Peter Martin: “A Lesson In How Not To Answer A Question” Or “Would You Trust This Man To Protect The Greenbelt?”

In announcing his bid to replace Chris Mathiesen as Commissioner of Public Safety Peter Martin asserted his commitment to the “City in the Country.”

Being for the “city in the country” is a lot like being for “job creation.”  Everyone is for it until it requires actually doing something.

With that in mind, I emailed Mr. Martin asking him whether opposing Saratoga National Golf Course’s plan to build a resort with a one hundred room hotel, condos, and retail facilities conflicted with his commitment to protect the “country.”  I noted in my email to him that Saratoga National Golf Course had withdrawn their proposal when they could not find a way of getting around the zoning for the greenbelt and its conflict with the city’s Comprehensive Plan.

Mr. Martin responded first that he was not familiar enough with what SNGC had been planning to offer an opinion.  I wrote back that this seemed odd since, aside from the fact that it was a major controversy, as a county supervisor he had sat through the city council meetings when this was discussed .

He then wrote back with an obtuse and lawyerly paragraph that seemed to avoid directly addressing the question.  This prompted me to craft what I immodestly describe as a set of questions that would make it very hard to answer without telling what he actually believed.  I based it on the statements made by Chris Mathiesen whom he hopes to replace.

After a week without receiving an answer, I wrote to him again requesting that he advise me as to whether or not he planned to answer my questions.  To his credit he did respond and to his discredit he chose to pretend that he had answered.

My  main problem with Mr. Martin is not so much that he does not support Chris Mathiesen’s position (which I obviously do).  I know that there are people out there who sincerely believe that the “resort” would be a great asset to the city and who vigorously disagree with Commissioner Mathiesen.  My problem is his unwillingness to be straight with people about where he stands.  He could simply indicate that he does not share Commissioner Mathiesen’s position and explain what his problems with it are or he could say he is on board with Commissioner Mathiesen.

I would refer readers back to earlier stories on this blog of how, as county supervisor,  Mr. Martin “responded” to the scandal of the multi-million dollar county power plant that perpetually lost money, the hiring of the county mental health director who had a documented history of sexual harassment, and the hiring of one time Clifton Park supervisor Anita Dayly who participated in creating a job at that mental health department including its salary and then took the job.

So here are the emails.  The first two are the most interesting but I include them all.  In the end I invite the readers of this blog to make their own conclusions.

From: John Kaufmann []
Sent: Sunday, March 19, 2017 10:22 PM
To: ‘Peter Martin’
Subject: To Clarify

Thank you for responding to my emails.

I found reading your response challenging.  I think that the public in general feels considerable frustration at politicians who respond to public inquiries in ways that appear to answer their questions but that are parsed so carefully that they really don’t.  Often this criticism is unfair because the questions lack clarity or because they are sufficiently broad as to necessitate complex answers.

With this in mind, I thought I would make sure my questions were simple enough to prompt the kind of clarity that is not only important to me but important to the people who read my blog.  So here goes.

Question #1: Would you agree that Commissioner Mathiesen unequivocally stated that Saratoga National Golf Course’s proposals to build a resort would violate the zoning for the greenbelt and were inconsistent with the comp plan?

Question #2: Would you agree that Commissioner Mathiesen stated his opposition to the SNGC plans by citing their negative impact on the rural character of the area AND on the City in the Country concept which necessitates the concentration of commercial uses in the urban core.

Question #3: Do you agree with Commissioner Mathiesen’s assessment as described in #1?

Question #4: Do you agree with Commissioner Mathiesen’s assessment as described in #2?

Given the following, I think it would be reasonable to expect answers to these questions.

1.      Given your history as an attorney to Ayco Corporation one would assume that you are a good listener, a person with a keen sense of language, and an astute observer.
2.      Having served several terms as the city’s Supervisor you have extensive experience both in your work at the county and from sitting through the city council meetings of the
workings of our political institutions.
3.      It would be foolish to describe you as naïve regarding the sub agendas that surround
controversial issues.
4.      You were present during the council meetings where these matters were discussed and given the controversial nature of the issues one would assume you were attentive to what was discussed.

I compliment you on the final sentence in your email to me for taking me to task for my assertion that SNGC withdrew their application because it would have violated the greenbelt zoning.  You wrote:

“I am not aware that SNGC ever explained its reasons for withdrawal, but as you seem to have knowledge of this, I request that you share it with me.”

SNGC never issued any memorandum to me as to why, after repeated proposals, they withdrew their application.  It is indeed speculation on my part that they did not think they could secure support for such things as describing a one hundred room hotel as a clubhouse in order to meet the zoning requirements.  I would just add the following speculation.  I think the Saratoga National Golf Course is hoping for a change in the makeup of the City Council that will make it more amenable to their plans.

I look forward to hearing from you.

From: John Kaufmann []
Sent: Thursday, March 23, 2017 10:19 PM
To: ‘Peter Martin’; Peter Martin
Subject: Follow-up

I sent you follow-up emails regarding Saratoga National Golf Course and Ethics Reform.  To date I have not received a response.  Can I anticipate hearing something from you by Saturday?

From: Peter Martin []
Sent: Friday, March 24, 2017 3:41 PM
To: John Kaufmann
Subject: Re: Follow-up

I received your email entitled To Clarify. I previously provided you with my thoughts about the plans that Saratoga National Golf Course had proposed and withdrawn from consideration by the city council. I continue to support the City in the Country as described in the Saratoga Springs Comprehensive Plan.  If I develop further positions on this issue, I will make them public and share them with you.  Thank you for your inquiry.

