Thursday, April 29, 2010

Coffee Party Sees Print, Gets Printing

It’s been over a month since I had to step down as organizer of the Albany Coffee Party. But that hasn’t stopped other participants from becoming organizers themselves: there are now two Coffee Parties in Albany County meeting regularly, as well as groups meeting in surrounding counties. Still privy to the Coffee Party’s message boards, I see that the same pattern holds true across New York State and the rest of the country.

In fact, the movement has gained such national traction it is the subject of a current feature article in Newsweek.

The Coffee Party Heats Up

Tired of all the Tea Party talk, Annabel Park decided to throw a Coffee Party—and 200,000 people showed up.

The rest of the article references some of the challenges facing the growing movement, but taken together paints an accurate and hopeful picture of what the Coffee Party USA has been up to in the past month.

Below the fold, a round-up of the Coffee Party’s most recent initiatives, an inside-look at their current letter-writing campaign, and how Senator Schumer’s office is taking action as well.
For those on the Democratic blogosphere concerned that a “new party” might be detrimental to the Donkey Party, Newsweek’s description of the Coffee Parties most enthusiastic participants might be reassuring:

When Annabel Park imagined what it would be like to head a new national political movement, here is what she had in mind: a coming together of engaged, intelligent citizens who had tired of the angry rhetoric and accusations of the Tea Partiers; Americans of all political persuasions joining in a spirit of equanimity to discuss the nation's problems, and maybe even share a laugh. It was this beautiful vision that danced in Park's head on a recent Saturday as she made her way to Busboys and Poets, a cafe in Washington, D.C., for one of nearly 500 Coffee Party meetings taking place nationwide that day. She knew the house would be full—word had spread quickly on the group's swelling Facebook page. Park, a documentary filmmaker, was especially pleased that C-Span had arranged to broadcast the meeting.

But from the moment folks in the crowd stood up to speak their minds, Park knew these people had not come to sip cappuccinos and set an example of civility for an overheated nation. They were angry. They hated the Tea Party, and the Republican Party. They wanted to get even. One audience member said America was under the thumb of oligarchs and denounced "moneyed interests." A few people hissed when Sarah Palin's name was mentioned. Also on hand were the usual suspects drawn to the C-Span bat signal. A man representing Code Pink, the left-wing protest group, said that "racism was the basis for everything that's going on right now." He also seemed to have a real problem with "fear-based rhetoric" and Northrop Grumman.
But then, Park didn't set out to create a political movement in the first place. She was just exhausted by all-Tea-Party-all-the-time on the news. One night in January, she signed on to her Facebook page and ranted about "the false narrative that the tea party is the real America." Her friends picked up on the post and it led to the creation of the Coffee Party. Within days, thousands of people signed up on Facebook.
All of a sudden Park was a political leader—of what, she didn't quite know—and the target of right-wing fury. Conservative bloggers unearthed—scandal!—that she had once briefly worked for The New York Times and supported Sen. Jim Webb, a moderate Democrat from Virginia. One online commenter accused her of being a "Chinese agent." The notoriety didn't really hurt: the group now has more than 200,000 members, and every status update Park posts gets about a million views.

Emphasis mine – SP

That ought to set your heart at ease. So, too, should the recent poll results regarding the Citizens United case ruling specifically and corporate money’s influence of our elected officials specifically. They show over 90% of Coffee Party participants and organizers feel that they should concentrate on the role of money in politics and “reforming Wall Street to make it more accountable to Main Street.”

This has triggered the Coffee Party’s most recent initiative, Clean Up Wall Street & K Street. Now would be a good time to do that, given Senator Schumer’s announcement today of legislation aimed at limiting the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decider-ing:


DISCLOSE Act Will Require All Organizations Making Political Expenditures To Make Public Their Donors And Appear On Camera To Stand By Their Ads

Legislation Would Also Ban Foreign-Controlled Corporations, Government Contractors from Making Political Expenditures

Bill Was Developed Together With Obama Administration; Van Hollen, Castle To Introduce House Version Later Today

WASHINGTON, DC—U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Evan Bayh (D-IN) and Al Franken (D-MN) announced new legislation Thursday to blunt the harmful impacts from the Supreme Court’s decision allowing corporations and other special interests to spend unlimited sums to influence elections. The lawmakers said their goal is for the Senate to pass the new measure by July 4 so the law can take effect in time for the 2010 midterm elections.

The legislation is a response to the Court’s ruling in the Citizens United case last January. That decision overturned a decades-old law banning political expenditures by corporate interests. The new Senate legislation would partly restore those limits – by barring foreign-controlled corporations, government contractors and companies that have received government assistance from making political expenditures – and also require corporations, unions, and other organizations that make political expenditures to disclose their donors and stand by their ads.

The legislation is dubbed the “Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections” Act, or The DISCLOSE Act.

Senator Schumer said: “At a time when the public's fears about the influence of special interests were already high, the Court’s decision stacks the deck against the average American even more. Our bill will follow the money. In cases where corporations try to mask their activities through shadow groups, we drill down so that ultimate funder of the expenditure is disclosed. If we don’t act quickly to confront this ruling, we will have let the Supreme Court predetermine the outcome of next November’s elections. It won’t be Republicans or Democrats; it will be Corporate America and other special interests.”

The release is long and quotes Sens. Franken, Bayh, Feingold, and Wyden, as well as contains a summary of the bill to be introduced.

The Coffee Party video on cleaning up Wall Street and K-Street makes great points on the topic as well:


One of the steps the Coffee Party is encourage folks to take is to send their Senators hand-written letters with regard to Sen. Dodd’s bill. I have a feeling they may do the same with Sen. Schumer’s efforts. Below is the form of the letter the Coffee Party is suggesting be fleshed and sent out:

The Honorable (full name) (date)
(Room#) (Name) Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington DC 20510
S. 3217 – Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010
Dear Senator (Elected Officials name):
We are members of the Coffee Party and we are committed to helping those employed on Wall Street act like responsible human beings and good citizens. We insist that legal constraints be enacted in order for this to happen.
We feel that Senator Dodd’s bill, S3217 the “Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010” should be enacted as long as it provides the following:

The Volker Rule and a return to the protections of the Glass- Steagall Act

An independent consumer financial protection agency chaired by a true consumer protection advocate.

The Kaufman-Brown amendment that would cap the size of individual banks and financial institutions.

We also support the recently introduced Lincoln legislation to curtail abusive derivative practices and urge its passage alongside the Dodd legislation.

This kind of reasonable regulation is essential in order to ensure that the financial services industry works in the best interest of the American people.

Thank you for your time.


(Your Name)

How many of you might put your name to that? Now, how many of you answered “yes” to the first question, but wrote off the Coffee Party before doing so? I don’t want to scold you, but some on the liberal blogosphere said this would go nowhere and would be counter-productive to progressive political action. I simply disagree, and submit the above and the following actions the Coffee Party has taken as proof that this is a movement to be embraced by progressives of all partisan stripes as well as the Democratic Party itself.

From April 17 to 25, the Coffee Party engaged college and university students all over the nation. The video below shows a progressive consensus among today’s millenials in what could only be a good development for the national progressive movement:

Much nicer than those out-of-control Tea Party protesters, wouldn’t you say? And very much in line and helpful to the Democratic Party, I’d say.

Monday, April 26, 2010

SD-46: Luke Martland Makes It Official

Albany Native to Challenge Assistant Majority Leader Breslin in Dem Primary

Yesterday, Luke Martland, a native of Albany, former Manhattan assistant DA and counsel to the Governor, made his official announcement that he will challenge State Sen. Neil D. Breslin in the 46th State Senate district, Albany County.

Martland has been hammering Breslin, whose two brothers hold the County Executive and Judgeship, in several press releases on as many issues for the past month. His announcement yesterday summarized these points and introduced even more. It also marks the first time a challenger to the entrenched incumbent has been given a full court press.

The full speech, announcement release, and links to extensive press coverage after years of giving Breslin a free pass are below the fold.

(Cross-posted on The Albany Project and DailyKos.)

