Posts Tagged ‘20th Congressional District’

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Top Adirondack Stories of 2007

#10 Nature Conservancy Purchases 161,000 Acres – Dubbed “The largest conservation and financial transaction in the history of The Nature Conservancy in New York,” the plan will protect former Finch and Pruyn wild lands in the heart of the Adirondacks, and perhaps more importantly, includes sustainable forestry. The land includes “more than 90 mountains and over 250 miles of rivers and shorelines, the lands hold great promise for public recreation sometime in the future for hikers, paddlers, campers, birders, and shutterbugs.” The New York Times provided a slide show of the purchase area in November. Let’s hope that the state will make next year’s top stories list by purchasing a further 70,000 acres being sold by Lassiter Properties and Clerical Medical Investment Group.

#9 Adirondack Tourist Industry Exploiting Labor – It’s been known for a long time by people close to the action that area businesses have been exploiting immigrant labor. At the same time they’ve been claiming they can’t get locals to do the jobs they’ve been hiring foreign workers for – and now the truth (or at least some of it) is out. According to local reports, the operators of several local restaurants and hotels “exploited foreign workers and cheated them of proper wages” including “breaking child labor laws, refusing to pay required overtime and deducting rent from wages.” According to Irena Lyahkanova from Russia, she “worked like a ‘slave’ at Taste of Poland restaurant [in Lake George] for ‘nothing.’ The owners did not pay any of its tipped employees, the 10 to 12 waitresses and bussers through the summer, Lyahkanova said. Many went back to Russia and Poland with no money.” After a little hubub, the issue has apparently been dropped – the workers will face the same problems next summer.

#8 The (Kinda, Sorta) Return of Regional Air Service – What was promised as the panacea of solutions to the lack of regional air service, Big Sky Airlines (of Billings, Mont. under Delta Connection) has turned out, not so good. “As bad as we thought CommutAir was,” Harrietstown Councilman Barry DeFuria said recently, “they are looking real good now.” Big Sky was the was the sole bidder on service to Lake Clear according to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, “on a $2.4-million agreement with the U.S Department of Transportation to provide Essential Air Service to the Adirondack Regional and Plattsburgh International airports. Essential Air Service is a federal program that was created to ensure that rural communities have access to affordable flights. Big Sky took over from CommutAir, a Continental Connection airline, at the Adirondack Regional Airport on Oct. 31.” In late December, Big Sky pulled out apparently taking the federal money with them despite owing $75,000 locally. Congressman John McHugh said Big Sky is violating the terms of its federal subsidy and he and Senator Hillary Clinton urged the US Department of Transportation to maintain subsidized flights to Massena, Ogdesnburg, Watertown, Plattsburgh, and Saranac Lake. The DOT demanded Big Sky do just that, but it looks pretty unlikely. Adirondack Base Camp has moreon the issue.

#7 Adirondack Hermit Alan Como – For nearly twenty years Alan Como lived a spartan life in the wilds of the great northern forest of the northeastern United States – his last known address was on a drivers license that expired in 1989. In 2002 he was living in an earth and log mountaintop hut in New Hampshire. Then, after a two-year string of minor thefts near Brant Lake in Warren County he was captured near the Pharaoh Mountain Wilderness Area; police believed he had stolen a few blankets, tarps, and other small items, but left valuables alone. He was convicted of criminal mischief for cutting trees on private land to build his latest mountain ridge home and was sentenced in June to one-third to four years in state prison – with time served, he’s eligible for parole in January 2008.

#6 NCPR’s Lake Placid Signal Under Threat – North Country Public Radio (NCPR) has been serving the Lake Placid community for 21 years, but that didn’t stop Albany based NPR station WAMC from making application to the FCC in an attempt to force NCPR from it’s 91.7 fm frequency. A late agreement between broadcasters left NCPR with only one other media conglomerate attempting to take it off the air, Northeast Gospel Broadcasting, Inc., a religious station that features the likes of Oliver North and evangelical christian right wing programming. If NCPR loses access to Lake Placid, it could also affect frequencies in nearby communities such as Keene Valley which rely on the Lake Placid signal. Northeast Gospel has until early early January 2008 to stop coveting thy neighbor and back-off – after that it will up to the FCC. Adirondack Almanack has been covering this story in depth.

