- Published on Wednesday, 02 September 2015 07:59
On Monday night, I CDTAed up to Cohoes for the Morse/Nolin Mayoral debate. It was my first bus venture into Cohoes so I got to see a side of it I’ve never seen before. Lucky for me, I had a bus driver who doubled as a Cohoes tour guide. We turned the skinny streets bypassing scantily rested autos until a potential rider would flag down a bus from behind a clothing collection box or from under the shade of a tree. I don’t recall seeing a single shelter as the bus wound around orange canned warnings of axle damaging potholes.
The bus driver pointed out the main CDTA drag as Remson Street and my immediate attention was drawn to the Hotel Cohoes. (Yeah, I’m funny like that…love the flop houses!) For those of you who, like myself, only visit downtown Cohoes when political agendas lead you there…the Hotel Cohoes is not as fancy as the name implies. As a matter of fact, it is uninhabitable but, if the Cohoes Local Development Corporation is to be believed, the City of Cohoes has it on the road to productivity.
The CLDC evicted the 20 boarders (they must be the newbies on my street) and hired a fumigator at over $22K to rid the place of vermin and remove the bodies. (Beware of the scattering downtown neighbors.) Next up, for the Remson Street neighbor of Marra’s Pharmacy is the promise of a Albany Sheriff work detail to toss all the trash from the vacant building. (Seen below)
I promised my driver I would be sure to google the hotel that caught my attention just as I caught a glimpse of Assemblyman McDonald’s pharmacy. (I’m thinking of shifting my scripts!) I pulled up to the Cohoes Senior Center…and hesitated wading into the batch of folks lounging on the benches who were definitely not debate attendees. My driver assured me, pushing me off the bus into Cohoes no-man’s land, that the Senior Center was beyond the bus’s spectators. He honked as he drove into the sunset…leaving me in Cohoes.
I found the debate and seated myself, as usual, in the back so I could see the reactions of the audience in correspondence to the participant’s vitriol. It was a good decision.
The debate was moderated by the venerable League of Women Voters who collected and coordinated questions from the audience. Each candidate was seated at a table which, as some of my neighbors noted, prohibited a visual. (I really love a good visual.) The self introductions by the two candidates, Dianne Nolin and Shawn Morse couldn’t have been more different. Ms. Nolin went first and sounded monotone and rehearsed…I shuddered at the mostly unnoticed innuendo when she thanked “Mr. Morse for attending,” ya know, like she had to convince him to come to her debate. (It sent my nose into the air for future under-handed remarks.)
Morse introduced himself in a more traditional straight forward “debate/forum” style. “I’m not your friend, I’m your candidate, the best Mayor for Cohoes and will I serve to the best of my abilities for the best interests of the residents of Cohoes.” Morse went on to urge the residents to look at the records of each candidate…and base their vote on the record of accomplishments.
I’m not going to give you the play by play that you may be used to when I attend meetings…heck, who has the time to recreate a time that would have better been spent with a beer in hand beside the pool. But, I will point out what was, in my opinion, the most telling and important observations of the evening.
While each candidate used different words to describe the first area of business as an examination of how the City is functioning now and how to make it function better, I noted that Nolin, and EIGHT year member of the Common Council, a former president of the Common Council and current VP of the Common Council was planning on putting together a transition team…hmmm…seems like she may already know the ins and outs since she vetted the budget every year for nearly a decade. Morse, not having the same intimate with the budget, will familiarize himself with the inner workings of Cohoes departmental and budgetary functions and move forward from there.
Perhaps the most important difference between the two candidates is their vision for the future of Cohoes. I was dismayed to learn that Nolin’s vision is to restore Cohoes to the bedroom community it once was. Hmmm…so she wants to grow a town solely made up of commuters…commuters from Albany??? Yeah, I don’t know any bedroom communities prospering when they are 14 minutes north of a second class city with very limited business prosperity. To put this more bluntly, I worked at General Electric and I commuted an hour to lay my head in a sleepy “bedroom community” on the top of a mountain in Fulton County. Cohoes has no hope of ever reaching Nolin’s vision…forget it.
More realistically, Morse tells of meeting with the man who developed Glens Falls businesses into the bustling community it is today. That town has similar amenities to Cohoes and, since it’s closer to the Capital attractions and has a much prettier waterfront, the goal seems to be more easily attainable than the years of work in Glens Falls. Morse talks with enthusiasm about creating an epicenter of arts and entertainment right smack dab in the middle of this Senior Center. (Hey, I’d just be happy if I could have found a McDonalds or Burger King for my hungry belly.)
Hey, I wasn’t a huge fan of Cohoes…and not so much a huge fan of Morse…but even I was excited about Morse’s enthusiastic vision for the future of Cohoes. And, knowing Morse’s tenacious personality, I knew his vision would come to life…”by hook or by crook.” (That’s a saying that was used in the bedroom community of 17th Century Cohoes.)
Another topic I found nteresting was the candidate’s individual intentions on whether the Mayor’s position will be “full-time” for each candidate. Morse, corrected the facilitator, being Mayor “is not just full-time, it’s 24 hours a day.” And I can verify that Morse already maintains that schedule with the midnight hours of our texting “battles.”
Nolin countered meekly with, “Yes, I will be full-time,” except for that little pharmacy license thing that she has to maintain by working hours. Well, what the hell kind of answer is that? Next up, Nolin speaks about how she’s unhappy with the efforts of shared services to date calling the 911 shared service with the Sheriff’s Department (wonder if she shared that with the Sheriff?) Nolin hasn’t quite figured out which services she wants to “farm out” to the County.
