The City of Troy, New York, "Where Henry Hudson Turned Around."

Wednesday, November 25, 2015



According to The Record, Mayor Elect Madden will select Economic Development Coordinator Monica Kurzekeski as his Deputy Mayor. We reported this on Sunday but got it wrong. We thought it would be Monica Kurzejeski, not Kurzekeski. We hate to grab the low hanging fruit, especially in The Record orchard, but typos in the headline? Tippos in the axual stori happun, but in the hedline?

Background on the future Deputy Mayor can be found here.

Madden's first mayoral decision is an interesting one. It's our understanding that there will not be a Commissioner of Planning...and that economic development will be Balkanized, with the Deputy Mayor in overall charge of the various development project. This is, in our opinion, a naïve plan. While we'd have no issue with Monica being tapped to be the new Commissioner, we think she'll be in well over her head balancing economic schemes with the deputy mayor's duties. That would be a lot on anyone's plate. The political equivalent of letting loose the former administration in an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Further, and perhaps more important to Madden's long-term success, is the lack of political savvy in the two top spots. Madden has to avoid Mayor Rosamilia's habitual eschewing of the occasional political street fight. There are people who want Madden's job and they will maneuver accordingly.

Good luck and congratulations to Monica.


The chances that the real property tax cap will be overridden have diminished. Council President Wiltshire and District 1 Councilman Jim Gordon want to cancel the council meeting and the vote to override the tax cap. The grounds to do so are procedural. The argument goes something like this, though we don't pretend to be experts on Robert's Rules: The legislation to override the tax cap is the identical legislation that already failed. Therefore, the appropriate vehicle to reintroduce the tax cap override would be a motion to reconsider, not simply another vote. Then there's the fact that legislation must ferment for seven days before being put up for a vote....

At this point, it doesn't matter: The fat lady has sailed, the ship has sung, the metaphors have mixed. Wiltshire, Gordon and Zalewski have simply refused to do their jobs and have asked the administration to do it for them. They will not acknowledge that they have not only the authority but Charterial (Chartertustional?) duty to propose budget cuts and then negotiate those proposed cuts with the administration. Councilwoman Robertson (D-2) is a nonentity.

It's clear that Wiltshire would not vote to override the cap if the proposed increase was 2% This is his attempt to cripple the incoming administration. Councilman Zalewski (D-5) will follow suit. It may work.

One wonders if Madden is happy he may be playing Sisyphus for the next four years.

And a Happy Thanksgiving to our readers!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


From the Charter:

§C-70 I. Council and Mayor budget meeting. After the Council committees file their reports with the Clerk and prior to the final public hearing on the budget, a committee consisting of the Mayor, the Budget Officer, and the City Council members shall convene to review suggested changes to the recommended budget.  [Amended by L.L. No. 5-1994, § 47]

K.  Adoption of the budget. The City Council at a special meeting held after the final public hearing on or before the first day of December, or if that day falls on a Sunday, on or before the second day of December, shall by resolution adopt or amend and adopt the budget and submit the same to the Mayor for his/her approval...

From the City Council President:

From: Rodney Wiltshire []
Sent: Friday, November 20, 2015 3:31 PM
To: Cheryl.Christiansen; Adam.Sanzone; Anastasia Robertson; Andrew.Donovan; Bill.Chamberlain; Bill.Dunne;; Chris.Wheland; Erin Sullivan-Teta; Gabrielle.Mahoney;; George.Rogers; George.Vanbramer; Ian.Silverman;; Joe Licarrdi; Joe.Mazzariello; John.Salka; John.Tedesco; Kelly Cramer Esq.;; Lynn M. Kopka; Lou.Rosamilia; Marian.Drozd; Mike.Hayner; Monica.Kurzejeski; Peter.Ryan; Rhonda.Reed; Robert J. Doherty; Selena.Skiba; Sharon.Martin; Tom.Garrett; Warren.Mueller; Ken Zalewski
Subject: Re: meetings for 11-30-15