#5 Global Warming Impacts – It started with wacky weather: Record warmth in December 2006, then came record snow falls in February and exceptionally heavy rains in August and September followed by near-drought conditions during an unseasonably warm October. In the southwest corner of the park Hinckley Reservoir reached it lowest level since it was created in 1915 and drought was the impetus for closing the Erie Canal early. Wildlife was seriously affected this year with a mice explosion and the spread of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease in deer. EHD is normally seen in southern deer populations, but for the first time was discovered in New York. While the Wild Center held a regional global warming conference and many locals gathered to Step It Up in April and November, that was about all there was on the ‘actually doing something about it’ front. Meanwhile the local right-wingnuts could care less because the world is going to end soon anyway – says so right in the bible.

#4 Changes in DEC, APA, and ORDA Leadership – Newly elected Governor Eliot Spitzer made important appointments in several state organizations including Pete Grannis as head of the DEC, Curt Stiles to chair the APA, and Joe Martens to chair ORDA. Perhaps more significant was the subsequent appointments (by Grannis) of Betsy Lowe as Director of DEC Region 5 , who will also represent Grannis on both the ORDA board and at the APA. DEC Region 6 also got a new leader this year in long-time local attorney Judy Drabicki. Then the Residents Committee to Protect The Adirondacks said goodbye to Executive Director Peter Bauer.

#3 Adirondack Healthcare – On a number of fronts healthcare in the Adirondacks reached the headlines this past year. First there was the news that the U.S. Army unit which was one of the just two providers of med-evac helicopters (that don’t charge patients) was pulling out leaving one copter from North Country Life Flight in Saranac Lake. Then came the apparent and astounding lack of leadership from both Representatives Gillibrand and McHugh just as news broke that the region faces a “desperate doctor shortage.” The one bright spot was Hudson Headwaters Executive Director John Rugge who forced major health insurance plans to pay their share of local health costs.

#2 Judge Throws Out State Tax Payments – In December a New York State Supreme Court Judge threw out payments in lieu of taxes for state lands. The move could have a huge impact on towns, schools, and taxpayers in the region. Town of Inlet Supervisor J.R. Risley, said his town has about 400 year-round residents, 10,000 summer residents, and that 93 percent of the land is state-owned. The ruling is expected to double the town’s tax rate. Twenty-two percent of the Saranac Lake Central School District tax levy comes from taxes on state land – the number is fourteen percent in Tupper Lake. The ruling has been stayed and is waiting appeal.

#1 Cell Towers Along The Northway – When two men died on the Northway in late January and early February, right-wingers, downstaters, and anti-environmentalists offensively used their deaths to go on the attack. Never mind these unfortunate folks were traveling through isolated mountain passes in what was certainly the worst weather of the season, and in one case, the worst ice storm in at least several years – a collective cane was raised that resulted in the APA’s recent approval of one 94 foot tall cell tower. Verizon already has 20 towers inside the park and is seeking another 11 or 18, depending on who you believe. Verizon, the APA, and our elected officials make absolutely no attempt to mitigate the impacts of these towers through new techniques and technology.

Here is a link to The Top Adirondack Stories of 2006

Links to local news that we found interesting enough to add to our “Latest Adirondack News” column (above right) can be found here.

If you like what you see, you can have our Adirondack News delivered by RSS Feed or by e-mail. You can also select only the news from the specific Adirondack county you’re interested in right here.


Monday, June 25, 2007

2007 NY Legislative Results: Adirondack Edition

John Sheehan, of The Adirondack Council sent a set of e-mails outlining bills in the final days of the the State Legislature’s 2007 session that will have an impact on the Adirondacks. We’ll reprint part of his e-mails here for your information:

Raquette Lake Water Supply: On Wednesday June 20, at about 9:30 pm, the Assembly granted final passage to a Constitutional Amendment to allow the hamlet of Raquette Lake to construct its drinking water supply system on the “Forever Wild” Forest Preserve. Construction (aside from trailside lean-tos and ranger cabins) is currently banned on the Forest Preserve. This bill would give permission only to Raquette Lake, and requires the Town of Long Lake, in which the hamlet is located, to swap a similar tract of land to the state to make up for the lost acreage. The bill passed both houses in 2006 and now will be on the November 2007 statewide ballot. It does not require the Governor’s signature. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Elizabeth Little, R-Queensbury, and Assem. Robert Sweeney, D-Lindenhurst, the Assembly EnCon chairman.

