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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, September 6, 2007

Primary season: Guilderland

By Jarrett Carroll

GUILDERLAND — With less than two weeks until primary elections are held, local and county politicians are seeking small-party lines to broaden their appeal.

Four candidates are competing for two town board seats in Guilderland, and the town’s supervisor, Kenneth Runion, is running unopposed, seeking his fifth term in office.

Runion already has the Conservative line.

The town clerk, town justice, and the town superintendent of highways are also running for re-election unopposed. The only Republican incumbent is the highway superintendent, Todd Gifford, who has held his post for decades, dating back to when the GOP dominated town politics.

The primary race is a chance for candidates to pick up extra lines on the ballot and broaden their appeal to voters. Although Democrats rule Town Hall and hold the plurality in Guilderland, with 37 percent of the enrolled voters, the residents of the town are roughly 31-percent Republican and 32- percent small party or unenrolled.

The Conservative and the Independence parties make up the largest portion of the small parties in town, and both frequently cross-endorse Republicans and Democrats.

Despite a struggling Republican Party in town, two candidates with the party’s backing are running for town board, but only one of them is seeking a Conservative Party line for the Nov. 6 election.

Republican Mark Grimm is running against Democratic councilmen Mike Ricard and David Bosworth in the Conservative primary. Because only two seats are up for election, only two people can run on the Conservative line in November.

Republican Warren Redlich is not seeking the Conservative Party endorsement and appears to be directly challenging Councilman Ricard for his seat. A recent court order has allowed Redlich to remain on the Republican ticket for November, but an appeal may be made by Ricard. (See related story.)

Bosworth, who is also the town Democrat’s chair and Albany County Democrats’ co-chair, said that he, Ricard, and Runion are running as a team, as they have in the past; he described their board’s support as a "broad-based coalition."

"We’re working as a team as we always have"and we let the voters decide," Bosworth said after Tuesday’s town board meeting. "We’re going to work hard, just like we do every time."

Citing "fiscal accountability" and keeping taxes low, Bosworth said that the current town board appeals to the Conservative voters who have repeatedly endorsed its members.

Grimm disagrees and said that his views are more in line with Conservative voters.

He said Guilderland Town Board members have raised property taxes six times since 2000, increased their own pay by 89 percent since 1999, and that town spending has increased by 70 percent between 1999 and 2005.

"The me-first culture is certainly evident," Grimm said of the current town board. He added that more reasonable spending would lower town taxes.

Bosworth and Ricard countered by saying they have consistently attempted to improve the quality of life for town residents during their tenure while staying within budget and Bosworth called Guilderland "one of the best places in the Capital District." Ricard agreed.

Improved town services, improved parks and recreation facilities, and smart-growth planning were all cited as accomplishments by Bosworth, Ricard, and Runion.

Grimm and Redlich say they look forward to the upcoming elections.

"If I had the Democrat’s record, I would be nervous, too," Grimm said. "We’re going to make some noise."

County races

On the county level, the comptroller’s race has been in full swing with Guilderland Councilwoman Patricia Slavick challenging three-term incumbent Michael Conners in a Democratic Primary. There is also an Albany County Legislature race heating up for District 29 between incumbent Republican Lee Carman and Democrat Dennis Feeney.

Feeney previously represented District 30, in Westmere, but has moved his place of residence and is challenging Lee. Bryan Clenahan was appointed to Feeney’s old seat in the legislature after he resigned, and Clenahan is now running unopposed for the same seat in November.

Feeney and Lee are facing off in the Conservative primary; the party has endorsed both candidates in the past.

Carman stepped down as the Guilderland Republican chair this week in order to focus on his race for county legislature. Barbara Davis has been named as the town’s new party chair but could not be reached for comment before publication.

Carman said he thought running the town’s party and running for office was a conflict of interest and criticized Bosworth for doing so, saying, "Especially since he’s now the county’s co-chair."

Bosworth has repeatedly defended himself against such accusations, saying that he sees no conflict in working for the party and running for office.

Going door-to-door, Carman said he is working to keep taxes low and that he believes the Albany County Legislature is too large. Referring to the cost of running the legislature, Carman said, "Eight-hundred-thousand dollars a year is a little crazy."

