An Unpleasant Incident At The Charter Review Commission

The Charter Review Commission has scheduled a meeting for the public  to provide input to them for Tuesday, October 18, at the Tang Museum at Skidmore College at 7PM.  The meeting conflicts with the regularly scheduled City Council meeting.  The Charter meeting was changed to this night after it was discovered that the original date conflicted with the  Jewish high holiday, Yom Kippur ,.

A number of people contacted members of the Commission asking that they reschedule their event again so as to not conflict with the City Council meeting.  They were told that flyers had already been printed for the event and  the Saratogian ran a front page story on the hearing so changing it now was no longer feasible.

The issue remained, however, as to how the original decision was made.  After all, if any group should have been aware of the schedule of the City Council, it would have been this commission that has been meeting for months pouring over the minutiae of city government.  Putting all of this in perspective, having conflicting meetings while unfortunate, is far from catastrophic.  Still, in light of the fact that every other major city board and committee avoids such conflicts, it seems unnecessarily provocative to have done this.  In fact, its chair Bob Turner and Commissioner of Finance Michele Madigan have had a spirited exchange over the issue.

With that in mind, I emailed Mr. Turner asking why his committee would have scheduled this conflict in the first place [see emails below].  Mr. Turner offered to call me to discuss the matter.  I responded by saying that I would be happy to talk to him but asked that he first email me the explanation to avoid any confusion about the issue.  He emailed back that he would but it has now been some time and I have not heard from him.

I was curious about what discussion among the commission there may have been on the conflict so I watched their meeting of October 11.  City attorney Tony Izzo serves as the attorney for the commission.  Approximately an hour into the meeting a related matter came up and Mr. Izzo attempted to raise the issue of the conflict.  As the video below shows, Mr. Turner told Mr. Izzo that he was out of order.

I do not always agree with Mr. Izzo but he is no grandstander.  He has a wealth of knowledge not only of municipal law, not only of the history of our city, but in particular of the torturous histories of past charter commissions  he has served.  When Tony Izzo volunteers an opinion, it is prudent to take full advantage and listen.

To set the context for this video, Elio DelSette (appointed by Michele Madigan) was arguing the importance to include in the record a letter critical of the commission that had appeared in Saratoga Today.  Gordon Boyd (appointed by Mayor Yepsen) questioned the appropriateness of including a document that he characterized as full of inaccuracies.  It was at this point that Mr. Izzo attempted to enter the discussion by advising the group that placing all records related to the commission had been the routine policy of all previous commissions.  He then attempted to raise the issue of scheduling commission meetings that conflict with Council meetings.  You will observe that it is at this point that Mr. Turner stops him.  For those of us who have worked with Mr. Izzo, his gracious handling of this situation is pure Tony Izzo.


Mr. Izzo was running the recording device.  HIs voice can be heard beginning with “Its been done.  Its exactly what has been done…”  Mr. Turner who is the chair is sitting on the left by the cup with the blue top.  To his left is Gordon Boyd.


[These emails are from most recent to oldest]


From: John Kaufmann [john.kaufmann21@gmail.com]
Sent: Saturday, October 15, 2016 9:56 AM
To: ‘Robert Turner (Government)’
Subject: FW: Conflict

Expected a response and call last night.  Still hoping you respond.
Thanks


From: John Kaufmann [mailto:john.kaufmann21@gmail.com]
Sent: Friday, October 14, 2016 6:31 PM
To: ‘Robert Turner (Government)’
Subject: RE: Conflict

Great.  Send me your response to my email then call me at 584-7395.


From: Robert Turner (Government) [mailto:bturner@skidmore.edu]
Sent: Friday, October 14, 2016 4:52 PM
To: John Kaufmann
Subject: RE: Conflict

Sure, send me your number.

Bob Turner
Associate Professor of Political Science and Environmental Studies and Sciences
Director, Environmental Studies and Sciences Program
Director, Faculty Student Summer Research Program
Skidmore College
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866


From: John Kaufmann [mailto:john.kaufmann21@gmail.com]
Sent: Friday, October 14, 2016 12:31 PM
To: Robert Turner (Government) <bturner@skidmore.edu>
Subject: RE: Conflict

I would be happy to talk to you but I want to be fair and accurate on my blog so could you please respond in an email answering my October 13 email.


From: Robert Turner (Government) [mailto:bturner@skidmore.edu]
Sent: Friday, October 14, 2016 12:11 PM
To: John Kaufmann
Subject: RE: Conflict

Hi John,
Sorry I was in Albany this morning and am teaching and meetings all afternoon.  Are you free after 4:30
or so to talk?
Bob

Bob Turner
Associate Professor of Political Science and Environmental Studies and Sciences
Director, Environmental Studies and Sciences Program
Director, Faculty Student Summer Research Program
Skidmore College
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866


From: John Kaufmann [mailto:john.kaufmann21@gmail.com]
Sent: Thursday, October 13, 2016 8:41 PM
To: Robert Turner (Government) <bturner@skidmore.edu>
Subject: Conflict

I have gotten a number of inquiries regarding the conflict between the Charter Review Commission’s hearing next Tuesday and the city council meeting.  When you changed the date of your hearing because of Yom Kippur, did you realize that there would be a conflict with the city council meeting?  If so, could you explain why this was not a concern?

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3 thoughts on “An Unpleasant Incident At The Charter Review Commission”

  1. Probably the worst Committee ever put together I could go on but not now…the Public now knows the “The Yepsen Committee” is a group of loaded dice and THEIR only mission is set up a special election in April and have the taxpayers of saratoga springs vote for the THIRD time in TEN years to change our very successful form of Gov’t,….Mr. Turner is a disgrace and really doesn’t want to be there His meetings are basically chaos in action.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Meeting conflicts happen all the time. This is a non-issue that is a waste to even be concerned about. The council meetings are for the public viewing and have little to no public input. Go to the Commission meeting and have your say at the public comment period and watch the council later. Issue solved.

    Like

  3. But Paula, there is also a public comment period at City Council meetings.
    I believe that is the point Mr. Kaufmann is making. Citizens should have the opportunity to comment at both meetings.
    Robert Turner appears to be smug. But never having met him, I make that assumption based solely on his rude behavior in this video. Tony Izzo did not deserve to be treated that way.

    Liked by 1 person

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