Archive for November, 2010


“People are often unreasonable, irrational,
and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.
Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”

– Mother Teresa


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There’s just no accounting for happiness,
or the way it turns up like a prodigal
who comes back to the dust at your feet
having squandered a fortune far away.

And how can you not forgive?
You make a feast in honor of what
was lost, and take from its place the finest
garment, which you saved for an occasion
you could not imagine, and you weep night and day
to know that you were not abandoned,
that happiness saved its most extreme form
for you alone.

No, happiness is the uncle you never
knew about, who flies a single-engine plane
onto the grassy landing strip, hitchhikes
into town, and inquires at every door
until he finds you asleep midafternoon
as you so often are during the unmerciful
hours of your despair.

It comes to the monk in his cell.
It comes to the woman sweeping the street
with a birch broom, to the child
whose mother has passed out from drink.
It comes to the lover, to the dog chewing
a sock, to the pusher, to the basketmaker,
and to the clerk stacking cans of carrots
in the night.
It even comes to the boulder
in the perpetual shade of pine barrens,
to rain falling on the open sea,
to the wineglass, weary of holding wine.

– Jane Kenyon, from Otherwise: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2005 by the Estate of Jane Kenyon. Reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press, St. Paul, Minnesota, http://www.graywolfpress.org.

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Click the link below for a pleasant surprise:


Kudos to the students and staff of Amsterdam High School, and Successful Practices Network, the production company that brought this video to life.

I’m very pleased and proud to announce that the City will be utilizing the talent of these young marketing executives to assist in promotion of the City’s attributes, it’s downtown revitalization program, and our growing partnership with Roccastrada, Italy.

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romantic. period.

Shoulda won. Period.

Gees, he’s not even 20 years old here.

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Veteran’s Day Speech
November 11, 2010

Hello all. I’d like to thank the Veterans Commission for their generous invitation to participate in today’s Veteran’s Day Parade and Memorial Ceremony. I’d also like to thank the Honor Guard, members of our various veteran organizations and the many, many veterans, past and present, that have served in the military with devotion and courage. I am humbled to stand with you, both men and women that have been willing to sacrifice so much for this community and our Country. Indeed, it is only too recently that this area had lost a young man, Private First Class David R. Jones, Jr. of St. Johnsville. This soldier was only 21 years old when he gave his life in Iraq. His death is a reminder that the tragic consequences of conflict do not end; our region is still making unimaginably painful sacrifice in the name of freedom.

In thinking about today’s speech, my mind continually returned to the word, honor, and it’s various usages: “honor the father and thy mother”, “honored to know you”, “serve with honor”. No higher goal or compliment exists in our language, if you think about it. The men and women of our military have served with dedication, commitment and integrity. They have served selflessly and with 100% focus on duty. They have put their complete faith in their superiors, their mission and our Country.

They served, and serve, with honor.

In contemplating today’s importance, I also thought about the veterans I know that have been forever touched by their time in the military… my father-in-law, his kind and weathered face, so affected by his experience in the Second World War that, to this day, he speaks of little else over 60 years later.

I think of Al Kercado, my friend and our own home town hero, having served two tours in the Middle East, and now serving with great pride at the Pentagon. Anyone that knows Al certainly loves him, but we love him because he is a living, breathing illustration of honor, as his personal aspiration to be true and loyal supercedes all else.

I think of the of Leon Pratt and members of Chapter 8 of the New York Nomads Veterans Motorcycle club that work tirelessly to raise funds to not only sustain the Albany Housing Coalition for homeless vets, but to support the Leatherstocking Honor Flight Network. This group has made possible trips to the WWII memorial in Washington for our surviving WWII vets, an experience that is deeply moving and important for these individuals and their families at the close of their lives.

This extraordinary effort is made in the spirit of brotherhood and honor. It is a call to each of us to follow in these steps.

While ribbons, pins and flags are symbolic of our unified appreciation for our nation’s heroes, (and I am honored to be able to recognize some of our veterans here today with a new medal), we must choose to actively participate in helping our veterans – we are called on to donate essential resources and volunteer time to local charities that are supportive of veteran’s causes and their families. Our government must adequately supply much needed services to those that have returned from service, sometimes broken physically, and sometimes spiritually as well. Lastly, let us all offer on a daily basis a silent prayer or in a way that is as small as a handshake or a smile of thanks the recognition of all that our military members do for us.

In parting, I want to again express my appreciation on behalf of our city to the Veteran’s Commission for your endless commitment to our nation’s heroes and your work to represent and protect our city’s veterans. I ask all that are gathered here today also to contribute to the new memorial that will be constructed at Veterans Field in recognition of the honor of every man and woman hailing from the City of Amsterdam that has served in our armed forces. Please call Richard Leggiero (843-0808) for more information.

God Bless us all, but especially, God bless our veterans. Thank you.

Today, if you can, please take a moment to offer your gratitude to the families of the veterans and active service members by going online to serve.gov to find out how you can serve military families in your area. Please check out the RESOURCES sections for tools you may put into action.

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I got a visit from an associate from Harmony Mills today. He wanted us to see the progress they’ve made on Phase II of their project. The new units are renting swiftly, though the project has not yet even been completed, and the four largest apartments are spoken for. He was quite proud and happy. Please take a look at what redevelopment of a mill site can be.