Route 56 Power Line Construction: The New York Power Authority is seeking permission from the public to construct a power supply line from Stark Falls Reservoir power dam in Colton, St. Lawrence County, to Tupper Lake, Franklin County, where power outages have been severe and frequent. NYPA has agreed to build the line along the side of Route 56, crossing an area of Forest Preserve, rather than detouring the line through an environmentally sensitive area containing endangered species, wetlands and an ancient white pine forest. In this case, the private lands around the Forest Preserve are wilder and in greater need of protection that the area of Forest Preserve adjacent to the state highway.

The Route 56 constitutional amendment passed the legislature last year, but had to be retracted due to errors in the first version. The Assembly’s approval late last night now represents first passage of a new amendment, so it must be passed again by a separately elected legislature before it can go on the ballot. The soonest that can happen is January 2009. Given the need to construct the line as soon as possible, environmental organizations have agreed not to try to prevent NYPA from building the power line without the benefit of official permission, explaining that the alternate route would cause needless ecological degradation to remote, pristine areas. A new power line right-of-way would only add to the threat of all-terrain vehicle trespass into those areas and adjacent Forest Preserve.The bill is sponsored by Senator Little and Assemblyman Sweeney.

Fire Fighting Costs: Also late night on June 20th, the Assembly granted final passage to a bill repealing the requirement that the 12 Adirondack Park counties and 3 Catskill Park counties repay the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation for the assistance of state forest rangers in fighting forest fires on state lands in the two wilderness parks. This arcane fee had so outraged local officials that DEC had been reluctant in recent years to even bill them. The fee was a thorn in the side of the late Sen. Ronald Stafford, who sponsored similar legislation to repeal it, but was stopped short by the Assembly’s objections. The bill is sponsored by Senator Little and Assem. Darrel Aubertine, D-Cape Vincent. The 12 Adirondack Forest Preserve counties are Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer, Lewis, Oneida, St. Lawrence, Saratoga, Warren and Washington. The three Catskill Forest Preserve counties are Greene, Sullivan and Ulster.

Environmental Protection Fund Expander: A bill sponsored by both Houses’ EnCon Chairmen, Sen. Carl Marcellino, R-Syosset, and Assemblyman Sweeney. It would increase the Environmental Protection Fund from its current level of $150 million per year to $300 million by FY2009-10. The EPF’s main capital projects funds are for landfill closure and recycling grants, parks and historic preservation and open space. This bill has passed the Assembly and is awaiting action in the Senate Rules Committee. Under this bill, the funds available for open space should increase from the current $50 million annually to about $100 million.

Lake Colby Horsepower Limit: This bill would limit the size of boat motors on Lake Colby, near Saranac Lake, to 10 HP. The lakeshore owners requested this for their own peace and to preserve a colony of nesting loons. It has passed the Senate and is awaiting action in the Assembly Rules Comte. It is sponsored by Sen. Little and Assem. Janet DuPrey, R-Plattsburgh.

NYS Invasive Species Council: A bill creating one has passed the Senate and awaits action in Assembly Rules. Sweeney/Marcellino.

Climate Change Task Force: A bill creating one is out of committee and awaiting action in each house; ready to pass when taken up. Marcellino/Sweeney.

Mileage and CO2: A bill would require carbon dioxide emissions information to be posted on the same sticker as mileage ratings for cars sold in New York State. Sweeney/Marcellino.

NCPR has a full report on what was left undone by our increasingly disfunctional legislature, including the Senates failure to confirm Spitzer’s choices to head the Adirondack Park Agency, the Olympic Regional Development Authority Board of Directors, and the Upstate Economic Development Corporation.


Sunday, December 24, 2006

Most Important Adirondack Stories of 2006

#10 The Wilderness Trail Race Debate – For the second straight year The Mountaineer, a sporting goods store in Keene Valley, held the Great Adirondack Trail Run – the results were way too many people using wilderness area trails as a race course.

#9 Northway Bus Crash – Five passengers on a Greyhound Bus are killed when a tire blows out to cause one of the deadliest accidents in Adirondack history on the Northway near Exit 31 (Elizabethtown).

#8 More Adirondack Landmarks Burn – Most notably, in Warren County where the Pottersville Episcopal Church, the Brant Lake General Store, and a block of Lake George businesses all fell to the flames.

#7 Convention Centers – It seemed that everywhere in our region local business people and the politicos in their pockets have plans for ill conceived convention center boondoggles. Plans floated this year included Lake George, Lake Placid, Plattsburgh, Glens Falls, and Saratoga Springs.