Two years ago to the date, Sen. Breslin was facing his first-ever primary challenge to his seventh term. Yet no ink was spilled and no tape rolled until just a week before his election.

This time around, the Albany Times Union saw it fit to print and post to blogs. Choice excerpts:

Martland enters state Senate race
Ex-DA, Albany High grad says he'll fight to end government dysfunction

First published in print: Monday, April 26, 2010
ALBANY -- Luke Martland, a former Manhattan assistant district attorney who grew up in Albany, formally announced his candidacy Sunday for the Democratic nomination for state Senate in the 46th District.

Martland, who promised to fix what he called a broken state government system, will face seven-term-incumbent Neil Breslin in a September primary election.
Martland, a graduate of Albany High as well as Princeton University and Brooklyn Law School, quickly took aim at Breslin.
Breslin could not be reached for comment Sunday evening. However, he has been a critic of dysfunction in state government. He loudly denounced Pedro Espada Jr. during the Senate coup crisis, and he called for Hiram Monserrate to resign in October, immediately following his misdemeanor assault conviction.

With regard to that last snipped paragraph, the TU really should have referred to Martland’s prior statements regarding Sen. Breslin’s political flip-flop on his vote to make Sen. Espada the Majority Leader after he engineered the coup. They also still have yet to mention that Breslin was the buffoon with the gavel in his hands that fateful day.

That and the print story is still somewhat buried in the local section, but a teaser with color photo does appear on the front-page, so when all is said and done it is a vast improvement from last cycle’s virtual blackout. I believe it is also a harbinger of future coverage, and perhaps an indicator that this race will fast become the political story in Albany County this year.

In contrast to the dead trees version, the TU Local Politics blog has consistently augmented the press coverage well this year. Follow the link and you’ll find that this instance is no exception.

I was also struck by the amount of television cameras present. There was no broadcast coverage of Breslin’s first primary challenge. The fact that all major news channels were there this time around is another indication this primary is literally one to watch.

So far, only the local FOX affiliate, WXXA, has carried the story. I’m assuming that the other four stations I saw there are doing the right thing and are producing a segment for tonight’s broadcast. Stay tuned for updates to this blog for those links.

But enough about the press. Sometimes if you really want the whole story, you’ve got to go right to the source. That’s why I do what I do, and that’s why I close with a full transcript of Martland’s speech and his campaign announcement press release:

Luke Martland Announcement Speech
Sunday, April 25, 2010.

Thank you being here today and thank you for joining me as I kick off my campaign for New York State Senate. As many of you know, I have never run for office before. I grew up in Albany and am a proud product of the public school system … graduating from Albany High School.

After college, I worked my way through law school and then served as an Assistant District Attorney and Assistant Attorney General. I ran the State’s Sex Offender Registry at the Division of Criminal Justice Services. I have spent the last 20 years being an advocate - fighting to keep our streets and neighborhoods safe. I am now running for office to advocate and fight again. To advocate for the people of Albany County and to fight to fix our broken government.

New York State’s government is a national embarrassment. Every week brings a new scandal. This week’s shame? One of the leaders of the Senate stole $14 million in taxpayer money! $14 million! And yet the same Senators who made this man their leader, have refused to pass real ethics reform. Refused to police themselves. Refused to clean up the swamp of corruption in the State Capitol.

Nothing gets done because our legislature is the most dysfunctional in the country. The budget was due on April 1st. Yet almost one month later, there is no budget … the Republicans and Democrats can’t even agree when to meet, much less when to begin to negotiate. Parks are being closed, schools are facing massive layoffs, yet our Senators have taken almost 2 weeks of vacation during this same period. Layoffs, no budget … and yet the Senate, instead of getting to work, takes time off.

The state is drowning in debt yet Senators insist on spending billions on pork and favors for contributors and special interests.

The fact is …. nothing will change. Nothing will change and none of these problems will be fixed, until we change the people we elect to serve us.

Someone has to stand up and say “enough,” and fight to end the dysfunction, corruption and incompetence that is crippling New York. I am running because I decided to stand up and say “enough.”

What will I fight for, as your Senator?

I will fight to end the corruption and dysfunction. That means strong ethics reform, with independent oversight of the legislature. Right now the legislature polices itself and – we know that does not work.
I will fight to end these secret second jobs. Breslin is paid $100,000 a year in taxpayer funded salary, yet the Senate only meets 6 months a year. Even worse, like many of his cronies, Mr. Breslin, has a second job at a large law firm. Yet he keeps secret who his clients are, secret how much they pay him, and secret what he supposedly does for their mystery money.

I will be different. I will fight to end the custom of second jobs and require that all outside income is fully disclosed. And, I personally will go further. I promise not to have any outside job whatsoever … so that I am free of all conflicts of interest.
And, I will commit to being a full – time Senator. Working 12 months a year and fighting 24/7 to fix our State’s problems.

And, I will be a Senator who listens to, represents, and whose door is open to all communities and all the people of Albany County.

I will fight for term limits – the only way to clear out the entrenched professional politicians who are ruining this state. Regardless of whether my term limits law passes or not to term limit myself out of office. Senator Breslin ... he’s been in office 14 long years and just announced he’s running for re-election – that says it all.

I will fight to cut wasteful spending and to bring the massive state deficit under control.
Fight to end the unfunded mandates, regulations and irresponsible spending that not only drives up state taxes, but also drives local property taxes ever higher ... year after year.

Senator Breslin? In spite of a deep recession, Breslin increased state spending last year by more than $10 billion – a spending hike of 9% in just one year alone.

Most importantly, I will stand up and fight for the needs of the residents and taxpayers of Albany County. I will put them ahead of the special interests… or down state political leaders.

Senator Breslin? We all know that a few weeks ago he bravely stood up and said that he would never, never vote to cut school aid, and then only 2 weeks later voted to cut $1.4 billion in school aid. He flip flopped because the downstate political bosses told him to. He did not have the backbone to tell the political bosses where to go. I will.
I will not flip flop, I will not cave in, I will put the interests of Albany voters and residents first, and fight for our schools.

I am not a professional politician. I have served as an Assistant District Attorney, an Assistant Attorney General and head of the State’s Sex Offender Registry I fought to keep our streets and neighborhoods safe. I am now running so I can fight to fix our broken state government.

Our state is in crisis – a crisis brought on by the corruption, incompetence and dysfunction in our legislature. It is time for new leadership, energetic, ethical and hard working leadership. Time for someone who will fight for the people of Albany County and fight to get New York back on track. I am that person and that is why I am running. And that is why you are here today. With your help and your enthusiasm… together we will win.

Thank you very much.
The only thing I can add is for the benefit of those readers unable to view the YouTube recording of the speech above the fold: not only was the wording strong, but so was Martland’s delivery. He’s a natural, and the audience response was enthusiastic throughout.

Finally, the presser for those political junkies whose attention I still have:

Martland Announces Candidacy for New York State Senate
Promises to Fight to End the Corruption and Dysfunction in State Government

For immediate release: April 25, 2010
Contact: Larry Sombke 518-852-9274

(Albany) Luke Martland today formally announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for State Senate in the 46th District (Albany County). Martland will face seven-term-incumbent Neil Breslin in the September primary election.

“The New York State legislature is broken and dysfunctional. We need new leadership. That’s why I’m running for State Senate,” said Martland, a Democrat, who grew up in Albany, graduated from Albany High and worked his way through Princeton and Brooklyn Law School.

“Neil Breslin is assistant majority leader in the New York State Senate and he has done nothing to stop the politics as usual, pay to play ethical corruption and dysfunction that has come to plague state government,” said Martland who is a former Assistant District Attorney and Assistant Attorney General.

When Martland is State Senator he promises to:

Be a full-time senator and to work 24/7 to address the problems of Albany County and New York State;

Have no second job (unlike Senator Breslin);

Put the needs of the voters first, not the needs of political bosses, lobbyists and special interests;

Fight for real ethics reform and to end the Albany culture of corruption;

Fight for fair redistricting and put and end to gerrymandering;

Fight for term limits to end the “Albany life-time employment club,” including term limits on himself;

Be an independent senator and work in a bi-partisan manner to put an end to the bitter partisanship that plagues Albany;

Fight to eliminate wasteful pork barrel spending and handouts to special interests;

Work to cut wasteful spending beginning with the Legislature itself.

