Community Accountability Board (CAB)

Thanks to everyone who has written to me, called and spoken out in various ways about  the “Kegs and Eggs” riot that took place in Pine Hills the morning of March 12. The behavior was an inexcusable embarrassment, and the incident has highlighted many of the issues that we face as a city and in our neighborhood including how your property taxes are spent as well as relations with the area’s colleges and their students.

My colleague, Anton Konev and I have been working with the Albany Police Department and the District Attorney’s office on implementing a neighborhood-based Community Accountability Board (CAB).  In short, the CAB would hear cases of non-violent quality of life crimes (e.g. public urination, violation of noise ordinance, etc.) and issue community service requirements to the offenders.

This Saturday, the DA’s office is holding a training for all of their Community Accountability Boards, including our soon-to-be launched Pine Hills CAB.

CAB Training
Date and Time:   Saturday, April 2nd; 10:00 am-3:00 pm

Location: SEIU, 155 Washington Ave. in Albany (next to the Albany Public Library)
RSVP by Friday, March 25 via e-mail at cab@albanycounty.com or by phone: (518) 275-4725.

Come to the Training

The Community Accoutability Board is an empowering tool that provides a level of community ownership that just doesn’t exist when violators do not answer to those impacted by their crimes in the traditional criminal justice system.

We’re seeking neighborhood stakeholders including permanent residents, students, responsible landlords and business owners to serve on the Pine Hills CAB. 

Many people have asked what the time commitment would be — I can take a guess and say that once community members are trained, the time commitment will likely be between 2 and 4 evenings per month, with flexibility.  The more community members that are part of the CAB, the more flexible the commitment.

Training consists of this Saturday’s training plus one or two observances of a CAB that is already up and running.

I’ve spoken with folks who have served on the CAB for the County and the feedback is very positive – giving those who are harmed, a voice in a process where they are usually not included. According to the DA’s office, the CAB also helps to reduce recidivism, in some instances so profoundly that previous offenders have participated as CAB members.

The DA’s office was asking folks to register by last Friday, but it is likely that they will still accept registrations.

If you know neighbors who might be interested, please encourage them call the number below in the DA’s office.

In addition to folks serving on the CAB, we will need neighbors to supervise the neighborhood community service activities (neighborhood clean-up type of activity — in the winter, this could include shoveling snow) that offenders are assigned to complete.

If you have any questions about this, please speak to your Pine Hills Council Member (if your Council Member is not Anton or me — feel free to ask one of us, since we have been most involved in the process).

CAB Training
Date and Time:   Saturday, April 2nd; 10:00 am-3:00 pm

Location: SEIU, 155 Washington Ave. in Albany (next to the Albany Public Library)
RSVP by Friday, March 25 via e-mail at cab@albanycounty.com or by phone: (518) 275-4725.

Gearing up for Fall

The summer is winding down, and many blocks of our neighborhood are beginning to see more cars parked on our streets as new neighbors move in – including college students getting ready  for the start of the academic year.

Many year-round residents face challenges with parking,  landlords keeping up their property, and loud parties.

The leadership of the Pine Hills Neighborhood Association will moderate a panel discussion this Thursday on “Town/Gown Relations”.  I hope you’ll join us at 7 p.m. at the La Salle School Hanner Cultural Center (Western Avenue near Partridge Street). Continue reading

Community Policing Workshop Tonight

Join your neighbors this evening from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m at Pine Hills Elementary School (formerly School 16), 41 North Allen Street, for a community policing workshop.

I get all kinds of calls about our police department – many of the  calls praise the APD for their great work.

Still there is room for growth and improvement, and the APD wants to know the needs of our neighborhood.

Many of you tell me that you want beat cops on the street.

Some complain about speeding cars through the neighborhood, and your sideview mirrors being clipped.

Others are concerned about cars running red lights, honking taxicabs, or the taxicab stand on Madison near Ontario taking up parking for residents.

Some of you have ideas about partnerships you believe would help the police and the community work better together.

6:30 – 8:30 tonight at Pine Hills Elementary School will be the place to discuss all that and more with your neighbors and the police department.

