Neighbors of Hospital Mail Flyer With Disturbing Errors–Hospital Responds

A group calling itself Save Morgan Street have put out a mailer that both attacks Saratoga Hospital and urges voters to cast ballots against Commissioners Michele Madigan and Skip Scirocco in this Tuesday’s (11/5) election.

The mailer itself is in violation of the New York State Municipal Law governing elections and campaigning. In order to spend money on activities that support or oppose candidates, New York requires a group to register with the New York State Board of Elections. If they spend less than $1,000.00 they must then report both the contributions they receive and their expenditures to the County Board of Elections. If they go over $1,000.00 they must report this information to the state. I have checked with the Saratoga County Board of Elections and the website for the New York State Board of Elections and this group is not listed anywhere as a committee.

This omission by them could be an oversight but it is emblematic of the carelessness reflected in the content of their attack.

Dr. David Mastriani has written an excellent piece for Saratoga Today to respond to the Morgan Street group’s mailer so I will not repeat his points. [JK:I was unable to get a link to the story so the image of the article appears at the end of this post. Saratoga Today can be picked up all over town]. I would just note as one example of the gross errors in this document that it alleges that the hospital wants to build forty-two homes as part of the project. In fact, the Comprehensive Plan’s designation for the parcels does not allow any structures other than medical offices.

Here are some additional points of clarification:

1. The letter urges votes against Commissioners Scirocco and Madigan because they allege these Commissioners voted twice in support of the Hospital. No such votes ever occurred.

The mailing refers to two events. In the first case, the Hospital had applied to the city to build their medical building as a Planned Unit Development. There was never a vote because both Mayor Joanne Yepsen and Commissioner John Franck abstained. Four votes were required to pass the resolution and since the abstentions left only three Council members eligible to vote, the vote never occurred. Similarly, a later attempt by Commissioner Chris Mathiesen to change the Comprehensive Plan so that an office building could not be built in the neighborhood failed to get a second from any of the other Commissioners. Again there was no vote.

2. The neighbors assert that the Hospital attorney used “a loop hole” to circumvent a requirement to notify the neighbors of a zoning change. This kind of allegation ignores how the city makes land use decisions.

The Hospital first tried to get city approval, as noted earlier, through the Planned Unit Development process. The neighbors had been notified of this and it was their opposition that required the super majority vote which never took place because of Yepsen’s and Franck’s abstentions.

The Hospital’s request for a change in the zoning of the land they wished to develop was next considered as part of the Comprehensive Plan process.

The process by which the city decides on the appropriate use of land within its boundaries is routinely done through the drafting of a Comprehensive Plan. The Comprehensive Plan Commission is appointed by the Mayor. It crafts the plan through a process of meetings that are not only public but videoed.

In the course of their deliberations the most recent Commission approved a number of recommendations for changes in land use in addition to the area where the Hospital wished to build. The process was both very public and extremely contentious. The Commission failed to finalize the document due to the irreconcilable divisions in the group. The City Council under Mayor Yepsen then resolved the outstanding recommendations and unanimously adopted the plan which included the changes in the designation of the land where the Hospital wished to build.

While the decision to allow for the change the Hospital sought in the plan was done in an open meeting and passed unanimously there is no question that the neighbors were unaware that this proposal was being considered. There is no requirement in this process to notify neighbors of changes that are being considered throughout the city. This had nothing to do with some kind of loophole exploited by an attorney.

3. The flyer asserts that the city is promoting the Hospital project because there is a “…webpage on the City’s Official website with a ‘FAQ’ sheet for the expansion.” They are referring to the original 2015 Planned Unit Development application that failed but by law is required to be accessible to the public. To comply with the law the application was posted on the city’s website. This is a very old document that is no longer active. They also note that the PUD proposal refers people with questions to a representative of the hospital rather than to the Planning Department. This is because as a PUD the responsibility for the application rests with the applicant and not the Planning Department. These all fit within the requirements of how PUDs are approved or denied.

I have sympathy for the people in the neighborhood. People are understandably concerned about the impact of a large project. They do their cause no service, unfortunately, by making ill informed and inaccurate accusations.

13 thoughts on “Neighbors of Hospital Mail Flyer With Disturbing Errors–Hospital Responds”

  1. I got a charming flyer in the mail from Mitler’s team informing me that Gaston is in favor of abolishing private property. Is this true? Will Gaston seize my house if she wins?

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      1. I found this on Gaston’s website:

        First, let’s be clear what being a member of DSA means – it does not mean that I want to end capitalism. It does mean that I believe that our particular system is not working for everyone. It means that I believe government should be open, accountable, and transparent, and with a focus on support – not on profits. It also doesn’t mean that I agree with everything that National DSA, Saratoga DSA, or any particular DSA member says – and I’m sure they’d say the same about me. For me, DSA is a group of individuals I am proud to know, who work to represent the least of us, who make certain that workers and renters are protected, and who hold me accountable to my values of accessibility, transparency, efficiency, and resiliency.

        What does my membership mean for Saratoga County? It means that I am always learning from others, that I value open government, that I’ll always be available for you to share concerns, and that I will work for you even when it’s not the easy thing to do.

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    1. Gaston is a proud Democratic Socialist and has that emblem on all the information and proudly states she is endorsed by DSA.

      “Tara N. Gaston – Candidate has pretended to be a moderate, but she’s been tricking #Saratoga. She proudly features this self pronounced radical #socialist org on her campaign mailings & in her public debate. Besides abolishing private property rights & eliminating borders, here’s another thing they want legalized; the sex trade!

