Blogger Offers Challenge To Dr. Robert Turner and Friends

As documented in a previous post, eight of the now disbanded 2017 Charter Review Commission members issued an attack document on the proposed 2018 charter.  They are:

Dr. Robert Turner

Gordon Boyd

Laura Chodos

Beth Wurtmann

Dr. Minita Sanghvi

Jeff Altamari

Pat Kane

Ann Casey Bullock

In response, Vince DeLeonardis and Michael Sharp, the 2018 Charter Commission chair and co-chair respectively, issued a point by point rebuttal, to my mind thoroughly discrediting their allegations.

Realistically, I never expected Turner et al to publish a retraction but Dr. Turner and Mr. Boyd have gone so far as to repeat these demonstrably false or misleading statements recently in area newspapers and on their website.

In an earlier and quainter time (pardon my snarkiness), there would have been a debate in a public forum to allow the community to decide for itself which information was valid.  Traditionally the League of Women Voters would have performed this service but the League has declined to provide any forum let alone a debate.  In fact, in a kind of “blind” efficiency, the board of the League has issued a blanket rejection of the proposed charter without ever having met with members of the charter commission to discuss the changes.  The League’s release was a study in brevity.  Rather than go though the proposed changes, they dismissed the entire charter in just a few sentences.  Apparently, because they oppose the commission form of government, considering whether any of the proposed changes might actually benefit the city under the current form of government was not worth their time to consider.

I will review some of the falsehoods and misrepresentations in the original attack below but I am issuing the following challenge.  I will provide any and all of the people who signed the attack the opportunity to write their own post for this site.  If all eight of the signatories want individual posts, I will accommodate them all.  They can give it whatever title(s) they wish.  They can make their post(s) as long as they wish.

The only caveat is that they must address directly the points made by Mr. DeLeonardis and Mr. Sharp in their rebuttal to their allegations.  If they, in fact, have credible explanations this should provide them with an excellent forum to share them with us.

Let me go through a few of the points that would need to be addressed.

  1. They attack the proposed charter for removing the salaries from the current charter with the sensational accusation that this is being done to allow the council members to provide themselves with unlimited salaries.   There are quotes in the minutes from Mr. Boyd and Mr. Kane urging that they remove the salaries from the charter.  They need to explain this apparent contradiction.
  2. They attack the proposed charter because it would require the advice and consent of a majority of the city council for land use boards.  Their charter had the same policy.  These people need to explain this apparent hypocrisy.
  3. They claim that the projected cost for implementing the proposed charter did not include the increased cost of the city attorney and the cost of a human resources administrator.  The city attorney’s hours were increased earlier this year by the council and has nothing to do with the charter.  The human resources administrator was approved by the voters in the 2001 charter and thus not “created” by this charter proposal.  Mr. Turner and the signers of this statement should have known they were making a false statement since they interviewed the HR person during their own charter deliberations.  They need to explain these falsehoods.
  4. The proposed charter would make the City Attorney’s office and the Information Technology office responsible to the entire council rather than under the Mayor’s office and the Finance office respectively.  They claim that having to report to five people (the council) would be dysfunctional.  These same people proposed that a city manager report to the seven people who would have formed the council in their proposed charter.  They need to explain why this would have been any less dysfunctional than that proposed by the current charter commission.
  5. They claim that the charter was crafted “with little input from the public.”  I would refer people back to the DeLeonardis/Sharp paper but briefly, all meetings were properly noticed, opportunities for public input were provided both at the beginning and end of the meetings.  Videos of the meetings were and are available on the city website, surveys and interviews were conducted.  I would also note that unlike the Turner commission, the current charter commission strictly adhered to the open meetings laws giving proper notice of all meetings. The frequent violation of the Open Meetings Law by Turner’s group (which included a member of the LWV) was repeatedly pointed out but the violations continued.  And because the last commission’s meetings were often held in the Music Hall, the recordings of their meetings are so poor that it is difficult to hear what members are saying. The tape of one of their public hearings was never made public. In addition, Dr. Turner, Mr. Boyd, and Mr. Kane were personally invited to address the current commission and declined.  It would be helpful if these people would explain why they declined to participate in giving this commission any input and how their commission was more open to input..
  6. They claim that under the new charter the council members will be able to set their own salaries.  This is false.  The council can set the salaries for those who are elected in the future but not for themselves.  As noted under item #1, this is the same language as in the 2017 charter proposal.   They need to explain why they continue to repeat this false information.
  7. They make a point that the polling firm used to do a professional poll (as compared to the unscientific poll done by the previous commission) is a “Republican” polling firm.  In light of the fact that four out of five members of the council are Democrats, they need to explain what is the significance of this firm, which was the lowest qualified bidder, being associated with Republicans?
  8. They allege that the mailer sent to the voters was “designed to confuse” and was “hiding the truth.”  They say it did not state that the proposed charter “would continue the commission form of government.”    The mailer includes the language that the mission was  “to improve our Charter without changing the form of government” and further states that the Commission was charged with finding “efficiencies and organizational improvements within the current form of government to better serve the people of Saratoga Springs”.    They need to explain why they used this uber language to describe the mailer.
  9. As to the accusations that the proposed charter would strip the mayor of her power, please review the DeLeonardis/Sharp document where they cite  the Turner charter which designates that their mayor will have no administrative duties. They need to explain the apparent hypocrisy of this criticism.

It seems to me that if the facts support them they should jump on this opportunity.  In fact, it would be nice if they offered me the same challenge to be on their Face book page.  The public deserves these kinds of accusations to be properly addressed.

5 thoughts on “Blogger Offers Challenge To Dr. Robert Turner and Friends”

  1. It seems to me that BOTH sides that are fighting back and forth publicly at this point (and making fools of themselves) should simply shut up and let the voters decide. Thanks.

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  2. The definition of a democracy is a form of government in which the people rule, either directly or through elected representatives. I attended many meetings that were held considering updates to our city charter . I was very impressed with the diligence, thought and effort that each individual on the committee exerted in a common effort to build and improve on the past. The effort was considerable, In establishing a committee to review the charter these folks were not compromised by self-interest .It was my observation that serving the greater good was their mantra. I will vote yes on the changes and hope that you do the same. I would wish to see the day where tax payers money is no longer being frivolously spent in the constant challenge to Saratoga’s government

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  3. If citizens vote against this latest proposed charter change, will another challenge be allowed next year? What does the current charter allow, as far as challenges? I seem to remember one challenge every ten years. We just had a challenge last year, and again not many years before that. We need a break.

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  4. A recent headline in the NYTimes read “A barrel of untruths as Trump woos voters.” The article went on to say “President Trump has offered voters this fall a litany of misreading statements and falsehoods that exaggerate even legitimate accomplishments and distort opponents’ views beyond the typical bounds of political spin,” It occurred to me that while Donald Trump is probably the last person people like Gordon Boyd and Bob Turner et al would want to be compared to still the above could have been written about the “information” they have put out and continue to repeat on social media and in the newspapers about this charter proposal. And in fliers being delivered door to door. They employed similar tactics in 2017. It’s sad and disturbing to see these tactics being used nationally being consciously employed on the local level in a “do anything say anything to win”mentality.

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