“New York’s government has become a national embarrassment. And yet the very politicians who caused these problems arrogantly expect us to keep re-electing them. The fact is nothing will change until we change the people who we elect to serve us. Neil Breslin has done nothing to tackle the problems New York faces or clean up the corruption and dysfunction in our government. It is time for new leadership – hardworking and ethical leadership. ” added Martland.

Luke Martland’s stand on issues can be found at

Luke Martland for Senate in on Facebook and Twitter.


Emphasis mine – SP

Now that’s what I call a return to leadership, both in the New York State Senate and in the Albany press corps. 2010 already looks like a monumental improvement over 2008.

You know, when I pulled into the parking lot at the Holiday Inn where the announcement took place, the parking lot attendants thought I was there for the comic book convention. While this isn’t surprising, I’m very glad to see that the media got rid of their own fantasyland and got back to work. And I’m glad to see a primary challenger taking off Breslin’s mask and showing the voters of Albany County that he really is no man of steel.

Stay tuned…another candidate, one Tim Carney, will also be making his own challenge official in the coming weeks (or even days!) and the media coverage might just be getting started.

Me? I’ve been on the beat from before the beginning, and I hope you will join me to the very end.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Soundpolitic Sundays: Ready Aim Fired Edition

Imagine your feet in these shoes: Shiny black, size ten-wide, worn-out soles, walking across the carpet of the lobby of an Albany law firm. Your job title for the past two months has been Legal Secretary. Christmas is coming...

And you've just met the boss. He's exiting a boardroom, wearing athletic sweats. You look at him, he looks at you, and you introduce yourself. You express your thanks to be working in a fast-growing firm, your respect for the man who built up the business, and appreciation of the rewarding challenges thrown your way. You extend your hand to shake his...

Now imagine your boss's response is to turn his back on you after asking you:

"You're not afraid of guns are you? A lot of us carry guns around here."

In this weeks' edition of Soundpolitic Sundays, I'm telling this story for the last time as my excuse for missing last two weeks. The rest of the story and its moral lies below the fold...

(Cross-posted on the front page of The Albany Project and to the diaries section of DailyKos)

But first, in the interest of suspense and explanation, I'll clue you in as to why I'm choosing to write this confessional heap. A fellow front-pager on The Albany Project, Dan Jacoby, recently published a front-page post regarding anonymity on the blogs. While the issue certainly is not new to our sphere, the thread of comments revealed it has yet to turn stale.

Never one to keep my mouth shut (this is a key point) I added my voice to the discussion. In my mid-thread comment, I made note of how I make my Christian name known on the blogs. This included a vignette on how I’ve outed anonymous bloggers on principle, what those principles were, and alluded to instances in my offline life where the decision to not remain anonymous while making my views clear resulted in exactly the kind of repercussions that usually serve as the incentive for anonymity.

Well, I'd gotten Dan's attention. He inquired via personal e-mail as two what my story was to get down to the real action. By the end of my reply, I'd resolved to make this personally painful subject the theme of my return to writing this Sunday column on TAP, DailyKos, and my Blogspot page. Truth be told, this blogging business may just be keeping my wrists together. I haven’t been at it in a week thanks to difficulty getting to a computer with an internet connection (I have neither at home) and because, sometimes, after being out of work so long, you tend to get pretty down in the dumps.

Make that ugly down in the dumps...

See, being in your mid-twenties and out of work for well over a year in America, circa the first turn of the decade this millennium, is about as down in the dumps a millenial can get. Recent reports show that my age group is nearly fifty percent unemployed. The news media has tended to frame this recession in terms of the housing crisis for Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers as well as the squandering of retirement savings of the latter and the Greatest Generation.

Personal experience has me thinking that my generation is now experiencing a nightmarish rude awakening from the American Dream. Here we are, at the age where we should be getting started in the career for which we've just studied hard (and borrowed heavily), when we should be moving out and perhaps establishing a young family of our own. This economy has left us behind, condemning us to the proverbial parents' basement.

With the economy being nothing more than the collective actions of the American people, this represents a vast misconception and epic failure on the part of those economic actors most responsible for running this economy. This cuts to the heart of why so many Americans choose to remain practically anonymous and silent. In such harsh economic times, nobody wants to be called out for anything. In other words, nobody wants to give The Boss any excuse, warranted or otherwise, for cutting off the life support.

Now I come to it. This is the hard part: reliving the times where I have lost my job for either speaking up or, in the most recent case, simply looking the part of somebody who's political opinions may be disagreeable with the holy employer.

The first time it happened, though, it was a boon to my existence. You might say that the fact I got into blogging in the first place had a lot to do with the following

After dropping out of SUNY Oswego in 2003 as a pipe dream, junior music major, I bounced around a couple of dead end jobs before being hired by a former elementary English teacher of mine. God bless her, she was one of the best employers I ever had. But God damn if she didn't surprise me when she turned out to be as conservative as the bastard child stuck in a custody battle with sire Limbaugh and step-dad Savage.

And fuck her for not responding to an outrageous situation the way a truly good employer should have. See, in the one-square-mile village of Altamont where this little gas station was located, there was an overtly overzealous Police Department. Ever since I was a wee boy, it was known that you must drive 29 miles an hour because if you go a fraction over 30, you are going to get pulled over. And you'd better have your inspection, plates, etcetera in order or you will get a ticket. I always thought it was ridiculous, but never really said anything...

But the customers! They had something to say about this! Day in and day out, the best thing I loved about working as a lowly convenience store clerk was the sort of episodic, extended conversations you strike up with the nicest of customers. A diverse constituency of my most beloved patrons made the Altamont Police Department topic number one. Let me tell you, they ranged from the consistently perturbed to the constantly pissed. I got a feel for whom the cops were blatantly fucking with in a completely out-of-line manner. Not content to just say "Thank you, come again," like a Quickie Mart robot, I would engage in the conversation, see what was bothering them, and console my customers that what was going on just was not right.

See where this is going? One day, only a few months into my service, in walks a rotund, beady-eyed officer. For nearly as long as I have presently been out of work, this pig’s conduct toward me escalated to the point of absurdity. Foul language is something I am not usually frazzled by, but in the context this officer of the law would use it with me while first telling me to "watch out" or to "stop running my mouth" just got to be too much. So, too, did the multitude of times this buzzard would pull me over for the absolutely no reason. He even began to cut me off on the roadways. It got to the point where this guy was seriously threatening to write me speeding tickets while I was behind the cash register, my keys snug in my pants pocket!

One day, he came in and told me I had several tickets waiting for me at the courthouse. How could this be when I had not been stopped in weeks? Eventually I conceded that I'd go in and pay the fines. As soon as I did, the fat ass promptly told me there were no tickets and that he was trying to teach me "a lesson" about "who holds the upper hand" and that I'd better watch out.

Like a good boy, I tried to dissuade this harassment through the proper channels. First, I tried my boss, but she did nothing. Then the Commissioner of Public Safety brushed me off by paraphrasing the culprit. It got worse and worse until one day it came to a head. The cop simply would not leave me alone, I discovered that my co-workers, relatives of the boss, were whispering in the pig's ear to egg him on, and I did the only respectable thing left to do.

I walked out. And my plan of action was to seek a little something called justice. This entailed composing about 1,000 words and submitting it to the local newspaper, the Altamont Enterprise. You should have seen the look on the new Commish's face when they called him to verify my allegations as I went in to file a formal complaint. A quick investigation corroborated my claims and the tub o' lard was suspended. I rather liked the penalty of being forced to take a five-week "human relations" training course more than his two weeks’ suspension.

But the big lesson I learned was taught to me by the people of the village. That is, after the paper published my letter and corresponding headline story, I could not walk through or show my face in the village of Altamont without residents hailing me as a hero. It turns out that somebody had to face up to The Fear of retaliation or even make the sacrifice of one's own livelihood to put a stop to this menace.

