Contributions To “It’s Time Saratoga!”: So Much For The “People’s Campaign”

I have come to believe that the behavior of the leadership of the Charter Review Commission and their political action committee, It’s Time Saratoga!, borders on…no, is bizarre in terms of their almost sociopathic indifference to the truth.  Some of you may have become bored by my many posts documenting this.

Now we have the financial reports that “It’s Time Saratoga!” has submitted to the New York State Board of Elections.

On November 8th, on the It’s Time’s Saratoga!  Facebook page they defended their loss by asserting that they were outspent 2 to 1.  According to their report to the state, however, they took in a little over $45,000.00.  SUCCESS, the group that opposed them, took in approximately $28,000.00.  Math has never been my strength but even someone like me can observe that the statement by “It’s Time Saratoga!” falls into the Alt Fact realm.

In the same vein, Gordon Boyd, who often acted as a spokesperson for the charter change campaign, told area newspapers that they had run a “people’s campaign” against entrenched interests. But a review of their expenditure statement shows that they paid Southpaw Strategies, a professional campaign marketing firm, approximately $10,000.00.

Here is how Southpaw Strategies is described on their website:

Southpaw Strategies is a Full Service direct mail consulting firm with the expertise to lead your campaign to victory. From fundraising to field to communications, Southpaw Strategies has a proven record of winning races by delivering a well framed message with a strong campaign.

Steve Napier is one of the principals of Southpaw.  Mr. Napier has in the past worked on Mayor Joanne Yepsen’s campaigns.  Most recently he was the campaign manager for Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan. 

To get the full flavor of Southpaw’s operation, here is a link to their website:  http://www.southpawstrategies.com/ourwork

There is also the source of “It’s Time Saratoga!”  money.  It didn’t come from bake sales.

The International City/County Management Association and their local branch, the New York State City\County Management Association, already identified as generous donors in the last financial filing, kicked in even more money in the final weeks of the campaign.  Their grand total came to $29,000.00 which if my math is right, is more than the total of $28,000.00 raised by SUCCESS from all its supporters.

There is also the extremely odd contribution by Anthony Ianniello.  Mr. Ianniello wins the award for the most generous individual donor in the Charter fundraising world.  Mr. Ianiello contributed a whopping $7,5000.00.

According to a May, 2014, story by Brendan Lyons of the Times Union Mr. Iannello was linked to a controversial land deal in the town of Halfmoon that precipitated the resignation of the assistant town attorney.  The stories are well worth the read:

http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Halfmoon-deputy-attorney-s-firm-had-role-in-land-5458304.php

http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Halfmoon-deputy-attorney-leaves-amid-ongoing-5460768.php

The only recent story related to Saratoga Springs that I could find regarding Mr. Ianniello concerned his involvement in the Paramount Development’s proposal for a mixed use concept for the land where the City Center wants to build a parking garage.  While the suits involving the Mouzon House and the City Center grind on leaving the future of the site still in some doubt, it is hard to believe that this would explain his hefty donation.

Maybe one of the readers of this blog can offer an insight on his grand donation.

So between Ianniello and the Managers associations they contributed $36,500.00 of the total $45,284.00.  That doesn’t sound like a people’s campaign to me. 

Below is the complete list of the donors along with the list of the vendors who were paid.  It is interesting to note that there seems to be a balance of $11,000.00 that has not been expended as of this report.  It seems odd that they would not have spent all their money on the campaign.  We will see if it is accounted for in the next required report.  Maybe they are saving it for their next bite at the charter apple should their defeat at the polls this time be confirmed or maybe it is being used to pay the lawyer they told the public they didn’t need.

I will be posting the SUCCESS reports in several days.

Contributions To “It’s Time Saratoga!”

CITIZENS FOR YEPSEN 1,000.00 01-1 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General C N/A N/A
CITIZENS FOR YEPSEN 800.00 11-NOV-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General C N/A N/A
FRIENDS OF BILL MCTYGUE 250.00 27-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General C N/A N/A
INTERN CITY/COUNTY MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION
777 NORTH CAPITOL ST, NE, SUITE 500
WASHINGTON, DC 20002-4201
15,000.00 17-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 11 Pre General B N/A N/A
INTERN.

CITY/COUNTY MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION
777 NORTH CAPITOL ST, NE, SUITE 500
WASHINGTON, DC 20002-4201

5,000.00 13-NOV-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General B N/A N/A
NEW YORK CITY/COUNTY MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION
20 FOXHILL ROAD
SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY 12866
1,500.00 06-NOV-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General B N/A N/A
NEW YORK STATE CITY/COUNTY MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION
20 FOXHILL RD
VALHALLA, NY 10595
2,500.00 12-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 11 Pre General B N/A N/A
 

UNITEMIZED

,

734.00 24-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General A N/A N/A
ALDRICH, PHYLLIS 100.00 10-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 11 Pre General A N/A N/A
 

ALTAMARI, JEFFREY

200.00 27-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General A N/A N/A
BARNETT, TIM 100.00 21-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 11 Pre General A N/A N/A
 

BOARDMAN, JOHN

25.00 17-AUG-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 32 Pre General A N/A N/A
 

