Upstream. A Mohawk Valley Blogzine.

Friday, June 30, 2006

The Porco Jury - 100% White, 25% West Point.

According to the information supplied by the Times Union, the Christopher Porco jury is made up of eight females and four males. Eight of the jurors are married, two are single, one is divorced and one is widowed. Ten jurors have children or step-children. One juror has a doctorate degree, three have masters, one has a bachelors, two are high school graduates and the educational background of the other five is unknown.

None of the above seems very significant or even that interesting. What is interesting, but may not necessarily be significant, is that three jurors work at the Military Academy at West Point. What might be significant is that one of them is a Lieutenant Colonel (no it’s not Ollie North). Looking at the profiles of the other jurors, it appears that he has the most “take charge” background of anyone on the jury, and may have a strong influence over the jury, even if not chosen foreman.

One of the other West Point members of the jury is an Environmental Engineering Instructor. He is the juror with the doctorate. The other West Point member works in Human Resources.

The juror most experienced in issuing orders and the juror with the most education are likely to spend some time together, knowing that each works at West Point. The juror who works in Human Resources will most likely spend some time talking to the two other West Pointers as well.

It will be interesting to see if the West Point faction influences the outcome of the trial. If the Lieutenant Colonel is a conservative, then Chris Porco may be in trouble.

The other interesting fact is that the jury is all white. Of course, the defendant is white also, so no one is making a point of that. If I were the defendant, I would make an issue of it. Even though I am white, I would not want to face an all white jury, knowing that Blacks as a rule look at justice differently than Whites do and might be more sympathetic than Whites.

I guess if Christopher Porco loses, Terry Kindlon could make history by being the first lawyer to appeal on the grounds that his white client had an all white jury. With his looks and dress reminiscent of a cross between Clarence Darrow and Atticus Finch, Kindlon looks like a man who wants to make history.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Flooding on the Schoharie Creek at Burtonsville, NY.

Here are some photos my daughter took of the Schoharie Creek at Burtonsville in Montgomery County. These were taken yesterday, June 28, 2006, around 5:30p.m. The creek was discharging 30,000 cubic feet of water per second when these pictures were taken. Four days earlier on June 25, the creek at Burtonsville was only discharging 400 cubic feet per second.

The Schoharie Creek At Burtonsville, NY On June 28, 2006.

Schoharie Creek At Burtonsville, NY On June 28, 2006.

Schoharie Creek at Burtonsville, NY on June 28, 2006.

Schoharie Creek At Burtonsville, NY On June 28, 2006.

Read about Judah Burton, major in the Revolutionary War and founder of Burtonsville. You can also see a photograph of his house, which is still in existence.

Flooding Along The Mohawk River And Schoharie Creek.

I tried to get some photos of the flooding on the Mohawk River yesterday, but every time I tried to get near the river, I was turned away. I did get some photos of the Schoharie Creek roaring through Burtonsville, but my computer is not recognizing my camera right now. If I get the bugs worked out, I will upload those photos.

Meanwhile here are some links to some photos and articles about flooding in the Mohawk and Schoharie Valleys.

Northview Diary has a photo of the Mohawk River flooding near Fonda.

Capital News 9 Flooding in Scotia.

Capital News 9 Flooding in the Schoharie Valley.

Capital News 9 Flooding in the Mohawk Valley.

U.S. Geological Survey’s web cam at Cohoes Falls on the Mohawk River.

News 10 coverage of daring rescue at Rotterdam Junction. Article also contains lots of information about flooding and road closures in the Mohawk Valley.

The Christopher Porco Trial Blog.

I don't think the Porco trial is the most important news taking place right now, but human nature being what it is, most people will be following it closely. A great way to keep up with the trial is to read The Porco Trial Blog maintained by staff at WNYT. I have made a temporary link to it under Mohawk Valley News. It will remain there until the trial is over.

Reading the blog is better than reading news stories. The blog entries are more personal and more passionate. Jim Kambrich's entry yesterday at 11:16p.m. is a good example. He did a good job writing about his reaction to the opening argument by Michael McDermott, describing the horrors of the crime scene.

But defense attorney, Terry Kindlon, gets my vote for quote of the day. Referring to the circumstantial basis of the DA's case, he said, "Not even the Brothers Grimm smoking crack could fabricate such a fairy tale."

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

What Super Steel Could Teach AMD, or Why You Can't Flush The Toilet On A High Speed Train.

Note: If you read this post and it didn't make sense to you, it's because one paragraph somehow got left out. I have edited it so if you read it again, hopefully, it will make sense.

The number of potential jobs created by AMD in Luther Forest is now up from 1,200 to 8,000 according to Senator Hugh Farley in an interview with Bob Cudmore on WVTL yesterday. As Paul Vandenburgh likes to say, Senator Farley has been drinking the kool-aid.

Does anyone remember how Governor Pataki and Senator Farley said Super Steel was going to revolutionize the Mohawk Valley. It’s difficult to find information on how much was spent to get Super Steel of Milwaukee to build a factory in the Scotia-Glenville Industrial Park. The link to the press release in August of 1997 on Governor Pataki’s web site no longer works. No wonder. New York State’s relationship with Super Steel has been an embarrassment to both the State and Super Steel.

The State not only provided millions of dollars in loans, gifts and tax relief to Super Steel, it signed a 187 million dollar contract with Super Steel to refurbish high speed trains. The high speed train deal was a fiasco for the State, Amtrak and Super Steel. The State has a lawsuit against Amtrak for pulling out of the deal. But the State itself pulled out of the deal, paying Super Steel five and a half million dollars for doing so.

Super Steel almost closed because of the fiasco. Private money, not State money, kept it going. It appears that today Super Steel is doing okay. Even with gobs of government money to get it started, and gobs of private money to keep it afloat, and after ten years in operation, Super Steel is still however, not the industrial giant that everyone thought it was going to be.

You don’t hear George Pataki or Hugh Farley talking much about Super Steel anymore, but they are still running the New York State Industrial Lottery. “Step right up folks.” “Just a dollar and a delusion.”

It’s no coincidence that the AMD deal was announced recently. The governor and the senator want us to remember AMD when it’s time to vote. When I vote, I’ll remember Super Steel and the hundreds of other businesses in the Mohawk Valley that either the State or some local economic development agency gave thousands or millions to, only to have them fail.