To all in the Administration,
The mayor and I spoke earlier today about the re-attempt to override the state’s tax cap and pass a budget that exceeds it.
I can only speak for myself, but as President, I will state that asking us to override the tax cap with the budget that has been presented is still not an option, and in order for us to even consider moving the agenda and the legislation, we expect to have a clear schedule of amendments by Monday with details of either cost savings, and or new qualified revenues that lower this tax increase dramatically.
Whatever cuts that you, as department heads, or administration staff need to make, need to be spelled out clearly; whether they include service cuts, staff, or other management decisions.  Identify in as much detail as necessary what the changes are to staff, salaries, personnel if particular, and services or schedules as you would propose them to be made.
We as a council will not be charged with making these decisions or choices for you.  
Please propose your plan that balances your essential services and staff with the needs of the taxpayers.
Again, these changes to the budget need to be clear, concise, and non-ambiguous.
This detail, and the overall tax increase, is a precursor to even considering the override.
Have a great weekend,

We suppose a reply of: Fuck You would be frowned upon by Rosamilia.

Wiltshire has yet to discover the beauty and grace of brevity. May we suggest the following:

"Please do our job without us and please make sure services remain intact and taxes as low as possible."

It is clear that Wiltshire wants to sabotage* any effort to avoid State involvement. A Friday afternoon e-mail demands that the administration not only do their job but the Council's as well, by Monday? The tax increase must be lowered dramatically? All of that just so an override might be considered.

The mayor has proposed his plan. The Council now counters with their own plan, or, more accurately, their amendments. That's the process. It occurred under Pattison and Tutunjian and for the last four years. We would recommend cutting Wiltshire out of the process but that presupposes he's involved with the process. Ignore him and work with Gordon or Robertson. Zalewski is just following orders and doesn't understand, by his own admission, the budget or budget process. Gordon can be reasoned with, Robertson's worth a shot.

So, why the sabotage? Rodney clearly dreams of escaping Elba and marching on Troy once again. This time, under the banner of fiscal responsibility. Watch for Team Troy. They will be back in a year. Thwarted ambition can be a very destructive force. Another reason Madden will need a political animal in City Hall. Someone who has the institutional knowledge as well as a keen political radar. We're sure Pattison can recommend someone.

* From the French, meaning sabotage

Monday, November 23, 2015


According to  The Record, "The Troy Industrial Development Authority approved an agreement Friday that could save more than $750,000 for the developer poised to undertake a $13.5 million project that includes buying and rehablitating the Martin Luther King Apartments.

IDA members unanimously agreed to a 30-year Payment in Lieu of Taxes deal with Omni Housing Development for the first phase of the project, which will reduce the number of units in the Troy Housing Authority’s apartment complex on Eddys Lane from 120 to between 77 and 84. Omni will make up for the lost units in the second phase of the project by buying property in the North Central neighborhood and constructing new buildings or rehabilitating existing structures to create an additional 37 units, according to Tim O’Byrne, Omni’s project manager."

The IDA will take a leasehold interest in the property and lease it back to Omni Development in order to protect the City's investment.

Frankly, we had no idea that a private entity could purchase public housing.

This is HUGE news! Humongous news! The Record printed a story  more than two paragraphs long, filled with facts and without typos.


From our friends at the Times Union: North Central, the city's poorest neighborhood, will get an economic boost of $1.8 million through a plan to convert the closed School 1 into 28 apartments. Redburn Development Companies, which has a track record of converting old buildings into residential space, outlined its proposal to the Troy Industrial Development Authority Friday.

School 1 will be transformed into one- and two-bedroom apartments, Damien Pinto-Martin, Redburn's vice president of development told the IDA. The rents would be market rate.

The total project cost, including the property, is $1,891,000, according to Redburn's application for financial assistance with the IDA. The developer asked for exemption of $55,000 in sales taxes and $14,000 in mortgage taxes. No property tax exemptions were listed.

The building will house apartments that were expelled from other apartment buildings or apartments that need remedial aid.

