County comptroller’s audit on the district attorney’s office
has Soares’ allies crying foul and his enemies licking their
‘I don’t think there is missing money,” said Albany County
Legislator Doug Bullock (D-District 8) of Albany County Comptroller
Mike Conners’ audit of Albany County District Attorney David
Soares’ office. “I think what’s missing is a complete audit
by Conners’ office.”
The wills of two outsider Democrats collided on Monday after
an article by Brendan Lyons in the Times Union broke
the news about the contents of Conners’ audit.
Lyons’ article said that the audit would reveal that thousands
of dollars had gone missing from an evidence safe in the district
attorney’s office. One of Lyons’ sources was a member of the
Albany Police Department.
Conners held a press conference at which he announced that
there were “more serious” discrepancies. Conners said there
would be 31 different accounting discrepancies revealed in
his latest audit of the office. He further indicated that
some matters regarding the audit had been referred to law
Soares responded in a statement saying that the audit “contains
errors and conclusions drawn on incorrect assumptions.”
Conners said that he would release the full audit on Monday
(Oct. 6) and that he expected to meet with Soares and receive
his response to the audit by that time.
Although Soares has yet to respond to the audit, members of
the Albany police, as well as at least one Albany County legislator,
had been informed about some of the audit’s contents before
Lyons’ article was published.
Conners insisted that he did not leak information about the
audit. However, Bullock said he was informed of the audit
and its contents by Conners at least a week beforehand.
Bullock said he takes issue with Conners’ approach to the
audit. “My former job was to review audits,” said Bullock.
“The proper procedure is you take it back, and then if corrections
aren’t made, you go to the press. You make a list of items
you want corrected, and he has never done that.”
don’t release stuff early on people. I don’t play that game,”
Soares’ supporters objected to the timing of the release of
the audit, Oct. 6, which is a day before a scheduled debate
between Soares and Roger Cusick at Albany Law School. “This
is a politically motivated audit. Anyone who thinks otherwise
is naïve!” said Bullock.
Conners said he has given the district attorney plenty of
time to respond to the audit, and that while Soares’ supporters
may say the timing was politically motivated, the audit has
been delayed because Soares’ office has “dragged its feet.”
raised concerns about timing to them way back in May,” said
Conners. “We said ‘You guys don’t have an opponent right now,
so let’s get this done.’ But they’ve delayed us every step
of the way. The delay between May 8 and July was due to their
inability to produce the records, and not us holding it back.”
In attendance at Conners’ press conference was Republican
district attorney candidate Roger Cusick. Soares’ supporters
point to Cusick’s presence as evidence that Conners’ conference
was politically motivated.
did not invite Mr. Cusick,” Conners said. “We called the D.A.’s
office immediately to let them know Cusick was there so they
could send their own representative.”
Soares’ supporters also pointed out that a Conners’ audit
into the county nursing home gave Cusick a boost in his campaign
against County Executive Mike Breslin last year.
Bullock claimed that members of the APD leaked information
on the audit to Lyons and that the Council 82 police union
has endorsed Cusick and is making robocalls on his behalf.
Soares’ supporters have also alleged that Conners worked with
former District Attorney Paul Clyne, a Soares rival, to obtain
information for the audit—a charge that Conners does not deny.
“I talked to everybody on this audit, including Sol Greenberg.”
like David personally,” said Conners. “I have admiration for
a lot of things David does.” Conners said that he, along with
a majority of observers, assumes Soares will win reelection
by “a large percentage,” but he feels Soares’ office is simply
trying to spin the audit for their advantage.
frankly, the D.A., his supporters and friends want to spin
this as a political witch hunt, but that’s just baloney,”
he said. Conners said that despite what “spin” might be put
on his audit, the inconvenience it causes the district attorney’s
office could have been avoided. “I understand he is in an
election cycle. But this is not of my making. This would not
have happened had they not screwed up the petty-cash audit.”
In the end, Conners said, “the audit will speak for itself,
but the real purpose of an audit is not to find things you
screwed up on but to help you fix things. The upshot of this
is the D.A. gets a chance to respond to this stuff. If there
is an error in there we will correct it.”
Bullock argued that, because details of the audit made it
to the press before Soares’ office had a chance to respond,
the damage to Soares’ reputation has already been done. “I
think it’s already damaged him because the accusation is out
there. When this is finished, I think the office will be cleared.
If anyone thinks money was stolen, they are really off-base.
David is one of the most honest people I’ve ever met. If the
office is guilty of anything, it is probably of sloppy accounting.”