By the way, a few months later, somebody else spoke out about this guy...regarding the blowjobs he was getting from underage girls while on patrol. Last I heard, the slug is a security guard at Macy's.

Nothing else in my life has turned me on to the power and necessity of the written word for the defense of freedom and liberty in this great country.

Now that's a warm and fuzzy feeling, but being out work wasn't. I bounced around a couple odd jobs until about 2007. Honestly, I wasn't getting anywhere. So a buddy inspired me to get my ass back into college, get a degree, and get a real job - but not a haircut quite yet. For three semesters I attended Schenectady County Community College. I was sold on the idea of entering the exciting, challenging, and financial rewarding field of law as a paralegal.

My newfound interest in progressive politics might have had something to do with this.. It was then that I first started blogging. I wasn't too active at first, but by the time 2008 rolled around and as it progressed, I got into the thick of a wide-open democracy primary in NY-21. My days were spent studying law and government, getting great grades; my nights were spent sifting through the press releases and news items on a maximum of eight Democratic politicians. I added on to this weekend volunteer efforts for my favored candidate. And once a week, I'd participate in an internship with the New York State Assembly

By mid-year 2008, this hard work was rewarded with an Associates in Applied Sciences in Paralegal Studies from the only upstate community college with an American Bar Association approved program. I had also earned the right to post my little blogs directly to the front page of The Albany Project, the best and biggest progressive blog in the New York 'sphere.

Guess which one I'm most proud of nowadays?

After a less-than-satisfying temporary assignment right out of school, I decided that perhaps I might be able to turn some heads with this blogging thing. I also wanted to talk to ask many Albany County voters as possible about another primary going on, this one for our coterminous 46th State Senate District for a fellow Helderberg resident named David Weiss. In August and September of 2008, I knocked on thousands of doors and wrote thousands more words about this race and the Congressional one. I loved every second of it, not even looking for work. It was my post-collegiate trip to Europe in my own backyard.

After both my candidates lost the September primary, I figured the holiday was over. I was going to take my long hair and goatee, dress it up in a suit, and get myself a salary and benefits. Thanks to some great references from some respected local politicos I'd impressed with the blogging and studying, I went two for two in my second paralegal interview and was hired at a firm that you should never, ever, under any circumstances, hire out as your attorneys. Here's their nice little commercial:

Him. That's the guy in the introduction. Matt Tully. In his office lobby, there’s a picture of him in full military garb arm and arm with former Vice President Dick Cheney. I wish I could find it online. It’s easily worth the two thousand words I've spent getting up to this point. And it's the one I should have looked at and said, "On second thought..." and declined the job offer.

But I was eager to work, and I got right down to it. I worked in the Employment Law division, assisting three attorneys as legal secretary. Honestly, the best part of the job was the rest of the support staff. These young ladies were on the top of their game, hard-working, incredibly good-natured, and if left out the fact that they were all beautiful I wouldn't be doing them the justice they deserve.

That's because only one or two of them are still left at the firm today. Oh, and my entire department resigned about a year after I was fired. Go figure…

I had a fantastic first couple of months. I was getting things done, wasn't getting any complaints that wouldn't be expected of a green legal secretary. I was staying late and learning the ropes, filing suits and coordinating service of process. In all due course, I was feeling on top of the world and envisioning myself saving up and moving out.

This whole time, Mr. Lawyer for Life was away for an extended vacation. Space camp. The "You're not afraid of guns, are you?" incident happened to me the same day he returned.

We now pick up where we started. After that, everything changed. Suddenly I was being called into the office to defend completely unfounded allegations of professional misconduct, nothing the attorneys I was directly responsible for had brought to my attention. After defending myself successfully in letter format, I was called back into the office to face the beast. He told me I'd been on his shit list for a while, his exact words, even though he'd been back for about a week. Behind me were two flat-screen TVs, both tuned to Fox News. He simply refused to explain why I was on his "shit list" and moved me to a different department...where nobody told me anything about what was going on half of the time. Within days, I began to feel like I was done for no matter what I did, was being called into the office for minor infractions that would have been let slide for any other employee. He has an infomercial on the local right-wing big media radio, and I even began to hear him talk about firing all sorts of people, naming my position specifically!

What he had done is put The Fear in me. That "afraid of guns" line says everything. These conservative hot shots work that way. It's how they build their corporate empires for their own selfish gain and how they toss away the unworthy liberals they sometimes hire for their egotistical power trip. And Matt Tully is the worst of the worst of this parasitic species.

It all came crashing down on January 28, 2009. I left for work an hour and a half early because we knew a massive blizzard was coming. I lived several miles farther out from the office than 90% of my colleagues. I had told them the night before that if conditions were exceptionally dangerous (and they certainly were) that I'd still come in to work but might be slightly delayed. I was, in fact, fifteen minutes late. Co-workers who lived a stone's throw from the office had yet to show up; I beat out half the staff from twice the distance...

...and what do I get in my inbox but a so-called verbal warning that my job is in jeopardy because of this.

I snapped. I recalled the way I'd shown that damn Altamont cop what for with my frank writing. In about twenty minutes, I brewed a gallon of vinegar for Mr. Tully and sent it off to him and my other superiors. I told them that I believed the man was going to continue making work hell for me, that he just plain didn't like me because of my perceived opposing political views. So if they were going to fire me for no damn good reason, I'd give them a reason with the proudest fuck-you act of workplace insubordination I'd ever managed. I still feel its some of my best work and it's too bad New Yorkers have no right to request their personnel files.

So that's why I was fired. "Insubordination" and "insulting lack of professionalism." When I got home, I snapped again. Here I was, not two months removed from taking all these exceptional steps to turn my life around from a going-nowhere-fast hippy musician to a rising-star professional, only to once again be shot down for no good damned reason by an ultra right-wing power figure who decided, arbitrarily, capriciously, and maliciously that they just didn't like me.

And this was supposed to be the United States of America. Where hard work pays off and opportunity is available for all, regardless of how you look and with protections against what you say or might say.

Not if the conservatives have anything to say about it. As I said, my generation is still the hardest hit in this recession. Add to that these two facts: that we Millenials are probably the most liberal next generation to experience the gift of life...and that research shows that when a man loses his job, his civic participation drops about 75%. I’m an exception; I actually ran a write-in campaign for Town Supervisor last fall because it was, after all, a job opening. I really have applied to everything. In only three weeks of campaigning that served as a nice pick-me-up from being depressed and jobless, I managed to get 8.5% of the vote…

But I'm still fighting that down-and-outness with every click of the alphanumeric keyboard. I’ve also developed a little conspiracy theory. It's not really a theory of any great organized conspiracy, just a little observation that all these experiences have given me about the nature of mankind and the reality of the devastation that conservative wreaks on their fellow citizens and nation as a whole:

The conservatives all wanted to fire as many of us young liberals as possible. It’s retribution for voting for a President with an Unamerican name and skin color and ideology. Why? To ensure that our civic participation went down to the point where their guy (or gal, as it may be) could oust Obama in 2012, no sweat. With a lower voter base and perhaps with some of us Millenial progressives discontented enough to switch sides, it seems to me the perfect way for those fat cats at the top to keep more money for themselves and get a vindictive dig in against their most recent bogeyman's supporters. All of this with no regard for the economy, which needs young workers to establish roots to keep things moving, or their community, which needs a strong economy in order to be a good place to raise families.

If it sounds crazy, then perhaps I've gone crazy. Applying to over a thousand jobs might do that to a young man who was promised that America would work for him...but now, America won't let him work. I've gone not only to law firms but any position that's open, from fast food joints to everything in between. No takers. I have had less than ten interviews in the past 15 months. It's enough to make one start to consider that all one is doing is wasting oxygen and adding more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. With no hope or end in sight, a body might consider that the only true solution to this problem is to stop breathing...

