Upstream. A Mohawk Valley Blogzine.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Memorial Day Tribute and Dedication

Monday I attended the dedication and tribute held at the Green Hill Cemetery in Amsterdam and thought I'd share a couple of photos. I have to say that of all the cemetery's that I have been in (there are a number of them) the Green Hill is by far the one that I like the best.

Above is Peter Betz, Fulton County Historian and Green Hill Cementery Association Board Trustee. Notice the remnants of the old Kellogg & Miller Linseed Oil buildings in the background.

Notice at the top of the plaque in the circle is the Sanford Monument gates that are on Church Street at the front of the original entrance.

The Post 701 Vets "wrapping" it up by the Spanish-American War Memorial.

Not sure about the above shot.

Again not sure about the above shot.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Bad Hair Day In Montgomery County

First a tractor trailer rolls over in Amsterdam. Then a train derails in Tribes Hill and they evacuate part of the village. Then from 4:00p.m. to 7:30p.m. we got hit by one thunderstorm after another and it rained lions and elephants.

Now my phone is out so I am posting from my brother-in-law's house.

None of this bothered me much, but about an hour ago, I kept hearing rustling noises near the ceiling in our livingroom. Then my wife saw the cat staring intently at the ceiling. Then my wife spotted an Eastern Milk Snake hanging from the ceiling.

I'll be sleeping with the light on tonight. I'm a chicken when it comes to snakes.

Anyway, I may not post tomorrow because I can't use my computer.

Tractor Trailer Tips Over Coming Off Of The Mohawk River Bridge In Amsterdam.

These photos may represent the kind of story that Mark McGuire of The Times Union says local television stations are spending too much time on. But I couldn’t resist taking these this morning while taking my wife to work. The nice thing about posting these on the internet is that there is still plenty of room to post about other things. When television news people chose to report one story, it means something else gets left out.
This accident took place this morning. A tractor trailer flipped over on the exit ramp from Route 30 to Route 5 in Amsterdam.




Sometimes 6+9+10+13=0.

This post has been gestating in my mind for weeks, but before it was born, Mark McGuire of The Times Union said what I wanted to say and said it well. So read his column on the vapidity of news coverage by the Capital District’s television stations, and pretend I wrote it.

McGuire’s problem with local television news broadcasts:

Watched in bulk, the locked-in format of Monday's news product from the news-weather-news-sports-weather construction to the stories covered became numbing. Worse, these reports told me little of value about who we are and how we live.

McGuire’s Cure:

The cure for what plagues the local nightly newscast is painfully clear, even if all the ingredients remain hazy.

Blow it up, the whole hackneyed, predictable format. Scrap it entirely and start over.

I don’t want to steal anymore from McGuire, but I would like to add something to what he wrote.

It concerns the posts I wrote on New York State’s Department of Correctional Services. The detailed investigator’s notes, time sheets and video that I drew from to write these posts, were offered to two local television stations last year, and they decided not to use them. (If you didn’t read the posts, here they are.)

Why not? I don’t know for sure, but it’s probably because they weren’t “sexy” enough. If the photos had shown two cleaning personnel having sex on top of a desk in the Corning Tower, as happened many years ago, no doubt the material would have been used, even though such a story does not impact us in the way that State officials abusing their privileges does.

As McQuire wrote:

What matters to us? What can make us better/safer/smarter/healthier citizens? Sure, this is the focus of some stories. It should be the mantra behind entire newscasts.

That may mean passing on some juicy footage, or even a decent crime story But, but ... we have video of the perp walk!! and digging deeper into given stories that actually matter in our lives. Story counts (the number of stories aired) are less important than stories that count.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Albany Eye Survey Results.

If you knew the identity of Albany Eye, which of the following would you do?

Post It On Your Blog Or Website 11.5%

Keep It A Secret. 65.4%

Blackmail Him. 3.8%

Tell His Employer. 0%

Other. 19.2%

Here are individual responses from those who selected "other."

"Why would I care?"


"Hunt him down and kill him."

"just tell me. lol"

"I would ask why it is necessary for his identity to remain so secret. It's not as if he reports anything of such a critical nature that secrecy is required. I mean his stuff is basically just gossip. My original impression was that the 'guy' was a 15-year-old out for some anonymous fun."

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Saratoga Dressage Festival.

We went to the Saratoga Dressage Festival yesterday. If you don’t like horses there are plenty of other things to see and do--rides, dog agility contests, vendors, antique auto show, etc.

Click on photos for larger image.

riderspractice Contestants practicing.

maxi A Shire sire, not yet full grown.

mini Miniature horse, fully grown.

DCFC0005 Lama Mama.

DCFC0047 Leapin' Lamas.

DCFC0009 Our friend Dan from Broadalbin. Brought along Plato, in case he got bored.

Learn more about dressage.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Tribes Hill Village Wide Garage Sale.

We went to the village wide garage sale yesterday in Tribes Hill, a small town about halfway between Amsterdam and Fonda. Everyone came home with a pile of stuff that the previous owner realized he shouldn’t have bought. Next year we will realize that we shouldn’t have bought it either, and we will sell it at our own garage sale.

I didn’t buy much--two milk bottles from Skiff’s Dairy and a booklet from New York Telephone Company, How To Use Your Dial Telephone in Amsterdam.

I see the Amish out and about more and more. This is the first time, I’ve seen them at garage sales.


Friday, May 26, 2006

The Good News & The Bad News.

The good news is that three years ago on Memorial Day weekend, I took my wife to the emergency room at St. Mary’s Hospital in Amsterdam and she is still alive. She was diagnosed with third stage, primary peritoneal cancer, a cancer that once it starts behaves just like ovarian cancer. After surgery and seven months of chemotherapy and a year out of work, she fully recovered. So far there has been no sign of the disease returning.

The bad news is that my oldest brother (56 years old) went in for surgery yesterday. He knew going in that either he had lung cancer or pulmonary fibrosis. He called me last night to say that the doctors confirmed he has pulmonary fibrosis. That’s better than lung cancer, but not much better. It means his lungs are all scarred and that his ability to breathe will get worse and worse. He is a non-smoker, so they are not sure how he got it. He is going to be placed on a list for a lung transplant. The prognosis is one to five years. I only hope my brother beats the odds as my wife has.

It came to me yesterday, that coming from a family of thirteen surviving siblings (one sister died of colon cancer), all of us now between the ages of 38-62, that one down side to such a large family is the number of times over the years I am going to get these kind of phone calls.

It’s not something I look forward to.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Here's The Rest Of The Story.

Several weeks ago I wrote about a couple who was suing Montgomery County over an autopsy performed on their son, against their religious beliefs. At the time, I was wondering where the rest of the story was. Thanks to a reader, here is the rest of the story.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY -- An Orange County couple who sued Montgomery County for performing an autopsy on their son against their objections on religious grounds has been awarded $84,000 by a jury.

Following a four-day trial before state Supreme Court Justice Joseph M. Sise, a jury spent just over two hours deliberating Thursday before finding in favor of Marc and Karen Lee of Chester.

The Lees voiced objections prior to an autopsy on their son, Alexander Lee, who was 19 when he died after a June 10, 2001, plunge into the Canajoharie Creek falls in Wintergreen Park.

The Lees, who are Jewish, said an autopsy violates their religious beliefs."

I feel that we accomplished our purpose because, pretty much, I was reassured by a number of people that there will never, ever again be an unauthorized autopsy in Montgomery County," said Karen Lee, Alexander Lee's mother.

The Lees had sought $2 million in compensation and $2 million in punitive damages in their suit.

"Nothing is going to take it back, but at least we could stop it from happening in the future," Karen Lee said Friday.

To Our Amish Readers.


