Please take a moment to remember all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, those who sacrificed years of their lives, countless sleepless nights after, all those serving today and all of their families on this, the anniversary of our Independence. Remember, this is not just the 4th of July, for that happens to everyone who is on the planet today, but the anniversary of our independence as the greatest experiment in human freedom. Let us keep fighting to make sure this great nation continues to stand for freedom and the rights granted by our creator, that is life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness! None of these should ever be taken for granted. God Bless America and those who serve to defend these rights!!
Can someone explain the sudden disappearence of three East Greenbush Police? I understand one was fire, the second was given an opportunity to resign and the third? the story is still too fresh to have all the facts...
Today we continue to morn the passing of East Greenbush Police Officer Witko. Mr. Witko died doing what he apparently loved, riding motorcycles and helping raise funds for good causes. I did not know Officer Witko, but I am truly sorry for that and in his passing. What I have learned since his death is, he was a family man, married with children. I believe his son is the same grade as my daughter. He was a police officer both in East Greenbush and previously in Rensselaer. He was a Corrections Officer prior to that. He also served in Clinton Heights Fire epartment and at the time of his death, the East Greenbuhs Fire Department. As you ride home today and face the increased traffic and delays associated with his service, wake and funeral, take the time to reflect on what a loss this community has suffered. Officer Witko's family will be more inconvienced than an afternoon of increased traffic. Let us keep Officer Witko, his family, friends and coworkers in our prayers. Officer Witko put his life on the line everytime he put on a police uniform or a fire fighters turn out gear, Thank you Sir!
Rest in peace and my God's light shine upon you and your family.
Show me the money……. The Town of East Greenbush has multiple issues to resolve, this one is called SCRAPGATE. The Town Transfer Station accepts scrap metal for recycling. Here is how it works. Town residents can drop off any scrap metal they wish at the transfer station and the transfer station sells the scrap to a vendor. Sounds like a good plan but here is the reality. Most people who have valuable scrap metal, such as myself, will bring it to the scrap yard ourselves and collect the money paid for it. I have done this multiple times with metals such as copper and brass. The metal is weighed and you receive the money from the scrap yard. What I bring to the transfer station is the junk metal. The transfer station collects it in a dumpster and because it is a mixed load with the majority of the weight more of the less expensive metals, the price per pound is less than if the load was separated, or even if we the residents placed the more valuable metal in with the junk. I spoke to Joe, if you dump trash or anything else at the transfer station; you too have spoken to Joe. Joe and Reggie are the two guys who are usually there. These two guys are two of the nicest and honest people I have ever met. Joe and I discussed the metal recycling as it is a hot button issue in the Town. Joe showed me the log book in the transfer station office. This is the bound book that Joe writes every transaction in. Joe keeps meticulous records. Joe showed me the page where he tracks the dates when he calls the vendor to pick up the recyclable metal bins. Joe does this even though he has not been required to do so in the past. Joe would call the vendor and they would come and pick up the bin. The vendor would weigh it at his facility and calculate the price for the weight of the metal. Apparently under the current Town supervisor, that is where it all ended. Apparently, under the previous DPW Supervisor, Peter Partack, no records were kept on funds received from the vendor. Ann Taylor analyzed the financials for the transfer station and knew something was wrong. She brought it to the attention of Jim Breig, who looked into it and found we had not been paid since Oct. '08! Jim Breig brought it to the attention of the new DPW Commissioner (January 2010) Chris DeFrucio. Chris went to the vendor and claimed a small portion of the missing payments. The problem is there was never any checks and balances of when the bins were sent in, no one from the Town witnessed the weighing of the bins and no one noticed the lack of payments for two years. This is how Supervisor McCabe defines fiscal responsibility? Mr. McCabe, where are the monthly department reports? Where are the monthly budget reports? Where was the Comptroller who should have realized that an income line suddenly stopped receiving income? Mr. McCabe, you are the Town Supervisor and by law you are solely responsible fiscally for the Town to the residents. Why did it take over two years and someone from outside of the Town management team to discover this missing income? Thank goodness for honest employees who did more than required in book keeping at the transfer station and for the discovery by Ann Taylor and the efficient work of Jim Breig and Chris DeFrucio.
