Interesting Drama Over Mayor’s Charter Review Commission During Public Comment Period Of City Council

Here are two videos from the city website showing the public comment period from the March 6 City Council meeting.  The comments from the public were all concerning the decision by Mayor Kelly to establish her own charter review commission.

 I have a certain sympathy for the frustration of the people supporting the charter that was defeated.  Many worked very hard in support of the city manager form of government.

 Having said that, the videos reflect the anger and conflict that dominated this last year over the issue.  As someone who has endured many struggles over many years, a sense of historical perspective and of proportion seems in order.  The Mayor’s initiative means the that those seeking to totally change the city’s form of government will have to wait till 2019 to put their proposal on the ballot again. This delay  of not quite two years seems like a blink to me.  The city is flourishing and there is no crisis.  I know that their narrative during the campaign was one of urgency to address what they saw as a crippled government.  This tendency to raise even modest issues (and I would say that changing our form of government pales before more serious crises in the world)  to heated levels rivaling going to war cripples our ability to argue civilly with each other.

 I must say that watching the Council in this video is a welcome sight compared to what is going on in Washington.

 My guess is that the Mayor decided that the city would benefit from a year or so without the craziness that created a poisonous environment in our city during this past year.  I give her great credit for having the poise and self confidence to not respond to the pointed attacks on her made by members of the public during the comment period. 

This is a video of the statements by the public:

This is a video of the Council members’ responses:

6 thoughts on “Interesting Drama Over Mayor’s Charter Review Commission During Public Comment Period Of City Council”

  1. “Communist China” now bribing U.S. universities to censor certain types of speech, promote communist ideals. Published today, 9 March 2018, at Natural News dot com.

    This charter challenge by the Skidmore College political-science professor and his cronies is nothing more than a masked-makeover by communist influences. If it can be done in a small municipality like Saratoga Springs, it can be done anywhere.

    We’re the frogs, people.
    Put the frog in the pot of water but turn up the heat ever so slowly and he won’t notice anything’s wrong until it’s too late.

    Here’s the article:

    Friday, March 09, 2018 by: JD Heyes (Natural News)

    Sen. Joe McCarthy, R-Wis., gave a speech in Wheeling, W. Va., in 1950 blaming the failures of American foreign policy on Communist infiltration of the U.S. government.

    During his speech, he claimed to have a list of known Communists who were working in the State Department. While a special Senate subcommittee investigated McCarthy’s claims and determined them to be fraudulent, it was likely more political bluster during the period than fact.

    Nevertheless, subsequent events seemed to substantiate his claims. The outbreak of the Korean War, in which the North Koreans were supported both by the Communist regimes of the USSR and China, along with the highly-publicized trial and conviction of Alger Hiss, was proof to many Americans that McCarthy’s claims were true.

    That the Soviets were able to infiltrate elements of the U.S. political structure as well as American entertainment and academia is startling, though the level of infiltration is known only to aging Cold Warriors. However, the Communist ideology was very prevalent on a number of college campuses, especially some of the elite schools like Columbia University.

    Of course, the USSR no longer exists, but much attention remains on Russian espionage in the U.S., highlighted and blown out of proportion during the 2016 presidential election. If Americans need to be concerned about rising Communist sympathies on our university and college campuses, we should be more focused on Chinese efforts to promote them.

    As reported by the Washington Free Beacon, the CIA has warned in a classified report that China is engaged in a far-reaching, long-term influence campaign throughout the U.S., “which imparts financial incentives as leverage to permeate American institutions,” the news site said.

    An unclassified summary of the report obtained by the WFB notes the CIA is warning lawmakers and the Trump administration that the Chinese Communist Party offers funds to universities and colleges in exchange for academic censorship.

    “The CCP provides ‘strings-attached’ funding to academic institutions and think tanks to deter research that casts it in a negative light,” the report noted, according to the WFB. “It has used this tactic to reward pro-China viewpoints and coerce Western academic publications and conferences to self-censor. The CCP often denies visas to academics who criticize the regime, encouraging many China scholars to preemptively self-censor so they can maintain access to the country on which their research depends.”

    The warning comes in conjunction with calls from a growing number of lawmakers and intelligence officials to probe how deep China’s involvement in American academia has become.

    Last month FBI Director Christopher Wray told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that the bureau is currently investigating scores of Confucius Institute chapters, which are Beijing-backed language and cultural centers hosted by more than 100 U.S. universities.

