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.
the Underground to Light
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.
and Mary Liz Stewart
Railroad History Project of the Capital Region, Inc.
Make Me Ralph
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
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.
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
“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
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