Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Thank you Judge Spain (Times Union)
I was proud to be sworn into my final term of office by Judge Ed Spain. This was his last official piece of business as a justice, and I wish him all the best in retirement.
Sunday, December 22, 2013
Ken supports bipartisan committee chairmanships (Times Union)
In a refreshing move, incoming Council President Rodney Wiltshire will be giving the two-member Republican minority their own committee chairmanships. This has incensed Democratic party leaders, who feel that the Democratic majority should control all committee chairmanships. Rodney has also asked me to be his President Pro Tempore, further enraging the party loyalists. I'm told that phone calls are being made by the Democratic County Chairman to my Democratic colleagues urging them to vote against me as Pro Tem. In a few weeks, we will see if my colleagues will support principle over party. Fingers crossed...
Thursday, December 19, 2013
Being frugal on the campaign trail (Times Union)
The election last month was my fourth and final election for City Council, since I will now be term-limited as I begin my fourth term in a two weeks. This was the second election where I ran unopposed (also in 2009), and the first election where I expended no campaign funds. Why spend the people's money if I don't have to? That's my approach toward the City budget, too.
Monday, December 16, 2013
Change is never easy (Times Union)
As we prepare to take office for a new Council term, our new Council President, Rodney Wiltshire, is trying to do things a bit differently than before. I support him, and I support his bipartisan approach toward governing. Unfortunately, there are some Democratic party loyalists, such as my colleague Gary Galuski, who take offense at Rodney's style. Rodney had reached out to Gary on multiple occasions to mend fences and start fresh. When Gary hung up the phone on him, Rodney expressed his frustration in an unfortunate e-mail where he used the N-word to describe himself. Even worse (in my opinion), Gary decided to forward that e-mail to others, claiming that he was "offended" by it. Both of these men need to tone down the rhetoric, and Gary needs to understand that Rodney is our new President, and there will be change.
Saturday, December 7, 2013
Ken bids farewell to Nichols, K. McGrath, and M. McGrath (Troy Record)
Councilman Mark McGrath has been called many things during his eight-year tenure. I won't list them here. He is the most outspoken council member whom I have had the pleasure of working with. We all like to grumble about his outspokenness, but the truth is, he often brought to light many issues that needed airing. He forced us to raise the level of our "game", and there was always an element of truth in what he was saying. I will definitely miss our many sparring matches at Council meetings.
Friday, December 6, 2013
Ken urges Police Chief and Police Commish to work together (Troy Record)
"The courts should not be mediating disagreements in the Police Department." Enough said.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
Fraternity assessment reduction is too much (Troy Record)
This was a tough ordinance to vote against, because the brothers of Phi Sigma Kappa are great neighbors and they are doing some wonderful things in the community, including the establishment of a $50,000 micro grant program for the Mount Ida neighborhood. However, I must look at all legislation objectively, and the reduction in assessment from $650,000 to $310,000 was simply too much. Without appraisals being conducted by either the fraternity or the City, it is impossible to vote in favor of this.
Sunday, November 17, 2013
Ken's hockey team makes front page news! (Troy Record)
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Ken works with colleagues to reduce tax increase (Times Union)
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
A whole new dynamic for the Council (Times Union)
Saturday, November 2, 2013
The Election draws even closer (Troy Record)
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
The Election draws nigh (Times Union)
Friday, October 25, 2013
Ken questions high cost of security cameras (Troy Record)
While I do support the installation of surveillance cameras in high-crime areas, I found the $180,000 price tag (for nine camera installations) to be a bit high. It never hurts to question these things.
Thursday, October 17, 2013
Ken wants assurance of healthcare savings in budget (Troy Record)
A new healthcare plan for the City of Troy will save the City over $700,000 in costs. This savings is predicated on certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act, and I am concerned that, if Republicans in Congress continue their attempts to dismantle the ACA, the City would then find itself in a precarious position.
