Steve Williams has written an excellent article on the nasty nature of this year’s campaigns in Saratoga Springs.
The Gazette article in today’s (October 31) edition, which I link to here, reports that Scott Solomon, the owner of Siro’s, has sent a complaint to the state Board of Elections regarding Commissioner Michele Madigan. According to the Gazette, in his claim he asserts that Commissioner Madigan “bullied constituents” and was guilty of a “clear abuse of power.”
Mr. Solomon had sought the Commissioner’s support in opening his restaurant. Apparently he specifically asked her for and received assistance in his application for a liquor license.
In early October, upon learning that Mr. Solomon was planning a fundraiser for Ms. Madigan’s opponent, Patty Morrison, she wrote two emails to him. In one of them, the Gazette quotes her as having written:
“You can get in line like everyone else, I’m sorry I considered you a friend. I hear you have a lot of code violations by the way. Enjoy.”
When questioned by the Gazette regarding her emails she told Steve Williams that she had apologized to Mr. Solomon and she believed that he had accepted her apologies. She told Williams:
“I got angry. I am human and I lashed out. I called him and apologized.”
Most us would have found Mr. Solomon’s behavior in this affair a source of anger. Commissioner Madigan had gone out of her way to assist him and it would only be natural to experience his actions as a kind of betrayal.
Having said that, it is no excuse for Commissioner Madigan’s response. Being in public office requires elected officials to display self control. In this case Commissioner Madigan’s email was egregious. In spite of the fact that her office has no control over the enforcement of building codes, her email could be interpreted as a threat.
There is simply no way to excuse this behavior. The problem is that in this election we are reduced to choosing between two candidates for an office which is at the center of our city’s operation.
As reported on in previous posts Ms. Morrison’s attitude toward the administrative duties of the Finance Office is more than disturbing. She appears utterly cavalier about how that office works. At one point in her debate with Commissioner Madigan she said she would maintain a 4% fund balance. Commissioner Madigan pointed out to her that this number was grossly inadequate and would prompt an audit exception from the state Comptroller.
It was apparent that Ms. Morrison is unconcerned about the challenges of administering the Finance Office and assumes mistakenly that others will handle the duties of running that office.
In addition the literature that Ms. Morrison has been distributing in this campaign continues to make false and misleading statements about her qualifications, actions by Commissioner Madigan, and various issues facing the city. One of her most recent pieces of literature repeats the false narrative that the city has been remiss in collecting taxes on properties. This accusation has been thoroughly debunked. This is emblematic of either her lack of interest in the complexity of tax collection or of her willingness to cynically exploit public ignorance regarding the matter.
Let me repeat that I find Commissioner Madigan’s behavior in her dealings with Mr. Solomon inexcusable. I do not believe that her email to Mr. Solomon was a threat but an example of a pattern of intemperate behavior that she can be rightly criticized for.
Hopefully the voters of this city will be sophisticated enough to weigh the capabilities of the two candidates and not base their decision on who to vote for on this very unfortunate set of events.
[JK: I received the following statement from Commissioner Madigan]
Over the last nine months, as I’ve campaigned for my fifth term as our city’s commissioner of finance, I’ve encountered both the highs and lows of seeking public office: the pleasure of interacting with thousands of my fellow citizens, listening to their ideas for what they want their city to be in the months and years ahead; and the on-going frustration of having my opponent’s campaign disseminate misleading information and flat-out falsehoods on a number of topics throughout this election season.
Recently, in a personal conversation on my private email account, I let those frustrations get the better of me. I used language that was regrettable. I’m sincerely sorry I said it, even in private. I am sincerely sorry for that. I have since apologized to the recipient of that email and I apologize to my supporters and our citizens for my use of poor judgment.
It is unfortunate that, now more than ever, it is politically fashionable to never admit a single mistake and to present yourself as wholly infallible at each and every turn. But my time as a city official has taught me that true leadership requires more. A true leader is thoughtful and reflective. A true leader holds him or herself accountable even in the face of political discomfort.
All elected officials help constituents navigate bureaucracy; it’s part of the job. Most people feel betrayed when they discover that a friend is actively working against them, it is part of being human. As Finance Commissioner I have no power or authority over any business this man is doing with the city, and I regret that I made it sound like I did. I do not, have not, and will never use my office for any other purpose than to benefit the city.