Kendall Hicks’ Run-In With The Gloversville Police: What Happened?

Several months ago someone sent me a link to a story in the local Gloversville newspaper about an incident in which Kendall Hicks, currently the Democratic candidate for Commissioner of Public Safety, was alleged to have run a woman off the road and assaulted her.

I contacted Ellen Egger-Aimone who at the time was Mr. Hicks’ campaign manager and asked her if the story were true. She sent me a statement from Mr. Hicks:

These were erroneous charges from years past files [sic] against me based on false information given to the police. I never had any physical altercation with this woman.  I followed procedure by presenting myself to police in Gloversville to address the arrest warrant.  After the court hearing all charges were dismissed and there is no arrest record.  This is a non- issue.

At the time I accepted Mr. Hicks’ explanation. Newspaper coverage is not always accurate and complete, and I had no way to independently determine what happened.

Not long afterward, I received a set of documents having to do with a number of Gloversville police reports involving Mr. Hicks. I found these reports extremely troubling as one of them went into considerable detail regarding Mr. Hicks’ alleged assault on a woman.

This week I recieved a news release from the Hicks campaign that now publically raises the issue of the incident. As the documents will show, the narative offered by the Hicks campaign is radically inconsistent with the news stories and the police reports.

I have emailed Kendall Hicks a copy of this post and offered him the opportunity to  be a “guest poster” should he wish to respond.

Below are:

1. The Hicks campaign press release.

2. The Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) letter that was the cover sheet for the police reports.

3. The Police Reports




 

More On FBI Raid On Riggi’s Offices

The July 21 edition of the Gazette Newspaper reported that an Iranian woman has pleaded guilty to purchasing turbine parts from two Saratoga County firms and delivering them to Iran. The prosecutors withheld the names of the Saratoga County firms but it seems probable that they are associated with Ron and Vince Riggi whose businesses specialize in turbine parts.

Here is a link to the story.

City Seeks Public Input For Art Installations On Bike Trail

The city is seeking input for a grant proposal that would pay for the installation of public art along the Railroad Run Trail, part of Saratoga Springs’ bicycle and pedestrian trail system. The National Endowment for the Arts is offering grants for up to $50,000.00 for such projects. According to the Daily Gazette article the city is looking for public input on possible themes, sizes, and placement of art works.

The meeting will be at 6:00 PM Wednesday, July 24 at the Saratoga Recreation Center on Vanderbilt Avenue.

Some Responses To The Democratic Committee Resignations

A friend recently suggested to me that the Democrats who are about to take control of  the Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee bear a certain resemblance to the White Walkers in the HBO series Game of Thrones.   If by some fluke you are not familiar with the White Walkers, they are an army of creatures in the series on a relentless mission to destroy the Seven Kingdoms.

Our local Democratic White Walkers have spent the last three years on a ceaseless campaign to convince the public that our elected officials (ironically mostly Democrats) are both cunning schemers and incompetent fools. Logic and consistency have never been  strategies used by White Walkers.

Now it appears we may be facing another army of White Walkers in the form of our local Republican Committee. The Committee has new leadership and is attempting to make a comeback, but they seem to be in danger of becoming the mirror image of the Democratic White Walkers by adopting their tactics of  disinformation and hyperbole.

Below is a screen shot from the Saratoga Springs Republican Committee Facebook page responding to the resignations by the Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee leadership.

The text of their page indulges in over the top accusations such as:

“[The city Democratic Committee]…is being taken over by an extreme far left, socialist group”

“This extreme group clearly does not value the safety of our children and citizens.”

“This socialist group favors raising our taxes…”

“The people of Saratoga Springs need to band together and voice its opposition against city Democrats and their socialist movement…”

The word socialist has to be the most abused word in the English language. Most socialists have trouble defining it or agreeing with other socialists on its meaning. I myself am a self described socialist, but people reading this blog would probably not gather this based on what I usually write about.

While I am sure there are a smattering of other self-described socialists on the Democratic Committee,  I can assure the readers of this blog that the following “insurgent” members would never describe themselves as socialists:  Ann Bullock, Sarah Burger, Mary Carr, Ralph Burger, Marcey Taylor, B. K. Karamati, Ruth Fein,  Holly Schwartz, and Peter McTygue. 

I am hardly the person to defend the people who are about to lead the city’s Democratic Committee. In fact I don’t think they would consider it a defense of them for me to argue that they are not part of a “socialist movement” but a group of angry individuals who are heros in their own self created dramas. Their dramas inflate both the danger of those they oppose and the importance of their own role in combating the threat.

So the charge that socialists are taking over the Democratic Committee is simply untrue.

It appears to me that the Republican Committee is trying to adopt President Trump’s national strategy by trying to paint the local Democrats as socialists in order to fire up the Republican base and tarnish the Democrats. Most Democrats are not socialists and today the word does not generate the kind of panic attack the Republican release is meant to engender.

