Newly Reorganized Democratic Committee Revisits Endorsements

The Gazette Newspaper has an excellent story on the August 27 meeting of the recently reorganized Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee. The main purpose of the meeting was to discuss endorsements.

Kendall Hicks, who is running on the Democratic line for Commissioner of Public Safety, apparently chose not to seek the Committee’s  endorsement when it became clear that he would not receive it.

When asked by the Gazette reporter why the Committee did not endorse Hicks, newly elected Chairperson Sarah Burger declined to comment. Instead she emphasized the importance of a resolution passed by the Committee that supported the “MeToo” movement which advocates on behalf of women who have been victims of sexual harassment or violence.

Mr. Hicks has been the subject of controversy regarding a 2013 arrest for allegedly assaulting a woman.

Kendall Hicks’ name will still be on the Democratic line for Public Safety Commissioner in November.

The Committee also rescinded the previous Committee endorsement of Michele Madigan and endorsed Patricia Morrison for Finance Commissioner.

In a Times Union story Ms. Burger told the paper:

“The formation of the so-called ‘One Saratoga’ is a direct result of Commissioner Madigan’s Democratic primary loss and instead of stepping aside after the primary Commissioner Madigan is fighting hard for her lifetime health benefits,”

This kind of talk does not become a  chair of a political party. Commissioner Madigan has served the city for eight years at an annual salary of $14,500.00. The idea that Ms. Madigan would do this for ten years in order to get ongoing health insurance is simply not credible, especially if you know Commissioner Madigan.

It’s also worth noting that as a current and potentially future elected Democratic official, Ms. Madigan is someone who Ms. Burger, as Democratic Committee chair, will have to work with. Ms. Burger’s comments are a sad reminder of how the ugly and divisive tactics we are seeing on the national level have seeped into our local Saratoga politics.

14 thoughts on “Newly Reorganized Democratic Committee Revisits Endorsements”

  1. Ms. Burger is there to perform a hatchet job on the real Democratic party so has no leadership ability and time will prove that to be correct, the real movement that they are interested in is”the just us” movement,,Hick’s erratic behavior from his past will bring them all down.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Watch Dave Chapelle’s new non-PC comedy special on Netflix. Touches on this and so much more….at the very least you will laugh. We all need to laugh in light of the depressing state of politics at every level.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The remarks attributed to the Democratic Committee chair are unfortunate. I am sure that Commissioner Madigan did not decide to run for re-election simply to reach the magical ten year mark. Commissioner Madigan will most likely beat Patty Morrison handily in November. She deserves to be re-elected.

    However, it is long past the time that the City Council should have ended the practice of providing Council members with free family health insurance. This is a very expensive benefit. The Council members who years ago approved this could not have envisioned the incredible increases in costs of medical insurance.

    Much worse is the practice of giving Council members free family health insurance for life if they have continuously served in their positions for ten years. The costs to taxpayers for this little-known perk can be many hundreds of thousands of dollars. And the idea of giving incentives to Council members to keep their positions for ten years undermines the need for turnover and fresh ideas on the Council.

    Chris Mathiesen

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agree: Madigan should absolutely beat Morrison in November.

      Not sure I agree: Health insurance benefit. With the council making just over $5/hr – I’m not sure that if you multiply this by ten years that it earns the category of lavish benefit as compared to other public sector jobs. Many public entities (think School Superintendent and the like) have this included in their benefits package along with annual high salaries.

      Madigan and the City Council have not raised our city tax bills for seven years. Yet our school tax bill goes up and up every year – which Morrison absolutely takes responsibility for as her role in approving the budget that goes to voters every spring as a school board member.

      Madigan has kept our taxes flat, and I’d say that over ten years she’s earned the benefit at her $5/hour job. If she can show us how she can continue to keep taxes flat with this benefit (spreadsheet, please) – then I’d vote to keep the benefit. If it’s some crazy amount that we are unaware of and it’s unsustainable as you imply….I’d reconsider.

      I’m quite certain that if Morrison had the choice, especially in light of what Madigan has endured for her time in office, that she would not refuse the benefit either. Getting berated at council meetings, having your integrity questioned, and the lies that have been spread about Madigan are awful displays of manipulation and lies.

      So – Morrison has voted to approve the school budget every year in her role on the school board. She does not develop, implement, or have any role in its execution. She simply votes yes every year and that tax bill goes up and up without fail.

      Madigan actually develops, implements, executes, and evaluates the city budget with her team along with voting on the budget with the council. Every year, without fail, our taxes have not gone up.

      Seems like an easy choice in November.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I am glad that we all agree that Michele Madigan deserves to be re-elected. We disagree about the free health insurance policies offered to Council members. First of all, there is little transparency about this benefit. Unlike the salary, it is not published in the City Charter. Apparently it was approved in a City Council resolution many years ago when health insurance was much less costly. If the health insurance is considered as part of the Council member’s compensation package as No Mare White Walker says, then there is a significant disparity here. The value of that policy varies depending on a number of factors. For the Council member whose family plan had previously been partially covered by a spouse’s employer, then the value is only the amount that they had been paying towards the employer supported plan. If the Council member had been self employed and had a number of dependents, the value of the plan is well over $20,000 per year. If the Council member was self employed but only had a couple’s plan, the value of the plan is around $13,000. If the Council member already is on Medicare and already has a retiree’s plan that covered their health insurance costs, then the value of the City plan is ZERO. According to this analysis, although all members of the Council are supposed to be paid equally, John Franck is being compensated at a level more than $20,000 per year more that Skip Scirocco.

