Upstream. A Mohawk Valley Blogzine.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Upstream Has Moved.

Upstream will no longer be posting to this blog. Please go to our wordpress blog for new posts. Comments are no longer posted on this blog. It may take some time, but eventually we will move all of our links from this blog to the other one.

Monday, January 01, 2007

A Tale Of Two Alans.

“I hurt for Hevesi. I know that many of you are with me on this. I pity those who are not.”--Alan Chartock

Upstream was right. The woman Glenn Heller alleges that Alan Chartock sexually harassed is Karen Perozi-Guistina. Heller did not let the cat out of the bag. A former employee of WAMC, Josh Cohen, left a comment on Upstream, stating that he was the person who left an anonymous comment recently on Glen Heller’s blog stating that Guistina was the alleged victim of Chartock. Furthermore, Cohen says in his comment on Upstream that he personally witnessed Chartock harassing Guistina.

Up until now, the news media have refused to investigate this story, claiming there was a lack of information, among other things. Now, however, we have the name of the woman who allegedly was harassed and paid $20,000 to keep her mouth shut, and we have the name of a man who claims to be a witness of the harassment. With these two new pieces of information, it seems to me that it’s time that the media investigate this story. (A FOIL request for financial records might reveal a $20,000 pay out).

Before I continue, I have to state my usual disclaimers. Other than a few e-mails back and forth and one telephone conversation, I don’t know Glenn Heller. Furthermore, I have no beef with Alan Chartock or WAMC. I listen to WAMC and feel that if the station did not exist, the Capital Region and the Mohawk Valley would be the losers. What I can’t abide is people in power abusing their power. If you have been a regular reader of this blog, I am sure you are aware of that by now.

One problem the media have with the above story is its source--Glenn Heller. They feel that Heller has an axe to grind, therefore, the story is not valid. But that didn’t stop them from covering and investigating State Comptroller Alan Hevesi’s alleged misuse of a state car and driver, even though the story’s source was Hevesi’s political opponent, Chris Callaghan. Talk about having an axe to grind.

Chartock himself discussed the other Alan in a recent Legislative Gazette piece that then appeared on his blog on October 10.

Alan Hevesi is now under tremendous fire for having used state funds to protect and escort his ailing wife. He knows that there is really no excuse for what he did. Rules are rules. Apparently when he was the New York City comptroller, the rules were different. The truth is that his wife is in bad shape and the poor guy has been worried sick over her. Worry, with its accompanying pain and anxiety, can sometimes cloud the reasoning process. Who among us can’t relate? Hevesi has tried to make it better. He has owned up to his mistake and repaid the money that was spent using his personal (not campaign) funds. It’s all made worse because as comptroller, he is the guy responsible for making sure that everyone else in the state plays by the rules. He has done that well and many of the people he caught did not get second chances.

Alan Hevesi has acknowledged his mistake and is desperately trying to move on. His opponent is doing what opponents do. He is trying to beat Hevesi in this election. That’s the nature of the beast. Elections are adversarial events much like trials where the defense and prosecution try to murder one another. The truth is that if you have any dirty laundry you proceed at your own risk. You just have to assume that any past sins will find their way into the public eye. It is refreshing to see gubernatorial and presidential candidates fessing up to having smoked pot in their younger days. Not too long ago, newspaper columnists would have murdered them for less.

I know that newspaper editorial boards are exasperated by this. They like Alan Hevesi, too, and want to endorse him. I think many voters find themselves in the same situation. They wonder how much slack they would be granted if they had found themselves in a similar mess. Now what should have been a runaway election victory for Hevesi will be a closer race. We’ll have to see what happens and what new developments emerge. But assuming it stops here and no new entanglements emerge, my bet is that Hevesi still manages to win in this Democratic tsunami year. But I do admit, from a personal point of view, my heart is heavy. The tabloids may love this stuff but I hate it.

I agree with Chartock’s assessment. I too pity Hevesi. I don’t believe he should do prison time if ever indicted and found guilty. On the other hand, I don’t think he should be our State Comptroller.

Do I pity Chartock? Not at the moment. But should the media ever investigate Chatock’s alleged sexual harassment and should Chartock ever come under the same pressure that Hevesi is now facing, I will pity him.

I’ve always found it hard not to pity the hare when the hounds are on his tail, even if the hare once ran with the hounds.

Note: This post was written on October 30, 2006, but I have dated it a later date. I have done that so the post will remain at the top of this blog. Because I feel that it is time that the media looked more closely at these allegations against Alan Chartock, this post will remain at the top of this blog until I feel it‘s time to move on.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Power Of Political Endorsements.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

We Need More Voters Like Matty N.

What I like about Matty N is that not only is he going to vote today, but he has also carefully thought out whom he is voting for and why.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Symposium Misses Chance To Fully Explore Herman Melville.