Special thanks to Todd Hunsinger, Chair of Public Safety for Pine Hills Neighborhood Association and the 10th ward appointee to the Albany Community Policing Advisory Committee for all of his work to put this workshop together for us!

Albany 2030 Needs YOU for Kickoff

Have you heard about Albany 2030, our first-ever comprehensive plan?

What is it?  Click here for the short answer.

Why should you, with your very busy life and  your long “to do” list, make the time to get involved? This Metroland column sums up the answer to that question.

Be part of the story of our next 20 years – start by attending one of these community forums on January 28, 29 or 30.

I know you have ideas.  I hear them from you all the time.  Attend a community forum, and bring that friend who is always complaining, and that neighbor with a super positive outlook who needs a little nudge to get involved.

There will be activities for kids aged 5 and older, and there will be light refreshments.  So, there are no excuses.

I’ll be at Hackett Middle School on Saturday, January 30. I hope to see you there!

Recycling 101

We now recycle more plastic in Albany!

I encourage everyone to click here and check out the updated information about Albany’s recycling collection.  If you would like a hard copy of the city’s latest brochure about Waste Collection and Recycling, I’ve got one for you — send me a note or give me a call.

Just for fun… take the below little quiz to test your knowledge of our recycling program!

True or False? (don’t forget to see answers below)

Continue reading

HEAP, Horns and our Police Department

I hope all my neighbors are keeping warm during this bitter cold weather!  If you or someone you know is having trouble paying heating bills, there is some relief available for Albany County residents via the HEAP program.  Click here to learn eligibility requirements and how to apply.

At last Wednesday’s CANA meeting, the police department announced a plan to include Albany residents in the return to community policing.  I had a previously scheduled meeting and was unable to attend, but Deputy Chief Krokoff will give a presentation about the process and answer questions from Council Members at this week’s Council Caucus,  Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. Caucus is always open to the public – though unlike Council meetings there is no designated Public Comment Period.  The short story is that there will be an advisory panel to include the fifteen council members (or their designees) and the Council President.  I’ve already heard from eager neighbors who are ready to be involved, and I assure you, that whether I serve on the committee or a representative does — there will be opportunities for you to be part of the process!

I also heard from neighbors during the past week about NOISE.  Specifically, complaints about taxicab horns honking excessively.  This sent me to look at the City Code (available through the Links page of the City of Albany website).  Here’s what you need to know:

1.  There’s a section of the city code that speaks to unnecessary and unusual noises.

2.  There’s another section of the city code that speaks to the times of day a taxicab operator can and cannot sound the vehicle’s horn.  Bottom line: No cab honking between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.

[UPDATED 1/26 AFTER SPEAKING WITH OFFICER ROMAND]

If you find that a taxicab is making too much of a racket, do the following:

write down the time, date, cab company and # of the cab and forward it to Officer Romand at:  rromand@albany-ny.org

You can also reach Officer Rick Romand by phone at: 458-5669.

Speaking of our Police Department, there’s a job opening there for a Community Aide, so share this information with your friends and neighbors!  The rate of pay is $29,157/ year @ 37.5 hours/ week.  I have the full job announcement, or you can get one by calling the Department of Administrative Services at 434-5049. THE LAST DAY TO APPLY IS THURSDAY, JANUARY 14 (applications must be received by then).

Thanks everyone for writing to me this week — and please keep those questions coming!

Up this week: Organizing, Saving, and Community Policing

It’s the first week of the year and there’s a lot in store.

Click here (or visit the “Calendar — Meetings and Occasional Events” link on the right side bar for a listing of meetings that have an impact on 10th ward residents) for details about the below meetings. This calendar will be updated regularly.

Monday night: the city gets organized.  There’s the organizational meeting of the Common Council, the Mayor’s State of the City Address to the Common Council, and the Albany School Board’s Election of Officers.

Tuesday night: Save the Y. Click here to visit “Save the Albany YMCA” Facebook page for lots of information.

Wednesday night: Council of Albany Neighborhood Associations (CANA) meeting. There’s a lot on the agenda at the CANA meeting.  Additionally,  Deputy Chief Steve Krokoff will discuss community policing, the assignment of more beat cops, and related issues at the meeting.