Living in Western New York, we like to think we know a thing or two about union hijinks. We even like to amuse visiting friends from Right-to-Work states by recounting the sad saga of Local 91. It’s cheaper than renting “The Godfather.”
But leave it to Albany—that peculiar city on the Hudson—to produce a story that is far more memorable:
The former leaders of a Rensselaer County jail officers union spent tens of thousands of dollars in union money for outings at top-scale restaurants, strip clubs, bars and to make contributions to political campaigns and organizations in which they had a personal interest.
The banking records reflect disbursements, ATM withdrawals and other transactions from a union account between 2006 and 2011. They show disbursements of more than $14,000 for unitemized expenditures that are listed in the records only as "donation." There are also roughly $8,000 in cash withdrawals from ATMs.
On Jan. 3, 2008, the records show, the union's debit card was used to pay for a $1,611.75 tab at Angelo's 677 Prime, an upscale Albany steakhouse. The same day, records show the union's debit card was used for $52.85 in purchases from Troy Food Mart; $81.83 at a Troy diner; $55 at an Asian-style restaurant; and a withdrawal of $103.50 from an ATM at a topless dance club, Double Vision, in Halfmoon.
Two weeks earlier, on Dec. 21, 2007, the debit card was used for a $62 purchase at Valenti's Pub in Troy and also for two withdrawals totaling $344 from the same topless bar in Halfmoon.
We just hope Double Vision is a union shop. Otherwise, this whole matter might be awkward.