Monday, March 24, 2008

Follow the Money

One of the most pivotal lines of dialogue in the classic political thriller “All the President’s Men” to the Woodward and Bernstein team by their well-placed source: Follow the money. When trying to figure out why a politician does or says, it’s good to remember to follow the money.

We are not sure if the “Follow the Money” theme follows the Great John Brown Water Debt Giveway, but it may be worth a spin.

Last week, some digging by star WTEN reporter John McLoughlin revealed that one of Brown’s closest political allies is former Rensselaer Common Council President Tom Nardacci. In a shaky interview, Brown admitted as much, and weakly said he believes the Great Water Debt Giveway is “in the best interest of Troy taxpayers”. All said with a straight face, by Brown, by the way.

(For those who may not remember the bizarre aspects of the Great John Brown Water Debt Giveway, it goes something like this: Rensselaer stops paying Troy for water in 1999, accumulating a debt that is now in the area of $3 million. Just a few weeks after taking office, Brown announces he’s got the whole thing solved, and that Rensselaer will pay about $1.1 million and Troy can essentially just take Rensselaer’s word for it. Mayor Tutunjian has no role in Brown’s talks, making Brown a Junior Steamroller. Oh, yeah, the Troy City Council is run by Democrats and Rensselaer is run by Democrats. Kind of cozy, especially when there’s a few million bucks at stake.)

Those trying to figure out why Brown would be so eager to force an agreement that accepts about one-third of what Troy is owed say Brown is trying to help his buddy Nardacci. Others say Nardacci is the one putting the whole thing together, and leading Brown down a path. We’re not sure about either theory, but the connections between Brown and Nardacci are strong. Brown said Nardacci did some campaign work for him.

Nardacci is also – we believe – Brown’s biggest campaign contributor, dumping $1,145 in Brown’s campaign account. The contributions include personal contributions and checks from Nardacci’s communications/PR company. Another prominent Rensselaer family, the Polsinello family, also wrote Brown a check.

Why is so much Rensselaer money interested in seeing John Brown get elected to the Troy City Council? The Great John Brown Water Debt Giveway may explain that curious level of support from the city to the south. Remember, folks, follow the money.