Saturday, October 12, 2013
Ken welcomes LDC audit (Troy Record)
As a member of the Troy Local Development Corporation Board of Directors, I take my role seriously, and part of that includes responding to criticism. Since Wally Altes took over as Chair of the LDC, we have addressed many of the authority's shortcomings, and we will continue to do so. The audit is critical, for sure, but that's the only way we can improve our processes.
Thursday, October 10, 2013
Ken offers vision for Troy at candidate's forum (Troy Record)
The annual "Meet The Candidates" evening was held on Tuesday, October 8. A sign of participatory democracy in action, dozens of residents turned out to meet the people that seek to represent them, and to ask questions about their ideas for bettering our city. After brief introductions, the district candidates reconvened in separate classrooms. Since I do not have an opponent, I performed double-duty answering questions about my vision for Troy, economic development, enhancing public safety, combating negligent absentee landlords, and my working relationship with other electeds. I even discussed some very recent issues, such as my opposition to the wet house proposal in Little Italy, my opposition to the creation of a single adult business district in South Troy, and traffic signalization improvements on Pawling Avenue.
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Wet house proposal thankfully not recommended for funding (Troy Record)
Today, I attended a meeting of the Board of Directors of the Homeless Housing and Assistance Corporation (HHAC), the group responsible for recommending HHAP funding for various homeless housing projects. I am relieved to report that the HHAC did not recommend funding for the Joseph's House wet house, which should prevent this project from moving forward. Thank you to the hundreds of residents who spoke at meetings, signed petitions, and wrote letters. Your collective voices were heard.
My own letter of opposition can be found here.
Monday, September 30, 2013
Revisiting zoning restrictions for adult businesses (Times Union)
At this evening's meeting of the Planning Committee, we revisited the issue of zoning modifications for adult businesses. Back in April, I spearheaded an effort to defeat an adult business district in South Troy. While that effort succeeded, the issue still remained to be solved - where to locate adult businesses (which by law must be granted a percentage of usable space within the city). The Planning Department has presented the Council with two alternatives to consider. Upon initial review, I prefer the "positive" zoning approach, where the City will clearly define the areas (spread out throughout the city) where adult businesses can be located.
Thursday, September 5, 2013
Investing in the golf course (Troy Record)
After reviewing the financials for the proposed irrigation improvements to the Frear Park golf course, I voted to move forward with the project. The $1.2 million cost will be bonded, and the City will see a positive return on its investment.
Additional coverage: Troy Record
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Ken expresses concerns over wet house in a residential area (Troy Record)
After several community forums sponsored by Joseph's House yielded little more than a venue for both sides to talk over each other, Councilman Wiltshire and I decided to host an official meeting of the Council's Planning Committee to discuss the "wet house" issue on the record. The conversation was civil and productive, and clear evidence was presented demonstrating that currently existing wet houses in the U.S. are located in non-residential areas. I remain strongly opposed to the Joseph's House proposal.
Monday, August 12, 2013
Ken interviewed on Paul Vandenburgh Show (Talk 1300)
I spoke with Talk1300 host Paul Vandenburgh about the botched demolition of 4-10 King Street. See my August 9th posting for more details.
Friday, August 9, 2013
Ken calls on City to create process for demolition (Troy Record)
On Monday, August 5, 2013, with the City Engineer away on vacation, Troy's Fire Chief declared the buildings at 4-10 King Street to be a public hazard and issued an "emergency demolition" declaration. No asbestos remdiation was performed, and the buildings were razed with patrons eating at Bombers mere feet away. I am not opposed to the demolition of derelict buildings. I am, however, opposed to the use of the "emergency demolition" as a tool to circumvent the proper process for requesting a demolition and ensuring the safety of the public.
Additional coverage: YNN | Troy Record | News Channel 13
Thursday, August 1, 2013
Ken co-sponsors legislation to strengthen Hope 7 Center (Times Union)
At the July meeting of the City Council, we unanimously passed legislation that offers Hope 7 Community Center a 25-year lease with the City. I co-sponsored this legislation with Councilman Galuski (District 6), since Hope 7 serves kids in both of our districts. This new lease puts Hope 7 in a better position to obtain grants for facility improvements.