Let me close this post with an anecdote that my brother-in-law told me. He worked at Super Steel as an Electrical Engineer for several years before getting laid off. You will not read this story in any press release from Super Steel or the governor. One of the reasons why the first refurbished trains had to be recalled is because of brake failure. The brakes were hydraulic and used the same hydraulic lines that were used to flush the toilets. If too many people were using the bathroom when the train braked, there was not enough pressure to apply the brakes.

The AMD deal is reminiscent of Super Steel's mothballed high speed turbos. The politicians are busy flushing our money down the toilet, and there is not enough pressure being applied to the brakes on this runaway train.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Enter Beatrix.


I wanted to make a post to show a new member of our family, Beatrix the Harlequin rabbit. Beatrix's coloration is called a "magpie" coloration. We bought her from a Farm and Country store in Galway, New York. Her name comes from the famous children's author Beatrix Potter who was famous for such books as Peter Rabbit.

Also on a side note if anyone is interested in reading my personal blog, you will find it at


Tony Benjamin Discusses The Decline Of The Amsterdam Recorder.

Tony Benjamin, former editor of The Amsterdam Recorder, posted the following comment on an earlier post about the Recorder. I thought it was too important to be buried in the archives of Upstream, so I am making it my post for today.

Hello Dan,

I, of course, found this discussion fascinating. Thank you for having the courage and brights to provide the forum.
The Recorder didn't become what it became by chance. It was by choice, and I think the wrong one.
A small-minded, simplistic choice.In many ways, the choice the Recorder brain-trust made parallels the ills of newspapers across the nation.
The owners hired a publisher with no understanding of news, or the important role of newspapers in a community. Everything became bottom line. Everything.
That may work in a pickle factory, but newspapers are different.
Newspapers have a special obligation. It was the Recorder plan in 1996 to sacrifice that obligation in order to prop up the bottom line. It may work from a business standpoint, but totally fails the journalistic responsibility. Not to mention intgrity.
To hell with readers, as long as the owners are happy. You keep your job. How you look yourself in the mirror is another question. (for a case study in how this works -- or doesn't -- review the sad plight of Knight-Ridder Newspapers).
Anyone can own a newspaper. Not everyone can run a good one.
During my final year there, the marching orders were cut, cut, cut.
Reporters, editors, clerks -- investigative work, in-depth stories that explain, opinion, coverage area. Cut it all. And try to fake it.
Another marching order: Don't rile the so-called powerful. What a hoot. Powerful, how? Ad dollars? Chummy talk at cocktail parties? The Recorder lost its compass.
And they wonder why circulation falls.
Readers -- the backbone of a newspaper's success -- are not fools or fooled.
I'm very sorry those I thought could carry on, couldn't. I thought I knew them. I didn't. They're scared to death, and it goes to the paycheck. They hover in the velvet coffin. Dead. But sort of comfortable. What a way to go. There are worse things in the world than being fired. Especially from a place gone off the tracks.

Tony Benjamin

PS: I can't believe my writing got on your nerves. Congratulations to your son on his Sunday story (Death in the Adirondacks)in the Gazette. Be proud. It was a winner.

Monday, June 26, 2006

No Free Lunch For Amsterdam Cops.

Amsterdam Alderman Jim Nicosia stirred up trouble last week by having the audacity to question lunch receipts that cops have turned in for reimbursement. If an Amsterdam cop works overtime, he can get anywhere from $10-$20 for lunch. Individual cops have turned in receipts for 24 cut pizzas and other gargantuan meals.

I don’t know how much per year the city spends on these meals, but with Amsterdam as cash strapped as it is, the free lunch program for cops ought to end. I heard one guy say that the cops deserve it because they put their lives on the line everyday. I lived in Amsterdam for almost thirty years and never once heard of a cop getting killed or wounded in the line of duty. Besides aren’t cops just as vulnerable when they only work an eight hour shift. There is no free lunch program for cops who don’t work overtime.

I’ve worked overtime many times and never received a meal ticket. The reward for overtime is time and a half or double time pay. Cops get so much overtime that they consistently turn up as the highest paid employees in many Mohawk Valley cities and towns. They can afford to buy their own meals.

The only other Amsterdam business that I am aware of that gives free meal tickets for overtime is Amsterdam Memorial Hospital and they give you $4 to spend at the cafeteria.

Nicosia is doing the right thing and the mayor and the rest of the aldermen should support him.

An added benefit to stopping these lunches might be that some of the Billy Fuccillo sized cops Amsterdam has might once again meet the physical fitness standards for police officers.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Today's Sunday Gazette.

My oldest son John had his first article published in The Sunday Gazette today. I am excited about it, particularly since it was the first article he has ever submitted to a newspaper. I got several rejection notices, before I got published.

The article was about the murder of Grace Brown by Chester Gillette which took place 100 years ago in Herkimer County. It is one of the most notorious murders in upstate New York. Rather than tell you about it, I refer you to Craig Brandon’s web site on the murder. Brandon wrote a book on the murder. Other books were written on the subject as well. Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy is the most famous book about the murder, although he fictionalized certain elements. Elizabeth Taylor, Shelley Winters and Montgomery Clift and Raymond Burr starred in the movie version, A Place in the Sun.

If you subscribe to the Gazette, I hope you will take the time to read John’s article in the Opinion section.

John heads to SUNY Binghamton in September to work on his PhD in English.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Mohawk Valley Gadflies.

"I am that gadfly which God has attached to the state, and all day long and in all places am always fastening upon you, arousing and persuading and reproaching you. You will not easily find another like me, and therefore I would advise you to spare me." Socrates.

Definition of Gadfly from Merriam-Webster Online.
Main Entry: gad·fly Pronunciation: 'gad-"flI Function: noun Etymology: 1gad 1 : any of various flies (as a horsefly, botfly, or warble fly) that bite or annoy livestock 2 : a person who stimulates or annoys especially by persistent criticism

One person who comments on this blog goes by the pseudonym mohawkvalleygadfly. His name got me thinking about gadflies. It’s standard practice to dismiss critics by calling them gadflies. Not everyone minds the term gadfly, however. There was even a national magazine called Gadfly. It is now defunct, but you can still order back issues. From 1973-1975 a monthly was published in Albany called The Gadfly. Back issues are available on microfilm at the NY State Library.

Paul Bray, who writes Eye From Albany columns for Empire Page, doesn’t mind the word gadfly. In fact, he calls himself a Public Television gadfly. Read his recent column on WMHT.

