Pat Kane, Vice Chair of Charter Commission: His Recollections Challenged

I received an email from Pat Kane [See full text at end of this post] in response to a comment that was posted on the blog as part of the discussion of the city’s payroll system. A commenter had challenged Mr. Kane’s description of the time and personnel involved in doing payroll and noted that Florence Wheeler, the fulltime person who does payroll, had not been interviewed by the Charter Commission.

In response Mr. Kane wrote:

“Yes Christine G-brown [JK:She is the city director of finance] was interviewed and stated that she dedicates 2 days a week to payroll. Mrs Brown is the Director of Finance and highest paid employee in the Finance Department. She also started (sic) in the same interview that conflicts amounts (sic) the 5 Commissioner (sic) impacts 50% of her work days.”

These are quite serious allegations so I emailed back to Pat that I would need to confirm the comments he attributed to Ms. Gillmette-Brown with her.

Gillmet-Brown, a registered Republican, was originally hired by Democrat  Ken Klotz when he was Commissioner of Finance to serve as his Deputy.  When the city created the position of Director of Finance as a civil service position she was hired to do that job.  Since then she has served under Finance Commissioners from both parties.  One of the reasons I felt the need to confirm the comments attributed to her is that they seemed entirely out of character.  Ms. Gillmet-Brown has always maintained a very low profile.  She has done a superb job and, in the spirit of a civil service, has eschewed anything not directly involved with her work.  Mr. Kane, by publically referencing her comments, was involving Ms. Gillmett-Brown in a highly heated controversy. I felt this required making sure that he was accurately reporting her position.

Here is my correspondence with Mr. Kane:

On Aug 31, 2017, at 9:11 AM, John Kaufmann <> wrote:

Pat:

I want to confirm with the Director of Finance the statements you attribute to her before posting your comment.  Ms. Gillmette-Brown is on holiday so it will have to wait until Tuesday.

JK


On Aug 31, 2017, at 12:19 PM, Patrick Kane < > wrote:

John

I am happy have you check with her.That would be the right thing to do everyday.  I wish you would have called any of us to fact check Michele’s statements.

Many of the claims she made about the CRC were bogus.

Waiting until Next Tuesday is more suppression than fact checking.

She testified in front of The Sub Committee chaired by Matt Jones.

In the Music Hall. CRC members in attendance were Matt, me, Ann Bullock, Jeff A [JK:Altamari], and I believe Beth Wurtmann was in attendance.

Additionally, testimony Christine provided to us.

Her answer to us was that she spends two days a week on payroll.

She also stated that has to deal with the political bickering amongst departments and commissioners

I asked how much of your time is spent dealing with the bickering?

10%. NO

20% No

Higher? Yes

50%?  “that is accurate.”

We were  shocked that she would speak out like this knowing that she works for Michele.

But actually do not bother going through with the effort. You are posting many people’s submissions with obvious falsehoods and if my word is not good enough then so be it.

I will continue to monitor your blog to help supply facts.

But once again you censor my comments and let everyone else just fly through.

Best wishes

Pat

On Aug 31, 2017, at 12:27 PM, John Kaufmann < > wrote:

This comment and you are by no means the first for holding up a comment to fact check. —————————————————————————————————————————————–

From: Patrick Kane <pkane1@nycap.rr.com>

Date: August 31, 2017 at 12:47:32 PM EDT

To: John Kaufmann <john.kaufmann> Cc: Jeff Altamari < >, Gordon Boyd < > Subject: Re: Finance Director- John Kaufman 2

Selective at best not the general rule.

——————————————————————————-

I was able to get comments from two other people who were at the meeting Mr. Kane described: Commission member Matt Jones who chaired the meeting and, although she was on vacation, Ms. Gillmett-Brown also responded.

Mr. Jones told me that it had been quite some time since the interview and his memory was a little sketchy.  He was, however, quite sure that Ms. Gillmett-Brown had offered no percentages regarding how much time she spent dealing with political conflicts between commissioners and departments.  He observed that it would have been no revelation that such conflicts occurred, but that he would have remembered if she had  said that half of her work time was spent dealing with such disputes.

Noting again how long it had been since the meeting, he could not recall  the specifics of a discussion involving how much time Ms. Gillmett-Brown devoted to payroll.  He regretted that there was no recording of the meeting to which he could turn.

Ms. Gillmett-Brown, however, was quite emphatic that Mr. Kane’s account of her statements to the committee were untrue.  She asserted that half her time is not devoted to addressing problems related to conflicts between Commissioners.  She was also very clear that she does not spend two days a week on payroll.  She said she spends about thirty minutes.

She also noted that she waited a long time to be interviewed by the committee but her actual conversation with them lasted only about 5 minutes. She offered to return to meet with them again but they never contacted her.  Ms Gillmett-Brown is the Director of Finance and as such oversees the payroll system. She would have been one of the best people to give Charter Commission members an in depth look at how payroll is handled in city hall.