"I’m confident that I have a very good shot, but not over confident because that’s when you get in trouble," Carman said. "I’m hoping it will be easier to get re-elected, but I know I have some work ahead of me."

Carman beat Gene Messercola for the seat by two votes in 2006 after a two-and-a-half year court battle over absentee votes.

His challenger, Feeney, said that he, too, realizes the race will be tough, but is confident that voters will ultimately choose him.

"I think that my attitude on government and government spending are in line with Conservative thinking," Feeney said about winning the primary. "Carman is a tough opponent"Growing up in Guilderland, we both know a lot of people"It’s going to be a tough race."

Feeney pointed to his three years in the Albany County Legislature and said that, when meeting people face-to-face, he tells them he doesn’t want lawmaking to "get out of control."

He said he is for scaling back government and said Medicaid costs are a burden on the county budget, adding that the Medicaid cap put in place last year helped to reign in spending.

"I think the Albany County fiscal policy has been pretty sound" since the cap, he concluded.

In the county comptroller race, Councilwoman Slavick is running on her financial experience and criticizing Comptroller Conners’s auditing practices.

Conners said his audits are credible and effective.

Continuing, he said he has run, and won, primaries in the past and maintains that he is an independent thinker, free from political ties, which he believes makes him an able fiscal watchdog.

Slavick and Conners are facing off in the Democratic and Independence primaries and are going door-to-door as political signs from each of them pop up around the county. Although they are both enrolled as Democrats, all of the Democratic committees are backing Slavick.

Conners irked many Democrats in 2004 when he switched to the Republican Party and ran against long-time state Senator Neil Breslin in the New York State Senate.

In addition to the backing of the Guilderland Democratic Committee, Slavick has the backing of both the Albany County Democratic Committee, chaired by Bosworth and Frank Commisso, and the Albany City Democratic Committee, chaired by Bruce Shultis, which was recently created.

Conners says he continues to stand by his words that he doesn’t want the support of the "party bosses," but that he wants the vote "from the people."

Staying power
Judge allows Redlich to stay in town race

By Jarrett Carroll

GUILDERLAND — As a contentious battle for the Guilderland Town Board heats up, Republican Warren Redlich will remain on the ballot — for now.

A state Supreme Court judge has dismissed Democratic Councilmen Michael Ricard’s petition to remove Redlich from the Nov. 6 ballot.

Ricard is the longest-serving member on the currently all-Democratic town board. He and his lawyer, Peter Barber, have not announced if they will appeal the decision, but say, that if they do, they will mostly likely do so within the week.

"Whatever we do, we plan to do it quickly," Barber said.

Redlich is running with fellow Republican Mark Grimm in a four-way race for two open seats on the board.

"I’m very happy to be on the ballot," Redlich said on Tuesday. "If you’re going to try to hold someone on a technicality, you better make sure you’ve covered your own technicalities," he said of Ricard’s objections to his candidacy.

Ricard filed an objection on July 30 against Redlich’s substitution nomination on the Republican ticket after another candidate bowed out of the race.

His lawsuit claimed that Redlich’s nomination was signed by the Albany County Republican chair on July 26, and "did not constitute a majority of the committee to fill vacancies as required by Election Law"," according to court documents.

"My argument still stands".I don’t think the judge wanted to make a decision," Ricard responded to the ruling. "I feel vindicated by the ruling," he added about the judge’s acknowledgment that Redlich’s second petition was late.

Supreme Court Justice Roger D. McDonough sided with Redlich because of a second petition he filed with the county board of elections, on Aug. 1, two days after Ricard filed his legal challenge.

The Aug. 1 certificate of substitution was, like the July 26 certificate, executed by just two people; it was accepted by the board of elections and not contested.

Ricard and his attorney, Barber, contend that Redlich’s Aug. 1 petition is past the deadline set by state Election Law and is invalid. However, the time allotted to object to the Aug. 1 petition submission has expired.

"The same rules should apply to everyone," Barber said of filing requirements. "Late filing is a way of getting around statutory requirements." Barber said that this case could set a dangerous precedent for future races.