Here are some other Mohawk Valley gadflies.

Pat Zollinger not only keeps an eye on the Schenectady City Council, she was instrumental in keeping Mayor Brian Stratton from getting his pay raise.

Jerry Moore keeps on top of the Scotia-Glenville School District.

We have written a number of times about Glenn Heller who keeps watch over Alan Chartock and WAMC.

He is not from the Mohawk Valley, although he has travelled here a lot to speak out on issues, Bob Schulz from Washington County keeps a close eye on what the Government is currently doing to The United States Constitution.

I only include these “gadflies” because they have web sites. I am sure, and I hope, there are more than this in the area.

A final thought. Using Merriam-Webster's first definition, if you refer to your critic as a gadfly, then you might just be an ass.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Can A Cow Get A Square Meal In A Round Barn?

Round Barn in Town of Glen, Montgomery County New York

I wouldn't last one day as a farmer. A local farmer cuts our two acres of hay and leaves me a few bales for our horse. Today, I have to bring in thirteen bales, and I am dreading it. Of course, I can only move one bale at a time and I have to do it with a wheelbarrow. Nevertheless, it's not that big of a deal.

Inspite of my dislike of farming, I have a fascination with old barns. The more unique the better. The above photo is of a round barn on Round Barn Road in the Town of Glen in Montgomery County. I don't know of any other round barns in Montgomery County, although there may be others. There are many round barns however, throughout the country.

View photos of other round barns.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Ernie Tetrault. More Than A Hearing Aid Spokesperson.

I’m not sure how to read Albany Eye’s take on Ernie Tetrault. I don’t want to overreact the way Fred Dicker and Paul Vandenburgh did to the TU’s piece on John Sweeney’s smoking.

So let me just say this. I met Ernie Tetrault for the first time last Friday and was extremely impressed. I hope when I am 79 that I have the same vitality he has.

His hearing aid commercials are only one part of his life. While many people his age are content to play bingo once each week, he still produces two television shows--Metro and Justice Now, takes courses, travels and is an activist for justice in the Capital Region.

Whether you do or don’t like Alan Chartock, in the piece below taken from The Media and Me by Alan Chartock, Chartock credits Tetrault for his own rise in the world of television.

“The year was 1984. Mondale was running for President against Reagan and I was supposed to offer commentary on national and local races. However, something happened. Soon after I arrived, the anchor, Ernie Tetrault, unexpectedly turned to me and mentioned that since I was a native New York City resident, he wanted my views on a breaking story. It seemed that a man named Bernard Goetz had taken out two pearl handle revolvers in the New York City subway and shot the men he described as his attackers. Goetz considered the men to be thugs and said they were not “borrowing” money but extorting money from him, shot them and left them in terrible shape. Knowing that he was in real trouble, Goetz fled both the scene and the state, a wanted man, and Tetrault wanted to know what I thought about what had happened.

When you’re doing this kind of thing you’ve got to think fast. I answered that I had taken the D train on the IND line to the Bronx every day when I attended Hunter College, that I had been menaced several times, and that I didn’t care what anyone else was going to do but that I was going to send fifty dollars to the Bernie Goetz defense fund. The reaction was instantaneous. Every phone lit up. People were screaming into the phone, mostly in appreciation for what they said was my honesty, the news director moved me from twice a week to every night and my television career took off. “

Read a short bio of Ernie Tetrault.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Child Protective Services Does As Much Damage As It Does Good.

Note: The following article that I wrote appeared in The Sunday Gazette on Father's Day. The published version differed slightly from this version because the editor made a few minor changes.

On October 8, 2004, Montgomery County took my daughter away from me, and I entered the surreal and hitherto unknown world of Family Court, Social Services, lawyers, foster care, Child Preventive Services and Child Protective Services (CPS). I got my daughter back eight months later and have spent the last year trying to undo the damage that was done to her while in the county’s care. While at Northeast Parent & Child Society’s Children’s Home in Schenectady, where the county placed her, she learned to smoke marijuana and steal cold medicine to get high, among other things.

While some of the “surrogate” parents who looked after my daughter tried hard, the only requirements for their job was a driver’s license and a high school diploma. Many were in their twenties and had little or no parenting experience. The Child Preventive caseworker that I refused to let the county pawn off on me was arrested last year for Medicaid fraud, and one CPS investigator in Montgomery County was arrested on drug charges. And they had the gall to say I was a bad dad.

I was not accused of abuse. Instead the county brought a petition of neglect against me based on the nebulous charges of “inadequate guardianship” and “emotional neglect.” My daughter was in Ellis Hospital at the time and a staff member at the hospital called the state hotline and made several incredible statements including one that said, “If the child is sent home instead [of placing her elsewhere] her safety cannot be ensured due to the restrictive demands of the father to do family chores.” I don’t understand what the phrase restrictive demands means, but I don’t thinking keeping your room clean, helping to take care of your own horse, and emptying the dishwasher once a day qualify as restrictive demands.

But I don’t want to say any more about my case, at least for now, because what happened to me is minor compared to what has happened to other people. After listening to other parents who have had similar and worse experiences, after reading Carl Strock’s excellent Mother’s Day column about a mother who had her children taken away, his follow-up column, and letters to the editor on the subject, I felt it was time to speak up.

Unfortunately, many parents caught up in the labyrinthine system we give the oxymoronic title, Family Court--a place where families are dissolved by divorce and children are taken away from their parents--often do not have the skills to defend themselves or are so ravaged by the ordeal, they are unable to. My experience has changed me dramatically, and one of my many life goals is to work toward the reform of our Family Courts and Child Protective Services.

There are two kinds of abuse occurring in our society. There are parents who abuse children, but at the same time there are parents and children being abused by Child Protective Services and Family Court.

Indeed, at least two million families a year suffer at the hands of Child Protective Services. According to the Federal government, three million child abuse and neglect reports are filed each year in the U.S. Two million of those are found to be without merit.Nevertheless, those two million families have to go through an investigative process that is both emotionally and financially exhausting. For example, a Northumberland couple just spent 35,000 dollars to defend themselves against abuse charges. They were found innocent, but at an incredibly high price.

