Thursday, June 30, 2011

Modernize Services

We live in an age of cloud-based computing, where you can be in your car and reach your desktop computer. It's an age where cell phones can recharge without wires and connecting to other people and information is as much virtual as it is actual.

Troy can improve its overall level of service by more effectively employing technology to keep residents safe and maintain neighborhood quality-of-life. We have first-class municipal services from police and fire departments to code enforcement and the DPW, among others. Yet, there are several ways that we can improve them even more; some complicated, some that would need planning and investment.

First, would be for the city's website to offer a user friendly interface that expands “Action Line” reporting, requesting FOIL-able documents, and overall is a cleaner version of what exists. This can be done by acquiring a content management system, which also enables faster updating by each department head. Troy has a very active and involved community; we need to continue to encourage this. Three and a half years ago I helped co-founded the North Lansingburgh Neighborhood Watch to assist facilitate the resolution of neighborhood quality-of- life issues. We live in a “point and click age” and we need to make it easier for people to “point-and-click” their neighborhood issues to City officials.

Next, City government can improve the way it reacts to neighborhood issues. Troy is dense city with about 14,000 property parcels. To be effective city governments need quick, accurate, and relevant information to address quality-of-life issues, including Troy. As a member of the Troy City Council, I would support adopting the approach of Everett, MA officials.

Earlier this year, they acquired handheld devices and portable printers from a company called GeoTMS. Their product includes “a complete land-management software package designed…to electronically process and track information such as applications, permits, inspections and licenses” according to a press release.

The release goes on to say “Code Enforcement…Fire and Police officers and [other municipal] officials can enter an address in the device or on the web, look at any history of violations and immediately cite or fine an offender.” In addition to these agencies, we may be able to improve the capability of the City’s Assessor office using this type of new technology.

A third, but certainly not the final way, we can use technology to improve government is to enact a city-wide email and text alert system that goes directly to the resident, free and accurately, assuming they opt into it. This isn’t new either. RPI has a text alert system for their entire campus and Watervliet has recently begun an email newsletter service. I have to believe that while perhaps more complex, we can expand these services to anyone in Troy that wants to receive them.

The internet and social networking has altered the landscape of how government needs to connect to the people. These are simple, cost effective ways to address an information gap that might exist among people that use this new technology.

Proactive government allows for a progressive and successful community. A famous quote states there is no Republican or Democrat way to pick up your garbage. However, we need buy-in from city officials that view technology as an effective solution to municipal issues.

Our City and its services will only be as effective as the tools they utilize. We need to continue engaging our residents and provide them with essential details so they can enjoy all the city has to offer. We need to enhance our communication methods while continuing to maintain our traditional ones.

Friday, June 10, 2011

My Busy Summer

Hello everyone! It’s been awhile since I last posted but I have been tremendously busy. Specifically, I have been heavily involved in several community projects: the planning the 2011 Uncle Sam Parade, recently I have been appointed as a trustee of the Lansingburgh Historical Society, working with the committee coordinating the Capital District YMCA Golf Outing, working with the members of the North Lansingburgh Neighborhood Watch (as you can imagine “business” is picking up with summer fast approaching) and also I’ve announced my run for Troy City Council as an At-large candidate. Oh and I also celebrated my 31st birthday on May 23rd.

Yes, you read it correctly; I am running for office again and this time city-wide. I have been asked why I want to do this. I can honestly say it’s because I believe I have something to offer for the betterment of our community. We need individuals who will restore Troy government, specifically the city council, to one that is open and proactive, not reactive or obstructive. We need to establish and maintain a can-do, business friendly climate while providing our taxpayers with the highest quality service a municipal government can provide.

There is a toxic tone and too many fractured relationships that currently exist both within our government and with the residents and professionals of our community. This cannot continue to exist. Troy is currently positioned for great things. Over the past several months we have read stories and learned about the great multi-million dollar development projects happening across the city. This needs to continue and furthermore we need to be more aggressive in implementing initiatives that will decrease the cost of government, improve the quality of life for our taxpayers, and entice people and developers to Troy.

I am excited to share that our campaign committee has begun to detail how we will accomplish this. Just this past Monday, I announced the formation of a Sustainability Task Force that has begun to map out a set of initiatives that will reduce the cost our taxpayers are burdened with for waste disposal and energy consumption of our municipal properties. For example, the city of Troy expends $1.2 million dollars a year to dispose of solid waste, garbage. We will show just how implementing new recycling methods, to include composting of food and yard waste, will reduce this cost. Couple this with smart use of alternative energy sources like wind and solar for our municipal buildings to make them more efficient to operate will be less-costly than our current practice and just as important more eco-friendly. Nationwide municipalities are implementing ecologically intelligent plans its time that Troy goes Green as well. To learn more about our proposal or to get involved CLICK HERE

This is just one of the top priorities I will work hard to have enacted upon being elected to the city council. Several other goals include to continue to increase the marketability of our city as an attractive option for private and commercial investment; further develop our parks program; and most importantly, to continually enhance the safety and quality of life in our neighborhoods.

More detail will be provided as our campaign rolls along. I look forward to discussing the issues with as many residents and Troy advocates as possible. Whether it is long term initiatives such as neighborhood renewal in South Troy or everyday issues such as street cleaning or winter plowing (all of which are part of my top priorities) I want to know what is on your mind. I grew up in South Troy, my parents still reside on 2nd Street south of the Canal and I own a home with my wife, Melissa, in Lansingburgh. I have a keen understanding of what both these communities as well as those on the East Side face. I pledge that these areas will not go overlooked while I serve at the pleasure of the taxpayers of Troy. If you know who I am, you know that I have worked tirelessly with numerous community groups and people across this city with the specific goal of improving the city we all love. I look forward to being granted the opportunity to continue to do so as a city councilman.

You may follow my campaign via Facebook by “Liking” by page at or by visiting my campaign website,