...but thankfully, I still am. What I'm most thankful for is that I'm no longer going to take it. I am not going to let The Fear destroy my hope. I refuse to let the power-mad conservative authority figures of this world beat me into submission. I object to the idea that we must keep our mouths shut and our faces in accordance with the clean cut capitalist grind. That is the opposite of what this nation was founded on, the antithesis of what is healthy and moral in a free society.

And the way I do that is to write about it and let my name, Colin Abele, be attached to the words I say. After I lost my job, I stopped blogging for nearly a year and I felt already dead as a doornail. When I finally came back by posting the first edition of Soundpolitic Sundays, I felt suddenly more alive. It wasn't brining in any cash, but it was bringing my life meaning. That is why I refuse to remain anonymous, both online and offline, to both kill The Fear and keep my life worth living.

Today, I attended the campaign announcement of a State Senate candidate in Albany County. Tomorrow I will blog about it as part of my continuing coverage.

I also plan to stop by the office of admissions at the State University of New York at Albany to see about getting an undergraduate degree in English and journalism. If I can’t get a proper job, them perhaps it’s time to turn this affinity for writing into one. And perhaps increase my vocabulary while decreasing my word count.

And next week, I hope you tune in for the next edition of Soundpolitic Sundays. Thank you all for reading; this has been the most painful post I've ever written. I promise to be a little more light-hearted next week.

May all beings be free from suffering. And may God, as you understand him, bless the United State of America.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

SD-46: Follow-Up on Breslin Non-Endorsement

Earlier this week, I reported here on TAP that the Albany County Democratic Committee's candidate reviewing process lead to a surprising non-endorsement of Senator Neil Breslin. I maintained that this was a big story in the follow-up report on the political fallout for Breslin and the responses of his primary opponents, Luke Martland and Tim Carney. This stance of mine was initially disputed, though, and after all I'm just a blogger...

...but now even the most main of the mainstream press agrees:

The Senate race was this week's dominant local political story, with the Albany County Democratic Committee's candidate review panel turning heads by voting not to endorse Breslin or the two other Democrats running for the seat and instead pushing the decision to the party's executive committee.

With Breslin's camp said to be furious, county Democratic brass moved quickly to patch things up with the Breslins - culminating with party Chairman Dan McCoy personally endorsing the senator Wednesday even before the executive committee met.

Emphasis mine - SP

Looks like I was right on the money. It also looks like there's even more to the story, below the fold...

(Cross-Posted on The Albany Project)

We have two new points to consider. To start, the quick about face by Albany County Dem Chairguy Dan McCoy. The big news that Breslin would not recieve a no-questions-asked endorsement the way he always has was first reported by Times Union staff writer Jordan Carleo-Evangelist as being some big show about how McCoy was going to close the door on, erm, the closed doors of the past. Or was he really just opening the door to leaving the process closed?

It's a moot question at this point. The TU Local Politics blog reported after press time that Breslin did indeed recieve the endorsement of the executive committee:

In related news, the Albany County Democratic Committee’s executive committee unanimously endorsed Breslin last night — ending a six-day saga that began Saturday when the party’s candidate review panel opted to make no endorsement of any of the three Democrats in the race.

So much for McCoy dispelling those notions of closed doors and backroom deals for good. But at least Breslin has found a friend in a fellow flip-flopper.

Again, that's not just some prolific blogger profiling. It's in the papers!

McCoy appears torn between his public commitments to open up the party beyond its traditional circles and one of the most influential Albany Democratic families.
Even Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings -- who at times has clashed with the Breslins, which includes County Executive Michael Breslin and County Judge Thomas Breslin -- attended the senator's campaign launch, albeit arriving after the speeches were over.

Emphasis added - SP

Note the emphasis directly above and that little bit about the Breslin camp being "furious" over the initial non-endorsement. Then put two and two together and you find that in this case it makes three: Three brothers, that is. See, in Albany County, if you tick off Senator Neil, you'll get an earful from Executive Mike, and maybe a scolding from Judge Tom. This formula can be rearranged in many ways. How many exactly I can't say, except that it's enough ways to both escape a guy like me who's better with words than numbers.

Oh, and in more ways than is healthy for Albany County.

To finish things off, the TU blog reports that there's now even speculation about a potential GOP challenger surfacing:

Albany County Republican Chairman John A. Graziano has made no secret of the fact that he's planning to leave his post as GOP elections commissioner July 1 -- assuming the party can find a suitable replacement in time.

But Graziano's impending departure after 10 years overseeing elections in the county has also fueled speculation that he will also be his party's candidate to challenge state Sen. Neil Breslin in the 46th Senate District.

Viewing Breslin as vulnerable because of his ties to the Senate's scandal-plagued Democratic majority, the GOP has vowed to field a candidate. Graziano acknowledged Thursday that he has been asked to be that person even though he views his job as finding candidates, not running for office himself.
All the Democratic intrigue has inspired even more optimism on the part of Republicans, who haven't held the Senate seat since Breslin defeated former County Executive Michael Hoblock in 1996.

Emphasis mine - SP

The only problem with this excerpt is that the last line fails to remind us that Hoblock "held" the seat for a single term, coming to power as part of the 1994 Republican Revolution that unseated a multi-decade-plus Democrat, Howard Nolan. Given the common sense analysis that we're not headed for a repeat of the Year of the Newt (as evidenced by the astroturf tomfoolery of the Tea Party claiming it's imminent return) than we can assume that Republicans are just getting their hopes up, right?

Then again, in politics, if you just assume, you end up making an ass out of "u" and "me." If the GOP plan is to assume that Breslin will roll over his primary opposition, not emerging unscathed, and then take advantage of his scandalous ties and do-nothing record for another two months towards the general election, then Democrats have a problem. Then you might just have the words "Republican Majority" again.

But Albany County is solidly Democratic taken as a whole. See the above history. And take note of some recent history in which former one-term Republican Senator Hoblock couldn't beat the first Democratic Supervisor ever elected in his own home township and there's an argument to made that Albany County is even more Democratically safe.

Provided we can find the right candidate. And this year, giving the Republicans just what they want to run against - a long-time incumbent with lots of big insurance money and a big opposition party family name that throws hissy fits like this weeks (I could go on) - then those who faily to question Breslin today might just be asking themselves "How did this happen!?" in November.

The proper strategy to stop that from happening is more of a counter-strategy: we deny the Republicans the opportunity to run against Neil Breslin by sending him packing first with somebody who is more progressive, but has less of a record to run against. You can take this analysis as sound political advice to serve as a stepping stone to give Tim Carney and Luke Martland a shot...

...or write it off as more rambling from "that blaw-grrr" who's just got it out for the Brothers Breslin. Comments are open. Continue rampant speculation.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

SD-46: Martland Slams Sen. “Flip Flop” Breslin On Politics, Policy

Two press releases in as many days see State Senate candidate Luke Martland slamming the seven-term incumbent Neil D. Breslin. Martland calls him out both as a flip-flopper on his support for turncoat Senator Pedro Espada as well as his waning political support in the district, Albany County.

Breslin, who announced his bid for re-election yesterday, is cited as having supported Espada before going on record against him. Martland will be formally announcing his challenge to the entrenched Assistant Majority Leader on Sunday, April 25th. He will also be facing a second challenger, Tim Carney, who made his thoughts known via the above-linked blog.

All this and we had a fantastic article on this fast-developing race in the Legislative Gazette I missed earlier this month. I will try not to miss a thing below the fold…

Cross-Posted on The Albany Project

First, we have challenger Luke Martland’s firm stance on Sen. Breslin’s shifting stance on 2009 Senate coup mastermind Espada. Choice excerpts from press release number one, out today:

Martland Calls Breslin a Flip Flopper on Pedro Espada

For immediate release: April 22, 2010

(Albany) – State Senate candidate Luke Martland today called State Senator Neil Breslin a flip flopper on his support for tarnished State Senator Pedro Espada. (D-Bronx)
On July 9th 2009, Assistant Majority Leader Neil Breslin accepted the State Senate leadership’s decision to appoint State Senator Pedro Espada to the post of majority leader, the third highest post in the State Senate.