These are the earlier emails:

On Thu, Mar 16, 2017 at 1:42 PM, John Kaufmann <> wrote:
Does that mean that you would oppose Saratoga National Golf Course’s effort to expand to a resort?

From: Peter Martin []
Sent: Thursday, March 16, 2017 1:53 PM
To: John Kaufmann
Subject: Re: Press Release – Martin to Run for Commissioner of Public Safety

I would need to review the plan to determine whether it is consistent with the City’s
Comprehensive Plan.  My recollection is that Saratoga National withdrew its request from the City and has not submitted a current proposal.
Best regards,

From: John Kaufmann []
Sent: Thursday, March 16, 2017 2:40 PM
To: ‘Peter Martin’
Subject: RE: Press Release – Martin to Run for Commissioner of Public Safety

It was withdrawn because it was inconsistent with the comp plan and existing zoning.  When do you think you can review the issue and get back to me?

On Thu, Mar 16, 2017 at 4:44 PM,

John Kaufmann <> wrote:
I was rather surprised by your response regarding Saratoga National Golf Course.  As the city supervisor you attended the meetings at which the issue of allowing Saratoga National Golf Course to build a one hundred room hotel along with other retail in the city’s green belt was addressed.  You attended meetings at which Public Safety Commissioner Chris Mathiesen and Public Works Commissioner Skip Scirocco made clear and unequivocal statements that they would oppose any changes in the zoning for the greenbelt that would allow for an expansion such as the one advocated by SNGC.

So let me rephrase my question, would you continue the effort to oppose any weakening in the greenbelt as articulated by Commissioner Mathiesen whose position you hope to be elected to?

Thank you for your prompt response.

From: Peter Martin []
Sent: Friday, March 17, 2017 11:37 AM
To: John Kaufmann
Subject: Re: Follow Up

I remain committed to promoting the City in the Country by promoting dense downtown
development and limiting development in the Greenbelt as is consistent with the City’s
Comprehensive Plan.  You asked me whether I would oppose Saratoga National’s efforts to
expand to a resort.  In 2015, Saratoga National presented four separate and distinct proposals.

The proposal from March 2015 was withdrawn before much discussion.  The proposal from April of that year was made while the Comprehensive Plan was being considered.  It would have required the creation of a resort overlay district (or zone) in the C.D.D.  Saratoga National also withdrew this proposal and the Resort Overlay amendment was not adopted.

In May, the council considered SNGC’s application to add a definition of Club House to the zoning code.  The Council voted to send this application to the City and County Planning Boards for their review and advice.  Before the Council received this advice, SNGC again amended their application to provide for a zoning text definition of a Golf Resort. I believe this was also withdrawn.

I cannot say whether I would support or oppose the efforts of Saratoga National until I know what those efforts are.  If those efforts are inconsistent with our City’s Comprehensive Plan, I would oppose them.  If they are consistent with the Comp Plan, I could support them.  I don’t know what SNGC’s current plans are.

In your e-mail to me you indicated that SNGC withdrew its plans because it was inconsistent with the Comp plan and existing zoning.  I am not aware that SNGC ever explained its reasons for withdrawal, but as you seem to have knowledge of this, I request that you share it with me.
Thank you,

5 thoughts on “Peter Martin: “A Lesson In How Not To Answer A Question” Or “Would You Trust This Man To Protect The Greenbelt?””

  1. Johnny, the circus came through town and left one of the clowns behind. He thinks the green belt is something you wear around your waist. Get the hook! Stay safe, Joey

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Peter Martin, love your new dance, Afternoon of a Pawn. Will the corps be wearing green belts while doing the side step? #BALANCHINE LIVES!


  3. honestly, not to be mean but what has he actually accomplished while being our Supervisor? And good for you John on trying to pin him down on an answer about the greenbelt. Also, can we talk about the rigged way he announced his candidacy? So, Com Mathieson goes to the Dem Exec Com and says he is not running again. Peter Martin, who is on the Dem Exec Com says he will take his place. So they decide to keep everything hush hush and announce Peter’s candidacy at the same moment Mathieson says he is not running. Hey Charlie Brown, how about announcing to your Dem Com that if there is anyone who might be interested in running to see him. Now, if anyone wants to run, Charlie will say…there won’t be a primary! Rigged, lack of transparency system. It most certainly is NOT serving the citizens of Saratoga Springs in the best way. It’s honestly too bad. What a missed opportunity to look better than the other side and do the right thing.


    1. There’s a little known provision in the election law called Opportunity to Ballot (OTB). Basically, if an individual who wants to run for a particular office can obtain the signatures of 5% of all voters registered with the party whose line they want to run on, it forces a primary for that party.

      There’s no limit to the number of people who can run in a primary under the OTB clause. The catch is that the OTB petitioner’s name will not be printed on the primary ballot — supporters will have to write it in — but at least there will be the opportunity to run.

      Furthermore, signatories can only sign one petition for that race. If they sign more than one petition, their signatures will be disqualified from all. Also, the witness collecting the signatures has to be registered with that party, as well. Finally, the perspective candidate and signatories all have to live within the jurisdiction for which the office is being filled.

      So, ABM, here’s your chance! Consult the County or State Board of Elections for petition and filing dates and forms (they’re online).


  4. So, The Dentist has had enough. Well, good for Saratoga. Hooray.!!
    And his do-nothing deputy will be scrambling for yet another political plum job. Maybe Meg Kelly can bring her back to the deputy do-nothing Mayoral job?
    But, I ask you, where does this leave us? If Peter Martin is not the choice, then are we supposed to vote for Mr. Donald (ex-cop) Braim? Will Donald hire his son (ex-cop) to be his deputy?


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