10. Sometimes stays in bed till after 5:00AM.

9. In his sock drawer, you find pictures of women without bonnets.

8. Shows up at barn raisings in full "Kiss" makeup.

7. When you criticize him, he yells, "Thou sucketh!"

6. His name is Jebediah, but he goes by "Jeb Daddy."

5. Defiantly says, "If I had a radio, I'd listen to rap!"

4. When he talks about a hoe or a weed, the only one who understands him is the fresh air kid that’s staying for the summer.

3. He says things like, “Talk to the hand, cause the beard ain't listening."

2. Was recently pulled over for "driving under the influence of butter milk."

1. He wears his straw hat backwards.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Admirable Yamamoto & Rocky Balboa.

I only taught one time and that was as an adjunct English instructor at Fulton-Montgomery Community College (FMCC) in Johnstown. (More about that experience in a future post). One of my favorite students in my Freshman English II class was Michiko Yamamoto. Michiko, who grew up near Mt. Fuji in Japan, put everything she had into the class and spent hours in the writing lab improving her English skills. It wasn’t difficult to give Michiko an A in the class while giving Ds and Fs to some students who grew up speaking English.

Michiko was an art student and held her first art exhibit at the now defunct cyber cafe on Main Street in Amsterdam. My wife and I attended the exhibit, and while I am not an expert in art, I saw promise in Michiko’s work and purchased four paintings.

Michiko went from FMCC to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), where she has received many awards. They include The Pennsylvania Governor's Award, The Alexander Prize, The Benjamin Lanard Memorial Award, and The Color Woodcut Purchase Prize. Her work has improved greatly while attending there. You can view some of her work on her blog.

You can also view some photos of her with Sylvester Stallone.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Go Google Yourself!

This morning I decided to google myself.

I found a lot of information about other guys with the same name. I also found a lot of outdated information about my business. On the other hand, I rediscovered a letter I had written to The New York Times Book Review in 1996.

I also discovered for the first time that a letter I wrote to The Village Voice was published.

Then I googled some of my relatives and if you don’t mind my bragging, I found some great stuff.

In a front page article in last Sunday’s Greensboro’s News-Record, my brother Mike speaks out on the dismantling of mental health care in North Carolina, after a man in his support group committed suicide.

My nephew Danny Phillips works to foster better understanding of the mentally ill in the criminal justice system.

My brother Paul has been fighting on behalf of the mentally ill in Kentucky for years.

My sister Martha Phillips has taken a lot of heat for being a Southern Baptist preacher. Here is what one group said about her.

First, the statement, while biblically true, is not binding on the churches and is therefore nearly meaningless. There are roughly 1,600 "clergywomen" in Southern Baptist congregations, and this statement will have little or no affect on them. Of these, about 100 are pastors. For example, the interim pastor at Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Arlington, Virginia, where Vice President Al Gore is a member, is a woman. Her name is Martha Phillips, and she demonstrated her open disobedience to the Scriptures when she commented to the press as follows: "I don't want to be a youth minister or a music minister. I want to lead a congregation. I think I’ve been called to do it. And if you’re called by God, you’re called by God. I don't see how they can say because you’re a woman, you can’t be" ("Southern Baptists Vote to Ban Female Pastors," Washington Post, June 15, 2000). Pastor Phillips’ authority is her feelings rather than the Bible. This is apostasy.

Read one of her sermons.

My brother-in-law Dan Phillips, after working for the government for more than 35 years is now co-pastor with my sister. He is attending Seminary. Here is one of his sermons when he was still a layman.

Want to learn more about yourself, or your family. Just google yourself.

Technorati Tag:

Farenheit 451. Books As An Alternative Fuel Source.


Here in the Mohawk Valley it was down near 40 degrees yesterday morning. Indoors it was only in the 50s. Being near the end of the heating season, I am low on fuel, so I scrounged up some lumber scraps, a little bit of coal the former owner of this house had left behind and some books and managed to keep warm.

The Color Purple in the above photo does not come from the book with that title but from a National Geographic Atlas of the Fifty States.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Saratoga Supervisors Pass Worthless Sex Offender Legislation.

Note: This article of mine appeared in The Sunday Gazette on May 14.

Now that the Supervisors of Saratoga County have passed a law restricting sex offenders from living or working within 1000 feet of where children congregate, are they going to pass a law restricting paroled bank robbers from living or working within 1000 feet of a bank? Would such a law stop someone from robbing a bank? Will the law that Saratoga County just passed really keep sex offenders from harming children?

Before some neo-con writes a knee-jerk letter to the editor calling me a bleeding-heart liberal for writing this opinion piece, let me state what should not have to be stated, “I have no sympathy for sex offenders.” Indeed, sex offenders who kill should get the death penalty, and I believe that some repeat offenders who haven’t killed should still get the death penalty. I also believe in longer sentences for sex offenders.

Furthermore, a registered, level three, violent, sex offender lives just down the road from me. If Montgomery County where I live, were to pass the same legislation as Saratoga County, this guy would not have to move as there are no schools, playgrounds, etc. within 1000 feet of his house. I still have one child living at home and there are a number of children who live on our road, but this legislation would not protect them.

In spite of my disclaimer, I believe we are in the middle of a hysteria concerning sex offenders, which has not only resulted in many innocent people, like Jack Carroll of Troy, being incarcerated for crimes they did not commit, but we have lawmakers passing inane legislation that does not adequately address the problem and that results in the waste of scarce but valuable resources. Lawmakers are grandstanding for the electorate. Sexual predators are an easy target. As I heard a guy say on the radio the other day, “There is no pro sex offender lobby.“ It’s not that politicians shouldn’t pass laws about sex offenders, but they should pass laws that really work.

How is Saratoga County’s new legislation going to stop predators from preying on our children? Two of the most notorious cases of sex offenders committing crimes that I can remember involved men traveling here from out of state. In 1993 Lewis Lent drove 124 miles from Massachusetts to Frankfort, New York to abduct and murder 12 year old Sarah Anne Wood as she rode down a country road on her bicycle. John Regan of Waterbury, Connecticut was in Saratoga temporarily, working at a relative’s construction site, when he attempted to kidnap a Saratoga High School student. Saratoga’s new law will do nothing to prevent such incidents from happening again.

When I look at a map of Saratoga County, it looks to me like this law discriminates against rural people. There is hardly a village, town or city in Saratoga County where a sex offender will be able to live because almost all of them have schools, churches, swimming pools and other places where kids congregate. That means most of the offenders will end up living on country roads. Who is more at risk of assault by a sex offender: a kid attending school with hundreds of other kids or a little girl riding her bike alone down a country road?

When a sex offender registers in Saratoga County, is the county going to give him or her a color coded map, showing him or her where they can live? Are the 1000 feet as a crow flies or when you come to an obstacle, do you measure around it? Exactly how distance should be measured from schools has already been an issue in the state courts with the Drug Free School Zone laws, which are similar to Saratoga’s new law in that they result in penalties for people who deal drugs within so many feet of a school. (By the way, The Daily Gazette recently carried an article which said that the Drug Free School Zone laws are not working. I expect a similar article in a few years on Saratoga County’s new Sex Offender Free School Zone law.)

Saratoga’s new law will be expensive to enforce. The $250 fine for a first time offense will not even begin to cover the cost of investigating and prosecuting a first time offender. It seems to me that money could be better spent elsewhere. For example, many experts believe that there is a strong connection between child pornography and sex offenses against children. We need legislation that would give stiffer sentences to the makers and purveyors of child pornography, thus possibly preventing children from being molested. We need to spend more money on halting the child pornography trade.

We need to spend more money on researching why these monsters do what they do, so we can prevent potential offenders from even committing their first offense. Simply passing legislation that will move registered sex offenders from one location to another within a county might make a few people few safer. It won’t make the thinking person feel any safer because this legislation does nothing to prevent their children from being preyed upon.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Da Vinci Code, Moby Dick Code, Bible Code & Ad Nauseum Codes.