In some instances, investigators actually abuse children. The most notorious example is the Fells Acres Day School case in Massachusetts. Several people went to prison for years; all were eventually exonerated. The supposed sexual abuse never occurred, yet if you read the transcripts of the investigations as I have, you find investigators talking to pre-school children about things that can only be described as pornographic. Innocent children, who had never been abused, had their minds filled with garbage by people whose job was to protect them.

Several factors contribute to Child Protective Services abusing children and parents. First, most reports to CPS are made anonymously and the name of the person who files the report cannot be given to the person under investigation. It’s not difficult for a person who has a grudge against someone, to pick up the phone and make a false report. Secondly, while it is against the law to file a false report, it is only a misdemeanor and rarely is anyone charged with filing a false report. Thirdly, in order to prosecute someone for filing a false report, you have to prove they did not do it in good faith. Fourthly, many professional people (doctors, psychiatrists, social workers, teachers, nurses, etc.) are required by law to report suspected child abuse or neglect. If they don’t, they can face charges. Last year a school principal and teacher in Florida were jailed for failing to report a suspected case of abuse. Many mandated reporters report everything and anything to protect their own posterior. Finally, CPS investigators have civil immunity. They cannot be sued for anything they do and because of that immunity they often abuse the incredible power that they have.

In spite of all of the new laws that have been passed over the last several decades, making it easier to detect, report, investigate and prosecute child abuse, child abuse remains a serious problem. Indeed, CPS seems often to miss the worst cases, those resulting in the deaths of children. Could it be that CPS is spending too much time investigating false reports of child abuse and neglect and therefore using up resources that are needed to investigate real cases of child abuse?

In a report on Child Protective Services reform, prepared by Walter R. McDonald & Associates for the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services in 2001, several states had initiated reforms of CPS that resulted in earlier detection and prevention of child abuse and a decrease in the number of families subjected to unnecessary and painful investigations. Unfortunately, New York State is one of the few states that has not initiated any reform efforts. It’s time the state did.

Today my wife and I and our three children will spend the day together. I am thankful for that. At the same time, I feel a great deal of sorrow for those parents who are unable to do so because their children were needlessly torn from them by Child Protective Services.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Danascara Place Still For Sale.

On March 28, I wrote about a historic Mohawk Valley estate, The Danascara Place, that was up for sale. I drove by it the other day and it’s still for sale. I’m not sure why it hasn’t sold, but since it has been on the market for several months, I have a feeling you can get it for less than the asking price.

Danascara Estate Historic Marker

Danascara Place

Danascara Barn. No Longer Part Of The Estate.
This barn was originally part of the estate, but now is part of a separate parcel. I almost bought this barn and 18 acres several years ago, but my offer was refused. Then it was sold the next year for less than my offer.

Danascara Creek
BOCES has a license from New York State to let their septic system empty into this beautiful creek.

Danascara Bridge. No Longer Part of the Estate.
This bridge was a means to get from the house to the barn. It is now part of the property that the barn is on.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Happy Father's Day.

This is one of my favorite poems and so suitable for Father's Day.

Those Winter Sundays

Sundays too my father got up early
And put his clothes on in the blueback cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I'd wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he'd call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love's austere and lonely offices?

Robert Hayden

Learn more about Robert Hayden.

Friday, June 16, 2006

A Time To Praise.

As a blogger, I find it very easy to be critical. There is so much to criticize. I notice that most other bloggers are the same way. Today, however, I would like to praise instead of being critical.

First, I would like to praise Judge Felix Catena for setting up a mental health court in Montgomery County. It's long overdue. Mental illness shows up in the prison population three times more often than in the general population.

Secondly, I've noticed that The Amsterdam Recorder has been writing some of their own editorials lately. I've criticized the paper in the past for simply reprinting editorials from other papers. Keep up the good work and expand it until you are writing your own editorials at least five out of seven days a week.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Daily Gazette Needs A Face Lift.

I may be cutting my own throat by criticizing The Daily Gazette. The Sunday Gazette has published many of my articles over the past fifteen years and paid me for them to boot. But publishing a huge, two part series on a 56 year old Scotia resident’s face lift is a little more than I can stand. The second part ran today.

I am sorry that Samantha Buck does not have the self assurance to age gracefully. I am sorry that she has bought into the distinctly American idea that aging is some sort of evil.

But I feel even more sorry for poor folks throughout the world that could live a whole year on what it cost for Samantha’s face lift.

I also feel sorry for the people who could benefit from The Daily Gazette spending more money and time on investigative journalism rather than on lifestyle pieces. One of the big complaints from the media is that investigative journalism is too expensive. The real problem, however, is not that the media doesn’t have enough money to do investigative journalism, it’s that they don’t allocate the money properly. Too many touched up press releases. Too many puff pieces. Not enough news and not enough digging beneath the surface of the news.

The Daily Gazette is not the only culprit. Actually, as I have said before, The Gazette does more investigative journalism than most of the media in The Capital Region. Nevertheless, it’s not enough.

Albany County Leadership Still Can't Accept A Black D. A.

The people of Albany County must have wanted David Soares to be D.A. because they elected him to office, but the people who run Albany County are less enthusiastic.

First, we had David Soares’ remarks at an international conference in Vancouver, Canada back in May. Soares attacked New York State’s Rockefeller Drug Laws as being ineffective. He said that most U.S. lawmakers support the system of ineffective drug laws anyway “because it provides law enforcement officials with lucrative jobs.” The Albany County police chief, sheriff, and some county legislators called for his resignation.

Now Soares has begun a grand jury investigation into how and where more than 200 million dollars a year in pork barrel spending is spent in New York State and Joe Bruno is having a fit.

It seems that Albany County is just not quite ready for a Black D.A. People forget that Blacks look at crime and justice in a different way than Whites do, and for good reason.

Blacks make up a disproportionate share of the prison population and death row. Blacks are more likely to be pulled over, searched, mis-identified by witnesses, and arrested than other races. The Rockefeller Drug Laws and the Drug Free School Zone laws have also placed a disproportionate amount of Blacks in prison.

I, for one, am glad that Soares has opposed the Rockefeller Drug Laws. And it’s about time that a law enforcement official took a close look at the State Legislature. Maybe it takes a Black D.A. to really take on the white collar crime that passes itself off as legislation.

It’s a good thing his name is David because he is taking on a Goliath.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Barry Scheck & The Innocence Project.

The equivalent of pub crawling for me is to go out and hunt up used books wherever I can. That may be at bookstores, antique shops, garage sales or thrift stores. I buy to resell and I buy to read. Yesterday, I stopped in a thrift shop in Amsterdam and picked up three books for a quarter. (I'd like to see Barnes & Noble or Borders beat those prices).

