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Change the Channel

To the Editor:

I am writing to voice my great satisfaction in reading John Rodat’s Clear Channel rant-piece [“Ugly Is the New Black,” Myth America, July 15]. I was barely finished with my own garbled grunting fit after scanning the previous page—an ad for some of this summer’s SPAC shows. It blows my mind that such a great venue isn’t better utilized. What do we get? An ultrabland mishmash of Clear Channel favorites—easily digestible, nonoffensive and outdated pap. Journey? Thin Lizzy? Carole King? These acts peaked decades ago.

I’m glad someone else feels the way I do. We deserve more and, as John says, it’s time to demand more.

Joe Kelly

Flip, Flop

To the Editor:

It was fascinating to read Ashley Hahn’s article regarding possible contamination from the Norlite facility [“Toxic Avengers,” Newsfront, July 22]. Even more fascinating was the inclusion of Assemblyman Prentiss’ photograph, hands boldly placed on hips, solidly primed for citizen action and voicing statements decrying a “known environmental polluter . . . ride(ing) roughshod over this neighborhood.”

Brave statements for this legislator. In spite of Gore Vidal’s telling comments about the short memory span of U.S. citizens, there are those of us who witnessed Mr. Prentiss’ ardent castigation of the EPA at the agency’s recent hearings on the proposed cleanup of GE’s PCB pollution in the Hudson River. My, my, what a change, Assemblyman—If I didn’t know better, I would swear this was an election year.

Robert L. Henrickson
East Nassau

Without Representation

To the Editor:

Aaron Mair is certainly tenacious [“Best Citizen Pit Bull,” Best of the Capital Region 2004, July 22], but the more important question is, “Is he right or wrong on redistricting?”

In reading about Mair’s efforts to build more “majority minority” districts in the Albany County and city legislatures, I have been surprised how rarely they are discussed within the context of current debates over voter representation. Far from challenging our unfair and corrupting system of “winner takes all” elections, as proportional or weighted voting might, Mair’s proposals would strengthen it, resulting in less- competitive races and comfortably safe seats for one party or another.

Where I have been absolutely stunned, though, is in the fact that no one, unless I blinked and missed it, has examined Mair’s goals in light of the actual results of recent similar efforts, especially in the South. In Southern states in the ’80s and ’90s, black activists and Republicans—like Mair and their suburban Albany County cousins—united to design majority minority districts, resulting in some jurisdictions that could be counted on to elect black Democrats, and even more that would reliably vote in Republicans. Of course, the GOP then turned around and screamed that drawing majority minority districts was racist, but hey, what’s a little hypocrisy when there are a few more votes to be won and political opponents to be hobbled.

What we now see in much of the country are legislative and congressional districts that are so homogenous—politically, ethnically or economically—that only one party can ever hope to win a majority. Political minorities, even substantial ones, are effectively disenfranchised. This is hardly new, and while I condemn both the Democrats and the Republicans as the twin parties of the ruling class, one must admit that the Republicans have become the dominant twin—measured by control of governorships, state legislatures, the presidency, the Congress and the national agenda—in part by winning the gerrymandering wars.

We must guard against diluting the voting strength of oppressed communities and the working class, but overconcentration is also dangerous. I feel like I’m in a time warp when I read about Aaron Mair and redistricting. It’s as if black activists and researchers have not questioned the decision of the Gary Convention to focus on electing black officials, or the effects of majority minority districts in a winner-take-all system, or the deal with the devil that has helped hand the South to the Republicans and the nation to the South. There are better ways to empower the black community, to ensure more equitable representation and to give voters—all voters—a real choice, than helping to elect more hack politicians, black and white, beholden to our economic masters.

Charles K. Alexander II

Nyah Nyah

To the Editor:

In your recent “Best Of” issue’s Media section, you passed over a seemingly obvious category: Best Provincial Recast of The Village Voice. Other than that omission, the list was a pleasure to read, especially as my hometown of Coxsackie was mentioned twice. In other words—zing received, zang back atcha.

We three reporters of the City Desk work inhumanly hard to provide our circulation of 35,000 with local news that is more accurate, human and informed of context than our competitor(s); it’s usually a thankless calling, so kudos and shout-outs, even backhanded ones, are met with a degree of gratitude.

Shawn Charniga
The Record, Troy


In the 2004 Best Of issue, it was reported that films from Albany Public Library’s collection could be sent, per request, to other libraries in the region. While it is possible to request that titles be sent from other libraries to the APL, the same is not true in reverse. APL films cannot be requested from other libraries.

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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