Finding some sort of code in any piece of writing is much like finding a cow in a haystack.

There’s The Koran Code.

The Bible Code.

The Shakespeare Code.

The Moby Dick Code.

The War And Peace Code.

There is even a code in the employee manual of the New York State Department of Correctional Services. I found at least one message, which I have hi-lighted by using upper case letters. Maybe you will find others.

2.10 Alcoholic beveraGes. An empLoyEe of the departmeNt shall Not consume or possess alcoholic beveraGes while On duty status nOR shall any employee report for Duty unDer the influence of intOxiCantS.

Was this a prediction of what happened on May 3 in Lake Placid?

Many Christians have overreacted to The Da Vinci Code. Some of those protesting The Da Vinci Code movie were pushing The Bible Code just a few years ago.

The press release issued by Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, of the Albany Diocese, represents a more moderate reaction. He said,

Author Dan Brown has stated repeatedly that his novel, "The Da Vinci Code," is a work of fiction. Hence his book and the movie based upon it should be seen for precisely what it is, a work of fiction. While The Da Vinci Code has become a cultural phenomenon, it is also filled with inaccuracies, exaggerations and embellishments which have been refuted by a wide range of renowned scholars well versed in history, the arts, scripture and theology. Also its underlying premise is false and offensive to many Christians. Hopefully anyone who reads The Da Vinci Code or sees the film will view it through this lens.

While I am not a Roman Catholic, I do agree with Bishop Hubbard's assessment. However, my own concern is not that the faithful will lose their faith because of reading or viewing The Da Vinci Code. My concern is the loss of reason on the part of anyone who believes in The Da Vinci Code, The Bible Code, The Moby Dick Code or any similar code.

By the way, when I went to and clicked on The Da Vinci Code tag, my computer immediately rebooted. I suppose if I believed in the Da Vinci Code or The Bible Code that might mean something. However, along with the many other things my computer has been doing lately, it simply means I need a new computer.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Albany Eye Survey.

Here at Upstream, we believe we have ascertained the identity of Albany Eye and have conclusive proof of that identity. However, we are not going to divulge the information for two reasons. One, Albany Eye has been good to us, and it would be unethical on our part to divulge such information. Secondly, we enjoy Albany Eye's posts and want to see his blog remain on the net.

We have never done a survey before, so here is our first. The question is "What would you do if you knew the identity of Albany Eye?"

You can only answer the survey once. The survey will close after we get 50 responses or one week from today, whichever comes first. Results of the poll will be published when it closes.

Click here to take survey

A Penny's Worth Of Thoughts On The Porco Case & Other Topics.

If Christopher Porco didn’t kill his father, Peter Porco, and almost kill his mother, then I don’t know who did. But I couldn’t vote to convict him based upon the junk the police and prosecutor have given to the press so far. Circumstantial evidence and Christopher’s calm demeanor when questioned by police are not enough to change a presumption of innocence to a presumption of guilt.

Which leads me to believe that the D. A.’s office must have more evidence than they’re letting anyone know about. (Then again maybe they don’t.) If they’ve got DNA evidence, that could be a problem, since Christopher Porco’s DNA would be all over the house anyway.

More about Porco later. Here are some items I would like to write about more extensively, but don't have the time right now.

DOCS prison guard drives while drunk and kills high school student in traffic accident. This guard just happened to be one of Jack Carroll’s gaolers.

Glenn Heller alleges that Alan Chartock & WAMC owe the IRS a lot of money.

Son of Sam killer has a web site.

Here’s a new Saratoga blog.

A new Montgomery County Magazine.

A new Fulton County Magazine.

Why is WNYT’s News Notes Blog nothing but a blank page?

Finally, thanks to the nearly one thousand people who stopped by to read my posts on DOCS. A special thanks to the people who read this blog everyday, even when what I write about isn’t so exciting.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Free At Last.

copyright 2006 Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

He has an I.Q. of 68, an 8th grade education and AIDS. He also spent 10 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Read about Douglas Warney’s release this week, how his confession was gotten by cops, how DNA proved he didn’t do it, how prosecutors kept him in prison anyway until the real killer confessed.

Lunch Interrupted: DOCS & The Escape Of Rimell Mitchell From AMC.

This is part five in a series of posts on Crime & Punishment in New York State.

In this post Upstream has two final questions for Glenn Goord, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Correctional Services.

On April 25, 2005, Rimell Mitchell, a violent felon in DOCS custody, escaped from the Albany Medical Center.


1. We know that two of your employees were enjoying a late and long lunch at OTB on Central Avenue in Albany while Mitchell was escaping. Could you tell us where your other employees were?

Investigator’s Notes on DOCS Officials from April 25, 2005 During the Time Rimell Mitchell was Escaping from Albany Medical Center.

“2:18pm at OTB. Investigator drove into parking lot and Breen’s Tan car (484-GR) was in the lot. At 3:06pm both Breen and DiBello left OTB and got into the car and returned to DOCS Bldg 2.

At 3:13pm Kevin Breen walked by himself to the side entrance and looked around for a minute. (to avoid swiping in) He then walked around to the front of the building and talked to Dibello’s secretary. He then proceeded into the front entrance and someone let him in.

Minutes later, Russ DiBello entered the side, employee entrance by swiping in. Surveillance was ended.”

Breen returns from OTB
DOCS' Officials Hustling Back To Work After Hearing Of Mitchell's Escape.

2. I gather from your report on the escape incident that you were not entirely satisfied with DOCS role in the escape and capture of Mitchell. Do you think DOCS role in this situation could have been improved if DOCS’ employees were at their desks during this time?

Conclusion of Commissioner Goord’s Report on Rimell Mitchell’s Escape from Albany Medical Center.

"First and foremost, Commissioner Goord apologizes on behalf of the Department of Correctional Services for this escape, caused solely by a breach in implementation of DOCS’established security policies and procedures.

He acknowledges that if not for the professionalism with which the Albany Police Department took the lead in directing and coordinating the escape pursuit, this incident might well have had a different conclusion.

At the same time, Commissioner Goord thanks the staffs of AMC, CDPC and the Division of State Police for their cooperation and efforts throughout this incident.

He especially commends the high level of cooperation and professionalism that Albany Medical Center has always extended during its decades-long relationship with DOCS: “We are proud of our relationship, because of AMC’s national reputation for medical excellence as well as for its high standards of patient care.”

While the report points out DOCS’s good track record in the operation of T-1, Commissioner Goord believes the bottom line remains obvious: “One escape is too many.”

Commissioner Goord said, “It is my intention to redouble our efforts in meeting DOCS’responsibility to ensure inmates brought to Albany for medical appointments are held in the most secure confinement that staffing and modern technology allow. We owe no less to AMC’s employees, patients and visitors, as well as to the citizens of Albany.” "

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

What's Up DOCS?

Glenn Goord, Commissioner of New York State Correctional Services issued a press release today containing a glowing report of what he and DOCS have accomplished. It may only be a coincidence that he issued the report today, two days after The Times-Union Capitol Confidential broke the story of Goord’s being stopped by a police officer in Lake Placid for talking on his cell phone while driving and on the same day that Upstream broke the story of unprofessional conduct by other DOCS officials. It does seem odd, however, that this is the first press release issued by the department since January 24.

Before we turn our attention to other matters, Upstream will be publishing one more post tomorrow on Lunch Interrupted, Where Were Docs Officials On April 25, 2005 When Rimell Mitchell Escaped From Albany Medical Center.

Is New York State DOCS Out To Lunch?

This is part four of a series of random and wide ranging posts on the subject of Crime and Punishment in New York State.