The fall elections are quickly coming upon us. For those of you who have followed the last years shenanigans, bear with my while I recap. Last year two board seats were filled through the constitutional process of voter preference. This gave the conservative/Republican group a majority for the first time in quite a while. In an effort to circumvent the voters wishes, the democratic party chair (Town) filed a lawsuit to disallow two people currently elected to the Board who also were elected to the County Legislature to hold both seats. The committee chair, rightly cited a law that didn't allow this practice, even though they allowed it in the past when it was a Democrat who held both seats. The lawsuit was upheld (by a Democratic judge) but the County legislature (Republican) quickly passed an amended law to make it legal to hold both positions. A Town Board member from North Greenbush was also caught up in this lawsuit, but when the County Legislature passed the bill and the County Executive signed it into law, the North Greenbush Town Board quickly reseated their Board Member. It was an outright political move to undo the voters wishes in East Greenbush and keep the Democratic stronghold on the Town Board. The current seated Democratic Board members, Supervisor McCabe and Ginny O'Brien refused to entertain (that is second) any attempt of the lone Republican, Rick Matters, to reseat the duly elected individuals. They instead chose to keep putting up Democrats for Board seats. Rick Matters stood his ground and kept them from being able to usurp the voters wishes. This stalemate kept the Town Board to a nonfunctioning 3 members instead of the five it should have had. If you need more information on these events, please refer to the Cristo/Taylor blog; the Story (blog); the Advertiser and the Town's website. The Democrats also launched a very nasty campaign against Ann Taylor, who was running for a seat last year. So much for history, and actually the present as the nastiness has started again!
Today, there are four people who are running to fill the two "vacant" seats on the Town Board and to fill the remaining time of those two seats. The two from the right, (Conservative. Republican,etc.) are Mike Cristo and Ann Taylor. Both have been very vocal in the recent eight months about the issues facing this Town. They are, a $2.6 million debt; gas-gate missing records of who got gas from the Town pumps and for what vehicles, scrap-gate, the missing checks for scrap collected at the Transfer station and carted off to a vendor, stipend-gate where certain individuals in Town, both elected and appointed, received stipends in addition to their salaries for what would appear to be their regularly assigned task. We really will never know in that there isn't any job descriptions written for these positions. Ann and Mike have been very open in discussing what they would do to get East Greenbush back from the junk bond status we current have, how to get a balanced budget and an open and accountable government. Many citizens have also been asking very hard questions (simple ones really) but have not been given satisfactory or even consistent answers from supervisor McCabe.
The other two candidates are Rick Hendricks and Phil Malone. Both are Democratic candidates sponsored by the Democratic party that has given us the junk bond status, unanswered questions and all the other issues I will lump into McCabe-gate for brevity. Well, I am curious as to where exactly Rick Hedricks and Phil Malone stand on the issues? Neither have broken their silence except a small article in the Advertiser where Rick Hendricks clarified a reporting error from the Democratic party that stated he is a life long resident of East Greenbush. Congratulations Mr. Hendricks, I applaud your honesty. In full disclosure, I have know Rick Hendricks for many years. We were both employed by the City of Albany at roughly the same time, he as a police officer, me as as a firefighter. I had the pleasure of working with Mr. Hendricks and always found him to be forthright and honest. I have no disillusion that he still holds these qualities dearly to his heart. With that in mind, I ask you Rich, where do you stand on the pressing issues facing this Town? (I also lump Phil Malone in these questions as well). Are you McCabe-lite, wishing to practice the same old policies, regardless of their legalities and/or perception of wrong doing? Mr. McCabe has had a full seven months to present his financial plan to the public about balancing the budget and digging our way out of junk bond status and $2.6 million in debt. but hasn't said anything specific. All he stated was he has a seven step plan and the first five have been implemented. Really? what are they? Do you, Rich and Phil, have a financial plan? Mr. McCabe has not been forthright in answering questions from citizens about the stipends, salary increases (without benefit of a Board vote) or whatever you want to call the $60,000 that appeared in select Town officials, elected and appointed, bi-monthly checks and reported as pension counting income. Do you have answers as to why this practice was abruptly stopped after being brought to light or are you going to continue the same old policy, McCabe-lite? What about all the other issues facing this Town? Why haven't we heard anything from you, Rich and Phil? Please get your plan out to the public and discuss what you intend to do about these pressing issues, or are we going to be left in the dark and get more McCabe-gate from the two of you? You have an active and inquisitive voter public that wants to know where you stand on these issues and more. Without you addressing them, our only choice is to vote for what appears to be very sound, businesslike financial planning or more of the same old McCabe-lite. What will it be? Rich? Phil? hello? anyone there? hello......
I'm 63. Except for one semester in college when jobs were scarce and a six-month period when I was between jobs, but job-hunting every day, I've worked, hard, since I was 18. Despite some health challenges, I still put in 50-hour weeks, and haven't called in sick in seven or eight years. I make a good salary, but I didn't inherit my job or my income, and I worked to get where I am. Given the economy, there's no retirement in sight, and I'm tired. Very tired.
