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Record staffers bring you information on the comings and goings of New York's Collar City.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Sam Judge sends rather large message to city hall

Update @4 p.m.: City spokesman Jeff Pirro weighed in on the sign, saying that although the timing of its placement is "curious" given the incidents over the past few days with the demolition, he believes it is directed more so at the City Council, which has a meeting tonight at 7 p.m.

The Council has taken it upon themselves to lead the initiative to move city hall functions to the Dauchy Building. The meeting tonight is at 7 p.m. at Christ Church United Methodist at 35 State Street. We'll be tweeting from the meeting, follow along @ceceliamrecord.

A large "Now Leasing" sign was hung on the front of the Verizon Building -- also known as the current Troy City Hall -- this morning, in what is apparently the latest move in an increasingly hostile relationship between the city and building owner Sam Judge of 1776 Sixth Avenue, LLC.

City Economic Developer Vic Christopher posted a photo on Twitter around 10 a.m. of a crane cherry picker hanging the sign, which is about five times larger than the actual City Hall sign that hangs a few feet to the right.

Tensions between Judge and the city came to a head Tuesday when Judge attempted to leave an exit door at his property at 251 River Street. Problem is, the door exits into the active demolition site of the former city hall in Monument Square, and police were called to the scene -- as was Judge's attorney.

The city's lease at the Verizon Building expires at the end of the year (or the end of October, depending on who you ask), and Mayor Harry Tutunjian, following legislation approved by the City Council, did not sign a two-year lease renewal. Now, the City Council is working to move city hall to the Dauchy Building, a move that the administration and many downtown businesses are against.

City officials have long used the defense that a new lease agreement or purchase price for the Verizon building could be renegotiated instead of moving to the Dauchy Building, but this latest move by Judge demonstrates that negotiations may be harder to come by due to recent conflicts.

Meanwhile, contractors worked until after 8 p.m. Wednesday to make significant progress tearing down the rest of the former city hall, with City Engineer saying the building had to come down because it's half-demolished state posed a public safety issue.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Final feasibility study coming this week

The final feasibility study compiled by John G. Waite and Associates on the Dauchy Building as a future city hall will be completed as early as tomorrow, according to Councilman Bill Dunne. Although Waite gave a final presentation of the study at a public meeting nearly two weeks ago, the final report, complete with cost estimates for the move and refitting of the building, has not been finished.

"It's 99.994 percent complete," said Dunne, adding that when the report is ready it will be posted on the Troy City Council Facebook page. He said that the committee formed to oversee the study and possible transition may also meet this week to discuss the results of the report and outline some next steps. The bi-partisan committee is comprised of Council members and city administrative employees.

The study was at the center of some emails that flew around late last week between Mayor Harry Tutunjian, Dunne, and Council President Clem Campana. Those are posted over at the Talespin blog.

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Friday, May 6, 2011

More about Pirro, Zalewski and the TWC working group

In this article published today about the Time Warner Cable working group, I mention a series of e-mails between city spokesman Jeff Pirro and Councilman Ken Zalewski, D-District 5, regarding Pirro's inclusion in the working group. In the article, we wrote that Pirro emailed Zalewski "asking to be added to the list," something Zalewski said is not true.

It may be splitting hairs, but at one point in the e-mail exchange Pirro does write "Ken - you have left me off the list below. Please add my email address as I will be taking Vic's place. Thank you!", which could, in some definitions, constitute asking.

However, here are all the e-mails in their entirety, so you can judge for yourself:

To interested citizens:

At this evening's Finance Committee meeting, the Council withdrew legislation that would have moved forward with the proposed Time Warner franchise agreement (available at

We instead passed a resolution that creates a Cable Television Franchise Working Group and appoints several initial members: Three Council members (myself, Bill Dunne, and Dean Bodnar), along with Vic Christopher (Economic Development Coordinator for the City) and Amy Williams (President of the Arts Center).

The legislation will appear on the May 5 Council agenda. By that time, I would like to have the full list of working group members.

Those who have indicated an interest or have been recommended to me so far are:
Naomi Bustamante
Andrew Lynn
Regina Keenan
Jason Martin
Jim Welch

I am sending this e-mail to everyone who attended (and signed in at) the March 21st Public Hearing, plus a few others. The current group tally is 10 (5 named in the resolution, plus the 5 listed above). I don't think the group should grow much larger than this, but I also want to make sure that I try to accommodate everyone who is interested in participating.

If you want to be a part of the working group, please let me know ASAP. If the number of interested persons becomes too large, I'll work with my colleagues to trim it down. The public will be invited to all meetings of the working group, so everyone will be able to participate at some level.