#6 Snowmobile Trail Debate – When the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation released its long-awaited report on Adirondack snowmobile trails it included the expansion of the trail system, the movement of some trails from interior wilderness areas, and the establishment of better connector trails for Adirondack communities along existing transportation routes.

#5 Adirondack Wind Energy – The first wind farm in the Adirondack Park was a subject of major debate this year. The results? Even the staunchest supporters of the environment stand divided.

#4 New Adirondack Species – Moose are on the rise, although no one seemed to notice until this year when Adirondackers started running into them in record numbers with their cars. As important to Adirondack diversity, was the discovery (by Heather Root) of several new species in Newcomb.

#3 Adirondack Media in Transformation – Everywhere in the Adirondacks media has begun to transform itself. New Adirondack blogs have emerged (notably, Adirondack Base Camp, Adirondack Attic, Adirondack Boys, and Adirondack Wal-Mart) but old Adirondack online forums have closed, and newspapers such as the more than 50 year old North Creek News Enterprise and the Plattsburgh Press Republican have been turned over to corporate buyers – oh, and the Ticonderoga Sentinel has risen from the dead.

#2 Development, Development, Development – Particularly in Tupper Lake and North Creek, where large housing developments seem to be inevitable. There was, however, also the defeat of the Tupper Lake Wal-Mart, and the failure to stop a Lowe’s in Ticonderoga from running rough-shod over the Adirondack Park Agency.

#1 Congressman John Sweeney Melts Down – In one of the most surprising turns of Election 2006 – with no-doubt dramatic consequences for the coming years – Republican John Sweeney loses to Democrat Kristin Gillibrand in a heavily Republican district that stretches into Essex County. Sweeney then melts down, refusing to concede and congratulate, to support the transition to our new representative, or to attend to the people’s business more generally – oh, and he complains of a bug in his brain.

UPDATE 12/29/2007: NYCO has posted a list of New York State’s top stories, which links to a Buffalo region list and one from Syracuse (in the comments).


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

North Creek: Center of the Adirondack Universe?

Lame duck Representative John Sweeney has gone over the edge, into debt, and apparently, on vacation from the rest of the duties Adirondack voters once hired him to carry out. Rumors are also circulating at the Times Union’s Capitol Confidential blog that his house is for sale and he’s moving to DC – meanwhile, he has apparently never called Gillibrand to concede the race or to assist in the transition.

In North Creek, the bar owned by Sweeney spokesperson Maureen Donovan (Casey’s North), is up for sale. Donovan is now a two-time loser. She was let go from the Warren County Economic Development Corporation last January but landed on her feet as Sweeney spokesperson. We wonder if they’re both headed to the K Street lobbyists, for their next bite of our pie.

All of this saddens the North Creek New Enterprise. The NCNE was once a great little paper that was published in North Creek – was that is, until it was taken over by Denton Publications entitled “Local leaders hope for the best with this summer and became a mouthpiece for the Sweeney crowd. There was a funny article after the election on November 18thGillibrand.” Here’s a great quote:

Bill Thomas, Chair of the Warren County Board of Supervisors, said the election showed that people felt they wanted a new direction.

“I was very, very satisfied with everything John Sweeney did for us,” he said. “He was a great Representative for me, the Town of Johnsburg and Warren County, and I hope this new person will do the same.”

You “hope this new person will do the same”? Bill – her name is the Right Honorable Representative from New York, Kirsten Gillibrand. I mean, come on, you can’t even say her name? And how proud are you of Sweeney now that you know he intends to blow off the rest of the job we hired him for because he’s a sore loser?

And speaking of North Creek and Bill Thomas. The Press Republican (now also under new owners) is reporting that Thomas (who has also served as Johnsburg Town Supervisor for-ever) will be appointed to the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) in a flurry of last minute Republican appointments by George Pataki. Thomas has been a major proponent of the Gore Mountain – North Creek Ski Bowl connection – he says he’ll recuse himself.

The Ski Bowl Village at Gore Mountain is planning upscale trailside housing, an equestrian facility, retail shops and restaurants, a major hotel, two smaller inns, a spa, a private lodge, and a 9-hole golf course, all on 430 acres adjacent to the town’s Historic Ski Bowl Park, the original site of skiing in North Creek (and one of the first in the nation). The proposal has drawn tremendous opposition from locals who resent the Johnsburg Town board’s (led by Bill Thomas) turning over part of Ski Bowl Park to sweeten the developer’s deal (they’re from Connecticut).

The Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) – the state authority that operates Gore Mountain – has recently come under fire from some local business people (including Bill Donovan, Maureen Donovan’s husband) who objected to a 20-year contract that gave ORDA the rights to the Ski Bowl Park Base Lodge’s concessions, and use of a new lodge in winter – the Donovans apparently think that money from the sale of soda pop at the Ski Bowl should have went to them.

Which brings us to the Residents’ Committee to Protect the Adirondacks (RCPA), which has filed suit opposing the way the whole Gore-Ski Bowl-Private Development plan is being carried out (much to the dismay, no doubt, of local real estate guy and Johnsburg Planning Board member, Mark Bergman). Peter Bauer, Executive Director of the organization since 1994, to us some time ago that the plan to connect Little Gore and Big Gore was considered separately from the rest of the Ski Bowl development plans rather than as one interconnecting large-scale development as the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) requires.

And that brings us back to the newly Republican North Creek News Enterprise. This week they are reporting (in screaming HUGE HEADLINES) that “local officials wary of RCPA recommendations” – turns out that Peter Bauer has been named to Eliot Spitzer’s transition team and that apparently upsets the powers that be at the paper and their friend – you guessed it – Bill Thomas.

Of course we don’t take much stock in what the NCNE has to say anymore – back on November they were telling us that Hudson Headwaters Health Network guru John Rugge was “looking a little nervously at the future” – but he’s just been named to Spitzer’s transition team as well.

Keep up the (ahem) good work News Enterprise.

Oh yeah… the reward for the NCNE’s support for Bill Thomas and his crew? The paper gets to be named the official paper for legal notices, something Thomas and the Johnsburg board had refused to do when Denton first took over.

UPDATE 12/17/06: One local resident reports that MARK Bergman (thanks for the first name correction) is not the only real estate agent on the Johnsburg Planning Board. Our tipster also reports that Bill Donovan is on the Planning Board and is using the Front Street (Gore Mountain Village) project as a selling point for Casey’s North. Tipster also reports that the Donovan’s home in Wevertown is also up for sale “for $350,000… about twice what they paid for it a couple of years ago.” And…

I have known Bill Thomas for 20 years and I have a great deal of hope (okay, some hope…) that he will be relatively fair as an APA Commissioner. Especially as he is not running for re-election next year. He does much better when personal political considerations are not on the table… And, I can assure you that Bill Thomas is not at all displeased with Sweeneys departure. He immediately reached out to Gillibrand and I think they will have a good working relationship.

Regarding the NCNE [the North Creek News Enterprise]… they ran no less than 6 pro-Sweeney stories in the months before the election. When Kirsten came to town in September, they ran the story 3 weeks later in the form of a picture caption buried in the middle of the “paper”.

I also have a source deep within the republican party who tells me that Sweeney is in despair because he has no real prospects for his future. K Street likely doesn’t want him. He’s damaged goods with no where to go. Boo freakinhoo!

Thanks tipster… and thanks for reading the Almanack.


Sunday, November 5, 2006

Sweeney Gillibrand: Pres Clinton Coming to Glens Falls Monday

Allison Price, spokeswoman to John Sweeney’s Democratic challenger Kirsten Gillibrand, announced today that former President Bill Clinton will be in our region for a get out the vote rally at the Glens Falls Airport in Warren County Airport in Queensbury totomorrowMonday) at 1:45 p.m. According to a new Siena Poll, she’s running neck-and-neck with Sweeney in the North Country part of the 20th CD.

New York Cowboy has the complete poll data that shows Sweeney was already in danger before the wife beating allegations.


Wednesday, November 1, 2006

20th CD – The End of Congressman John Sweeney?

According to a New York State Police document unofficially obtained by the Times Union [pdf] Corporate Republican Congressman John Sweeney‘s wife told police last year that he was “knocking her around the house.” According to the TU:

Sweeney’s wife, Gaia, [twenty years his junior] placed the emergency call to a police dispatcher in Saratoga County at 12:55 a.m. on Dec. 2, according to the document.

“Female caller stating her husband is knocking her around the house,” a dispatcher wrote. “Then she stated ‘Here it comes, are you ready?’ and disconnected the call. Upon call-back, the husband stated no problem … asked the wife if she wanted to talk. Wife (caller) then got on the phone and stated that she’s fine and that she’s drunk. Caller sounded intoxicated. She advised that she was endangered for a moment, but everything is fine.”

