Saratoga County Board of Supervisors: A Special Meeting Called to Add A Useless Level Of Bureaucracy

On Monday April 13, at approximately 3:00 PM Preston Allen, the chair of the Board of Supervisors, notified his fellow supervisors that there would be a specially convened board meeting on Friday. Given the restrictions on gatherings and social distancing it is not clear where or how this meeting will be convened.

Now it may seem odd that he would call for a special meeting on Friday when he canceled the regular monthly meeting that should have convened on Tuesday. Why should two business days matter?

The answer is that a specially called meeting is limited to the agenda accompanying the notification. Chairman Allen most definitely has a very limited meeting planned. Aside from some routine matters, the only other items on the agenda are:

  1. Suspension of Rule 1. Rule 1 requires the convening of a regular monthly meeting of the full board. Having already removed the April meeting from the calendar on the county website, I guess he now believes he needs the approval of the full Board of Supervisors to cancel the meeting.
  2. The establishment of an additional special committee of the Board of Supervisors to oversee the county’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

There is certain method to this craziness. A specially called meeting can only address items on the agenda as specified in the notice. As noted in my last post, Chairman Allen has already selected the members of the proposed new COVID committee and the majority is loyal to him. So it appears he hopes to both establish his hand picked committee and call out of order any attempt to take action that would undo the mess of the last month.

In the meantime, to add to the confusion, there is no proposed action item on the agenda to revoke the authority of the “special” (it has no name) committee empowered to determine staffing and raises. As readers may recall, the committee is made up of three supervisors, county administer Spencer Hellwig, and Human Resources Director Marcy McNamara. So Chairman Allen’s newly proposed committee appears to be an additional layer of impotent bureaucracy. It has no real power to do anything as the actual power remains with the “special” committee.

There is a glaring problem with this strategy. Adopting motions are based on a weighted vote where the representatives of the larger municipalities enjoy a wide margin. It is unlikely he can pass either of these two items. Convening a meeting knowing that it is unlikely he has the votes to approve his resolutions seems to be just another example of the general incompetence of his faction.

It would normally be logical that if the Board refused to suspend rule 1, then Chairman Allen would be compelled to convene the regular meeting the following Tuesday at which time he would lose control of the agenda. This of course assumes that the county adheres to proper procedure. The track record in this regard is not encouraging. It will be interesting to see how this drama plays out.

Making things even more interesting, is the status of the illusive agenda meeting. The meeting which normally meets on the Wednesday the week before the regular Board meeting has disappeared from the county’s calendar. As Rule 1 has not been suspended, the Board of Supervisors rules of order require that it be convened. Representatives from the larger municipalities have indicated they plan to show up for the mystery event.

Wendy Liberatore has a good story covering a “Zoom” meeting held by the dissident Supervisors that was open to the press and addressed all this.

She sought a comment from Chairman Allen who did not return her call but the public relations firm hired by the County did with a bland email statement. It kind of adds insult to injury that the taxpayer should have to pay for someone to answer questions put to the County’s elected officials.

29 thoughts on “Saratoga County Board of Supervisors: A Special Meeting Called to Add A Useless Level Of Bureaucracy”

  1. Will this meeting be available (either in person or via teleconference) to the press and public including to ask questions?

    Like

  2. So,

    “The establishment of an additional special committee of the Board of Supervisors to oversee the county’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. ”

    This is good news!
    Now, with the governor’s newest directive that all good citizens in the state wear face masks as of 8pm tonight, I guess business can reopen on Broadway, right? Or will the county supervisors continue their charade and sink the local economy?

    If businesses don’t re-open soon, it will be disastrous.

    Lowering all flags to half staff indefinitely is demoralizing enough.
    Not having anybody in the local hospitals is another story.
    Ask anyone you know that works in the health profession…Where are all these pandemic patients?
    There aren’t any.

    FD/EMS scanners are quiet.
    You can check the live feed here, anytime:
    https://www.broadcastify.com/listen/feed/1874

    Something isn’t right.
    But what do i know?

    -JC 😐

    Like

    1. “Ask anyone you know that works in the health profession…Where are all these pandemic patients?”???

      You continue to be one of the most frustratingly misinformed poster on what is otherwise a useful blog for all Saratogians. A simple google search brought up dozens of links like the ones below showing how overwhelmed NYC hospitals are. Anyone who has friends and family downstate, especially in healthcare, has heard how dire it is. The point of social distancing and closing businesses is to ensure that overwhelmed hospitals don’t happen everywhere. The only way this works out is if in retrospect it is viewed as an overreaction, because an under-reaction results in hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of avoidable deaths in Saratoga. Maybe spend less time listening to a useless live feed and passing conspiracy theories, and instead get better informed.

      https://www.cbsnews.com/news/coronavirus-pandemic-doctors-describe-harrowing-realities-inside-nyc-emergency-rooms/

      A “cacophony of coughing” in packed emergency rooms. Beds squeezed in wherever there is space. Overworked, sleep-deprived doctors and nurses rationed to one face mask a day and wracked by worry about a dwindling number of available ventilators. Such is the reality inside New York City’s hospitals, which have become the war-zone-like epicenter of the nation’s coronavirus crisis.
      Faced with an infection rate that is five times that of the rest of the country, health workers are putting themselves at risk to fight a tide of sickness that’s getting worse by the day amid a shortage of needed supplies and promises of help from the federal government that have yet to fully materialize.