“No employee, whether on or off duty, shall so comport himself as to reflect discredit upon the Department or its personnel.” From the New York State Department of Correctional Services Employees’ Manual.

Upstream has some additional questions for Glenn Goord, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Correctional Services. This time the questions are not about Goord himself but about some high level employees at DOCS. More questions may be asked in future posts.

1. Why are some of the higher level employees at DOCS allowed to take long lunches, in one case more than four hours long?

To help you prepare your answer, let me give you some examples drawn from an investigator’s detailed notes.

March 21, 2005. Kevin Breen, Associate Commissioner of Labor Relations (retired last Fall and went to work for CDPHP) and Russell DiBello, Chief Financial Advisor, were at the OTB on Central Avenue in Albany from 12:55-1:36p.m. and did not return to DOCS until 2:24 p.m.

March 23, 2005. Dibello was at OTB from 12:26-2:14p.m. Breen was at OTB from 12:26-2:15p.m. Both returned to work at DOCS at 2:25 p.m.

March 24, 2005. Dibello was at OTB from 12:39-4:55p.m (over 4 hours). Breen and Sam Butto, an employee of Breen’s and a cousin-in-law of Libby Pataki, were at OTB from 2:40-4:43p.m. When DiBello left OTB, he did not return to DOCS.

March 28, 2005. Breen and DiBello at OTB from 12:45-2:40p.m.

April 11, 2005. Dibello and Breen at OTB from 12:40-2:57 p.m. Arrived back at DOCS at approximately 3:06 p.m.

OTB-Two-Walk to car

Two DOCS Officials Leaving OTB On April 11, 2005.

2. Let’s assume these employees had permission to be gone this long? Does it not make the department look bad when they are sitting at OTB for hours with their DOCS identity cards clearly visible to the public?

OTB-Shows ID

DOCS Official At OTB With Identity Tag Showing.

3. Upstream has reviewed copies of Dibello’s, Breen’s, and Butto’s time sheets for the above dates. These sheets were obtained through a FOIL request. Can you explain why none of these time sheets show any personal or vacation time charged for the above dates? It would seem from the time sheets that these employees did not have permission to be gone so long. Is that true?

4. At many of these lunches, the DOCS employees were sitting at the bar. The investigator didn’t get close enough to be able to prove that they were drinking anything alcoholic, so let’s assume they weren’t. Do you believe that it is good for DOCS public image to have employees sitting at OTB’s bar for hours with their DOCS identities clearly visible?

5. How much time are your 30,000 plus lower echelon employees--prison guards, secretaries, clerks, etc--allowed for lunch?

6. Are they allowed to go to OTB, sit at the bar and place bets during lunch time?

7. Fred Dicker of the New York Post said last week on radio station WROW that many state employees are demoralized. Do you think the example that bosses are setting may have something to do with that demoralization?

8. Would you like to watch the video that was shot of these lunches?

9. How much time does Prison Pete get for lunch?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Glenn Goord On The Horns Of A Dilemma.

The more I think about my previous post, it appears to me that Commissioner Glen Goord of the New York State Department of Correctional Services is on the horns of a dilemma. By his own admission, he used his cell phone while driving and he had a couple glasses of wine while in Lake Placid on May 3. He either:

1. Was on duty, therefore his drinking violated the employee regulations of the New York State Department of Corrections.

2. Was off duty, therefore he should not have made or received a cell phone call without pulling off the road. If he was off duty, then he violated New York State Department of Motor Vehicle Laws.

It appears to me, that on May 3, either Goord violated New York State laws or the regulations of his own department.

It has to be one or the other. Not both. Not neither.

NYS Prison Chief Glenn Goord Mixes Drinking, Driving & Talking On A Cell Phone.

This is part three of a random, wide ranging series on Crime and Punishment in New York State.

It happened on May 3, but only made it into the news yesterday. New York State Department of Correctional Services (DOCS) Commissioner, Glenn Goord, was stopped by a police officer in Lake Placid for talking on his cell phone while driving. Goord was not issued a ticket. According to the Times-Union story, Goord is a peace officer and therefore entitled to use a cell phone while driving, even if it is not a hands-free one. Goord also admitted to having had a couple glasses of wine prior to hitting the road.

According to the T-U article, Commissioner Goord revealed the incident in an interview. Here are some questions that Upstream would have asked if we had been given a chance to interview Mr. Goord.

1. Peace officers are allowed to use cell phones while driving, but only for the purpose of carrying out their duties (see below). Were you using your cell phone for official business when you were pulled over?

2. Did the police officer ask you if you were on official business?

3. Did he check the list of recent calls on your cell phone to ascertain if you were indeed on official business?

4. Would you mind giving us the telephone number of the person you were conversing with at the time?

5. A recent report indicated that the vast majority of accidents in New York State are caused by driver distraction, including the use of cell phones? Wouldn’t it be better if you pulled over to talk or at least used a hands-free device? And wouldn’t that be setting a better example for the people who work for you and for the public?

6. According to the New York State Criminal Procedure Code, DOCS officials can become peace officers only by the appointment of the Commissioner of DOCS (see below). Does that mean that you appointed yourself a peace officer?

7. Have you taken the appropriate training required of all peace officers by the New York State Criminal Procedure Code (see below)?

8. Have you taken the additional training that the Code requires for a peace officer to remain a peace officer?

9. You admitted to having a couple drinks before going on the road. Knowing that three 5 oz. glasses of wine consumed in one hour by a 200 pound male results in a .04 bac and causes driving impairment, do you think it was wise to be drinking before going out on the road?

10. Is there some reason you weren’t required to take a breathalyzer test?

11. The Employees’ Manual for The State of New York Department of Correctional Services states “An employee of the Department shall not consume or possess alcoholic beverages while on duty status nor shall any employee report for duty under the influence of intoxicants.” You were in Lake Placid for a labor-management conference when you were pulled over. According to your account, you were using your cell phone for official business. Weren’t you therefore in violation of your own department’s policies concerning the use of alcoholic beverages?

12. How have you disciplined other employees of the department who have consumed alcohol while on the job?

New York State Law Exempting Peace Officers From Cell Phone Laws
3. Subdivision two of this section shall not apply to (a) the use of a mobile telephone for the sole purpose of communicating with any of the following regarding an emergency situation: an emergency response operator; a hospital, physician's office or health clinic; an ambulance company or corps; a fire department, district or company; or a police department, (b) any of the following persons while in the performance of their official duties: a police officer or peace officer; a member of a fire department, district or company; or the operator of an authorized emergency vehicle as defined in section one hundred one of this chapter, or (c) the use of a hands-free mobile telephone.

NY State Criminal Procedure Law
§ 2.10 Persons designated as peace officers. Notwithstanding the provisions of any general, special or local law or charter to the contrary, only the following persons shall have the powers of, and shall be peace officers:

25. Officials, as designated by the commissioner of the department of correctional services pursuant to rules of the department, and correction officers of any state correctional facility or of any penal correctional institution.

