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deep qt harvest bowl: let's get dirty!
September 15, 2004: Mmm mmm. Early Fall brings harvest goodies from several Northeast primaries: let's get dirty!

In Springfield, Massachusetts, voters tossed out Democratic Representative Christopher Asselin in a 3 way race, making the recently indicted Asselin one of the few incumbents to get the boot in statewide races. Some feared Asselin would squeak by as the other candidates split the protest vote. But nuh uh. X- lawmaker Chris Asselin is one of the Springfield Asselins. A Brady Bunch for the Enron Age. Nine members of the Asselin clan, led by hoary patriarch Raymond Asselin Sr. are charged with having harvested federal housing dollars from the Springfield Housing Authority (SHA) for years. While extorting graft and gratuities from public contractors. Chris allegedly partook of the latter while using the former to fund a previous campaign. But lest this scenario should leave you feeling acidic, consider the AP reported comment of a citizen who helped vote Asselin out:

"I wouldn't vote for someone who's been arrested," said Larry Turcotte, an 80-year-old retired optician voting at Our Lady of Hope in Springfield."

Way to go Mr. Turcotte. In some places, voters reverse that sentiment.

Another primary upset occurred in upstate New York in Albany County. Home to the state's capital city of Albany. Relative newcomer David Soares, running as a reformer, beat out Democratic machine incumbent Paul Clyne in the primary race for Albany County District Attorney. Some say Clyne greases wheels for the well connected. And has smoothed over charges involving members of the Albany police department. The Clyne campaign literature that claimed he was tough on white collar crime caused chortles to be heard in many an Albany household. Yet reformer David Soares barely mentioned specifics about Clyne's perceived abuses of power, but instead focused on reforming the Rockefeller Drug Laws. A state rather than local issue. Soares received major funding from downstate special interest groups with the same agenda. And Soares' proposed crime fighting approach is to focus largely on treatment rather than prison-- even in the case of some dealers.

The Capital Region is already chock full of drug treatment facilities. Plus assorted forms of housing for substance abusers. Too many neighborhoods suffer the impact of both. Particularly low and moderate income neighborhoods. Upstate New York cities have become the dumping ground for downstate substance abusers. And for the state's parolees, many of whom are also substance abusers. The drug rehab business is lucrative to many. Including income property owners whose inflated rents are paid by taxpayers, non-profit groups with social service contracts and related real estate interests, and local governments that receive various state and federal funds based on the head count presence of addiction, crime and poverty. For substance abusers and/or parolees who truly wish for a new life, upstate New York has few jobs. Manufacturing continues to leave for foreign shores. But for those who don't wish to rehab, a thriving drug trade offers plenty of opportunities. It's the industry that hasn't left town. In fact, drug trade has burgeoned apace with the region's growth as Drug Rehab Central. Hence, the Soares campaign literature claiming he'd reduce street crime caused chortles to be heard in many an Albany household.

But lest this scenario should leave you feeling acidic, consider the Albany Times Union description of a Soares supporter at an election night celebration:

"Albany Common Council President Helen Desfosses, shrieking with happiness, said she was 'so excited, I can't stand it.'"

Ms. Desfosses, who has been Common Council President for seven years and is generally associated with a crew of long time Albany political reformers currently lacking sufficient power, had obviously witnessed the second coming!

Carola Von Hoffmannstahl-Solomonoff

"When our weeping's over/ He will bid us welcome/We shall come rejoicing/bringing in the sheaves."

Bringing in the Sheaves, Lyrics: Knowles Shaw 1874, Standard Music: George Minor 1880

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Copyright (c) 2004 by Carola Von Hoffmannstahl-Solomonoff. This material may be freely distributed subject to the terms and conditions set forth in the Open Publication License. This license relieves the author of any liability or implication of warranty, grants others permission to use the Content in whole or in part, and insures that the original author will be properly credited when Content is used. It also grants others permission to modify and redistribute the Content if they clearly mark what changes have been made, when they were made, and who made them. Finally, the license insures that if someone else bases a work on this Content, that the resultant work will be made available under the Open Publication License as well.

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