Friday, September 21, 2007

Another Missed Opportunity

I'd like to be Mike Arcuri's friend, but I just can't afford it.

"Wednesday, September 19th, 2007
Reception for Congressman Mike Arcuri (NY-24)
437 New Jersey Avenue, SE Washington, DC
Time: 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Requested Contributions: $5,000 PAC Host, $2,500 PAC Sponsor and $1,000 Friend"

On the bright side, at least it didn't cost a grand to get some potato salad this time.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Then Again, Maybe Not

Bob Hyde has deleted his post accusing Utica City Democratic Chairman Mitch Ford of repeatedly calling Common Council candidate Jane Kelley a "nigger".

Make of that what you will.


Am I the only one frustrated by the arcane formatting off the O-D's new website. I know it takes some time to get up to speed with new software, but it's been...what...a month now? Is the formatting really as much of a disaster as I think it is, or is my use of Adblocker distorting my view of the layout?


This is good news.

Gregg Sponburgh, former director of environmental health and safety at Utica College, was sentenced to prison today for his role a drunken-driving accident that left three people injured last September.

Herkimer County Court Judge Patrick Kirk sentenced Sponburgh to 2½ years in prison for second-degree assault followed by two years of post-release supervision. He also sentenced Sponburgh to 1 to 3 years for second-degree vehicular assault. The sentences will run concurrently.

One of the victims, Erin Dugan, 27, of Richfield, said she believes the sentence was equal punishment for two broken legs she suffered in the accident.

I'm glad the judge wasn't swayed by UC's inane "teachable moment" approach to crime. On the bright side, I suspect Mr. Sponburgh's value to the school will only increase during his incarceration. When he gets out he'll be able to lecture students on responsible drinking and life behind bars. It's a win-win for everyone!

Yeah, I'm a cold-hearted bastard about drunk driving. I fully support the right to a good bender, but I lost all empathy for idiots that get behind the wheel after boozing it up years ago.

Update: WKTV has video of the sentencing here. I'm a little confused about the phrasing they used in the story, since I was under the impression that Sponburgh still worked at Utica College. He's still listed as the Director of Environmental Health and Safety on the College's website, but the 'KTV story makes it sound as though he's no longer an employee.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Utica College Sez: Drunk Drivers Need Luv 2

From my site logs it appears folks at Utica College have gone Google-crazy trying to find mentions of "Erin Dugan". You remember her- she's the woman the safety director of the college crippled in a drunk driving accident.

Scroll down for the story of how the College is trying to get him off without any jail time or just click here for the fast and easy link.

Crankin' It Up

Looks like the Mitch Ford "nigger" issue isn't dying down.

This morning, Jane Kelley, who is a candidate in the Democratic primary, held a news conference to talk about racial slurs she says Democratic Chairman, Mitch Ford made about her.

Ford denies the so-called racial slurs calling the allegations false and ludicrous. He says these statements shouldn't be at the forefront of this primary.

Instead the candidates should be focusing their attention on the concerns of the constituents in the First Ward and less about trashing each other's reputations.

The inescapable conclusion is that either Bob Hyde or Mitch Ford is lying. Whoever it is needs to suffer serious consequences.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Blastwave, Continued

I've referred to the area's steady depopulation as a slow-motion neutron bomb before- the population is being wiped out with a thoroughness akin to nuclear bombardment. If this report (PDF Warning) is to be believed things are about to get a whole lot worse. Here's a sample of some of the conclusions:

- Oswego County in the Syracuse area will lose over half it's population by 2020.

- Herkimer County will be effectively uninhabited by 2020, with over 90% of the population either dying or moving out of the area.

- Oneida County's population implosion will accelerate, with over 15% of the year 2000 population gone by 2020. It's not clear if those population figures take into account the massive numbers of prisoners, but if it doesn't the picture is even bleaker. In just over a decade Oneida County will effectively be a gigantic nursing home, with close to 70% of the workers employed by government or government-sponsored jobs. The rest of the population will be overwhelmingly poor and increasingly geriatric.

