By Alexander M. Portelli – Originally posted at his blog here –
It was the end of August 2013 in the upstate Capital City of Albany, NY. State University Of Albany student Jacob Sherretts and I had walked into the Albany County Board of Elections only a few days ago with the signatures of 1505 City of Albany residents to put my name on the ballot as the youngest candidate for Mayor of Albany at 23, and the first Libertarian candidate. Our campaign was motley; we had no money, and no official party backing or any organization helping us navigate the complex state election law. Even harder, I couldn’t collect my own signatures because, and I kid not, I am on parole. To get on the ballot as a Libertarian candidate, I needed to collect 1205 signatures in 6 weeks, or 5% of the number of votes cast in the last gubernatorial race. If I had been a republican I would of needed 150 signatures.
We all knew 1500 wouldn’t be enough, because any number of signatures could be thrown off for a huge number of technicalities. But it’s all time allowed us for what we were working with. A person couldn’t clearly write their name or may have never registered to vote at their new address and it could constitute an invalid signature. A petition holds 10 signatures and 1 bad signature can invalidate the whole petition.
Anyone who wanted to challenge us would have three days to do it, and the local republicans, who themselves are a minority in the oldest democratic machine city in the United States, had kept no secret that they planned to get me knocked off the ballot. When Jacob and I had turned the petitions in, we submitted them to the simultaneous Chairwoman of the Albany County Republican Party, AND the Co-commissioner of the Albany County Board Of Elections, Rachel Bledi. She Co-commissioned the Elections Board with Albany County Democratic Machine boss Matt Clyne. The Commissioners ultimately decided who got to stay on the ballot and who got knocked off, and naturally they wielded this power to their benefit of controlling dissent in their respective parties.
Melanie Messier, my communications director, and Jacob had spent hours in the hot sun collecting them. There was also local can collector Green Party Joe on the petitioning team, an occupy Wall streeter named Madison, a young democrat and former campaign volunteer for a democratic primary candidate who would ultimately lose to the Democrat’s front runner, and a hodgepodge of other volunteers.
We had twenty minutes left before the deadline ended for somebody to mount a challenge. Everyone was at their highest nerve. Twenty minutes left to making local history.
Then ten minutes. Then down to five. The campaign was gathering in my downtown diner. “If they were gonna challenge they woulda already.” Jacob chided. “Ya. I think we made it.” I agreed.
Then a status update on Facebook from the city’s political reporter. It read “UPDATE: 800 signatures on Libertarian candidate Alexander Portelli’s petitions challenged by City GOP chairman Steve King.”
We sunk in our chairs. My own heart dropped. My volunteers, most of whom were young, poor, some with children and barely able to afford to live as it was, had put hours of work in for this. Many were completely apathetic to politics before my campaign.
“Oh no.” Melanie said. I shook my head. I looked at Jacob. “So now what do we do?”
I had grown up working class to a democratic family. My father was a democratic committeeman in a city with over 200 committee people. These were the backbone of the machine; the soldiers who formed rank and file for the party. My parents had actually met because they were both party committee members. So Basically I grew up in politics.
Albany’s democratic machine was famous. The dems controlled everything. If you had a problem, you brought it to your local committee person. The committee person would then go to the local ward leader and most likely it would be solved. Everything from garbage cans, a pothole on your street, a traffic ticket, your underground card games being broken up, your kid got in trouble again, a dwi, to unemployment and a city or county job. All you had to do was make sure you voted democrat, and had your family vote democrat as well. Albany actually had one of the highest voter turn out rates in the country at one point, and still has historic highs for local elections. We breath politics. The machine awarded loyalists with decent-paying, secure county jobs that ended with a pension and benefits.
Albany’s also the state capital, and an influx of money pours into the city from the state university and the state workers taxed from New York City and the surrounding communities.
Growing up, we lived down the street from The Albany School of Humanities, PS 23. At the time to attend school, my mom enrolled me there. But city lotto programs made this impossible. To make it fair for minority neighborhoods in the city, a lotto program was in place to get into “ASH.” My mom was insulted. This is a public school, and our public school. We paid our taxes to live in the Delaware Avenue neighborhood. We were by no means rich, not even middle class. It was a very blue collar neighborhood. But it wasn’t right to be forced to attend a different public school neighborhoods away. What’s the point of paying school taxes then?
So when my mom realized that they weren’t going to let me in, she did the only thing she could: she ran for school board.