Sunday, November 22, 2015



Late last week Mayor Elect Patrick Madden announced the co-chairs of his transition team. The people who will try to ease Madden's evolution from not-for-profit pupa to beautiful mayoral butterfly.

We announced the Wallace Altes appointment earlier. The remaining co-chairs are Alisa Cahill Henderson, President of Duncan & Cahill, Inc. and James Spencer, Executive Director of Rensselaer Technology Park.

Duncan & Cahill is a general contractor and construction management firm located on Oakwood Avenue, Troy, New York. The fly-by-night firm has been in business since 1933. For those wondering about any political leanings, we do not know Alisa Henderson's politics. Duncan & Cahill has been a frequent, yet modest, contributor to County Executive Kathy Jimino's campaigns. They also contributed to Jim Conroy's 2007 campaign against Mayor Tutunjian. One of the few Inc's that backed Conroy over the incumbent Tutunjian.

In high school, Henderson was voted most likely to be co-chair of a transition team.

As the Executive Director of the Rensselaer Technology Park, James Spencer is  "responsible for developing and optimizing the Translational Pathways of the Institute's Innovation Ecosystem through Strategic Innovation Asset Development. Strategic Innovation Assets include institute-owned intellectual property (IP), startups and commercial real estate that supports commercialization and off-campus basic & applied research activities."

Want to know how impressive that is? It's so impressive that we don't understand a f%$#*g thing that means. Our Corporate-to-English translator is down. Another issue with Spencer is that he graduated from Brown University because he couldn't get in to Yale. May as well have gone to Princeton. His LinkedIn page can be found here.

We've been to the Rensselaer Technology Park and no offense to Mr. Spencer but none of the rides are any good and the lines are too long.

We are encouraged by these selections and  Madden's emphasis on the private sector. The answer to Troy's fiscal problems, easier said than accomplished, is simple: tax base growth. That's it. No surprises there. This will need to be tempered with a person or two who understand the limitations of the public sector.

This emphasis on the private sector is in contrast to the Council's transition team that appears weighed down with politico bloat, with that not-so-fresh feeling. However, the two groups have different concerns.


In other news, it looks like the odds of Monica K. becoming Deputy Mayor have gone up. We hear it is all but a done deal. While we have nothing against Monica and no opinion on what position she fills, we wonder if Madden will have at least one political street fighter on his team. Someone who knows city government and the Byzantine politics of the city. Just in case the knives need to come out.

Finally, with the absentee ballots counted, Democratic At-Large candidate Carol Weaver lost to Republican Kim Ashe-McPherson by sixty votes. That a mere two votes per election district.

Saturday, November 21, 2015


Under the Troy City Charter Section 55-(a)1.23(i) the Mayor has invoked the well-worn DO-OVER provision in an attempt to save resident's money. A special meeting has been called to seek another override of the Real Property Tax Cap. This time, it looks like the tax hike could be 5-6%. We think it could actually be just shy of 5% if they really give it the Old Troy Try.

We're sure that Mayor-Elect Madden as well as the incoming City Council would prefer a 5% tax increase rather than the alternative, which would a be a State Nanny for the next three or four years. While we wouldn't mind a Hollywood Nanny:

State issued nannies from the Office of the New York State Comptroller look more like:

Mayor Elect Madden had this to say:

"I'm going to have to focus on the budget. We're committed to doing everything to make this work." The obviousness of this statement doesn't really add to the conversation.

The new Republican majority wants to achieve cost savings and develop a workable budget for the future, Mantello said."Everything and anything has to be considered. The city has to be working more efficiently." The obviousness of this statement doesn't really add to the conversation.

What is of interest is a quote from current Council President Rodney Wiltshire's letter:

"Whatever cuts that you, as department heads, or administration staff need to make, need to be spelled out clearly; whether they include service cuts, staff, or other management decisions. This detail, and the overall tax increase, is a precursor to even considering the override," Wiltshire said.

At the Wednesday night vote, Wiltshire said the administration has not collaborated with the City Council during the budget discussions.

