Development competitor claims that the state turned down millions
in its decision on who would redevelop the Harriman campus
Howard Carr, president of Colonie-based Howard Group, learned
last November that his company lost in the last round of bids
to redevelop the W. Averell Harriman State Office Campus.
And Carr read last week in the Albany Times Union that
Columbia Development was the chosen company. According to
John Egan, commissioner of the Office of General Services,
and Peter Wohl, head of Harriman Research and Technology Development
Corp., Columbia’s proposal was more in line with the “current
vision of the campus.”
The two companies were competing in the RFP (request for proposal)
filed a FOIL request when we got knocked out,” Carr said.
Last week, in response to the request, he received a copy
of the Columbia proposal from the Empire State Development
Corporation, which is overseeing the project.
is claiming, after reviewing the Columbia proposal, that his
firm offered more money than his competitor to purchase the
land from the state. The Howard Group offered $200,000 an
acre throughout the entire site. Columbia offered $200,000
an acre as well, except for 10 acres where that company planned
to construct residential buildings. For those 10 acres, Columbia
offered $100,000 a piece. So Columbia’s offer is $1 million
less, he said, than Howard Group’s.
Carr also said that his proposal offered a profit-sharing
deal with the state. In the first phase, the state’s share
was estimated at $640,000 in revenue a year; phase two would
have brought in an additional $650,000 per year; and in phase
three, an additional $2.8 million, for a total yearly revenue
estimated at more than $4 million.
on the documents that were turned over to us,” Carr said,
“we don’t see an equity kicker”—that is, a profit-sharing
plan—in Columbia’s proposal.
Carr said that the nine-person board that voted on the proposals
was unanimous in its decision, which he finds difficult to
believe. However, in his FOIL request, the state didn’t provide
the specific information on how the two proposals were graded
in the decision. (Grading was done on a point system.)
And Carr questioned why he hasn’t been given the grading results:
“The law says whenever it is anything that is statistical,
the state can’t withhold it.”
see both proposals, visit the metroland.net blog.
County comptroller offers statistics to support his call for
a new nursing home
This week, Albany County Comptroller Mike Conners launched
a press push for a new nursing-home facility based on information
he claimed he received from the New York State Department
of Health after a lengthy FOIL request process.
This data illustrated, Conners said, that in 2008, 107 Albany
County residents were sent out of state to receive long-term
nursing home care. These residents were sent to multiple locations
in Massachusetts, as well as to one location in New Jersey.
Further, he said, 761 residents were shipped out of the county.
Conners’ press release garnered attention from local TV stations
and the Times Union, as well as from Talk1300’s Dan
Lynch, who hosted a debate between Conners and Albany County
Executive Mike Breslin. Conners and Breslin have very different
interpretations of the data.
Breslin argued that the reality of people being sent out of
state is a complex one, determined by a number of issues:
medical needs, dangerous behavioral issues, even choice. Further,
the state determines where a nursing home patient is placed.
Currently, more than 20 percent of the people residing in
Albany County Nursing Home are from out of the county.
Breslin and others familiar with the issue of long-term care
point out that this is not a new phenomenon; it is a product
of the complexity of long-term Medicaid-based care. Despite
his recent concern, Conners clearly acknowledged this fact
in an interview with Metroland by stating that he has
been complaining about the practice at least since the early
1990s, when he served on the county legislature.
Where these two men differ the most, however, is in their
prescriptions for how to address the incidents of people getting
placed out of county.
Breslin said that he believes that what is needed is dramatic
reenvisioning of long-term care in the county. He has prepared
a plan aimed at increasing the use of community-based services,
which, he argued, would relax the need for nursing home beds
and increase the number of people the county could serve.
Conners has called for an investigation at the county and
state levels of the practice of placing New York state residents
out of state, a practice he refers to as “trans-shipping.”
But most important to Conners, the county needs to construct
a new nursing home to replace the 35-year-old ACNH building.
Again, Conners pointed to the 2008 numbers. In 2008, the county
was in the process of merging its two nursing homes. Admissions
had been closed in 2007, and the average number of residents
Currently, adhering to Berger Commission recommendations,
Albany County has state permission to build a 250-bed facility.
At Conners’ press conference, legislator Shawn Morse (D-Cohoes)
said that the county needs to build the facility so that they
never again have to hold a press conference decrying the practice
of sending county residents out of state. Also present at
the press conference was the county legislature’s chairman,
Dan McCoy, also a supporter of the construction of a new nursing
home. Yet when asked how replacing a 250-facility with another
250-bed facility would alleviate the current level of out-of-county
placements, the newly appointed chairman answered only, “That’s
a good question.”
of the Census
Sen. Neil Breslin supports the downstate effort to change
the state’s system of counting the incarcerated
of this year’s census, advocates in New York state are adamant
in their efforts to mend what they call the state’s flawed
system of counting prisoners where they are jailed, instead
of where they resided prior to—and, presumably, where they
will return after—incarceration.
week, the coalition was joined by Sen. Eric T. Schneiderman
(D-Manhattan) and Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn)
to announce the introduction of a bill to end the state’s
current practice of prison-based gerrymandering. A press conference
was held Monday to include the support of Sens. Antoine Thompson
(D-Buffalo) and Neil Breslin (D-Albany).