The new Mayor elect at the time was Jerry Jennings. In 1993 he ran against the party backed candidate, Andrew Joyce. The election is remembered as a political bloodbath. 36,000 people went to the polls in a city of 90,000. The party was split in half. My father had (some would say unwisely) backed Joyce. Jennings was a charismatic, smooth talking, tanned walking pin stripe of a man hailing from North Albany and looked more like a mob boss than a mayoral candidate. The unions backed him, and ultimately wrestled control of much of the committee from Joyce’s camp. The results were close in the end and Jennings won the primary by a sliver. My dad recalled how for poll watchers union guys were brought up from the city to make sure no funny business went on against their candidate. My dad and the other committee member poll watchers talked and enjoyed themselves, while these guys didn’t say a word. When the polls closed, they left just as quietly and professionally as they came in. Local ward leader and political boss Frank Commisso was said to have urged Joyce to run. After the election was over, Commisso is said to have gone to jerry jenning’s house to congratulate him. “Frank,” Jennings is rumored to have responded irately for almost having his Mayoral title taken from him, ” if I had a gun right now, I’d shoot you.”
In 96 when my mom ran, Jerry was in control of the Party. He was picking candidates for almost every political seat, and he selected a candidate for the school board race which the party was expected to back. My mom ran against his guy, my dad campaigned for her, put together a great grassroots effort, and in the end she won with 11,000 votes, amazing everyone.
This is when the problems began. The campaign had left a bad taste in mouths, the school board was still controlled by Jerry, and though my mom implemented the changes she wanted to make, Jennings attempt at controlling my mom, his habit of flirting with and womanizing younger women including my mom at functions, his bullying personality, irked my father. Over the next 4 years, he and his old party friends who made up the very small “progressive” wing of the blue collar Democratic Party, would decide to run against Jerry’s dictatorship, a dictatorship that started when Jerry himself was the rebel who beat the party establishment’s backed mayoral candidate, and would dismantle the machine piece by piece.
We would get threatening phone calls in the middle of the night. Police cars would blare their sirens outside our house to harass us. At a political function, Jennings was behind my mother and pulled her hair when with his male buddies.
“You pulled my hair!” My mom proclaimed. “Hahaha. No I didn’t.” He replied.
The final straw came one hot spring day. On our quiet block, it was my father and mother, and my two little sisters. Next door lived my aunt and her partner, and on the same block was my aunt and mother’s mom, who we called nana and who was from Ireland. Across the street was a two apartment home owned by my mother and aunt’s brother Jim, who lived with his wife in New Jersey. He bought the apartment to rent with the comfort of knowing that we would be there to watch tenants.
One day, as I played with my friend, a man with political lawn signs showed up at my uncle’s rented apartment. He knocked on the door of the tenants, smiled at me from across the street as I played in the yard, and then he and my uncle’s tenants put the sign in front of the house.
When my father saw it he was infuriated. “how dare they do that! who the hell do they think they are?!?” He screamed angrily. The sign was for an opponent of my mom. Instead of waiting to cool off and acting rational, he stormed over to their house, and demanded they take it down. They refused, names were exchanged and a fight almost ensued. He gave them thirty days notice to leave. The tactic was done by Jerry to agitate my dad. In retrospect, he blew it out of proportion. But in the heat of campaigning, as I would learn almost two decades later, these little things mattered a lot. Your block was your little machine; your territory. An act like this mounted to pure revolt.
In the end they would move out, but not before we left. It had gotten so bad that the city wouldn’t even pick our garbage up anymore. What could we do? You can’t just stop paying taxes for this stuff. You support the party’s government or you get punished for it.
So it was us who decided to move. We wanted to move as far away as we could, but without leaving the city so that myself and my sisters could attend the city’s public schools still.
My mom lost her next election by about 70 votes, most likely because she supported allowing military recruiters into schools. Why not let children see all their options, she argued. It didn’t pan with the most radical progressives, who at this point had miraculously taken a few seats in the common council and were growing in momentum as old machine loyalists died, or their voters retired to Florida to escape New York’s cold and taxes.