Note: The following article, which appeared in The Sunday Gazette on October 29, 2006, grew out of an earlier post that I wrote for this blog.

Nineteenth-century American author, Herman Melville, has a strong connection to the Capital District, but the Capital District has not capitalized on that connection like Pittsfield, Massachusetts has (where Melville spent the bulk of his creative years). Melville moved to Albany when he was ten years old. While there, he attended the Albany Academy for several months. Two years later, after his father died, his mother rented a house in Lansingburgh where the family of seven lived for the next nine years. While in Lansingburgh, Melville attended the Lansingburgh Academy, taught school and published his first writing, “Fragments From A Writing Desk,” in The Democratic Press And Lansingburgh Advertiser. Melville left Lansingburgh in 1839 but returned in 1843. During the winter of 1844-45, he worked on his first novel “Typee” in an attic room overlooking the Hudson River.

The Albany Academies are attempting to rectify Melville’s obscurity in the Capital Region by hosting a Why Melville Matters conference from November 17-19, 2006. Co-sponsor of the symposium is The Center for Humanities, Arts, and TechnoSciences (CHATS), State University of New York at Albany, and the event will bring together scholars, artists, historians, and others to discuss Melville through panels and the presentation of papers.

I applaud the Academies’ efforts to bring Melville to our attention. One of the events of the conference is a twenty-four hour reading of Moby Dick, which Pulitzer Prize winning Albany author, William Kennedy, will begin and which Albany Academy alumnus, Andy Rooney, will end. Moby Dick, thought by many scholars and readers to be the great American novel, is well worth reading and any activity that encourages people to read the book is worth doing.

I do have some concerns about the symposium, however--not so much about what it is including, but what it is excluding. According to the academies, Melville matters because “The questions he posed are the same issues that inspire contemporary writers, artists, and thinkers today—the vexed relations between humans and their environment, racial and social injustices, capital punishment, psychological alienation, and the new frontiers of science and globalism.”

Lists of suggested paper topics include Melville and environmentalism, Melville the ultimate eco-tourist, Melville and Pedagogy, Gender and queer studies: approaches to Melville’s short fiction, racial and social issues in Melville’s fiction, Melville and Science, cetology and herpetology, etc.

It doesn’t seem to matter to the supporters of this conference that the questions Melville posed most, especially but not exclusively in Moby Dick, were theological. Is God good or is he malignant? Does God exist? Do men and women truly have free will or is everything predetermined? Why do good things happen to bad people? Are people essentially good or are they basically evil?

Moby Dick has several hundred Biblical names, quotations and allusions, the first one showing up in the third word of its famous opening--”Call me Ishmael.” Ishmael, according to the Bible, is the first Arab and the ancestor of Muhammad. The Koran reveres Ishamel as a great prophet. These facts along with the chapter called The Ramadan could lead to a discussion of Melville and Islam. Now there’s relevance.

A brief sampling of Melville‘s comments on religion, either directly or through the mouth of a character in one of his books include "That greatest real miracle of all religions, the Sermon on the Mount." and “...all good Christians believe that any minute the last day may come, and the terrible combustion of the entire planet earth.” He once said, in an oft repeated quote, “That Calvinistic sense of Innate Depravity and Original Sin, from whose visitations, in some shape or another, no deeply thinking mind is always and wholly free....“

The absence of religion from the symposium is not only curious because of Melville’s obsession with it, but because when Melville attended the Albany Academy, while it was not a religious academy, religion was part of the curriculum. Depending on what department you were enrolled in, you were required to take courses in religious history, natural theology and evidences of Christianity.

On the other hand, the absence of a discussion of Melville and religion in the upcoming symposium is not completely surprising. Having graduated from the University at Albany’s bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in English, I know first hand how thoroughly secularized most English scholars are. It’s not that there is a conspiracy to avoid discussing a writer’s relation to religion, it’s just that the concept of God is so remote to the thinking of most academics, that it gets marginalized in most literary discussions.

Anyway, some good will come out of this symposium, even if Melville’s life long quest to resolve religious issues raised during his religious upbringing has been relegated to the category of irrelevant.

Maybe hearing parts of Moby Dick read aloud will inspire some people to read the novel for the first time, and they can decide for themselves if Melville thought Ishamel and Queequeg were a gay couple, or if Starbuck had survived the sinking of the Pequod, whether or not he would have been the founder of Greenpeace, instead of lending his name to a coffee company.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

"If one is forever cautious, can one remain a human being?"

From The First Circle by Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

Friday, November 03, 2006

An Epidemic Of Stupidity.

Stupidity is the leading epidemic in America. Take the Schenectady DA’s office as an example. Yesterday, The Daily Gazette reported that a man entered a house unlawfully in order to steal copper pipe. He took a mentally handicapped teenager in with him. He was caught and arrested. He was not arrested for trespassing or attempted theft but for child endangerment because the house had no electricity. Following that logic, the Montgomery County DA would be obligated to arrest every Amish parent in the county.