That Wiltshire intends to be at the vote is progress. Once again, though, he is shirking his, and the Council's, collective responsibilities. The Charter gives the Council the authority to propose cuts. This has never meant asking department heads to cut their own budgets. It has meant that the Council sits down, reviews the budget lines and recommends specific cuts. It's called work. While this did occur, the Council's cuts were the equivalent of going through the city's couch looking for loose change.

Wiltshire's comment that the administration has not collaborated with the City Council is demonstrably false. It is Wiltshire and a minion or two that will not meet with the administration. The fact that the Council President wrote a letter instead of requesting a meeting with the Mayor to discuss this says all there is to say.

Do Wiltshire, Zalewski, Robertson and Gordon know that if the cap isn't lifted the 9.3% increase will go into effect? Their constituents will pay more for less services. We're not sure each of them understand that simple fact.  Nor are we convinced all the people allegedly calling Councilman Zalewski asking him to vote no understand this fact. Wiltshire appears willing to ram the derelict  SS Team Troy straight into the SS City of Troy and the devil-be-damned that we don't have enough lifeboats.

Wiltshire said on Wednesday he would vote to override the tax cap if the increase was 5%. He has refused to lead so it is now time for him to step aside and let the adults do the work. Isn't it vacation time? We're not sure if we've ever seen thwarted ambition manifest itself in such a bitter, public manner.

We do have hope that the eventual increase will be 5%. We hope that Councilman Gordon will reconsider his vote. We have continued hope that Madden and Mantello continue to talk and collaborate and that January 1, 2016 heralds a drama-free period in Troy's history.

Friday, November 20, 2015



According to The Times Union:

The City Council agreed to rezone the Hillside and Beman Park neighborhoods. Both neighborhoods are currently R-3. The new zoning would be R-2, more restrictive and hostile to development. The change was pushed by a few people to stop Stewart's from expanding because we wouldn't want a business to expand into such exclusive neighborhoods.

Due to the new restrictions Nieman Marcus and Herrods have decided not to open locations in Beman Park or the Hillside neighborhoods. While we appreciate the desire to limit development in neighborhoods, this appears to be rezoning for one reason: To stop the expansion of a commercial enterprise that sits on Hoosick Street.


The Troy Farmers Market will not relocate to the project currently planned for the former Troy City Hall site. Troy residents will need to buy their farmers somewhere else.

Speaking of One Monument Square, Council President Elect is stepping in:

From: Carmella Mantello []
Sent: Thursday, November 19, 2015 1:09 PM
To: MayorsOffice.
Cc: John.Salka
Subject: Re: Attention: Troy IDA (Please forward to Troy IDA)
Amendment to letter. Meeting date is Friday, November 20, 2105 not 2016. Thanks.

Sent from my iPhone

On Nov 19, 2015, at 11:32 AM, Carmella Mantello <> wrote:
Dear Chairman O'Bryan & Troy IDA,

It is my understanding that the Troy IDA will meet on Friday, October 20, 2016 to consider an IDA application for the One Monument Square project. The developers of One Monument Square are seeking extensive tax benefits from the Troy IDA. The $11.7 million financial package includes $10.5 million in estimated property tax savings, $972,000 in sales and use tax exemptions, and $228,750 in mortgage recording tax exemptions. 
A review of city records indicates that all members of the Troy IDA, except Chairman O'Bryan, had their terms expire on April 8, 2015. I would strongly suggest that before the Troy IDA acting with expired terms consider the large tax benefits for One Monument Square that this matter be tabled. This will allow the new mayor and new city council to act upon a new IDA. The mayor appoints all members to the IDA and they are confirmed by the city council. 
It is important to recognize that the voters of Troy selected a new mayor and city council, and they should be entitled to seek and/or reappoint a new IDA reflective of their philosophy. 
This project will have a significant economic impact regarding taxes and other matters in the future of Troy's development. 
I certainly appreciate all the work the Troy IDA has done, and hope that you will take my recommendations in the positive spirit that it is offered. 
Carmella R. Mantello
Council President-Elect

It seems clear that Ms. Mantello does not understand City government. Government, boards, commissions and authorities do not grind to a halt to await her majesty's coronation. We want to give Carmella the benefit of the doubt but this is the second time she appears to be playing politics. Remember Carmella, you do not choose new appointees, the council only confirms them. The Democratic Council did not block any of Mayor Tutunjian's rather dubious choices and Mantello would do wise to remember she is not appointing anyone, merely confirming the choices of the man the people elected as their mayor.