BOARDMAN, JOHN

40.00 27-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General A N/A N/A
 

BOARDMAN, JOHN

100.00 01-JUN-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 July Periodic A N/A N/A
BOYD, GORDON 250.00 08-NOV-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General A N/A N/A
BOYD, GORDON 500.00 26-JUN-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 July Periodic A N/A N/A
BOYD, GORDON 500.00 08-NOV-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General A N/A N/A
BOYD, GORDON 500.00 28-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General A N/A N/A
BOYD, GORDON 500.00 27-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General A N/A N/A
BOYD, GORDON 250.00 12-SEP-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 32 Pre General A N/A N/A
CUNEO, JULIE 250.00 26-JUN-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 July Periodic A N/A N/A
DAKE, GARY 500.00 26-JUN-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 July Periodic A N/A N/A
DAKE, PERNILLE 100.00 08-NOV-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General A N/A N/A
ENGLERT, LINDA 100.00 27-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General A N/A N/A
ENGLERT, LINDA 100.00 26-JUN-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 July Periodic A N/A N/A
FENTON, RICHARD 100.00 26-JUN-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 July Periodic A N/A N/A
FENTON, RICHARD 20.00 17-MAY-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 July Periodic A N/A N/A
FENTON, RICHARD 40.00 27-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General A N/A N/A
GAGNE, MARGARET 100.00 26-JUN-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 July Periodic A N/A N/A
GEIGER, J T 100.00 26-JUN-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 July Periodic A N/A N/A
GEIGER, JOE 50.00 27-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General A N/A N/A
GLASER, BARBARA 500.00 03-JUL-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 July Periodic A N/A N/A
GODINE, AMY 100.00 27-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General A N/A N/A
GOLD, JAMES 250.00 04-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 11 Pre General A N/A N/A
HART, SARAH 50.00 27-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General A N/A N/A
HART, SARAH 100.00 26-JUN-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 July Periodic A N/A N/A
 

HOLMBERG, ARTHUR

50.00 26-JUN-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 July Periodic A N/A N/A
 

IANNIELLO, ANTHONY
805 RT. 146
CLIFTON PARK, NY 12065

7,500.00 30-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General D N/A N/A
KANE, BETH BRUCKER 200.00 26-JUN-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 July Periodic A N/A N/A
KELLY, MARGARET 100.00 27-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General A N/A N/A
 

KERAMATI, BAHRAM

100.00 08-NOV-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General A N/A N/A
KERAMATI, BAHRAM 50.00 24-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General A N/A N/A
KIRWIN, JOHN 100.00 27-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General A N/A N/A
 

KRACKELER, ANTHONY

100.00 27-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General A N/A N/A
 

KRACKELER, RACHEL

300.00 26-JUN-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 July Periodic A N/A N/A
LAIRD, MARTI 100.00 23-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 11 Pre General A N/A N/A
LEIDIG, JENNIFER 100.00 27-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General A N/A N/A
LOS, MICHAEL 500.00 27-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General A N/A N/A
MASIE, CATHY 100.00 17-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 11 Pre General A N/A N/A
 

MORRISON, CHARLES

400.00 26-JUN-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 July Periodic A N/A N/A
 

NICHOLSON, JOHN

100.00 27-SEP-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 32 Pre General A N/A N/A
OLSON, JEFFREY 100.00 27-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General A N/A N/A
PINGEL, MARK 500.00 27-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General A N/A N/A
PROUGH, MARGARET 100.00 26-JUN-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 July Periodic A N/A N/A
RILEY, ALMEDA 500.00 26-JUN-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 July Periodic A N/A N/A
RILEY, ALMEDA 500.00 27-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General A N/A N/A
SANGHVI, MINITA 100.00 27-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General A N/A N/A
SCHULTZ, FRANCIS 200.00 08-AUG-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 32 Pre General A N/A N/A
SCHWARZ-LAWTON, HELEN 100.00 03-JUL-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 July Periodic A N/A N/A
SHOEN, TIM 50.00 15-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 11 Pre General A N/A N/A
SHOEN, TIMOTHY 50.00 27-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General A N/A N/A
SWADBA, CYNTHIA 100.00 11-NOV-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General A N/A N/A
THOMAS, BARBARA 200.00 26-JUN-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 July Periodic A N/A N/A
 

THOMPSON, RICHARD

75.00 27-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General A N/A N/A
 

THOMPSON, RICHARD

50.00 26-JUN-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 July Periodic A N/A N/A
TRYPALUK, BARBARA 50.00 25-SEP-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 32 Pre General A N/A N/A
VAN METER, MARGIE 100.00 27-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General A N/A N/A
VAN METER, MARGIE
175 WASHINGTON ST
SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY 12866
100.00 26-JUN-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 July Periodic A N/A N/A
WAINWRIGHT, JOHN
80 CRESCENT ST
SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY 12866
100.00 26-JUN-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 July Periodic A N/A N/A
WATKIN, RAYMOND
9 WOODLAND CT
SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY 12866
200.00 27-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General A N/A N/A
Total Contributions: 45,284.00

 

