On January 15, 2013, Governor Cuomo signed into law the NY SAFE Act (Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act). As one of 10 motions considered in their meeting on March 14, the Schodack Town Board (STB), without debate, unanimously approved resolution 2013-099 opposing the NY SAFE ACT.
Key provisions of NY SAFE include:
1) a mental-health alert
2) a tougher assault weapons ban
3) stronger regulations on ammunition
4) statewide recertification of handguns and assault rifles
5) universal background checks - closing the private-sales loophole
6) the Webster Provision, making murder of a first responder engaged in duties an A-1 felony
7) an extension of Kendra's Law
8) protection of families (when under an order of protection)
9) safe gun storage
10) provisions to keep guns out of schools
11) tougher penalties for illegal gun use
The Board members spent as little effort in drafting Resolution 2013-099 as in debating it; the verbiage comprising 2013-099 is identical to Resolution P/68/13 passed by the Rensselaer County Legislature.
Are the STB members encouraged to vote a certain way by higher-ups in the Republican Party? Is the STB expected to march lock-step with the NRA? The resolution refers to Second Amendment rights; however, we all know that there are common-sense limitations to the amendment. One can’t own a 50-caliber machine gun, a grenade launcher, or a howitzer. Voters may like to know what specific provisions of NY SAFE STB members found objectionable or an infringement on Second Amendment rights.
There are members on STB who never say a word in meetings other than “aye” to vote with the majority. We would like to know their opinions on universal background checks and high-capacity magazines. Since the STB has brought up the issue of guns, they should have a serious, open debate about the issue, and whether, for example, members are in favor of arming principals and teachers in Schodack schools.
We question whether the STB, in passing this second-hand resolution, has given the issue of guns any serious thought.
David and Barbara Spink
On Sept. 27, Rensselaer County Democratic Party Committee members have a very important decision make: election of their county chair. My vote will be for current Democratic Chairman Tom Wade.
I have known Tom for 30 years — ever since I first became involved in the Rensselaer County Democratic Party as a member and volunteer. Over the years, I have gotten to know him better, particularly since he became county chair. He has shown himself to me and others to be very intelligent, hard-working, dedicated and politically astute — virtually “eating, breathing and sleeping” his unpaid, volunteer role for the past six years. While being retired during his tenure as chair he has dedicated plentiful time and effort to his duties, including recruiting well qualified candidates to run for public office and assisting them in becoming elected — including going door-to-door in his home district to garner the required number of petition signatures allowing candidates to run with the support of their constituents.
Under Tom’s leadership, many Democratic Party candidates have been successfully elected in jurisdictions encompassing Rensselaer County including two Supreme Court judges, two county court judges, a family court judge, a District Attorney, majority wins in the city Councils of Troy and Rensselaer, and last year’s overwhelming victory of Troy’s Mayor Lou Rosamilia. These accomplishments are not achieved easily, but rather require an ability to recruit quality candidates, coordinate successful campaigns, network with party leaders and raise funds.
While being a strong leader with a strong personality, I have also seen Tom’s compassionate side — whether be helping a student obtain a summer job or sincerely inquiring about a friend’s family member experiencing a health problem. Tom has been a lifelong Democrat and a Democratic Committee member for 40 years. As an active committee member of the Rensselaer County Democratic Party for many years, a member of the county Democratic Executive Committee and county Coordinator for the Cuomo 2010 Campaign, I have spent time with Tom Wade and have observed him in various settings — both within Rensselaer County and at other locations within New York state.
He is widely respected in Democratic circles across the State and he seems to know everyone. I have personally observed other county chairs and Democratic leaders consulting with Tom concerning matters of political judgment. During all of this, where has Robert Riley (the person challenging Tom Wade for county Democratic Party chair) been? I don’t know Mr. Riley, which may say something about his role in the party organization. So why is he challenging a leader like Tom Wade with Tom’s long standing and hard earned credentials? I ask this question especially now when extremist views from any party can get the wrong people elected. We simply cannot afford the risk.