My daughter came home from school yesterday and said that if you get caught throwing a snowball on school grounds, you get suspended for a day for the first offense and for each additional offense you get longer and longer suspensions. Over in Massachusetts, a school has outlawed tag on school grounds because it is dangerous and creates liability issues. If we keep denying kids wholesome ways of having fun, we should not be surprised if they end up experimenting with unwholesome and even more dangerous ways of having fun.

My last example of stupidity is the Times Unions refusal to publish a woman’s obituary because it violated the TU’s guidelines.

Here is the original wording that the TU objected to.

"She left strict instructions that there be no schmaltzy sentimentality of mourning, urging that in lieu of expressions of grief people should send urgent messages to their legislators to force U.S. signing of the Kyoto Protocol, then vote in such a way as to send Bush a strong message of disgust with his policies and politics."

Here is the same portion after The TU edited it.

"she left strict instructions ... urging that in lieu of expressions of grief, people who wish to remember her continue to support the Kyoto Protocol and oppose the Bush Administration."

So instead of publishing the obituary, the TU turned their refusal into a news story, then allowed the woman’s minister to publish the original obituary on his TU blog. The TU managed to cover all bases here. They stuck to their policy by refusing to publish the obituary, but at the same time they can claim they are still advocates of free speech by allowing the reverend to publish it on his blog, and to boot they got a news story out of the whole thing.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

One Year & Still Blogging. Part 3

I often ask myself, “Why do I keep blogging?” I can hardly justify the time I spend doing it, when I have so much else to do. Efforts to reduce my blogging to three days a week haven’t worked. That’s just not me. It’s either all or nothing.

There’s no money in it, no fame and who am I anyway to broadcast my opinions to the world.

Blogging is not just writing my blog, but it’s reading other blogs as well. And to understand why I keep doing both, you have to understand the place where I live. I love Montgomery County--it’s rural, it’s beautiful, it has lots of history. But it is also a vast cultural, artistic, literary and intellectual wasteland.

The blogging community that I am part of has become some sort of virtual salon for me--an unorganized, on-line club of sorts for people who are interested in the same things I am--politics, literature, history, art, film, historic preservation, family, religion, justice, education, etc.

The attitude of a lot of people in Montgomery County toward the things I care about can be summed up in the following anecdote. I called a man to come give me an estimate on installing a new septic system. The first thing he said when he walked into our pre-Revolutionary War, post and beam house, was, “If Ida bought this place, I woulda bulldozed it and put up a doublewide.”

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

One Year & Still Blogging. Part 2.

Yesterday I wrote about the high points of my first year of blogging. Today I want to point out the low points. Most disappointing to me has been the failure to establish a communal blog, representing many voices in the Mohawk Valley, not just mine. I have come across a number of blogs to which two or more people make contributions on a regular basis, but for some reason I have not been successful in my attempts to create that kind of blog.

(My offer is still open to any current or former Mohawk Valley resident who would like to contribute occasionally or regularly to this blog. Contact me at if you are interested.)

Another low point is knowing that some of my posts are not up to snuff. Its hard to always produce quality posts if you blog everyday or almost everyday.

My single date records for number of visitors have also been disappointing, not because the numbers were low, but because so few of those people have become regular readers. After a one day record of 7,087 visitors to my wordpress blog, I am down to 200+ a day. Even then I can’t be sure I am actually getting that many visitors because I am not sure how wordpress compiles statistics. My blogspot blog had a high of more than 1400 visitors in one day, but now is averaging 60 visitors a day.

It’s disappointing that even now, months after the trial is over, more people come to Upstream to read about Chris Porco than any other topic. It’s not that the Porco Trial was unimportant, but so much else that I’ve written about is more important. I wish I could get the same number of people interested in reading about and preserving the Ingersoll-Stanford Home in Niskayuna. (I will be writing more about that in a few days).

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

One Year & Still Blogging. Part 1.

It has been a year since I started blogging in earnest. If you look at my archives, you will see that I began blogging in January of 2006, but that was a false start. There are only seven posts during the first three months of 2006. Then I quit, thinking no one was reading it.

I began blogging again at the end of October of 2006 and since that time have written over 400 posts. On May 14, 2006, I wrote a post about why I started blogging in the first place and on January 15, 2006, I wrote a post about why I chose the name Upstream for this blog.

Here are some highlights of my first year of blogging. (Tomorrow, I will look at the low points, followed by a third post on why I continue to blog and where this blog is going in the future.)

The Guardian, one of England’s largest newspapers, picked up and re-published part of a post I wrote on the Amish school shooting in Pennsylvania.

Power Cruising Magazine purchased a photo I took of the flood damage at Lock 10 on The Mohawk River and commissioned me to write a brief article for the magazine.

Ernie Tetrault interviewed me about this blog on his television show.

