New Status Proposed for Crime Victim and Sexual Violence Center

Press Release from the Albany County Legislature’s Majority Office

Legislators Propose New Status for Crime Victim and Sexual Violence Center

ALBANY (May 2, 2016) – The Albany County Crime Victim and Sexual Violence Center would be protected in the county’s charter under an amendment recently approved by legislators.

The local law, introduced by Albany County Legislator Bryan M. Clenahan of District 30, would amend the charter by incorporating the Albany County Crime Victim and Sexual Violence Center into it.

The center has for decades provided support, counseling and advocacy services for victims of sexual assaults and other crimes. The Albany County Legislature voted last month to put the center in the county charter. The vote sent the legislation to County Executive Daniel P. McCoy for consideration.

Adding the Albany County Crime Victim and Sexual Violence Center to the county charter will protect it against any future attempts to close it or downsize its important programs, Clenahan said.

He said the local law accomplishes three things: “It sends a clear message that the center should be a permanent part of our government; it gives the center greater strength to apply for more grant opportunities; and provides crime victims comfort in knowing the center will be there.”

The Albany County Crime Victim and Sexual Violence Center grew out of the organization “Albany Women Against Rape” (AWARE), which was founded in 1974 by a group of volunteers. It became the Albany County Rape Crisis Center in 1975, and adopted its current name and mission in 2001. Karen Ziegler works as director of the center, which operates a 24-hour Sexual Assault Hotline: (518) 447-7716.

“Crime victims need someone to turn to,” Democratic Majority Leader Frank Commisso said. “For decades, the Albany County Crime Victim and Sexual Violence Center has been there for them. We want to make sure support that continues.”


Albany County to Announce Major Donation for Youth Programs


Press conference slated for 1 p.m. Wednesday

ALBANY (Tuesday, April 26) – Albany County lawmakers and Sheriff Craig Apple Sr. will hold a joint press conference Wednesday to announce a significant donation recently made to the county.

Apple, the county legislature’s Democratic Majority Leader Frank Commisso and several other legislators are expected to attend the event, to be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday outside the Albany County office building at 112 State St.

They will reveal details of a significant financial donation that was made through the sheriff’s office. The money will fund quality of life improvements for the area’s youth over the next several years.

Members of the media are encouraged to attend.

Legislators Back Johnny Rockets Deal for TU Center

National Restaurant Chain Eyes Downtown Address


ALBANY (Tuesday, April 26) – The Albany County Legislature is expected to vote next month on a deal that would bring a Johnny Rockets restaurant and full-service bar to the Times Union Center.

The legislature’s Civic Center Committee on Monday approved a plan for the national restaurant chain to lease more than 3,000 square feet of vacant space in the southeast portion of the county-owned arena, where the Wolf 1-11 sports grill operated. The committee recommended the full legislature approve a 10-year lease on May 9.

Johnny Rockets would start renting the space on July 15. Under the terms of the lease, it would pay the county six percent of its sales – or a minimum of $4,000 month – for the first five years. The minimum rent payment would increase to $4,350 a month starting in the sixth year of the contract. There would be no cap on rental fees.

The Johnny Rockets in Albany would be one of a select number in the U.S. to serve craft beer and alcohol. The restaurant and bar would be open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week, and later on nights when events are held in the Times Union Center.

“This establishment has the potential to bring larger crowds to downtown Albany and greater rent payments to Albany County,” the legislature’s majority leader, Frank Commisso, said.

Johnny Rockets and its bar could generate 33 percent more in rent than the previous tenant. If annual sales reach $1.5 million, Albany County would realize $90,000 in rent a year. Wolf’s 1-11 paid $59,000 a year.

Johnny Rockets would spend $300,000 on the rental space. The county would invest $175,000 to $200,000 on kitchen and bar equipment, and maintain ownership of it.

The restaurant chain would be able to opt out of the lease after three years if its sales dip below $1.1 million, but operator Louis W. Chicatelli Jr. of Niskayuna told legislators he is “committed to a long-term relationship.”

Chicatelli would be responsible for repairing the county’s restaurant equipment after three years.

19 Municipalities Receive $25 million in Sales Tax from Albany County

Albany County Legislature’s Majority Office

19 Municipalities Receive $25 million in Sales Tax from Albany County

First-quarter revenues up from 2015

ALBANY (April 25) ­­- Albany County last week distributed nearly $25 million in sales tax revenues to its 19 municipalities – a 1.3 percent increase over last year’s first quarter.

The county dispersed $24,843,731 in sales tax made during the first three months of 2016, compared to $24,527,408 it shared last year during the same period, Majority Leader Frank Commisso said.

“Maintaining our generous sales tax distribution formula for our local governments continues to be a priority of the Democratic majority,” Commisso said.

Last year, the county distributed a total of $102.7 million in sales tax to its three cities, 10 towns and six villages. The amounts given are based on population. Local communities depend on the revenue to balance their budgets and fund essential services.

The sales tax on purchases made in Albany County is eight percent. New York State sends half of the tax money back to the county. Under one of the most generous sales tax revenue distribution programs in the state, Albany County provides 40 percent of its share to municipalities – while retaining one of the top 10 lowest property tax rates in the state, according to state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

“I’m happy to distribute the sales tax revenues to the municipalities, many of which desperately need it to help control the growth of property taxes,” said Democrat Gary Domalewicz, chairman of the Albany County Legislature’s Audit and Finance Committee. “Without these funds, many of our municipalities would be in the red.”