AQUECS, INC.
916 BYRD AVE
NEENAH, WI 54956
1,826.00 LWNSN 27-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General F N/A N/A
BILL O’DONNELL
157 CAROLINE ST
SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY 12866
224.00 PRINT 27-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General F N/A N/A
BRAVO CATERING
3246 SOUTH BROADWAY
SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY 12866
512.00 FUNDR 25-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General F N/A N/A
BRAVO CATERING
3246 SOUTH BROADWAY
SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY 12866
250.00 FUNDR 13-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 11 Pre General F N/A N/A
CANTINA
430 BROADWAY
SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY 12866
341.00 OTHER – ELECTION NIGHT HEADQUARTERS 07-NOV-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General F N/A N/A
DIGITAL XPRESS
5 SAND CREEK RD
ALBANY, NY 12205
6,839.00 CMAIL 27-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General F N/A N/A
DIGITAL XPRESS
5 SAND CREEK RD
ALBANY, NY 12205
4,948.00 CMAIL 20-NOV-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General F N/A N/A
DIGITAL XPRESS
5 SAND CREEK RD
ALBANY, NY 12205
3,331.00 CMAIL 24-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General F N/A N/A
DIGITAL XPRESS
5 SAND CREEK RD
ALBANY, NY 12205
749.00 CMAIL 05-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 11 Pre General F N/A N/A
DIGITAL XPRESS
5 SAND CREEK RD
ALBANY, NY 12205
530.00 LITER 03-NOV-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General F N/A N/A
DIGITAL XPRESS
5 SAND CREEK RD
ALBANY, NY 12205
217.00 CMAIL 03-NOV-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General F N/A N/A
DONNA JINKS
9 MAYER DR
CLIFTON, NJ 07012
275.00 CMAIL 28-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General F N/A N/A
DONNA JINKS
9 MAYER DR
CLIFTON, NJ 07012
250.00 PROFL 05-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 11 Pre General F N/A N/A
DONNA JINKS
9 MAYER DR
CLIFTON, NJ 07012
115.00 PROFL 21-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 11 Pre General F N/A N/A
EVISION DIGITAL MARKETING
356 CLENDON BROOK RD
QUEENSBURY, NY 12804
745.00 PROFL 29-JUN-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 July Periodic F N/A N/A
EVISION DIGITAL MARKETING
356 CLENDON BROOK RD
QUEENSBURY, NY 12804
745.00 PROFL 30-AUG-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 32 Pre General F N/A N/A
EVISION DIGITAL MARKETING
356 CLENDON BROOK RD
QUEENSBURY, NY 12804
75.00 PROFL 05-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 11 Pre General F N/A N/A
EVISION DIGITAL MARKETING
356 CLENDON BROOK RD
QUEENSBURY, NY 12804
48.00 PROFL 09-NOV-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General F N/A N/A
FEDEX OFFICE
21 CONGRESS ST
SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY 12866
.00 R-DET 07-SEP-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 32 Pre General F N/A N/A
FEDEX OFFICE
21 CONGRESS ST
SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY 12866
.00 R-DET 16-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 11 Pre General F N/A N/A
JOSEPH GEIGER
51 WATERVIEW DR
SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY 12866
59.92 REIMB 20-SEP-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 32 Pre General F N/A N/A
RICHARD FENTON
23 LEFFERTS ST
SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY 12866
781.98 REIMB 21-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 11 Pre General F N/A N/A
SARATOGA GUITAR
75 WEIBEL AVE
SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY 12866
37.00 FUNDR 25-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General F N/A N/A
SARATOGA GUITAR
75 WEIBEL AVE
SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY 12866
37.00 OTHER – RENT PA SYSTEM 08-NOV-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General F N/A N/A
SARATOGA SPRINGS CITY CENTER
522 BROADWAY
SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY 12866
500.00 OTHER – ROOM RENTAL FOR DEBATE 26-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General F N/A N/A
SARATOGA TODAY
5 CASE ST
SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY 12866
561.00 PRINT 31-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General F N/A N/A
SOUTHPAW STRATEGIES
307 COLUMBIA ST
COHOES, NY 12047
3,482.00 CMAIL 26-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General F N/A N/A
SOUTHPAW STRATEGIES
307 COLUMBIA ST
COHOES, NY 12047
3,446.00 CMAIL 31-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General F N/A N/A
SOUTHPAW STRATEGIES
307 COLUMBIA ST
COHOES, NY 12047
2,900.00 OTHER – CALL CENTER 02-NOV-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General F N/A N/A
SPEEDY BUTTONS
10241 COUNTY HIGHWAY 26
PLAINVIEW, MN 55964
.00 R-DET 04-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 11 Pre General F N/A N/A
STAPLES
3035 RT. 50
SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY 12866
.00 R-DET 04-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 11 Pre General F N/A N/A
STAPLES
3035 RT. 50
SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY 12866
.00 R-DET 11-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 11 Pre General F N/A N/A
UNITEMIZED 326.00 BKFEE 30-NOV-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 27 Post General F N/A N/A
UNITEMIZED 13.53 OTHER – FEES FOR PAYPAL DONATIONS 02-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 32 Pre General F N/A N/A
US POSTAL SERVICE
475 BROADWAY
SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY 12866
45.00 OFFCE 05-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 11 Pre General F N/A N/A
US POSTAL SERVICE
475 BROADWAY
SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY 12866
.00 R-DET 16-OCT-17 IT’S TIME SARATOGA! 2017 11 Pre General F N/A N/A
Total Expenses 34,209.43

 

How The City Election Districts Voted On The Charter

This is a breakdown of the voting by district in the city.  A few observations

  1. The proposed charter lost in 14 of the 25 election districts.
  2. The proposed charter tended to win in districts closer to the central core of the city.
  3. The proposed charter tended to lose in the outer districts.
  4. All three districts in Geyser Crest strongly opposed the charter change.
  5. Skidmore students strongly supported it.  128 voted for, 18 voted against and 25 left it blank.