With “the Enemy”
peace activists share their experience with the president
President Mahmoud Ahma dinejad is not a popular figure in
the United States. Last September, when he spoke at Columbia
University, the university’s president, Lee Bollinger, introduced
him as a cruel, petty, and uneducated dictator. He has been
dismissed by the Bush administration several times, and continues
to be viewed with mistrust and hostility by the American government.
of the news we hear is dangerously superficial,” said peace
activist Priscilla Fairbank of Poestenkill. “It creates an
image that is not accurate and that is very dangerous.” The
self-described “active citizen” was one of more than 150 American
peace activists who were given an audience with Ahmadinejad
while he was visiting New York City on Sept. 24, in an event
coordinated by the Fellowship of Reconciliation. Representatives
from more than 100 peace groups attended, including Women
Against War (the group that Fairbank represented), Muslim
Solidarity Committee, and the Syracuse Peace Council.
will be no Earth-changing decision as a result of [these talks],”
Fairbank said, “but the very fact that he was willing to spend
two hours with 150 peace activists from around the country.
. . . I can’t even conceive of our president [doing that]!”
said she aimed to show Ahmadinejad the way peaceful protest
is done in America, and the ways Iran could benefit from similar
“openness and dialogue.”
Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace, Joe Lombardo noted the difference
between President Bush and the Iranian president. “Ahmadinejad
really wanted to engage us,” he said. “He looked people in
the eye, he had a softer face, he had expressions on his face.
And I looked at Bush—it just struck me—his face was like a
mask. There was no emotion.”
was very formal. Ten questions were preselected for the president,
and heavily armed guards stood at the ready, prepared to take
action against anyone who so much as stood up. While Ahmadinejad
did not read from notes and had no prior knowledge of the
questions, Lombardo did note that certain issues, including
Israel and Ahmadinejad’s controversial comments about the
Jewish state, were conveniently left out of discussion.
the activists were not trying to get into a political squabble.
They were more interested in making a point: that most Americans
no longer support the conflicts the United States wages around
seasoned advocates got a new, completely different image and
feel for Ahmadinejad than the one generally put forth by the
media. Both said it was made clear that he had no intention
or interest in starting a war. He also said he could not,
for religious reasons, ever use a nuclear weapon, because
it is capable of much more destruction than humans should
have control over.
said that she felt welcomed by the dignitary, and had the
opportunity to see him as a regular person. The meeting was
important to her because it focused on a particularly inflammatory
person and a nation that has a spotty history with the United
can talk to other people, it opens up endless opportunities
and understanding,” Fairbank said. “When you demonize the
other, you aren’t thinking of them as human beings. I’ve spent
a great deal of time trying to put a human face on Iran for
the people here.”
Like It’s 2009
fuels curiosity about Albany mayoral race
is online and ready for your Web surfing pleasure. The site
features a number of questions regarding opinions on the Albany
mayor’s performance, the issues that are important to the
race, and whether the mayor should run for reelection. The
site apparently has no connection to anyone who actually plans
to run for mayor in 2009. When reached for comment, Jennings
spokesman Robert Van Amburgh denied knowledge of the site,
saying, “We are just as curious about it as you are.”
rumors about who will actually run to fill the position of
mayor have become commonplace political conversation a year
before the race will actually take place, the Web site and
the person who owns it are not likely to clear that up.
is registered to Craig Waltz, an Albany resident who is active
in local neighborhood issues and once ran for Common Council
in the 8th Ward. Waltz, when reached for comment, denied that
he had any ambition to be Albany’s next mayor. Waltz insisted
the site was a project owned and created by his wife.
she planned to post the results some time closer to the election
season,” he said. He later called back to amend his story,
saying that it was a present bought for him by his wife. He
said the pair plan on blogging on the site about Albany politics,
starting with the release of the mayor’s budget this week.
representatives react to the congressional bailout failure
Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand (D-Greenport) got 800 e-mails,
calls, and letters from constituents regarding the proposed
congressional bailout of the U.S. banking industry. According
to her spokeswoman, Rachel McEneny, 798 of those communications
requested that the congresswoman vote against the bailout.
And Gillibrand did.
Gillibrand, who was one of only a few members of the New York
delegation to vote against the bill, said in a statement,
“While I am fully aware of the seriousness of the financial
problems in the market, I do not believe the bill Congress
voted on today was the right approach. The bill has insufficient
oversight and protections and does not address the root causes
of the crisis or the poor economy.”
While Gillibrand has been lumped in with conservative “Blue
Dog” Democrats that opposed the plan, her representatives
insist her opposition to the bill was not part of groupthink
but the result of her in-depth analysis of the bill and her
concern that it did not do enough for “Main Street.”
However, many members of Congress who are in highly contested
races voted against the bill. And critics say Gillibrand is
in such a race. Gillibrand’s opponent, Republican Sandy Treadwell,
said he would have voted against the bailout because it lacked
“necessary taxpayer protection.”
Soon-to-be-retired 21st District Representative Mike McNulty
voted for the bill, saying it was an improvement over the
original Bush plan.
The Senate was likely to vote on a slightly revamped bailout
package as of press time on Wednesday.
loose ends this week-