Thanks to some great sources, Upstream managed to actually publish some news, rather than just comment on the news. Our series on New York State Department of Corrections Officials misuse of their positions of authority is one example. Here is one post from that series.

I learned how to add photgraphs to the blog, most of them original, not stolen from other web sites.

Wrote a series of posts on Ralph Tortorici. This is one of my favorite series. Here’s one post from the series.

One of the most satisfying aspects of blogging is to be recognized by other bloggers, especially other Upstate New York bloggers. Thanks go to Albany Eye, Albany Lawyer, CNY Underground, Chris Rooney, Dave Lucas, Fault Lines, I-Saratoga, The Judge Report, Mohawk Valley View, NCO Blog, Northview Diary, Roman Hokie, The Troy Polloi and York Staters (hope I haven’t missed anyone) for recognizing the existence of Upstream at one time or another during the year.

Upstream had a one day record of 7,087 visitors to our wordpress blog site when I was posting about the Chris Porco Trial. Tomorrow, I will explain why this was a failure.

We had a one day record of 1,400+ visitors to our blogspot blog when I posted the now infamous Muslim cartoons. Tomorrow, I will explain why this was a failure.

Finally, I am happy that Metroland did not recognize Upstream as the area’s best blog. I’m inclined to think that it was in the pages of Metroland, not on the internet, that the Capital Region Skin Flute Band, which practiced regularly in the Macy’s restroom in Colonie until they were recently disbanded by the Colonie Police, found each other.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

And The Beat Goes On.

"I’m not a beatnik. I’m a Catholic"--Jack Kerouac.

(From the New York Times obituary of Jack Kerouac).

Friday, October 27, 2006

When The Big Cheese Is Away, The Mice Will Play.

Update: The link in the last paragraph was to a bogus Glenn Heller blog, created by someone who obviously does not like him. The blog disappeared off the internet, shortly after this post appeared.

We wrote once before about WAMC employees vandalizing Wikipedia entries while at work. WAMC employees continue to work on Alan Chartock’s Wikipedia entry from the studios of WAMC.

On Oct 10 from 6:05-6:06pm, someone using a computer with IP address was working on Alan Chartock’s bio. Click here to see what organization this IP address belongs to.

On Aug. 15 from 1:13-1:22pm, on Aug. 16 from 3:29-3:30pm, and on Aug. 23 from 5:44-6:12pm someone using a computer with IP address was working on Alan Chartock’s biography on Wikipedia. Click here to see what organization this IP address belongs to.

Upstream has been unable to determine whether or not a WAMC employee created this blog.



Arcadia Publishing has just released its Images of America Series book on Amsterdam. It contains 128 pages of old photographs of Amsterdam. I have a number of copies on order that should be here in a day or so. I am offering them at a 10% discount on my website. Just enter the word upstream in the coupon box when you check out, and you will get the discount.

Order a copy of Amsterdam by Kelly Farquhar Yacobucci.


I also have copies of Kelly Yacobucci’s Images of America Series on Montgomery County, New York. Again if you enter the word upstream in the coupon box, you can get a 10% discount.

If you want to order both books, you can get 15% off by entering upstream15 in the coupon box.

Order a copy of Montgomery County by Kelly Farquhar Yacobucci.

Arcadia Publishing has published Images of America Series on most New York State counties, towns and cities. E-mail me at if you are interested in obtaining copies of other titles. These books make great Christmas, Hanukah, and Winter Solstice presents.

If you don’t want either of these books, you can still get a discount on other books by entering upstream in the coupon box for an order of $19.95 or more to get 10% off or upstream15 to get 15% off on any order of $39.90 or more.

Coupon offers valid through December 25, 2006.

Shipping starts at $2.50.

Gift cards available.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Bill Clinton Visits Upstate New York.

Bill Clinton Visits Upstate New York.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Rensselaer County DA's Office Faces 52 Million Dollar Lawsuit.

I told you the other day that I thought the Rensselaer County DA’s office was about to be sued. I was right. Attorney Warren Redlich is holding a press conference today to announce a 52 million dollar lawsuit against Patrica DeAngelis’s office for “malicious prosecution and wrongful extradition” of Jeremy Phillips, a former Pittsfield resident who was arrested for allegedly stealing from his Rensselaer County employer.

Mr. Phillips spent 28 days in a Chicago jail before being extradited to New York State. A Rensselaer County grand jury recently refused to indict Mr. Phillips.

More details about the lawsuit and Mr. Phillips experiences with the Rensselaer County DA’s office will be forthcoming at the press conference. I was hoping to go to the conference, but I have to take my car to the garage this morning. If you are in the media, the press conference is being held at Attorney Redlich’s law offices at 255 Washington Avenue Ext. #108 in Albany at 10:00 this morning.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A Rape Is A Rape Is A Rape.