I will also be posting relevant information to the City Council's Facebook page ( I have received a number of documents from Sue Buske - the consultant who worked on this back in 2003/2004. Those documents will be posted soon.

Thank you to everyone for your interest in this important issue for our city.

-- Ken Zalewski

Good morning –

It is my pleasure to inform you that since Vic wants to remain focused on developing projects full time, I am going to take his place on this committee. I look forward to working with all of you to try and find a workable solution to any perceived inadequacies. Thank you.


Jeffrey J. Pirro

Good morning Ken –

Any updates on the working group membership? Did you publish a notice soliciting members or do anything to expand inclusion? A response before Thursday's meeting would be appreciated, thanks!

-- Jeff Pirro

The working group already has ten members based on the responses that I have received from interested citizens.

I also have the pleasure to inform you that you are not automatically on the group just because you sent me an e-mail stating that you are replacing Vic Christopher.

The legislation passed out of committee contained Vic's name, not yours. If Vic decides not to serve on the group, that is his choice.

For you to write to me to "inform" me that you are his replacement indicates that you do not understand your own role in city government. This is a Council-sponsored initiative. You do not have the standing to insert yourself onto a Council-created committee without the Council voting on it.

On a personal note, I'm a bit bewildered that you would have the audacity to write to me with such a demand, after months of ignoring me and showing outward disrespect toward me.

The proper way to approach this would have been to request membership on the working group, maybe stating some of your credentials for participation; maybe display a modicum of respect for the members of the Council; maybe show some of the humility that public service demands.

-- Ken Zalewski

Ken - I'm sorry. I thought we put all the partisan nonsense behind us. I certainly don't hold any grudges against you for calling me "shill" (among other things) and think its regrettable you "[had] the pleasure to inform" me I'm not automatically a member of the group, since individual exclusion from a public process shouldn't bring anyone joy.

I am the Mayor's representative since this affects legislation and information. I am able to include myself because this is a publicly created entity. Certainly, I don't need to be formally recognized since I'm doing this to garner attention or make the headlines. I just want to be part of a group that helps move Troy forward.

Thus, let me put your bewilderment to rest: I wanted to reach out to you because progress requires trust, bridges and communication, none of which existed.

My reaching out to you is an olive branch, a bridge building moment, and I hope you accept it.

-- Jeff Pirro

Thank you all for your interest in the Time Warner franchise agreement. Based on your responses, we will add the following six individuals to the Working Group on Thursday evening:

Jim de Seve
Regina Keenan
Andrew Lynn
Jason Martin
Steve Pierce
Jim Welch

They will join the already-appointed members, who include:

Dean Bodnar
Bill Dunne
Amy Williams
Ken Zalewski

Vic Christopher wishes to focus on economic development projects in the city, and has declined his membership.

If I am missing anyone, please let me know immediately.


-- Ken Zalewski

Ken - you have left me off the list below. Please add my email address as I will be taking Vic's place. Thank you!

-- Jeff Pirro

If you don't hold grudges, I'm wondering why you still can barely let a "hello" escape from your mouth when you see me. You have vilified me in your own mind, and it clearly shows. If you are trying to make amends, I'm ready and willing. I am just not certain your "olive branch" is genuine.

My use of the quote, "It is my pleasure to inform you," was a turn of your own phrase when you "informed" the Council that you were now on the committee. In case you forgot:

It is my pleasure to inform you that since Vic wants to remain focused on developing projects full time, I am going to take his place on this committee.

I figured that you would get the reference. Even your own statements below are tongue-in-cheek to anyone that knows you and how you treat people.

If you were genuinely concerned about building bridges, you would not lead off with your "informing" the Council - you would respectfully request that your name replace Vic's on the working group, and allow the Council to decide.

Oh, and regarding me calling you a "shill" for the Mayor, the definition of "shill" is:
a person who publicizes or praises something or someone for reasons of self-interest, personal profit, or friendship or loyalty.

You are paid to make Harry look good (and ostensibly, to make the Council look bad), which is evidenced by your voluminous press releases for every little thing that the guy does, and the biased nature of your Facebook postings.

You already know that the Working Group meetings are public, and as a citizen you are more than welcome to attend. This was about membership on the group, not your participation as a citizen.

-- Ken Zalewski

Ken - the personal attacks are not going to help us move the group forward. Please include my email address on future communications. Thanks!

-- Jeff Pirro

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Mayor: no towing for street cleaning

UPDATE: Just to clarify, the city still has the legal right to tow cars for street cleaning, and will continue to tow for special street cleaning taking place throughout the city (wherever you see the big red and white 'No Parking' posters). City spokesman Jeff Pirro said that, as an administrative policy, the city is not towing cars for regular nightly street cleaning.

