Opinion

2017: Locals weigh in on biggest headlines, underreported stories, hopes for 2018

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2017: Locals weigh in on biggest headlines, underreported stories, hopes for 2018

We consulted with a host of Capital Region notables to get their take on the 2017 and their hopes for 2018. Yes, Trump is a clown. Yes, our Democracy is in grave danger but this wasn’t about getting the right answer, or the same answer over and over again–it was about getting a better understanding of these people and a bit of the expertise they carry with them. Thanks to everyone who participated!

You can share your predictions for 2018 with us on Twitter @thealtweekly. We’ll award 5 participants with the best predictions with tickets to an upcoming show at Upstate Concert Hall.

JUDITH ENCK, Former EPA Regional Administrator
The biggest story of the year:
Climate change. Arctic ice is melting at an unprecedented rate which affects sea level rise.  Warmer ocean water was rocket fuel for Hurricane Irma and Maria which devastated Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. The drought and dry wood conditions in California and Oregon resulted in devastating wild fires. As climate change grows worse, the Trump Administration has chosen to do the bidding of the fossil fuel industry and roll back almost every major climate change policy adopted by the Obama Administration. Climate change is settled science. This issue is the single most negative impact of the Trump policies.

The most underreported story of the year:  
Plastic in the ocean. For every three pounds of fish in the ocean there is one pound of plastic. We are turning our oceans and rivers and lakes into landfills and virtually no one knows about it. Banning plastic bags and polystyrene are important policies that can be launched at the local level. This is also a climate change issue because a key ingredient of plastic is petroleum.

What does 2018 hold?
More bad environmental policies from the Trump administration and an urgent need for them to be blocked in the courts. State Attorneys General like New York AG Eric Schneiderman are the firewall to ensure that the Trump policies do not lead to more dirty air (more acid rain in the Adirondacks) more dirty water (toxic drinking water in Hoosick Falls and Petersburg) and a warming planet that threatens our health and the economy. More and more communities are committing to 100 percent renewable energy and energy efficiency. The environmental progress will be made at the state and local level and the private sector. The way we reverse Trump pulling out of the Paris climate accord is one solar panel at a time. Think globally and act locally is truer today than ever before.
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TIMOTHY DUNN, Town of Malta Councilman and President of Dunn Strategy Group
The biggest story of the year:
On the national level, the biggest story of 2017 has got to be the ongoing partisan divide and the bizarre new world we’re living in since the last presidential election. It seems that credibility is now based on partisan leaning alone and many folks refuse to accept anyone as “unbiased.” I think we’ll look back at 2017 as the year media and reporting changed forever. Locally, I’d say the biggest story of the year would be the return of arena football to the region, though I’m not really sure why.

The most underreported story of the year:
The most underreported story of year for me is a tie—I’m continually shocked by the lack of aggressive reporting on ethical reform in Albany and by the lack of scrutiny of economic development effort at the state and local level.  Every year, state leaders talk about ethics and corruption as if it’s in some sort of distant galaxy. In reality, every editorial board in the state ought to be calling out legislators by name for failure to act following the Silver/Skelos/Kaloyeros/Percoco scandals. Further, when it comes to economic development, the ultimate metric is job creation. If state and local economic development investments aren’t creating jobs, why isn’t the press outraged and beating the drum continuously?  Imagine, for a moment that a state or local hospital was given tens of millions of dollars to buy new cardiac equipment, but the hospital couldn’t save a single cardiac patient’s life—wouldn’t there be outrage?

What does 2018 hold?
I’m a constant optimist, so I think 2018 will bring us a more aggressive press, a more engaged public, more honorable elected officials, and more effective economic development programs. And lower taxes?
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KATHY SHEEHAN, Mayor of Albany
The biggest story of the year:
There is much to say about what is going on nationally but the big local story is Rezone Albany. We are seeing unprecedented amount of interest in investment in communities across the city and the clarity of the new zoning code helped get us there. That code is a big accomplishment for the city.