Redlich maintains that he followed proper procedure in filling out his paperwork with the county board and pointed to the court’s decision as validation.

"Based upon the Aug. 1 Certificate, respondents contend that this proceeding is moot. Specifically, they contend that even if the court were to invalidate the July 26 Certificate, the Aug. 1 Certificate has been accepted by the board"," Judge McDonough wrote in his Aug. 29 ruling.

"[Ricard] counter[ed] with the argument that the Aug. 1 filing is a legal nullity and fatally flawed based on its untimeliness," the ruling continued.

Judge McDonough reasoned that Ricard’s objection only sought to invalidate Redlich’s July 26 petition and did not object to his Aug. 1 submission.

"As such, this court is powerless to invalidate the Aug. 1 certificate which has been accepted"," Judge McDonough concluded. "Based on the foregoing, the instant petition is moot, as any decision rendering the July 26 certificate invalid would have no effect on the validity of the Aug. 1 certificate."

Redlich has repeatedly criticized Ricard for trying to remove him as a potential challenger on "a technicality," but Ricard says Redlich was not validly nominated and is using outside sources to mount a campaign in Guilderland.

Both Redlich and Ricard have written letters to The Enterprise editor during the past several weeks, making various charges about each other’s campaigns. Redlich asserts that Ricard’s property is under assessed and Ricard has chastised Redlich for not respecting the assessor.

Barbara Davis of Altamont was originally one of the Republican nominees, along with Grimm, for town council but then she declined the nomination. Redlich, who was helping her to campaign at the time, was substituted for the spot.

Davis this week was named chair of the town’s Republican party after Albany County Legislator Lee Carman stepped down from the post, citing a conflict of interest. (See related story.)

David Bosworth is the other Democratic candidate, besides Ricard. Bosworth also serves as the chair of the Guilderland Democratic Party and the co-chair of the Albany County Democrats.

Ricard told The Enterprise Tuesday that he is confident in his campaign and pointed to his long tenure as proof that voters believe he is doing a good job. He has been on the board for 11 years, having been elected to one three-year term to fill a vacancy, and two four-year terms.

Redlich said Tuesday that he is pleased to officially be on the ballot and added, "This leaves Mike Ricard with explaining why he tried to knock me off the ballot.

"He said before that he would debate me anytime, anywhere, on anything," Redlich said. "I’m challenging him to debate me on ballot access"Was it appropriate to try to knock me off the ballot""

Ricard said there are no debates scheduled for the town board’s general election in November, but did not rule out the possibility.

Some voters must mark paper ballots

By Jarrett Carroll

ALBANY COUNTY — Small-party voters in Guilderland, New Scotland, and Rensselaerville won’t be using voting machines during the primary on Sept. 18.

A separate paper ballot will be used in the 104th Assembly District because of a long list of delegates and alternate delegates to the 3rd Judicial District, according to the Albany County Board of Elections. All the names simply wouldn’t fit in the old lever-style machines still being used in the county.

Deputy Democratic Commissioner Kathleen A. Carey, of the county’s board of elections, said that the paper ballots will only be used by Conservative and Independence voters. The primaries for Democrats, Republicans, and other small-party members will be listed on lever machines and all voters can report to their usual polling location, Carey said.

"Because of the delegates and alternate delegates for the 3rd Judicial District, there were not enough rows on the machines," said Carey. "The candidates have to be listed vertically"so some will be on paper ballots."

The delegates elected for a judicial district nominate judges to the Supreme Court for that district. The state’s Supreme Court is the lowest level of New York’s three-tiered system. The 3rd Judicial District covers Albany, Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer, Schoharie, Sullivan and Ulster counties.

All Guilderland Conservatives will vote on a paper ballot during this year’s primary as well as Independence voters living in the 32nd Legislative District, in Westmere.

In the town of New Scotland, registered Conservative and Independence party members will be voting on paper ballots, and in Rensselaerville, Conservative voters will also be given a paper ballot.

The paper ballots will be put into locked boxes and sent to the board of elections’ office on Russell Road in Albany. The paper ballots for the small parties are filled out by circling a candidate’s name in each column for each office.

