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Who Needs Attention?

To the Editor:

In response to Michael Brown’s personal and political posturing [Letters, March 11], I must say that he pulled out all his disrespectful stops in that letter. He seems to assume that when someone writes to contradict or question his perception of the world or Albany or Arbor Hill citizens, that they must be “starved for attention,” press or political power. Methinks he doth protest too loudly—a classic case of projection, I think. Just who is starved for attention? Frankly, given Mr. Brown’s consistent, unexplained absence at the last four Common Council meetings or caucuses, I do not think he is in any position to “set the record straight.” There is no lawsuit filed against Cmdr. D’Alessandro—a notice of claim is not a lawsuit—and furthermore, many believe that this claim is a bluff to discredit D’Alessandro and take the focus off of Mr. Wilcox’s overtime expenses. Cmdr. D’Alessandro is a whistle-blower who is receiving backlash for shedding some light into darkened corners. He is not a racially biased man. Mr. Brown needs to get in the trenches with the rest of the Common Council and the citizens to try and figure this out, not drop verbal bombs from on high.

Betsy Mercogliano

Bringing the Underground to Light

To the Editor:

The article by Liz Healy on the Underground Railroad conference [“Taking New Passengers,” Newsfront, March 4] was quite surprising in its misrepresentation of the event, and factual errors. Let me say right up front that we immediately contacted Ms. Spaulding, cited in the article, to see if there was any information we could share to fill in what she was quoted as having missed. We were quite surprised and pleased to hear that she had a wonderful time at the conference and very much enjoyed the day’s program, contrary to the impression given in the article.

Addressing the factual errors: We have been speaking at many places around the region on the subject of the Capital Region’s involvement in the Underground Railroad, and one of the places we have spoken was Trinity United Methodist Church. However, the first area conference on the Underground Railroad was held two years ago at Westminster Presbyterian Church and more than 130 people participated. Although more than 300 people had preregistered for this year’s conference, more than 350 were in attendance.

The conference was about two things: first, learning and sharing the story of the Underground Railroad in the Capital Region, and second, raising public awareness of the story. Ms. Healy states we “began the project to research and stimulate interest in what they consider the often-overlooked Underground Railroad activity in the area.” For our nearly 30 years of living in the Capital Region, and Albany in particular, the only story prominently mentioned in connection with the Underground Railroad was that of Harriet Tubman rescuing Charles Nalle in Troy. None of the commonly available materials go into any depth regarding what else may have happened here. It is only in the last couple of years in relation to our efforts, and that of others with similar interest, that the story has come more to public attention.

The amazing and inspiring story of the Underground Railroad in our region is one that deserves more attention than it has received. We look forward to seeing better, more thoughtful, and accurate coverage of this event from Metroland in the future.

Paul and Mary Liz Stewart
Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital Region, Inc.

Don’t Make Me Ralph

To the Editor:

In repsonse to Stephen Leon’s column “Dear John” [Comment, March 4], I remember back in 2000, when Ralph Nader was all the buzz. Liberals were buying into Nader’s both-major-parties-are-the-same rhetoric and convinced themselves that it didn’t matter who got to the White House. Back then I insisted (and I believe I even wrote in Metroland’s pages) that wasn’t necessarily the case.

Would we have universal health care if Al Gore was in office right now? Probably not. Living wage? I doubt it.

But we would likely still have a White House Office on Women’s Issues rather than one devoted to pushing religion on people through faith-based social services. We would not likely be looking at a constitutional amendment to condemn gay marriage. The EPA might be spending more time addressing issues of environmental justice in poor communities, just as it was mandated to do by Executive Order in 1994. And our public school administrators probably wouldn’t be struggling to make ends meet under the unfunded mandates of No Child Left Behind.

It’s easy to tell people that it won’t make a difference whether they have a Dem or a Repub in the White House when you’re not in danger of losing your quality of life.

I wonder when “the left,” who keep telling us the two major parties are identical, will recognize the striking similarity it holds to another group: the elite. Sadly, too much of the left seems no longer to be the people it is advocating for—rather, those who constitute the left are starting to look to me (and others) like idealistic, charitable, comfortable folk who dream of a better world on their terms. But do they ever stop to consider that many of the causes they are advocating for can’t afford to be so idealistic?

A vote for Nader is a vote for change for those who can afford to wait for it to come along, way on down the pike. A vote for Kerry is a vote for change now—not radical change that will rock the White House to its core, but realistic change that will give us all time to work toward our more lofty goals.

Erin Sullivan

Stephen Leon replies:

For people who may not recall, or did not read, my column of March 4, I would like to clarify: It was not primarily about Ralph Nader, and the references to him in the latter part of the column were neither an endorsement nor a condemnation of his candidacy. The column merely argued that John Kerry should reach out to a broader spectrum of Democrats than Gore/Leiberman did in 2000, and that if he does so, he will render Nader’s campaign irrelevant.


In “On the Defensive” (Newsfront, March 18), we incorrectly identified Helen Black as the president of the Ten Broeck Triangle Neighborhood Association. In fact, Black resigned her position as president of the Ten Broeck Triangle Preservation League in a letter dated Feb. 15 and circulated the weekend before we went to press.

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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