I'm tired of being told that I have to "spread the wealth" to people who don't have my work ethic. I'm tired of being told the government will take the money I earned, by force if necessary, and give it to people too lazy to earn it.
I'm tired of being told that I have to pay more taxes to "keep people in their homes." Sure, if they lost their jobs or got sick, I'm willing to help. But if they bought McMansions at three times the price of our paid-off, $250,000 condo, on one-third of my salary, then let the left-wing Congress-critters who passed Fannie and Freddie and the Community Reinvestment Act that created the bubble help them with their own money.
I'm tired of being told how bad America is by left-wing millionaires like Michael Moore, George Soros and Hollywood Entertainers who live in luxury because of the opportunities America offers. In thirty years, if they get their way, the United States will have the economy of Zimbabwe, the freedom of the press of China, the crime and violence of Mexico, the tolerance for Christian people of Iran, and the freedom of speech of Venezuela.
I'm tired of being told that Islam is a "Religion of Peace," when every day I can read dozens of stories of Muslim men killing their sisters, wives and daughters for their family "honor"; of Muslims rioting over some slight offense; of Muslims murdering Christian and Jews because they aren't "believers"; of Muslims burning schools for girls; of Muslims stoning teenage rape victims to death for "adultery"; of Muslims mutilating the genitals of little girls; all in the name of Allah, because the Qur'an and Shari'a law tells them to.
I'm tired of being told that "race doesn't matter" in the post-racial world of Obama, when it's all that matters in affirmative action jobs, lower college admission and graduation standards for minorities (harming them the most), government contract set-asides, tolerance for the ghetto culture of violence and fatherless children that hurts minorities more than anyone, and in the appointment of U.S. Senators from Illinois.
I think it's very cool that we have a black president and that a black child is doing her homework at the desk where Lincoln wrote the Emancipation Proclamation. I just wish the black president was Condi Rice, or someone who believes more in freedom and the individual and less arrogantly of an all-knowing government.
I'm tired of a news media that thinks Bush's fundraising and inaugural expenses were obscene, but that think Obama's, at triple the cost, were wonderful; that thinks Bush exercising daily was a waste of presidential time, but Obama exercising is a great example for the public to control weight and stress; that picked over every line of Bush's military records, but never demanded that Kerry release his; that slammed Palin, with two years as governor, for being too inexperienced for VP, but touted Obama with three years as senator as potentially the best president ever. Wonder why people are dropping their subscriptions or switching to Fox News? Get a clue. I didn't vote for Bush in 2000, but the media and Kerry drove me to his camp in 2004.
I'm tired of being told that out of "tolerance for other cultures" we must let Saudi Arabia use our oil money to fund mosques and mandrassa Islamic schools to preach hate in America, while no American group is allowed to fund a church, synagogue or religious school in Saudi Arabia to teach love and tolerance.
I'm tired of being told I must lower my living standard to fight global warming, which no one is allowed to debate. My wife and I live in a two-bedroom apartment and carpool together five miles to our jobs. We also own a three-bedroom condo where our daughter and granddaughter live. Our carbon footprint is about 5% of Al Gore's, and if you're greener than Gore, you're green enough.
I'm tired of being told that drug addicts have a disease, and I must help support and treat them, and pay for the damage they do. Did a giant germ rush out of a dark alley, grab them, and stuff white powder up their noses while they tried to fight it off? I don't think Gay people choose to be Gay, but I damn sure think druggies chose to take drugs. And I'm tired of harassment from cool people treating me like a freak when I tell them I never tried marijuana.
I'm tired of illegal aliens being called "undocumented workers," especially the ones who aren't working, but are living on welfare or crime. What's next? Calling drug dealers, "Undocumented Pharmacists"? And, no, I'm not against Hispanics. Most of them are Catholic, and it's been a few hundred years since Catholics wanted to kill me for my religion I'm willing to fast track for citizenship any Hispanic person, who can speak English, doesn't have a criminal record and who is self-supporting without family on welfare, or who serves honorably for three years in our military.... Those are the citizens we need.
