Thursday, March 08, 2007

I called the which doctor

David Soares caught a glimpse of the limelight very early on in his tenure as Albany County’s top prosecutor. Just seven months after taking office, the relatively unknown district attorney found himself thrust the center of attention when a story broke about a trio of horny Christian Brothers Academy students and their steamy love tryst with an equally obscure writing lab instructor named Geisel.

Very quickly, the no-name long-shot candidate found himself staring dead into the eye of the national media. And since that time, he’s seemed to develop quite the palate for the attention. So much, in fact, that it’s hard to fathom that Soares’ ambitions lie solely within the boundaries of Albany County.

Less than a year after the CBA scandal broke, Soares, a former communications major from Cornell University, played the role of information broker in the trial of the silver spoon-sucking underachiever-turned-ax wielding sociopath. Then before the dust could settle, he was working out plea deals with the state’s top accountant.

Yes, very quickly has Soares climbed the socio-political ladder and kept his name in the national spotlight, while simultaneously rubbing elbows with many of the state’s top democrats. Now, he’s set his sights on the proliferation of steroids from a generally lawless state more than 2,000 miles away.

Basking in the warming rays of Florida last week –and with the Times Union’s ace reporter in tow –Soares plucked a network of quack doctors who have allegedly pushed their wares through cyberspace and into New York. While publically declining to identify the users of the juice, someone from the investigation managed to leak a whole host of sexy names to both give the story legs and propel it deep into the heart of national coverage; Major League Baseball players, National Football League players, U.S. Olympic athletes.

The resonate bong from the case suddenly had all the gusto of the red-eyed testimony of shammed slugger Jose Canseco on Capitol Hill or the leaked name of Yankee start Jason Giambi in a doppelganger investigation and subsequent trial in California. Soares suddenly had his name thrust into national news and sports headlines, courtesy of one round-trip ticket to Disneyworld purchased with drug money seized in Albany.

Of course, Soares’ investigation has its critics, many who argue the DA has enough on his plate to be making prosecutorial sojourns to the Sunshine state. But once back in Albany, he fired back at these notions, offering the theory that steroids are every bit as dangerous and omnipresent as other drugs moving through the Capital Region.

But there are a host of questions he hasn’t bothered answering or has provided vague, noncommittal responses at best. For instance, after budgeting more than $260,000 worth of county money to prosecute Christopher Porco in Orange County, how he intends to fund what is bound to be an astronomical case against two dozen defendants that largely committed crimes in Florida. Just ferrying witnesses to Albany could more than double the cost of the Porco case.

Better yet, why prey tell is Soares going after a case that clearly crosses many jurisdictions, when there’s a perfectly serviceable network of authorities who specialize in such investigations. True, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency “assisted” in the case. Still, Soares remains at the head of the investigation, which means one of three disturbing things, namely that the federal agencies lacked the resources to bust the ring, didn’t care about busting the ring, or that Soares has grown arrogant enough that he feels it appropriate to edge into busting crime nationwide.

Equally disturbing is that the Times Union had a reporter with boots on the ground in Florida, long before any other paper had as much as an inkling of Soares’ whereabouts. Coming to their own defense, the paper reported last week that it conducted its “own months-long investigation into steroid trafficking” and just coincidentally caught up with the showboating DA in Orlando. And when names Soares is brazenly withholding from the media percolate into the TU the same day, this response holds about as much water as a household colander.

Meanwhile, just a few short blocks from Soares’ office on Lodge Street, an urban battle wages on. Albany’s West Hill and Arbor Hill neighborhoods continue to be magnets for serious crime. There is a tangible uneasiness that flows down the dilapidated blocks once one crosses over Central Avenue on Henry Johnson Boulevard, and it’s not too hard to find bullet holes or blood stains. Rapidly joining this rag-tag group of neighborhoods is the student ghetto in nearby Pine Hills, which each day seem to look just a bit seedier than the last.