With respect to my Republican friends, I think they are trying to hammer a large square peg into a very small round hole.

In the more than forty years I have lived here,  Saratoga Springs has morphed from Republican red into Democratic blue. The city’s registered voters have shifted from Republicans greatly out numbering Democrats to Democrats out numbering Republicans.

But local elections rarely involve the kind of hot button national issues like abortion, combat in the Middle East, or immigration that divide the parties on the state and national levels.

If the Republican Party wants to revive itself in our city they need to avoid mirroring the ruthless and shrill behavior of the Democratic White Walkers. Instead, they need to focus on local, concrete policies that will make this city a better place to live. Making it a better place to live includes improving the political culture by eschewing name calling and contributing to a thoughtful dialogue in the “public square.”


I solicited responses to the Democratic Committee resignations from all the current serving Democratic elected officials along with the Democratic candidates. I also solicited a response from Committee members Shafer Gaston and Ellen Egger-Aimone and Todd Kerner who is the Saratoga County Democratic chair. Regrettably, only six responded.


1. Todd Kerner emailed me declining to comment.


2. Tara Gaston: “As an elected official, I am always focused first and foremost on the needs of my constituents and their representation at the county board.”

“I am grateful to all the Democratic committee members who serve and am confident that the we will find a strong path forward in service of our Democratic values and the best interests of Saratoga Springs. I look forward to working with the committee and its dedicated members as we seek to elect Democrats to continue leading our city forward.”

3. in an article in the Times Union it reports that Patricia Morrison sent a statement to the newspaper stating: “If they feel they are out of line with the voters, I understand giving the Democratic committee the opportunity to change direction,” Morrison said. “It is my hope the new committee leadership will be able to work with all of us to continue to promote Democratic values. Our goal now is to listen and represent all voters in this city, regardless of political affiliation.”

4. Mayor Meg Kelly emailed me the following statement:

“First and foremost, I want to personally thank the members of the Democratic Executive Board, Chairwoman Courtney DeLeonardis, 1stVice Chair Ellen Kiehl, 2nd Vice Chair Jeffrey Partridge, 3rd Vice Chair Kathleen Wilson and Secretary Joanna Zangrando, for their dedicated and passionate service to the Democratic committee. This team has served the City of Saratoga Springs with the utmost Integrity and moral standards.”

“At this time, my candidacy for mayor is not impacted by this leadership shift in the city democratic party.”

“My commitment and platform has always been to do what is right for all citizens of Saratoga Springs and this has not wavered. As we all move forward, it is important to understand that all of us must keep the best interests of the entire city at the forefront. We cannot focus on specific groups that divide us. I am hopeful that we can embrace what we have learned historically to create a cohesive political system that reflects the will of all citizens of Saratoga Springs.”

“Thank you again to the Democratic Executive Board for all of your support and leadership in this remarkable city.”

 


Ellen Egger-Aimone:

EE:John, I am not authorized to speak about this issue. 

Ellen

JK: Authorized by whom?
EE: By the resigned chair. I’m not comfortable speaking on the record. Sorry 
Ellen

Peter Martin: “I am very concerned and sorry that many members of the Executive Committee have resigned. Although I have not served on the Committee for several years, I know and respect each of the resigning members. Courtney, Ellen, Jay, Kathy and Joanna have each poured their hearts and souls into the  city democratic committee. They have done a great job and deserve a heartfelt thank you from every voter in Saratoga Springs.”

“I strongly disagree with the quote from Mr Obstarczyk in today’s TU. The Democratic Committee has not been taken over by an extreme far-left group and it still does a better job of reflecting the values of our city residents than any alternative.” 


Robert Millis for Kendall Hicks:

We all know that they got themselves into a bit of a “pickle” here on this one. 

But the resignations showed a certain degree of integrity : the right thing to do systemically is to accept the will of the party’s primary voters, which is in motion.  But the resulting candidate from that process is not the one certain folks support and can get behind, personally, however. Hence the perceived need to step aside and let others that are more aligned to her step in and join the effort with full support.

So, in a sense, the system worked. 

We’re just disappointed that these folks felt the need to leave the general committee altogether.  There should be room , under a Big Tent approach, for all to remain, while maybe putting the more proper people into active campaigning mode.  We at the Hicks campaign are sorry to see the party lose some strong human assets. Maybe we can get them back.

But the more interesting aspect to all this is the Republican reaction.  As shown but the GOP City Chairman’s announcement today, apparently the local Republicans are now following the national party’s “Trump and Fox News” model of electioneering; which is currently crying “Socialists!” with every breath.   Sad,,,

Saratoga is not deep red flyover country.  These dogwhistles won’t fly with the citizenry  —  Dems, Reps and Indies — here in our great city.  The gentleman’s comments are not helpful in solving local needs.  That’s OK; we will solve them over here.