Map Of City By District:

C_Saratoga_Springs_Elect_2012

CityCore

GENERAL ELECTION

Saratoga Spgs – SARATOGA SPRINGS CHARTER PROPOSITION 4

District  Voted       Yes        No           Blank

D:001      372         213          142          17

D:002      362          185          143          34

D:003      203          77            116          10

D:004      436          254          164          18

D:005      468          229          234          5

D:006      424          227          174          23

D:007      121          44            71            6

D:008      345          216          117          12

D:009      379          201          170          8

D:010      286          113          148          25

D:011      658          323          321          14

D:012      376          210         136          30

D:013      234          98           132          4

D:014      470          219          227          24

D:015      417          142          256          19

D:016      276          118          149          9

D:017      411          182          213          16

D:018      299          96            187          16

D:019      368          125          227          16

D:020      417          149          257          11

D:021      421          197          214          10

D:022      558          246          277          35

D:023      627         344          270          13

D:024      171          128          18            25

D:025      211          111          94            6

TOTALS 9310        4447        4457        406

 

Judge Declines To Block Charter Election Certification: A Closer Look At Gordon Boyd’s Article 78 Action

On December 2nd the Saratoga County Board of Elections certified the Saratoga County election results, including the Saratoga Springs charter vote.  This does not preclude a judge with general jurisdiction from hearing a petition that challenges the certified result  or  that seeks an order for a recount of the votes cast in the City charter initiative or other relief.  Still, in light of Gordon Boyd’s article 78 action, his group must be disappointed with the temporary order issued by the court.

On November 24th Gordon Boyd, who claimed standing before the court as a voter in the charter election, appeared before Supreme Court Justice Thomas Nolan seeking judicial intervention through what is called an Article 78 proceeding.  This is a link to a discussion on what an Article 78 is (http://www.murthalawfirm.com/understanding-article-78/ ).  Basically it is a vehicle by which to challenge an action by administrative agencies, public bodies, or officers.  In this case, Mr. Boyd is challenging the Board of Elections regarding its actions in certifying the election results regarding the charter initiative in Saratoga Springs.

Mr. Boyd is represented by A. Joshua Ehrlich, an Albany attorney who specializes in election law.

I was able to secure the papers submitted to the court on behalf of Mr. Boyd.  <<link to BoydArticle78>>

I sent copies of the documents to three local  attorneys asking for their thoughts.

Their responses were surprisingly consistent.  All three began by making it clear that New York State election law is an arcane specialty and that none of them considered themselves sufficiently knowledgeable to make expert judgments regarding the substance of core issues alleged or presented in the Verified Petition over Mr. Boyd’s signature.

All three, however, were struck by what appeared to be a very rushed job in constructing the papers.Two of them noted a paragraph in the document, apparently struck by the court, that they found incomprehensible.  Here it is.  Dear reader, see if you can make sense of it:

“…  ORDERED that Respondent Board of Elections but, should this Court so determine not earlier than the day after any hearing and determination which may be ordered by this Court related to issues regarding malfunctioning and or compromised voting machines, or as soon thereafter as the paper ballots and supporting records can be made available;….” 

All of the attorneys noted that best practices require that, if you make a significant allegation when asking for action by the court which will hear the case, you provide some supporting documentation or basis in fact for doing so.  One of them explained to me that it is a good idea from the beginning to put your “best foot” forward as this is the beginning stage in attempting to convince a judge of the soundness of your position. Judges apparently are loath to allow  “fishing expeditions” to be conducted with the aid of their special authority under their jurisdiction so all three attorneys were struck by the very serious allegations made that the election may have been tainted by “fraud” and/or by “tampering” with the machines and the lack any corresponding information in support of these allegations. There is absolutely nothing in the body of these papers that supports the extraordinary insinuations of fraud and tampering made. Perhaps an amended edition will be forthcoming to supply these facts insinuated.

Along the same lines Mr. Boyd and his attorney go on to assert that a margin of 10 votes out of 8,900 is “…well under the accepted one half of one percent that would require a complete hand count….”  The problem for the petitioner here  is that New York State does not have a statute that establishes any trigger mechanism for a recount.  In New York, no matter how slim the margin of victory, no recount is required by statute.  The document does not point to any source of authority for the “accepted” standard they reference.

Apparently, the process for commencing an Article 78 can be accelerated, with the petitioner drafting a “show cause” order in which they draft papers for the court to consider, not simply with a return-to-court date but with temporary relief they seek prior to a full hearing and eventual decision.  Often it is a way of maintaining the status quo so as not to render the petitioner’s grievance academic by the time it gets before the judge.  As the documents attached to this blog show, Judge Nolan effectively edited the document using a pen to cross out those items he declined to order ahead of the date for the parties to appear in court.