§ 2.30 Training requirements for peace officers. 1. Every peace officer in the state of New York, appointed after the effective date of this article, who works a full complement of hours which constitutes full-time employment for the officer's employer, must successfully complete a training program, a portion of which shall be prescribed by the municipal police training council and by his employer, the state or local agency, unit of local government, state or local commission, or public authority or private organization that employs him. The portion prescribed by the municipal police training council shall be comprised of subjects, and the hours each is to be taught, that shall be required of all types or classes of peace officers. The hours of instruction required by the municipal police training council shall not exceed thirty-five, unless a greater amount is either required by law or regulation, or is requested by the employer. The segment prescribed by the employer for his employees shall be comprised of subjects, and the hours each is to be taught, relating to the special nature of the duties of the peace officers employed by him. Each state or local agency, unit of local government, state or local commission, or public authority, or public or private organization which employs peace officers shall provide the training mandated by this section, and transmit to the municipal police training council within six months after the effective date of this article the proposed training program for peace officers, comprised of subjects required by the employer, the cost of which will be borne by the employer. The program shall: (a) List the subjects comprising the proposed curriculum and the number of hours each is to be taught; (b) List the proposed instructors for each subject with their qualifications; and (c) Indicate the proposed location of the school. In the reviewing of the employer's submission, the instructors must be found qualified by background and experience, and if so found, the course shall be certified by the municipal police training council. When the subjects prescribed by the employer are identical to the subjects in the training program required by the municipal police training council, the officer shall not be required to take duplicate training for those subjects. It is the responsibility of every employer to provide the training program certified by the municipal police training council. Each peace officer satisfactorily completing the course shall be awarded a certificate by the division of criminal justice services attesting to that effect, and no person appointed as a peace officer after the effective date of this article shall exercise the powers of a peace officer, unless he has received such certification within twelve months of appointment. Where an employer has authorized a peace officer to carry or use a weapon during any phase of the officer's official duties, which constitutes on-duty employment, the program shall include the same number of hours of instruction in deadly physical force and the use of firearms and other weapons as is required in the basic training program for police officers by the municipal police training council. The program shall include the information set forth in subdivision seven of section 265.10 of the penal law. No employer shall allow any peace officer, notwithstanding when the officer was appointed, to carry or use a weapon during any phase of the officer's official duties, which constitutes on-duty employment, unless the officer has satisfactorily completed a course of training approved by the municipal police training council in the use of deadly physical force and firearms and other weapons, and annually receives instruction in deadly physical force and the use of firearms and other weapons as approved by the municipal
police training council. The course of training in the use of deadly physical force and firearms and other weapons shall be provided by the officer's employer, not later than six months from the date on which the officer was appointed, where the officer is authorized to carry a weapon pursuant to law. 2. Upon the failure or refusal to comply with the requirements of subdivision one of this section, the commissioner of the division of criminal justice services shall apply to the supreme court for an order directed to the person responsible requiring compliance. Upon such application, the court may issue such order as may be just, and a failure to comply with the order of the court shall be a contempt of court and punishable as such. 3. Any individual who is a peace officer or a New York city special patrolman on the effective date of this article and has previously taken a formalized course of training while a peace officer or a New York city special patrolman, may apply, in writing, to the municipal police training council for certification. The application shall be granted or denied for reasons specifically and concisely stated in writing, and if granted, the exact extent of any waiver of the training then presently required for new appointees shall be set forth. The certification shall be granted only if the municipal police training council determines that the course of training previously taken by the applicant is in substantial compliance with the training then presently required for new appointees. When an application is denied, it is the responsibility of the officer to obtain the training that is required in order to obtain certification. When a peace officer meets the training requirements specified herein, the division of criminal justice services shall issue that person a certificate attesting to the fact that he has satisfactorily completed the required training. 4. Any peace officer appointed after the effective date of this article who normally works on a part-time basis for less than the full complement of hours which would constitute full-time employment for their position as determined by their employer, shall receive training which may, in whole or in part, be in-service training. The portion of the training program required by the municipal police training council shall not exceed ten hours of instruction. The segment of the training program prescribed by the employer shall be comprised of subjects, and the hours each is to be taught, relating to the special nature of the duties of the peace officers employed by him. Every employer who employs part-time peace officers shall transmit to the municipal police training council within six months after the effective date of this article the proposed training program for its officers, in accordance with the procedure and requirements set forth in subdivision one of this section. Each peace officer satisfactorily completing the training requirements shall be issued a certificate by the division of criminal justice services attesting to that effect. 5. Every employer of peace officers shall annually report to the municipal police training council, in such form and at such time as the council may by regulation require, the names and addresses of all peace officers who have, during the course of the year, satisfactorily completed any of the training requirements prescribed by this section. 6. A certificate attesting to satisfactory completion of the training requirements imposed under this section awarded to any peace officer by the executive director of the municipal police training council pursuant to this section shall remain valid: (a) during the holder's continuous service as a peace officer; and
(b) for two years after the date of the commencement of an interruption in such service where the holder had, immediately prior to such interruption, served as a peace officer for less than two consecutive years; or (c) for four years after the date of the commencement of an interruption in such service where the holder had, immediately prior to such interruption, served as a peace officer for two consecutive years or longer. As used in this subdivision, the term "interruption" shall mean a period of separation from employment as a peace officer by reason of such officer's leave of absence, resignation or removal, other than removal for cause.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Why I Blog

You wake up one morning and the light is gone. You’ve been expecting it for sometime because the candle in the alcove on the back stairway that leads up from your heart to your mind has been sputtering for several weeks, but it still takes you by surprise. And terror like you have never known chills your body and your blood, and you don’t drag yourself out of bed until noon.

Then you go to work, tearing out walls in the house you are restoring, while tears wash away plaster from your face and onto the floor. You don’t even care that big boys don’t cry, and you only work for three hours because it’s all that you can take.

On the way home, you stop at Stewarts for gas, and you go inside and take one look at the woman that waits on you, and you can’t look at her anymore. Her whole life’s story is in her eyes--the dropping out of school, the child having a child, the many men, the divorces and the dead end jobs, the sixty year old face on a forty year old body--and you know that the high point of her day will be when the parade of customers lets up and she can go out and have a smoke.

Then you go home and wait for night to fall because somehow the twilight brings you some peace, and you hear the faint scratch of a match and see the flicker of a candle, but it only lasts for a couple of hours and then goes out again.

And the next day is the same. And the next.

And all you can see around you is suffering--yours and everyone else’s and you stop reading the news and watching the television because you can’t bear it. And it goes on for weeks until your wife makes you go see the doctor. And you look into the doctor’s eyes, and you know that this is one doctor who knows pain, in a way that most don’t.

And she recommends a clinic, and as much as you respect her, you know that’s not the less traveled road through the yellow wood that you want to take. You know that paying some guy fifty cents a word to dredge up and read the bones of your past will be for you the same as the time when your father had appendicitis and your grandfather told him to rub turpentine on it.

It’s been a long time since you have written anything, so when you go home you decide to start writing again. Then you decide to take up blogging and to keep blogging whether or not anyone reads it, and as each day goes by you feel a little bit better, until the day comes when you wake up in the morning and look at the candle in the alcove and see that it stayed lit all night long.

And the terror is gone, and you realize that not much changes in life, because their is a conspiracy of silence between bullies and cowards, and you also realize that it is time to quit both of these groups and stand on your hind legs and bellow like a she bear robbed of her cubs.

And if no one listens, at least you have chiseled your protest on the barbed wire topped, concrete wall that’s rapidly rising around the City of Man.

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Happy Mother's Day!

My mother, Mildred Darlene Bevil Weaver, was pregnant for eleven years and three months. Not all at one time, of course. She had sixteen children as the result of fifteen pregnancies--there was one set of twins. I was number nine of the sixteen. We all had the same father.

People often talk about their brushes with death. I, on the other hand, often think of my brush with non-existence because if my parents had been typical American parents with 2.3 kids, or whatever the average is, I would never have been born.

But this post isn’t about me, it’s about my mother.

My mother came from a family of conquerors. She descended from a Viking who helped conquer and then settle Normandy. One of his descendants was a knight named de Beville, who went with William in 1066 to conquer England. In 1660, one Essex Bevill (notice the Anglicizing of the last name), migrated to Virginia and it is from him that most of the Bevils in America came. I am not sure why Essex came to America, but the fact that he came in 1660 leads me to theorize that he chose the wrong side during the English Civil War and had to flee the country when Charles II ascended to the throne.