RM

Robert Millis

Saratoga Springs City Democratic Committee Chair Along With Other Members Of The Executive Committee Resign

In a press release dated July 17, Courtney DeLeonardis (Chair) along with Ellen Kiehl (1st Vice Chair), Jeffery Partridge (Second Vice Chair) Kathleen Wilson (3rd Vice Chair), and Joanna Zangrando (Secretary) announced that they are resigning from their offices and they are resigning from the Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee.

Here is their press release:

 

 CONTACT:Kathy Gorman, Public Relations Chair

Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee

518-577-8011

mkathy@nycap.rr.com  

Saratoga Springs, NY, July 17, 2019  Five members of leadership for the Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee today announced they are stepping down from their positions and resigning from the Committee. Leaving are: Courtney DeLeonardis, chair; Ellen Kiehl, 1st vice chair; Jeffrey Partridge, 2nd vice chair; Kathleen Wilson, 3rd vice chair and Joanna Zangrando, secretary.

Speaking for the Executive Committee members who are leaving, DeLeonardis said:

It is with regret that I announce my resignation and that of four additional Executive Committee members, effective immediately. We believe the time is right to give the Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee a chance to have a new leadership team who will support the Democratic nominee for Commissioner of Finance, in accord with the outcome of the recent primary election. It has been our honor and privilege to represent our respective election districts and to bring our best efforts to the challenge of leading the SSDC and serving all Democrats in our City. To this end, we commit to be mindful of the Committees needs going forward and leave its affairs in good order, including a substantial treasury balance.

 

###

Patty Morrison: Weaponizing the City’s Ethics Board

The City of Saratoga Springs has an Ethics Code which the city’s Ethics Board is charged with “enforcing.” I put enforcing in quotes as the Board is only authorized to offer opinions and has no disciplinary or enforcement powers.

In a letter dated June 14, 2019, a little more than a week before the Democratic primary, Patty Morrison, then a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Finance  Commissioner, made the following accusation against her opponent Michele Madigan and requested the city’s Ethics Board investigate.

Your [JK: Commissioner Madigan] participation in a political fundraiser for your Commissioner of Finance campaign hosted by Saratoga Hospital attorney, Matt Jones at his home on March 8, 2019 along with his personal donation of $1,000.00, is a direct conflict of interest and can be viewed as clear violation of the City’s Code of Ethics.

Now there is an argument to be made about the problem of the influence of money in politics. How much donations like the one made by Jones might impact a legislator’s vote is a matter of legitimate discussion. I would also note, though, that in light of Ms. Morrison’s outrage over Commissioner Madigan’s campaign donations it is odd that she apparently does not have similar concerns regarding Joanne Yepsen who also received donations from Mr. Jones when she was running for Mayor and is now supporting Ms. Morrison’s quest for Commissioner of Finance.

The central issue here, however, is Ms. Morrison’s claim that Commissioner Madigan has violated the city’s Ethics Code and Ms. Morrison’s then use of this claim to seek publicity meant to damage her opponent.

While the city’s ethics code cites gifts or financial benefits to public officials as potential violations, it specifically excludes campaign contributions.  Here is the language:

GIFT and FINANCIAL BENEFIT — Includes anything of value including, but not limited to, money, services, referrals, discounts, licenses, permits, contracts, authorizations, loans, travel, entertainment, hospitality, or any other gratuity or promise thereof. A financial transaction may be a financial benefit but shall not be a gift unless it is on terms not available to the general public. “Gift” and “financial benefit” do not include campaign contributions authorized by law. [JK: Emphasis Added]

So what does this tell us about Patty Morrison’s own ethics in this matter.

First, Ms. Morrison either did not actually take the opportunity to read the city’s ethics code before making her accusation or she made the accusation knowing it was false. Bear in mind, this is a person seeking to handle the city’s finances.

Secondly,  even if the issue of the influence of campaign contributions on a legislator’s behavior were addressed in the city’s ethics code, there would have to be some actual incident that would link a vote to a contribution to make a case. There has been no such vote on the hospital which Mr. Jones represents.

But with the primary only a little over a week away Ms. Morrison’s problem was she  needed to generate publicity about her accusation before the election. She could not wait until there was an actual vote on the hospital to make her complaint to the Ethics Board.

Ms. Morrison has every right to challenge Commissioner Madigan regarding who contributes to her campaign. What she does not have a right to do is to abuse the city’s Ethics Board procedure to smear her opponent.

I suspect some readers will dismiss these criticisms as nit picking but aside from the ethical issues of misrepresenting the city’s Ethics Code, the ability to carefully analyze regulations and statutes is central to functioning effectively as the Commissioner of Finance. There is a place for moral outrage, but if one is to serve as Commissioner of Finance, outrage must be tempered by a commitment to adhere rigorously to the “details” that managing the public’s finances require.