Just to catch up on some of the goings on in a couple of cities in the area.
The last time you heard anything about the Emergency Response Team in Troy was when it was getting cut from the budget.
Then, as expected, the city found a way to come up with the money, despite the fact it was, at one time, looking at a 20-plus point tax increase. The tax hike was eventually lowered to 14.5 by the Council – or at lease some on the council.
And then, we get a press release about how the team arrested a drug dealer. It’s the first time I’ve seen a press release specifically about the ERT in a long time, so the timing is just a tad suspect.
The whole scenario really isn’t any surprise. And neither is the statement issued by Troy Mayor Patrick Madden on reinstating the ERT.
“During the last several weeks, my administration has worked closely with the Troy Police Department leadership and members of the ERT to ensure the continued operation of this valuable and highly trained unit … We will continue to work closely with members of the ERT …”
Why do members of the ERT have any say in how City Hall or the chief want them to operate, train or do anything, really? Sure, input of the troops is important, but it’s the chief who should have the final say in what the troops do and how they do it.
But, as we all know, the PBA has been running the Police Department and City Hall for decades.
Chief John Tedesco wanted to change things around in 2011 and the big, bad ERT members threw a hissy and quit. The whole team, all of them, just up and quit.
And now, six years later, after the administration cuts the program as a way to balance the budget and keep taxes within some semblance of affordability, the team is screaming how vital it is to public safety and how without the ERT standing at the ready, Troy will be overrun by a horde of screaming hooligans looking to kill your mother and rape your father.
I gave the administration credit for cutting the team because, in part, it’s expensive and hardly ever used, and could easily be regionalized. For example, agencies from all over the area could throw in a man or two — or even four or five — and the cost of training and equipment could be spread out among the agencies, rather than one municipality paying for its own little militarized unit on its own.
It would be more economic and much more efficient.
Troy was without an ERT for eight months in 2011, and the hordes of hooligans didn’t make any noticeable inroads into the lives Trojans.
At the same time, I see there is a petition floating around to keep the city pools open. Anyone want to wager on whether kids will swim in city pools this summer?
I’ll bet a paycheck they do.
And since the ERT doesn’t have too much else to do, the members could stand guard, or maybe even take a dip after a long day of training.
We will never know what Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy did or didn’t do on May 19, 2016.
The whitewash of a report by Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen certainly didn’t reach any steadfast conclusion.
Well, we know what he did, but we don’t know why he chased two women through the mean streets of Schenectady at around 1 a.m.
He might have been drunk, according to one of the cops at the scene at City Hall, where two women led McCarthy.
But, then again, he might not have been, according to other cops at the same scene. Must be nobody thought to give him a field sobriety test or anything like that.
Actually, I think how the cops handled the whole thing is more disturbing than what McCarthy did.
The worst case scenario is the mayor had a couple too many, saw a woman acting, in his mind, suspiciously, and thinking he was a super hero, approached them as he and he alone was the only thing keeping his version of Gotham safe from evil doers.
The best case scenario is pretty much what transpired above, sans the booze.
I guess he could be charged with harassment, or something along those lines, but that may be a stretch, especially so far after the fact. It didn’t help that Heggen took some six to finish up and release her report.
If it was anyone else who terrorized two women, you know the police would have at least made sure the guy behind the wheel was sober.
When the story first broke, I called on the Schenectady City Council to act like the separate and distinct branch of government it is and use its subpoena power to call everyone involved into the chambers to answer questions about what happened on that night.
When I asked members of the council what they thought of the idea, they shrugged it off. Even outspoken Councilman Republican Vince Riggi dismissed the idea without hardly a second thought.
Riggi said “its now in the court of public opinion,” but that’s the easy way out. The Council shirked its job, just like the cops did.
Jim Franco can be reached at (518) 878-1000 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org