I'm increasingly in favor of the massive pork project aimed at improving Route 12, because it's starting to look like we'll need all that extra highway capacity to support the flood of people leaving the area.

Did I Wake Up In Texas?

The only thing going on today is high school football, according to the O-D.

They really need to get at least one more staffer trained to handle their new content management suite.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Utica College Sez: Felony Assault? OK By Us!

This is simply amazing.

When an intoxicated Utica College safety director crashed his car into Erin Dugan's SUV last September, two badly broken legs brought the 27-year-old woman's life to a standstill.

The accident happened the night before Dugan planned to move to Florida. Instead, she spent the past year in recovery at her mother's house in Richfield Springs. After months of hospitalization, Dugan walks with a cane and faces additional surgeries.

Now, Gregg Sponburgh, an Army veteran of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, waits to be sentenced next week. Utica College's president has written a Herkimer County Court judge in support of the college employee.

In the letter sent Aug. 30, Utica College President Todd Hutton asked the presiding judge to "consider the negative consequences that a prison or jail sentence would hold for Mr. Sponburgh, his family and the community."

The real question here isn't why the college is trying to get Sponburgh a light sentence, but why he wasn't fired the day he was convicted. Negative consequences? Take a look at the article's accompanying photograph for some "negative consequences". Ms. Dugan's legs were snapped like twigs in multiple locations, and that network of scars criss-crossing her legs is the result of the surgeries needed to put them back together.

In the letter to Judge Patrick Kirk, Hutton acknowledges the serious nature of the crime. However, after considering whether to terminate Sponburgh after 13 years of service, Hutton wrote the "better decision" would be to engage Sponburgh in efforts to prevent such incidents from happening again.

"If any positive can come out of this tragedy, it is that Mr. Sponburgh can use his own experience to make a powerful impression upon students, both at Utica College and at other schools, as well as upon others in the local community," Hutton wrote.

Perhaps Mr. Hutton would be kind enough to provide us with a list of other felonies he views as teachable moments rather than crimes. Just imagine the educational opportunities of having actual rapists perform rape counseling, or the wonderful potential some convicted pedophiles on staff would represent. Too extreme? How about hiring a couple of convicted embezzlers to handle business matters?

"An educational institution's No. 1 responsibility is to educate first," Brown said. "This letter is certainly the opposite of hypocritical, to educate first and take every step possible to educate the community. By incarcerating this individual, it would only delay that educational process from taking place."

I certainly agree that an "educational process" needs to start pronto, but I don't think it's the community that needs to be educated in this instance.

Update: WKTV has more.


I can just imagine the steam jetting out of the ears of the Hamilton Wack Pack right now.

An Alexander Hamilton Center promoting the study of freedom, democracy and capitalism will open in Clinton - but it won't be affiliated with Hamilton College.

The center's new location: the former O'Conner's Alexander Hamilton Inn in downtown Clinton.

The college first supported, then rebuffed hosting the center last year, giving up a $3.6 million gift from a lifetime trustee who was backing the center.

At issue: Disagreements over how the center was to be structured.

The college trustee, Carl Menges, subsequently resigned and is now a director of a newly constituted Alexander Hamilton Center.

"We will be dealing with issues of interest to conservatives, but the institute is scholarly and not political," said James Bradfield, one of the institute's founders.
The Alexander Hamilton Institute will offer programs focused on the ideals of the nation's founders, he said.

It's a shame that the same college that embraced Susan Rosenberg and Ward Churchill couldn't find the same enthusiasm for the ideals of Hamilton, but in the end things probably worked out for the best. You'll find a lot more information on the history of the Hamilton Center, as well as details on the forthcoming official announcement, over here. The Trustee's attempt to grab the trademark is particularly amusing.

Mitch Ford Don't Like Dem Niggers?

Yes, it's a dirty, hateful word. Which is what part of why this post at the Weekly Democrat is such a bombshell.

During the period of time that the screening committee for the City Democrats was meeting, Mr. Ford and I spent a lot of time together. Several times he initiated conversations with me regarding Kelley and her pursuit of the First Ward Common Council seat. Ford disliked her immensely. He was mad about some slight he felt was directed at him from Kelley.