Sunday, July 14, 2013
Ken spearheads use of Graffiti Buster mobile app (Troy Record)
Back in May, I invited the technologists at Troy Web Consulting to provide a demo of their Graffiti Buster mobile application to the Technology Committee of the City Council. The app was well-received, and at an annual cost of $200.00, it will have a negligible fiscal impact on the City's budget. I am now working with both the Mayor and the Troy Police Department to move forward on a rollout of this useful tool.
Friday, July 12, 2013
Zalewski and Wiltshire oppose paying off former City Clerk (Troy Record)
I stood against paying ex-City Clerk McInerney back salary for several reasons. First of all, section C-21(A)(6) of the City Charter gives the City Council the power to set the salary of the City Clerk, who is a political appointee of the Council. Second, I was on the Council at the time when the issue of a raise came up, and Mr. McInerney declined a raise, in order to help show fiscal restraint from the Council (something I appreciated at the time). Finally, Mr. McInerney pleaded guilty to forgery in the Troy ballot fraud scandal and resigned from his position. This ex post facto money grab does not sit well with me or the people I represent, given that he defrauded so many citizens in our city. I was proud to be joined by Councilman Rodney Wiltshire in opposing this settlement.
Additional coverage: Times Union
Thursday, July 11, 2013
Ken receives additional endorsements from minor parties
Today is the final day to submit designating petitions to qualify as a candidate for elective office. I am proud to announce that I have not only submitted more than double the number of signatures necessary to run on the Democratic line, but I have also submitted enough signatures to run on the Working Families Party and Independence Party ballot lines. Thank you to the hundreds of residents of District 5 who endorsed my candidacy by signing one of my petitions!
Saturday, June 15, 2013
Economic development on land and on water (Troy Record)
As the longest-serving board member of the Troy Local Development Corporation, I take pride in the work that we do to spur economic development in our city. Two of our current projects are the Clark House (207 Broadway) and the Troy Marina. The Clark House is a natural extension of the highly successful Lucas Confectionary, and the Troy Marina will be reopened with a focus on making Troy a destination for boaters.
Additional coverage: Times Union | Troy Record
Friday, June 7, 2013
Ken praises Pawling Ave signal improvements (Troy Record)
Legislation funding a $125,000 signal improvement project on Pawling Avenue passed unanimously at the June Council meeting. See the May 17, 2013 news posting for more information.
Thursday, May 30, 2013
Ken receives the Democratic endorsement (Times Union)
I am honored to have received the endorsement of Troy's Democratic Committee. This is my first and most important endorsement of the 2013 campaign season, and I thank the committee members for placing their continued faith in me. This is a great start to my final City Council campaign!
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Ken looking out for Little Italy residents (Troy Record)
I appreciate and admire the great work that Joseph's House does in order to provide housing for the homeless in our city, but I am not in support of a "wet house" being established at the Bizzarro Funeral Home property. I'm keeping an open mind and I've been reading up on wet houses - what they are, what they are not, and what impact they have on neighborhoods - but right now, I don't think that area would be an appropriate location for such a facility. I'd prefer to see a grocery store, or a dry cleaners, or even a computer repair shop.
Thursday, May 23, 2013
An unexpected inconvenience on Lincoln Ave (Troy Record)
Early in the morning on Wednesday, May 22, heavy rainfall caused a sewer line on Lincoln Ave to rupture, which ultimately opened up a large sinkhole, forcing the road to be closed. I met with DPU employees to assess the situation, and will keep residents updated as I continue to receive information on the ongoing repair work.
