Bruno’s project legacy will persist in region

“The Joe” won’t go.
PHOTOGRAPHER:

“The Joe” won’t go.

The Joe is the nickname of the Joseph L. Bruno Stadium at Hudson Valley Community College in Rensselaer County. It and other Bruno legacies are likely to remain, despite the former state Senate majority leader’s conviction Monday on federal corruption charges.

Robert Hill, chairman of the college’s Board of Trustees, which oversees the naming of structures on the campus, said he does not favor removing Bruno’s name from the stadium.

“While in office, Bruno was a steadfast advocate and friend and he understood the role this college plays as an engine for economic and workforce development in the region,” he said.

The college’s board named the $14 million stadium after Bruno in 2002, citing his efforts to secure state funds for the stadium and its minor league baseball franchise.

Spokespersons of several other organizations that have honored Bruno said they either had no intention of removing his name or had not even discussed the possibility of removing his name.

Nancy Rice, director of communications for the Commission on Economic Opportunity in Troy, said the agency will retain Bruno’s name on its family resource center. “I do not know of any plans to change the name of it,” she said. Bruno helped get state funds to launch a Head Start center at the facility and for this he will be remembered, Rice said. “He did do good things. I hope in the end we remember the good and bad in us all.”

Robert Altman, chief executive officer of WMHT, said he and others at the public television station have not discussed changing the name of the station’s Joseph L. Bruno Broadcast Operations Center at 4 Global View in North Greenbush. A plaque in the center honors Bruno for helping the television station secure funding.

“It is something we have not addressed. We haven’t even thought about that question yet,” Altman said.

Amy Williams, president of the Arts Center of the Capital Region, 265 River St., Troy, said the agency will keep the senator’s name on its Joseph L. Bruno Theatre. “Sen. Bruno did a lot of good for this community and the Capital Region. Whatever the outcome of the current situation, it is hard to diminish the effect he had on this community and on economic development and the arts in the area,” Williams said. Bruno provided seed money to help the center build the art facility downtown.

Tom Nardacci, owner of Gramercy Communications, a public relations company in Albany, said he believes most organizations will continue to honor Bruno because he helped them.

“Senator Bruno is still well regarded in terms of the things he did for the region, specifically in directing state dollars to worthy causes and projects. Those good projects are still good projects.”

Added Nardacci: “Overall, people have separated out this personal, criminal issue from the work he did over the last few decades. The Capital Region has not seen and probably will not see someone from the region with his political clout again.”

HVCC now has two facilities named after Rensselaer County political legends who also were convicted of federal felonies. The other is the Edward McDonough Athletic Complex. McDonough led the Rensselaer County Democratic Party for 25 years before losing the chairmanship in a scandal. In 1994, he was convicted on federal extortion and racketeering charges and spent 16 months in prison. He died in 1997. McDonough served on the HVCC board of trustees for 22 years, nine of those years as its chairman.

Blair Horner, of the New York Public Interest Research Group, said that while Bruno’s legacy will be tarred by the scandal, he was responsible for significant policy changes, including the banning of smoking in bars.

“He has had a profound effect on public policy. It was his greed that got him into trouble,” Horner said.

NYPIRG’s position is that organizations should not name a building, room or other architectural feature after a sitting legislator. “When they are still in office, it makes the elected official seem like a god. You are helping that person get elected by naming a building after him. Our tax dollars should not be used to get people re-elected,” Horner said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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