Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Does it matter?
The School Board governs our 15 public schools and is responsible for 10,400 students. Of these, about 8,400 are enrolled in public schools and about 2,000 in taxpayer-supported charter schools. The school budget is $206 million and constitutes more than half of your property taxes.
There are three candidates running for these two available seats. We've had oen candidate forum, last night at Albany High, graciously hosted by the League of Women Voters.
Next Monday Oct 24th there is another candidate forum, this time at the Albany Public Library main branch, hosted by the Albany chapter of the NAACP. There will be one last forum; as soon as we have details we'll post that info.
Come to a forum, learn about the candidates, and please exercise your right to vote on Tuesday, Nov 8 !
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Monday, July 11, 2011
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Garlic scapes are the curly stalk that emerges from the garlic plant about a month to six weeks after the first leaves of the plant come up. The garlic scapes are harvested after they appear so that the energy of the plant is pushed into the garlic bulb, making larger garlic heads. Garlic scapes are delicious and can be eaten raw: in salads or pureed in dips, or cooked: tossed into stir fries or in any way that you would use garlic or onions. It’s also one of the first things that I preserve from my garden, usually in the form of garlic scape pesto. This year, I also did a few half pints of Dilly Scapes, where the garlic scape replaced the usual bean in the recipe. This is a total experiment, but one that is worth trying if you use small jars that you can just process in your regular pots and pans.
Garlic Scape Pesto:
I have to confess, I’m one of those who does not have a recipe for pesto. But there is a really wonderful one here on Dorie Greenspan’s blog “In the Kitchen and on the Road with Dorie.” When making garlic scape pesto to eat, I toss the garlic scapes and olive oil into the food processor, adding pine nuts, sea salt, and Parmesan cheese as we move along. The results are always delicious.
When I’m processing for freezing, I usually leave out the cheese. I find the taste of the pesto is better, and then the pesto can also be used as seasoning. Adding the Parmesan cheese after thawing is very easy. I’ve read that many leave out the pine nuts before freezing, but I haven’t found any noticeable difference with the pine nuts frozen, so I add them in as well. After processing, I line a cookie sheet with wax paper and drop dollops of the scape pesto onto the sheet. I place this in the freezer and allow it to freeze and then toss the frozen clumps into a gallon sized garbage bag.
Friday, June 10, 2011
- Baseball. If you have children playing it, you know.
- The garden. This is the time of year filled with potential, we are dreaming of tomato sandwiches and dilly beans, so the work is fun. But, it’s still work.
- Everything winds down in spring. If you are involved in something, there is some big event in the spring. Usually that you need to organize. I'll throw birthdays in this category, because every weekend there are birthday parties galore.
- The great outdoors. It’s so stunning out, the blue skies and green grass and flowers….
- Baseball. See above.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
The Albany school budget has passed. The people who run the charter schools in Albany have revealed themselves as unethical rascals. What’s next on the education horizon? New teacher evaluation reforms. As we look more closely at education, the teacher is increasingly getting the brunt of the blame for poor student behavior.
It would be naive to say there weren't any bad teachers out there, because there are. It would also be short sighted to downplay the importance on a child’s life of having a good teacher, because everyone knows that an amazing teacher can literally change a child’s life. (Click here to listen to Planet Money’s podcast on the economics of a good teacher). But when it comes to education, it seems like our eggs are all in one basket. The basket of: if you have a good teacher, they will produce high test scores in a child and then and only then will we have a well educated population.
Most likely driven by the above theory, Governor Cuomo pushed State Ed and the Legislature to have the
Friday, May 20, 2011
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Albany City SD
- Donna Dixon -- 3,383 (winner)
- Timothy D. Smith -- 2,706 (winner)
- Felix Mendoza -- 1,408
- Jose M. Lopez Jr. -- 1,318
Monday, May 16, 2011
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Friday, May 13, 2011
Thursday, May 12, 2011
Monday, May 9, 2011
Last week, the teachers of the Albany Public Schools, along with the senior administrators, sealed the deal on a courageous negotiation. The teachers, through their union, agreed to freeze their pay for a year as a way to help this community in a time of need. The administration agreed to avoid teacher layoffs. This is a great agreement for our community. It saves money when we need it desperately. It saves teachers, and after all, we aren't going to educate anyone without teachers ! All in all, everyone did the right thing.