Friday, May 17, 2013
Smart traffic signals coming to Pawling Ave (Troy Record)
A $125,000 project will see traffic signals upgraded at eight intersections along Pawling Avenue, from Linden Avenue to Winter Street. The improvements include traffic sensors and new control panels, allowing for a better flow of traffic. Most of the project costs will be federally funded.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
A full agenda for the Technology Committee (Troy Record)
After a recent spate of graffiti in the downtown area, I connected with some technologists at Troy Web Consulting to discuss their Graffiti Buster mobile application. They will provide a demo of their app at tonight's Technology Committee meeting. Also on the agenda, we will discuss progress on the Emerald Greens Solar Farm proposal. In addition, I have requested an update from the administration regarding the Time Warner franchise agreement and the citywide broadband/wi-fi initiative. Time permitting, we will discuss the use of tablet computers for legislation, and the sustainability task force.
Post-meeting follow-up: Troy Record
Sunday, May 5, 2013
Collins' step may ease way for others (Times Union)
Although not directly related to my duties as a councilman, this interview was important to me, and could be important to many other people who are struggling with their own sexual identities. In 2007, I ran for office as an openly gay man. It was not easy for me, but I wanted to be true to myself and to the people that I would be representing. My hope was that people would judge me solely on my ability to work on their behalf as an elected official, and not on whether they agreed or disagreed with my personal life. I am happy to report that my constituents made a good choice!
Saturday, May 4, 2013
Pulse of the People: Giving back to the community (Troy Record)
This is a reprint of Ryan Donahue's article from the Rensselaer Polytechnic.
Friday, May 3, 2013
2013 Neighborhood Improvement Program benefits city projects (Troy Record)
Every year, the City Council's Neighborhood Improvement Program gives community groups the chance to obtain small amounts of money for various neighborhood projects. As usual, District 5 was heavily represented among the applicants, with the following groups/projects being granted funds: Ward 5 World War II Memorial / Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Mount Ida Preservation Association, Troy In Bloom, Osgood Neighborhood Watch Alley Numbers, Osgood Neighborhood Planters, and the 11th Ward War Memorial Committee.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Serving the communities that serve us (Polytechnic)
Ken's neighborhood involvement is recognized in an article by a local RPI fraternity. The brothers of Sigma Alpha Epsilon have dedicated themselves to community service, and working with them and neighbors such as the Herricks, the Ward 5 World War II memorial is now being regularly maintained.
Thursday, April 4, 2013
Ken spearheads opposition to adult district; new zone is defeated (Times Union)
The ordinance that would establish a 70-acre adult entertainment zone in South Troy was defeated by a narrow margin. I thank my colleagues who joined Gary and me to represent the many voices of our constituents.
Additional coverage: TU Advocate | Troy Record | YNN | News10 | CBS6 | Fox23
Thursday, March 28, 2013
Council Planning Committee tackles Hoosick Street safety (YNN)
As a member of the Council's Planning Committee, I had the opportunity to vote for Councilman Wiltshire's Complete Streets resolution, and engage citizens in an important dialog on Hoosick Street safety.
Friday, March 22, 2013
Ken opposes an adult entertainment zone in South Troy (News10)
After voting against the new zoning proposal in committee (it still passed with a 7 to 2 vote), I solicited feedback from constituents, especially those most affected by the proposed adult entertainment district. I remain steadfastly opposed to the creation of this district.
Sunday, March 17, 2013
Trying to ease the reassessment tax burden (Troy Record)
It comes as no surprise that some residents are seeing a tax increase as the result of the citywide reassessment. However, some property owners are experiencing dramatic increases in their property valuations - and correspondingly, in their tax levies - the result of putting off the citywide reassessment for 41 years. I am working with my colleagues to find ways to ease the tax burden. I'm not sure a phase-in approach can work. I am suggesting some type of low-interest loan program.
Thursday, January 17, 2013
Composting Workgroup presents findings to Tech Committee (Troy Record)
As chair of the City Council's Technology Committee, I get to host some of the coolest meetings in the city. With a standing room only attendance, it quickly became clear to me that this topic is both important and timely. Our Composting Workgroup did its job, and they did it brilliantly.
