How many more times is this going to happen?


Photo by Tim Becker

It was a different crowd in the council chambers last Tuesday than is usually there, but unfortunately the scene was one that has played out several times now. This time it was a 4th Ward public meeting and members of the 69ers Motorcycle Club took turns at the podium defending against accusations made against them in public by 4th Ward Alderwoman Diane Hatzenbuhler. But earlier this year, it’s been members of the Creative Connections community defending the value of their programs, before that it was Recreation Director Robert Spagnola, defending against several allegations against his department that were proven false, as well as at least two other department heads who were essentially tried in the court of public opinion with unsubstantiated allegations.

As usual, the situation began on Hatzenbuhler’s Facebook forum with this announcement of the upcoming meeting.

In the announcement, Hatzenbuhler accuses the motorcycle club of buying a property on Edward St. under “false pretenses.” She claims the club is using the commercial property as a club house from which they are selling alcohol without a permit, that a former member of the club is a convicted murderer, and that the club is driving residents away and hurting business at the local tavern.

At the meeting, club members denied they were doing anything improper at the property and accused Hatzenbuhler of slander.  One person called for her resignation and at least two residents from the 4th Ward not affiliated with the club spoke to say they had no problem with club members in the neighborhood.

It’s difficult for me to personally  judge whether the accusations of code violations are valid or not.

According to a 2008 article in the Schenectady Gazette, a former president of the 69ers club in Troy, who also identified himself as being associated with the club  at the recent meeting, was charged with murder but later acquitted.

The general public can argue the details of this situation to death, but the sad thing here is that this issue never had to become a public spectacle. Hatzenbuhler didn’t need to broadcast her accusations to the public, but rather could have pursued the matter with the codes and police departments and worked in a systematic way to resolve the issue. Instead, she incited public outrage again and had to endure yet another pile-on.

While some opponents of Hatzenbuhler may revel in the situation, it’s nothing for any of us in the city to be proud of. Hatzenbuhler’s actions reflect on the entire city, not just herself.

Further than that, I believe her actions may be perceived as reflecting on the local Republican Party, and that should be a concern for any politician thinking of running next year. I would be surprised if other Republican’s aren’t starting to view her as a potential liability. Given that there is already one announced candidate for mayor next year, I think it’s fair to say that the next election season has essentially begun already. Hatzenbuhler needs to start mending fences and reverse her pattern of publicly going after others with shaky allegations and echoing hearsay. Certainly, she needs to listen to tips from constituents, but she needs to take responsibility for checking the validity of those tips before she reports them publicly or acts on them. I was proud of Diane recently when she visited the local homeless shelter to meet with the manager there and get credible facts about the situation which informed her vote on whether to help fund the shelter this year. That’s the type of behavior we should expect from her and all elected officials.


Tags: ,


About Tim Becker

Tim Becker is the owner of Anthem Websites Inc. which publishes The Compass. He serves as both editor and a writer.

9 Responses to How many more times is this going to happen?

  1. AvatarMichael Lamendola says:

    This is a well-thought out editorial. I enjoy reading your opinions. Keep up the good work.

  2. Avatardiane says:

    Obviously I wish to clarify one statement that is not correct. I did not say that anyone of these members was a murderer. However, some of this group has come here from Troy, where the president of the 69ers there was charged with murder. He has since been aquitted of the charge. He was not the gentleman that I recently read about, and after the correction was posted, I thanked them. Any information that I have received is turned over to the APD.

    At the same time there is a police report of a response to a fight on James St. It was Mr. Newberry who was accused of beating another lifetime city resident. It happened on September 6th, 2014. At the time, the lifetime city resident said he did not want to press charges. Just so it is clear, there is a record of this incident on file at the APD, even though Mr. Newberry has not been charged.

    Thank you.

    • AvatarTim Becker says:

      You did say “former member” so I will make that correction to be completely accurate. However the person who was acquitted, at least based on what he said at the meetings, seems to be still associated with the group.

  3. AvatarRob Millan says:

    Diane, his arrest on murder charges is a non-issue if he was acquitted. It is unfair that you choose to continue to hang that over his head given the fact that he was found non guilty.

  4. Avatardiane says:

    Tim, when I said former member, I had no idea that he was in anyway still associated with the group. Actually, I was a little puzzled when that statement was made the other evening………thanks for the info 🙂

  5. AvatarArmy veteran says:

    You still can’t even muster an apology to those men. You keep bringing up a irrelevant issues, like the trial where an innocentan was aquited of murder charges and some of them come from Troy. It makes you look more like a fool Diane. Let’s not forget your comments pertaining to veterans in motorcycle clubs, more then half the members of the 69ER’S MC are veterans how about an apology to them? Or,do you have nothing to say at this time! Your actions at the 4thward meeting and actions leading up to the meeting are despicable using facebook for out right slander is immature and childish. Do us all a favor and resign from your position. The fact you still hold any political title is a black stain on the whole Amsterdam comunity. Apologies to the 69ER’S MC and especially the veterans in that club who faught for this countery, have some integrity, you can ask any of those vets for a definition.

  6. AvatarJeremy says:

    Diane, you still defend your slanderous comments. You madam, need to pull up your big girl panties and issue a public apology to the motorcycle club. You lumped all of the club members into a broad statement about them being unsavory characters and this is not acceptable, especially when you are supposed to be representing Amsterdam. Do you know how many people get into Bar fights in our city? Why would you only pick on one guy? If charges were not sought perhaps its because the other guy was at fault? You need to stop your bigoted views because you have been told by the residents that you are wrong and that most of them do not agree with you. If a member at the Elks or PNA get into a fight should we start the next witch hunt on those clubs? A public apology will go a long way in mending your reputation but the busy body attitude has to stop.

  7. AvatarCharlie K. says:

    Removing the offending post from Facebook doesn’t change anything, either. If you don’t think the original post, and several parts of the thread, were screen-capped and saved, think again.
    A formal apology is required in this instance. As has been stated many times over, Diane is no longer a meeting “gadfly,” “concerned citizen” or frequent radio talk show caller. She is an elected official, and should be held to a higher standard.

  8. There is nothing in Alderman Hatzenbuhler’s private Facebook post that was not published in a May 2, 2014 article in The Recorder, written by reporter Heather Nellis. The demonization of the Alderwoman is nothing but a political ploy by the Amsterdam Democratic Party to distract from the real problems in the city. Chief Culick was the person quoted as referring to the 69ers as a gang, not Diane. The code enforcement issues with the property and the fact that the building was only approved to store equipment is also documented in the article describing a biker event held on the property but not in the building this year. “The event will be held outside the structure, as the building is not up to code, and is zoned for manufacturing, Culick said. There is also a possibility the building will never be approved as the clubhouse because of concerns of its structural integrity, he said.
    “Code enforcement laid down the law because of the way the building, which was used as a chemical plant, is zoned. Because it’s not cleared to have a party inside, they will be holding the event on the grounds,” Culick said. Code Enforcement Officer Jeff Senecal, who is reportedly working the case, didn’t return a
    message seeking comment, but Tom McQuade, another city code enforcer, said there were a variety of concerns that had to be addressed in regard to the building and the event. McQuade said the property was purchased from the city with the intent to be used as a “personal accessory garage” to the one-family home Newbury owns on James Street.The building was described as a two-story multiple dwelling erected for manufacturing, and a permit is required for its use otherwise. McQuade said several issues had to be addressed, such as parking, whether a tent will be erected because the building isn’t cleared for entry, and bathroom use, considering there is no water running to the building, he said.”