Tuesday, August 11, 2015

! Stop the Church Demolition !

2140 Broadway, Schenectady, NY

16,000 square foot CHURCH
*Large Sanctuary
*Fellowship Hall with Stage and Kitchen

7,750 square foot SCHOOL
*Kitchen & Dining Area

All the "Democrats" on the Schenectady City Council voted to demolish this community center in order for a merchant to erect a store that sells cigarettes, alcohol, gambling, gasoline and high fructose corn syrup sweetened ice cream. 

How will the demolition work to rebuild the community center that once was this church? 

What infrastructure do walkable communities need in order to thrive?

This church is surrounded by other community and civic buildings. Another church sits right next door. Another school sits across the street. A public school is within the skyline. It has the infrastructure necessary to build upon the current community engagement. Instead of working to find solutions to grow community assets, the Schenectady government is destroying them for a few measly dollars.

What I found particularly striking today on my visit to the church, was that there is another Stewart's just down the street. You can actually see the very top of the church's bell steeple from the sidewalk of the CURRENT STEWART'S 600 feet away! Why do they need two locations on Broadway within such a short distance. What is wrong with their current location where they have been for decades? Why is their greed so great that they need to tear down a church?

2/3rds of Stewart's is owned by the X family. 1/3rd is owned by the employees. Did the employee shareholders approve of this deal? Do Stewart's employees want it to demolish a community sanctuary in Schenectady?

How does one explain to a child why the city government wants to tear down a church? An institution she begs her father to go to with regularity.

Church built in 1922. History unknown.

"BaBa, why are they going to tear down this church? Is it open?"

Below is a building next to the two churches. Unknown connection to the two community institutions. Significant structures clustered around the religious center of the neighborhood.

 The religious center of the neighborhood. Two churches, two faiths, one community.

 Two churches and two schools. A great place for children. The school on the right is currently, at least partially, a day-care.

Below is the school yard across from the two churches, another church is visible beyond the basketball hoop.

The kicker, the steeple of the church is visible from the current Stewart's sidewalk. It is above the white house across and up the street.

Detail of above photograph. The church steeple is above the roof of the white house on the left. Taken from the current Stewart's parking lot.

 The current Stewart's

Monday, March 2, 2015

Charter School Rally: March 4th 2015

Snow on the grass under the trees was removed with heavy equipment and human powered shovels over a period of 4 days the week prior to the March 4th rally. Many, approximately 70%, of the trees in the snow removal areas had their roots or trunks damaged by heavy equipment

Final day of 'clean-up'