A few weeks ago we wrote that, at the direction of the Council, Mayor Harry Tutunjian had resumed the towing of cars for street cleaning. This was after the Council sent a proposed ordinance to double the fine for parking in a no-parking zone back to committee.

However, the Mayor told us this weekend that is not the case. Tutunjian said the city did NOT resume the towing of cars for street cleaning, so downtown residents can rest assured they won't wake up in the morning to a missing car if they park on the wrong side of the street. (The city does still have the right to tow cars for safety/traffic reasons, like if you're parked in a tow-away zone or in an unsafe manner.)

You will, however, still get a $35 ticket, and possibly dirty looks from neighbors who don't appreciate the car-length section of un-swept street, so fair warning. The $35 ticket doubles after 14 days.

If you've been towed in the past few weeks, let us know in the comments. Also, how do you feel about the Mayor's decision to not tow? Do you think he should have followed the Council's direction?

Full disclosure: I live downtown and have been towed for street cleaning more times than I can remember.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Mantello mayoral campaign goes social

Mayoral candidate Carmella Mantello has released information for the online portion of her campaign, including a new website, Facebook Page and Twitter account. Mantello said her online presence will allow the "voters of Troy to closely follow her campaign and learn more about her vision for the future of the City."

"Campaigns move at a very fast pace, and these social media sites will allow the residents of Troy to be informed on a daily basis of my vision and plans to create jobs, promote waterfront revitalization, and enhance the quality of life throughout our City," said Mantello in a press release issued today. "These sites will create a dialogue, a two-way conversation between the people of Troy and me so together we can make Troy an even better place to live."

Mantello hasn't yet utilized her Twitter account, but the Facebook Page has 68 "likes" as of this posting (including one Record reporter who wants to stay up to date on campaign happenings). Most of the content on her website and Facebook Page are links to news coverage, but she has posted the following mission statement:

"Troy is facing significant challenges ahead and Carmella will forge new partnerships with business, community leaders and educational institutions to create a City that is an even better place to live and work. Waterfront development, one of our most vital resources, will be a centerpiece of her Administration. Jobs will be a top priority"

If you're interested, her website is at, the Facebook Page can be found by searching "Carmella Mantello for Mayor of Troy" (no custom URL yet) and her Twitter account is @Carmella4Mayor.

What do you think about candidates utilizing social media for their campaigns?

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Work started at the former Marshall Ray building

Economic Development Coordinator Vic Christopher sent over some photos of Harmony Group workers as they begin the stabilization of the building's roof. According to the requirements of the sale of the building to the Harmony Group, the developer must have a plan for the complete stabilization of the building submitted by April 1 with the stabilization complete by May 1.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

County Waste expansion proposal withdrawn

A proposal to expand the tonnage at a County Waste trash transfer station in South Troy has been withdrawn, according to an e-mail sent by Nancy Baker of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. In the e-mail, Baker said County Waste has also made facility adjustments in conjunction with the City of Troy to alleviate existing traffic concerns raised by residents in South Troy.

The email in its entirety:

To the Residents of Troy - This correspondence is directed to those residents or officials who provided comments to the NYS DEC regarding the proposal by County Waste to 1) increase the throughput at the transfer facility, and also 2) to receive waste deliveries during the hours of 10 p.m. - 3 a.m.

The comments we received were extremely valuable to evaluating the potential impacts of this proposal. Most of the comments related to the existing traffic congestion at the Burden Ave/Route 378/Route 4 intersection. Comments also made the Department aware of a situation wherein trucks were passing the facility and turning around to enter the facility. This resulted in more passes through that intersection than were necessary, and contributing to overall congestion in that area.

As a result, the Department has worked diligently with the City of Troy and County Waste Transfer Corporation to alleviate those issues. The request to increase the throughput (tonnage) at that facility has been WITHDRAWN, and the facility will continue to operate at the level previously approved. In addition, during our review of the requested overnight hours, County Waste has made facility modifications (specifically, the removal of the old rail road trestle) which hampered access to the facility from the back. Packer trucks will now pass the facility and enter from the back, negating the need to queue up at the intersection, or make a second pass to enter the facility. This change should significant reduce congestion in that area.

The overnight ours were requested in order to comply with OGS contract pickups. A maximum of three trucks per hour are permitted to make deliveries during the 10:00 p.m. - 3:00 a.m. hours, and no processing is permitted. Since throughput will not change, this will remove deliveries that previously occurred during the day, during peak traffic hours, as those will occur overnight.

I have enclosed the Department's complete response to comments, which outlines all comments received and the Department's response. I want to thank each of you for your participation in this process, and for the valuable and thoughtful comments that were submitted. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.
Baker also enclosed responses to comments submitted to the DEC during the public hearing portion, available below.

DEC responses to proposed County Waste expansion comments

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