The first Bevils in America owned land and slaves. Essex’s descendant, James Burton Bevil (by now the double l had been dropped off the name), my mother’s great-grandfather, chose the wrong side during the American Civil War and had to swear an oath of allegiance to the United States before he was paroled by the government at the end of the war.

By now the Bevil family had descended into the middle class. My great-grandfather was a farmer and my grandfather was a tank car inspector for Union Carbide. While many people lost their jobs during the depression, he managed to keep his, although his hours were reduced.

My mother must have inherited some of the Viking spirit. After most of her children had grown up and when my father took sick, my mother went to college and graduated with a B.A. at age 55 and then taught school ten years before retiring.

She never stopped being a mother. When my second oldest sister got cancer, my mother moved to Virginia to help take care of her until my sister died. Then my mother moved back to New York State for awhile, until another sister got sick and she moved to North Carolina to help take care of her.

My mother was an active woman up until the end of January 2002, when she was admitted to the hospital and died a few days later, at the age of 78.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Traffic on Market Hill in Amsterdam.

Seen on Market Hill in Amsterdam, NY

My daughter had to lean out the car window to grab this picture of a vintage car while we were stopped in traffic on Market Street in Amsterdam.

Lunch Time at Elmer Avenue School.

Girl Eating Lunch at Elmer Avenue School Schenectady June 1943

Girl eating lunch at Elmer Avenue School in Schenectady. This photo was taken by Philip Bonn in June 1943. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Upstream Reader Comments On The Amsterdam Recorder.

Note: This comment was posted today on a post that is now buried in Upstream's archives. Since the writer took so much time to write it, I thought it deserved some attention.

Like the city it represents, the Amsterdam Recorder is a flailing visionless publication that, as this blog opines, has a staff lacking even a hint of fire or taste for journalism. The responder Kevin seems to think that these shortcomings in staffing should allow the paper’s top journalist, the editor, to shirk some of his duties. Well, I can say from a reader’s perspective, Kevin Mattison has failed to fulfill even an ounce of his duties as the main steward of this publication. If the waning interest in advertisement continues along with the daily drubbing by competing newspapers, the Recorder will go the way of the dinosaurs, along with its wayward sister paper, the Courier-Standard-Enterprise.

First off, any editor worth his or her salt would actually edit the paper, rather than taking a happenstance approach to running a newspaper. There are frequent grammatical errors, which are often compounded by misleading headlines and articles that simply miss the mark altogether. If not for that, then one would assume that a managing editor, after watching his staff be routinely trounced by a competing newspaper with only a bureau in the city of Amsterdam, would shake things up a bit, maybe charge his reporters –many of them news veterans –to find the news before it ends up in someone else’s headlines. Well, in my one year reading the paper, it doesn’t appear as though Mattison possesses those abilities as a leader.

The local page is dominated by police briefs and feature art, seldom do all the reporters at the paper have a by-line, and, more often than not, the articles that do make it to press are either disorganized prattling stories or of such miniscule interest there’s little since in reading them. Simply put, this paper is a news buff’s nightmare.

But why criticize when there’s a simple solution? It’s called getting a leader in the newsroom to take a step forward and create a vision for the paper before dips in circulation drop it off the face of the earth. First, fire the editor. Second, hire a motivated chief, who will tell the reporters to clean it up or ship out. Third, abandon all Fulton County Coverage. And lastly, cover the city of Amsterdam more aggressively. Then there’s option two, which is to merge with the Leader-Herald.

And Kevin, speaking from a point of knowledge, if the Recorder has Mattison and three other editors, then he’s got just as many as the Leader-Herald. Also, editorials DO NOT take 30 hours a week to write, unless you’re writing something that might get the paper sued or you're handicapped. A good editor will read his or her paper each day from cover to cover and have a good handle on the events happening within the circulation; a good editor should be able to produce an editorial in under a couple of hours. But then again, it’s tough to buy anything you say, seeing as though you state in your first post, that you’re a loyal reader, and then in the second, you insist you don’t read the Recorder. Sorry for calling for your job, but it’s time for someone to lead that paper out of the dumps.

WAMC Employees Vandalizing Wikipedia.

Thanks to a tip from a reader and some research, Upstream has conclusive proof that employees at WAMC, or at least someone using WAMC’s computers, have been deleting content on Wikipedia, even though such deletions are against Wikipedia’s policies.

On May 10 at 1:16 p.m., someone using a computer at WAMC deleted the entire controversy section in the
Wikipedia article on Alan S. Chartock, the CEO of WAMC. On May 11 at 4:19 p.m., someone using a computer at WAMC deleted the external links at the end of the Wikipedia article on Alan Chartock.

Upstream has not been able to ascertain what WAMC’s policies are concerning using computers during work hours to vandalize Wikipedia.

WAMC’s computers aren’t the only ones being used in the battle over what Wikipedia should say about Alan Chartock. Computers at both Union College and Schenectady County Community College are being used as well.

Upstream has also noticed that the controversy over Alan Chartock has reached a new low. One Wiki user, who goes by the name
Vin Doe, unsuccessful in his attempts to vandalize Wikipedia, and unable to come up with any new arguments against Glenn Heller, an outspoken critic of Alan Chartock, ended his intellectual contribution to Wikipedia by stating, “Glenn Heller is an evil, Jew-hating piece of shit.” Heller has not responded in kind.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Suicide of William Marhafer & Corruption in the Schenectady PD

This is part two in a series of random, wide ranging posts on Crime & Punishment in New York State.

Previously, I wrote about the
suicide of Schenectady Police Officer, William Marhafer. What I haven’t written about is that following the publication of my article in The Sunday Gazette, Willie Marhafer‘s mother called me to thank me for writing the article We had a 45 minute conversation, most of it to do with her son.

I don’t feel I have the right to divulge most of the conversation, but there are two things Mrs. Marhafer told me that I believe should be mentioned. First, she told me that her son had already been exonerated of any wrong doing in the investigation into corruption in the Schenectady Police Department, prior to his suicide.

Secondly, one of things that drove Willie Marhafer to commit suicide was that he was torn between what he knew about corruption in the Schenectady Police Department, his moral obligation to reveal it and the traditional police mentality that ostracizes a fellow officer who talks about corrupt cops. The news media, including my own article, made it seem as if Marhafer committed suicide because he was upset over the investigation into his own conduct.

Willie Marhafer was a good cop. He had a brain, he had a heart, he had a conscience. He was as interested in helping people as he was bagging crooks. I tell you this because I am going to write about some bad cops in this series, but I don’t want anyone to get the idea that I think all cops are bad.

As far as corruption in the Schenectady Police Department is concerned, Carl Strock of The Daily Gazette has done a good job covering it over the years.
You can read one of his columns on the subject.

Corruption in the Schenectady Police Department included rewarding informants with cocaine, taking a Black man to a rural road in Glenville and leaving him there without his shoes, off duty cops throwing eggs at vehicles after a stag party, and the use of excessive force in making arrests among other things.

Both The Times-Union and The Daily Gazette did a good job covering what was going on in Schenectady. Most of these articles are no longer available on the internet. You can however, at least read
a list of the headlines that appeared in The Times-Union to get an idea of how extensive the corruption was. (Scroll down on page or so to the special report on Schenectady).

Read the report on corruption in the Schenectady Police Department by the Commission of Investigation of the State of New York. Scroll down to pages 22-23.

Read the
letter from the U.S. Department of Justice to the City of Schenectady, with recommendations for changes in the Schenectady Police Department.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Crime & Punishment in New York State. Part 1.

“The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.” Fyodor Dostoevsky.

This is part one of a wide ranging series of posts on the subject of crime and punishment in New York State.

Why this series of posts? Who gives a horse’s patoo about criminals and prisoners? Why should you care?