One of the prime items Mr. Boyd and his attorney were seeking was to halt the certification of the election prior to court date (December 20), when arguments will presumably be heard.  In a variety of forms they repeated this argument.  Unfortunately for them, Judge Nolan declined to block certification by the Board of Elections.  They also asked the court to allow them direct access to pretty much all the documents  associated with this election, including both the ballots from the machines along with the mailed-in ballots.  They wanted access to the machines to inspect them.  They also were seeking to participate in the recount of the ballots including a request that the “team” from the Board of Elections that would carry out the recount be equal in size to the team put forward by the petitioner.  Judge Nolan declined all of these requests.  Two of the attorneys supported my observation that he basically granted them the opportunity to return to his court and to argue their case.

It should be noted that Judge Nolan’s unwillingness to grant the petitioner all the temporary relief he sought ahead of the December 20 return date cannot be interpreted as an indication as to whether he will ultimately order a recount, or other relief.  By this time we all appreciate the importance of ensuring integrity in our elections, so an opportunity for the petitioner to be heard in full (and for the respondents to answer in full) is appropriate.

I note in passing that on the Friday the Order to Show Cause was issued by Judge Nolan, Bob Turner went out to the homes of the Democratic and Republican Board of Election commissioners in an attempt to serve them with the papers, which signals his auxiliary role (that is, as process server) to the named petitioner in this proceeding.  Of note is that at the end of his decision, Judge Nolan wrote that in light of the fact that the County offices were closed for the holiday on Friday, November 24, the petitioner had until November 29 to serve his papers on the parties.  The County offices would be open again on Monday November 27 so the petitioner would have plenty of time to effect service on the commissioners.  It seems odd that Turner would rush out to serve the commissioners on their holiday,

I would also note that, as I read the Verified Petition, insinuating that there may have been election fraud and/or tampering with the voting machines seems a long way from the published statements previously made by Mr. Turner et al. on how much they trusted the Board of Elections.  Interestingly according to the Board of Elections, following each election, in order to insure the validity of the results, 3% of the ballots are randomly audited.  It is my understanding that not only was this done, as required, but that no problems were identified in the audit.

Here is a link to the legal papers filed with the court.  There are a number of interesting things about these documents.

I am not an attorney so, allowing for the possibility that I may be badly misunderstanding the narrative of these documents, the following is my analysis of what I have read.

  1. The original request was extremely broad, seeking all ballots for “subject/public offices.”  Judge Nolan eliminated the reference to public offices from the scope of his Order.  It seemed odd that the petitioner would have originally included the races for candidates in the election [JK: More on this kind of thing later] within the sweep of his petition.
  2. Judge Nolan denied an extremely broad request ( by striking it from the initial Order to Show Cause presented to him) that the petitioner be provided with “[a]ll documents…included but not limited to, absentee ballot applications, voter registration records, ballot envelopes, poll books….”  The list goes on and on to include pretty much any item associated with the election “without the need for a subpoena prior to the canvass of ballots.”
  3. Judge Nolan likewise denied the request that the commissioners of the Board of Elections appoint a “board of inspectors…for the purpose of conducting a recanvass of all votes cast in the subject General Election.”  This panel would be empowered to “hear and make determination upon any and all objections to the canvassing of any and all ballots….”
  4. Judge Nolan further denied the plaintiff “that any attorney or his representative be admitted on behalf of Petitioner to the polling location or the place of recanvass of the votes in this election and be allowed full participation in the administrative proceedings….”
  5. Judge Nolan also denied their request that the Commissioners of the Board of Elections “…place all of the above {JK:Documents] in a secure facility… for which there are two separate locks required for access….” It goes on to lay out a set of procedures to ensure that the documents are secure.  It is my understanding that this request was redundant, as it is already required by law and has been adhered to already by the Board of Elections.
  6. Judge Nolan denied the petitioner the right to inspect the voting machines, at least at this stage.
  7. Judge Nolan denied their request that the petitioner be granted access to the memory cards and TIF files from the “election machines” as soon as possible.
  8. Judge Nolan also denied the following.  (Please Note: I have reviewed this text with two very successful attorneys who both told me that the paragraph was incomprehensible which was probably why it was denied.)  See dear reader if you can make sense of this provision drafted into the original Order to Show Cause submitted by the petitioner: “ORDERED that Respondent Board of Elections but, should this Court so determine not earlier than the day after any hearing and determination which may be ordered by this Court related to issues regarding malfunctioning and or compromised voting machines, or as soon thereafter as the paper ballots and supporting records can be made available;” [sic].

There is a supportive document, the Verified Petition, in which the petitioner lays out why they think there should be a recount:

In item #3 they note that the charter initiative was defeated by only 10 votes out of approximately 8,900.  They go on to state that this is “…well under the accepted one half of one percent that would require a complete hand count of all of the ballots cast in the subject General Election.”  As a non-attorney, this strikes me as quite odd.  New York State law has no provision for a threshold number or percentage of votes cast that would require a recount.  In a posting on the web, Susan Steer, wife of Bob Turner, states that twenty states have such a law.  A legal innocent like myself would think that a judge might be offended by this kind of argument, prompting him or her to ask, “well maybe, but does New York State have such a law?”  I would submit that that is the only standard relevant to this petition.