For all of these reasons, the choice for Rensselaer County Democratic Chair in Thursday’s decision by county Committee members is abundantly clear: vote for the seasoned and successful leader who has proven himself over the years — Tom Wade.
I just read a letter from Mr. Crawmer in the August 2, 2012 Advertiser where he denigrated and vilified our President with caustic and juvenile comments, with the usual soundbites unrelated to any facts. I am always amazed by the people who claim to love our country so much and yet do so much to undermine it with evil, vicious remarks, devoid of sense and civility. I really do not know much about you, but just wanted to thank you for trying to be a public servant in the face of so much adversity from your supposedly fellow Americans.
Lots of buzz lately about the proposed Dollar Tree (DT) MILLION-PLUS SQUARE FOOT warehouse locating within 200 feet of an established Schodack neighborhood. Over 50 homes in Birchwood Estates (Richwood Drive, off Route 9 south of the 9 & 20 split) are now threatened by the Dowds administration’s unchallenged decision about their future. With expected Planning Board approval, they’ve encouraged this new business, under the guise of building our tax base.
DT will receive tax abatement under the County IDA program, where most of the tax revenues will go. Warehouses typically have lower assessed value because the structures are inherently less valuable. If DT’s approved, everyone in Birchwood Estates will likely challenge their assessments: their property values will plummet by approximately 30 to 40%. What the Town expects in taxes from DT could ultimately be a revenue loss for Schodack.
DT would locate directly over our aquifer. The building and blacktop will cover over 60 acres in the recharge area. Birchwood Estates gets its well water here, where the soils are sand and gravel. Anything rain washes off pavement, trucks, and rooftop will go into the aquifer. By their own admission, DT will only be filtering out the solids in their detention ponds. Any dissolved substances, like road salt and de-icing compounds, go directly into the aquifer and their wells.
Noise created by this 24/7 facility is unfixable. DT expects 165 trips daily, many of them double tandems, if approved by NYSDOT. DT has proposed mitigation, but when fork-lift back-up alarms sound at 3:00 a.m. do we really believe 200 feet of distance and a 10 foot noise-abatement fence will block the beeping?
This project will change our town irrevocably and steer future development in one direction.
Last November, I wrote a letter to the Advertiser stating that Schodack Democrats support businesses in town, as long as they comply with our laws (e.g.Aquifer Protection) and don’t destroy neighborhoods. Who knew this project was then pending and had been for some time prior to last year’s election?
This situation is a direct result of one group of people in charge with no one in elected office to challenge their decisions. Birchwood Estates pays the consequences.
Elizabeth Gable, Schodack resident and Town Democratic Committee Chair
As many of you may know, a person from Amsterdam began cyber stalking me in the springtime, long before I decided to run for office. He didn't like what I wrote on the FaceBook wall of Congressman Chris Gibson and apparently thought that cyber stalking, threatening and harassing me would change my political beliefs.
I was contacted by the State Police, who shared their findings with me and hopefully, put an end to the harassment.
Most importantly, the car that was sitting in front of my house was not connected to the person from Amsterdam. While it is somewhat unsettling for my 91-year-old mother that someone was sitting in front of my house for several days, she feels better knowing the police were able to eliminate someone who had threatened me as the driver.
Unfortunately, because the fake FaceBook profiles and campaign pages had been removed before the police could track the IP signatures, they were unable to make a definitive link between the Amsterdam businessman and the pages. Those of you who know the details of this situation are aware that I have screen captures of all the fake profiles, pages, emails and threatening and harassing statements. Even though the police could not link the Amsterdam businessman to the pages, there was no doubt that he was the person who threatened and harassed me as he made the comments under either his real name or alias, which he publicly stated was also him.
The trooper told me he had a long discussion with the Amsterdam businessman and explained the difference between heated political debate and crossing the line to harassment. He advised him to stop making any further contact.
I hope he follows the advice of the troopers. I certainly would not hesitate to call them again if the Amsterdam businessman continues harassing and threatening me.
I thank all of my friends for their support of me during this trying time.