Voters can also write in the candidate of their choice in the blank box of the paper ballot.

"The voter will fill them out and put them in locked boxes and they are brought in and counted," Carey said. "We did it once with the Green Party"but it’s been a while."

Voters using absentee ballots will fill in small ovals with a black pen for the candidate of their choice, much like a standardized test used in many schools; the marks will then be scanned by a machine.

Questions about the ballots or the Sept. 18 primary can be answered by the Albany County Board of Elections at 487-5060 or at boardofelections@albany county.com.

Level 3 sex offender arrested after leaving center

By Jarrett Carroll

GUILDERLAND — The town’s only registered Level 3 sex offender was arrested and sent to jail after he disappeared for 27 days when he left a local drug-rehabilitation center, according to police.

Guilderland Police arrested Robert J. Palmer, 48, after he left the St. Peter’s Addiction Recovery Center on Mercy Care Lane and he did not notify the New York State Sex Offender Registry in accordance with state law. He is being charged with a class D felony for failing to verify his address.

The sex registry, set up by state law, requires all convicted sex offenders to notify the registry within 10 days of an address change. A Level 3 sex offender is the highest level on the registry and is assigned to people deemed most likely to re-offend.

Guilderland Police say that Palmer turned himself in to police custody and was arraigned in Guilderland Town Court and remanded to Albany County’s jail without bail last Thursday.

"They’re the worst of the worst"Their victims are kids," Guilderland Police Sergeant Gary W. Lee said of Level 3 offenders.

According to the state’s Division of Criminal Justice Services, Palmer was arrested by Troy Police on Nov. 6, 2003 for forcible touching of a 5-year-old boy with "actual sexual contact."

He was sentenced to one year in county jail.

Lee said that Palmer was in and out of drug rehabilitation a few times, but that he could not be accounted for between the time he left SPARC and when he contacted the registry again.

"He was missing for 27 days. What went on during that time" He most likely went back to his old ways and began using drugs again, but we can’t tell," Lee told The Enterprise.

Palmer is described in his arrest report as being 5 foot, 5 inches tall, and weighing 159 pounds, and having hazel eyes and brown hair. He also has a tattoo on his left forearm and on his finger.

According to Guilderland’s sex registry files, which are available on the town’s website and the Guilderland Police Benevolent Association’s website, there are 14 sex offenders living in town. Recently retired Guilderland Police First Sergeant William Ward previously monitored the sex offender registry in town and helped to get the lists on the Internet.

Lee now monitors the town’s registry.

Palmer is the only Level 3 offender registered in the town of Guilderland, but there are two other sex offenders living in town about whom Lee could not release information to the public, because, he said, of "court injunctions" pending on the cases.

The Level 2 sex offenders currently living in ZIP codes that serve Guilderland include:

— Donald E. White, 58, of ZIP code 12303;

— Richard C. Balls, 29, of ZIP code 12009; and

— James H. Passenger, 60, of ZIP code 12009.

The Level 1 sex offenders currently living in ZIP codes that serve Guilderland include:

— Charles Eble, 37, of ZIP code 12084;

— David Lockskin, 21, of ZIP code 12084;

— Brian Auer, 26, of ZIP code 12084;

— James M. Boxley, 47, of ZIP code 12203;

— Thomas B. Kelly, 25, of ZIP code 12009;

— Harvey Snye, 56, of ZIP code 12159;

— Frederick Milo, 44, of ZIP code 12085; and

— John Grizzard, 33, of ZIP code 12186.

Altamont plans to clear brown water

By Saranac Hale Spencer

ALTAMONT — New development is sprouting and old pipes are groaning now that the village’s new wells are connected to the municipal system.

Since the water from Brandle Road became available, developer Jeff Thomas started work on Brandle Meadows, the senior-housing project that he is building just outside the village limits, and plans are underway for flushing out the village’s century-old pipes to accommodate the new flow.

Development sprouts

Thomas waited to build his complex until he could obtain village water. The two new Brandle Road wells went on line this summer, completing a $1.4 million project that just about doubled the village’s water supply.