      Go ahead – Click the link, watch their August convention speakers & see their priorities.”

      Please read this link:
      https://www.dsausa.org/2019-convention-a-world-to-win/

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      1. You can find whatever you want on her website. Newsflash: politicians lie. Bottom line is this. Gaston pays dues to an organization that wants to abolish private property. DSA is running candidates in NYC on exactly that platform.

        https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/ny-democratic-socialists-abolish-private-property-albany-primaries-20191007-gtpqefrosrfybpdul4dbvaf6ym-story.html%3foutputType=amp

        So while Gaston recognizes that the DSA position is untenable in Saratoga Springs, no one would Voluntarily pay dues to an organization that it wasn’t in lock step with ideologically.

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      2. Democratic Socialists of America is a polymorphic group with diverse positions. As an organization they are not on record to eliminate private property. Sweden, for example, has had Democratic Socialist governments but Sweden has had no program to abolish private property.

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      3. here’s another thing they want legalized; the sex trade!

        Mitler is running on the Libertarian ticket. What’s the libertarian policy on the sex trade?

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  2. There seems to be an unfortunate pattern developing in the campaigns we are seeing run in the city. The use of disinformation and fake facts has become common in the campaigns of local Democratic candidates namely Patty Morrison, Kendall Hicks, and Dillon Moran, and now we see the same tactics being used by the Morgan Street neighbors in their campaign to stop the Hospital from expanding.
    A look at who has been involved in these campaigns and who is active in the Morgan Street effort shows a core of people many of whom are now in control of the Saratoga Democratic Committee. And, oh yes, we’ve seen these people also leading the attempt to change the city government to a City Manager, another campaign where similar tactics were employed.

    It is sad to see the tactics many of us deplore being used in national and state politics being employed here in our city. It would be even sadder if those tactics are successful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Straight Shooter.
      The tactics on the national level are being employed locally.
      It’s Alynsky’s playbook.

      John Brennan (not the Irish one) was quoted saying something resembling: people are innocent until accused.” Unfortunately, he might not be kidding. Truth is the casualty these days.
      Hey– “Nobody likes a snitch!;” (from an old Edward G. Robinson or James Cagney flick for sure).
      And when people talk of “transparency”–they mean YOU not them. Smart folks keep their clothes on.

      While the negativity and baseless attacks continue, they are launched in such a way as not to give the accused, chance for retort. (Did I word that correctly James?)

      Keep in mind, they are impeaching a president who committed no obvious crime (yet). Key word is “yet.”
      And it is not POTUS, that is beleaguered by all this; as much as the morale of the working citizen at large.

      This might be appropriate; all things considered:

      Just food for thought.
      We value your commentary.

      Stay the course,

      -JC 😐

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  3. I never received the Save Morgan Street mailer so this is the first that I am hearing of it. It would be better if that group would use their efforts to convince Commissioners Madigan and Scirocco to bring the Parcel #1 portion of the Comprehensive Plan back for re-consideration by the Council.
    I didn’t think that Dr. Mastriani’s piece in Saratoga Today was so excellent. He gave the impression that the Comprehensive Plan Committee was openly discussing the Morgan Street re-zoning for 19 months. That was not the case. That change was brought up at the tail end of their deliberations at the request of the Hospital. When the incomplete Comprehensive Plan was taken up by the City Council in 2015, there was little attention paid to Parcel #1. It should have been given more scrutiny.
    Fortunately, the Comprehensive Plan is amendable. And the Hospital has other options such as building their medical office complex on the Admiral’s estate, which they have owned since 2014, behind the Rubin Dialysis Center on their existing campus. It could be accessed through the existing circular roadway without impacting Morgan Street at all. Also, instead of creating an even greater sea of parking lots surrounding the Hospital, it is time the they start building parking garages as other hospitals have done. This is Saratoga, not Sarasota. We have long winters. Staff and visitors would appreciate covered parking spaces and the Hospital would save on snow removal and maintenance.
    Morgan Street is best suited for residential use, not commercial.

    Chris Mathiesen

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think this blog is interesting, as it provides me an insight into a prospective of politics in our City. However, I am noticing a pattern that was once almost endearing, now feeling increasingly ugly. Similar to the state of our national politics and it’s causticness percolating through to the local level, a new state of divide now resides within our community. A new era of challenging facts, statements, and ideas in a vigorous manner in means that would previously seem appalling feel all to normal. Usually, there is an entertaining debate with a reflection on both sides on a local issue and then Chris Mathesien add in factual, calm, middle of the road language that usually shuts down or at least recorrects a conversation. However, even his attempt at recorrection, which I usually am in agreement with, does not feel like it’s enough. How is it ok for the conversation of local politics have gotten to a point where the innuendo of someone’s political wishes resemble one of the darkest times in modern history? I understand the political parallel with the genesis and yes, I do agree there are many statements and incidences we must be cognizant and vigilant of on a national level, but when a picture of a sociopath with twisted thinking is used as a point of emphasis, we are at a new point. No Mathesien comment can help redirect us. What are we going to be as a City when we wake up in Wednesday, hung over and broken from the street fight we’ve had since Spring? Human psychology can only take so much before one gives up. That’s what I want to know. The problems we face are solveable if we all believe in the same common goal: that it’s good for the community. It is good for the children of our community to see what’s going on here? They will be the ones who will be our Mayors, our Council Members someday. Is this the types of leadership behaviors what we want them to learn?

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