1. Because the U.S. now has the largest penal colony in the world.

2. Because New York State has over 60,000 adult citizens in prison.

3. Because New York State has an additional unknown number of people who are in its charge via probation, parole, alternative to incarceration programs, etc.

3. Because there are thousands of juveniles in New York States held in secure and other youth facilities.

4. Because of the ever increasing number of laws in New York State, which make it more and more likely that anyone can be charged with breaking a law.

5. Because for every person in the custody of the state or under its supervision, there are a larger number of dependents and relatives who are deeply affected financially and psychologically by their custody.

6. Because the line between those in custody and those responsible for their custody is sometimes a very thin one.

7. Because there are some people in prison who are innocent.

8. Because there is a large number of people in prison for minor offenses.

9. Because if prison were used for the violent only, we could drastically reduce the number of people in prison, the number of people working in the prison industry, and the amount of taxation on New Yorkers.

10. Because society never actually forgives and forgets a person’s crime, so ex-cons are often reduced to a life of poverty. The incentive to return to crime is great.

11. Because someday it might be one of your friends or relatives who gets put in prison.

12. Because someday it might be you who gets put in prison.

13. Last but not least, you or a member of your family or a friend may have been a victim of a crime.

When one takes into consideration the number of crime victims and their families, the number of convicts and their families, ex-convicts, parolees, probationers, youths held in detention, prison guards, law enforcement agents, prosecutors, judges, lawyers etc, it is likely that the number of people directly affected by crime and punishment in New York State is close to one million people.

All of us are affected indirectly.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

New Sign On The Queen's Highway.

I have been driving by this sign for years. I finally stopped to look at it the other day. What made me stop is that the old copper sign was replaced by a new sign that appears to be made out of another kind of metal that has been painted. I am not sure why the sign was replaced.

Anyway, the sign is located less than a quarter of a mile upstream from the Mohawk River on the South Chuchtununda Creek (the outlet of Mariaville Lake), on Florida Avenue on Amsterdam’s South Side. Florida Avenue was once part of the British military road that ran from Schenectady to Fort Hunter, when Fort Hunter had replaced Schenectady as the frontier. It was built in 1712 by order of Queen Anne.

The sign commemorates part of a series of events in the Revolutionary War which have become known as The Burning of the Valleys.

Wikipedia's War of the Words. Part 3.

They’re at it again. They are Fungible and Suzie Creamcheese. The original entry for Alan Chartock in Wikipedia was deleted, but Fungible began a new entry a couple of days ago--under Alan S. Chartock this time. It didn’t long for Suzie Creamcheese to jump into the fray again.

In order to keep this controversy from being a complete waste of our time, we can at least add two new words to our vocabulary.

fungible \FUHN-juh-buhl\, adjective:1. (Law) Freely exchangeable for or replaceable by another of like nature or kind in the satisfaction of an obligation. 2. Interchangeable

"Genuine eros makes us desire a particular person; crude desire is satisfiable by fungible bodies."-- Edward Craig

The above definition was taken from which made Fungible its Word of the Day for Thursday January 25, 2001.

Suzie Creamcheese is not in the dictionary. However, a little research revealed that it was a nickname of actress/singer Doris Day. Prior to that it was used to refer to any wholesome American girl, anyone like Doris Day. The prolific composer/musician Frank Zappa incorporated it into one of his songs, further popularizing the term.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Don't Call Us, We'll Call You.

If you think John Faso went overboard when a constituent telephoned him too many times, you should read how former Albany Police Chief, James Turley, had a senior citizen arrested and confined in a mental hospital for calling his office too many times. For some inexplicable reason it seems as if The Pepsi News never published this story, but it was published by a great little newspaper called The Informed Constituent.

Read the initial story. *

Read the follow up story. *

*You have to download an entire issue in pdf format to read the story which starts on page one in both cases. If you have a dial-up connection, this can take awhile.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Historic Mohawk Indian Prayer Book For Sale.

Mohawk Indian Book of Common Prayer

Mohawk Indian Book of Common Prayer

This copy of the Anglican Book of Prayer, translated by Chief Joseph Brant into the Mohawk language can be yours for the sum of $4,250.

Upstream has no financial interest in the sale of this book. The book is of such historical significance to the Mohawk Valley, however, that I thought I would feature it here.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Wikipedia's War Of The Words. Part Two. Mutual Destruction.

Yesterday afternoon I noticed that the battle at Wikipedia over what the entry for Alan Chartock, CEO of WAMC Northeast Public Radio Network, should read was raging again. New people, or maybe the same people with new names were at the forefront. One was named Schwans Ice Cream. Is that a clue to his identity? I wrote the other name down but lost it. I think it had the word cheese or cheesy in it.

I checked back in the evening and a search of Alan Chartock’s name came up with nothing. Chartock’s nemesis, Glenn Heller, explains what happened in a comment posted on this site,

“Okay Weaver, now you've done it! Alan deleted his Wiki. Apparently the little professor was unable to cope with the open, uncontrollable nature of the medium. It's the same thing with cockroaches, when exposed to the light they scurry away. Dang!“

But did Chartock delete his own entry? I don’t think so. It was most likely one of his fans--maybe Zr2d2. Didn’t Zr2d2 write the original article? And who is he anyway? Obviously a Star Wars fan? That’s one significant clue.

One thing is obvious, the people involved in the battle did not follow Wikipedia’s guidelines for resolving disputes.

Meanwhile, the battle over the WAMC entry is still ongoing.

But if that isn’t enough to keep Bing Cherry, Schwans Ice Cream, Zr2d2 and any others who like to write cyber graffito busy, here are just a few of many other entries they can work on.

I just hope they follow Wikipedia’s guidelines when doing so.

Friday, May 05, 2006

On The Fast Track To Destruction In Amsterdam.


This house is one of three beautiful Victorian houses slated for demolition by Fastrac Corporation so it can expand its convenience store on Market Hill in Amsterdam. The owners of this house spent years restoring it. When Fastrac announced it was planning to expand, the owners fought the expansion. Finally, Fastrac offered them more money for their house than it was worth and allowed them to remove the pillars, stained glass windows, and other architectural delights.

While I was never in this house, I was in one of the other two which is actually nicer than this one and cannot describe the beauty of the fireplaces, balustrades, woodwork, etc. It’s hard to imagine building a house like this today, using the same materials, for under $500,000.

Fastrac still hasn’t received a zoning variance in order to expand. Many neighbors still oppose the expansion so the destruction of these houses may be for nothing.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Wikipedia's War Of The Words.

Upstream may have inadvertently contributed to the Wiki War over Alan Chartock that Albany Eye discusses in his post today when I posted comments by Glenn Heller this past Monday. 78 of the 118 changes to Alan Chartock’s entry were made after my post. The war had started before then, but it really heated up after my post with its link to Wikipedia.

In defense of Heller, he at least signs his real name when he contributes to Wikipedia. Other contributers include Fungible, Zr2d2, Bing Cherry, Chiploe, Zotdragon and HamiltonFish, a famous New Yorker who has been dead a long time. Furthermore, after May 2 Heller made no further contributions to Wikipedia. The Wiki War was carried on by Fungible and Bing Cherry.

As far as comparing entries in Wikipedia to latrinalia, I attended SUNY Albany while Alan Chartock was a professor there. I saw many names and phone numbers on the bathroom walls, but Professor Chartock’s was not among them.

Since you cannot comment directly on Albany Eye, feel free to comment here about his post. I am very much interested in how other people view and use Wikipedia.

Coming Soon - Series On NYS Prison System.

You might have wondered what has become of the series I was going to do on the long lunches that some officials at New York State’s Department of Correctional Services (DOCS) take. I have not forgotten it. I deleted the original post in order to get rid of an inappropriate comment. Since that time I have received additional information on these lunches, including detailed notes by an investigator and employee time sheets that were obtained by a FOIL request.

