Commissioner’s Gone, Long Live the Commissioner
Friday (May 21), it was announced that Albany Public Safety
Commissioner John C. Nielsen is leaving effective June 9 to
take a position helping Haiti get its police force on its
feet. Mayor Jerry Jennings has said that he will not fill
the position, which was created three years ago to bring the
police, fire, and buildings and codes departments together.
Although a few weeks ago Chief James Turley praised the role
of commissioner as tie-breaker in the strengthened coordination
between the departments, APD spokesman James Miller said now
that the departments are used to working together under one
roof, the position is no longer necessary. “When Jack came
in, there were some issues, problems that needed to be addressed,
and he addressed them effectively. He did a great job bringing
together the police department, fire department, buildings
and codes under one roof. That job’s accomplished,” he said.
Going forward, “Turley and [Fire Chief] Dunn are more than
capable of carrying out those duties and capabilities that
The announcement came little more than a week after citizens’
group the Coalition for Accountable Police and Government
formally called on the mayor to dismiss Nielsen, saying he
had contributed to a climate of distrust and unaccountability
in the department. The APD, predictably, says this, and the
controversy leading up to it, has nothing to do with Nielsen’s
departure. “I can tell you this, as much as those individuals
who are outspoken and critics of the police department want
to believe that Jack left because of their pressure, that
wasn’t the case,” said Miller. “You’re talking about an individual
who accomplished what he wanted to accomplish and moved on
to something that would advance his career.”
impression is people want to have a commissioner,” said Betsy
Mercogliano, one of the organizers of the coalition. “But
they want. . . representation in the choosing process. . .
The department needs guidance from an extremely experienced
person at this point.” She noted that without a commissioner
or a deputy chief that the three new assistant chiefs, who
were promoted through the ranks unusually quickly, have a
very large responsibility in comparison with their experience.
The group plans to continue its work calling for the reinstatement
of former Cmdr. Chris D’Alessandro and an outside investigation,
through a petition drive and speaking at Common Council meetings.
Zoned for Factories
Meager and Bob Radliff both sound a little worn out right
about now, after the town board of Malta voted unanimously
last Tuesday (May 18) to approve the zoning for a technology
campus designed for chip-fabrication plants in the Luther
Forest. But their moods are quite different.
Malta’s supervisor, is relieved to have one of the biggest
decisions of his career behind him. Steadfast in insisting
that he was keeping an open mind until the last minute through
the two years of discussion and debate on the project, Meager
prefaced his vote with an enthusiastic prepared statement
about why he was voting yes. “This decision does not mean
that there are no negative aspects to this plan but I believe
that the positives far outweigh the negatives,” he said, citing
jobs, tax revenue, open space set-asides, and provisions in
the legislation to deal with traffic problems and ensure that
any company located on the campus would contribute to community
Radliff, on the other hand, a resident of Stillwater and a
member of the Citizens for Responsible Growth, which has been
opposing the plan, is just trying to keep his spirits up after
what was for his group a disappointing vote. “Our coalition
is kinda down at the moment,” he said. “There were 39 people
who spoke at the public hearing. . . . It was 2 to 1 opposed
. . . and we still didn’t get a single vote of common sense.
People are really bummed, but we’re trying to regroup, focus
on Stillwater.” Stillwater, whose planning board recommended
a no vote, is expected to vote on the project in a few weeks.
Radliff said he thought the claim by the Saratoga Economic
Development Corporation that the plan would proceed even if
Stillwater votes no is questionable and manipulative, since
the Stillwater portion of the site is the most likely place
for the tech campus’ water pipe to enter. “We don’t consider
it over yet,” said Radliff.
Even with approval from both towns, SEDC still would need
to raise a lot of funds to prepare the site and find an interested
company, before the tech park would come into being. CRG wouldn’t
disappear either, though Radliff is skeptical about overtures
for their official involvement. “There’s been some token gestures
that people from our side should sit on committees and keep
the right focus and express differing viewpoints,” he said.
“But what kind of power they would have . . .”