He used swear words and racial slurs regarding her in conversations to me that he started. He called her the “N” word and "B" word, and other hateful, hurtful words. I cautioned him several times regarding his inappropriate language and use of racial slurs.

If this is true Mitch Ford needs to resign immediately. As much as I disagree with Bob's politics I just can't imagine he'd lie about something this serious.

Trevisani Sez: Boobies? What Boobies?

The OD has been on a roll the last few days, taking a closer look at some of our local "leaders" seeking elected office. Todays is Dan Trevisani, who seems to be suffering from a severe case of political I-don't-remember-itis.

When Utica mayoral candidate Daniel Trevisani took out an ad Aug. 26 discussing his 1998 personal bankruptcy filing, the Democrat said he wanted to bring it to the public's attention before his opponent did.

"I'm running for a major office and I want people to know everything and anything about me," Trevisani said.

As the O-D looked deeper into the situation, Trevisani wouldn't give specific reasons for what led to his financial issues.

Apparently Mr. Trevisani wants people to know everything about him...except for the delightfully sordid details of what actually triggered his bankruptcy. Ironically, I think he could have spun this into a positive if he'd just been a bit more forthcoming about what sent him into a financial tailspin. Instead, he's chosen to play dumb. Well, I hope he's just playing.

Trevisani tried to start a Syracuse nightclub a decade ago, but discontinued his business certificate a day later. He then gave at least $10,000 and possibly as much as $25,000 to a friend who opened a strip club called USA Dream Girls at the same address at which Trevisani had listed his business.

Now, however, Trevisani denies knowing about any such place or how his friend invested his money.

"I should have paid more attention to it and I didn't," Trevisani said. "I made a mistake, and I don't want all this information out in the Utica newspaper."

Let me summarize: "I owned a strip club, but I don't remember owning it."

This is an amazing assertion considering the rumor that his love of boobies, or at least a particular pair of them, seems to be the reason for his falling out with long-time friend Tim Julian. Behold, my friends, the power of the boobies! Tremble before their awesome ability to fog men's minds.

Oh, and heres a tip for anyone going into politics: never, ever tell someone from a newspaper "I don't want this information in the newspaper". That's like throwing a juicy slab of steak in front of a pack of Rottweilers.

Common Council member David Roefaro, D-at-large, is endorsed by the Democratic Party and will face Trevisani in Tuesday's primary election.

Executive members of both the city and Oneida County Democratic committees have made calls to the O-D since the Aug. 26 Trevisani ad was published, asking when a story would be printed about Trevisani's bankruptcy. Among the leaders making calls were county Democratic Chair William Morris II and city Democratic Chair Mitchell Ford.

Help me out here. These were the guys that thought running convicted felon Frank Meola for mayor was a great idea, right?

"This, to me, is very irrelevant," Trevisani said. "It should be irrelevant on your capability on running the city. It could derail a very, very expensive campaign."

Tip number two: never, ever tell anyone that a scandal could cost you lots of money. That torpedoes the spin that you've undergone any kind of redemption and just makes you look self-absorbed and arrogant. It looks even worse when you've already built up a reputation for fiscal irresponsibility by declaring bankruptcy.

During interviews this week, Trevisani first discussed why he placed an advertisement in the O-D about his financial struggle.

"I made a mistake," he said Monday. "I had a hard time 10 years ago, I came out of it and I've been very successful since."

The 1998 decision to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy was a private decision, but something he said he's not ashamed about. Asked about what led to the bankruptcy or if he had credit card debt, Trevisani said, "I'm not even going to go there."

Bzzzt! Wrong answer. Here's how you do it: "Unfortunately, based on the advice of people I trusted I made a bad investment. Because I was too trusting I failed to pay enough attention to what they were doing and ended up involved in something I ultimately didn't want to be part of. It was a hard lesson, but one I've learned from."

See what I did there? Now you're a victim, not a perpetrator. That's how a politician needs to think, and it's no coincidence that it's also how a lawyer thinks. You can tell Trevisani almost gets it by his emphasis on "making a mistake", but he failed to offer up the spin that explained how someone else made him do it.