Albany’s public schools were rough. I skipped most of my classes in middle school, partly because Phillip Livingston was having so many stabbings it was making national news. By 9th grade, I had enough of school. I worked a summer job cleaning the park, a summer jobs program run by the City for youth, getting the gig after the last kid had his toe cut off in a law mower accident, and settling with the city for $80,000. In my first year at Albany High, I was suspended for pulling a knife on a bully, and then expelled for hanging on campus and organizing kids to pass out fliers against George Bush, the Iraq War, and starting a protest that some students turned into a mini riot over the school denying gay, lesbian bisexual and transgender students from having an alternative prom. I was sorta radical, very liberal, sorta aligned as an anarco-socialist. I believed government was bad, police were pigs, and rich people were the root of all evil. Public schools were bad too though. I was basically anti-republican, and anti-conservative, because they were the big bad boogie men in Albany. You never saw a republican in Albany, but knew they were out there, lurking in the hilltowns of rural upstate NY somewhere.
Because of the growing Federal Government’s No Child Left Behind Act, where Washington DC set standards for every municipal school system in the country to meet in order to be eligible for federal funding, which was taxed from the municipalities in the first place to be dangled in front of them for, Albany High School had no problem expelling me. My grades were poor anyway and my attendance sucked. I was a negative effect on their eligibility for coveted Federal dollars. At 14, I was a drop out. Except I couldn’t “legally” drop out either, according to New York State Law. So what to do with a kid who they didn’t want in their public schools but who couldn’t go untaught? For this the City hired a $20 an hour tutor to come teach me at home. He was nice enough, but overtime he stopped coming, or I stopped being home when he showed, and that was that.
9/11 had just happened a few years ago, and the growing War On Terror was all that was discussed. Back then homeland security, the role of the federal government, and the patriot Act were still new, and the media actually questioned their need. Now days they question how little they should be “scaled down,” if scaled down at all.
I hung out at the mall with hundreds of other local drop outs. I drank , even if the drinking age was 21, and I smoked pot, even if there was no legal age to smoke. At 15 I wore Che Guavera shirts because it was cool, and I read socialist blogs and writers. One day while bored at home, I wrote an alternative form of government. It was sort of a juvenile shaping of my soon to be libertarian beliefs. I basically made 5 different autonomous American regions, each with their own constitutions. The regions would be free to decide how much, or if any, government they wanted for them. This was on the biggest socialist forum on the internet, with some name like left revolution or something, and a moderator said I had radical conservative ideas and took away my posting privileges, putting my post in the (no joke) “reeducation” threads section.
That was the last I went on that ridiculous site.
Sometimes I would get arrested, sometimes for open container, once for shop lifting, a few times for being drunk in public. I was given a year long probation for a marijuana seed. I spent it challenging my probation officer in every way possible. Sometimes I would get in debates with her over politics and what the point of this year long supervision was for over a plant seed in my pocket, which no doubt cost tax payers tens of thousands of dollars overall including the court proceedings.
My first real job came by chance. One day while drinking in a neighborhood park local youths congregated to, a kid named Cody didn’t want to go to work the next night because he wanted to go to a party. It was a local Italian restaurant that was famous; jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep filmed a scene of a movie there, and all the local political bosses and city’s wealthy and middle class alike went there to eat and be treated by the owner, Matt’s, kindness. Matt was in his 80s, and used to play baseball for Albany’s team when they had one, in a more prosperous day.
I was going to be a busboy. I dressed in a nice suit and tie, with a white shirt. I had black spiked hair back then. I looked selfishly handsome. When I went in to work, the head waiter, tom, actually knew my mom and dad from politics. Tom had supported Jerry when he ran, but the job promised to him was given to the son of a union boss who supported Jennings.
The owner, Matt, remembered my parents as well. Another Waiter Jim worked with my aunt in the Assembly. Government money and jobs made Albany. We all loved it.
I finished probation amazingly and worked more and more at the restaurant. I saw how hard it was owning a business. Corners were cut, but it was okay with everyone, even those who were supposed to work for the government, because hey, who’s complaining?
The rich people tipped well. One lady who’s husband owned a successful lawn cutting service for other rich people would put twenty dollar bills in my butt pocket every time I came in. I loved it. I made lots of money, and learned more skills then sitting around at the city gig at 14 doing nothing unless the city’s job supervisor came around. I WANTED to work. I wanted the restaurant to be the best. I wanted us to succeed.
At 16, while my friends mulled through high school, or the ballooning number of dropouts tried to find a path in life or got drunk and did drugs, I got my license.
