Who Would You Hire to Oversee the City’s Finances?  Michele Madigan or Patty Morrison?

[JK: Link to video fixed]

In our form of government, the Commissioner of Finance is the chief financial officer of the city.  This job involves:

 

  • the responsibility for 8 different City budgets every year
  • working closely with the other Council members and all the city departments to balance and prioritize their needs within the limits of estimated revenues, the New York State 2% tax cap, and the interests of the taxpayer
  • overseeing the implementation of the budget
  • maintaining a  balanced budget
  • making budget adjustments as the year progresses
  • making borrowing and investment decisions

This job requires many skills. For instance:  

  • attention to details
  • a mind for numbers
  • an understanding of the regulations that determine how money is raised and how it is spent in a municipality
  • the ability to hire skilled staff to assist in managing all these responsibilities.  

 

When we vote for a candidate for Commissioner of Finance we are, in effect, hiring a person to do this job.

 

There is no question that there are issues to consider outside of the skills required to manage the city’s finances.  In our form of government the person holding this office will also, as a City Council member, be in a position to vote on important issues facing the city such as the hospital expansion, how the city should grow, bike trails, etc.

I am concerned, though, that many voters may underestimate how much damage a person can do if they are put in charge of the Finance Department and lack the necessary knowledge and skills to manage it.

At the League of  Women Voters forum last week, voters were  finally given the opportunity to compare the two candidates running for Commissioner of Finance this year: the current Commissioner, Michele Madigan, and Patty Morrison. The contrast between the performances of the two candidates was striking.  Ms. Morrison seemed completely at sea when she had to address questions  about the Finance Office.  It appeared that she saw no need to prepare herself for this event by learning about the responsibilities and workings of the department she seeks to head. Instead she relied on pushing vague sound bite type issues about

the alleged unresponsiveness of government which she promised to remedy.

In contrast, Ms. Madigan talked in detail about what the Finance Office does and the many things that she has done to both make that office more efficient and to utilize that office in forwarding the progress of the city. 

Voters need to get away from indulging in focusing on personality when assessing candidates. Elections are about choosing the most competent person to do a job, not on choosing who you would like to invite to a dinner party or who you would like to have a beer with.  

I know that the readers of this blog are busy people but I urge them to take the time to watch the approximately twenty-five minutes of the League of Women Voters’ Candidates’ Night during which Ms. Madigan and Ms. Morrison were questioned and decide for themselves who is best suited to take on the responsibility of managing our city’s finances.

The segment where the two debated can be found here At 1:25

18 thoughts on “Who Would You Hire to Oversee the City’s Finances?  Michele Madigan or Patty Morrison?”

  1. this is the issue, not knowing about the City reserve fund in any way brings up the issue of lack of competence, seriousness to run the Finance Department. I don’t think it is in the taxpayers interest to have someone who has not educated themselves for the position they are seeking. Therefore all taxpayers should consider the competent incumbent , Michele Madigan for Finance Commissioner.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I don’t have to worry about finding John’s apparently elusive video of the LWV Finance candidate debate since I actually attended that event in person. I don’t know Patty Morrison so I didn’t know what to expect. To say that I was not impressed would be a vast understatement. Michele Madigan was very impressive. She provided comprehensive, easy-to-understand answers and comments which summarized her many accomplishments as Commissioner of Finance. It is difficult to understand why Patti Morrison won the Democratic primary back in June and, now that we have finally heard from her, it is especially hard to understand why anyone would not be voting for Michele Madigan on November 5.

    Chris Mathiesen

    Liked by 6 people

  3. Peppermint Patti is what-it-is:
    Charlie Brown’s problem.
    Poor Billy.

    And, we promise not to put mad and again in the same sentence with Michele.
    Considering how much money she has saved the city taxpayers…
    One would have to be a compulsive gambler to even think about the other candidate.

    Michele is our gift from the gods.
    We’re good with that (yay!).

    -JC 😉

    PS– Hey JK! How can we attach memes to our comments?
    (Without links.)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. So, all I did was find an image in the browser, copy the web address and pasted into the comment.
        Like this:

        What fun!

        -JC :O)

        Like

  4. A Question for Madigan Supporters:

    Q: Do you actually think the citizens are stupid enough to believe your spin that the finance commissioner is the person most reponsible for the financial health of this city (whether good or bad); or have you all convinced yourself of that tale?

    Again: I pose that as a legit and serious query

    Like

    1. Hey Curio–

      You wrote:”A Question for Madigan Supporters:”
      You mean: “We” REAL City Democrats?

      All anyone has to do is watch the video of the debates.
      Some of us just vote for basic competency in human beings.
      Not sure what the other two were all about.

      The blonde was what was to be expected.
      We don’t know WHY the other guy is running.
      Nobody locally, can vouch for him.

      As for your serious query thingy…
      I hand that one off to Mr. Martinez.
      Take it away Jimmy Boy!

      LOL

      -JC 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I’ll assume this is a legitimate questions as opposed to rhetorical snark.

      When the Commissioner took office the finance department was a disaster with no fund balances to deal with crisis or other last minute issues much less the recession – resulting in layoffs to the most important departments, fire and police. Commissioner Madigan restored the financial health restoring these departments to their needed staffing while building a health fund balance to deal with law suits, union contracts and most recently, after the lightening strike, the need to move the city services to a new location quickly (this was not inexpensive) while again putting out a budget that does not raise the taxes of the citizens to cover this.

      Commission Madigan improved the city bond rating so that she was able to refinance debt to significantly lower interest rates saving the city millions in future debt payments. In addition, she has worked with Sustainable Saratoga to find fiscal ways to save the city money without further stress on the environment by project managing the solar panels on Weibel Ave. as well as setting aside two parcels for Habitat for Humanity (where three families now live).

      At this time, she has contracted (with no cost to the city) with a company to have fiber put in the ground throughout the city which will bring competition to the current provider and hopefully lower costs as well as options to every home and business. And, no, as her opponent is attempting to claim – this is NOT an outdated service – it is an essential service. As a teacher, I know how behind a student is if they don’t have access to the internet.

      And the last highlight is her cooperative work with the current Mayor (as opposed to the vitriolic environment created by the former mayor) that has resulted (along with the entire council) the upcoming creation of a third eastern fire/EMS station that has been needed for years.

      Those are the highlights.

      Consider yourself educated.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. OK Professor LaSALLE

        You said:
        “Commissioner Madigan restored the financial health restoring these departments to their needed staffing while building a health fund balance”

        Question: WHERE did this $ come from to do this?
        Next, tell us how in Gawd’s name a Commissioner of Finance the incoming flow of those funds? ANY Commissioner…

        Like

  5. I’ll be honest, I’m not a big brain in finance so the specifics are not mine to share. Yet, if you look at the staffing over the last 8 years it is clear it has been restored and the budge does have a healthy fund balance. She has been able to work cooperatively with the various other counselor to prioritize their spending so this could happen.

    I’m sure it didn’t happen overnight after poor management for several years. The fact is that she was able to do this without any raise in taxes to the citizens.
    You simply have to go to the city website and see what she has done.

    Like

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