Yes, Mantello received the most votes of any candidate on November 3, 2015. It's also true that but for the ill-fated, election spoiling, Team Titanic, she might not be Council President. Her numbers would place her in 6th place in 2011 (the last mayoral election year), behind Jim Gordon and Billie-Jean Green. She received 1,100 votes less than Lynn Kopka did in 2011. So, while we don't want to rain on her parade, lets keep things in perspective. Carmella, listen to Hank Bauer, not Dworsky and Frankie L. Bauer was a solid legislator and freed from partisanship is a good tutor.


A City Hall insider is pushing a plan that would result in a tax increase of 4.9%,  just under the bar set by Council President Rodney Wiltshire. This would result in a real, bare bones budget. The City Council did not approve the budget last night and may revisit a tax cap override next week. If the proposed tax increase is 5% or less, will Wiltshire stand by his word and vote to override?

Now you know... the rest of the story.

Thursday, November 19, 2015


Bouchon d'impôt remplacent échoue!

Last night the Troy City Council rejected legislation that would allow them to pay the City's bills. In order to pass a budget with a projected 8-9.3% tax increase the Council needed pass a local law allowing it to exceed the roughly 1.5% real property tax cap. The Council vote was 5-4 against.

Those voting for the override (who many have labeled "the adults") were Dean Bodnar (D-3), Bob Doherty (D-4), Gary Galuski (D-6), Erin Sullivan-Teta (At-Large) and Lynn Kopka (At-Large).

The nays (who many have labeled the adults) were Jim Gordon (D-1), Ken Zalewski (D-5), Rodney Wiltshire (At-Large) and Anastasia Robertson (D-2).

Councilman Zalewski had said for almost a week that he would be a 'No' vote. His vote was never in doubt. Councilman Wiltshire said that a 5% increase was palatable but they extra 3% was not. Councilman Gordon pulled a Zalewski and stated that a babysitter might be a good thing.

Councilwoman Robertson said, "Not another dollar for Amerikkka!"*

We don't yet know all the consequences, intended or otherwise, from this vote. Some may say they nays exercised fiscal responsibility. Others may say it is not fiscally responsible for a municipality to be unable to pay its bills. This is especially true because we know the source of the problem. Troy was not spending like a drunken sailor in Shanghai on leave in for the first time in 6 months (which sounds more and more attractive). Rather, the bulk of the problem came from pension fund payments, a problem that will plague cities like Troy in the years to come.

We do not believe that the Council, as a whole, made a serious effort to find appropriate and real cuts. We do know that the entire Council never met to try and work this out. certain members, due to personality differences, acted more like petulant children than leaders. One actually threw a juice box against the wall when it was bedtime.** Cutting supplies is not a serious effort. That's a Band-Aid.

Another Councilman who shall remain nameless (Wiltshire) spent more time casting blame and playing victim (Wiltshire) than he spent working on a solution.

Is it telling or mere coincidence that every person voting 'no' will not be present to pick up the pieces?  Two of the four have telegraphed a certain disdain for the Troy Police Department. After what happened this summer, do we want to cut into ERT funding? Do we want to close two firehouses? Will this be the typical situation where citizens do not want a tax increase but want services unaffected?

Getting and keeping the fiscal house in shape should be a priority. Falling back on the New York State Comptrollers Office for oversight still seems like passing the buck.

We guess the question for our multitudinous readership is: Is last night's vote a net positive or negative?

* To the best of our knowledge not actually said

** To the best of our knowledge not actually done