I have noted before in this blog that I appreciate Pat Kane’s dedication to the city.  He believes passionately that adopting the proposed charter will significantly reduce the cost of city government and  improve services.  Memory is a funny thing. I find it possible that Mr. Kane believes his description of Ms. Gillmett-Brown’s testimony.

Readers will have to make up their own minds as to what occurred in the interview.


[Pat Kane’s original comment]

My data about the county information came from 2 high ranking elected officials.

Let start with my comment about staff using two days each week. Yes Christine G-brown was interviewed and stated that she dedicates 2 days a week to payroll. Mrs Brown is the Director of Finance and highest paid employee in the Finance Department. She also started in the same interview that conflicts amounts the 5 Commissioner impacts 50% of her work days. [My emphasis added]
We attempted to interview as many tenured employees as possible. Most declined for fear of retribution in the workplace.

Saratoga County has eliminated paper checks. The county employees without checking accounts are giving a card similar to debit card for their pay.

Saratoga County government is a much larger organization and the officials I spoke with are very proud of the progress the county staff and employees have made to modernize their processes.

I believe that modernization will solve many of these issues in all departments.
You are right, the form of governance does not solve all of the issues. The important question is

Should a 50 million dollar operation be as efficient and effective as possible?
The current form of governmence has been in place for 102 years and for many of those years doing a good job.

But we can do better given the right circumstances.

The light bulb was not invented because the candle broke.
This not experimental surgery. This a proven solution to outdated governmental operations. 65% of cities our size using Council manager and the rest use strong Mayor.
Have a nice day.

5 thoughts on “Pat Kane, Vice Chair of Charter Commission: His Recollections Challenged”

  1. This piece speaks volumes about Pat Kane. Kane doesn’t exaggerate, he distorts, misrepresents, basically lies because he should no better. He will do and say anything to change the form of government. He’s obsessed with the idea and notion and will hunt down anyone and any group to peddle his distortions. I mean the guy just makes stuff up. Kaufmann was too kind in this post. People beware.

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  2. Maybe there is another answer. Christine G-brown the director of finance changed her point of view.

    Matt Jones is an accomplished attorney in Saratoga Springs. He knows better than to confirm Christine G-brown’s testimony. “My memory is not so good…..” Getting caught speaking out against your commissioner’s position in an election year has real consequences. Free speech does not come with out consequences. This is the type of thing that gets people fired in city hall, especially with Commissioner Madagan. Matt Jones has been around the block and knows this.

    Of course, Christine G-brown changed her story, her commissioner does not support charter change, so in order to keep her Civil Service job and hard earned pension, she is going to tow the party line and deny Pat Kane’s recollections. This is exactly why many current employees refused to be interviewed.

    When trying to figure out who has a faulty memory look at who has something to protect or gain. Pat Kane has nothing to gain or protect and has freely given many many hours of his time. Christine G-brown, on the other hand, has a lot to lose and rightly so changed her tune to protect herself from the wrath of a commissioner intent on the destruction of all who oppose her.

    Just look at how this commissioner acts towards, speaks with, and treats members of the council and members of the public who have a differing point of view from her’s at the public council meetings. Now think about how this commissioner might act in the back offices when the clear light of the public view is not upon her.

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    1. Paula
      For someone who at times seems to possess detailed (although not always accurate) insider information about city hall you seem surprisingly ignorant on the subject of Ms. G-B’s vulnerability. She is protected by civil service and she is a union member making her arbitrary firing quite difficult not to mention the political firestorm that would cause. The charter commission members have also displayed a similar lack of understanding as to how civil service and public employee unions work and have shown no interest in learning about this.

      And could it be many city hall employees refused to be interviewed because they couldn’t trust Pat Kane and the commission to accurately represent what they had to say. After all look at how Bob Turner and the rest continue to misrepresent their so-called city hall employee survey citing only some comments and not posting others that don’t suit their narrative.

      BTW Christine G-B is taking a risk if she is changing her testimony at least a risk to her credibility and integrity. Remember there were other people present at that interview.

      As to memory, it is a funny thing which is why Pat Kane’s surprising recall of details is so peculiar. Lawyers who routinely have to deal with witnesses’ memory will tell you if they’re honest that memory can be notoriously unreliable and frequently altered. That’s why Matt Jones’ admission that it had been a while and that he was certain about some parts of the interview but not others is more credible. And then of course there is the problem that Pat Kane does not have a good track record as far as being a reliable source. Whether it’s his secret deputy interviews with the numbers that don’t add up or his claim that the charter will save money “on day one” or his claim in 2012 that that charter would save the city $1 million the guy comes off more like a slick snake oil salesman than a serious advocate for his charter.

      I do agree with you, though, that I’m not sure exactly what Pat Kane has to gain or protect. Obsession is a funny thing.

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