I wish the fourteen year old girl who was raped by seven men in Schenectady could get the same press coverage as the University at Albany co-ed who was raped by three men. Both are horrible stories, but I guess when you are a fourteen year old runaway, you don’t count as much.

Besides your fourteen year old friends haven’t learned how to get press coverage by holding protests, how to talk about the culture of rape in group homes or the lack of security in group homes or how the New York State Office of Children and Family Services has failed to respond to parents’ concerns about lack of security in adolescent group homes and adolescent treatment facilities.

Shame on the media for not even reporting the name of the group home the fourteen year old ran away from and for failing to delve into the constraints put on group home workers (i.e. they are not allowed to restrain teens when they attempt to run away).

Then there are the secure facilities where adolescents can’t run away, but they are still subjected to sexual abuse. Human Rights Watch recently did an expose on these facilities, focusing on Tryon School in Fulton County.

Human Rights Watch lit into New York State’s Office of Children and Family Services in their report on secure adolescent facilities. It’s time an investigation was done into the way the Office oversees group homes and residential treatment facilities.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Blogging For Congress, Nasty Comments & Did Alan Chartock Sexually Harass Karen Perozi Guistina.

One New York Congressional candidate is blogging instead of running for congress.

The same candidate was subjected to a nasty comment on Capitol Confidential’s blog which claims that it moderates all comments. I‘d hate to read comments on their blog if they didn‘t moderate them. Here‘s the comment.

“Redlich why don’t you take your sorry butt and comments over to the 21st CD Blog.
Oh that’s right, there isn’t one!!

Gestapo On Patrol”

Speaking of nasty comments on blogs. Glen Heller, Alan Chartock’s nemesis, does not moderate comments on his blog. The comments left there don’t say much for the level of intelligence and decorum on the part of Chartock’s supporters. While I am still somewhat baffled by Heller’s seeming obsession with Chartock, I am also baffled by the level of hatred that Chartock’s supporters express toward Heller.

Here is a sampling of comments by Chartock supporters:

“You are a true wingnut.”

“On the whole your ramblings seem nonsensical and deranged. You probably need some kind of psychological help in all honesty as I don't see how anyone could spend so much time on a misguided and futile task.”

“no posts lately...maybe this asshole has finally gotten a life.”

“"Comming"? Nice spelling, ass pirate.”

“Get your muck straight before you rake it, loser.”

“Who is running this site, Rush Limbaugh? Take some Oxycontin (sic)and shut up.”

People often leave comments to a post many months later. These often don’t get read. Sometimes its fun to go to an old post and look at the more recent comments. Here is an interesting comment posted on Glenn Heller’s blog by an anonymous person on Oct. 14.

You see most board ops make less then 25K per year, Guistina is another situation, you see he is married to Karen Perozi-Guistina, the former fund drive director that Alan Chartock sexualy harassed, she threatened a lawsuit and Chartock (WAMC) settled out of court by paying her some part of her annual pay.

So it becomes logical that Chartock does not dare touch Guistina, should he fire Guistina there would be no reason not to expose the sexual harassment - and that the payoff came via WAMC funds. If this became public via Guistina Chartock would be finished.

So Guistina works the board most mornings, in part to keep him as far away from Chartock as possible, it must be tense for Chartock, knowing full-well if he does not take care of Guistina then the truth about that whole situaton will come out.

For Guistina is is a form of job security, he has the key in his hand and Chartock knows it.

But I've got news, there is much more Chartock is going to be answering to that will make the Guistina-Perozi issue seem minor.

Senior staff of WAMC know full well of Chartock's activities, they are withholding evidence of all kinds of crimes, mostly tax-related, so they might be in for a tough time as well.

Heller has never released the name of the person he claims that Alan Chartock sexually harassed, but hints have been left on his blog by people, including the initials K. P. in one comment. In my opinion this is the most serious charge that Heller has raised against Chartock. If this issue is to ever be resolved, it seems like the person who claims Chartock harassed her should be named, and Chartock should be confronted by her claims. I can’t say with certainty that Karen Perozi Guistina is the person, but all signs seem to point in that direction.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Trish Gets Trashed Again.

Yesterday, New York State’s highest court, The Court of Appeals, ruled that Robert Gorghan, will have to stand trial again in Rensselaer County on rape charges. Gorghan had argued that a second trial would constitute double jeopardy. While Gorghan lost his bid to quash a second trial, the ruling was as much a defeat for Rensselaer County DA Trish DeAngelis as it was for Gorghan. The Court called DeAngelis’s behavior in the first trial “deplorable.”

Chief Justice Judith Kaye begins the decision by stating, “In the context of this troubling case of a trial prosecutor’s misconduct...” and then goes on to state “... the prosecutor continuously flouted these and other rulings by attempting to place excluded evidence before the jury, repeatedly referencing matters not in evidence, making unsupportable assertions and calling upon the jury to draw improper inferences.”

Read the entire ruling.