Last week, Christopher Lucarelli again attempted to divert your attention from serious local issues, arising from single-party rule that’s long plagued Schodack. He’s trying to hold local Democrats responsible for the national mess we’re in: ridiculous.
It’s a default position he hopes will make you forget that our high taxes, undiminished spending, and closed government are the direct result of one clique of Republicans running the show, unchallenged, since the beginning of the Secor administration.
They say they have held down the tax rate, but don’t mention that spending has gone unchecked, especially given the hard times the rest of us are going through.
In his letter, Mr. Lucarelli, husband of Council-woman Debra Young, didn’t deny that Town Board decisions are made behind closed doors with little, if any, discussion in public meetings.
He didn’t deny the practice of appointing cronies and relatives to paid positions and jobs, out of reach for other qualified, but unconnected, residents.
He offered no explanation for why Republican candidates declined to participate in the traditional Meet the Candidates Night, sponsored by the MHHS Participation in Government class, Schodack Planning and Development Association, to have been moderated by the League of Women Voters. This event has always been well attended and the kids were counting on it to fulfill their PIG requirements. What were incumbents afraid we’d ask them?
While Mr. Lucarelli heaps praise on the current Board for Moody’s analysis of town finances, I care less about Moody’s take on things here than I do about the growing number of “For Sale” signs I see everywhere. Many of us are concerned about being able to stay in our homes, so great is the tax burden now. And if you do decide to move, good luck selling your house, when one look at our tax bills sends most buyers a’running.
Re-assessments were done at the height of the housing bubble and haven’t been re-adjusted to reflect current home values. Wouldn’t the self-described incumbent “good government team” want to help struggling residents by getting assessments back in line with housing market reality?
Perhaps Mr. Lucarelli, Schodack Republican Club president, can explain why so many signs for Democratic candidates are routinely stolen, knocked down and destroyed every election cycle, in high-school style acts of vandalism. We leave theirs alone because that’s the honorable way to behave.
And FYI…The person Mr. Lucarelli refers to as having stolen from the Democratic Club was arrested, jailed, and is making full restitution for his crimes. An individual’s unpredictable act we dealt with decisively and effectively.
Elizabeth Gable, Schodack Democratic Town Chair
It is sad that Schodack Town incumbents are so frightened of anyone running on issues that they have to resort to their tried-and-true personal smear tactics.
The source of David Crawner’s information – described by him to be a “businessman from Amsterdam” - has been cyber-stalking and threatening me for more than eight months, long before I decided to run for Town Board. This “Amsterdam businessman” focused on me after reading some of my comments on Congressman Chris Gibson’s FaceBook page. Anyone who is friends with me on FaceBook can verify the veracity of this as I have been posting about it for months.
This individual has been escalating his personal attacks to the point where I had to contact the State Police for help. He has been under investigation for months as the police are attempting to determine if his actions have broken any laws, including criminal impersonation, aggravated harassment and identity theft. Sadly, because I am a candidate, I have fewer protections then the average citizen.
Some of what this "Amsterdam businessman" has done:
At one point a few months ago, my 91-year-old mother reported seeing the same car parked outside of our house for several days in a row. It sped away when she went outside.
- Threatened to come to my house, force his way into my home and demand that I give back my pension payments. He tried to solicit others to join him in this action.
- Created fake yahoo mail accounts with names similar to mine and used them to create multiple fake FaceBook profiles using my name, the exact profile picture I had at the time and all my personal information. He posted extreme political views on them and went onto Congressman Gibson’s wall to bring other people’s attention to them, insisting they were the "real Linda Underwood's profile."
- He created fake campaign pages doing the same thing, trying to smear me, attack me, paint me as an “extremist” and defame my reputation. All the while he tried to gain support via Congressman Gibson’s page. The attacks were so frequent and personal that Congressman Gibson had to ban him from posting on the wall. He created multiple fake accounts for himself to continue to attack me, each one eventually getting banned from the Congressman’s pageThis information can be verified by contacting either the state police or Congressman Gibson.