One of the books was Actual Innocence by Barry Scheck, Peter Neufeld & Jim Dwyer. If you remember, Barry Scheck was the DNA expert for the defense in the O. J. Simpson trial. I couldn’t stand Scheck back then. I thought he was helping a guilty man go free, and I still believe that’s true.

But I have a new found respect for Scheck, and for defense attorneys in general. I stayed up and read more than half this book last night. For those of you who think that innocent people are never found guilty, you ought to read this book. There are many other good books on the subject as well. If that doesn’t convince you, take a look at Sheck’s Innocence Project, which has helped free 180 people by doing DNA tests on the evidence that was used to convict these people.

Scheck’s book, Actual Innocence, shows how snitches, false and forced confessions, incompetent defense attorneys, junk science, misconduct on the part of cops and prosecutors, race, misidentification by eye witnesses, and poorly conducted lab tests have lead to the imprisonment of innocent people.

I’ve heard many people say, so what. It’s only a small percentage of the population that gets imprisoned falsely.

But would they say that, if they were one of that group?

Scheck's book also calls for various reforms that would practically eliminate false convictions. It also deals with the problems of the convict who has been set free because he is innocent. He has as difficult a time re-adjusting to life as the ex-con, but often does not qualify for the programs set up for ex-cons. When a convicted man is exonerated, it's as if his trial, conviction and prison time never happened. There are few programs set up to help these men and women.

Grab a copy of this book if you can and read it. It is enlightening.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

WVTL to observe National Accordion Awareness Month

Here is a press release from Bob Cudmore at WVTL in Amsterdam.

Contact: Bob Cudmore 346-6657

Amsterdam Ward 4 Supervisor David Dybas will co-host The Bob Cudmore Show on AM 1570 WVTL in Amsterdam from 8-10 a.m. on Friday, June 16 in honor of National Accordion Awareness Month.

Dybas, a well-known local political figure who is a native of the city’s predominately Polish neighborhood, is also an accomplished accordionist. In his younger days, Dybas was featured on accordion in several bands including the Hi Tones, Top Hats and Paul Capp Trio. More recently, he has played accordion at events celebrating Amsterdam’s ethnic diversity and at local nursing homes.

Dybas promises to show the importance of the accordion to music around the world on Friday’s program, also heard online at

National Accordion Awareness Month was established in 1989 to promote the accordion, spread the word about the resurgence in popularity in the accordion and to educate people about the instrument.

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Fuccillo Factor.

For some reason when you do a google search of Billy Fuccillo, a post I wrote months ago, which was not about him, but happens to mention him pops up number six on the first page of hits. So a lot of people come to my blog, looking for information on Billy Fuccillo, only to be disappointed.

So as a public service, we are letting you know everything we know about Billy Fuccillo.

1. He’s huge.

2. Friends of ours bought a car from him and are satisfied.

3. I personally would not buy a car from Billy Fuccillo because he reminds me of the stereotypical used car salesman.

4. He has an auto plaza in Amsterdam and Nelliston. They are huge, gaudy and ugly.

If any readers have bought a car from Fuccillo, please tell us about your experience by leaving a comment here.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Who In Heck Is Abijah Peck?

Abijah Peck's House in Clifton Park, New York.
I took a different road home from Clifton Park a few weeks ago and stumbled on this historic house. I love old houses. This one is even more meaningful to me because the man who lived here was not only the founder of the Baptist Church in Clifton Park, but also the Baptist Church in Galway, where I attend.

I found the following about the house in the minutes of the Town of Clifton Park. “John Scherer, Town Historian, explained Abijah Peck was an early settler of the town who leased the house in 1807 which was later purchased by a grandson in the 1860's. Abijah Peck established the Clifton Park Center Baptist Church in 1794. Mr. Scherer said the house descended in the family to Heath Peck who sold most of the farmland that became Clifton Knolls to Robert Van Patten just before 1960.”

Sign In Front Of Abijah Peck's House In Clifton Park, New York.
Historical marker in front of Abijah Peck’s house.

Portrait of Abijah Peck.

Oil painting of Peck that hangs in the Clifton Park Baptist Church. Abijah Peck (1758-1848 was a Revolutionary War veteran, a weaver by trade, and a dynamic lay preacher. He moved from Connecticut to Galway, New York around 1785 and set up his loom there. Around 1790 he established a Baptist society in Galway. He served as its first deacon and often preached as well.

In 1794 he moved his family and weaving shop to Clifton Park Center and founded a new Baptist society.

Baptist Church In Galway, New York Founded By Abijah Peck.
Baptist Church in Galway, New York. One of the two churches Abijah Peck founded in Saratoga County. Worship services have been held here for more than two centuries and are still held here every Sunday morning at 11:00a.m.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Glenn Heller, Or The Invisible Man Returns.

My first thought after getting off the phone with Glenn Heller the other night was “with friends like that, who needs enemas.” Not that Heller is a friend, but I think that I have treated him fairly and supported him more than most people have.

When I e-mailed my questions to Glenn Heller, he responded that he would rather talk by phone and I could record the call. I told him that I had no means of recording a phone call and prefer answers in writing as I don’t like to misquote people. In any event, he did call me, but in the entire 45 minute phone call, failed to answer one of my questions.

I still believe that Heller’s charges of tax fraud by Alan Chartock and WAMC deserve further investigation. At the same time, I believe stronger than ever, that Glenn Heller is obscuring his own message. I explained what I meant the other night, during the few minutes he came up for air and let me talk. It was meant to be constructive criticism, but he did not seem to get it.

My point is simply this. If you have something to say, then you should remove as many obstructions as possible that might hinder people from hearing your message. Doing this does not compromise your message.

Take for example the Catholic Church. It has a strong message concerning chastity. But when priests break that vow and when the church covers it up, it hinders people from hearing the message. On the other hand, nothing hindered people from hearing Mother Teresa’s message on love and charity because she practiced what she preached.

Another way a person’s message is unnecessarily hindered from being heard is the way they present it. For example, I used to be a Rush Limbaugh fan. I no longer am, not because of his message. I still believe in a lot of what he says. But he calls people idiots on the air, refers to the media multiple times during a show as the drive by media, and refuses to give his opponents any credit, even when credit sometimes is due.