Lucky Cohoes.

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A friend of mine sent this excerpt from the Recorder blog today:

“Amsterdam certainly isn’t the crap-hole that the persistent naysayers would have you believe it is, but it certainly isn’t this shining star in the Mohawk Valley with only pockets of problems that the yay-sayers would have you believe it is. Taking a long, hard REALISTIC look at the city. Refusing to do so is no longer a case of having one’s head in the sand, but a head up one’s rear.”

He (my friend) had taken some offense. I guess I could too if I wished to, but would rather respond with measure.

This is an opportunity for journalistic investigation. The opinions posted on FB and blogs are only that, subjective declarations. If the local paper is going to present a REALISTIC view of the city, please supply empirical and comparative statistics. What’s REALLY happening on Henrietta Hill, Upper Church Street, Mt. Carmel Hill, Upper Market Street, Reid Hill, Rockton, the East and West Ends, and the South Side? It would be interesting to see crime literally mapped out, type and frequency, city-wide. I think that, factually, most of our neighborhoods ARE attractive and safe. It’d be interesting to know how we fare compared to Gloversville, Schenectady and other urban communities of similar size. It may be surprising to know how well (or not) we are doing and help us identify what we must do to improve.

Hopefully, some answers will be forthcoming in the work done by the Crime Prevention Committee, but the report should ultimately be a springboard for some young journalist to dive deeper into the realities of our condition. I would ask that they augment their findings with information on current attempts to tackle trouble by city government; actively, legislatively, budgetarily and idealistically.

I don’t know who the “yay-sayers” are with their heads up their butts, but I still see the light of day. And it can’t be anyone that gives time and effort to physically make this a healthier and better place to live. Unlike the naysayers that helplessly blog on and on about the shortcomings of everyone and everything, we have scores of volunteers that man important city committees and not-for-profit boards. They take part in city-wide clean-ups, graffiti removal, beautification efforts and neighborhood watch. They see what’s lacking and try to supply the muscle to overcome obstacles that government can’t solve alone.

Touting one’s attributes does not negate problems. We should all acknowledge that we must look at both sides of this story to be realistic about our fortunes. But at the same time, touting our advantages is justifiable in presenting a REALISTIC depiction of our community.

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It’s been a long time since I’ve felt inspired to tackle these keys. Truth is, I am engrossed by all that we are working on, so rather than editorializing, I’m running a list of projects that are in progress as I have done in the past. Again, it is not exhaustive; it is only the work of my office over the past six weeks.
It does not include all the projects each department works on independently.
I hope to break each of these points out in detail in the coming weeks, time permitting. I am very proud of the progress we’re making and continue to enjoy the daily challenges of this job.

Financial analysis/budget preparation: Municipal Solutions

Engineering/DPW departments: supervision
Water Distribution: hydrants, valves, mains, lines and laterals
– Market Street Hill: flow testing/strategy
– DeWitt and Collins Streets: $400K replacements

Bridge Street Reconstruction
Chalmers demolition
City Hall asbestos removal project
Hydrant flushing/winterization
Brookside fire: debris removal
Demolition: strategy for upcoming season
Grieme Avenue Bridge: asbestos removal
Riverlink Park Phase II: new bids
Steadwell Avenue deterioration/remedy
Hero Beechnut:
– $3M plus interest payment received!
– Broadway odor solutions

Public Safety Building:
– ADA compliance
– light fixture replacements
– smoke/CO2 alarms
Road Program: strategy
Dock Removal: Riverlink Park
– traffic re-patterning
– RT5 reconstruction
– stimulus purchases/upgrades
$13M in upgrades at the Water Filtration and Waste Water Treatment Plants: nearing completion
AFSME labor management: employee issues/accountability
PESH training
Engineer search
Every week, this staff also addresses a barrage of issues and complaints due to our deteriorating systems: water leaks, sewer breaks, pot holes, collapsing hills and structures, etc. They attempt to manage this as immediately as possible. It’s an impossibly difficult job.

– workplace violence prevention
– vehicle usage
– credit card usage
Zoning: Local Ordinance rewrite
Ethics: Local Ordinance rewrite

WMHT Our Town: City of Amsterdam documentary
AIDA/Economic Development
– State Data Center
– promotional materials distribution/strategies
– redevelopment strategies
Center for Economic Growth (CEG) membership
Urban Renewal Agency:
– revitalization strategies
– grants

BOA: Waterfront Heritage/North Shore revitalization

Codes Department Supervision
– technological upgrades: Red Alert system; networking/connectivity
– operational efficiency, inspections, tracking, reporting
– review permitting fees

– Rivercrest: 208 Guy Park Avenue
– Amsterdam Literacy Zone Partnership/BOCES
– Montgomery County Habitat for Humanity: Executive Committee: PR Chair
– NYCOM Executive Committee: Finance Committee Chair
– Mayors of Montgomery County/MCCC
– NYSERDA seminar
– Annual Latino Upstate Summit: Centro Civico
– Crime Committee: discoveries
– political science classes
– Roccastrada partnership

Neighborhood Association/Watch: organization

– RFP: grant facilitator
– Windows on Main

– Muralists: one mural complete, three others started
– 3,200 Flower Bulbs planted
– Markets St/Rt5 Island cleaned up

City Hall Relocation Committee

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