The city of Albany received $7,991,703 compared to $7,889,949 for the first three months of 2015. Cohoes received $1,320,408, up from $1,303,596, while Watervliet received $837,424, up from $826,761. Here’s what the 19 municipalities received from Albany County in the first quarter of 2016:

City of Albany: $7,991,703

Town of Colonie: $5,737,791

Town of Bethlehem: $2,748,618

Town of Guilderland: $2,742,656

City of Cohoes: $1,320,408

City of Watervliet:  $837,424

Village of Colonie: $579,877

Town of New Scotland: $478,493

Town of Coeymans: $409,404

Village of Menands: $345,705

Town of Westerlo: $274,486

Town of Berne: $228,180

Village of Voorheesville: $227,772

Town of Knox: $219,850

Village of Ravena: $196,409

Village of Green Island: $192,573

Town of Rensselaerville:  $150,514

Village of Altamont: $140,469

Town of Green Island: $21,397


Established in 1968, the 39-member Albany County Legislature establishes government policies and adopts local laws for the county’s nearly 310,000 residents. The elected body meets at 7 p.m. on the second Monday of each month in the Legislative Chambers of the Albany County Courthouse at 16 Lodge St., Albany. The next scheduled meeting is May 9.


Two picked for Albany County Ethics Commission

                    PRESS RELEASE

Majority Leader selects two for Albany County Ethics Commission  

Shari Calnero and former state Supreme Court Justice Joseph Teresi accept appointments

ALBANY (April 20, 2016) ­– An expert on ethics and a former state Supreme Court justice will serve on the Albany County Ethics Commission.

Democratic Majority Leader Frank Commisso appointed Shari Calnero, who worked nine years as senior counsel for the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE), and Joseph Teresi, a state Supreme Court judge for more than 20 years, to the county’s five-member ethics commission.

The Albany County Legislature unanimously supported the appointments last month.

“We’re very excited to enlist two proven leaders who will ensure Albany County officials and employees maintain the highest ethical standards,” Commisso said. “With Shari Calnero and Joseph Teresi, we have a new team in place to move forward.”

The ethics commission reviews complaints related to the conduct of public officials with the goal of enhancing accountability and promoting integrity in government. It will convene in the coming months to elect a chairperson. The commission is empowered to offer guidance on potential conflicts of interest, when public officials should recuse from voting, financial disclosure requirements and more.

Calnero provided legal advice and served as liaison to statewide agency ethics officers, employees and lobbyists while working at JCOPE from 2006 to 2015. Prior to that, she served as counsel for the Hudson River-Black River Regulating District for two years.

A graduate of Bard College and Vermont Law School, Calnero now works as associate counsel for the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

“I look forward to serving on the Albany County Ethics Commission, and I thank Mr. Commisso for appointing me,” said Calnero, a resident of Albany.

Teresi, of Delmar, graduated from Boston College and Albany Law School. He worked as an Albany County public defender and in private practice for many years before being elected to the state Supreme Court in 1994. As a judge, Teresi drew the nationwide spotlight in 2000, when he presided over the Amadou Diallo trial in Albany. He retired in 2014.

Albany County’s ethics law allows the legislature’s majority leader and county executive to make two appointments each to the ethics commission, while the legislature’s minority leader makes one.

County Executive Daniel McCoy named former state Supreme Court Justice Bernard J. Malone Jr., and Rev. James Lefebvre, former pastor at St. Mary’s Church in Albany, to the commission. Minority Leader Frank Mauriello chose Michael J. Rest of Guilderland, a former member of the town’s Ethics Board.


Established in 1968, the 39-member Albany County Legislature establishes government policies and adopts local laws for the county’s nearly 310,000 residents. The elected body meets at 7 p.m. on the second Monday of each month in the Legislative Chambers of the Albany County Courthouse at 16 Lodge St., Albany. The next scheduled meeting is May 9.


Dennis Yusko

Communications director for the Albany County Legislature

Phone: 518-447-5527; Cell: 518-330-7544

On Twitter: @DemMajority

Refinancing bonds to save Albany County more than $1.2 million

Albany County Legislature

Office of Majority Leader Frank Commisso 


Refinancing of bonds to save Albany County more than $1.2 million  

Albany County taxpayers will save $1,233,306 through the refinancing of bonds at lower interest rates.

The Albany County Legislature voted on Monday to refinance up to $27.5 million in debt. The principal amount of bonds to be refunded is expected to be approximately $24.9 million, which will result in more than $1.2 million in savings through 2026.

The nearly $25 million is part of $41.8 million in general obligation bonds the county issued in 2010 to pay for public works projects, an annex replacement at the Albany County Correctional Facility and reconstruction of the county office building. Monday’s resolution came out of the Audit and Finance Committee, which adopted it unanimously, committee Chairman Gary Domalewicz said.

“This is exciting news, as we are always looking to save money,” Democratic Majority Leader Frank Commisso said. “I thank Albany County Comptroller Michael Conners for presenting this plan, and Gary Domalewicz for shepherding it through.”

“It’s significant savings,” said Connors, a Democrat first elected comptroller in 1995.

New blog

Welcome to a blog dedicated to the work of the Albany County Legislature. Here you will find news and information about the 39-member legislative body established in Albany, New York in 1968.

I’m Dennis Yusko, an ex-reporter now working as communications director for the legislature’s majority. Democratic Majority Leader Frank Commisso has asked me to cover the work of the body and tell the public about it. My goal is to make the site useful for public officials, citizens and reporters. So here, you will be able to find press releases, notices, discussions of issues and more.

If you’d like, you can follow along on Twitter. I started an Albany County Legislature account so I can live tweet meetings and send out links from this blog.