Taking your political lumps

profiles in courage
In 1955, Profiles in Courage, written by then Senator John Kennedy was released. It is a collection of 8 biographies of Senators throughout the nation’s history who, according to Kennedy, exhibited the intestinal fortitude to go against what was politically popular at the time. It included the likes of Daniel Webster, Sam Houston and John Quincy Adams.

When looking back at our political history, it does appear that there have been many political figures that have stood their ground while facing intense political opposition. In 1928, New York Governor Al Smith ran for president while supporting the repeal of prohibition and lost heavily. In the mid 1960s, President Lyndon Johnson pushed through civil rights legislation knowing that it would cost his party dearly, which it did. And in more modern times, Senator John McCain has caught the ire of his party for fighting for a compromise on immigration reform.

And while I certainly don’t claim to be in the same league as those mentioned above, I have always tried to live by the example they have set. Now, I’m not going to lie to you and say that politics is not about doing what is popular. It absolutely is. After all, in a democracy, the majority rules. However, as history has shown, the majority can be often times on the wrong side of history. Issues like slavery, civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights and transgender rights had a majority of people in opposition. In all of these cases, it took the courage of ones convictions to do what they thought was right and go against the will of the majority and popular opinion.

But in doing so, you take your lumps. And sometimes, you end up getting kicked out of office. But I don’t believe the most successful politician is the one who stays in office longest. The most successful politician is the one who can affect the most positive change.

Over the last year, no, actually over the last several years, the issue of the Albany County Nursing Home has been front and center. It is an issue that may come to define my political career. Today, the political winds are saying to sell the facility. They are saying to abandon our county work force and turn them and our most vulnerable seniors over to a for profit corporation with a less than stellar track record. The political winds say this, but I don’t. The nursing home is not popular, it’s not sexy, it’s not glamorous but it’s something I believe in and have always believed in.

So today, I stand firm in my support for our nursing home, our seniors and our county workforce. I stand behind them because I feel that it is the right thing to do.

Will this decision impact me politically? Perhaps. Will it cause people to come after me and attack me? Most assuredly, as has already been the case. Will it cause journalists to write negative articles and opinion pieces about me? Of course. But I will never stop fighting for what I believe is right. I will never just blindly follow the political winds in order to further myself politically.

“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Mark 8:36.


Fear Thy Neighbor

Zimmerman_Trial_generic When I started this blog, I said that there would be no subject off limits and that this would be a forum for honest and civil discourse. My friends, honest and civil discourse are two things that we have seen very little of when it comes to the national debate regarding the George Zimmerman case.

I’m not going to claim that I know exactly what happened on that night. The truth is, only George Zimmerman knows with 100% certainty. And i’m not going to judge the credibility of certain witnesses or the verdict that was made by the jury. I believe we live in the greatest nation on earth with one of the best systems of justice. And while it may not be perfect 100% of the time, we had a situation here where the evidence was presented, the facts were heard, a jury deliberated and a verdict was issued. But there are no winners in this case. We have a young man who is dead and another young man who will have to live with his actions for the rest of his life. And sadly, thousands of young men are gunned down by other young men ever day in our country. Young black men, young white men and young hispanic men. But there has been no outcry, no protest, or no real national debate regarding that sobering fact.

And what has saddened me over these last few weeks is how the media and those on both sides of the political spectrum have used this case to advance their own political agendas. There have been far too many judgments from individuals who have not based their opinion on fact or law but on hatred and ignorance. Sadly, it seems these individuals have prevailed as we have now seen rioting in the streets and a nation that had made great progress in race relations slide back down into a nation divided by white and black.

For me, this case is not about black versus white but about two individuals who were afraid of one another with both men acting out on that fear. It’s a snapshot of a greater societal problem. We are afraid of our neighbor and our neighbor is afraid of us. Perhaps it’s a post 9/11 mentality. Perhaps it’s because we live in communities where there is little neighborhood and community interaction. And perhaps it’s because the media inundates us with stories designed to make us afraid to leave the house.

My hope in all of this is that our country can become more civil, that we can stop shouting and screaming and accusing one another of being racist. I hope that we stop being afraid of our fellow man and that we can learn from this tragedy so that our youth can grow up to be anything it is they dream to be.

As always, I want to hear your thougts.

New Sheriff’s Officers sworn


Our Albany County family got a litter bigger today as 9 new Sheriff officers were sworn in at the Albany County Courthouse.

Sworn in were Criag Apple Jr., Matthew Rimmer, Thomas Praisner, Javier-Luis Martinez, Laurie Malfer, Robert Lemerise, Christopher House, Anthony Fiacco and Robert Loya.

The new deputies will be headed to the Zone 5 Regional Law Encorcement Academy next week while the new corrections officers will attend training at a later date.

I’m proud to welcome these young men and women into the ranks of one of the best public safety agencies in New York State. I know they will serve us well and continue the great tradition of professionalism of the Albany County Sheriff’s Department.