He’s claimed the report is, if you can believe this, fake! What’s more, he’s threatened any media that reports on it:

“If any media outlet plans to run a story based on this unauthentic, false and concocted document the outlet should be prepared to deal directly with our counsel.”

There is really no surprise here. Just two weeks before the alleged wife beating incident Sweeney’s son seriously beat another young man in a fight:

Less than two weeks earlier, his son, John J. Sweeney, then 19, pleaded guilty to felony assault charges for his role in a fight that left another young man with skull fractures and blurred vision. The younger Sweeney initially faced the prospect of spending up to 15 years in prison, but a plea deal gave him youthful offender status and a sentence that included four months of weekends in jail and community service.

No surprise there either. Remember that bar fight from almost a year ago?

New York Daily News reported Sweeney, R-Clifton Park, took a blow from a Red Sox fan who’d had enough of Sweeney’s pro-Yankees banter one evening earlier this month at Bobby Van’s Steakhouse in Washington, D.C. Sweeney spokeswoman Melissa Carlson flatly denied the report, saying the alleged incident was nothing more than a “heated discussion about Yankees vs. Red Sox.”

No suprise there either – remember the Miami-Dade County Board of Elections Republican riot? Guess who couldn’t keep his anger in check there either; guess who “gave the signal”?

The suddenly prominent Mr. Sweeney is credited for giving the signal for last week’s productive Republican fracas inside the Miami Dade county offices, after which the canvassing board abruptly canceled a hand recount of votes that would have helped Al Gore.

How about his refusal to answer questions about the ORDA sweetheart deals he was passing to his lobbyist buddies?

How about his lies regarding why he won’t debate?

How about his lies about his opponents place of residence?

How about his attempt to distance himself from his record of supporting the Bush Administration.

Or his voting in support of the positions of the Christian Coalition 69% of the time.

Or his voting for prayer in public schools on numerous occasions. The National Education Association gives him only an 18% approval rating.

Or his voting for making it a federal crime to transport minors across state lines for an abortion. His record is 90% anti-abortion.

Or his voting to ban adoptions by gays or other individuals who are not related by blood or marriage (HR 2587). Sweeney has just a 21% rating by the ACLU.

Or his support for free trade, tax cuts, and social security privatization.

According to his wikipedia entry:

Sweeney also opposes environmental protections and was given a “D” grade by EANY for opposing GE dredging of PCB aka Polychlorinated biphenyl from the Hudson River.

In 2001, Sweeney voted against a bill that would require increasing average fuel efficiency standards and offer incentives for alternative fuel vehicles. (Bill HR 4).

Sweeney received an “F” on the Drum Major Institute’s 2005 Congressional Scorecard on middle class issues.

According to EMILY’s List, Sweeney has taken more campaign contributions from special interests than any other of New York’s 29 Representatives.

Sweeney is also the seventh largest recipient of contributions from lobbyists out of all 435 House representatives.

Then there is the January 2001 trip Sweeney made to the North Marianas with Tony C. Rudy, an associate of convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Sweeney has said that the North Marianas Islands government paid for the trip, but the government denied that. And just what is the Jack Abramoff – Lake George – John Sweeney connection?

Then there is also this:

On April 11, 2003, Sweeney began paying a company called Creative Consulting for fund-raising. The company had been founded a day earlier by Gaia (goes by the name Gayle) Ford. Between April 2003 and December 2003, Sweeney’s campaign paid $42,570 to the firm.

Sweeney’s wife, who had no previous fund-raising experience, gets 10 percent of whatever she raises. Between January 2005 and April 2006, Ford was paid $30,879. And that’s not all the fundraising scandals.

And there was this classic:

On April 22, 2006, Sweeney reportedly appeared at a registered party at the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity of Union College. Witnesses reported that, after leaving a bar, he appeared to be intoxicated. Photographs and videos captured some of the events. Sweeney denied being drunk and denied drinking at the party.

All of this seems to pale by comparison, if that’s possible, to his alleged drunk driving incident:

On the night of January 23, 2001, around 10:00 p.m., Sweeney lost control of his 2001 Jeep Laredo and hit a utility pole on a rural upstate road, shutting down power to the homes of several residents and to the nearby Willard Mountain ski resort, stranding skiers aloft on the chairlifts. Sweeney was not charged or ticketed, and the state trooper on the scene refused the offer by a volunteer-fire-department chief to send a crew to the site to direct traffic (instead, a local resident did this, for an hour and a half, with downed and live electrical wires about). In early February, a local newspaper reported that Sweeney had been in a bar before the crash. Witnesses came forward to insist that Sweeney had only one or two glasses of wine. The newspaper noted that Sweeney was not given a sobriety test by the state trooper on the scene.