Now that state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has filed a civil suit against Espada for his involvement in Soundview Management Enterprises, Breslin says Espada should voluntarily give up his post and perks as majority leader of the State Senate.

“Why didn’t Breslin stand up and fight the dysfunctional Senate bosses over Espada’s power grab when he had a chance last summer?” asks Martland. “If Breslin thought Espada was corrupt then, he should have said so loud and clear.”

“Breslin has been asleep at the switch on ethics reform for the past 13 years,” said Martland. “He is attacking Pedro Espada now so he can look like he is a reformer when his record proves he is not.”

Breslin seems to only have an interest in ethics reform when it is safe and convenient for him,” adds Martland.
“I say his new-found interest in cleaning up the dysfunction in Albany is a dollar short and a day late.”
“I’m not a flip flopper, I’m a fighter,” said Martland, who has spent his career in criminal justice as an assistant district attorney, assistant attorney general and working for the Department of Criminal Justice Services.

Emphasis mine – SP

In between the snip, Martland reiterated another Breslin flip-flop on school aid which I reported a month ago. I can tell you, based on the budget battle at my high school alum currently going on that both charges are extremely relevant.

This charge simply calls for more accountability regarding Sen. Breslin’s role in the infamous 2009 State Senate coup. Not only did Breslin have the gavel in his hands at the rostrum that fateful day, only Luke Martland (and not the local media) seems to be reminding us that Senator Breslin basically voted for Espada before voting against him.

Second, yesterday’s revelations that Senator Breslin would not be receiving the blanket endorsement of the Albany County Democratic Committee has turned out to be a big story indeed. Why? Because after 14 years and with his two brothers (County Executive Mike Breslin and County Judge Tom Breslin), you’d think that such a “loyal” and “liberal” Democrat would automatically get the endorsement of the only county committee in the district.

But Martland had quite a bit to say about that yesterday, as did several commentators on the blog reporting the non-endorsement:

Democratic Candidate for State Senate 46th District Martland Calls for No Endorsement From Party in State Senate Race Against Breslin

For immediate release: April 21, 2010

“People are tired of politics as usual. Support for my campaign has grown significantly over the last week, as people within the Democratic Party realize that I am a real reform candidate and that I am a winning candidate.

On Saturday, the Review Committee, which has responsibility for vetting candidates and recommending whether candidates should be endorsed or not, heard from me and Neil Breslin.

I answered all questions that were asked, and after my presentation the Committee voted to NOT endorse 13-year incumbent Neil Breslin. In my presentation I explained why I am the best candidate and emphasized that I will work hard to make the Democratic Party as strong as possible and to ensure that both the City and County of Albany get all the support they deserve from the State.

It is my understanding that the vote to NOT endorse Neil Breslin was a lop-sided one. I hope that the Party leaders respect the decision of the Review Committee and let the people decide who their next Senator will be. I support the efforts of the County Chairman to bring openness to the party, and I hope that the Review Committee’s decision to not endorse any candidate is respected.”

Once again, a link to the blog that broke the story on the Albany Times Union Local Politics site is an order. There, an unusually large number of comments found very little support for the deadbeat, flip-flopping incumbent. Perhaps the committee truly owes Breslin a vote of no confidence (unlike his flip-flop on Coup-master Espada).

Third, not to be outdone and in a stance of solidarity between Breslin’s two challengers, candidate Tim Carney was one of the earliest commentators on the Local Politics thread. Failing an official press release, I feel compelled to quote his comment all the same:

I want to thank the Albany County Selection Committee for the opportunity to state my case why they should consider me as the endorsed candidate for New York State Senate representing the 46th District which includes all of Albany County.

I hope this rumor is true because it would mean that this vindicates the hard work I’ve already put into this campaign. I also gave them several major issues that I will propose if I am elected and they had great appeal to the group.

I have spent the past 4 months attending all the City, Town and Village board meetings in Albany County, listening to the board members dealing with the “fiscal crisis” we have in NYS and how do they do more with less. I have also been to senior luncheons and neighborhood meetings talking about the high property and school taxes. The people are worried about the future.

I have already met with many of the Albany City Councilmember’s, Ward Leaders and the County Legislators within the district to ask for their endorsement and support in this year’s campaign. Over the next couple of weeks I will be meeting with many more of the City, Town and Village officials to garner their support.

On May 4th I will complete my listening/speaking tour of all 19 municipalities in Albany County including the Albany County Legislature. Shortly after I will be making a major announcement with many elected officials standing by my side. Also if I’m elected, I promiss to visit every town, village and city board or council meeting at least once every year to listen to the issues effecting the municipalities. I have been told that Neil has never been at these meetings in 14 years. (except Albany)

This is why I would like to discuss the issues that you would like to see me address this year. You can reach me via email at

I have laid out a plan for my candidacy, which has been, in part, supported by various prominent officials. To learn about my platform in greater detail, please go to .

I look forward to seeing and speaking with you soon. “NYS Needs TLC”

Best regards,

Tim Carney

Emphasis mine – SP

It’s an interesting point-and-counterpoint to Martland’s message that Carney submits straight to the blogosphere. One might say that his approach of visiting town and village boards is more “grassroots” than Martland’s frequent official press releases. I say that having both approaches compliment each other does absolutely everything possible to let the people know just what a deadbeat Senator Breslin has been during the past two decades.

Third,with regard to Breslin’s arrogant bid for re-election, students of political science and supporters of reform might tell you that all this is a bad thing. That is, having two challengers from the same camp automatically dilutes the message and favors the third candidate. But the political theory is one thing, and political reality is another thing. Breslin himself acknowledged the “sharp anti-incumbent sentiment” of 2010 in his re-election bid announcement yesterday, according to Times Union staff writer Jordan Carleo-Evangelist:

ALBANY -- State Sen. Neil Breslin launched his seventh re-election campaign Wednesday night saying he's confident voters will distinguish between lawmakers who have brought scorn on the Legislature and those, like himself, working to improve New Yorkers' lives.

Breslin's frank acknowledgement in his speech of the sharp anti-incumbent sentiment stalking legislators this election season underscores just how perilous a road back to office he and his colleagues may face.

"This won't be easy. There's a lot of discontent across this state and across this country ... and a lot of it is justified," Breslin told a large crowd of supporters at the Crossgates Restaurant on Washington Avenue Extension.

"But I ask you to commit yourselves to this campaign," Breslin said, adding that he's passed more legislation in the last decade than any other Democrat, "because there's a lot of work to be done."

Breslin, 67, of Bethlehem, already has two announced Democratic opponents -- Albany residents Luke Martland and Tim Carney -- and county Republicans are also vowing to run a candidate for the 46th Senate District seat, which covers all of Albany County.

These kinds of quotes really get my goat. Breslin has built a career on voter ignorance, and he’s relying on the same thing now. He was elected in 1995, replacing a one-term Republican Senator who came into office during the 1994 Republican Revolution that also saw New York State elect a Republican governor, George Pataki. The former seat holder? Howard Nolan, a Democrat, who served for nearly three decades.

So how did Breslin get his cozy seat? Simple. His brother Tom was elected County Judge in 1993, to a ten-year term. Then his other brother, Mike, was appointed to serve as County Executive in January 1995, and has been re-elected every four years since. So with all these Breslins winning (or simply obtaining) office in Albany County, why not put all those “Breslin” signs to use every two years to get big brother Breslin elected to the State Senate on name recognition alone to get rid of the Republican Revolutionary fluke and get a real nice stranglehold on Albany County.

Working backwards, I’d say that since Neil is 67 this year, he’s of the perfect age to retire. I’d also say that most of his “more legislation” has been less legislation and more proclamation.

I’d ask just how much justification for voter discontentment Senator Breslin is willing to take responsibility for, given his key role in the 2009 Senate coup, his huge insurance and banking industry contributions while he was either chair or ranking member of those committees, and his nepotistic rise to power.