In June, the village agreed to take ownership of the water and sewer lines on the privately-owned Brandle Meadows property as part of a larger contract to grant water service to the condominiums. Section 12 of that contract, which names Altamont as the owner of the water and sewer infrastructure, came with the stipulation that it could be rescinded pending a response from the state comptroller’s office.

The village submitted a request to that office for an opinion, and, in a letter dated July 12, Mitchell Morris, of Thomas DiNapoli’s office, wrote, "A village is not authorized" to acquire privately installed water supply or connection pipes outside the village limits."

Following the opinion, the village agreed with Thomas that it would not take ownership of the pipes. In a unanimous vote at its Sept. 4 meeting, the village board formally acknowledged that section 14 of the contract, which added an additional 3.5-percent charge to the water and sewer bills of Brandle Meadows residents to cover the cost of operations and maintenance, was no longer in effect, at Thomas’s request.

Thomas could not be reached for comment.

Pipes groan

Parts of the village’s water system are over 100 years old, and they have mineral deposits in places that have begun to break loose and discolor the water since pressure and water-flow direction changed after the new wells were hooked up.

The build-up of iron and other minerals in the pipes is called tuberculation, Rich Straut, an engineer with Barton and Loguidice who has been working with the village said on Tuesday. He and Tim McIntyre, the village’s public works commissioner, plan to add a polyphosphate and orthophosphate blend to the water to act as a corrosion inhibitor, which will help stop the discoloration, said Straut. The chemicals have been used for that purpose since the 1960s, he said, and that program combined with uni-directional flushing will clean out the pipes.

McIntyre expects that the village will get approval from the health department for use of the chemical by the end of the week; the village applied in March. He plans to put notices in The Enterprise and flyers around the village before the aggressive flushing program begins.

Other business

In other business, the board:

— Voted unanimously to accept a $5,000 payment from the Altamont Fair for connection to the village sewer system. A year-and-a-half ago the fair asked for a waiver of the fees, but it was denied, Don Cropsey, the village’s building inspector, told the board. The fair has now paid in full;

—Voted unanimously to accept applications from Steve Reinemann and Patrick Thomas to be volunteer firefighters;

— Presented a book to Pat Sphor to be given to Stephen DuMoulin, 9, a participant in the Altamont Free Library’s summer reading program who was mayor for a day, but couldn’t be at the meeting;

— Heard from Mayor James Gaughan that there will be a quilt show in Orsini Park on Sept. 8;

— Voted unanimously to apply for a $11,750 grant from the Capital District Transportation Commission to work on a comprehensive plan for sidewalks and trails in the village;

— Voted unanimously to appoint Marc Shultes as the sewage treatment plant operator at a salary of $39,000;

— Voted unanimously to accept Andrea Dean’s resignation from the village’s planning board and appointed Steven Caruso to fill the term until 2012. "I have seen and watched your support for the village," Gaughan said to Caruso upon his appointment;

— Voted unanimously to donate an old office table to Community Caregivers and an abandoned 1969 Volkswagen Bug from the Crounse property to Northeast Parent and Child Society for a school project;

— Voted unanimously to sell a 1992 Sreco-Sewer rodding machine, with no minimum bid, and a 1993 Toro Grounds Master Mower, with a minimum bid of $500;

— Voted unanimously to hold a public hearing on Oct. 2 at 8 p.m. for the fifth local law of 2007, the new village of Altamont zoning law 2007;

— Voted unanimously to get a scope-of-services survey done on the Crounse property. The village and the town of Guilderland bought the historic home at the corner of Route 146 and Gun Club Road. Trustee Dean Whalen guessed that the cost of the project, including a survey would be between $3,000 and $3,500, the cost would be split with the town;

— Voted unanimously to change the retirement plan for Altamont police officers. The village currently works on a 25-year retirement plan, compared to most departments, which have 20-year plans, Trustee Chris Marshall said.

"They’re not getting the most for their money and we’re not getting the most for our money with the 25-year plan," she said when presenting her plan to the board on Tuesday; and

— Heard from Trustee Kerry Dineen that she has put together welcome packages for people moving into the village, which includes information from local businesses.

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