City Finance Office To Allow Prepayment of 2018 Property Tax Bills In Light Of New Federal Tax Law

[Commissioner Michele Madigan has announced that her office will be accepting early payments of 2018 property taxes to assist the public in minimizing their tax liability next year given the recent changes in the federal tax law that caps the amount of state and local taxes homeowners can deduct.]


MEDIA ANNOUNCEMENT

For Immediate Release: December 22, 2017 From the Office of Commissioner of Finance Michele Madigan

City of Saratoga Springs Contact: Michele.Madigan@Saratoga-Springs.org or 518-526-9377  Saratoga Springs Finance Department to Offer Prepayment of 2018 Property Taxes in 2017

Saratoga Springs, NY – Over the past week, the City of Saratoga Springs Finance Department has received multiple inquires by City taxpayers regarding their ability to prepay their 2018 property tax bill in 2017. These inquires have been driven by the tax bill recently passed in Congress and signed into law by President Trump, which includes a provision that would cap the amount homeowners could deduct on their tax returns in 2018.

Based off of guidance initially received from the New York Conference of Mayors, the County, and the City’s historic timeline, the City Finance Department initially thought the City would be unable to accept early payment. That belief changed after multiple conversations internally and with the County Real Property Tax Service Agency. The City now believes it will be possible for taxpayers to prepay their 2018 property taxes in 2017, though the schedule will be very tight. The County has provided the City with final County tax rate details, and the City Tax & Revenue Supervisor is working to combine that data with all relevant City tax rate information. The City will then send the combined tax information back to the County, so that they can generate a complete tax roll. Once the tax roll is received by the City, and based off the timeline we have determined most likely, the Finance Department’s hope is to post an electronic version of the complete tax roll on the City’s website on Wednesday December 27th or Thursday, December 28th, and to allow payment on Friday, December 29th. To ensure all payments are deposited in a timely manner, property tax bills will be payable in person on December 29th from 9:00am to 4:00pm at City Hall. Given that some residents may be away for the holidays, the Finance Department’s intention is to also allow on-line payment starting from December 29th until December 31st, 2017, but the feasibility of that will depend on when the City is provided the County tax data file. For additional information, City taxpayers interested in prepaying their 2018 property tax in 2017 should visit the City’s website, which now includes the option to sign-up for tax payment information notifications as more details become available.

“As soon as I realized it might be possible to allow prepayment of taxes in 2017 for 2018 I began working on behalf of our taxpayers to make this a reality.  There continues to be a great deal of coordination with Saratoga County and the City’s Finance Department and I am extremely grateful for their assistance in this important matter” stated Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan.  The City of Saratoga Springs takes no position on the potential benefit(s) or risk(s) of prepaying 2018 property taxes in 2017. Please consult your financial consultant for advice and recommendations. Should you have any questions or comments, please contact the Finance Department at (518) 587-3550 x2565.

Michele Madigan

Commissioner of Finance

City of Saratoga Springs

474 Broadway

Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

518-587-3550 ext. 2557

Cell: 518-526-9377

 

 

Zoning Board of Appeals Hears Challenge To Code Blue Facility Decision

In the December 20 edition of the Saratogian Joseph Phelan reported on the Zoning Board of Appeals meeting held the previous night.  At that meeting the neighbors of a proposed Code Blue shelter and their attorney challenged the ZBA’s determination that the shelter fit into the existing zoning in their neighborhood because the proposed facility could be considered a “rooming house.” The facility would be an extension of Shelters of Saratoga at 14 Walworth Street and serve up to fifty homeless persons when the temperature dropped below freezing.

The ZBA had  previously refused to hear the neighbors’ arguments stating that their appeal had not been filed soon enough. The neighbors won a court challenge to this determination, however, and the ZBA now had to address the neighbors’ arguments.

According to the Saratogian, the neighbors’ attorney, Claudia Braymer, argued that the proposed facility does not adhere to the definition of a rooming house:

“Braymer referenced the city’s code, which requires a neighborhood rooming house to be a single-family or a two-family residential structure owned or occupied or under the supervision of a resident manger under which one to four rooms are made available to lodgers for compensation for a rental period of no less than 28 consecutive days. A common kitchen facility may be available to lodgers but shall have no kitchen facilities in the guest rooms.”

“Braymer said that in essence there were three main requirements which the proposed shelter does not meet: it must be offered in a single-family or two-family residential structure, must be made available to lodgers for compensation and the rental period must be a minimum of 28-consecutive days.”

Attorney Libby Coreno, representing Shelters of Saratoga, argued that the proposed shelter met the requirements in the definition because it is a residential building, has two units, can be accessed through a hall and from outside, and has a kitchen available to the residents.

As regards the requirement that the residents provide compensation, she offered that Steve Shaw, the city building inspector, had found that the grants supporting the facility could be considered compensation.

Coreno argued that the facility would meet the minimum 28 day stay requirement because the facility was available on days where the temperature dropped below 32 degrees from the late fall through the winter.  In addition she asserted that Shaw had determined “lodgers maintain their residency throughout based on the fact that they are allowed to keep personal items on site and may receive mail or other messages during the residency period.”

I sympathize with Shelters of Saratoga and had hoped they could build their shelter.  I am not a lawyer and am only familiar with the arguments through the Saratogian story.  Still, my experience with the ZBA has been that they are quite capable of stretching ordinances and facts in order to approve projects they like.  The same is true for Mr. Shaw.  I have seen them repeatedly approve variances that to myself and the neighbors affected appeared outrageous.  They can do this kind of thing commonly because in most cases the affected neighbors lack the money required to take the ZBA to court.  This time, the neighbors had the resources to challenge the ZBA.

It is anticipated that the ZBA will decide the issue at their January 8th meeting.

 

Court Hearing On Charter Recount Postponed

The hearing on the article 78 brought by Gordon Boyd on behalf of the supporters of charter change which was to occur tomorrow (December 20) has been postponed.  In an article that will appear in tomorrow’s (December 20) Gazette Newspaper, Ann Friedman reported on an email she had received from Mr. Boyd.  Boyd wrote: “The court has asked both sides to submit memoranda of law by January 8, after which the court will ‘consider when scheduling  oral argument.’”

Boyd wrote, “it will be two months after the charter was voted on to have the next milestone with the court.”  According to the Gazette Boyd complained “…the cancellation of the hearing is further hindering the transition of city government officials.”

I am not sure what Mr. Boyd is referring to.  If passed in November, the proposed charter called for the mayor to appoint a transition team to work on a plan for the conversion of the city government from the “commission” form to the “city manager” form.   As there will be a new mayor in January it is not clear what all this means.

It is also unclear when the court will actually hear the arguments.  The two month delay Mr. Boyd referenced may be optimistic.  Only after the court has reviewed the memoranda of both sides will a hearing be scheduled.  The court had previously rejected Mr. Boyd’s requests for access to the records of the election so I assume his attorney will base his arguments on whatever information they have been able to glean elsewhere.

As the new form of government would not begin until January of 2020 there is still considerable time to address the issues of transition should Mr. Boyd prevail in his action and the recount allow his group to prevail.

 

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.