Here’s another story about the Rensselaer DA’s office that as far as I know did not make the news, but it should have. I found it on Warren Redlich’s blog, and it shows once again why blogs are important.

It seems that due to incompetence on the part of the Rensselaer County DA’s office, a man spent 29 days in jail in Chicago for allegedly stealing from his employer in Rensselaer County. A few weeks ago, a Rensselaer County Grand Jury refused to indict the man, essentially believing he was innocent.

The old saw is that a grand jury can indict a ham sandwich. Redlich explains how easily it is for a grand jury to return an indictment. Alan Dershowitz says in his book Taking Liberties, that normally when a grand jury refuses to indict, it is because the prosecutor doesn’t want the person indicted. In this case, however, the Rensselaer County’s office did want this man indicted. Grand juries rarely go against what a prosecutor wants, so when the grand jury refused to indict Redlich’s client, they were essentially slapping DeAngelis in the face.

Reading between the lines of Redlich’s blog, I see a lawsuit coming up.

Read the original story on Redlich’s blog.

Read the follow-up story.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

How To Say No In Troy.

Here’s a letter from a book published in Troy in 1850. The book is full of model letters that you can use to answer a variety of people in a variety of situations. This letter is a sample of how to say no to a friend who asks to borrow money from you.

Dear Harry, (We changed the name from Jim to Harry to make the letter relevant.)

The fact is, that the poetry of life and the italics of the heart are entirely too etherial in their natures to be associated with the dross of dollars and cents. I go you the poetry and the italics, to the full extent; but I cannot consent to alloy the fine drawn sympathies and feelings of friendship by bringing it in contact with so common-place a matter as money.

Nor can I, dear Harry, when I remember the days of old, believe it would be paid to me in a week.

Yours truly


The title of the book that this letter came from is “American Fashionable Letter Writer, Original And Selected, Containing A Variety Of Letters On Business, Love, Courtship, Marriage, Relationship, Friendship, Etc With Forms Of Complimentary Cards, To The Whole Are Prefixed Directions For Letter Writing, And Rules For Composition.” Published by Merriam, Moore & Co. Troy, NY 1650.

Not only is the title of the book and its contents old fashioned, but letter writing has become old fashioned. Now if we could only get someone to write a book on e-mail etiquette.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Sailors Take Warning.

You didn’t need a meteorologist to tell you it was going to rain all day yesterday. You just had to be up early enough to see the sun come up.

Sunrise in the Mohawk Valley. Oct. 17, 2006

Red Dawn Over Amsterdam, NY Oct. 17, 2006

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Assault Warrant Issued For Schenectady Cop, Darren Lawrence

NEWS10 may have had the exclusive story about a Schenectady police officer’s bizarre crash and fight on the Northway, but they were unable to obtain the officer’s name. One of Upstream’s reliable sources has told us that it is Officer Darren Lawrence. Lawrence was picked up on a felony arrest warrant yesterday afternoon by the Colonie PD. Apparently, Lawrence has a temper and had an altercation with another Schenectady police officer a few weeks ago.

Here is NEWS10’s story:

A Schenectady Police officer is under investigation for his involvement in a bizarre crash on the Northway. NEWS10 has learned that the officer, who was off-duty at the time, could face very serious charges.

This all happened in Colonie, and police there are still trying to sort out exactly what happened.

NEWS10's John McLoughlin has this exclusive story.

It happened early Saturday morning, just north of Watervliet-Shaker Road. The vehicle, with a Schenectady Police officer, and another person inside, struck a guardrail on the Northway, sending the car airborne, then rolling over into a ditch filled with water.
Sources say the two occupants then got into a fight over whether to notify Colonie Police.

Read the rest of the story.

Schenectady’s Police Department has had serious problems for years. We have written about them before. Maybe Schenectady should hire Albany Police Chief, Jim Tuffey, for awhile to straighten things out.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Black Lawn Jockey Rides One Of Pataki's Horses.

The following is an updated and revised version of an earlier post.

I haven’t seen a Black lawn jockey in probably twenty-five years, but I stumbled upon this one on a dead end street in a high class neighborhood in Amsterdam yesterday. Many sites on the internet attempt to dispel the racist, or at least stereotypical, overtones of these statues, but it appears that such attempts are simply part of revisionist history. The cover below of an African-American magazine seems to indicate that at least some Blacks find these statues offensive.


Anyway, I did a little more sleuthing and found that the owner of the house where this lawn jockey is located is Jeffrey Rosenthal, Deputy Counsel in the New York Governor's Office of Regulatory Reform.

The fact that Mr. Rosenthal has this statue on his front lawn does not, in my opinion, make him a racist. He may have bought the urban legend about these statues. In any event, he has the right to display the lawn jockey. On the other hand, I do believe that it shows a lack of propriety for someone who was once an assistant district attorney and judge and who is now an attorney for one of Governor Pataki's offices.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Clarissa Putman's House. Part 1.

