Monday, March 28, 2011

Albany Common Council - notice of public hearing on possible restructuring

This notice was publishied by the City of Albany:
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

This Friday's Top 5

To show our own March Madness, we're doing 2 Top 5's today. With the current attention on Pine Hills, I wanted to share some of my favorite things about living here.
Top 5 Reasons I love to live in Pine Hills
1. Walk to: restaurants, the library, supermarket, movies, schools, the park. (this could be its own Top 5!)
2. Beautiful old houses.
3. Sound of children running around having fun.
4. Walking distance to great friends for our children and us.
5. Amazing neighbors!

The second Friday's Top 5 is a shameless attempt to gain readership. Share the site with your friends, or like us on Facebook by clicking HERE.
Top 5 Reasons to Like Albany Spark on Facebook.
  1. New blog posts will pop up in your news feed.
  2. You can just look at the beautiful photo Viaduct photo without having words on top of it.
  3. You’ll be helping what we hope is positive change in our great community.
  4. You can tell people that you are really going on Facebook to read the community blog posts.
  5. After 25 fans, we get a username!

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Next week we'll see if the rally at the Capitol has any effect on the state budget. The rumor mill is telling us that there will probably be an on-time budget. That means we need to think beyond next week and look at what we can do after the budget passes also.

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.

More Education Cut Protests Scheduled

The Alliance for Quality Education is organizing another action against the budget cuts.  Below is a copy of an email received by members of the Spark Editorial Board:

Wednesday, March 30th, is the day. All those against the direction Cuomo is taking our state will converge on the Capitol for the largest action against the budget cuts. Across issues and from across the state now is the time to come together to Wisconsin ize the fight, stand shoulder to shoulder and be heard with one voice. Community, students and labor fighting as one against Cuomo's attack on all but the wealthiest.

When: Wednesday, March 30th, 2pm-???
Where: New York State Capitol building
Who: All those against Governor Cuomo's budget and plan for the future of our state

If you are interested in attending, you can RSVP on Facebook here or you can call this number: 518.465.4600 x115.  

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Millionaire's Tax and Education Check Event and Press Conference

In order to keep people involved and aware, we will post different events that may be of interest to people in Albany.  

Millionaire's Tax and Education Check Event and Press Conference

What: Local education activists and activists from New York City will be delivering checks to State Senate republicans for the amount they are set to give to millionaires from our students because of their unwillingness to extend the millionaires' tax. A tax that would give us $1 billion this year and $5 billion next year towards the record education cuts. The office stop bys will be preceded by a press conference explaining our action and the irresponsibility of the republicans to not extend the tax in such a dire financial situation for our state and schools.

When11am, meet inside State St entrance to Capitol; 12pm press conference; 12:30-1:30 lobby visits

Where: meet inside the Capitol (State St entrance), press conference and office visits in Legislative Office building

Who: local education activists and activists from NYC

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Made in Albany

Made in Albany: a list of businesses that are Albany Owned and Operated
This is a time of scary economic forecasts for our city. The governor’s budget is dire and both the school district and city have a long road of belt tightening ahead of them. Albany has always been unique. Being a capital city can have its perks, many people who live here were less affected by the recession because of the continuing jobs with the state and the colleges that are here. However, it has its drawbacks as well. Most Senators and Legislators, although they live in our city part time and drive down the same pot-holed streets do not consider our city home. This view of Albany as a place to work instead of a place to live is older than the Empire State Plaza with its highway connections out of the city.
So what can we do? We can begin by looking at where we spend our money. Every dollar we spend within Albany is a dollar we put toward the future of our city. Most dollars you spend outside of our city you could just as easily spend inside of it. It also does not have to have a high price tag attached to it, if you usually go to Yuppy Chopper in Slingerlands, you could just as easily go to the Co-op, Hannaford or Price Chopper on Central Ave. When you do that, you are sending a clear message to those companies that Albany is viable and worth being part of.
You can go further than this. There are many Albany businesses that are owned by Albany tax payers. Need a cup of coffee on Lark Street? Stop in to Scratch, owned by an Albany resident. Grab a muffin or cupcake too, you won’t regret it. Hankering for Mexican? Owners of El Mariachi and El Loco all live in Albany. Want to go for a drink? Owners of Juniors, The Stone Crow, The Pub, and The Point live in Albany. If you do need to go to the grocery store, try stopping in to the Honest Weight Co-op, where many of the owners and people who work there live in Albany. Need artwork for your walls? Buy from an Albany artist, there are amazing artists producing work right in our fair city.
So, let’s make this happen. Spend your dollars where you live. Beyond that, help create a “Made in Albany” list of businesses, click on the “Albany Owned and Operated” tab and look at our list so far. Are you an Albany business owner who lives in Albany, or do you go to a fabulous Albany place that is owned by someone who lives here? Leave the info in the comments section. We’ll keep a compiled list for you to check out before you go shopping.
It’s time we remind people what a great place Albany is to live by supporting our neighbors!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday Top 5: Welcome Signs of Spring!

The Friday Top 5

Rating things is a common occurrence in our society.  At the end of each year there are lists on the top news stories, top blogs, top books.  We also love to ask: What’s your favorite color?  What’s your three favorite songs?  If you were stranded on a desert island, which five things would you bring with you? 

The beauty of a rating list is that it quickly encapsulates the heart of a topic, it is as informative as it is fun.  On this blog, we hope to collect many Top 5’s.  Each Friday we’ll either unveil a Top 5 or solicit suggestions for an upcoming one.  The subjects of our Top 5 will be as varied and interesting as our city.  The week following, you’ll be able to see the new list on the Top 5 tab as well as a blog post.  If you have ideas about a subject, we are always looking for them!  Email them to:  

But with spring in the air, it seemed like we needed to celebrate it so here’s our Top 5 this week:

Top 5 Welcome Signs of Spring

  1. Crocuses!
  2. The first day you don’t need a coat to go outside.
  3. Seeing your neighbors outside again after the long winter. 
  4. The smell of the first barbeque. 
  5. The splash of puddles from children with giant rubber boots! 

What are your favorite signs of spring, Albany

Any suggestions for upcoming Top 5 lists?  

Monday, March 14, 2011

Why a Duck?

This old Library of Congress photo of the Hawk Street viaduct (or “why a duck?” in the old Marx Brothers skit) symbolizes much about Albany. In the foreground, we have weeds growing in the gutter – a sure sign of the decay that comes from neglect of our resources. In the middle distance, the buildings of the Big Government for which Albany is known. In the background, the construction of the Corning Tower symbolizes the continuing dominance of government for years to come. Out of sight live the people, invisible.  And of course the viaduct itself is long gone.


But the viaduct was a pathway, and if there is one thing we need today it is a pathway. We need a way forward in Albany, a way that leads into the future without forgetting our past. Albany has much to celebrate and much to overcome. Where we go and how we get there is up to us. 

We created Albany Spark as a space to begin this conversation. All of us agree Albany has unrealized potential. We have significant problems too, but if we didn’t think they could be fixed we wouldn’t be here. 

That's why a duck, that's why we're here.  So...Where do we go from here, Albany?