to Breslin, New York state has built 43 new prisons since
1976—all of which are upstate. Sixty-six percent of prisoners
in these facilities come from New York City, while 34 percent
are originally from upstate urban areas, such as Albany, Rochester,
Syracuse and Buffalo. Currently, most of these prisoners are
represented as residents of the counties in which they are
incarcerated at the time the census is taken.
way in which the census operates gives many small upstate
towns a false sense of their own population and power, thus
inflating the remaining residents’ votes and diluting those
belonging to more urban areas, where large prisons are not
typically found, critics of the system complain. This misrepresentation
infringes on the democratic concept of “one man, one vote.”
said that he is supporting this legislation to amend the way
the census is taken, because “to do it any other way would
be unfair and unequal.”
in favor of the legislation is led by Citizen Action of New
York and includes the Prison Policy Initiative, two organizations
that have been actively advocating for the state to put a
halt to its practice of prison-based gerrymandering.
bill would require states and counties to draw fair districts,”
said Peter Wagner, executive director of the Prison Policy
Initiative. Since districts are drawn based on Census data,
“the way it is now, they ended up drawing districts where
some people have considerably more say than others.”
to Wagner, Schneiderman has been trying to pass a similar
bill for about 10 years, with no success. The reason for this,
he believes, is a misconception among legislators.
is a perception in some upstate communities that this bill
would affect federal funding,” said Wagner. “It wouldn’t—that’s
just simply wrong. All this bill would do is change how data
is used in New York state. People think the bill is going
to change what the Census Bureau does, which it’s not. It’s
too late for that.”
has nothing to do with the way the census operates,” said
Charlie Albanetti, spokesman for Citizen Action. “There are
virtually no financial implications for any community in the
state whatsoever. This legislation is about restoring fairness
are able to use their own discretion in choosing how to determine
their population, according to Albanetti. “But using prison
populations completely distorts the representations within
their own legislatures.”
being released from correctional facilities, “those prisoners
are not going to stay in those farm communities,” said Breslin,
“they’re going to go back to where they live.”
New York counties already have excluded the prisoner population
as part of their census count. After the 2000 census determined
that incarcerated individuals represent more than five percent
of Essex County’s population, the Board of Supervisors enacted
a local reapportionment law with the justification: “Prisoners
incarcerated in state and federal correctional institutions
live in a separate environment, do not participate in the
life of Essex County and do not affect the social and economic
character of the towns.”
to Wagner, there are seven counties in New York that would
not meet their minimum population requirement if it were not
for the prisons located within them. The passing of this bill
would require the redrawing of county lines, in order to have
an equal representation throughout the state.
and advocates hope to get this bill passed before the 2010
census is taken.
right up to the wire and people are really starting to pay
attention,” said Wagner. “We’re really excited about all this
activity, but this is just about the last moment we have.”
of Albany residents assembled last weekend to discuss Albany’s
first comprehensive plan
Albany2030, a process to create the city’s first comprehensive
plan, was kicked off in the form of three interactive community
discussions held last Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Led
by the City of Albany Department of Development and Planning,
and sponsored by consultant group Wallace Roberts and Todd,
Albany2030 hopes to gain insight into the community’s collective
vision of the city.
With the assistance of PlaceMatters, a public-engagement firm
based in Colorado, the city of Albany reached out to its residents
in a number of ways, including the use of new media such as
Facebook and Twitter, to supplement traditional methods of
posting and passing out thousands of flyers throughout the
trying to generate some excitement,” said Ken Snyder, president
and CEO of PlaceMatters, “and have people see that it’s not
just talking heads—and that there’s a lot of ways to get involved
in the process.”
conversation at this stage of the process is more of the big-picture
ideas, like ‘What do you love?,’ ‘What frustrates you?’ and
‘What are your first ideas about a vision for the future?’
” he said. “And then the next meeting will be more down to
the details of some of the elements of planning, which will
help translate into specific strategies.”
Participants were split up into small discussion groups mediated
by PlaceMatters representatives and assisted by volunteer
student note-takers from the University at Albany. Groups
were encouraged to reflect on Albany’s current strengths and
challenges, ultimately reaching a vision they have for the
city’s future. Each group then appointed a spokesperson to
share their responses with the rest of the crowd.
Although similar forums held in other cities often “provoke
battles, or can seem tired,” said Snyder, Albany residents
“had great energy.”
Using keypad polling provided by PlaceMatters, attendees voted
on their main concerns—offering instant feedback of the group’s
consensus. Safety, public schools and suburbanization were
listed among the city’s weaknesses, while higher education,
a strong sense of community, and the convenience of its geographic
location were considered its strengths.
really happy about the turnout,” said Michael Yevoli, commissioner
of the Department of Development and Planning. “I think it
was a great representation of the city.”
These forums marked the start of a 12-month process of acquiring
public input. Albany residents are encouraged to host house
parties as a way to informally discuss the comprehensive plan,
or to participate online at albany2030.org.
The next series of forums will be held on April 22, 23, and
loose ends this week-