It took courage on all sides to arrive at this agreement. It took the vision to believe that we could achieve a 0% tax levy increase in a year when everyone is hurting for money. No other school district in the state has managed to accomplish this.
Well, you know what happens when you do the right thing in Albany. Someone is bound to object.
In an act of extraordinary cowardice, an as-yet unnamed group mailed out thousands of glossy, expensive flyers to folks all over Albany. I hardly know where to begin in tearing into this junk mail:
* This flyer said that "taxes are too damn high". Aside from the error in grammar (they should have written "too damned high") this was awfully offensive language to send into people's homes. Some of us have children, and we like to teach them to communicate politely. I didn't appreciate having this sort of language broadcast into my home via the US mail in one-inch high red letters.
* The flyer made the false claim that the tax rate under our new school budget would be 20% higher than two years ago. The writer of this flyer must have a really good crystal ball, because the tax rate for 2011-12 hasn't been established yet. No one knows what it will be. What we do know is that the tax levy contains 0% increase. The tax rate is th eproduct of several factors; the only one under the control of the school district is the levy. The levy has been set for no increase.
* Let me just say this again: the tax levy is rising 0% this coming year. For the last three years it has risen an average of about 2.9%. If the writers think taxes are too high, surely a 0% increase would be a GOOD thing to be supported? Explain again why, if taxes are too high, one would oppose a no-increase levy?
* Here's the best part: the flyer has no information about who sent it. It is unsigned. I am a fanatical supporter of free speech. Voltaire said it best: "I detest what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."
People have the right to engage in whatever form of political speech they like, and no matter how offensive, wrong or false their statements are, we protect their right to offend, make mistakes, and lie. But if you're going to make a major political statement, at least have the decency to sign your name. Even the average twelve-year-old knows that if you want to say something, have the guts to say it openly and identify yourself. John Hancock set a wonderful example for us all to follow way back in 1776.
Engage in civil, courteous, constructive debate, and let us know who you are. Don't hide behind the mama's skirts of anonymity.
We've seen these kinds of childish tactics before.
I look forward to learning who the gutless cowards were who sent this flyer.
What do you think?
Friday, May 6, 2011
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Friday, April 29, 2011
Today I’m taking a break from everything and focusing on my baby tomato plants. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have a tomato addiction. So, today’s top 5 is all about the tomatoes. Realistically, most plants come in 6 packs, so we’re going to do Ginnie's Top 6 Tomatoes to grow in
- Sungold Cherry Tomatoes. I have to start with my shame. This tomato is not an heirloom, but is so delicious and such a wonderful plant, it’s worth compromising your tomato values for. These giant plants are covered with orange cherry tomatoes that are the perfect blend of sweet and tart. Try one warmed from the sun and you may also become a tomato addict.
- Bloody Butcher: Really, worth it for the name, but this tomato is the best early tomato I’ve found. I’ve had vibrant red Bloody Butcher tomatoes from at the end of June and it has a wonderful garden tomato flavor that is often lacking in early tomatoes. What I usually do with these plants is tandem plant them with a late tomato and either actually pull the plant or cut it back so there’s no space wasted.
Saturday, April 23, 2011
- Phone banking: Our voter ID effort starts next week. We’ll be at Citizen Action, 94 Central Ave., Albany (Monday-.) and the CSEA Regional Office, 1 Lear Jet Lane, Latham (Monday- .). We need people to fill the seats. If you’re willing to do some voter ID, contact Will Takach, the campaign’s phone bank coordinator at or 465-8646,
- House Parties: A number of people have already signed up to do informal house parties (no fundraising involved) to bring their friends and neighbors together to talk about the Library and the need to pass the budget. If you’re interested in hosting a party, please contact Joan Weiss, the campaign’s house party coordinator at 281-6037.
- Business Community Outreach: We’re looking to garner support from the businesses near the Main Library and the Arbor Hill/West Hill, Pine Hills, Delaware Ave and New Scotland Ave branches. If you know of business owners in these areas or folks involved in any of the BIDS or Merchant’s Associations, please get back to me and I’ll forward the information to the volunteers who are reaching out to these important supporters.
- Tracking Blogs/Talk 1300/Letters to the Editor: This is a job for each of us to do. I’ll be sending out Rapid Response messages to all of you when action is needed. By the way, there’s a profile of Fred Dicker in today’s NY Times. His mother used to work at a library. Click here<http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/22/nyregion/new-york-posts-fredric-dicker-keeps-slugging-away.html?_r=1&nl=nyregion&emc=ura1> if you’d like to read the article.
