Silence the guns, Albany lawmakers say
Council members call for city to act on task force's recommendations
Published on 9/9/2009 by the Times Union written by JORDAN CARLEO-EVANGELIST, Staff writer
ALBANY -- In the wake of three fatal shootings in the last month and other recent flashes of gun violence, three city lawmakers -- including Democratic mayoral candidate Corey Ellis -- called Tuesday for the city to move forward on the recommendations of the city's Gun Violence Task Force.
Councilwoman Barbara Smith, joined by colleagues Dominick Calsolaro and Ellis, cited the daily report of gunfire in her Arbor Hill neighborhood as the three stood in front the of the now-closed Arbor Hill police station on Henry Johnson Boulevard.
The task force last met in December and issued its final report the following month -- with no progress since.
Calsolaro, who represents the 1st Ward, fought for the task force for several years before the council finally created it in July 2007 to study gun crime in the city and come up with strategies for reducing it.
Those strategies included hiring a violence prevention coordinator and starting a crisis team to respond to shootings to pre-empt retaliation.
But first, a team to steer implementation of the recommendations needs to be formed -- and that process has bogged down all summer.
The nine-member team will consist of three Jennings appointees, three council appointees and three ex-officio members from the school district, police department and district attorney's office.
On Thursday, the council is poised to appoint its three members -- who Calsolaro identified as State Police Superintendent Harry Corbitt, city gang-prevention coordinator Ron "Cook" Barrett and John Cutro, a local expert in restorative justice, which seeks to bring the victims and offenders together.
Bob Van Amburgh, a senior aide to Jennings, said the mayor has made his selections but will not disclose them publicly until he discusses it with the individuals.
He questioned how the mayor could be portrayed as delaying the process when the council is just now taking action itself.
"He was waiting for the council to make their appointments," Van Amburgh said.
Councilman James Scalzo, chairman of the Public Safety Committee that conducted the council's candidate interviews, was not immediately available for comment Tuesday.
In March, some council members objected when Jennings moved to appoint an entire seven-member implementation team himself -- objections that led to the current nine-member compromise.
Jordan Carleo-Evangelist can be reached at 454-5445 or by e-mail at email@example.com.