Columnist Molly Ivins, a leftist, does the same thing to the right. She is difficult for me to read because no matter what President Bush does, according to Ivins he is always wrong.

Both Limbaugh & Ivins preach only to the choir. It’s difficult to imagine that they actually convert anyone to their point of view.

That’s why I like columnist Richard Cohen, even though I disagree with him at least half the time. He makes an effort to reach out to the other side. He treats them with respect. He acknowledges when his opponents have something worthwhile to say, and he tries to convert those who haven’t made up their mind on an issue.

When I asked Heller “what about the fence sitters“, he said they were a bunch of cowards. I said there are two kinds of fence sitters, those who are trying to please both sides and those who genuinely are trying to make up their minds about an issue. He said he didn’t give a damn about them, all he wanted was an IRS auditor to investigate Alan Chartock.

At the same time he told me he wants people to call and write the news media and pressure them to investigate his charges. I say if all you need is the IRS, then call the IRS.

A third way a man can obscure his message is by remaining invisible. It makes people wonder what he has to hide. To me Glenn Heller is the invisible man. He refuses to answer any questions about himself, except that he did tell Fred Dicker that he is a stay at home father.

Heller told me I should focus on his message not the messenger. While it’s true that the message is more important than the messenger, the messenger is not unimportant. When you refuse to answer simple questions about your background and life, then people begin to wonder why, and they have a hard time hearing what you are trying to say.

I’m not saying that Heller has something bad he is trying to hide. I’m only saying his penchant for remaining obscure only make people more curious about who he is and less interested in what he has to say.

As an example of a writer who people read but know little about and don’t care to know much about, Heller mentioned Gay Talese. A simple google search reveals, however, that there is a lot of information available on Gay Talese and people are very interested in Talese.

As a writer, I try to be transparent. You can find out a lot about me from reading my blog and as time goes on, you will find out more. I don’t always deliberately write about myself, but I nevertheless do write about myself.

Transparency, not opaqueness, leads to invisibility. And when you truly become invisible, as Heller has not, just maybe people will read or hear your message.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Some Questions For Glenn Heller.

This is part three of a series on Glenn Heller, outspoken critic of Alan Chartock & WAMC. Because I am short on time today, I will be posting a fourth part tomorrow.

Here are some questions I e-mailed Glenn Heller yesterday. Last night he called me and we talked for about 45 minutes. I will discuss that phone conversation tomorrow.

1. You obviously have issues with Alan Chartock, but do you have issue’s with WAMC itself? I am not talking about the corporation but the station’s format, shows, etc.?

2. How often do you listen to WAMC? What shows do you enjoy? Do you discourage people from donating to WAMC? Have you ever made a donation?

3. It does seem that you are somewhat obsessed with Alan Chartock. Of all the people you could focus on in Eastern New York and Western Massacusetts, why have you chosen him? Why not Joe Bruno, George Pataki or Jerry Jennings, for example? Do you believe there are other public figures in the area that deserve the same kind of scrutiny you give Chartock?

4. Have you ever met Chartock? Is there anything that Chartock has done that has negatively impacted you or someone you care about?

5. Have Chartock’s liberal political views influenced your focus on him?

6. You say that you are a stay at home dad right now. Would you mind sharing a little of your employment history and your educational background?

7. What organizations do you belong to?

8. Do you have any hobbies besides Chartock?

9. You are also concerned about the way GE polluted the Hudson River with PCBs. Are you doing much about that right now?

10. Do you plan at some point to move your focus from Alan Chartock to someone or something else?

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Is The Medium The Message And Where Have All The Capital District Investigative Journalists Gone?

This is the second part of a three part series on Glenn Heller, outspoken critic of Alan Chartock and WAMC’s Northeast Radio Network. Yesterday we focused on Heller’s message, today his medium, and tomorrow on the man himself.

If Fred Dicker of the New York Post believes that Glenn Heller’s allegations of tax fraud by WAMC Northeast Radio Network and its CEO Alan Chartock are serious enough and supported enough by facts, that they should at least be investigated, then the question remains, why haven’t more of the Capital Region media addressed Heller’s allegations?

In some cases, the answer seems obvious.

Alan Chartock is the political commentator on WNYT.

Rex Smith, Editor and Vice President of The Albany Times Union, is a member of WAMC’s Media Project.

Alisa Streeter, news anchor at WTEN, is also a member of Chartock’s Media Project.

Copyright WAMC. All rights reserved.

Chartock is a columnist for The Berkshire Eagle and a syndicated columnist for other newspapers.

Another partial explanation is that there just isn’t much investigative journalism going on in the Capital District, and now that Judy Sanders is leaving WRGB there will be even less. Carl Strock, of The Gazette is the only active investigative journalist in the area. Sometimes The Times Union does a bit of investigative journalism.

A third explanation, as far as Heller’s allegations are concerned, is the medium he writes for--the internet. Even though the traditional media now provide news on the internet and have begun blogging, they are still suspicious of anything that originates on the internet. There is an incredible bias against any news that originates on the net. In reality though, no news originates on the net, just as no news originates in a newspaper.

The news makers produce the muck. The muckrakers only give the public what the muck producers leave on the ground, and whether it is a newspaper, a tv show or a blog that presents that muck to the world, what is the difference?

Heller has consistently said that the important thing is the message, not the medium or the messenger. I agree completely with him as far as the medium is concerned. There is a lot of junk on the internet, but that news stream flowing from television and the rest of the traditional news media isn‘t exactly a crystal river.

Where I disagree with Heller is his idea that the messenger doesn’t matter. I say it shouldn’t matter, but sometimes the messenger does get in the way of the message. In that respect, I think that Heller is his own worst enemy, and the man may be obscuring the message.

More on that tomorrow.

Historic Butlersbury In Process Of Being Sold.

Butlersbury, one of the most historic homes in the Mohawk Valley, is in the process of being sold. I won’t say who is buying it because I don’t want to queer the deal. However, the people buying it have the knowledge and ability to preserve and restore the house the way it should be.

Butlersbury as of June 6, 2006.
Here is a photo of Butlersbury that I took yesterday. Notice the beehive oven on the end of the house. The siding is modern and will eventually have to be replaced.

See some older photos of Butlersbury and read more about Butlersbury from John Vrooman’s Forts And Firesides Of The Mohawk Country (1951)

Read more about John and Walter Butler.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

While Alan Chartock Raises Funds, Fred Dicker & Glenn Heller Raise Questions.