I went to a local urban “private” school that had started 30 years earlier by Albany anarchists and hippies to be “off the grid” and teach Free School based education where the kids choose the rules of the school and decide what they wanted to learn. The school was lately becoming a hot bed of the modern progressive liberal movement sweeping Democratic cities across the country, but the old anarchists of the free School still held sway.
The school let me work, and practice driving. I was just getting over my drinking and drug usage, but not before one last party crash at 17. I got drunk to the point of almost death, off alcohol I wasn’t legally supposed to purchase, and high on cocaine that wasn’t legally supposed to even be in this entire country.
I had an epiphany, and decided never to do drugs again, though I was selling weed to some friends sometimes.
The free school high school had a wide array of students from the entire region going there. It was completely privately run, and worked by charging admissions based on a sliding scale fee, based on how much money a family made. Some were let in for free. I found a full time job at a family run Italian Deli, and left the restaurant. The Free School let me work there full time and just incorporated it into my curriculum. At 17 I was working 40 and then 50-60 hours a week even. Sometimes me and my friends would drive out to the hill towns of upstate New York and live like big shots from Albany. The ballooning state government was taxing many towns out of existence or into poverty. Lifetime citizens moved out of state and rented their New York homes they couldn’t sell to the growing number of poor folks, and houses deteriorated or ended up vacant. Unions controlled the government and candidates like Jerry Jennings were put into power and rewarded their backers with whatever they wanted. The unions had labor regulations and worker benefits passed that were too much for upstate New York’s onetime manufacturing titans. The factories moved out of state or even the country, leaving looming skeletons of Warehouses and plants towering over these falling apart towns. Most people went on benefits.
Albany sucked up all the money, and kids like me and my friends, who worked off the state money, benefited. I met a girl there from the country, and her personality and family values were something I never saw before. Her family were “boogie people” From the country. They went to church, did community events, and helped their neighbors. Growing up for me in the city, helping your neighbors was saying hello. The government was supposed to help your neighbors if they had a problem, though they ran my family out of our neighborhood and set up a System that resulted in myself and most of my high school class falling through the cracks of graduation.
There wasn’t really any local government out where she lived. Just communities living.
At that time I first heard about Ron Paul. I read an article about him and Wikipedia’d him one day. This is where I learned the word Libertarian. Dr. Paul spoke about the theory of Liberty, and it made sense. He was consistent. He didn’t sound like any politician I had ever heard. What really won me over to him was not what we agreed with but what we didn’t agree with. I was pro-choice, and still am to this day (sorry conservative libertarians, this is an issue that libertarians will never agree on). Ron Paul is pro-life. But he explained not that it should be legal, or it should be illegal, but that it should be up to states and communities to decide. That’s when I really understood libertarianism. Let communities and states decide how to Govern themselves on questions not covered by the constitution. Don’t try to enforce your views on everybody else. I am pro-choice, but if a majority of Texas wants to prohibit abortion, so be it. I’m against a department of education, as an education is only as good as a community that wants to teach it, but if a state wants to have one by popular consent, so be it.
If Colorado wants to legalize all drugs and Florida wants to ban everything, so be it.
But it wasn’t until I went to prison and read that I really came to believe in Liberty.