    Despite the sheer number of chapters, not much is known about the nature of contracts between China and the hosting institutions because funding levels and contractual terms are kept under wraps. (Related: Pentagon prepared to challenge outsized Chinese claims in South China Sea: Report.)

    The WFB noted further:

    The U.S. intelligence community has warned of the institutes’ potential to be used as a spying tool. The concern is particularly pressing at the 13 universities that host both Confucius Institutes and top-secret Pentagon research, including Arizona State, Auburn, Purdue, Stanford, and the University of Washington.

    In February, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., co-chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, asked five Florida schools hosting Confucius Institute chapters to end their relationship following reports that the Chinese government is using the programs to limit discussion of issues that are sensitive to Communist Party rulers like the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre or Tibet’s political status.

    “Beijing is becoming increasingly aggressive in its aim to exploit America’s academic freedom to instill in the minds of future leaders a pro-China viewpoint,” Rubio said in a statement to the Washington Free Beacon.

    Moral of the story? Don’t be a frog.
    The Chinese consider frogs a delicacy.



  2. If the new Charter Commission does its job properly, which means includes the public in the process, and comes up with meaningful improvements in our government’s efficiency, it will pulverize a major purported contention by the “It’s Past Timers” and those that drank their Kool-aid: That this government works in silos, and not together. That systemically, they cannot work together for the greater good.

    That is why they showed blatant disrespect to Mayor Kelly – who supported them – by not giving her more than 50 days to make things better, before trotting out their tired carcass of a bad idea again. They can’t afford to have the public realize that there is more than one way to skin the Charter Change “cat” – that their way is not the only way to go. That’s why, John, your ‘blink’ is their death sentence.


  3. We need to stop agreeing John. Whatever will the natives think?? 😉

    I couldn’t agree with you more on the treatment of the Mayor. She absolutely did the right thing, beyond a shadow of a doubt. She is also doing EXACTLY what she said she would do: if the charter lost, she would work within the existing structure to make it work better for all. She didn’t ‘sell out’ at all. We have to restore order and bring people together again first and foremost. The government here is NOT in crisis, and even as a charter supporter I know pushing this again right now is the wrong thing to do. I also more than understand that we CAN separate administrative and legislative duties to a more satisfactory level without having to have a new charter (maybe not as much as some would like, but more than enough to satisfy the vast majority of people in the city). The city needed a break from the madness. I think the vast majority of us on BOTH sides of the charter fence are agreeable on that.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I just watched the public comment period from Tuesday night’s City Council meeting and all I can say is kudos to Mayor Kelly for suffering the slings and arrows of the charter supporters but sticking to her guns.

    I was particularly interested in Barbara Thomas speaking for the Saratoga County League of Women Voters urging the Mayor to appoint “open minded people who will look at all the pros and cons of the existing government and other options”. She and the League are hardly good role models for that approach having sponsored a public meeting on the proposed charter which only had charter supporters as presenters. And this after they themselves decided to support charter change without hearing from any critics of the proposal.

    I noticed Thomas also raised again the League’s position that all cities in Saratoga County should separate administrative and legislative functions which is not the case in the commission form of government in Saratoga Springs. Given that most democracies in the world don’t follow this separation of powers model (nor do school boards and town governments in New York) the League seems a little rigid and out of touch with the range of possible ways to organize a democracy and very willing to overlook the downside of separation of powers such as the gridlock we see so often in Washington and Albany.

    I applaud Mayor Kelly for patiently listening to those speaking at the public comment period but staying steadfast in moving the city forward to avoid another contentious charter campaign that so divided the city this past year. Three attempts to change the government have failed. It’s time to look at what can be done to improve the form of government we have.


  5. I was particularly interested in Barbara Thomas speaking for the Saratoga County League of Women Voters urging the Mayor to appoint “open minded people who will look at all the pros and cons of the existing government and other options”.

    Barbara has lost her way. I doubt if her followers will rally behind her in the future.


  6. I want to comment on Barbara Thomas here. Thing is – she’s right. She’s absolutely 100% right. We should have separation between administrative and legislative duties. Where she does err is that this can be accomplished within a commission form of government too – and it can probably be done with what we already have now (so a city manager might not be needed, or even any layoffs OR added costs). Personally, I would prefer it that way, because five heads are better than one, and I despise the strong mayor format as it is the least possible democratic option we have.


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