This is the first of a three part series on Glenn Heller, outspoken critic of Alan Chartock and WAMC’s Northeast Radio Network. Today we focus on Heller’s message, tomorrow his medium, and the next day on the man himself.

I have an unusual audio tape. On one side is Fred Dicker’s interview with Glenn Heller on WROW yesterday, June 5. On the other side is part of WAMC‘s June Fundraiser, which also started yesterday.

I must say Heller came off well in the interview, much better than he comes off on his web site; and the interview was much more interesting than the fundraiser. Dicker didn’t just lob soft balls either. Dicker primarily questioned Heller about his latest allegations that Alan Chartock and WAMC have neither disclosed or paid taxes on the many fringe benefits that Chartock enjoys.

What are these taxable perks? According to Heller‘s article:

Mr. Chartock's taxable benefits over the past twenty-plus years include use of WAMC-owned vehicles to commute to and from work and for personal travel; use of a downtown apartment suite in a WAMC-owned building; use of WAMC-owned assets for personal purposes; and use of organization employees on company time to perform personal services and to engage in work intended for the CEO's personal gain.

After reading Heller’s article twice and listening to the interview twice, I believe that Heller proves beyond a doubt that Chartock received these benefits and that WAMC was required to report them and didn’t. The proof is in the many primary sources that Heller provides links to, as well as the testimony of Alan Chartock's former driver. One point that Dicker made and Heller has not adequately addressed though is that even though WAMC did not report these perks, Alan Chartock might have reported them on his personal tax returns. Heller admitted in the interview that he has not seen Chartock’s personal tax returns.

It does seem unlikely, however, that Chartock would have reported the perks on his returns, while WAMC would not have. Even if Chartock did report them on his personal income tax returns, as CEO of WAMC, he would still be partially responsible for their not being reported by WAMC.

One thing yesterday’s interview with Dicker does is shut the mouths of Heller’s critics who say that if his allegations are true, why is no one in the mainstream media paying any attention to them. Dicker has interviewed Heller twice now. As an editor of the New York Post, host of a radio show, and respected political commentator for decades, is not Dicker part of the mainstream media?

Dicker knows a little bit about public figures not paying taxes on perks, as he was the journalist who uncovered the fact that Hugh Carey (Hugh Who?), former governor of New York State, was flying his prodigious progeny all over the place in a state owned jet. Based on Dicker’s investigative journalism, Carey had to pay up.

Dicker believes that these allegations are serious enough and supported enough by facts, that they should at least be investigated. I agree. The question remains then, why haven’t more of the local media addressed Heller’s allegations, and why hasn’t the local media ever looked closely at Chartock’s media empire?

I will make a stab at answering that question tomorrow.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Seen Around Amsterdam This Past Week.

An Amsterdam Recorder customer expresses his dissatisfaction with a sign on Northampton Road. By the way, readers have continued to comment on how The Amsterdam Recorder can become a better newspaper, even though we haven’t posted about it for weeks.

Seen outside the Amsterdam Post Office. My kind of license plate.

The website on the back of the van is I don’t know what kind of site it is, because it won’t allow me access to it.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

New York State Blotto & Lotto.

This post contains part six and seven in a series of posts on Crime & Punishment in New York State.

BLOTTO! When the going gets tough, Tuffey gets going, but will Glenn Goord?

It’s time for Glenn Goord, the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Correctional Services (DOCS), to adopt a tough anti-alcohol policy for his department, similar to the one Jim Tuffey (also spelled Tuffy by the local media) just adopted for the Albany Police Department. (Indeed, we recommend that this policy be adopted by all law enforcement agencies within New York State.)

After years of problems with officers drinking before going to work, Tuffey’s new policy is simple. Officers cannot consume any alcohol within eight hours of reporting for duty.

DOCS has been plagued by the same alcohol problems that Albany’s PD has. Goord recently admitted to drinking and driving while on duty, although he was not legally drunk. Or so he says, since he was never administered a breathalyzer test when pulled over for talking on his cell phone while driving.

A DOCS corrections officer was arrested just a couple of weeks ago for killing a girl while driving drunk.

DOCS officials spend hours hanging out at OTB and Duffy’s Tavern in Albany. You can bet they aren’t drinking lemonade there.

If Goord is lacking Tuffey‘s manhood and cannot make the policy change, then maybe he needs to step down.

LOTTO! Corruption in the Schenectady PD? You betcha!

Just as it was being announced that Michael F. Hamilton, Jr., one of the Schenectady gang of four corrupt cops sent to prison in 2002, is to be released on June 18, we find out that Schenectady police detective, Christopher Maher is under investigation for telling a gambling friend that two bookies were under electronic surveillance. The friend then passed the information on to the bookies.

If Hamilton did what he is alleged to have done, then he deserves discipline.

But there is another story here.


The state either should shut down the lottery and OTB or open up the gambling business to all who wish to participate. Except for Native Americans, New York State has a monopoly on gambling.

Gambling is the only vice that is legal for the state to make money from, but illegal for everyone else.

There are no state run whore houses and no state run crack houses.

And the state is a merciless bookie compared to the illegal bookie.

Every little store in Amsterdam used to have its backroom where gambling took place. An old timer told me that if a man lost his whole paycheck to a bookie, his wife could appeal to the bookie. The bookie would give the wife all of her husband’s money back, and then her husband was blacklisted by that bookie.

See if New York State will do that for you, the next time your spouse spends the grocery money on lottery tickets?

And the idea of lottery money going to pay for education is a joke. It’s the other way around. Many parents are spending money that should go into the bank for their children’s college on the lottery.

Stop the hypocrisy now!

If You Haven't Read The Bible At Least Once, Can You Call Yourself Educated?

The motto for my book business is "He who can read, but doesn't, is also illiterate." I should add to that "He who does read, but has not read The Bible, is not fully educated."

The Bible is one of the most influential books in western civilization, yet many people, including those who say they believe everything it says, have not read it.

Biblical literacy has nothing to do with religion. The same could be said of The Koran. If there ever was a time when non-Muslims should read The Koran, it is now.

The Bible Literacy Project, a non-sectarian, non-profit group, dedicated to promoting biblical literacy, has just issued a press release, University Professors in New National Report agree: An educated person needs to know about the Bible. The press release concerns the second major report issued by The Bible Literacy Project since its inception.