True, a lot of the onus of blame lies with Albany’s embittered police chief and longtime mayor, both of whom are quite publically at odds with Soares. But by scampering off to Florida when there are clear and present dangers visible in nearly every direction in Albany, the DA is making a very bold statement –and one that is less than endearing –of his role in protecting the county from crime.

Perhaps Soares should do a bit of background research on himself, such as when he griped in January about his office’s paltry $6 million worth of county funding to prosecute cases from 15 different agencies. Or back in 2004, when he pledged to reform the aged Rockefeller Drug Laws. Better yet, maybe he should simply announce the higher office he intends to seek in a few short years when his term is up.

7 Comments:

Blogger Les Clutter said...

He is a prosecutor, he should leave the investigative work to the police. But I think you are right, what higher office is he aiming for?

8:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great piece on Soares. Perhaps you could give us last weeks weather and sum up the Section II basketball tourney and rebrand yourself as USA YESTERDAY.
What's your point? The steroid story will be one of the top stories of 2007 locally and nationally.
Also, I counted 3 Times-Union staffers in Florida. Writer, still photographer and videographer. Did you not think to rob their video for your blog.

2:37 PM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...

These are some astute observations from the anonymous reader. Indeed, the Soares story is “yesterday’s” news –I’d even argue it was yesterday’s news several years ago when the media first started reporting some of the legal liberties nefarious circles take with the Internet. Mind you, this hasn’t stopped the Times Union from running an article about mighty David Soares’ toils against juice that appeared just about every day this past two weeks; a fact that is both boring and tiresome given the story.

Was it a big story? Yes. One of the biggest of the year? Maybe. But keep in mind the other “big” story in the media around the same time: Anna Nicole Smith’s funeral.

I will give credit where credit is due; the TU staffers seem to latch onto stories with the same voracity a starved mountain lion might latch onto a still-warm side of meat. In a day and age when investigative reporting is almost unheard of in the local press, they manage to produce some pretty impressive reports. I’ll also say this is not one of them.

In the grand scheme of things, this is a small story that’s been blown out of proportion by Soares’ interstate grandstanding. Steroid use and abuse are one of those nasty little things that Americans seem to regard with passing fancy at best. No one cared in the 80s when body builders were spending twice as much time shooting steroids up as they did in the gym. No one cared in the 90s, when the average weight of a professional baseball player soared well above 200 pounds. And no one cares now, when a group of quacks is busted for moving “performance enhancing” drugs online.

My point coining a piece on the mess is that Soares is looking toward HIS future, not the health and well-being of Albany’s future. Notice I use the word future; not yesterday, not last week not the past. While I’ve got no problems with an ambitious prosecutor, he should be using his resources to affect the city around him. I’d make the exact same argument with the TU and their coverage.

Lastly, I’m deeply humbled by your mistaking this blog for a newspaper. Despite the quite tangible differences such as a lack of staff, funding, or just about any resources other than yours truly, I will point out that this is indeed a web-based reflection on current events, rather than a newsprint source for current events. Perhaps one day, the gravy train will come in for i-Saratoga and it will make the fateful leap to press. I, however, will not hold my breath for that one to happen. So as riveting as your suggestion for USA Yesterday is, I’ll take a pass this time around.

Regards,
Horatio

7:22 AM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...

Les,

I’m not sure what Soares’ is aiming for, to be honest. But it’s safe to say that either he or the Democrats have a game plan. At this point, it’s all speculation, but I’ll be happy to speculate. If indeed Hilary Clinton is going to be on the 2008 ticket –as either president or vice president –there’s a juicy senatorial position opening up for someone.

Right now, two of the top aspiring Dems are Eliot Spitzer and Andrew Cuomo, either of whom I could see taking a run at national office. Soares already has a bit of history with Cuomo. And with his pie-in-the-sky shooting act, Soares is acting a bit like Spitzer did when he was first dubbed the sheriff of Wall Street. So if I were to throw it out there, I’d say Soares is gearing up for an AG run once either the steamroller or Cuomo jumps ship for a seat in Washington.

It’s just speculation though.

7:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"In the grand scheme of things, this is a small story that’s been blown out of proportion by Soares’ interstate grandstanding. Steroid use and abuse are one of those nasty little things that Americans seem to regard with passing fancy at best. No one cared in the 80s when body builders were spending twice as much time shooting steroids up as they did in the gym. No one cared in the 90s, when the average weight of a professional baseball player soared well above 200 pounds. And no one cares now, when a group of quacks is busted for moving “performance enhancing” drugs online."

So, let me sum this up. Today a DA is blowing it out of proportion to posture himself for political advancement but the DA's of yesteryear didn't do enough. AKA, no one cared before and now that they do, it's wrong.
You can't have it both ways Horatio. It doesn't work like that.
Also, when did you first realize that elected officials often seek a higher office? Did that come to you in a dream. The steroid story is just beginning to unfold and the public has no clue which direction it could take. Obviously, the drug companies are a bit more involved with the proliferation of drugs available on the street and a major investigation could trigger a Pharm selloff on Wall Street that could rock the stock market. Before you deny the 'truth is stranger than fiction' maxim let me remind you that no one would EVER try to break the leg on an Olympic figure skater and no one would EVER cut Ted Williams head off!

And why in hell did you try to link Anna Nicole Smith to this story? WHAT'S UP WITH THAT?

Give us something original in your blog, not the neatly packaged regurgitation avaiulable outside any bar on a Sunday morning. Perhaps an investigative piece on the whore ratio in Schenectady would be a subject you could embrace with passion.

10:31 AM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...

My anonymous friend, you are thinking far too grandiose. And in the process, you're missing what is essentially my thesis statement: Soares has enough problems at home to go out seeking them abroad.

While I'll certainly post a retraction of the aforementioned if the prosecutor ends up busting half the Albany cops for being complicit in all this, I'm not going to hold my breath for that day and will cross that bridge if we ever reach it.

Now let me tell you a little story. It's about a ghetto called Arbor Hill that seems to be spreading instead of contracting. The thieves, gang-bangers and drug-addicts from Arbor Hill now find it fitting to move freely about the goddamn state capital, doing pretty much what they please. It's a situation that has no easy solution, but nonetheless a situation for an ambitious prosecutor.

Soares, it seems, has decided to invest his time elsewhere in a costly investigation into a steroid ring that has yet to demonstrate any noticeable results in his jurisdiction. Might his work crash the pharmy market? Very doubtful. As I tried to intimate before, steroids have been vogue for years and one DA's quest to eradicate their sale online isn't likely to change that anytime soon. After all, people like drugs. They’re fun. And now that they’re in pill form –a neat method of consumption that doesn’t involve needles, pipes and other forms of messy paraphernalia –they’re not going to be too thrilled with getting them off cyberspace.

As for his maneuvering, I'm hardly phrasing it as a new or novel idea. By their very nature, DAs are particularly prone to seeking higher office. My point is that when it’s done at the public’s expense, they should be taken to task. While Soares is quick to note he’s spending “drug money” to fund this crusade –in other words cash that’s probably not even accounted for in any sort of budgetary sort of way –he hasn’t offered any explanation as to how he’s going to fund these trials. After all, any trial will involve the importing of a good deal of out-of-state witnesses, who will fly to New York on taxpayer dollars.

In summation, I've seen nothing so far to suggest that Soares has cleaned up Albany enough to go gallivanting around in Florida seeking out crime. What he should be doing is formulating a game plan with the only two entities that can help him further the cleanup of the capital, those being Diamond Jerry Jennings and recalcitrant Chief Tuffey. Without them, he'll have to rely on these out-of-state trysts to keep his name in the news.

As for the Electric City sex trade, I’ll leave that one up to the professional thrill-seekers who have experience molesting the crack-addled runaways as they fall through the bottom of life. While my investment in this online rant is certainly sizeable, it has yet to cross the line of me wheeling down to the rough-and-tumble neighborhoods of Schenectady to go trolling for chatty hookers. Good suggestion though. Maybe once I get my pistol permit.

8:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ALGER '08

7:48 AM  

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