Thursday, January 8, 2015

NYS Allies for Public Education

this is very sensible, thoughtful and compassionate response to Cuomo
Here is a letter that NYS Allies for Public Education — a coalition of more than 50 organizations in New York — just sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo about his education policies. While the letter is specific to New York, the issues it covers — evaluations, charter schools, due process — are hot button around the country. It was written in December by Jim Malatras, Cuomo’s director of state operations, to Board of Regents Chairwoman Merryl Tisch and John King, who was at the time the New York State commissioner of education. He resigned late last month and is becoming a top assistant to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
Dear Governor Cuomo,
We, the undersigned members of NYS Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE), are writing in response to the December 18th letter to the Commissioner and Chancellor that Mr. Malatras wrote on your behalf. By responding to the questions posed, we want to separate fact from misinformation. We are also very troubled by several questions that were not included in your letter which continues to demonstrate a disconnect between your office and the public.
We strongly believe in the importance and power of public education for all children. While the vast majority of our students are successful, we cannot rest until our struggling students are supported and given the needed resources to be successful.
Unfortunately, you have based your vision of school reform on a misguided agenda.  That agenda includes ineffective strategies for school improvement. If current policies are not corrected, more state resources will be wasted and our students’ futures will be put at even more risk.
Let’s start at the beginning of the letter.  The New York State Education Department (NYSED) has established capricious and inaccurate measures of proficiency and college readiness.  The proficiency rates that are quoted in the letter (34.8% and 31.4%) reflect arbitrary cut scores set by Commissioner King in 2013.  In 2012, proficiency rates in ELA and Math were 55% and 65% by the cut scores set by then-Commissioner Steiner, based on a college readiness study that he commissioned in 2010.  Prior to 2010, proficiency rates were higher still under Commissioner Mills. In short, proficiency is an arbitrarily defined standard, and there is good evidence to suggest that NYSED has now set the Common Core standards unreasonably high, for political rather than pedagogical reasons.
We understand that you believe that over the past four years “much has been done to improve public education.”  We disagree.  Our high school graduation rate has barely budged since 2011, and the percentage of students earning a Regents diploma with Advanced Designation has been stagnant for several years and decreased this year.  During the past four years, the graduation rate for the state’s English Language learners has dropped by 6 percentage points.
The Common Core proficiency rates were essentially flat between year one and two of the new tests (as were the rates on the final two years of the prior test) and our state’s SAT scores have decreased since 2010.   In short, although we have engaged in four years of market-based corporate reforms—expansion of charter schools, evaluating teachers by student scores, imposing the Common Core standards and more time-consuming, and developmentally inappropriate tests–there is no evidence that New York schools are improving, and there is some evidence that results are moving backward instead.  We believe that there is sufficient evidence to change course.
Clearly the public agrees. The 2014 Times Union/Siena College poll indicates that 46% of New Yorkers oppose the implementation of the Common Core standards, compared to only 23% who support them, while 46% oppose the current use of standardized testing, compared to 29% who support it.  We believe it is time to listen to your constituents, rather than double-down on damaging policies that are hurting our children. It is our intent, by answering the questions that your office posed, to help you advocate for a better and wiser course in the months ahead.
the letter continues....

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Schenectady County Casino Vote 2013

How do people most influenced by expanded gambling facilities in downtown Schenectady feel about it? In November of 2013, the Board of Elections asked a question about allowing new casinos upstate that NYPIRG was ‘deeply troubled’ by because of its ‘trespass into advocacy’. How much of a role did the misleading question alter the vote? It is unclear, but the constitutional amendment passed. Regions of the State that would not be affected by new casinos voted overwhelmingly for it, while areas that were slated to receive casinos voted against it or marginally for more casinos. Now, the people of Schenectady, and Albany, are in a position of potentially having a casino sited in their community when they clearly voted against it.

Using voting data from all 120 election districts and the 6 municipalities in Schenectady County we can discern the sentiment of the people. The town of Niskayuna, with 15,290 voters, had a turnout of 39% in November. Every single one of their 20 election districts voted against the casino. The no vote overwhelmed the pro-gamblers by 25.7%; this was the largest margin of decisiveness in the County. The under vote –the people who did not turn over their ballot, read the 6 lengthy proposals and then register an opinion- was the lowest in Niskayuna at 3.6%.

The good people in the town of Princetown had the highest turnout in all of Schenectady County at 56.7%. Both of their election districts voted against a new casino in the Capital District, and the margin of decisiveness was 14.1%, while the under vote was 6.8%.

47% of Duanesburg’s 4,328 voters came out to vote in November. All 5 of their election districts voted against the casino. However, in one of their election districts the percentage of voters not registering an opinion for the proposal, the under vote, was higher than the margin against the casino. This leaves the results in question. Can we say that the voters in the 4th election district were truly opposed to the casino when the no votes won by 3.7% and the under vote was 8.9%? In order not to over read the results, where the margin of decisiveness is less than the under vote, I can only conclude that the results are suggestive and not conclusive. Given this framework, 4/5ths of the election districts in Duanesburg were conclusive, but on the whole 54.4% of the people voted against the casinos. This was a margin of decisiveness of 13.3% while the under vote was only 4.5% of the electorate.