Now for the resignations:

State Police Superintendent Wayne Bennett
Awarded for allowing Sweeney to get away without a sobriety test in 2001 and for covering up the domestic abuse incident.

Saratoga County Republican Chairman John “Jasper” Nolan
Awarded for lying to the citizens of his county by stating that the domestic abuse document was forged and saying “In my mind, that certainly came from the Gillibrand camp. And I think it’s low and disgusting.”

Warren County Republican Chairman Michael Grasso
Ditto, though he said “It’s obviously garbage”

The Editors of Glens Falls Post Star
Awarded for failing to protect the citizens of their community by endorsing Sweeney.

“Kirsten Gillibrand is a strong candidate and has waged a solid campaign. But she’s just not experienced enough to have her first elected position be congresswoman. If you want a candidate who has the political clout and experience to help the region, then put aside any misgivings you might have about his conduct and vote for John Sweeney on Nov. 7.”

Yeah… sure – exactly what job did he have before being elected in a heavily germandered district held by the retired Gerald Solomon? That’s three years as Executive Director & Chief Counsel of the New York Republican Party and then two years appointment by George Pataki as New York State Commissioner of Labor.

What he does have experience in, as someone at the TU Capitol Confidental blog pointed out:

No oversight of Bush
No oversight of the war in Iraq
No oversight of the war in Afghanistan
No oversight on whether or not we are torturing detainees
No oversight of the Dept of Homeland Security
No oversight of the Katrina reconstruction
A Congressman who turns a blind eye to sweatshops

A Congressman who thinks that NYS taxpayers should pay for junkets for his campaign contributors

A Congressman who, through his wife, collects a percentage of all the money that is donated to his campaign fund.

But hey, at least he’s experienced. He may be a disgrace to his office, but he’s an experienced disgrace.

We couldn’t agree more – the people of New York’s 20th Congressional District, perhaps one of the most important of the Adirondack election districts deserve better that one of the 20 Most Corrupt Members of Congress. Even veterans don’t like him any more – but that’s ok with Sweeney, he likes millioniares more than veterans anyway.

Oh.. and one last resignation – Sweeney Spokeswoman and North Creek resident Maureen Donovan, the former Warren County Development Corp [read scam development corp] leader who seemingly opposes both the rights of women and the electorate. The first volley in the Sweeney Gillibrand campaign was fired by Weeney in May 2006:

“You can’t take a resumé and a pretty face from New York City and say to people this is good for you simply because we can spend a lot of money and raise a lot of money,” Sweeney told the Troy Record.

“Someone should tell John Sweeney that it’s 2006, not 1906,” Former State Democratic Chiar Judith Hope said, adding that “the remarks jumped out at me because I think it’s so inappropriate for the congressman to use. … As a woman in politics, I call on Mr. Sweeney to represent the district and address the issues and provide accountability and some answers.”

What was Donovan’s response?

Sweeney campaign spokeswoman Maureen Donovan fired back that Hope “needs to lighten up a little bit.”

That’s no suprise either. Anyone who’s met Donovan’s husband – who is the notorious owner of Casey’s North bar on Route 28 – can probably already guess what the Donovans think of local Adirondackers, male or female.

We only hope local Adirondackers will remember what Sweeney thinks of them.


Friday, August 4, 2006

A Sweeney News Round-Up

In case you haven’t seen:

Brian’s recent rant on the 20th Congressional District race

Democracy in Albany – “Someone’s lying

From the WFP Blog: “Sweeney misfires

NY Cowboy Looks at “Sweeney’s claims” he’s an upstater

And while we’re at it:

The Green Party of New York State is in petition mode – help out.

And remember these gems?

Sweeney in a bar fight?
Sweeney in a frat party drunken stupor?

Still have doubt? Check out the Washington Post’s Congressional Votes Database (goes back to 1991)


Monday, January 2, 2006

In New York The State of The State is The State of The Adirondacks

We normally keep our post here at the Adirondack Almanack to regional concerns. But it’s time for Governor Pataki’s State of the State Address – and while the Pataki Administration has been piling it high and deep, a more sober assessment, relevant for those of us inside the Blue Line, comes from the People’s State of the State. A rally is planned in Albany for tomorrow to urge New York lawmakers to do something about poverty in New York including its “skyrocketing heating bills, lack of access to affordable quality health care, and high housing costs.”