Clarissa Putman House. 2003.

This photo shows our house just before we bought it in 2003. It had no working septic, no working furnace, no working well, hadn’t been painted in 35 years, had trees growing into the upstairs windows, etc. This house was built before the American Revolution and was a tenant farm for many years. Locally, it is known as the Clarissa Putman house. Putman was the common-law wife of Sir John Johnson, son of Sir William Johnson. After she bore him two children, he jilted her and married a socialite from New York City. Putman moved out of Old Fort Johnson and to this house where she lived for the next two years. She then moved to Schenectady where she spent the rest of her life.

A historical novel was written about Clarissa Putman by John J. Vrooman, Superintendent of New York State Historic Sites back in the early 1950s. The book, Clarissa Putman of Tribes Hill, has a chapter called "The House on the Fort Hunter Road" which describes the house in detail. Clarissa Putman is buried in Vale Cemetery in Schenectady. Some of her descendants still live in the Mohawk Valley.

Clarissa Putman House. May 30, 2006.

This photo shows the house after we cut down trees and brush, removed the porch, painted the house, changed the roof on the addition (built around 1870) from a shed roof to a regular roof, and re-shingled both roofs.

Clarissa Putman House October 2006

This photo shows the house as it is now. We added two windows on the left to balance the ones on the right. Replaced all the windows on the main house with modern replacement windows meant to look like colonial windows, replaced the windows in the addition to look like windows from that period, replaced the front door, pointed up the foundation, and painted the addition. We are not completely done with the front of the house, but it does show improvement.

Historical preservationists have spent a lot of time and money preserving the homes of wealthy people. I do not have a problem with that, but not enough time and money has been spent preserving the homes of the poor, the working poor, tenant farmers and the like. That is just one reason why I wanted to save this house, which was probably only a year or so away from having to be demolished when we bought it.

I will write more on this project in future posts.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Historic Ingersoll - Stanford House May Be Torn Down.

Ingersoll House In Niskayuna, NY.

Some people, including Niskayuna Town Supervisor Luke Smith, want to tear down this historic home at the corner of Route 5 and Balltown Road in Niskayuna and replace it with Walgreens and other big box stores.

Old Trees Outside The Ingersoll House in Niskayuna, New York.

Supervisor Smith and his supporters want to see these trees cut down and this historic spot covered with blacktop.

At 9:00 a.m. tomorrow (October 14) and at 9:00 a.m. Sunday (October 15), you can watch an interview that Ernie Tetrault did with Linda Champagne about the importance of this home and why it should be preserved.

The home was owned at one time by the family of Leland Stanford, the founder of Stanford University. Read several newspaper articles about the controversy surrounding the plan to destroy this property.

Here is a list of stations that you can watch the interview on:


Thursday, October 12, 2006

It's Time To Debate Legalizing Drugs.

Note: The following article which I wrote appeared in The Sunday Gazette on October 8.

Whatever happened to the War on Drugs? Apparently, it has been replaced by the War on Terrorism. However, two recent events brought the War on Drugs back into focus for me.

The first event was the raid by a Schenectady SWAT team, during which children were handcuffed and terrorized, a pet dog was killed and only a small amount of marijuana was found.

The second event was the arrest in late September of Joseph Flowers, 24, of Rotterdam for robbing several area banks. Flowers told the police that he committed the robberies in order to support his addiction to crack. Normally, when I read about someone who has been arrested for robbing banks or possessing drugs, I immediately forget about it. But this time it was different. I knew the bank robber.

I haven’t seen Joseph (we called him Joey) for quite a few years. When I knew him, he was a somewhat rambunctious, but very loveable kid. My son and Joey were in the same class in school, and they often hung out together. Joey would come to my son’s birthday parties and sometimes stayed overnight.

I can’t tell you why my son is attending college while Joey is sitting in the county lock-up. It’s certainly not because my son had better parents than Joey. Joey had good parents, did not come from a poor family, attended private school for at least part of his education and received moral and religious training. Joey is a warning sign to white, middle-class, suburban America that crack cocaine is not just an inner city, African-American problem.

Both events--the SWAT raid in Schenectady and the arrest of Joseph Flowers are two more pieces of anecdotal evidence to add to the mountain of facts, figures and stories that show that the War on Drugs has failed.

So what is the answer to crack cocaine and our forty year war on illegal drugs? Before I attempt to answer that, I must mention some disclaimers. First, I have never used any illegal drugs. I couldn’t tell a joint from a Virginia Slim. I have never inhaled. Furthermore, I have always supported conservative political candidates who were tough on drugs and have always believed that if we legalized drugs we would be sending the wrong message to our young people.

But my thinking has begun to change. What has changed my thinking is not the ideas of left-wing groups, or even libertarian groups, but the ideas of a small but dedicated group of cops and ex-cops called Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).