On Tuesday, the O-D learned from an anonymous caller about Trevisani's possible connections to an adult entertainment club called Dream Girls in Syracuse. An online search of Post-Standard archives turned up a 1997 business certificate in which Trevisani discontinued Trelco Company at 117 Bruce St., Syracuse...

During a second interview, Trevisani said he never operated a business on Bruce Street in Syracuse and said he has no knowledge of any company called Trelco.

"I have no knowledge of any business that Mr. Critelli did anywhere, to be honest with you," Trevisani said before suggesting the reporter speak with Critelli directly.

Argh! That's it. Game over. Dan Trevisani's run for mayor is now effectively over. Even if he wins the primary he's just handed his opponent all the ammunition he needs. It's impossible to spin this as anything but a bald-faced lie, and a poorly thought out lie at that.

Head on over and read the rest of the article, because it's a real gem. And like all good stories it has a hanging plotline that can drive a sequel- the mystery woman that was in the middle of this whole strip club mess that no one has been able to find.

Gold, my friends. Pure comedy gold.

Let The Day Start...

After nearly three weeks I've finally been given a clean bill of health, and I have a lot of catching up to do. It's going to take a while to catch up with all my email, so I apologize ahead of time to anyone that currently has a message in my inbox. Onward!

Friday, September 7, 2007

It Lives!

It's hard to describe how frustrating the last two weeks have been.

I normally have a lot of energy, as my previous tendency to post at all hours of the day and night demonstrates. Over the years I've found myself sleeping less and less not because I have any problems sleeping, but because I always feel refreshed and recharged after only a few hours of sleep. What that means in practice is that I take a long nap during the afternoon, zoom around until midnight, and then sleep until three or four in the morning before I pop up and start the whole cycle over again. That kind of schedule gives me the time to support a lot of hobbies and interests, including this blog.

Unfortunately, it also seems to have worn down my body's natural defenses. I've been knocked out by the flu before, but this recent bout is the first time I literally haven't been able to get out of bed. Which is all the more surprising considering this year's strain isn't supposed to be particularly virulent, at least according to the seasonal evaluations. Less than 24 hours after I started having a few sniffles I was curled up in my bed, vomiting, and alternately shivering and sweltering with a fever that rose into the triple digits. The worse part, at least to me, was learning firsthand just what a fever dream is- an almost hallucinatory state of mind caused by the physical strain an illness places on your brain.

How bad was it? I don't remember actually seeing things, but my significant other says I started having conversations with people that weren't there while I was asleep. Long, detailed conversations about things as diverse as making bricks in Babylon and...uh...the creature trapped inside the Pentagon. You know, the monstrous beast imprisoned by the mystic wards inscribed inside all five sides of the building.

Yeah, it was that freaky. I have some pretty esoteric interests, but there's a big difference between reading goofiness like that for entertainment and actually believing it. That's when the significant other started to get a little scared.

To make a long story short, I'm still under strict orders from my doctor to take it easy and get some rest. "Rest" being defined as "start sleeping a normal eight hours and give your body time to heal or I'm going to have you forcibly tranquilized, you stupid git". See what I have to put up with? I'd kill the heartless bastard, but that would make my sister-in-law a widow and produce some very uncomfortable silences at our family get-togethers. Worse than that, my significant other now feels empowered to run the household however she sees fit. Which is why she feels she can threaten me with physical violence if I don't come back to bed right now.

Once this is over there's gonna be a reckoning 'round here, my friends. Mark my words.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Here's What Happened

1. Friends return from wonderful trip abroad.

2. They stop by at the house for a get together.

3. They don't realize they're carrying the new flu virus. You know, the one that shouldn't be hitting us until December.

4. I not only get my ass kicked by the flu, but get a fluid buildup in my lungs that sends me off to the hospital in the wee hours of the morning because I'm having trouble breathing.

5. Sleep. Eat. Sleep some more.

6. Get better.

I probably won't reach step six until Tuesday. Bleh.