Enter Morse, “the County should be asked what services they would consider sharing with them, we shouldn’t be deciding what they WILL take over. He goes on with “Cohoes need to take care of Cohoes and NOT rely on the County.”
Oh, and apparently, Ms. Nolin didn’t mean to insinuate in her flyer that she would abolish the police force…that was misconstrued….she just meant….blah, blah blah.
Nolin’s strategy to lessen drug crime is to get rid of the vacant buildings. Morse couldn’t wait to jump in, “I’m not sure what that has to doing away with drugs.” Morse will work with the kids and the Sheriffs and AAU sports to get kids active in positive pastimes. The candidate lists the programs he has already brought to the kids in the area and I note, in reference to the Albany Gym…Cohoes is certainly attracting our youth toward Cohoes.
The Seniors all nod their head in agreement to Morse’s idea to bring a Utopia of Recreations to the intersection of Remson and Cayuga Streets. Nolin counters with her strategy of luring tech firms and graphic designers her visionary “bedroom community”…cause they don’t all need to be on Wolf Road. (Yeah, I had that puzzled look on my face too!!)
In regard to decreasing the Section 8 housing, Morse points out that “Section 8 don’t make ya dirty,” but codes need to be kept up to provide the same standard of housing to all the residents. They need to cultivate a pride in the home. Morse points to the County Land bank as an accomplishment in the field of eliminating blight. Then, after I had been bored into thinking of the Nolin character as a cardboard cutout…she showed the nasty side I had heard about. She does a smack down (as Morse doesn’t have a rebuttal when she has the last response in the debate.)
Well, “why did you vote against the land bank the first time and then voted for later,” (apparently Ms. Nolin is a little naïve in the business of County Government.) She adds, “besides, Cohoes only has one building and Albany has 22 buildings!” Morse is informed he can’t have a rebuttal to her nastiness. Just as well….he took it on his next question anyway.
Nolin sat alone as she continued to tag Morse...reminded me of a sneaky little cat smacking the Cohoes Guard Dog on the nose and running away. When the candidates were asked of their greatest accomplishments, Morse glowed as he talked about revitalizing the Albany Nursing Home, saving money there and stopping the shipping of our long term care loved ones out of state. Morse is also proud of bringing the discount prescription cards to the community and saving citizens, he says, $5 Million.
Nolin swipes her claws at Morse, “as far as the nursing home, people want to age at home these days,” (I’m shocked as she nearly seething and incorrect…the “nursing” part of the name Nursing Home, indicates the residents are not capable of being at their own home…without a NURSE!!) Next up, this candidate pharmacists does the smack down on Morse’s prescription discount pride, “they are a dime a dozen…I get them in the mail all the time.” Morse’s mouth slides open….along with mine. “AND, she adds, seemingly listing Morse’s proudest moments as her accomplishment, “the TU reported a 24% tax increase with Morse in charge of the Legislature,”
I was shocked…seems that some pharmacists are not only nasty during the day (when they are doing business with me!), they are also nasty in the evenings.
One last question before the close, and wearily I check the wall clock. Morse is first up and asked, what will he do if he loses…will he rally round the winning primary winner? Morse gives that winning grin, and, I swear, there was a twinkle in his eye as he winked at someone in the audience, “well, that’s a little hard to say because I don’t plan on losing the primary.” Morse goes on, “at this point in a campaign, ya can’t even think about losing…besides, I’m not going to lose.” And this is why I love this Cohoes tough guy…he’s confident, he speaks his mind, and he never plans on losing…whether that is on behalf of a the citizens or pups he protects as a firefighter or on behalf of the citizens he represents.
Ms. Nolin’s response to the question, “I hope that the residents will put their best foot forward.”
I was thrilled to hear that the close was coming up next and, in all my years of political observations I’ve never ever seen or heard anything like it.
Ms. Nolin used her close, not to promote herself as the best candidate, but to bash her opponent who she claims “promoted a flawed Land Bank and could cost the County millions in the redistricting lawsuit.
I was stunned.
Morse, who Nolin had portrayed as the bully in the race for Mayor of Cohoes, seemed as stunned as I was in response to Nolin’s closing statements. (This explains so much about her 8 years of “working” to improve the city…and this sniping may have been the deterrent that kept Cohoes down.)
Morse closed with a necessary response to Nolin’s debate behavior, “I don’t know what Ms. Nolin knows,” and he says what I’m thinking, “I’ve never seen her at any of the meetings to have first hand knowledge, someone must have told her to throw that out.” And I see a snicker from Assemblyman McDonald at the back of the room.” In case Ms. Nolin is wondering, her vitriol was noticed by the folks in the room…and perhaps that is the reason that she stood alone after the debate while Morse was collecting phone numbers of new volunteers.
As you can tell from this article, there was a clear winner in the realm of ethical debate on Monday night…I’ve known Morse for a very long time and, while we don’t always agree, I want him in my corner…and Cohoes may have a future if they have him in theirs.
While I don’t know Ms. Nolin at all…my first impression is not a good one. And, remember, every partnership, every community development starts and grows through a first impression. I can’t see this woman bringing anything but continued woes to the City of Cohoes.
Oh, and one more thing….remember that eyesore I mentioned earlier…the Hotel Cohoes vermin trap down the street from Marra’s pharmacy? It has been in the hands of the Cohoes Local Development Corporation for quite a while. Guess who’s the Treasurer on that tiny little fiefdom keeping Cohoes in the crapper….Dianne Nolin.
Now you know the rest of the story.