Here is part of what the press release said:

What Leading English Professors Said When Asked: What do you think about the following statement? “Regardless of a person’s faith, an educated person needs to know about the Bible.”

"Absolutely. [Without the Bible] it’s like using a dictionary with one-third of the words removed.” Dr. George P. Landow, Brown University

“True. You’re simply ignorant of yourself if you don’t know the Bible.” Dr. Ina Lipkowitz, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

“Definitely. Agree.” Dr. Robert Kiely, Harvard University

“Not to have that is almost crippling in students’ ability to be sophisticated readers.” Dr. Ulrich Knoefplmacher, Princeton University

“Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.” Dr. Thomas P. Roche, Princeton University

“Incontestable statement.” Dr. Ralph Williams, University of Michigan

“Absolutely necessary. [Bible allusions are] more concentrated and more specific and profound and revisited over and over again; more necessary than classics.” Dr. Stuart K. Culver, University of Utah

“Yes. A no-brainer.” Dr. Gordon M. Braden, University of Virginia

“Every educated person deserves to know the Bible.” Dr. Leland Ryken, Wheaton College, IL

Read the rest of the press release and download the entire report.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Glenn Heller Not The Only Person Upset With Alan Chartock.

I guess Glenn Heller is not the only person upset with the left leaning bias of Alan Chartock and WAMC. Here is what an NPR producer had to say after listening to WAMC, while driving through upstate New York.

“I was driving through upstate New York and listening to the local public radio station, and there was this guy on the air ranting,” says one Washington-based NPR news producer, who didn’t want to be identified. “He was talking about the war in Iraq and how wrong it was and how we’re being held hostage as a country by this right-wing administration.”

The NPR producer assumed he had tuned into a Pacifica radio station, one of a small network of community stations that broadcast left-of-center advocacy-journalism programs. “It was actually sort of entertaining,” the producer recalls. “But then I nearly couldn’t believe it when this guy said, ‘In just a few moments we’ll be returning to NPR’s All Things Considered.’”

What the NPR producer was hearing was a pledge drive hosted by Alan Chartock, president of WAMC/Northeast Public Radio, a regional network of seven NPR member stations that is a primary source of NPR news in upstate New York and the Berkshires. Chartock’s outspoken political commentary—as well as that of opposing voices—is regularly heard on the stations he manages. He also publishes a blog on WAMC’s web site that has recently featured sharp attacks on the Republican Party, the Bush administration, and “neocons” in general.

“If you took a photo of me in the car,” says the NPR producer, “my jaw would have been on the floor. It really freaked me out. As a producer, I want NPR to be viewed as middle-of-the-road. I want people to think that NPR is fair. But when someone like Chartock gets on the air, it makes us look like a left-of-center organization, just as we believe Fox [cable news] is a right-wing organization because they mix commentary with news. And I guarantee you that Joe Listener out there is not making a distinction between the crazy local guy and the reasonable national organization.”

Read the entire article in The Baltimore City Paper, an alternative newspaper serving the Baltimore Metro area since 1977.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Some Veterinarians Lack Horse Sense.

Sometimes professional people are incredibly ignorant. Last Sunday, Niskayuna veterinarian, Ronald A. Scharf, wrote a piece for The Sunday Gazette in which he argued that laws banning specific dog breeds will not prevent dog bites. His basic argument was that all breeds of dogs bite, so banning some breeds won’t change anything. He also argued that statistics on dog bites are unreliable.

The point Scharf is missing is that while all breeds may bite, and maybe even all breeds bite in equal numbers, some dogs by the nature of their size and strength can do more damage and and their bites are more likely to end up being fatal. The statistics below are taken from a website which is in total agreement with Scharf. Except for the Chow Chow, none of the breeds involved in fatal attacks are small dogs.

Breeds Involved In Fatal Attacks On Humans.
Pit Bull and Pit-bull-type dogs (21%), Mixed breed dogs (16%), Rottweilers (13%), German Shepherd Dogs (9%), Wolf Dogs (5%), Siberian Huskies (5%), Malamutes (4%), Great Danes (3%), St. Bernards (3%), Chow Chows (3%), Doberman Pinschers (3%), other breeds & non-specified breeds (15%).

When I go out for exercise, I walk softly and carry a big stick. Most of my neighbors do as well. We don’t carry canes, clubs or baseball bats because we are worried about being bitten by a Daschund or a Chihuahua. We carry them because of the large and/or powerful breeds of dogs that not only can bite, but can seriously maim or kill.

While we are on the subject of veterinarians, how is it that veterinarians are allowed to benefit from raids on farms? A woman wrote me after a swat team raided her farm. In her letter she said, “Dr. Bluvas [a Fulton County veterinarian] took two of my horses for himself. They were a black standardbred gelding and a black quarter horse gelding.”

People often assume that all of the animals taken in these raids are essentially worthless. Not true. Thousands of dollars worth of good animals are taken. Vets and Humane Society workers often get first dibs.

Not all vets are bad of course. We have had good experiences with some of them, but none can match my favorite veterinarian.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Customer Service Just Over The Verizon.

My phone went out during the storm the other night. I spent ten minutes yesterday morning talking to a robot at Verizon. It will be four days until they can send someone out to repair it. And I have to be available from 8:00a.m to 6:00p.m. on Saturday in case the repairman needs to get into the house.

Thankfully, I have a cell phone, but not everyone does. What if I were an older person without one. How would I contact 911?

I plan to file a complaint with someone somewhere about this.

Last year I waited all day for them to install the phone and no one showed up. When I called Verizon to find out why, the person answering said it was because they had no record that such an address existed. I told her the house had been there for over two hundred years. Besides if they weren't coming, why couldn't they have called me. She didn't have an answer for that one.

The installer did show up for the second appointment. I did not stay around to watch him because I had things to do, and I figured he knew what he was doing. He ran the wire down the side of the house using only one clamp. Now the wire has stretched out and flaps against the house everytime the wind blows.

I can't get roadrunner where I live because cable is not available. We can get cable run down our road, if at least twenty residents are willing to cough up a one time $650 construction fee. So I got an advertisement in the mail to try Verizon DSL, but when I contacted them they said it wasn't available at my address.

So I'm stuck with dial-up service, which I can live with, if Verizon would maintain the phone lines.

Just one more example of customer service not being what it used to be or what it should be.