of summer —
parkas huddled ’round the grill
dagosan [May 29, 2005]
shoeless in schenectady: Our curmudgeonly columnist Carl Strock, admits he was quite surprised this week. You see, the U.S. Justice Department has decided not to prosecute two ex-Schenectady cops for violating the civil rights of David Sampson in July, 1999. Strock asks: “How could anyone in his right mind conclude that what the cops did was not a violation of someone’s civil rights?” (Sunday Gazette [Schenectady, NY], “Ex-cops get weird break from feds,” May 29, 2005, B1, $ubscr., but see reprint at Reply 3, and related articles, at the Schenectady Info website).
three ride the same horse
………………………………………….. by Kobayashi ISSA, translated by D. G. Lanoue
Srock may have a point:
- The police officers — Richard Barnett and Michael Siler, who are white — “picked up this guy they knew to be a shady character, David Sampson, who wasn’t doing anything illegal at the time, drove him eight miles out of the city to rural Rector Road in Glenville, at night, and dumped him there shoeless to fend for himself.” Sampson, who is black, says they also roughed him up and tossed his Timberland boots into the woods.
- In a deposition, Barnett has admitted taking Sampson that night to the secluded road, but denied the “roughing up.” Barnett and other local cops also admitted that police officers practiced a “relocation policy” of leaving perceived troublemakers outside the city limits, with the approval of SPD management. (see Albany [NY] Times Union, Claim against ex-cops rejected, May 26, 2005; and SchdyInfo.com)
Don’t think badly of Schenectady, though. Its former Corporation Counsel Michael Brockbank told WTEN news (May 26, 2005) he believes what the officers did was not the best thing, but it was not done arbitrarily. Brockbank noted that the two officers, after an investigation sparked by Sampson’s allegations in 1999, were convicted of drug-related offenses. “It clearly shows the type of officers they were, willing to take a cowboy action and that caught up with them.” Thus, according to WTEN, “Brockbank said neither the federal investigation, nor the convictions, should lead people to believe the police department targeted certain communities.”
don’t cry, geese!
from now on
I’m a traveler too
……………………….. by Kobayashi ISSA, translated by D.G. Lanoune
tolerant in schenectady?: Last Monday, May 23, the traditional invocation prayer before the City Council’s public meeting was given by a Muslim Iman, Faisal Ahmad. When the Iman then started asking the Council for help getting visas for Afghanis, a member of the public stood up and said “There’s a war going on. It’s in very bad taste. We have veterans here and we’re listening to his prayer. Shame on us all!” Now, I disagree that a Muslim prayer is less appropriate than that of other religion’s, if there is any prayer at all at Council Meetings (I vote “no prayers.”) Still, I am taken aback by what happened in reaction to the outburst:
Four days later, more than a dozen religious leaders held a press event in City Hall, with the mayor and other City officials participating. They read and passed out A Statement of Concern and Witness urging citizens to celebrate and practice diversity and to practice tolerance. The text of the Statement begins by saying it is in response to the citizen’s words at the Council Meeting — naming and quoting her and saying they “have concern” for her. This seems a bit of an over-reaction to one person’s stating an opinion — and seems very likely to deter the expression of any but the “correct” opinions at Council meetings. (Daily Gazette, “Religious leaders call for tolerance,” May 28, 2005, $$, but see SchdyInfo reprints, including Reply 1; and Capital News9, “Meeting of religious leaders,”
May 27, 2005). Note:
- The rebuked citizen is Karin Maioriello, who has a son in the military serving overseas. She stands by her words: “I object . . .because it was Memorial Day and I think it was in bad taste.”
- No member of the Muslim faith attended the press conference, although Iman Ahmad sent a statement, which was read.
Little Italy Gateway [original image here]
Chutzpah in Little Italy: I forgot to report that I attended the official dedication last Saturday, May 21, 2005, of the Little Italy “Gateway” on N. Jay Street in Schenectady. My skepticism over local efforts to create a Little Italy where none was apparent was covered here at f/k/a in March – schmittle Italy. Nonetheless, I wanted to see if there’s been any progress — beyond the new $900,000 “streetscape” [sidwalks, bricks] and gateway monument. The politicians at the dedication thanked a lot of people and talked about our “tourist attraction,” but I saw nothing to brag about, even after walking both sides of the entire one-block Italian heritage district. It still has lots of boarded up windows [with unpainted plywood] and not one building that anyone I can think of would call charming. After five years of planning and effort, Schenectady’s Little Italy continues to consist of one restaurant (lured there with a large development finance package), one bakery, and one tiny spumoni/sandwich shop.
- It’s gonna get worse: Civitello’s Spumoni Shoppe is about to move from the so-caled Little Italy to a more “high-profile location” outside of Schenectady. A co-owner says, “Nothing’s changed, except the sidewalks are beautiful.” (“Sch’dy, Troy promote Little Italy districts to renew inner city life,” Albany BizJournal, Dec. 10, 2004).
- Also, there’s the problem that the City of Troy has a real Little Italy (see Little Italy Troy.com), comprising an entire intact neighborhood, with resaturants, specialty shops, Italian markets, bocce courts, and great architecture nearby. It is only 14 miles away. Not to mention New York City down the road.
- You know, the traditional Italian alphabet has no “j”. What we think of as the “j” sound is made with the letters “gi” — a “soft g” as in your Editor’s surname. I’m not sure if it is dimly ironic or brilliantly coincidental, therefore, that our Schenectady Little Italy is located on “No. Jay St.”
Not Mi Familia: Given my belief that most urban economic development is a sad display of poor planning and a misuse of public funds, please nota bene that, to the very best of my knowledge, I am not related to this Giacalone, who was accused this month of stealing $1.1 million in business development loans from downtrodden Flint, Michigan.
I need to give Schenectady lawyer Michael Braccini a call, to see if having a bus for a law office is working out for him. I saw the bus for the first time yesterday, in the parking lot of the Domino’s Pizza shop on Broadway. The bus is painted blue and white. The message “Law Office of Michael Braccini” is painted near the top of the bus. At the door, it reads “Legal Advice,” “Enter Here,” and “No appoinment necessary.” Elsewhere, you’re told “Any Question, Any Time,” and numerous practice areas are listed: Bankruptcy, DWI, Misdemeanors and Felonies, Personal Injury” and more. The phone number on the bus is no longer in service. In the telephone book, Braccini’s address is identical to the pizza shop’s address. Maybe there’s also an office in the small building — midnight on a Saturday night was not a good time to investigate. There must be a good story here, and I hope to give you more details soon.
muddy straw sandals
and a sake cup
hanging over the village
that doesn’t pray
ISSA, translated by David G. Lanoue