After two years I ended my only real committed relationship. I was selling bootleg cigarettes, purchased down south and sold because of a demand due to New York’s high cigarette tax urged by New York’s progressive liberal democrats to discourage smoking. I also ended up selling weed. When I was 19 I ended up selling ecstasy, because, well, I was in the business of supplying what the federal government denied people, and this was just another commodity to add to inventory. I was set up to come out to a rural, dying upstate New York County by their county drug task force. They received federal funding for the drug busts they did, and would go to bigger cities and buy enough drugs to convince the dealer to feel comfortable coming out to their jurisdiction. I was unlawfully searched, which violated my constitutional rights, and I spent 13 months in county jail, denied what I felt was a speedy trial, also a constitutional right. I could write a whole different article on the abuse I saw by government guards, the cover ups by supposed government watch dog officers, and the inhumane treatment witnessed throughout what would be 3 years of a 4 year sentence. I was arrested at 19. I came out at 23. I spent 13 months in jail awaiting a trial. I saw one inmate put naked in a cell, starved, and beaten for weeks. I saw mentally handicapped inmates abused and beaten, then confined in the box for months. At first I tried to organize inmates to report the abuses. This was injustice. Surely the government that oversees these agencies and counties would stop it? The worst was Grant Sham. Grant was starved and beaten in a cell while bare naked for weeks. The COs would bang on his cell door night and day picking on him and sleep depriving him. He would cry all night, and flood his cell to get them to stop. I still remember listening to his screams to please be left alone so he could sleep for just a little while. I organized inmates to get their parents to call Albany, call the Governors Office, call the Attorney General, call anyone to come rescue him. He even stabbed himself with a chicken bone to try and get to the hospital just so he could take a nap.Then one day a CO opened his cell door when he was going to be served food, and farted in it. Out of frustration, anger, sleep depravity, and what I could imagine was pure rage, Grant sucker punched the CO as hard as he could. The CO went down, and realizign what he had done, Grant scampered to the back of the cell in the corner. The CO pulled the pin, and the jail was locked down. COs poured into the unit, and Grant screamed at them to try and explain himself. He just wanted to be left alone. As he tried to reason with them the COs rushed into the cell, pummeling him. They dragged him out of the cell, beating him, and strapped him to a “restraint chair.” Then, they beat him for 15 minutes straight. They tortured him. He sat in that chair for hours, crying, a broken human being, just an hour north of Manhattan in the custody of the government of the greatest state on earth. Eventually to cover everything up, the jail shipped him off to a state mental facility. I heard two years later that Grant was on heavy doses of throzine, a zombie somewhere.
After the Grant Sham event, the beatens became like clockwork to me. It was a normal part of prison for government guards to beat, torture, restrain, and starve inmates. In prison in the maxes, inmates would wind up hung in their cell, after getting on the bad side of a prison guard. I saw abuses that changed my entire view of society.
But during my time in prison, I also read. I read hundreds of books. And my libertarian principles were only reinforced. I read the New York Times, which espouses what could be the opposite of Libertarianism, criticize and mock as backwards places that didn’t have a government growing as fast a rate as the federal government or New York. I saw in the news so many constitutional amendments violated or stretched. In prison I was beaten once and spent 3 months in a box and 6 months in a maximum security prison for complaining that I was gonna write “Albany” over a rights violation. If one Right isn’t followed, why would any other one. If the government can beat me today, and kill a US citizen abroad with a drone strike tomorrow, what is next week.
And if New York leads the nation in laws and government spending, why is it facing the same or worse inhumane acts by the government or poverty among the people as a country in Africa or the Middle East would see? Because it’s not bothered to be reported it should be ignored?
When I got out of prison, I came to a different world. A week after my release, I announced my candidacy for mayor online in what really amounted to a rant about the problems everybody was going through, and touted a platform that wanted to throw out everything from last call to government pensions to political salaries to drug laws and welfare. The gist was if you weren’t bothering anyone, the government shouldn’t bother you. My campaign exploded. The recession meanwhile was in full effect. New York State was $300 billion dollars in debt, and is still trying spend itself out of a depression through investments in state sponsored manufacturing projects. The progressive wave was in full swing, government programs were everywhere, but taxes and inflation had caused the cost of living to skyrocket.
Almost everyone working class who even worked a full time job needed food stamps or unemployment or made up a disability to get SSI from the federal government. They’d starve to death otherwise. Cabaret laws and food bans and farming bans and noise ordinances and permits were the newest local and state ordinances. I visited the free school, and the old anarchists that had run the school thirty some years were almost all leaving or retiring. New “progressives” were in charge, and regulations were made to meet federal education criteria. Our military wasn’t going away nationally; it was expanding to almost every country on earth.
The hill towns of New York were now empty shells. The young people had and have mostly left New York State for better economic and weather climates.
For the first time in New York State history, Florida is about to pass us in population. The increase in poverty and the flight of businesses and producers has the progressives instituting higher wage requirements for workers. More benefit programs. I myself had to lay off and cut hours in my business for the higher wage mandates, and one of my former employees ended up getting arrested a week later for stealing from a super market. The restaurant I worked at when I was young had closed, plus dozens of other businesses I remembered. The rich people had mostly left to escape the taxes, which made even less tax paying citizens and a need for even MORE taxes from the leftover tax payer base to make up the cost. The government is the biggest industry in New York, so naturally the higher the property taxes and cost of living gets, the more the politicians will just raise their salaries. With no industries, the government is doing massive construction projects to give the unions work. The state had stopped producing and is slowly eating itself up.