I'm tired of latte liberals and journalists, who would never wear the uniform of the Republic themselves, or let their entitlement-handicapped kids near a recruiting station, trashing our military. They and their kids can sit at home, never having to make split-second decisions under life and death circumstances, and bad mouth better people than themselves. Do bad things happen in war? You bet. Do our troops sometimes misbehave? Sure. Does this compare with the atrocities that were the policy of our enemies for the last fifty years and still are? Not even close. So here's the deal. I'll let myself be subjected to all the humiliation and abuse that was heaped on terrorists at Abu Ghraib or Gitmo, and the critics can let themselves be subject to captivity by the Muslims, who tortured and beheaded Daniel Pearl in Pakistan, or the Muslims who tortured and murdered Marine Lt. Col. William Higgins in Lebanon, or the Muslims who ran the blood-spattered Al Qaeda torture rooms our troops found in Iraq, or the Muslims who cut off the heads of schoolgirls in Indonesia, because the girls were Christian. Then we'll compare notes. British and American soldiers are the only troops in history that civilians came to for help and handouts, instead of hiding from in fear.
I'm tired of people telling me that their party has a corner on virtue and the other party has a corner on corruption. Read the papers; bums are bipartisan. And I'm tired of people telling me we need bipartisanship I live in Illinois , where the "Illinois Combine" of Democrats has worked to loot the public for years. Not to mention the tax cheats in Obama's cabinet.
I'm tired of hearing wealthy athletes, entertainers and politicians of both parties talking about innocent mistakes, stupid mistakes or youthful mistakes, when we all know they think their only mistake was getting caught. I'm tired of people with a sense of entitlement, rich or poor.
Speaking of poor, I'm tired of hearing people with air-conditioned homes, color TVs and two cars called poor. The majority of Americans didn't have that in 1970, but we didn't know we were "poor." The poverty pimps have to keep changing the definition of poor to keep the dollars flowing.
I'm real tired of people who don't take responsibility for their lives and actions. I'm tired of hearing them blame the government, or discrimination or big-whatever for their problems.
Yes, I'm damn tired. But I'm also glad to be 63. Because, mostly, I'm not going to have to see the world these people are making. I'm just sorry for my granddaughter.
Robert A. Hall is a Marine Vietnam veteran who served five terms in the Massachusetts State Senate.
There is no way this will be widely publicized, unless each of us sends it on!
As you get older and have even older friends and acquaintances, one of the sections of the newspaper you turn to is the obituary section. As my parents were well known in the Albany Jewish Community, I see many names that I recognize. Friends of theirs, former customers and distant relatives. I have seen many friends of mine in there as well because there are old fire fighters and bold fire fighters, but no old, bold fire fighters. A lot of the people I have worked with have died far too young. Most of them from some form of cancer or another. After all, back in the 1970's and 1980's it wasn't cool to wear those new fangled air packs. Today we know much different and these younger fire fighters seem to be just a little smarter about their health then we were at the time. After all, if you don't think you are invincible, why would you go running into a building when everyone else is running out?
This is not a blog about cancer or old age. This is about opening the paper today and reading the obituary of a former colleague and friend. Jerry died at the age of 44. He leaves a wife of twenty some odd years and young (teenage) children. Jerry worked for me at Engine 11 for several years and we, along with the rest of my crew, worked day and night and lived together for 24 hours at a time. You get to know someone when living and "putting your life on the line" with them. Or at least you thought you did. Since retiring from Albany in 1999, I have seen Jerry on and off when I stopped by the station for a cup of coffee and catch up on department news. From the time I met Jerry, he always had a smile on his face, always a joke (Usually at my expense) and always, always someone you could count on. If I was too deep into a building or somehow in harms way, Jerry was right there behind me or there to lend a very welcome hand. Jerry pulled his own weight. He was not the kind of guy, as a supervisor, you needed to keep on to get the work done.
When I read his name in the paper, I first thought, ok an older relative, but his picture was there as well and of course he was smiling. I was shocked. Jerry was always in good shape, fit and trim. He didn't drink, didn't smoke. My emotions were shock, disbelief and sadness. I couldn't believe it, Jerry is dead. The wake and the funeral will be held Monday and Tuesday respectively and I have to be out of town for business. Do I call his brother, stop over to see him? I also worked with his brother and cousins on the job. In fact his brother-in-law is also on the job. Know them all well. It is a family business.
I received a phone call from a colleague later in the day. Wanting to know if I had heard that Jerry had died. That's the way the fire service is, we are all family. He told me how Jerry died. That was when my emotions took a very unexpected turn, anger! Jerry died by his own hand, he hung himself in his garage and left a note for his wife and children telling them to call the police and not go in the garage. Of course, the story goes, they immediately went into the garage, who wouldn't. How could he do that to them. What evils were in his soul, torturing him to set his family up with a sight they will never forget? I am back to sorrow, but not for Jerry, but for his family. Not only have they lost a husband, father, brother, etc, but knowing that it might have been different. I morn for Jerry, but pray for his family. You think you know a guy.