identity and expres- sion was added to the city of Albany’s
antidiscrimination bill at the Common Council’s meeting on
April 7. The fact that it passed easily, 13-1, with little
fanfare is perhaps as telling as the fact that it was added,
and gives hope to proponents of transgender rights.
was not the multiple-year fight we had when we wanted to add
sexual orientation in 1992, and that’s good,” said Councilman
Richard Conti (Ward 6), who introduced the resolution. “We
didn’t have the philosophical or ideological opposition. .
. . We’ve come a long way, and the city has really shown it
wants to be inclusive.” He noted that now 55 percent of the
state’s population lives in municipalities with antidiscrimination
laws that include gender expression, nearly twice as many
as in the rest of the country.
Conti introduced the resolution last June, and let it sit
on the agenda for a while “for people to look and comment
and see if they had concerns, and none developed.”
saw this as an update to what we did in ‘92, and an effort
to be as inclusive as possible in protecting the citizens
Albany,” he said. “It’s something that was long overdue.”
The measure passed with little enough drama, in the midst
of a busy council meeting, that some local transgender activists
hadn’t heard of its passage until contacted by Metroland.
finally, finally,” said longtime transgender activist Helen
Farrell. “I can live here now,” she added with a chuckle.
Charlene Dodge of the Albany Gender Project said her first
thought when she heard was “Oh wow, it passed!”
good to see that things are moving at the political level,”
she added, saying it was an important step toward the larger
fight of getting a statewide bill passed. Transgender protections
were left out of the statewide Sexual Orientation Non- Discrimination
Act in 2002 as a compromise to get the bill passed. The Gender
Expression Non-Discrimination Act was introduced in the state
Legislature last year, and is currently in the judiciary committee.
just a matter of time and pressure,” said Dodge. “We’ll get
a diamond out of it yet.”
You Hear Us Now?
companies should be forced to provide improved consumer protection,
according to consumer advocacy groups AARP and the Public
Utility Law Project, and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).
of the great things about our free market system is that if
someone does a bad job, you can find a better company and
take your business there. One of the exceptions to that rule,
however, is the cell phone industry,” said Schumer when he
introduced his “Cell Phone User Bill of Rights” in February
2003. Cell-phone companies currently require large cancellation
fees that restrict consumers from exploring other plans for
one to three years. AARP found that dissatisfied customers
rarely switch their phone service, either because of early
termination fees or because they want to retain their cell-phone
In reponse, AARP and PULP are proposing the “Wireless Telephone
Consumer Protection Act of 2004” in New York state. As with
Schumer’s federal bill, the New York bill proposes stricter
guidelines for wireless providers’ billing procedures and
requires certain enhanced services. PULP expects it to be
introduced shortly in both houses of the Legislature. Schumer’s
bill is still in committee.
The bills would mandate more comprehensible disclosures, including
clearer fees and surcharges, detailed coverage maps, and unambiguous
explanations of airtime minutes. The bills’ supporters want
to end practices that permit the addition of surcharges to
monthly bills, which add up to $82 million yearly for New
Yorkers, according to a study conducted by Schumer’s office.
The bills would also require the implementation of e911, which
would allow for the immediate tracking of cell phone users
calling for emergency assistance, and the ability to cancel
a cell- phone plan within 15 days of receiving the first bill.
national survey . . . found that the main reason for seniors
to use wireless phones is for safety and security,” said AARP
spokesperson William Ferris about the importance of e911.
Cell-phone companies insist that implementing these changes
would be costly and time-consuming, something they have said
since the 1990s and have used as an argument against wireless
If successful, New York’s legislation would be the first of
its kind in the United States, and could set a precedent for
protecting consumers elsewhere throughout the country.
rainy Tuesday morning, a Hudson-Park residents
car bears a sign showing that its driver
is participating in the first Park In
day. Residents of downtown neighborhoods are being
encouraged to leave their cars parked on the street
every Tuesday for 10 weeks to encourage commuters
to explore alternative forms of transportation.
Though the signs were sparse, Councilman Richard
Conti (Ward 6) says many people participated without
them. Just before 8 to 9 oclock or
so, during that period, I can honestly say I saw
very few parked cars moving [around the corner
of Chestnut and Dove streets], and thats
good, he said. I definitely will judge
it as being successful.
picked up eight awards at the New York Press Association’s
Better Newspaper Contest at the association’s annual conference
in Saratoga Springs on April 2-3.
Last year, Metroland also won eight awards from NYPA,
but they were all second and third places and honorable mentions;
this year, the paper received four firsts, two seconds, and
took home first place in its circulation division (the
highest) in the following four categories: Overall Design
Excellence; Coverage of Crime/Police/Courts (for Travis Durfee’s
cover story on the public-defender caseload crunch, and his
story on the defunding of a successful program to keep the
mentally ill out of jail); Special Sections (for the Failure
Issue, the essay collection “A Nation at War Against Itself,”
and the Best Of issue); and Coverage of the Arts (for an article
by Kathryn Ceceri, and other arts coverage).
Second-place awards were given for Coverage of the Environment
(for Ashley Hahn’s cover story on pollution from the Norlite
factory and a couple of shorter stories also by her); and
Coverage of Education (for Kathryn Ceceri’s homeschooling
story and Travis Durfee’s Green Island school story).
Third-place awards were given for Best Use of Color, and Best
House Ad/Ad Campaign (for an advertising campaign promoting
our dining section).