Some highlights from their press release:

Food lines at food pantries and soup kitchens remain at historically high levels and expect the situation to worsen following federal budget cuts and changes in the federal TANF program.

If we look back in time 25 years, a few of our local churches were beginning closet pantries. Today we have 43 food pantries and 22 soup kitchens in Albany and southern Rensselaer County alone, serving more than 2 million meals each year. Programs do not have the resources to do what they are being asked to do,” noted Lynda Schuyler, Director of the Food Pantries of the Capital District.

Anti-hunger advocates are seeking an increase in state funding for the Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program from $22.8 million to $30 million. State funding is down $2 million from four years ago. Groups are also concerned about Congress’ elimination of all funding for the Community Food Nutrition Program, the main federal funding for anti-hunger organizations.

Unfortunately, there is probably no one monitoring the poverty situation in the Adirondacks (one of the poorest regions in the state) and no visible advocates for working poor families. There’s more here.

Another disturbing trend for our area is the effective elimination of the DEC ability to monitor our environment and deal with corporate polluters and exploiters. From Inside Albany this week we learned that nearly 800 staff positions have disappeared from the agency since the mid-1990s:

[Environmental Committee Chair Thomas DiNapoli, a Nassau county Democrat] invited DEC commissioner Denise Sheehan to answer questions about how the agency was coping with its severely reduced staff. However, she faxed her testimony, saying she was unable to appear. Sheehan gave no reason and didn’t send an assistant commissioner to read her testimony.

DiNapoli asked Assembly staffer Rick Morse to read Sheehan’s statement. It ran down a list of nearly a dozen examples of Governor Pataki’s “leadership” on the environment. They included the governor’s greenhouse gas initiative to cap carbon dioxide emissions. Also on the list were Pataki’s open space acquisitions. He counts 932,00 acres of land toward his goal of preserving a million acres. The statement did not mention the department’s decline in staff.

Not only were the numbers down, [Environmental Advocates] Tim Sweeney said. Governor Pataki’s general hiring freeze combined with early retirement incentives had stripped the agency of valuable knowledge. Valuable expertise and institutional memory had been lost in the retirements. The trend is likely to get worse. A comptroller’s report estimated that 38% of the department’s staff will be retirement-eligible by 2007. About a thousand more could go by then.

Worse indeed. More large scale developments like those at North Creek and Tupper, enormous development pressures on Warren and Essex counties, proposed wind farms in the park, roads being turned over to ATVs, snowmobile trails expanding every year, more visitors every year, all while year round residents deal with a serious lack of affordable housing, generations of local poverty, closing public schools, low-wage tourism jobs – the one state agency that should be taking a lead role on life in the Adirondack Park is asleep at the wheel.

2006 – here we come.


Monday, November 21, 2005

Adirondack Representative John [S]weeney in a Bar Fight?

Even if he wasn’t actually involved in full-blown fist-a-cuffs, this story says something about the kind of man representing [a-hem] us in Washington.

A gossip column in Thursday’s New York Daily News reported Sweeney, R-Clifton Park, took a blow from a Red Sox fan who’d had enough of Sweeney’s pro-Yankees banter one evening earlier this month at Bobby Van’s Steakhouse in Washington, D.C. Sweeney spokeswoman Melissa Carlson flatly denied the report, saying the alleged incident was nothing more than a “heated discussion about Yankees vs. Red Sox.”

Sweeney has been criticized for failing to meet with any of his constituents, and refusing to discuss his (and his party’s) plans for Social Security. Apparently he’s been too busy over the past five years with the much more important “heated discussion about Yankees vs. Red Sox.”

I know one local newspaper editor who no doubt finds it an important and timely debate at a critical time for America.


Thursday, November 10, 2005

In the Adirondacks Even Dead guys Can Win, So Long As They Are Republican

The mainstream media is apparently ignoring the big setbacks Republicans faced in the Adirondacks , New York, and elsewhere, and some are reporting instead on the area’s low voter turnout – then from Chester we get this report of a dead guy winning – “Robert Stetson, who was having lunch at the Deer Crossing restaurant, [said] “They must have voted straight Republican.” Ahh… yeah… they sure must have.

Does it make you wonder how smartly affairs are run in our region? Wonder no more, the Adirondack Council‘s 20th Annual State of the Park Report has been released – enjoy.



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