Item #5 states that “Petitioner should not be deprived of his right to review the ballots before the results are certified….”  In light of the Board’s certification on December 1, this argument seems academic.

In item #5, the petitioner argues that, by the Board’s act of certifying the election, the court “may” be deprived of jurisdiction over “…ballots that have already been opened and canvassed, without the opportunity to review said ballots  for inconsistencies, illegalities [emphasis added], discrepancies, and other mistakes that may void the ballot…”   In addition it states, “[o]ther Courts and County Boards of Elections give the petitioner the .tif files [these are digital images of the ballots] to expedite the recount process… Said machines have been shown to give inaccurate reports of the canvass….”  Again, Judge Nolan struck from his Order the application of the petitioner to have all of this.

In item #6, “… a temporary order staying the immediate Certification of the result of the election is requested.”  As noted above the Board of Elections’ certification was done on Friday, December 1st.

In item #7 they request that the stay of the certification remain until the petitioner and the Board of Elections have completed the recanvassing.  As I note above, this was in effect denied.

In item #9 the petitioner asserts that “[t]his Petition is being brought to continue to preserve the ballots, review irregular and possibly fraudulent [my emphasis] returns from voting machines…[and to determine if there were problems with votes due to] malfunctioning or tampered [my emphasis] with voting machines.”   These are some startling statements that are made without any supporting facts.

In item #9 they also request that the “Court enjoin any certification …which could prejudice the rights of Petitioner and bar any procedural defect which might be asserted to defeat the Court’s determination.”  Again, to a lay person this all seems quite repetitive.  Again the court declined to block the certification.

In items #10 and #11 they continue to assert the need for the court’s support to have access to the ballots, etc. to pursue their count.

In item #12 they assert, “Upon information and belief, the unofficial canvass of the votes cast by machine…may be, and often is, incomplete and/or inaccurate.”

According to Wikipedia: “In the law of evidence, the phrase information and belief identifies a statement that is made, not from firsthand knowledge, but ‘based on secondhand information that the declarant believes is true’. The phrase is often used in legal pleadings, declarations under penalty of perjury, and affidavits under oath.”  They offer no support for how they know and/or have come to believe this.

In item #13 they state,”[f]urther, upon information and belief, several of the voting machines in the subject politial subdivision may have malfunctioned or broken down and failed to count all of the votes cast for the Proposed New City Charter.”  Again, they offer no supporting information for this claim which, if true, demands the time and attention of the court to address.

In item #15 they call for the continued “impoundment and protection of the voting machines and ballots…”  They warn that any “…lapse in security or breach of protective measures for the machines and ballots … would irreparably harm petitioner and undermine public confidence….”  In talking to people at the Board of Elections, the State has rigorous standards for ensuring the integrity of the ballots and safeguarding the related documents.

In #17 they reserve the right to produce evidence at a future date and to amend what they have submitted.

In #17 and #18 the petitioner worries that the Board of Elections may not only make erroneous determinations but that these may be sustained by a unanimous vote of the Commissioners.  They say that in that case they would like the court to adopt the methods used by the Supreme Court, Kings County (Brooklyn) and reference a precedent decision about which they do not elaborate.

 

In #21-23 they request access to documents without the need for subpoena.

In item #24 they not only want to directly participate in the recanvassing process but they want the team of inspectors representing the Board of Elections to be equal to the numbers of the petitioner’s recanvass team, who are not identified in any manner.

In item #26 they want to be able to participate in the verification of all voters’ signatures to establish their identities. They want to be able to challenge the ballots of people not qualified to vote — which in itself suggests a potentially massive undertaking.

In their #30, the petitioner raises an odd issue, which appears to suggest a grievance and hints at projected relief which may be sought that is well beyond the scope of this proceeding.  They state that the Election Law “fails to address the question of the participation of counsel in proceedings on Election Day at the polling place(s) or at the canvass and recanvass of paper ballots.  The Election Law merely requires that a poll watcher be a resident of the County where the election is being held.”  Then, in item #31 they request “that attorneys and those working for attorneys be allowed in polling places as poll watchers without regard to residency within the State of New York”.  Then in item #34 they ask the court to prevent the Board of Elections from denying them documentation prior to certification “and/or the processing of ballots by more teams of inspectors than Petitioners legal team can accommodate.”  I have a simple question to ask:  where are they going with this?

In #39 the document basically summarizes their requests.

As just a footnote to all this, Saratoga Today reporter Tom Dimopoulos asked Gordon Boyd how much this legal action was costing.  Boyd declined to comment.