The deli I worked had got fined big time for not paying me time and a half for “overtime” I worked, and started sending me
A bunch of checks in the mail. I was insulted and felt it was theft. I was just happy to work the hours, which they never coulda afforded to give me if they they paid me time and a half. The deli never fully recovered from the massive fine and punishment.
After two months I got a job at a restaurant by the airport and saved money to rent a commercial storefront. The location had over a dozen failed ventures in a dozen years. I opened a late night cafe called Portelli’s Joe N dough Cafe. The biggest hurdles I had, aside from nobody in Albany really having money anymore, was that Central Avenue was covered with parking meters in effect from 8am to 6pm. The meters kept shoppers from going downtown to shop. Why go to downtown Albany to shop and worry about paying meters and getting a ticket when you can go to Walmart and park for free? So I made the cafe work by one simple solution: I opened when the meters on the avenue closed at 6pm, and stayed open until 5am. Why compete with 40 places for lunch when you can compete with nobody for late night? I made homemade burgers, homemade fries, got a soft serve ice cream machine, and we made our own wing sauces. I built a 4 1/2 star business on Yelp, and people would come from as far as 50 miles away every night because the knew it was the one place open late night with fresh, affordable food. I built the business around the city regulations. While other locations open and close on Central Avenue, I remained open by building my business where it would prosper from most; free from government regulation. The most I had to deal with was every other night was alternate parking on the city street, as city workers would sweep the roads, all while the city plummeted into a 16 million dollar debt. If customers didn’t park on the correct side, they would get tickets on their cars, which gave me another battle to fight the city over.
Seeing the growing problems in Albany and the income disparities, the poverty, and the flight of young people out of the state, made me more libertarian than ever. My beliefs were even more reinforced when I visited the Libertarian state of New Hampshire, which still rocks the state motto on signs and license plates, live free or die. There’s no seatbelt laws, no mandatory car insurance, no sales tax, no income tax, minimal gun laws, no state minimum wage laws, the legislators are paid $100 a year, compared to New York’s $100,000, and the state has the lowest poverty rates in the country and the highest quality of life in the country. Like my old girlfriend’s communities, people looked out for each other. Everybody keeps most of what they produce (compared to New York), and the economy isn’t totally driven by government spending. The hill towns of New Hampshire are actually quite nice to visit and people live secure lives.
The city of Manchester rivals Albany in size at 100,000 people, but knocks Albany out of the water. There is almost no unemployment at around 3.9%. Every other block in downtown Albany has a vacant building and business is declining. Houses look disheveled and run down. In Manchester it’s the opposite. It’s a prospering city, and it’s not even the state’s Capitol!
Meanwhile, My campaign went on a full year. Back in October, as I had just started serving in a restaurant again, City Treasurer Kathy Sheehan and progressive scone announced that she would be running for Mayor. Only a couple of years prior she had won a huge victory for the position of City Treasurer. Sheehan was a former CEO and Venture Capitalist who took over a company called Intermagnetics, a medical device manufacturer based in the Capitol Region. She built the company up to have hundreds of employees and to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and then sold the company to International conglomerate Phillips Medical Services. The CEOs liquidated the employee share plan to pennies on the dollar, while they walked away with millions. Most of the employees lost their jobs, which likely went overseas to Phillips Medical Services’ main factories in Asia. Sheehan herself made over a million dollars in the deal, purchased a house in Martha’s Vineyard, and then changed her party enrollment to Democrat and dropped large sums into the party coffers and to the party bosses.
Kathy Sheehan pumped half a million dollars into her campaign. She campaigned for months, while the blue collar party loyalists and old guard that was left waited for Mayor Jerry Jennings to run. A local political blogger who has spies all across the Capital wrote an article rumoring that there was a secret deal between Mayor Jennings and Kathy Sheehan. Jennings was going to wait as long as possible to announce that he would NOT run, all the way up until the eve of the convention. He knew that like a faifthful flock, party members wouldn’t dare announce that they were going to run if there was a chance Jerry was running. And so while Kathy built up her campaign all the way until May, Jerry stayed silent. Another Democrat named Corey Ellis jumped in the primary to challenge Kathy, but many felt that he was only in the race to give the illusion of a competition.