This is the person who is the source of David Crawmer's information. This is the person David Crawmer has aligned himself with. Judge for yourself.Linda Underwood
It appears that Schodack Republicans believe Barack Obama is running for a seat on the town board. This came to light in a letter to the editor written by Chris Lucarelli, who could only rail against Obama is trying to convince residents to vote for the status quo.
Sadly, the only "accomplishment" he could point to by the current board was the upgrade of the town's bond rating by Moody's. While this is certainly a good thing, it really doesn't mean much beyond the fact that the town made its bond payments on time and paid off some debt.
Lucarelli could not refute Democrat's charges that the town was run by a small clique for the benefit of that clique nor could he defend the town's practice of making decisions behind closed doors.
No, the Republicans can only bash President Obama and smash and steal campaign signs.
I don’t know what Schodack’s Republican candidates are afraid of. Lead by Rich Crist, they have declined participation in the Meet the Candidates Night, sponsored by the Schodack Planning and Development Association, and moderated by the League of Women Voters.
“Everyone’s busy”, was the excuse given, though several dates were offered weeks ago. Mike Kenney didn’t bother responding to either the invitation or any follow up inquiries as to his availability. Just rude, in my opinion.
They hold all elected and appointed positions in town government, the Supervisor is running unopposed, and the Democrats are running one candidate for Council. The Republican incumbents had nothing to lose yet still snubbed this event, which in the past has drawn crowds in the hundreds.
Does the Town Board not want to be questioned about the cronyism that has driven the last three appointments they’ve made?
Mike Kenney, never once spotted at a Town meeting before last year, was appointed to fill Ken Stinner’s Board seat last summer, under cover of darkness (i.e. not on that night’s agenda). His qualifications for office: being nephew to Legislator Alex Shannon and helping Green Meadow build a playground.
Connections over competence.
James Church, recent appointee to the Planning Board, was appointed on his credentials as a former Bruno operative. The planning vacancy was never advertised to the public.
Ex-Planning Board Chair Peter Goold was recently appointed Town Assessor, without serious competition or experience for the job.
The obvious conclusion: Schodack residents aren’t fairly considered for appointed or salaried posts in town government.
Do incumbent candidates fear questions about our taxes continuing to rise or the ongoing spending spree with our money they’ve voted to approve?
We’ll never know because they are too busy to talk to us or listen to concerns about issues we feel are important.
The nepotism, cronyism, and lack of transparency and accountability, rampant in our town have gotten us here: highest taxes around, unchallenged spending decisions, questionable appointments.
As an elected official, wouldn’t you want the opportunity to reach out to those you allegedly represent? Isn’t that what democracy is all about?
I was sorely disappointed to learn the three Republican candidates running for office this year in Schodack have declined to participate in a Meet the Candidates night that was slated for later this month.
Their refusal is a slap in the face to residents who would have benefited from meeting those who want to continue to run the town; Supervisor Dennis Dowds, Councilmen Mike Kenney & Frank Curtis, and a blow to students in the Maple Hill High School's Participation in Government Class.
PIG was helping organize this normally annual event at the high school.
The Schodack Planning and Development Association, a group that also sponsors these events, was told Monday, Oct. 3 that Republicans would not be attending. Weeks ago, Republicans were given a variety of dates from which to choose, but "were busy" each evening proposed.
Democratic candidate Linda Underwood was more than willing to work around the other three candidates schedules and has always been more than willing to speak with all residents.
Why have Mr. Dowds, Mr. Kenney and Mr. Curtis chosen not to participate in this public process? What are they trying to hide? What questions do they not want to answer? It has made me, a voter and the mother of a PIG student who now with her class has to scramble to figure out how to participate in a local government that seems to not want to participate in anything to do with the public.
Ms. Underwood, a lifelong advocate for this town and it's people, has my vote and I sincerely hope others follow suit and elect a candidate who really cares about the town and the people in it.
Schodack Democrats will host a Meet the Candidates night October 25 at the VFW Post on Scott Avenue to which all candidates are invited. Unfortunately, the PIG class will have to find another venue in which to lean about town government. It is very disappointing our town officials choose not to support the students they claim to hold in such high regard.