        Another problem with No More White Walker’s explanation. The Superintendent of schools does not give himself or herself health benefits. The benefit package is determined by the school board. Also, how many positions that pay $14,500 annually include a health care benefit that potentially has a value in excess of $20,000? This is a benefit that is way out of proportion to the salary.

        No More White Walker does not address the most blatant problem-that of the free health care for life as a reward for ten year Council tenures

        Chris Mathiesen

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      1. We are the party that stands for universal access to affordable quality health care which has absolutely nothing to do with anything said in these discussions. The term ‘resentful’ does not apply either. The money that the City spends on Council members medical insurance and especially money that might be spent on life-time medical benefits is money that can not be spent on needed additional police or fire/EMS or DPW personnel.

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    2. Chris–

      Your analysis actually reveals that if we are looking strictly at costs to taxpayers that retirees are best suited for these positions. This is fine by me – wisdom and experience are of high value – but just cost alone ignores the fact that people should be voted in based on merit/talent and not age or how much they would cost.

      School boards APPROVE the contract and benefits packages of Superintendents (and any other free management agents in the school). School boards do not “set” those. There is a committee and there are lawyers and proposals and negotiations on both sides with lots of back and forth before the larger board even sets eyes on it. The board is just a rubber stamp.

      I get your statement about proportionality – but I guess ultimately I’m with Jim. This whole thing about the ten year benefit is a distractor by the White Walkers – this is what they do – and here we are getting distracted.

      We are on the same side, Chris and I am grateful – because it sounds like we are both budget hawks and you are very intelligent and committed to this community.

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  3. I’m saddened though I wish I could say I’m surprised at Burger’s comment. Just a few week’s ago, at a fundraiser for Congressman Tonko, Burger approached me regarding some comments I’d made about her leadership and attempted to tell me she planned to be civil and take the high road. At that time, I did apologize (in this blog) for one comment I made that she declared inaccurate. At that time, I also stated that I heard her words yet planned to watch her actions. It is unfortunate that my suspicion of dirty tactics is being born out.

    As for Commissioner Madigan choosing to stay on the ballot, that is her right as she has been endorsed by other party lines. It would now be too late for them to have anyone else’s name on their party line in November so you can even say it’s the Commissioners duty to represent them as they supported her. Add to that, it seems that Burger is being just a bit ingenuous and hypocritical as Morrison – who they have now endorsed- chose to run a primary against an endorsed candidate while remaining on the Democratic Committee as did all those who walked for and supported her. Now they want to cry foul?

    And, just as point, the Committee did not have to endorse Morrison just because she won the primary (with 32 votes and lots of lies as she knocked on doors – not the least being that she was the democratic candidate, conveniently leaving out that she was challenging the endorsed candidate.) They chose not to endorse Hicks and could have chosen not to endorse Morrison. The fact that the only comment Burger could make is the one above does not tell us in the least why they think Morrison is qualified and isn’t that their job – to endorse the most qualified? I said it before, I’ll say it now, Sarah Burger (et.al) you should be ashamed of yourself. You are not a leader- you’re just another sheep for the McYepsen, etc. group and so is Morrison.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Shame on her for taking the low road. Ethically, where is it written that partisans must trash talk their opponents in order to make their case? We all know where the Commissioner has been and what she has accomplished. Bravo and kudos to her re-election.

      Incidentally, does the health insurance question even have a spot here? Are the stalking horses running on no health insurance should they be successful and, in the position (later on), to satisfy their public for ten years? Gosh, if it covers high cost of dental insurance, I might consider a run.

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  4. I’m also saddened by Burger’s comment. Especially because her vice chair has been complaining on Facebook about the Republican mudslinging. He doesn’t seem to recognize mud when he and his friends are throwing it. I’m also amazed at the illogical assertion that Madigan should simply hand her post over to a candidate who won the Democratic primary by only 30 votes. Madigan is still a Democrat, and many other people and parties still endorse her. Stepping aside would be allowing 30 Democrats to decide for the entire city who their next commissioner of Finance would be, not a Democratic contention at all. This argument had validity in the national election when Bernie and Hillary were running against dangerous Republican opponents, and critical issues were hanging in the balance, like climate change and immigration. However, there is no parallel here, in this local election when there is no Republican challenger. Voters of all parties deserve a choice.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. When I get older, someone will have to explain to me that the logic that these people used to hold the primary after not getting endorsed, which was, it is good for democracy,” with the juxtaposition that somehow Ms. Madigan running in the general isn’t?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m afraid, Mark, that getting older will not help you to better understand. I’m sure I have quite a few years on you and I certainly don’t understand the logic. What I do understand, unfortunately, the motivation despite the lack of logic. This is simply a group of malcontents who don’t realize or accept their day in the sun is over.

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