SO THIS IS WHY DEMOCRATS MEET IN THE CITY

JORDAN CARLEO-EVANGELIST STAFF WRITER
Section: Capital Region,  Page: D3

Date: Friday, May 29, 2009

Welcome to the suburbs.


Perhaps there's some irony to the fact that on the evening that the Albany County Democratic Committee held its annual spring meeting out of the city for the first time since anyone can remember, a traffic jam nearing act-of-God magnitude threatened to spoil, or at least seriously delay, the affair.


On Wednesday a multi-car crash involving a box truck between exits 4 and 5 of the Northway slowed progress to a crawl on the interstate, Route 9, and Albany Shaker Road -- three key routes out of the city and toward Latham, where the Democrats were gathering at Michael's Banquet House.


For city of Albany Democratic Chairman Bruce Shultis, whose members met prior to the full county, the rush-hour wreck meant a 40-minute delay for the needed 100 members to constitute a quorum to do business.


Eventually, the city committee got 105, with more trickling in later.


"It was close, but we had it," Shultis said.


A protest of the city committee, organized anonymously by those who said they believe its processes are undemocratic, was also scheduled to go on outside.


Insider was tied up at a Common Council caucus, but Shultis said he saw no sign of the demonstrators.


"They probably got stuck in traffic," he mused.


Altogether, 284 county Democratic committee members attended -- that's down from 313 last May. But it's not clear if the drop-off was due to the move from the Polish Community Center on Washington Avenue Extension, the traffic smash-up or the lack of any hotly contested races like last year's primary in the 21st Congressional District.


Fahey forges ahead


An update from Albany's Seventh Ward: We reported last week that incumbent Common Councilwoman Cathy Fahey lobbied for a new committee meeting after she was not properly notified of a May 13 meeting at which her fellow committee members endorsed Susan Tobin by a vote of 7-2.


This was the second time the committee met and endorsed someone other than Fahey. The first time it backed George Lynch, who later pulled out.


Fahey's request was granted, and the committee convened Tuesday night, once again backing Tobin. This time, however, the vote was 13-0, in part because Fahey wasn't on hand to vote for herself. The first-term councilwoman had a previously scheduled fundraiser that night at the Midtown Tap & Tea Room on New Scotland Avenue.


"Things didn't look good anyway," Fahey noted. "What can I say? They pretty clearly didn't want to endorse me that the last two times we met."


Fahey won her 2005 election without the committee's endorsement.


"I feel like I have a lot of support," she said, "and we're going ahead with the campaign."


Sheriff candidate


In Saratoga County, Jason Longton -- an ex-cop from the defunct Corinth Police Department -- plans to run for sheriff.


Longton's campaign is of the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, and take 'em down from within" variety. In 2004, Longton, 42, lost his job as a police officer when the village's Board of Trustees, which had oversight over the police force, which has since been disbanded, fired him for insubordination.


Longton said he was investigating a sexual harassment complaint against a local restaurant owner when Chief Robert Kane called him off the case.


Longton sued for his job back and has been locked in a fight with the village and its lawyers ever since.


In court on Wednesday, state Supreme Court Justice Thomas Nolan ruled Longton is entitled to roughly $92,000 in back pay. His next step is to petition the Court of Appeals to hear his case on the dismissal itself. If he gets the chance, he will argue he should not have been fired at all. Reinstatement is academic at this point because the village police force is no more.


Longton believes he deserves a job at the sheriff's office like the other former Corinth cops. Even if the Court of Appeals doesn't agree, the voters might.


Sheriff James Bowen, who has held the job for 35 years, has not said if he will run again. Michael DiGioacchino, who is a resident of Corinth, has also declared his candidacy. DiGioacchino is a Schenectady County correction officer.


Jennings picks office site


Lastly, Mayor Jerry Jennings plans to open his campaign headquarters on Delaware Avenue near Hurlbut Street on June 13. But first the mayor's campaign folks will have to get zoning approval. They'll need a special use permit to open shop at the vacant storefront at 324 Delaware.


The request is on the June 10 Albany Board of Zoning Appeals agenda. And the location, incidentally, is only 0.3 miles -- or according to Google Maps, a six-minute walk -- from challenger Shawn Morris' home on Marinello Terrace.


Inside Politics is a companion to the Local Politics blog ---- http://blogs.timesunion.com/localpolitics -- and compiled by Jordan Carleo-Evangelist. Leigh Hornbeck contributed.