 

Two Brief Legal Stories

Judge Overturns ZBA Refusal To Hear Neighbors’ Appeal of the Approval of the Code Blue facility

 In June, neighbors of the proposed Code Blue Shelter that was to be constructed at 14 Walworth Street brought an action against the Saratoga Springs Zoning Board of Appeals.  The neighbors had attempted to get the ZBA to reverse its approval for the project but were denied on the basis that their appeal to the ZBA was submitted too late.  The court found for the neighbors who had argued that their attempt to reverse the ZBA decision was done in a timely manner.  According to the Times Union:

 “State Supreme Court Justice Robert J. Chauvin ruled on Oct. 25 that the Zoning Board of Appeals’ refusal to review the project ‘was arbitrary and capricious and not in accordance with either the provisions of Saratoga Springs City Zoning Ordinance nor the provisions of the General City Law.’” 

The story was a bit unclear but it appears that the project is not dead.   The ZBA will have to re-open the process and entertain the appeal by the neighbors.

Court Halts Eminent Domain Action By City Re Bike Trail

 The court has blocked the city’s attempt to seize land from the residential property owners, the village of Ballston Spa, and the Saratoga Spring Water Company.  The city will now have to go to court to make its case for taking the land.

 

Meg Kelly and Peter Martin Name Deputies

Newly elected mayor Meg Kelly has named Lisa Shields, 58,  to be her deputy.  Ms. Shields currently serves as the executive assistant to Mayor Yepsen.  Ms. Shields earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science from SUNY Potsdam.  She moved to California following graduation and worked for Hewlett-Packard.  Since returning to New York she has worked for the Saratoga Springs United Methodist Church, Mannix Marketing in Glens Falls, and the Saratoga Children’s Theater founded by Ms. Kelly.  Ms. Shields is married to Dan Shields and they have three children. 

Newly elected Commissioner of Public Safety Peter Martin has named John S. Daley to be his deputy.  Mr. Daley came to the city after serving as director of the New York State Senate Committee on Consumer Protection.  He has been serving as a part time law clerk in the Public Safety Department.  Mr. Daley, who is 28, holds a bachelors degree in finance from Siena College, a masters in business administration from Union College, and a degree from Albany Law School.

The people who have followed the charter campaign may recall that one of the criticisms charter supporters leveled at the commission form of government was that they claimed the deputies were all just political appointees without professional credentials or experience.  They also asserted that deputies got their jobs primarily by working on their boss’s campaigns.  I don’t know if these new deputies worked on their boss’s campaigns but similar to the other deputies currently serving here in the city, it is apparent that they are highly qualified for their jobs.

 

Kudos to the Gazette

An overdue salute to the Gazette for correcting an error in a recent editorial.  On November 16 Mark Mahoney took Commissioners Madigan, Franck, and Scirocco to task for allegedly not inviting  Mayor Yepsen and Commissioner Mathiesen to a special City Council meeting where an attorney was hired to observe the absentee ballot count of the charter votes. In fact Mayor Yepsen’s office had sent out the meeting notice so it was patently untrue that she was not notified as the editorial indignantly stated. 

To the paper’s credit  when the email that the Mayor sent out was brought to editor Judy Patrick’s attention she promised further investigation.  The result was an article by Stephen Williams with the opening line “Mayor Joanne Yepsen knew about last Monday’s special City Council meeting”. This was reiterated in a later article by Ann Friedman that cited the Mayor’s original claim and her later reversal.

In this age of fake news it is important to recognize these efforts by the Gazette to set the record straight.

 

Post Election Drama and Excess Continues

The campaign by the leadership of the Charter Review Commission and “It’s Time Saratoga!” in all its dubious forms has continued into the absentee ballot count and beyond.

Lawyer?  We Don’t Need No Stinking Lawyer

Immediately following the November 7th election which had the charter change proposal ahead by 48 votes but with absentee ballots yet to be counted, Gordon Boyd, the former Charter Commission treasurer and a regular spokesman for both the CRC and “It’s Time Saratoga!”,  posted on the “It’s Time Saratoga!” Facebook page a call for donations to hire a lawyer to represent them “….to prevent any suspect practices from stealing votes from us.”  [JK: Does Mr. Boyd really believe that there is a threat of stolen votes ala Tammany Hall?]

At a special meeting on November 13 the City Council voted to hire a lawyer to monitor the absentee ballot count.  While I had my doubts about the value of the city having a lawyer monitor the count, the charge to  the lawyer was very limited.  The attorney was to initiate no action regarding the ballot count.  He was to simply observe and record the process.  Commissioner John Franck advocated for this on the basis that it appeared  that the city could potentially be the target of a lawsuit and so the city needed to be properly prepared should there be litigation.  In light of Mr. Boyd’s public statements suggesting Mr. Franck might somehow be responsible for the failure of approximately 400 voters to turn over the ballot and vote on the charter, Commissioner Franck’s concern did not appear to be unreasonable.  And of course  Mr. Boyd’s initiation of fundraising to hire a lawyer only added credibility to the concern that the city might be facing some kind of legal action from charter change supporters.

At the City Council meeting at which the Council voted to retain counsel, charter change supporters filled the chamber and noisily objected to the city hiring a lawyer.  The thing is  Mayor Yepsen, who supported charter change had gone down to the County Board of Elections the morning following the election with Tony Izzo, the city’s Assistant Attorney, Gordon Boyd, and former Charter Commission Chairman Bob Turner.  I would argue that neither the action of the Mayor in using the city Attorney to assist charter supporters nor that of the Council to hire an attorney since the city attorneys could not be used in this case was improper.  One might question the value of both of these decisions, but the level of outrage and anger expressed at the Council meeting by the charter supporters (the TU described them as “raucous”) seemed excessive but not inconsistent with the overheated nature of their campaign.