Finally, and I’ll never forgive myself for not getting this out there on the fifth of the month, we have an excellent Legislative Gazette article profiling Luke Martland by intrepid young reporter Faith Burkins-Gimzek. My excuse for not getting this out there are only lightweight: I have no home internet connection and haven’t had a job in a year and a half, a victim of the recession and a rapid right-wing boss (I will explain in the next edition of Soundpolitic Sundays), yet Faith had interviewed me during my first organizational meeting of the Albany County Coffee Party and informed me she’d be doing this profile when I stopped by the Gazette’s offices, so I should have highlighted the following earlier:

Senate hopeful says 'fundamental change' needed in Albany

By Faith Burkins-Gimzek
April 05, 2010

Luke Martland describes himself as a fighter.

A black belt in ju-jitsu and former criminal prosecutor, these days the 45-year-old Center Square, Albany resident is fighting for the 46th Senate District seat.

"I'm not a politician, and I don't want to be a politician," he contends.
Echoing the voices of many before him who have tried and failed, Martland says he will battle against the culture of corruption in Albany to ameliorate the dysfunction, scandal and incompetence he says is inherent in the Capitol. "I will be a fighter for the issues I believe in. I'm not going to just do what the party leadership tells me, or the special interests," he said.
Last June, Martland took a position as assistant counsel to Gov. David A. Paterson. Martland said the experience prompted him to run for office himself.

"What I saw down here really changed my view and I became increasingly frustrated, and then disgusted, at the dysfunction in the Legislature and the government in general. I wasn't proud to be working here anymore. And it began to convince me that we need fundamental change. So a year ago I had no idea I'd be running for office, and I had no plans to run for office."

Martland gave his two-week's notice the week of February 15, just days before a New York Times article surfaced detailing the governor's alleged cover-up of a domestic-abuse altercation involving a top aide, which may have prompted the resignations of other Paterson officials. Martland said his resignation was unrelated to the scandal. "That stuff obviously upset me, but it convinced me more than ever that we need fundamental change," he said.

Working under the governor, Martland said, "I sort of had a ringside seat. I started the same week as the [Senate] coup [in the summer of 2009] – so as I got a close up view of what was happening … over the next few months I became more and more disgusted at how our government doesn't work. And I began to think, 'Well, how do you change that?' And I don't think it can be changed with the current people, with the current senators and current Assembly members."

I’ve gotten a bit wordy here, but only because a race that nobody seemed to think would go anywhere has fast become hotter than you can drop. If you’re an Albany County Democrat, you owe it to yourself to read the whole article and stay on top of this race and these candidates.

And for that endeavor, Soundpolitic is on the beat and willing to serve. Stay tuned as formal announcements are made, endorsements (and non-endorsements) materialize, and Breslin falls further and further from his perch.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

SD-46: Albany County Dems Refuse to Endorse Sen. Breslin

With seven terms under his belt, yet facing two primary challengers in as many years, Senator Neil D. Breslin has been denied the automatic endorsement of the Albany County Democratic Committee, according to TU Local Politics:
Albany Dems’ review panel withholds backing in Senate race

April 20, 2010 at 1:32 pm by Jordan Carleo-Evangelist

The executive committee of the Albany County Democratic Committee has been called to meet Thursday night, just five days after the party’s candidate review panel declined to endorse seven-term-incumbent state Sen. Neil Breslin.

The review panel, in fact, declined to endorse any of the three Democrats — Breslin, Luke Martland and Tim Carney — who interviewed with it, passing the decision instead onto the executive committee, according to two people with knowledge of the committee’s action.

There’s about 500 words in Carleo-Evangelist's story, with plenty of quotes from Albany County Committeemen telling us not to read too much into it. I’ll provide some more choice quotations below the fold, but I rather like the way the Times Union journalist closes his post:

Cue rampant speculation.

Cross-posted on The Albany Project

After the profound revelation that Neil Breslin isn’t getting the auto-endorsement, the story immediately goes on to report that we shouldn’t really be bothered:

Review Committee Chairman Shawn Morse, who is also one of two deputy majority leaders in the Albany County Legislature, later confirmed the events but called it “not uncommon” and urged people not read too much into it.
“Our recommendation was to make no recommendation at this point, which really was, I think, the fairest way to do it,” said Morse, adding that the committee wanted to ensure that the executive committee had all the information it needs to make its choice.

Apparently, this story isn’t so much about the Breslin family’s falling support in Albany County, but more about the shiny new leadership in the County Democratic Party.

Morse said the committee’s move is evidence of the new openness that party Chairman Dan McCoy has tried to usher in, trying to dispel for good notions of closed doors and backroom deals.

Well I’d like to know where
You got the notion!

Later on in the story, it seems the County Party is more interested in just dispelling the notions as opposed to the closed doors and backroom deals themselves. Why would I think that?

One member of the executive committee assured Local Politics that Breslin “has the votes” to win the support of the executive committee.

So what are Albany County Democrats to think? Is all of this merely posturing to keep up appearances of an open process, or is it really, really about finding the right candidate to represent Albany County in the New York State Senate? Does this have anything to do with the incredible anti-incumbent sentiment statewide and does anybody have any idea what’s really going to happen when the executive committee meets Thursday?

And while he acknowledged that the topic of this year’s strong anti-incumbent sentiment did come up at the meeting, Morse also cautioned that the non-vote was not necessarily a referendum on Breslin, who he called a longtime, loyal Democrat.
Matthew Clyne, Democratic chairman in Breslin’s hometown of Bethlehem, declined to discuss the matter Monday. Breslin, whose family carries heavy political clout in Albany County (think County Executive Michael Breslin and Judge Thomas Breslin), said he was unaware of the committee’s action — or lack thereof.
Morse said about 17 of the committee’s 35 members were present. And at least two observers questioned whether traditional Breslin opponents were able to sway the half of the review committee that did attend.

McCoy could not immediately be reached for comment today.

Emphasis mine –SP

The big question I asked myself after the Luke Martland campaign brought this to my attention in a short press release today was: Is this a big story or a non-story?

It didn’t take me long to get an answer. When considering the incredible power Neil Breslin has on account of his name alone, this is a big story. If Breslin was indeed as reliable and loyal a liberal Democrat as the committeemen (and some TAPpers) might suggest, then his endorsement should have been locked up like it was the last time Breslin faced two primary challengers two years ago. Hell, back then, the committee actions were barely reported on the subject because it was such a given.

Nowadays, not so much. And just before that great line, “Cue rampant speculation,” Jordan Carleo-Evangelist gives us the real reason why this is a big story: it could very well get bigger.

Even if that’s the case, the endorsement of the party could come down to a full-scale, weighted floor vote of the 600-plus committee members at the party’s May 20 spring meeting — a la the 2008 vote to support Phil Steck in the 21st Congressional District.

In case you don’t remember that one, please be reassured that the political science term for that vote was “a doozy.” The difference here is that in NY-21 2008, Albany County was merely the largest county in a multi-county Congressional district in a open race without an incumbent.

This time around, Albany County is the district and we’re talking about a 14-year incumbent who’s brother has been the County Executive for fifteen years and who’s other brother has been the County Judge even longer. Oh, and we’re talking about the State Senator who had the gavel in his hands on the day of the 2009 Senate Coup.

My speculation is this: If the 2008 primary results might have revealed a chink in Senator Breslin’s plated armor...

...then today’s news has revealed that perhaps he’s been wearing studded leather all along.

Stay tuned as this race begins to take shape in the coming weeks and months. I’ve a hunch it may become one of the more interesting in New York State this year.

Speculate away!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

SD-46: Martland to Sen. "Do Nothing" Breslin: Back to Work!

The latest press release from Albany County’s State Senate candidate Luke Martland has the primary challenger blasting his entrenched opponent and the entire chamber for skipping out on work without having passed a budget yet.

Quoted in full below, the release sees Martland using his strongest words to date in taking incumbent Sen. Breslin to task specifically and summing up his reasons for running generally.

Martland Calls on Breslin, Senate to Get Back to Work and Pass Budget

With budget 2 weeks late, no agreement in sight, do-nothing Senate takes 2 days off.

