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Friday, February 5, 2010

The Answer Is No on "Big Al"

Today's Troy Record has a reader using its Sound Off column to ask the question, "Does Democratic Councilman Al Spain support any Democratic legislation out there at all?" The answer is no. Al Spain is and has been a Democrat in party registration only since he got himself reinvolved in politics during his brother's brief term as party chairman. His brother, you may recall sent an infamous letter endorsing all of the Republicans running against Democratic incumbents in the County Legislature. "Democrat" Al was no less supportive of Republicans by sporting GOP lawn signs on his property across from St. Jude's Church. This picture shows one sign but as the elections drew closer, there were several more GOP signs added.

Democrat Al is now the "Big Al" of North Greenbush politics. He leads the "Republican dominated town board, voting as a block with GOP endorsed board members Bott, Desso and Hoffman. Big Al sought and lost the Republican endorsement for Town Supervisor last year to Mark Evers. He did not seek the endorsement of town Democrats since the party regained control of its destiny from the Spain faction of GOP endorsing Democrats who turned the party over to the Republicans in a cross endorsement arrangement that attempted to deny voters a choice in the 2007 general election. He also endorsed the Republican candidate for State Senate and has voted here to appoint many Republican operatives to town jobs and committees. His latest effort is to appoint two non resident lawyers to the courts here in town while snubbing town residents who are registered Democrats who want the jobs.

Simply put, Big Al is a "Democrat" in name only. He works for the Republican mayor in Troy. He works against his party in North Greenbush and Rensselaer County, attends Republican sponsored fundraisers and has not been seen at a Democratic fundraiser since his brother was removed as town chairman. Big Al voted to strip the Democratic Supervisor in North Greenbush of a full time secretary so that she could not keep that office open during normal working hours. He did this by reversing his earlier vote to keep the single staffer full time after Democrats sued his Republican colleague Lou Desso over holding two elective offices. Spain also declared at a town board meeting that he ran for election as an opponent of the Democratic sponsored Comprehensive Plan. While this was never stated during the campaign, Spain acted to stop the implementation of the completed plan, voted to instead spend $35 grand on a NO BID contract to do it all over unnecessarily and made a few controversial changes on behalf of influential interests that benefit these interests at the expense of the town. After all, it was his brother who declared his desire to see RT 4 become another "Wolf Road".

So while both he and Lou Desso ran for their board seats after the temporary take over of the Democratic Committee by GOP operatives, each would find themselves aggressively challenged if they attended a Democratic caucus today. Big Al's brother has found himself in front of a judge after the Town Democratic Committee voted to sue him to recover nearly $5,000 in party funds he kindly donated to various charities right after he lost control of the committee in 2008. These funds should have been turned over to the new leadership but alas, that might have helped Democrats win town elections and the Spains wanted no part of that.

While you might find Big Al occasionally sounding like he supports key elements of the most recent Democratic Platform such as consolidating water districts and getting a grip on the union contract in town hall, he just can't help himself when it comes to appointing Republicans to town jobs and committees and more than likely, to fill a vacancy which seems likely on the town board should the Supreme Court decision removing Lou Desso be sustained on appeal.

So "sound off" if you're wondering how Big Al tries to pass himself off as a Democrat when he votes with, endorses, appoints and donates to Republicans while voting to remove Democrats from town jobs and working to cripple the Democratic Supervisor's ability to provide an open office during the 40 hour work week Spain and the Board approved for town hall. We're wondering when the budget cutting Democratic Majority of the Troy City Council plans to do a little sounding off as well. We hear it will be sooner rather than later.

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