LEAP, which was founded only four years ago, already numbers 5,000 members. Those members include judges, sheriffs, prosecutors, parole officers, corrections officers and other law enforcement agents, along with people who are not law enforcement agents but who are concerned about the drug problem in America. Many of the cops and ex-cops involved are or were narcotics officers.
LEAP’s goal is to make drugs legal, but to then control and regulate them. According to LEAP’s website (,

“After nearly four decades of fueling the U.S. policy of a war on drugs with over a trillion tax dollars and increasingly punitive policies, our confined population has quadrupled over a 20-year period making building prisons this nation's fastest growing industry. More than 2.2 million of our citizens are currently incarcerated. In the last five years we have arrested 9 million people for nonviolent drug offenses--far more per capita than any country in the world. The United States has 4.6 percent of the population of the world but 22.5 percent of the world's prisoners. Every year we choose to continue this war will cost the United States another 69 billion dollars. Despite all the lives we have destroyed and all the money so ill spent, today illicit drugs are cheaper, more potent, and much easier to get than they were 36 years ago at the beginning of the war on drugs. Meanwhile, people continue dying in our streets while drug barons and terrorists continue to grow richer than ever before.”

LEAP claims that 80 % of the people who listen to one of their presentations are convinced that legalizing and regulating drugs is the right thing to do, while 14% are unsure. I would have to place myself among the 14%. I want to hear more. I want to hear from both sides. What LEAP has done for me is to make me realize that we should at least debate the issue.

What’s disappointing, however, is the disappearance of the drug problem from political debate. Neither Eliot Spitzer nor John Faso, the two major candidates for Governor of New York State, have had anything to say about illegal drugs and both of their web sites are silent on the subject. The only political candidate I have found who has raised the issue is Warren Redlich, the Republican candidate who is trying to unseat Michael McNulty.

With drugs legal and regulated, would Joey Flower still be on drugs? Would he have robbed four banks to fuel his habit? Would the Schenectady SWAT team have handcuffed children and shot their dog to arrest a young man with a few joints?

We will never know if we never talk about it.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Call Me Melville.


The Albany Academy, where Herman Melville attended for one year, and the Albany Academy for Girls are sponsoring a Why Melville Matters Now symposium. According to the academies, Melville matters because “The questions he posed are the same issues that inspire contemporary writers, artists, and thinkers today—the vexed relations between humans and their environment, racial and social injustices, capital punishment, psychological alienation, and the new frontiers of science and globalism.”

No matter that the questions Melville posed most were theological and philosophical. Is God good or is he malignant? Does man truly have free will or is everything predetermined? Why do good things happen to bad people?

Moby Dick has more than 250 Biblical names, quotations and allusions, the first one showing up in the third word of the opening. Ishmael is supposedly the first Arab and the ancestor of Muhammad. Now there’s relevance.

Anyway, some good will come out of this symposium, even if Melville’s life long quest to resolve religious issues raised during his Calvinistic upbringing has been relegated to the category of irrelevant. There will be a 24 hour reading of Moby Dick and you can get a free T-shirt if you volunteer to read. William Kennedy will be the first reader and the Great White Whale himself, Andy Rooney, another alumnus of the Albany Academy, will be the last reader.

Maybe hearing parts of Moby Dick will inspire some people to read the entire Moby Richard for the first time, and they can decide for themselves if Melville thought Ishamel and Queequeg were a gay couple, or if Starbuck had survived the sinking, whether or not he would have been the founder of Greenpeace, instead of lending his name to a coffee company.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Jockeying To Interpret History.


I haven’t seen a Black lawn jockey in probably twenty-five years, but I stumbled upon this one yesterday in one of Amsterdam's nicer neighborhoods. Many sites on the internet attempt to dispel the racist, or at least stereotypical, overtones of these statues, but it appears that such attempts are simply part of revisionist history. For what it’s worth, I note that the wife of one of Montgomery County’s judges was sitting in the driveway of this house, along with its owner.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Ethel or Fred?


Thursday, October 05, 2006

Kerouac, Ginsberg & friends in New York

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The UK's Guardian & The Amish School Shooting in PA.

The British were back in the Mohawk Valley yesterday, not getting their butts beat as they did when they were here two centuries ago, but reading my post, Amish Paradise Lost: An Open Letter To President Bush. The Guardian, once known as the Manchester Guardian and winner of the British Press Awards National Newspaper of the Year 2006, reprinted part of my post in a Newsblog post, Shots Through A Community’s Heart, written by James Sturcke.


Jim Wild, convenor of the Men's Studies Unit at Nottingham Trent University, wrote in yesterday‘s Guardian that the Amish school shooting had something to do with our failure to debate masculinity. I don‘t agree with Mr. Wild, but his article is worth reading.

In any event, The Amish school shooting was The Guardian’s number two story of the day yesterday, and it was intriguing to see how the Brits view and interpret news stories about the United States.