(Albany) - State Senate candidate Luke Martland today called on Assistant Majority Leader Neil Breslin (D-46th) and State Senate leaders to stop the politics as usual, return from their mini-vacation, and get a budget passed.

The Legislature is required by law to pass a budget on April 1. Two weeks later, with the budget hole above $9 billion and steadily growing, no budget has been passed. The Democrats and Republicans apparently can’t even agree on when conference committees (that were supposed to have been convened months ago) should meet. And, to top it all off, the Senate decided to take Thursday and Friday off!

“This is exactly why I am running for the New York State Senate,” said Martland. “The leadership we have is dysfunctional and not capable of putting a budget together. They are not capable of governing this state. Even worse, the same Senators who can’t pass a budget on-time have taken Thursday and Friday off. Why? Are they tired?”

“It is time to put partisan political posturing aside and do what is right for the people of New York,” said Martland. “Neil Breslin is Assistant Majority Leader and has been in office for 13 long years. Where’s his leadership? Where’s his ability to get things done?

How can the Senate not do its job – and then give itself two days off?”

Martland noted that Senator Breslin, despite receiving a tax-payer funded salary of over $100,000 a year, has a second job at a large Albany law firm and asked, “While the Senate is taking Thursday and Friday off, will he be working at his second job?” Martland, on the other hand, has promised to not have any outside employment and will work year round, 24/7, for the voters.

“Until we clean out the professional politicians who refuse to work hard, cannot pass a budget on time, and then have the arrogance to take a long weekend, nothing will change. The fact is that nothing will change and none of New York’s problems will be fixed until we change who we elect to serve us!”

Luke Martland's stand on issues can be found at

Emphasis mine – SP

I happen to agree. Senators make a decent amount of money for their work, and all workers should get some time off now and then regardless of occupation. But these guys just got back from vacation for the Easter holiday! I don't see any holidays in the next couple days...

Unless you count today! Did you do your taxes? While the State Senate can apparently miss deadlines all it wants without repercussions, what happens to one of us if we "forget" to file today?

This is reasoning that any New Yorker should be able to agree with, and Luke Martland's words above remind me of very similar statement I've heard from regular New Yorkers over the years. Perhaps it's time for do-nothing Senators like Breslin who sneak off by themselves to retire; perhaps it's time to send candidates like Martland who speak for us all to take his place.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Soundpolitic Sundays: Kill Da Wabbit Edition

Good morning and a very Happy Easter to all of you. I think it’s time to take a break, spend some time with family, eat some ham and look for some eggs, and perhaps reflect on our behavior here on the blogs that we might resurrect some long-lost happy feelings.

To illustrate this, complete with a reference to the Easter Bunny, please prepare your ears to be tormented with swear words in this clip from Kevin Smith’s 1997 masterpiece Chasing Amy:

So, kiddies, if you’ll excuse the language and the revelation that there really is no Easter Bunny, in this week’s edition of Soundpolitc Sundays, we’ll talk a little about the subliminal lessons we bloggers can take away from this “askew” piece of cinema…

For those unfamiliar with the works of Kevin Smith, well, I can’t really envy you. The man is one of the greatest indie film producers/directors/screenwriters/actors ever to spawn a cult following. You may know him through his famous characters Jay and Silent Bob, a crass yet philosophical duo inhabiting the universe of Smith’s several successful films.

The running theme that I see in all these films is blunt-to-the-core truth, which oftentimes is best revealed by offensive offense. That is, I find that curse-ridden dialogue and adult-themed storylines tend to weed out those prim and proper viewers (also known as cultural conservatives) who wouldn’t even begin to understand the underlying messages to begin with.

And the underlying theme of Chasing Amy is acceptance. I don’t want to give away the whole story, but basically, this guy, Holden, is a comic book writer with his buddy, Banky. Holden falls in love with a woman (who’s name is not Amy, by the way) but later their relationship goes south when he discovers “too much information” about her sexual past. This screws up their romantic present, which is already under pressure because Not-Amy identifies as a lesbian; this is something Banky does not approve of.

Hence, the exchange in the above video. Now you might be thinking that the Easter Bunny reference being “a figment of your fucking imagination!” at the end, but I’d really rather focus on this exchange in the scene’s beginning:

Banky: “What does it matter if I refer to her as a dyke? Or if I refer to the Whalers as a bunch of faggots in the privacy of my own office far from the sensitive ears of the rest of the world?”

Holden: “It’s passive-aggressive gay bashing. And I know you’re not really prejudiced at heart, I just think you should find a better way to express your anger is all I’m saying.”

No more beating around the bush. Here on TAP (and on DailyKos) I have a strange habit that results in arguments with fellow bloggers that I have great respect for: Whenever I see the phrase “teabagger” I do not hesitate to call them out for what Holden might refer to ass “passive-aggressive conservative bashing.” This thread is a good example, and there are several of them.

Allow me to explain. See, like Holden says, I know that us progressive bloggers aren’t prejudiced at heart. But sometimes, I have a hard time believing it with all this “teabagger” referencing about. It’s just not a nice way to phrase things, people.

For those who don’t know, “teabagging” is the practice of shoving your balls (if you are a man) into the face of another man! I first came to know the term a couple years ago when a couple of frat-style friends joked about having “teabagged” a buddy of theirs. This must be what college aged “hetero life partners” do for yucks. And I mean it…yuck! They spoke about the preparation of the ordeal: not taking a shower for several days to make sure the victim of the “teabags” were extra-grossed out.

So here we are, progressives, seeking the moral high ground, with the aims of taking back our country’s dialogue to favor us and further progressive goals…

…and we go about likening our opposition to this?

It makes no sense to me. And I’m sure many of you wouldn’t ever consider writing a pro-gay blog while using the words “faggot” or “dyke.” You’d think to yourself, “Will this dilute my argument among the diverse group of people who might read this?” And you’d have to answer “Yes!” when considering a homosexual might read your work. No matter how good your argument or your reporting, you’ll lose them as soon as they come upon that hate speech. They’ll write you off as just as bigoted as the conservatives who refuse to grant them equal rights under the law.

So will the moderates who come here. They don’t want to sit through that! They’ll determine your just as angry and incoherent as those on the right. Get my drift?

So we come back to this “teabagger” conundrum. I’ve said many times to just call these people “Tea Partiers” since that’s what they are. I’ve also suggested that subtle framing techniques be used by referring to them as “Tea Drinkers,” ala “Kool-Aid Drinkers” if you simply must cast them in a negative light.

Because if you think your language doesn’t cause any harm; if you believe that 100% of your readers aren’t going to mind; if you think that conservatives don’t come on here looking for exactly that kind of stuff, then I’d ask you to reconsider the audience you’re writing for:

You are writing for the Easter Bunny. A figment of your fucking imagination!

Now I think I can get away with a certain amount of cuss words as well. But I know the second I start using hate speech, I’ll be discredited. And then there’s no reason for me to do this every Sunday. It’s one of the hardest parts of the Eightfold Path I attempt to follow as a Zen Buddhist. It’s called Right Speech, and there’s nothing holy-moly or religious about it. It’s just plain-old common sense: If you want to be taken seriously and you don’t want what you say to come back and bite you, then abandon the impulse to use words like “teabagger” already!

And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, and from idle chatter: This is called right speech

So ask yourself: Isn’t it a lie to insinuate that Tea Party members engage in shoving their balls in people’s faces? Isn’t it kind of divisive to keep on using that word when it clearly offends people on both the left and the right? Isn’t it slightly abusive to those your speaking of and to yourself when you could choosing better words for better writing?

And doesn’t this all boil down to just idle chatter that does nothing to advance any goal, conservative or progressive?

I hope I’ve made my point. You’ve got to kill the impulse in you, fellow bloggers, to show through this kind of language that you’re no better than those Tea Partiers who just howled “nigger” and “faggot” during the Health Care Reform fiasco. It’s the same impulse, the same figment of your imagination that such speech can actually help.

In other words, this Easter, you’ve got to kill the wabbit:

So until next week, try to notice those wascally impulses that cause wrong speech and keep it real. Thanks for reading and keep up the good work!