- Supporter Petition: This, too, is something we can all do. Attached is our petition. Please circulate this and get as many people to sign up as possible. You can either fax me the sheets at 438-2120 or you can go online to www.voteyesforourlibrary.org/apl <http://www.voteyesforourlibrary.org/apl> and add their names at the site. If you haven’t already signed up at the site please do and then send a message to our local elected officials.
Friday, April 22, 2011
Happy Earth Day! This Earth Day, we’re focusing on “Know Thyself.” Today take a look at yourself and your lifestyle and see what little things you can do to make those small everyday changes that have the biggest environmental impact. Below are our top 5 suggestions.
1. Walk more. The beauty of living in the city is the many places you can walk. How much do you walk in your neighborhood? Check out your neighborhood’s Walkscore here.
2. Start composting. I know, it seems daunting, but it’s not. Check out these links for urban composting ideas. If you can’t do it yourself, look into having the Radix Center Community Compost Initiative do it for you for a small fee.
3. Pledge to get your hands dirty today. Do this by either planting something or cleaning something up. This does not have to be big, you could just pick up some garbage on the sidewalk that you might usually walk by. Planting does not need to take all day. Put some pansies in a planter. Getting your hands dirty can be as big or as small as you want. Today start small to see how easy it is and make a pledge to try to get your hands a little dirty every day.
4. Reassess yourself. It’s often the little things that waste the most energy. Do you turn off the lights when you leave a room? Check to see if your faucets are dripping (or are they so old that it’s tough for the kids to turn off all the way, like in my house)? What appliances are plugged in all the time that don’t need to be? If something’s plugged in, it’s using energy, even if it’s off.
5. Bring a mug or cup with you. Think about how many cups you’d save if you just brought your mug with you. It’s cheaper for more of your favorite beverage if you bring your own because businesses don’t need to buy your cup. In fact, if you bring your mug to All Good Bakers or Tierra Coffee Roasters today you can get a free coffee. Tierra Coffee Roasters is also celebrating Earth Day with free live music tonight from the amazing
Remember that every day can be earth day and think long term changes. You can do it!
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
ACSD Budget page
Library Budget page
WHAT DO YOU THINK? Let us know your thoughts about the LIBRARY budget below.
Friday, April 15, 2011
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Friday, April 8, 2011
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Friday, April 1, 2011
Monday, March 28, 2011
Common Council City of Albany, New York Notice of Public Hearing Committee on Council Operations and Ethics Richard Conti, Chair
Wednesday, March 30 at 7 PM Albany City Hall Eagle Street
Wednesday, April 13 at 7 PM Albany Housing Authority 200 South Pearl Street
Wednesday, April 6 at 7 PM Pine Hills Branch Public Library, 517 Western Avenue
Wednesday, April 27 at 7 PM Albany Community Development Agency 200 Henry Johnson Blvd. (2nd floor)
Topic: Proposals to Restructure the Albany Common Council
Friday, March 25, 2011
- New blog posts will pop up in your news feed.
- You can just look at the beautiful photo Viaduct photo without having words on top of it.
- You’ll be helping what we hope is positive change in our great community.
- You can tell people that you are really going on Facebook to read the community blog posts.
- After 25 fans, we get a username!
Thursday, March 24, 2011
School districts throughout the state are making deep cuts in their programs, closing schools, and asking for help. One nearby district (not Albany) is looking at dropping their Kindergarten! Is this what we've come to in 2011? Billions for a few millionaires but not one penny for public schools? Our founding fathers would be appalled.
Living in Albany, it is pretty easy to complain. If it isn't the politics, it's the weather. If you haven't hit a pothole lately, that means it is still winter.
But we started this blog because we know we can do better. We do have beautiful summers, autumns and winters here, even if spring is kinda lousy. We can see what isn't working, so we can envision a different future also.
Our community will become whatever we make it. It's (gradually) warming up outside, so get out, get active, join your neighbors and let's make Albany the place we want it to be.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Friday, March 18, 2011
- The first day you don’t need a coat to go outside.
- Seeing your neighbors outside again after the long winter.
- The smell of the first barbeque.
- The splash of puddles from children with giant rubber boots!