There is no other way to put it. The proposal to update the current charter was crushed at the polls on November 6th.
The city had to endure another campaign, briefer but just as poisonous as the 2017 “fight.”
Using letters to the editor, social media, and flyers the opponents to this year’s ballot question on the charter issued information that was often inaccurate or badly misleading and always fueled by bitterness. Most disturbing, in spite of being advised of the inaccuracies, they continued to publish these same statements.
As recently as the Monday before the election someone left this flyer on our doorstep.
Dear reader, at the age of seventy-two and a veteran of many public controversies, this latest conflict was all too familiar. I have never fully understood the pathology of groups like “Its Time Saratoga” (ITS). In this case the core of the group that formed during the previous charter campaign adopted a kind of magical thinking. The passion for their cause combined with the desire to be loyal to each other appeared to take on a cult like form. Rumors and conjecture among their members were confused with the truth and took on a strange, collective orthodoxy unburdened by the anchor of facts and reality. As often happens with these types of groups, the targets of their campaign were transformed in their minds into ruthless and cunning enemies. It all became operatic. In ITS’s eyes, every action by the members of the charter commission hid an allegedly sinister agenda. Therefore, any consideration of ITS’s opponents’ arguments could be dismissed by ITS as pointless. Thus ITS was able to hold on to its narrative because ITS was incapable of considering arguments that might jeopardize the euphoric unity its members were experiencing.
It is also important to note that this pathology was not being exhibited by teenage zealots. The members of this group include professors, lawyers, and retired business executives.
In their quest to portray the writers of the charter proposal as charlatans, the members of this group circulated statements that were either incorrect or grossly misleading:
“City Council Members given authority to set their own salaries [their emphasis]” [in the flier above]
And “Lifetime [their emphasis] healthcare benefits” [also in flier]
And from a TU article: “Critics of the proposal said it was crafted by City Hall’s most powerful insiders [my emphasis]…”
And in the most recent classic example of magical thinking, Dr. Robert Turner from a November 7 story on WAMC: “I think what this election showed was a stunning repudiation of the commission form of government.” [JK: As Shakespeare observed “The empty vessel makes the loudest sound.”]
Playing To Fear
Pretty much everyone, including myself, is frustrated by our federal government that seems incapable of acting on behalf of its citizens. An army of lobbyists armed with generous donations to elected officials seems to have, if not hijacked, at least disproportionally taken control of the decisions made allegedly on our behalf.
Is it any wonder then how easy it is to exploit this general disillusionment with government and create suspicion of our own city officials who many do not know? Ignorant of the details of the charter proposal and assailed by things like the flyer above and a flood of disinformation on social media, is it any wonder that the proposed charter changes were defeated?
In many ways the modest nature of the changes in the charter proposal meant that a logical, rational defense could not compete with the drama offered by its opponents.
To make my point, review the flyer above and then listen to Charter Commission Chair and city attorney, Vince DeLeonardis’ interview following the defeat of the charter. Cerebral, thoughtful, and measured, it cannot compete with the image the opponents conjured up of defeating the alleged cabal that operates out of city hall.
In the end, the failure of the very modest changes proposed by the commission was a lost opportunity.
8 thoughts on “Charter Change: “Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go” – Oscar Wilde”
They should be ashamed of themselves, for their dishonesty and their fake news, that has become a part of our culture driven by insecurity and rabid impulse to succeed at all costs. Nothing honorable about it including their stolen signs placed along public right-of-ways and on properties whose owners gave no permission. This was not a repudiation of our city charter, no more than failing points from the last update 17 years ago, but a loss to make it a little better. Shame on these disgruntled guerillas.
John. This message bristles with disgust, particularly for one of your frequent targets Bob Turner, and uses the kind of hyperbolic language you wouldn’t like to see coming from them. I understand you are not a journalist and are fully entitled to express your opinions and make clear your bias. But I actually do count on you for filling a great void in journalistic coverage of our city. I read all your messages on charter change with care and thank you for getting the information out. You have such an important voice that I feel compelled to write once a year or so and ask you to temper it a bit so as to be more convincing and have an even greater impact.
And you could give our citizenry a little more credit. We are able to study everything and wade through the bullshit. I read it all with care and talked with many friends before deciding on my vote. I was not manipulated by a cult or lured into magical thinking.
As always, I mean this well and hope you receive it that way as well. I will count on your blog as this issues comes up again next year, as we both know it will.
Thanks for listening.
Well said Kathryn. The contempt for the voter shown by Vince DeLeonardis and Richard Sellers claiming disinformation and confusion as the reason for the loss of 2018 Charter Proposal shows just how out of touch City Hall is. The 2017 proposal lost by only 10 votes, with 4,448 voting Yes. The 2018 proposal lost by almost 3000 votes! There is a message here that the Commissioners continue to ignore.
Well, anything is possible, Bartleby, but it does seem a bit of a stretch that thousands who supported the commission form a year ago have changed their minds particularly in another successful year for the city and where among other things we saw such a smooth response to the sudden need to move all of city hall to a different location. Really , it’s hard to imagine how a city manager or strong mayor could have made this work any better considering all the challenges of the fire.
In any case I just don’t see the arrogance and indifference you feel is present. This commission incorporated some of the very proposals that were in the 2017 charter (and that were then bizarrely condemned by the very same people who had written and supported those proposals when they were in their charter proposal.) The commission reached out to the leaders of last year’s charter group and they refused invitations to meet with this year’s commission. And the proposal to add 2 council members with full authority at the council table but without administrative responsibilities was a clear sign the commission had listened to the concerns of those who wanted to run for office but didn’t want to run a department. After all their charge was to update and improve the government we have, not change it, so this seemed like an interesting way of creating a bit of a hybrid to try to accommodate those who support the commission form and those who want change.
You folks got it all wrong.
This is all a game.
IT’S A GAME!
Don’t you get it?
It’s a sick, academic, mind control experiment.
It’s psyops at its best.
We’re all being played for fools.
Read my previous comment about the signs.
It has been a dilibeate act to flip the reality and control the sheeple.
I cannot, for the life of me, understand how some of my friends and neighbors are still buying into this schtick. You can’t fool me! I’m NOT on any prescription meds!! And I DO NOT get the FLU VACCINE!
Wake up people.
IT’S A GAME.
AND– NEW LED STREETLIGHTS with 5G is coming.
They’re testing it in Schenectady as we speak. Saratoga is next.
What ist’s all about: https://www.5gspaceappeal.org/the-appeal/
Buckle up folks. It’s going to get ugly.
It’s about control. Total control.
The fake academics convinced their loyal followers to vote yes the first time around.
Then the wolves brainwashed the same sheep to vote no the 2nd time around.
They might have fooled the sheep.
But they ain’t gonna fool this old sheepdog!
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I know many of these people see themselves as liberal Democrats and regularly complain about Trump lying. I’m sure they also complain that they don’t understand how people still support him and either don’t know that he’s lying or don’t care. They should look in the mirror.
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The last count put the number at over 5,000 lies in two years.
Yes, I think he lies, A LOT.
Don’t trust what you cannot verify.
There is a reason why–
Look at the Cali fires, for instance.
Is THAT what forest fires look like?
Search the web.
Use Smartpage or DuckDuckGo.
Get away from Google.
When you do your search–select “images.”
And my favorite old-world democrats:
Unless you have a problem with NYU?