We’re the good guys!

In the November 13 edition of the Saratogian, “It’s Time Saratoga!” representative Rick Fenton announced that they would now not be hiring an attorney. Mr. Fenton told the paper they planned to return any donations received for legal expenses “…and more importantly we plan on following the law” not so subtly implying that the City Council had somehow acted illegally.  Pardon me for being snarky but Mr. Fenton had already acknowledged his group had no legal standing in the absentee ballot counting process making his group hiring a lawyer pointless.

In articles in both the Times Union and in the same Saratogian article, Bob Turner, the former chair of the CRC, opined on how much he trusted the Saratoga County Board of Elections to do their job negating any need for an attorney.  “It [the Board of Elections] is a bipartisan institution that is mandated by law and their oath to conduct the elections according to law.  I do not understand why the three city councilors don’t trust the Board of Election to handle the counting of absentee ballots.”

So after all these grand statements about trust in the Board of Elections and about how needless hiring an attorney would be, what happened on the day the absentee ballots were to be unsealed and counted?  Gordon Boyd showed up at the Board of Elections for the absentee ballot count accompanied by attorney Josh Erhlich.  In fact, Erhlich had been hired on November 10, three days before Fenton and Turner were quoted in the newspaper.  What happened to all that trust in the Board of Elections commissioners and in the pointlessness of having an attorney?

I don’t have a problem with Boyd et al hiring a lawyer but why not be straightforward and honest with the public?  I do not think it is unfair to characterize their dubious protestations as a cheap stunt meant to embarrass the city Commissioners who voted for the city to hire a lawyer.  These people seem to thrive on the melodrama they create.

So you knew this was coming

On Thanksgiving day, Gordon Boyd sent out an email addressed to “Friends.”  I am not sure who is on his email list.  He also uses “we” rather than” “I” throughout.  Who “we” is was unclear in the email but we now know that he was referring to himself, Bob Turner, and former CRC Vice Chair Pat Kane.

In any case he announced that “we” would be going to court the next day (11/24) to, in effect, ask a judge to order a recount of the ballots cast in the charter referendum.

In the email he wrote:

Apart from the various challenges to paper ballots that will be reviewed, there are a couple of principal concerns that we believe can be addressed only with the supervision of the court, requiring, basically, a hand recount of all ballots.

Note that he argues that their concerns “we believe can be addressed only with the supervision of the court…”  So much again for all the protestations about trusting the local Board of Elections to handle the vote count. A hearing has been set for December 20.

There will be chaos!

To further contribute to the post election drama Pat Kane warned that the advocates will not be waiting another ten years to get the city to adopt their charter [JK: I am sure we are all looking forward to another ugly and protracted campaign in the near future if their loss this time is sustained].  He then offered:  “”The way the city behaved, I think people are going to be taking to the streets.”

Well, so far I have not seen any broken windows downtown and the city has been noticeably free of tear gas.  This effort to raise to operatic levels the controversy this city is facing and to portray those who oppose charter change as the bureaucratic equivalent of the Soviet polit bureau is an extension of their overwrought campaign.  Did Pat Kane really think that the public level of outrage over a campaign for charter change might lead to street actions?

Along the same lines, Mr. Boyd offered:

“The charter proposal was the people’s campaign.   We had against us leaders of both major parties and the government of Saratoga Springs. And we got it to a draw.”

Here again we have stunning hyperbole and actually a misrepresentation of the facts  It is not exactly clear which “leaders” he refers to but there is no missing the drama.  The Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee never took a position on the charter nor did the Republican Committee.  Neither of the chairs of the Democratic or Republican parties took a public stand on the issue.  While two Democratic and one Republican Commissioner opposed the charter, the Democratic Mayor and the third Democratic Commissioner aggressively supported it.  That doesn’t sound to me like an overwhelming united political phalanx facing off against the people of our city.

A Quiet Voice

Richard Sellers, spokesman for SUCCESS, the organization formed in support of the commission form of government that opposed charter change, was quite a contrast to all this post election sturm und drang.  It is consistent with Mr. Sellers’ behavior throughout this conflict.  He has been a quiet measured voice.

The same Times Union article on the counting of the absentee ballots reported:

“Richard Sellers, a spokesman for SUCCESS, a group that opposed change, who attended the vote count, said that he is fairly optimistic about the proposal’s defeat, but until all the ballots are in and recounted, he will not be celebrating.”

“’I didn’t see any grounds to challenge any of the ballots,’ Sellers said. ‘The count was extremely well-done, respectful. There was nothing shocking or surprising. But like my favorite philosopher Yogi Berra said, ‘It ain’t over til it’s over.'”

One can only imagine how Mr. Turner, Mr. Kane, and Mr. Boyd would have behaved had the absentee count put them over the top.  I expect it would have been “a people’s victory!”  Can you have a people’s victory when you win by a handful of votes?  I expect that for Mr. Turner, Mr. Kane, and Mr. Boyd, you most certainly can.