Friday, December 21, 2012
Ken continues to oppose unionization of political appointees (Troy Record)
From the article: "I disagree philosophically that politically appointed employees should be represented by a union," [Zalewski] said, adding he is generally in support of unions and their right to collectively bargain. "It's a bad precedent to set for the City and other municipalities."
Friday, December 7, 2012
A personal stake in marriage equality (News10)
I am excited, but nervous, about the Supreme Court taking on the Prop8 and DOMA cases. I believe history - and the American people - are on the side of equality for all citizens, including the right to marry the person you love.
Friday, September 7, 2012
Ken votes to put the Troy Turkey Trot in capable hands (Troy Record)
After the City of Troy took over the Troy Turkey Trot operations in 2009, participation in the annual Thanksgiving event dwindled. George Regan, via his USA Track and Field organization, knows how to coordinate track events of this size and complexity. I am proud to support this operational change.
Monday, August 27, 2012
Graffiti, Composting, and Feral Cats (Troy Record)
From Jim Franco's Talespin: "But, I say good for the Council members who have proposed such legislation -- namely Nina Nichols, Rodney Wiltshire, Ken Zalewski and Lynn Kopka, respectively. Since I've been covering this town I've seen more than one member of the Council who just show up at meetings once a month, collect their $15,000 paycheck, along with insurance, and not do much of anything else."
Friday, August 3, 2012
Ken sponsors resolution supporting restoration of Proctor's Theater (Troy Record)
The Troy Proctors Foundation reached out to me for support in their application for funding from the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. I authored a resolution in support of their Consolidated Funding Application, in the hopes that they can commence Phase I of the restoration of Proctor's Theater. Full text of the resolution can be found here.
Additional coverage: Times Union
Friday, July 13, 2012
Ken defends Troy's taxpayers against shameful politics (Troy Record)
When the Tutunjian administration ordered the Cinema Art marquee be taken down in 2006, they destroyed a piece of someone's business and an historic landmark. The marquee was never in danger of collapse, and now the City gets to pay $30,000 to the owner for the follies of several public officials. This is a waste of taxpayer money and a blemish on our city's history.
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Composting Workgroup is up and running (Troy Record)
A team of dedicated and knowledgeable citizens has been assembled to serve on our Composting Workgroup, and their work has already started.
Thursday, June 7, 2012
Taking a stand for public health and fiscal responsibility (Troy Record)
At the June 2012 Council meeting, I voted in favor of enacting smoke-free policies in our public parks and sporting events. While I don't expect that the City will actively enforce a smoking ban, the signage alone (at no cost to the City) will show residents that we care about our children's health. I also voted to authorize the Mayor to commence negotiations to move City Hall to the Hedley Building. We cannot continue paying $52,000 per month to rent the Verizon Building.
Additional coverage: Times Union
Monday, May 21, 2012
Ken represents District 5 at Troy 100 Forum (Troy Record)
The theme of this Troy 100 Forum was "A Conversation with the Troy City Council", and this type of round-table discussion is something that I enjoy. Citizen engagement is at the heart of public service, and I am always eager to participate. (See more here.)
Monday, May 7, 2012
Ken fights for best possible cable deal (Troy Record)
At the May 2012 Council meeting, the Council passed a resolution that I drafted and sponsored, which supports a citywide fiber optic network, and calls on the Mayor to begin the outreach process (full text of the resolution can be found here). The intent is to create some competition among broadband access providers, so that Troy can get the best possible deal when we renew our franchise negotiations with Time Warner.
Friday, March 2, 2012
Ken participates in Read Across America Day at School 16 (Troy Record)
This year - my third time participating in Read Across America Day - I had the good fortune of reading to Mrs. Shaer's third-grade class. The kids were so well-behaved and respectful as I read Dr. Seuss' "Oh, The Places You'll Go". We then created our own story, "Pickle on the Hudson". (See more on Facebook.)