- Published on Tuesday, 14 October 2014 06:21
Last Wednesday night, I stood amongst Albany’s Bravest as they booed “Mayor” Sheehan’s slippery slope budget. My heart broke for these men who live their career for the people of Albany, they yelled and sneered at the “Mayor’s” plan which they believe will not only hurt their livelihood, but will harm the neighborhoods over which they, and their fathers before them, have protected with their lives.
I was met at the steps of City Hall by one of the more irritated Fire Fighters who declared that “she is destroying us,” I added, “one truck at a time.” In my heart, I knew it was not the surgical removal of Ladder One pulling my strings, it was the disillusionment.
This is a feeling all of us have experienced at least once, for me, I was sitting at the top of the stairs just days short of Christmas as my parents, the original “Mad Men,” entertained friends in the living room. With visions of sugarplums dancing in my head, I heard my Dad above them all, “well, of course, Terri (Aside note: no one should ever call me this!) knows there is no Santa Claus.”
“What? All those years of trying to be good at the threat of coal in my stocking? All those white gloved days at mass praying the old guy would bring me a pony?” I was broken, there was no Santa Claus, I was playing to the wrong person. It was all an illusion, the real giver of gifts were actually “the enforcers…the parents.” I became angry, but not angry enough to confront as I would surely get a pat on the head for being a “believer” for more years than I should have been. I went to bed, knowing that I would never again have that jolly old man who brought such joy.
I had that same heart breaking feeling again on Wednesday night as I watched our Fire Fighters, who had supported this “Mayor” and her gang of cohorts on the Common Council throughout their election. I remembered Dan Curtis driving by and giving the thumbs up to Bob Powers and the Fire Guys as they held up signs for Cathy Fahey in the Seventh Ward. Tim Carney, Fahey’s opponent and fellow friend of the fire fighters, chatted it up with the Fahey supporting Fire Fighters as they scoffed when we predicted this progressive slate will stab them in the back.
That moment was crystal clear in my mind as I peered through City Hall’s forest of Fire Fighters to see Ms. Fahey sitting reverse in her seat of pretension at the front of the budget presentation, glaring at her supporters for heckling her “Mayor.” The fury of Albany’s Fire Fighting sons was at a slow sizzle when I entered City Hall, hissing at each sentence in which the Mayor suggested revenue flow. They grumbled at the execution of the South End’s Ladder One, yelling that “this is about safety,” and “don’t you care about the South End…the Port?” Ms. Sheehan ignored the questions until, in what I believe was an act of sheer cowardice, she directed the freshly ordained Fire Chief to assure the heckling crowd, (ma’ boys) that this hit to the Fire Department would in no way impact the delivery of public safety services to any area of the city.
Chief Abriel took to the microphone as former Fire Chief Forezzi shook his head in disgust of the fraternal betrayal and moved closer to the front of the crowd. Shouts went out in warning, “you’re hurting the South End, what about the trains coming into the Port, what about public safety?” None of these shouts were acknowledged by the “Mayor” as the disillusionment set into the crowd. My “I told you so” was not a sweet revenge as I felt the frustrations of these sons of Albany who believed…they believed that this leader that they had supported would continue to honor them as they, in turn, honored the city and its residents.
I had warned the Fire Fighters of this future but my heart misses the bravado with which they dismissed my predictions. Like ‘em or not, these Fire Fighters are the heart and soul of our community, they are pillars of community, and regardless of what their address says, they “live” in our community as they are here for us 24/7…in rain, shine or snow.
Well, enough of the backstabbing political battle that is typical of Albany politics, let’s do a little comparison. Remember back when Jerry Jennings was the devil…or so the progs in the South End would have you believe. During Jennings last term as Mayor, Kathy Sheehan’s “progressive” supporters vehemently protested several issues, two of which spring to mind…of the many slights the progs imagined.
In an effort to close a budget gap and not to risk public safety in the South End, Mayor Jennings proposed closure of the aging Bath House. Unfortunately for Mayor Jennings, some of the progs swam there on occasion and began a feverish protest which included disbelief in the Mayor’s claim of budget restrictions. One South End blogger, Dan Van Riper, wrote two lengthy articles on Jennings targeted bath house. Read those articles here. I did a quick check and found that this “prog” supporter of Mayor Sheehan brought no criticism of the loss of Ladder One. I ask, which one of these issues bring more concern, losing a place to swim when you have the whim, or endangering lives with the elimination of Ladder One?
While Councilman Freeman was criticized for laying low in the political fray and not coming to the defense of the Bath House and the $400,000 savings the closure would bring the budget without creating a danger to the lives of the South End residents, a large percentage of which are low income tenants, the new councilwoman, and ally of “Mayor” Sheehan has not batted an eye at the elimination of Ladder One, nor has she been criticized for not batting an eye.
Former Councilman in the first ward nearly came to blows with Freeman over the Bath House in 2010…but now with his prog in office and his South End progs looking the other way in reference to the elimination of Ladder One and the jeopardizing of public safety, Mr. Calsolaro is remaining silent….at least publicly
Can anyone forget the outrage Jennings suffered by the closure of the Washington Avenue YMCA, not even a publicly owned facility?! Hundreds protested the closure of the Y and marched on City Hall to prove their loyalty to….hmmm…swimming? Take this stroll down memory lane with me, Sheehan’s folks, “the progs,” rallied heavily to retain their God-given right to SWIM, in upstate New York…in the winter but they are good with the elimination of Ladder One and the risk of public safety that comes with it….you know how I love to say I told you so.
I believe everyone knows what a financial mess Albany is in, I believe they know that we’ve been this way for a long time and I also find amusing the continuation of blaming the budget woes on Mayor Jennings. Remember, at the risk of annoying the two or three winter swimmers, Jennings proposed shutting down the South End Bath House which was so broken down it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to maintain. Jennings was criticized loudly for targeting the swimmers…..even after he made arrangement for other winter time swimming pools….they didn’t want to drive that far…so the Mayor then arranged transportation….but, they exclaimed, that’s not the point….”he is taking “recreation” away from the already challenged South End,” they cried.
Well, I don’t know about those “progs” of short memory, but I believe that public safety for everyone…even those with financial challenges in the South End, trumps a leisurely winter swim by two or three elitist progs any day. While I don’t always agree with the Fire Fighters, I do agree with them on this. These sons of Albany, these men and women who risk their lives for ours, will continue to do their job regardless of the Mayor’s cuts to their department because that’s what they do….they are our protectors.
And “Mayor” Sheehan knows it….and is taking advantage of it.
So, be careful what you say, like the Fire Fighters, you may be the next to suffer cuts by your "Mayor."