A twitter parody of Jerry Jennings mocks Corey Ellis
Rumors flooded around the city on whether Jerry was going to run. To many, he was like Chairman Mao to people. A large portion of the city had known him as Mayor for most of their lives. And then, on the eve of the Albany County Democratic Party convention, when all 500+ soldiers of the party meet to nominate their candidate, Jennings announced abruptly that he was not going to run for another term. At City Hall during the press conference, grown men grew emotional and women cried on live tv. He sealed the deal for Kathy to take over. In my own diner, a man cried as he watched the announcement on the television.
During the campaign, my campaign coordinator was given info from a member of the Sheehan camp. the info was meant to be relayed to Corey Ellis. The motive of this person, who I won’t name for their sake as they are still in politics today and I want to respect their trust in giving me this info, was unclear. But the info was supposed to be enough to damage Sheehan so that Corey could beat her. Apparently, Kathy Sheehan had been not only campaigning while on City Time, but practically living her life as though she wasn’t even a public official for the entire time she had been in office. The running joke was that she was City Treasurer from eleven to one. She would solicit donations from old friends in the corporate world, would hit fundraisers, go to parties, or go on vacation. According to the source, Kathy was scared to death that somebody would foil her time sheets from City Hall, exposing her reckless behavior. Was it enough for the old machine voters to vote for even Democrat Corey Ellis? This person thought so. And even more, not only did everyone involved with Kathy’s campaign know about this and worry it would come out, but the local political reporter and political mouth piece of Kathy Sheehan, Hearst Corporation Reporter Jordan Carleo Evangelist knew, as did politicians who endorsed her, former assembly people included. Among them was Albany historian and former assemblyman Jack Mceneny. Jack mceneny ran against Jerry in the late 90s. While campaigning against him, one dirty trick a Jerry loyalist used was to actually call Jack up at his house one evening and tell him that his campaign headquarters was on fire. Jack rushed to his headquarters just as he was getting ready to go out campaigning, only to find that it was perfectly in tact. The ploy worked though; it cost Jack an evening of valuable door to door knocking.
My campaign gave the intel to Corey’s, for the sheer sake of seeing some sort of justice be done or principle be upheld in Albany, but as the primary deadline neared it became apparent Corey was not going to foil the documents.
So after I was challenged on my signatures, I foiled the time sheets myself. And then this happened..
One night at my cafe, with customers inside eating and an Occupy Albany member and campaign volunteer at the counter with their computer, a contingent of police entered my cafe. They claimed that somebody called in to say that a white male with a gun was outside the store. At our confused responses, they left and i thought that it was the end of it. Ten minutes later though, they came back in. They told me to get off of my grill, and then put me on the wall and went through my pockets. They asked to search my car, which I told them that they couldn’t do, but I found out later from staff and customers at the bar across the street that they did anyway. Then they began going into politics and saying that Kathy was going to win. I asked if I could call my lawyer and was denied access to do so, and the Albany Police tried to threaten me for ten minutes before finally leaving.
In the end, I was knocked off the ballot for my candidacy for Mayor. But during a debate at the Albany Library, before I had been knocked off officially, I gave a speech that had the audience clapping, touching on throwing out the parking meters. Afterwards, jack Mceneny, who was in the audience supporting Kathy Sheehan, came up to me and told me about a town in Westchester with a unique parking system. He was friendly and nice, but looking at him I couldn’t help think that he was part of the problem. The Times Union had even posted an article on him double dipping in pension funds, but in Albany that’s okay. It’s only borrowed tax money. For my police raid that got the local political blogger one of her most read blog posts ever, the Times Union gave a snarky comment from Jordan with the Times Union mocking the raid. I decided then that if police could come into my business with impunity and throw me against the wall, and that no matter how hard I could try I couldn’t change the system in New York, than there was no longer a reason to stay.
Even after the election I advocated for improvements in the dying neighborhood of Central Avenue.
Central Avenue in the winter time
I got a petition from the occupied tenants of commercials buildings on Central Ave calling for the removal of the parking meters and a repeal of the off street parking rules that cause tickets to be given out to working class residents in the neighborhood with vehicles. These were issues that were effecting the neighborhood, and I figured that if maybe you could talk to City Hall and government, then they would listen with open ears. I met with the Albany City Clerk repeatedly. I shared the most simple of all my gripes of living in New York. Something as simple as a parking meter and off street parking and unnecessarily street sweeping that was just a job generator for city cronies. When changes weren’t being made, I announced that I would be moving my business to another city because Albany was not business friendly. Times Union reporter and blogger Steve Barnes then reached out to me. He wanted to do a story. So we met, spoke for an hour and a half, he paid for everything, gleefully pointing out that he can charge all his meals on his Hearst company credit card, and I left. In his article, it became a two page article about me. About my record, about my personal life, and even about my facebook. As for my gripes about the parking, he implied that I was naive to think that the streets couldn’t be plowed because of piles of trash that would accumulate.