After doing some more research, I have decided that the issue of DOCS officials taking long lunches will be incorporated into a broader series of posts concerning DOCS and our New York State prison system. The photographs that I originally posted will be posted again with detailed information on the above mentioned lunches. The three officials who took these lunches will be named. The information will be presented fairly and in a matter of fact way, and Upstream will let the reader draw his or her own inferences from the information.

One reason for doing a broader series of posts is that the United States now has the largest penal system of any country in the world. At the end of 2004 there were almost 1.5 prisoners held in Federal and State prisons, of which 63,751 were imprisoned in New York State. This number does not include juveniles held in juvenile facilities.

With this in mind, Upstream would like to hear from anyone who is connected to DOCS or any prison in New York State. We would like to hear from current or former DOCS employees, no matter what your position is, prisoners, ex-prisoners, relatives and friends of prisoners, prison volunteers, etc. We would like information on any and all aspects of prison life and employment with DOCS. You may e-mail the information to Knowing that DOCS frowns on employees talking to the media without permission and that prisoners are subject to retaliation, Upstream will respect your privacy and not use your name or any material that might identify you, unless you request that your name be used.

If you know of someone who works for DOCS or is connected to the New York State prison system in any way, Upstream would appreciate it if you would e-mail them this post for their consideration.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Faux News - The Schenectady High School Lockdown.

The Puritans looked at old women and saw witches, Senator Joseph McCarthy saw a communist behind every tree, but our generation beats them all. Our three bogeymen are terrorists, sex offenders and school gunmen. Historians will look back at this era of American History and call it The Age Of Hysteria. Our hysteria was amply manifested yesterday in the faux news story about the two supposed gunmen who were heading to Schenectady High School, as one media outlet put it, “armed to the teeth.“ Later it was revealed that they had one shotgun and were headed for target practice.

One real news story here might very well be how the media characterized these two men. Here’s a sampling.

CBS 6 called the two men suspects and referred to them as being captured.

Capital News 9 and WROW refer to the men as possible suspects. The link to the video, however, is labeled Two Arrested.

The Daily Gazette refers to the two men as suspects.

WNYT and WTEN kept their cool and did not refer to the two men who were questioned by police as suspects

The other real story as far as I am concerned, however, is how did the police treat these two men and what was their reaction to what happened to them. The kids were scared, the parents were scared, but how did the two men stopped for questioning feel? Here is where WGY and FOX News beat the rest of the media
WGY said:


FOX News said:

Now it certainly was not a routine day for those two Schenectady men. One is actually an active National Guardsman who is about to go back overseas.
Grevely said, “They had 20 cars there and helicopters circling us -- like in the movies.”
Daniel Grevely -- a decorated Army National Guard Specialist just back from a tour in Afghanistan -- has seen surreal things, but nothing like today.
Grevely said, “This is the worst I've ever seen in my entire life -- I was more scared now today.”
Grevely and his friend Andre were unaware of the Schenectady school lockdown and the all points bulletin out for their car -- when they were pulled over and surrounded by Niskayuna police this afternoon.
Grevely said, “They had us on the ground on our knees -- handcuffed already.”

I see a lawsuit, maybe several, arising out of this incident.

Prosecutor Nifong Heads Lynch Mob In North Carolina.

Thanks to the reader of this blog who sent an e-mail pointing me to Thomas Sowell’s column of April 25 on the rape charges that have been leveled against members of the Duke University Lacrosse Team. Here are two quotes from the article.

“Media irresponsibility is one thing. Irresponsibility by an agent of the law is something else -- and much more dangerous. Prosecutors are not just supposed to prosecute. They are supposed to prosecute the right people in the right way. In this case, prosecutor Michael Nifong has proceeded in the wrong way. “

“When a prosecutor acts like he has made up his mind and doesn't want to be confused by the facts, that is when the spirit of the lynch mob has entered the legal system. When this happens on the eve of an election for the prosecutor, it looks even uglier.”
I’ve mentioned it before, but there is an old, somewhat obscure movie directed by Elia Kazan that shows how a prosecutor is supposed to deal with crime, especially when he or she has reason to believe the wrong person has been arrested. The name of the movie is Boomerang, and it is based on a true story. I am not sure what the title means, but in the case of Nifong and other prosecutors who behave badly, I hope it means "what goes around, comes around." The film critic, Leonard Maltin, highly recommends watching Boomerang and so do I.

Read the entire article by Thomas Sowell.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

George Washington Stopped Here.


In an effort to improve tourism in the Mohawk Valley, Upstream will be featuring local events from time to time. With the price of gas being what it is, staying close to home for vacations is not a bad idea.

The first event we have chosen to feature takes place on June 11 at 1:00 p.m. at Fort Johnson, about one mile west of the City of Amsterdam on Route 5. The event celebrates Sir William Johnson’s Privy, the most important outhouse in the Mohawk Valley, and one of the top five outhouses in the United States. It is believed that George Washington sat here during his trip through the valley.

The celebration of outhouses is a celebration of democracy. Whether you were Sir William or one of his slaves you could not avoid the necessity of using the necessary house.

The event is free, however, donations are accepted. I assume the donations are to be monetary in nature.

Read more about this famous privy.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Glenn Heller Of WAMC Pirate Radio Responds To Upstream.

Mr. Weaver,

Why does it take a ‘watchdog’ or ‘gadfly’ to let people know that the head of a local charity is taking a whopping pay raise and getting full time, free use of a new car, all at the expense of the charity? Why aren’t the Albany media — the folks who are getting paid theoretically to find out about local things that smell bad — ferreting out this stuff instead of a volunteer ‘watchdog’ like me with meager resources?

Regarding Alan Chartock: There is a reason why there is so much fear and loathing amongst good people who work, or have worked, at WAMC. How else do you think I find out about the stuff about which I write?

By the way, you might want to check out Wikipedia’s entry about Mr. Chartock. You should also consider adding your own material to the entry.

Thanks for your insightful review. My writing appears ‘intelligent’ only because I use ’spellchecker’ before posting online (something far too many other blogs — not yours — and e-mails could benefit by using).

As to your observations, you are on-point in your suggestion that I consolidate sites/blogs. I don’t know if that is going to happen anytime soon though, because of time considerations. Plus, though I hardly ever get a chance to update nowadays, I like having a choice of venues depending on subject matter.

Regarding the ‘gadfly’ label that too often gets attached. I am used to labels. Labels are a pejorative method by which the ‘legacy’ or ‘driveby’ media categorize people and stories in order to detract from or undercut the ‘message’.

Example: When I lived full-time in The Berkshires, I spent some time turning over a lot of rocks — sacred cow Alan Chartock was just one of them — mostly uncovering violations of Massachusetts Competitive Bidding statutes — i.e.: I formally notified State authorities concerning various sweetheart deals I uncovered between municipalities and favored contractors — deals that had been in place for decades and which the local media knew about but which unexplainably chose to ignore.

These were ‘no-bid’ municipal contracts, highly illegal, which resulted in favored contractors raking in millions of dollars over the years without the nicety of having to compete: Contracts for paving, installation of sewer lines in streets, road building — you name it.

As a result of my actions, the State came in and enforced the rules. The State IG and the State Dept. of Labor and Industries cited cities and towns for violating Mass. laws. Things changed — I think and hope for the better.

Back then, The Berkshire Eagle was labeling me ‘The Watchdog’. {When friends would phone me in The Berkshires and ask what I was up to, I’d say, “I’m being called ‘The Watchdog’ — so I’m sitting here watching my dog!”) So now, I am being called ‘Gadfly’. It’s all the same. It’s called ‘Shoot-the-Messenger’ syndrome.

Thanks for taking the time to peruse my sites.


P.S. is another of my Web sites that I should update more often.