Voting For Current Charter Is Not An Endorsement Of The Commission Form Over The City Manager Form

Recently I have been struck by the number of thoughtful friends who, having supported the city manager charter proposal in 2017, dismiss support for the current proposal to update the charter out of hand.  They decline to engage in a conversation about the actual specifics due to their fundamental opposition to the commission form of government.

I find this odd and troubling.  Both Mayor Meg Kelly and Public Safety Commissioner Peter Martin supported the city manager form. Yet the Mayor created this charter commission and Peter Martin was an active participant.

Voting for amending the current charter is not an endorsement of the commission form over the city manager form.  It is simply an acknowledgement that there are changes to the charter that will improve the city’s operation. Both Commissioner Martin and Mayor Kelly support these changes.

The proponents of the city manager form have made it quite clear that they intend to hold another vote for their proposal as soon as possible.  They understandably are hopeful that they will overcome the ten vote deficit they lost by last year.The reality is, however, that they may not succeed. To Kelly’s and Martin’s credit they acknowledge the commission form of government is the form we currently have and may continue to have and that the city will benefit from having a charter that makes that government as effective and efficient as possible .

If you are not familiar with the specifics of the proposed changes, I encourage you to visit the city website where they are detailed and explained.

3 thoughts on “Voting For Current Charter Is Not An Endorsement Of The Commission Form Over The City Manager Form”

  1. I was a No voter last time, and a Yes voter this time on Question 1. I see the Commission form as a natural brake on one party or the other acting too extremely since it is more difficult (although not impossible) to elect all Commissioners from one party. I do like the idea of more oversight on who is appointed to the boards.


  2. “The proponents of the city manager form have made it quite clear that they intend to hold another vote for their proposal as soon as possible.”

    OK educate me. How likely is ‘as soon as possible?’ My understanding is that in the last go round for these guys, they had the Mayor’s appointment, which gave them a budget for ‘informational’ (one-sided propaganda) mailings, meeting space in City Hall, and other assets. Obviously, that’s not going to happen anytime soon. And remember, even with all this going for them, they still lost.

    So, going forward- how do they get on the ballot? Petition drive? How do they fund their campaign? Contributions? Their own money?

    I’d like someone to show me, even under the bluest of blue sky scenarios, where their path to victory lies. I don’t see one, not for getting on the ballot, and certainly not for actually winning.

    I suppose if they want to cash in their 401k’s to chase Harold Stassen’s electoral record, we can’t stop them. But how pathetic!

    The irony with all this weak Mayor nonsense is that Mayor Kelly acted quite strongly when she acted to out maneuver these academic amateurs. Maybe someday they’ll realize this fact, though I’m skeptical it will be anytime soon.


    1. Not sure if this is helpful. These are some minutes from the 2001 Charter committee. It appears that City Asst. Attorney Tony Izzo is the recipient of the legal fees.

      Harvey Fox stated that all committee members should have received a tentative budget to review. He explained that with the help from Deputy Commissioner Carol Kennedy and research of other committees the bottom line figure they have projected is $29,350. He asked for comments from the committee.
      Mark Lawton asked if the figure for legal fees will take the committee through November 2001.Tony Izzo stated that he did not review the figures but assured the committee that he will not abandon them if the fees run short. Harvey Fox stated that he met with the Mayor and additional fees can be acquired if necessary.
      Mark Lawton noted his concern regarding some of the other figures. He stated that he feels the overall budget is not enough to get the committee through the scope of services that they may need to complete their task. \ Christopher Whann stated thatthecommitteeisscheduledfor15monthsof work. He stated that the$29,350 may very well be eaten up with attorney fees and outside consultants.
      Page 3 of 7
      City of Saratoga Springs Charter Review Commission Meeting Minutes Monday, July 17, 2000
      Deputy Commissioner Carol Kennedy stated that the Accounts Department has made a very strong commitment to this committee and they are willing to match the $30,000 from their budget.
      Mark Lawton stated that the committee should have a clear indication from the Mayor that any excess fees or necessary assistance will be covered.
      Elio Del-Sette stated that a reserve fund could be established with the $30,000 that the Accounts Department is willing to match or something in writing that they guarantee the funds will be available.
      Harvey Fox expressed his concern that the committee cannot go to the City Council and ask them to pass an open ended budget.
      Elio Del-Sette stated that it could be a very good possibility that the committee uses the entire $60,000. He asked, how then, does the committee go to the City Council and ask for more money. He stated that it appears that the committee should get as close to the final figure as possible.
      Mark Lawton stated that without knowing what the committee will spend there needs to be some guarantee of flexibility.


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