The most underreported story of the year:
What worries me is that people don’t realize the impact the loss of the SALT deduction will have on New York. I don’t think people appreciate the potential impact of chipping away at the affordable care act when a good portion of our residents rely on it.

What does 2018 hold?
I think the big story next year is the money we have programmed for workforce development. We’re focused on connecting people to jobs in an effective way. You give people jobs, you give people the ability to invest in the community, buy a home and you give them stability.

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LIZ MORAN, Environmental Advocates of New York
The biggest story of the year:
Trump’s inauguration and the nationwide protests that followed made for some of the biggest stories. I would say Doug Jones’ victory in Alabama was another big story. And in third place would be stories of the speculated pregnancies of the Kardashians (I am kidding…kinda).

The most underreported story of the year:  
I think local media outlets didn’t do a great job covering what EPA budget cuts would’ve meant for New York’s health and environment.

What does 2018 hold?
2018 will be an interesting election year. I think (and hope) there will be coverage looking at the Governor’s, and his agencies, promises over the past 4 years to see what has and has not been done.
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TOM NARDACCI, CEO of Gramercy Communications
The biggest story of the year:
The redevelopment of the former ALCO site in Schenectady on the Mohawk River has to be the biggest transformation we have ever witnessed in the region. One of America’s oldest brownfields at 60 acres gets a $450 million redevelopment that includes Rivers Casino, hotels, residential, offices, retail and restaurants and a new harbor. An incredible turnaround.

The most underreported story of the year:  
The emergence of the creative economy as a viable job sector in the region. From freelancers and solopreneurs to small tech startups (consultants, software, apps, design) the region is starting to blossom as a home to the creative class. These regions’ downtowns are a direct beneficiary, especially Troy and Schenectady. Hundreds of small businesses now in existence that weren’t here even five years ago. Yes, you can indeed make a good living in the Capital Region and not work in government.

What does 2018 hold?
In 2018, one of the region’s super small cities is going to get adopted by millennials and take a big leap forward. Perhaps my hometown, Rensselaer?
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AMY DURANT, Theater Writer at The Alt
The biggest story of the year:
I hate to say it, but Trump (and what’s going on with our government as a whole.) Not the small, petty things, like the tweets and the utter childishness, but the steady erasure of what we should all hold dear as Americans.

The most underreported story of the year:
Journalists who keep going to work, day after day, with a large number of the general public (and the party in power) shouting “fake news” at them on a regular basis and making it difficult for them to do their job, with the possibility of their newsrooms shutting down hanging over their heads every day they walk through the doors.

What does 2018 hold?
Laughter (a lot), tears (hopefully not as many) and as much theater as I can possibly watch.
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VIC CHRISTOPHER, Vice President of Clark House Hospitality
The most underreported story of the year:  
The Troy business community’s complete about-face on economic growth in its failure to support a $30x million proposed development from Bow Tie Cinemas. Major momentum killer, and a total direction change for what was shaping up as a potential national business success story.
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JOE BONILLA, co-founder of Relentless Awareness
The biggest story of the year:
The biggest story (or cycle) of the year is undoubtedly the ongoing allegations against men in positions of power across society, across industries, in which followed by the public “guillotine” of public figures behaving badly or downright heinously. There’s no doubt about that.

The most underreported story of the year:  
The most underreported story of the year is the overall decimation of civil public discourse. Everything is broken down from what used to be the 24-hour news cycle to the 140-character news cycle, and how that doesn’t present a total picture of a story or a movement. Battles are not fought on the opinion pages, but in tweets and Snapchat filters in truly juvenile ways.