After the article, I gave up. I closed my business, collected everything my assets, and decided it was time to move to New Hampshire, where I could at least be party of a society where there’s still a great amount of Liberty, and people are prospering due to it.
In libertarianism if your garbage isn’t collected, you just hire some one else. There are no laws against marijuana seeds or strangling educational systems that suck tax money out of people. Economies are driven by production, and a lack of wars, foreign intervention, and bureaucratically inept federal agencies trying to run everything means less taxes people are paying and more money in communities across the nation. welfare is done by churches and communities again, or local and state governments that chose for it instead of being forced federally, but the poverty rate is naturally low and the cost of living so low as a result of lack of taxes, that people get by. And though nowhere is perfect, An even slightly libertarian society like New Hampshire is far more perfect than Albany right now.
As people from New York flee the state, they are still bringing their ideas with them. They have disgust at victimless activities or vices that they don’t personally practice, and desire the governments of their new states to enforce their distastes. Instead of enforcing personal views on a better environment by using their wallet, the thought of not being able to go to their favorite diner because there’s smokers there or they can’t buy greasy food from a corporate franchise because there’s Styrofoam repulses them. They use the government to force the owners of those businesses to comply with their views, without taking regard to the owner of the property. There is no point owning property if you can’t really own it. They see prospering Liberty driven societies like New Hampshire or Colorado, and as they abandon the homes they ruined they start to apply the same desire for government control in the Liberty societies. They don’t realize that these societies are prospering BECAUSE of Liberty.
Nobody agrees 100%, and if the government continues to enforce a new law for something one of its citizens doesn’t like, then in the end we won’t be able to do anything once every citizen gets their way.
While walking through Manchester one day, I saw a man and his kids in a city street. They were sweeping the curbs. “Hey what are ya doing over there, if ya don’t mind me asking?” I inquired. He looked at me, “Sweeping the streets man.” “What made you do that?” “That’s my house there.” He said, pointing at a beautiful but cozy house. “That’s admirable man.” Was all I could reply. He doesn’t pay sales tax, he doesn’t pay a state income tax, and his rent is low because his landlord’s property taxes are low. There’s no need for taxes when there’s no government middleman. If only Albany could find Liberty and make it that simple. In statist societies, people can’t imagine a world without a service or regulation once Government starts providing it. Eventually, like what happened in Albany, Government takes over everything, and those with the power become corrupted by it.
I’m 24 now, with a decent amount of money from my business and no debts or obligations. Meanwhile my friends are finishing their bachelors degrees and are left unemployed and half a million in debt to student loans. And as I write this, I ponder how much worse it will get before it gets better. Most Americans follow progressive and liberal ideals, and government regulation and spending is higher then ever, but poverty as a whole is not improving.
As the businesses disappear, and the laws and regulations get worse, everyone is cutting corners to survive. To justify their existence and having taxed the rest of upstate New York’s independent and small business economy almost out of existence, the government regulatory agencies turned on the city’s Capitol businesses. Commercial properties lay vacant. Businesses leave. A computer store owner who supported my campaign is at a point where he has to move his 5 franchises out of the state to survive, after being punished by the state for not paying overtime. The states unemployment rate finally dropped a bit, but not after hundreds of thousands have fled the state since the recession. The poor, working and even middle class have no money to spend and the economy again is stagnant. Most people who stay are an aging population who own property or have built their job here but aren’t rich or poor enough to leave. Jennings is gone, but now an even more progressive Mayor is in. The system is collapsing to pay for the huge number of pensions needed to be dished out for the aging government loyalists, with all those who would have paid the city and county government in taxes having fled the state.
I suppose I’ll move my business to New Hampshire next year, because of its prosperity and libertarian principles. I’ll help make it even more libertarian, with a government that follows the constitution, and prosper and start a family. I’ll help keep the liberal elements that have caused recession and depression here from spreading to New Hampshire. Liberalism has destroyed the state, and caused a massive flight of migrants. I don’t know how long it’ll take for New York to bounce back.
one thing is for sure. Libertarianism isn’t going away. As things get worse, We’re only growing.