41% of Glenville’s 20,009 voters turned out in November. These people live closer to the proposed casino in downtown Schenectady, than do many people in the City of Schenectady, and they voted strongly against having a new casino built for their children. The people opposed to new casinos garnered 55.3% of the vote while the pro-gamblers received 15.7% less of the vote. Even more decisively, 25 of the 27 or 92.6% election districts voted against the casino.

The decisiveness of the electorate in the town of Rotterdam is not as clear as the previous 4 municipalities reviewed so far. 17 of their 24 election districts voted for the casino, but only 14 of the election districts conclusive decisions. In aggregate, people who supported increased gambling won by 6.7%, but the undecided or the under vote was 7.6%.  People who voted at the Rotterdam Senior Center and the Town Hall were the strongest supporters of expanded gambling, while the other neighborhoods had mixed results; some voted against while others were not conclusive. On the whole, the only conclusion we can draw is that the vote in Rotterdam is suggestive of moderate support for a new casino.

The City of Schenectady has the most muddled results of all the municipalities in the County. Only 7,723 voters or 25.8% of the electorate turned out to vote; this alone adds a high degree of uncertainty in the results. This dismal turnout ranged by election district from 12.2% to 38%, but on the whole, it was the lowest turnout in the County. The under vote, which researchers have ascribed to the lack of quality education, method of voting and the wording of referenda questions, was highest in the City. Election district under votes ranged from 3.7% to 48.3%, and accordingly the certainty of a decisive vote in an election district could only be determined in 22/42 districts. As a City, people who supported a new casinos upstate won by 2.3%, but the under vote was 10.3%.

People living around Schenectady High School and in the Stockade were conclusively against more casinos upstate, while people in Mount Pleasant and Belleview supported new casinos. Other neighborhoods were only suggestively for or against because not all of the election districts voted the same, while in some the under vote was larger than the margin of decisiveness.

For the City on the whole, no clear conclusions can be made about the opinion of the people. Any statements with certainty about the will of the people in the City about the expansion of gambling would be a distortion of the expressed statements of the people.

What we can say with certainty is that the majority of the people that would be most impacted by a new casino in downtown Schenectady expressed clear opposition to more gambling for their families and communities. People opposed to more gambling were 50.6% of the vote in the county, while the people supporting more gambling opportunities for their children lost by a margin of 7.9%. The under vote was 6.6%, so the countywide decision against additional casinos was conclusive. Additionally, 72 of the 120 election districts or 60% voted against more gambling for their families and communities.  The people have spoken, and the answer is no casino.

The government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from this Earth, but perhaps in Schenectady. It is up to the City Council.


These data are compiled and analyzed with Schenectady County Board of Elections results that are available on their website, and in the case of election district poll locations and the number of registered voters, available upon request from their accommodating staff.

schenectady county casino vote.xlsx


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Nott Street School: National Register of Historic Places

The Nott Street School was the first public school built in Schenectady after the NYS government abolished segregation in 1873. It was the first school that was integrated in Schenectady. The Nott Street School is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which is a listing by the National Park Service for places worthy of historic preservation. The Nott Street School represents the very best of Schenectady, because it is a symbol of society's compassion and and empowerment of all of its children.

The City of Schenectady is planning on using a $500,000 loan from HUD to gift a developer $500,000 in order that they can demolish the oldest public school in Schenectady.
The Schenectady City Council needs to forbid Galesi from demolishing the Nott Street School.

Below is the application that was used to list the Nott Street School on the National Register of Historic Places. It contains a history of the building, an explanation of why the building is significant as well as historic photographs.


SAVE Schenectady's First Integrated School ! 

NOTT 10-900 _1_.pdf

Friday, April 25, 2014

Burning Playground

Photo By :


+01 650 208 9135
Brooklyn, New York

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Pete Seeger in Schenectady

"Put the kids in the middle, because they are the important ones."

Pete Seeger, Schenectady, New York, May 12, 2013

photo by Peggy Seeger