What does 2018 hold?
As much as I’d like to be optimistic about 2018, 2017 was a breather year. 2018 will bring the nastiness of our national politics again, in which we may “re-litigate” the 2016 presidential election. More public figures will fall, pedestals will be broken, and stars will emerge from their embers. I hope that people understand that local decisions in their community matter more than what happens at the state and federal level.
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DAN MADDALONE, WEQX DJ, local music aficionado
The biggest story of the year:
Nationally, the passing of our lord and savior Thomas Earl Petty. RIP to the GOAT. Locally, that spooky sheriff trying to get those ICE motherfuckers in my county, Sheehan winning another seat cause now she be #locked in, and the Madison fire.

What does 2018 hold?
A bunch more incredible music from the Cap Region also hopefully us fucking up Trump’s shit.

What was the most notable album, work or collection of 2017:
Kendrick Lamar – DAMN (duh), Big Thief – Capacity, Thundercat – Drunk, Prince Daddy & The Hyena – Now That’s What I Call Music Vol. 420

What is the 2017 album, work or collection that everyone seemed to miss?
Big Thief – Capacity, Thundercat – Drunk, Prince Daddy & The Hyena – Now That’s What I Call Music Vol. 420

What works are you looking forward to in 2018?
New Carly Rae Jepsen, PrinceDaddy, Hate Club + Bruiser and Bicycle split, Jouska, Another Michael, Dan LaFave, Dan Paoletti.

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KIM NEATON, WEQX DJ, Guthrie Bell Productions
The biggest story of the year:
My favorite story locally is that Central Warehouse has been purchased by a dude that actually has plans for it. Nationally – Men in large numbers getting called out for being disgusting turds to women, that’s been pretty great to see. Hopefully it’s leading to a lot of learning and people figuring out how to be better at being people on a large scale.

The most underreported story of the year:  
Locally – My boss Greg Bell celebrated 25 years of promoting shows in the area, he’s one of the most important staples in our local music community, a true MVP. Nationally/globally – there are too many. A lot of science news is greatly underreported. I highly recommend that anyone who reads the news and feels like “Oh wow, everything is terrible, everyone is terrible”, read something like Popular Science magazine and you’ll think, “People can be so amazing!”. It’s nice to read about big steps forward when lately we hear a lot about big steps back.

What does 2018 hold?
I don’t think it’ll be the year we get our collective shit together, I think we’re still going to be in the “things are going to get worse” part of the of the pendulum swing “before they get better.” It’ll probably be bizarre in not the best ways, it’ll probably be scary for the environment.

Most notable album, work or collection of 2017, local or otherwise?
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard released four albums this year (all different, all solid), and there’s one still to come. If you know me you’ve already heard me tell you that you should listen to them. People reading this probably don’t know me so, “you should listen to them.”

What is the 2017 album, work or collection that everyone seemed to miss?
If you like rock music and want something local, listen to The Spirit of Violence album Romantic Misanthropic. Not local and not totally missed by any means, but still not in enough ears, Thundercat’s Drunk, it’s the finest in future funk.

What are you looking forward to in 2018?
Locally – Bear Grass, Maggot Brain, and I thought I heard Matt Durfee was recording – really hope that’s true!
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RAKIM LE MONIER, DJ Siroc
The biggest story of the year:
I think the biggest story of the year was about the reconstruction of the local hip hop scene.

What does 2018 hold?
2018 holds a lot of growth and further establishment. I think someone will leave a huge impact on the music scene in 2018.

What was the most notable album, work or collection of 2017, local or otherwise?
AirlineJay – Black Denim

What is the 2017 album, work or collection that everyone seemed to miss?
Clear Mind – Swords Metaphors Pressure Points

What works are you looking forward to in 2018?
I’m looking forward to every release from any local/national artist   
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JEFF MORAD, WEQX
The biggest story of the year:
Jeff Morad is DJ of the year according to The Alt Readers’ Poll.  

The most underreported story of the year:
Jeff Morad is DJ of the year according to The Alt Readers’ Poll.  

What do you expect from 2018?
For Jeff Morad to be named DJ of the year according to
The Alt Readers’ Poll.    

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