Photos available on the popular Web site Facebook show Schenectady school board member James R. Casino and his wife, Donna, a teacher, participating in two drinking parties this summer in honor of their son Jimmy, who graduated from Schenectady High School in June.
One was a graduation party, featuring the slurping of liqueur from a carved block of ice. The photos from that party were posted on July 4.
The other was identified on the Web site as “Jimmy’s Ho Dunk going away party” and featured a beer keg over which party-goers, including Donna Casino, did assisted handstands, known as “keg stands.” The photos from that event were posted on Aug. 21.
You can see the photos yourself by looking at the Facebook albums of Donna and her older son Robert. For the photos posted by Donna click on this link: http://tinyurl.com/n4cck4.
For those posted by Robert click on this link: http://tinyurl.com/mx3b7x.
If you are reading this in the paper rather than online, type those addresses into your browser. In either case you will need to set up a Facebook account, which is easy to do, if you don’t already have one.
It’s not clear where the parties were held. Some of the photos appear to have been taken in a backyard, where a tent had been erected. Others were taken indoors, some of them in a kitchen. (The Casinos live on Belmont Avenue, near Zoller Elementary School.)
One of the participants in the festivities was identified in photo captions as J.P. Janiszewski, who is the older son of school board member Jeff Janiszewski. As far as I can determine, he graduated from high school approximately eight years ago.
In one photo from the graduation party he is shown with his arm around the shoulders of Jimmy Casino, next to another youngster who, like Jimmy, graduated from Schenectady High School in June. The caption, presumably written by Donna Casino, since it’s in her album, reads, “Wasting away in Margaritaville, or should I say Casinoville.”
Donna is a sixth-grade teacher at Hamilton Elementary School, where she is paid a salary of $59,667 a year, according to payroll information provided by the Teachers’ Retirement System to the Web site SeethroughNY.com.
At the “Ho Dunk going away party” she is pictured being bodily hoisted by several young men — shoulders and legs — over the beer keg, tongue out, ready to receive a pressurized blast of beer. Youthful colleagues here at the Gazette tell me the position is known in party circles as a “keg stand.”
The caption to the photo, presumably written by Robert, (it’s in his album), says, “My mom is a champ.”
Other photos show one young man after another being similarly hoisted into a keg stand, with much merriment by the participants.
A note by Robert attached to a photo of Donna and the kids gathered around a keg, all of them smiling for the camera, says, “true Schenectady rednecks.”
At the graduation party, a series of photos taken in what appears to be a kitchen show a bottle of Jagermeister, a sweet 70-proof German liqueur, next to a slab of ice into which a serpentine channel has been carved. Someone pours a shot of the liqueur into the top of the channel and someone else crouches at the lower end to lap it up as it arrives chilled.
James Casino, the father, is shown lapping, and so is his son Jimmy.
Other photos show other young people, male and female, hoisting shots and carrying either beer cans or large plastic cups in the vicinity of the beer keg.
One shows James Casino wearing a camouflage hat and smoking a cigar, with a large plastic cup in his hand, holding up a hose from the beer keg as if showing it to Robert, with several other young men in the background. He is identified in the caption as “Pa Dukes,” which I have learned is urban slang for father.
The question arises: Is any of this activity illegal, having in mind that this year’s high school graduates are almost certainly under the legal drinking age of 21?
I’ve learned that neither the city nor the county of Schenectady has what’s known as a “social host” law, criminalizing the hosting of parties at which alcohol is served to minors as some neighboring communities do, but Schenectady County Attorney Chris Gardner assures me that state penal law already prohibits giving alcohol to minors, with the exception of one’s own children.
So having young Jimmy slurp Jagermeister from a block of ice would presumably pass legal muster, though having other youngsters do so might not, if their parents are not present, and the same goes for providing beer.
The only other person shown in the photos who appears old enough to be a parent at these parties is identified simply as “Uncle Joe.”
Many of the young people in the photos are not identified by name, and I would not venture to guess their ages beyond saying they are young. Of those who are identified, I have matched two of them by name to a list of this year’s Schenectady High School graduates, so I think it would be fair to assume they are under 21. Neither of these is specifically shown drinking, though one is shown playing “beer pong,” a game that involves drinking, and the other is shown hoisting a funnel and hose.
I am bound to note here that James Casino, the father, is a loyal member of the Jeff Janiszewski team on the Schenectady school board who went so far as to nominate Janiszewski for another term as president last month even as Janiszewski himself humbly declared that he was stepping aside.
He read a prepared statement at the July 1 meeting praising Janiszewski’s leadership and contending that “Jeff always encourages individual expression of all board members.”
I make note of that because one of the consistent claims of these board members is that everything they do, no matter how outrageous, is always “for the kids.” To hear them talk you would think they had nothing on their minds but the well-being of the precious children in their charge.
To look, then, at the photos of James Casino slurping Jagermeister with his almost-certainly under-21 son and at the photos of his wife, the teacher, doing a keg stand with her tongue hanging out, as other youngsters cheer, is to get a new and stimulating look into the psyche of these people.
NOTE: If you think your interest in the Casino photos might be more than ephemeral, I recommend saving them to your own computer before they get removed. I can’t promise you how long they will remain accessible.