In a hand out entitled “Saratoga Springs Charter Review Commission 2017 Proposed City Charter Fiscal Impact Summary” the Commission claims “The Deputy Commissioners’ positions would be eliminated in the proposed Charter….The largest amount of fiscal savings comes about because of this change.”
In a July 10th blog I challenged the assumption that these positions could easily be eliminated and their work assumed by the proposed City Manager who would possibly have an assistant. In that post I stated “The Charter Commission did not even bother to interview any past or present Deputies.”
On July 11, Bob Turner, Commission chair, replied “The Charter Review Commission spoke privately with several Deputy Commissioners…about their role.” He repeated this claim in the Saratogian on July 16. In a Reader’s View Turner wrote “We [the Commission] interviewed…former deputy commissioners…”
The Commission has repeatedly referenced interviews with past and present Council members, Mayors, and Directors and even secret interviews with City Hall employees, but I was pretty sure there had never been a reference to the Commission interviewing Deputies either publicly or in secret prior to Bob’s comment on July 11.
Sure enough at the June 26 meeting when the Commission formerly voted to adopt their charter draft , Commission member Matt Jones stated, “We (the commission) didn’t interview any Deputies.” Turner responds: “I interviewed two.” No one else responded.
Later Matt Jones states again “We as a Commission have not sat down and asked what is it that you (the Deputies) do all day long and can your functions be replaced, all five of you, by a city manager.”
Then came comments from Pat Kane posted on this blog claiming he too had interviewed Deputies. Specifically he claimed he “personally interviewed 7 people who served as Deputies in our commission form of government. 3 who have served in 2017 and 4 who have served in the last 3 years.”
His description of the information he says he gathered in his interviews is particularly troubling. We are asked to believe that these Deputies were comfortable enough with Mr. Kane to meet with him privately and confess that they had no qualification for their jobs. He also claims that “5 of the 7 …stated they had had a personal relationship with the person who appointed them prior to the appointment.” I think the term “personal relationship” is a particularly loaded one and was an unfortunate phrase for him to use.
So Pat Kane allegedly gained the confidence of all these Deputies, extracted damaging personal information from them and then posted it on a blog. His claim that people made these extremely damaging statements to him in secret interviews for which there is no validation and then posting them on this blog site is not worthy of him and frankly, I don’t find his claims credible.
There is no record of either Mr. Kane’s or Mr. Turner’s interviews nor any evidence that any of the information they supposedly gathered was ever communicated to the Commission as a whole.
In spite of the lack of evidence all but two members of the Commission have supported the narrative that the Deputies (now referred to as “political” Deputies by Commission members) are expendable and easily replaced by one or maybe two people.
It seems clear that the Commission should not be confident at all that they have a firm understanding of the work the Deputies do. Yet they have hung their promise of economic savings on the assumption that the unexplored work of the Deputies is easily reassigned. A miscalculation about this could have serious financial repercussions for a new government as Matt Jones has warned.