Lessons from Marcia

By Kim M.

soapbox badgeI love people-watching. Some days it's the only reason this introvert can tolerate being anywhere near other people. Human behavior is an endless source of mystery and entertainment to me, and because we tend to be creatures of habit, complete strangers can feel just as familiar as the places we frequent.

For me, one of those people was Marcia Pascarella.

AOA readers may remember Marcia as the inspiration for my "Stop whining and do something about it" Soapbox last March. Marcia was my favorite person to see approaching the podium at Troy City Council meetings. She never held back, always spoke her mind, and possessed the type of humor and natural comedic timing that usually left you wondering whether or not she actually meant to be funny. I think she did. Marcia was not known for political correctness. Sometimes she even swore at these meetings -- which are currently held IN A CHURCH. Oh, Marcia.

I learned of Marcia's passing from Jim Franco, who wrote that he'd heard that "God had taken His own name in vain" upon Marcia's arrival at the Pearly Gates.

I don't doubt this report one bit; heaven better be everything she expects it to be!

Marcia was a character. Even her obituary called her "one of the toughest old birds you would ever want to meet."

Harry Tutunjian, a target for Marcia's tongue-lashing a time or two during his two terms as mayor, shared his favorite Marcia line, from his first term on the council. "At the podium she gave us the root of the word politics," he said. "She defined it as 'poly, meaning many, and tics, as in blood-sucking creatures.'" Tutujian encouraged me to attend my first council meeting, and Marcia was certainly one of the reasons I was immediately hooked on attending.

No, Marcia may not have been politically correct, but she demanded honest government. She thought government is supposed to be of the people, by the people, for the people -- not for special interests, not, as she said, "money to my buddy, or my family gets another job, or this one gets that."

She often reminded us of the urban center that Troy used to be, remembering a Troy before the Atrium. Having been here that long, I'm honestly not sure if she could see Troy's slow renaissance. But as someone whose history with Troy only goes back twelve-and-a-half years, I see it. I get terribly excited about businesses like the Dinosaur and now Bombers, not just because of the economic growth they represent, but because to me they are breathing life into an area that is still so full of unrealized potential. I guess I focus my attention on positives, instead of failures like The Pioneer Market.

No, I didn't always agree with Marcia's jaded view of Troy. Our approaches to the greatest circus on earth political theater in the Capital Region couldn't be much further apart either. She was a confrontationalist; I am a collaborator. She railed against the administration and the council, Democrats and Republicans; I see the common ground.

But that woman was something else. I am really going to miss her. Councilman Mark McGrath, one of her favorite villains, even remarked, "No one has gotten beaten up over the last six years more than me, and I loved every second of it. She was a good ol' gal."

We played our roles as active citizens in very different ways, but she was active, and I know she loved the city just as much as I do.

Kim loves Troy even more than you do.

Kim on the Soapbox:
+ Can you feel the love?
+ National Night Out
+ Children at Play
+ Hoosick Street: Future UFO landing site
+ Stop wining and do something about it
+ Good neighbors check in to make sure you haven't frozen to death


I don't live in Troy and never knew Marcia, but this piece takes me back to watching the Schenectady City Council meetings on Public Access where the "privilege of the floor" segment usually opened up to a handful of regulars that the council barely tolerated. One was an elderly man who was neither "repugnicant" nor "dumbocrat," he only cared about his city. There's a particular night I remember getting drunk with the old man at a neighborhood pub, and he told us, "there are so many things I want to tell you young people, but I think you get it already." Cheers. To people who care.

I don't live in Troy either, but I have worked in Troy for the last six years, and know a lot of people, especially those not in power and who often feel powerless. I didn't know Marcia either, but I do know a lot like her.
And for some reason I feel compelled here to say, "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia . . . "
The world needs more ordinary people like Marcia who will courageously speak up, and more pols who will listen. Really listen - not just go through the motions. As many of our elected officials in many cities (and states and countries) do!
I am one of those people who other people generally hate to see at a meeting or conference - because people KNOW I am going to comment or ask a question. And if my question doesn't get answered, I persist.
Not everyone likes that - especially clock-watchers who don't want anyone to engage. Lots of people just put in time and are never really present. Sounds like Marcia sure was!
I thought this was a really great piece and well written (kudos Kim)

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