeed, only a few of my constituents have suggested that any gains were made when the former commander led the station. The vast majority of people I’ve heard from have said conditions either stayed the same or worsened. Of course that’s not a position Metroland reporters want to hear. Instead, the paper is more interested in covering the latest tattoo fad than really reporting on my community. They have even labeled some people “activists” because their comments fit neatly with Metroland’s editorial bias. Thus when a lawsuit accuses D’Alessandro of racial bias, it is barely mentioned.

The legal system will ultimately address the charges of racial discrimination leveled against the former commander. But it is quite revealing to find the area’s “alternative weekly” underplaying the first lawsuit of its kind in city history. Could it possibly be that the paper is so vested in advocating for D’Alessandro that it has lost the ability to see an alternative view? Could it be that Metroland has decided that concerns about racial discrimination should take a backseat to a yuppie view of the world?

Finally, Durfee should know that journalistic integrity and professionalism require a reporter to do more than make a last-minute phone call to a public official on a deadline. This is particularly true when the story does not involve breaking news. Durfee’s halfhearted effort to contact me for a Feb. 12 report on Albany’s police force is a case in point. If he truly wanted my side of the story, Durfee should have made a genuine effort to let me respond. Public officials have a right to expect more than a shoddy game of phone tag from the press.

Unlike Durfee, I know many Arbor Hill, West Hill and Sheridan Hollow residents who were dissatisfied with North Station when D’Alessandro was commander. I have no vested interest in slanting their story to fit some preconceived editorial notion. Durfee apparently does.

I expected at least a hint of professionalism from Metroland. I should have known better.

Michael L. Brown
President Pro Tempore
Albany Common Council

Editor’s reply:

Regarding the letter from Wanda Lubinski, it is our policy to publish legitimate responses to our editorial coverage whether we agree with them or not; hence, our running that letter (or this one) does not constitute an editorial decision or an endorsement of the letter’s point of view. On the subject of Travis Durfee’s diligence in contacting Michael Brown, he did reach him and interview him for the story; later, when Durfee received conflicting information from another source, he called back Brown immediately and left a message. By then, however, it was the day before publication, which was acknowledged as follows: “Brown could not be reached for comment yesterday [Wednesday, Feb. 11].

Hang On to Your Voices

To the Editor:

I am disappointed with your lack of coverage on the freedom of speech issues that have been popping up in the media recently. While the hoopla over Janet Jackson’s breast and Clear Channel’s recent dropping of the Howard Stern show have made the news just fine, no one seems to look beyond these surface issues to what the underlying message seems to be! I was hoping Metroland would address the fact that those who love freedom need to take a strong stand against this appalling trend toward all-media censorship.

If the government and its departments are watching media outlets so closely that they feel the need to implement “indecency policies” and other rules leading to censorship of radio and television (whether you like the programming being censored or not), we are heading into dangerous territory!

We cannot allow entertainment and news media to be reduced to the level deemed appropriate for a 10-year-old mind, simply because the FCC or any other government department might impose a fine. Adults have the right to hear or view whatever content they wish. That which is viewed by children is the sole responsibility of parents, not a “national nanny.” As an independent news and entertainment outlet, I hope that Metroland will assist in educating its readers on this important issue. Sure, we can ignore the protection of our freedom of speech, it’s a small issue right now, but how will we get this right back when we don’t have a voice?

Congratulations on 25 years of speaking freely.

Adam Drue Klinowski

The Price Is Wrong

To the Editor:

In response to your article on Price Chopper [“Food and the City,” Feb. 19], I happen to live near the one in Watervliet. It is also referred to as a “ghetto chopper” due to the fact it is unkempt and dirty. They know that the majority of people that are coming there reside in the projects across the bridge in the Taylor Apts. Why should they fix up a store when just “minorities” and low-income residents patronize it? Not to mention the public housing projects that are all around the 2nd Avenue location: Michael J. Day, Quinn, Van Rensselaer and Joslin Apts. Perhaps that they don’t even want to bother hiring decent, normal people, but would be content with substandard employees and products. All for the love of money. I now go out of my way to avoid Price Chopper. I sincerely hope Mr. Golub gets a chance to read this and will take it to heart.

Sheri Turton

Metroland welcomes typed, double-spaced letters (computer printouts OK), addressed to the editor. Or you may e-mail them to: Metroland reserves the right to edit letters for length; 300 words is the preferred maximum. You must include your name, address and day and evening telephone numbers. We will not publish letters that cannot be verified, nor those that are illegible, irresponsible or factually inaccurate.

Send to:
Letters, Metroland, 4 Central Ave.,
4th Floor, Albany, NY 12210
or e-mail us at

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