      A refrigerated truck has been stationed outside to hold the bodies of the dead. Over the past 24 hours, New York City’s public hospital system said in a statement, 13 people at Elmhurst had died.

      https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2020/04/04/coronavirus-ventilator-shortages-may-force-tough-ethical-questions-nyc-hospitals/5108498002/

      “It’s very simple math. We don’t have enough equipment for everyone who needs it,” said Dr. Calvin Sun, an emergency care doctor who covers shifts in hospitals across New York City.

      Like

      1. Andy,

        Sorry Charlie, you’re wrong.
        I have first hand info from NYC and locally.
        Family members on the force — Cops Nurses and EMTs.

        Hospitals are empty.
        Emergency rooms normal.
        No COVID calls on the scanners.

        Do you get all your info online from unverified sources?
        Do you know ANYONE that has first hand knowledge of the event?
        I do.

        Deaths to date are not above normal for NYS as compared to last year.
        Just more are tagged “COVID19.”
        Everything else is same. No change.

        Be careful! You’re being sucked into the abyss.
        Put down the phone, get off facebook.
        You’ll be happier.

        And for gosh-sakes get outside and get a canolie & coffee at Mrs. London’s.

        And you don’t need to wear a friggin masks!
        The mask thing and social distancing — It’s not an ORDER it’s a suggestion.
        Use your head, man! Only YOU can decide what’s best for YOU!
        That’s called LIBERTY.

        The governors edicts are VOLUNTARY!
        Read the cover of today’s’ Daily Gazette.

        We are a constitutional republic, not a democracy.
        We are NOT under martial law.

        Wake up!
        Freedom versus tyranny.
        I choose freedom.

        Nobody is going to shut down my business.
        We’re still working.

        Are you?
        And not from home.
        I mean WORKING.

        This younger generation is so scared.
        I feel sorry for you people.
        Really.

        But I AM HERE. We are here.
        Talk to your parents and grandparents.

        Listen to the older ones.
        We come from a different paradigm that you cannot understand.
        When this is all over, you’ll see. Or maybe not.

        Thanks JK for posting the controversial and thought provoking posts.
        The court jester was all too wise and valuable to the king.
        Someone HAS to question the conventional wisdom taking hold of this crazed paradigm.
        You guys are valued, don’t forget that.

        Stay healthy, safe and keep your head screwed on,

        -JC 😉

        Like

    1. Steve–

      What are YOUR recommendations regarding re-opening downtown businesses on Broadway?
      What are your thoughts on restarting the (almost collapsed) county economy?

      Why is it that not one of you are challenging these COVID19 mandates?
      And why did the WHO change the name of the contagion from Coronavirus to COVID19?
      Is it about vaccines or testing the general population.

      Certificate Of Vaccine IDentification.
      Think about it.
      C.O.V.ID.

      Maybe it’s not the virus, we should be worried about.
      More here:
      https://biohackinfo.com/news-bill-gates-id2020-vaccine-implant-covid-19-digital-certificates/

      Beuller?
      Beuller?

      -JC 😐

      Like

      1. Polling shows people are wary of returning to activities given the risk associated with the virus (link below). If you open shops while people don’t return to them, businesses will actually be in worse shape as they’ll be paying employees, utilities, and things that may rot unused, all for customers that won’t show up. A mandate to reopen doesn’t matter when people don’t want to risk spreading the virus, or worse, by going out for a drink or to the movies. The shutdown needs to continue until testing ramps up in a major way, hospitals are well prepared, and a vaccine or some other medical breakthrough is found.

        https://news.gallup.com/poll/308264/americans-remain-risk-averse-getting-back-normal.aspx

        Your comments about the WHO and Bill Gates are akin to birtherism, Qanon, and the Illuminati, and should be deleted before someone takes this nonsense as fact.

        https://www.factcheck.org/2020/04/conspiracy-theory-misinterprets-goals-of-gates-foundation/

        Like

      2. “China, Iran and Russia are using the coronavirus crisis to launch a propaganda and disinformation onslaught against the United States, the State Department warns in a new report.”

        “Some of the disinformation is produced by state-run media outlets, and some has been put out by the governments themselves. A website run by Russia’s Defense Ministry, for instance, highlighted the conspiracy theory that billionaire Bill Gates played a role in creating the virus.”

        https://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/21/russia-china-iran-disinformation-coronavirus-state-department-193107

        Congrats on amplifying a campaign of Russian propaganda Comrade Justin.

        Like

    1. “You continue to be one of the most frustratingly misinformed poster on what is otherwise a useful blog for all Saratogians.”

      “Your comments about the WHO and Bill Gates are akin to birtherism, Qanon, and the Illuminati, and should be deleted before someone takes this nonsense as fact.”

      Kudos, Andy. You are not alone.

      Like

  3. I am sorry, did I just read that the County hired a PR FIRM to clean up after them?? This is ABSURD! The ‘special’ committee of 5 morons screws up, causing the County to hemorrhage money and then spend MORE money to hire a PR firm to try to rehab their image?? That Dog the Bounty Hunter and Bill Parcell video is suddenly making a lot more sense now…. Can you imagine if the city of saratoga springs hired an outside PR firm to help their image? The public would be OUTRAGED and rightly so. The same applies here. I am mortified by the actions of this County, Hellwig, Marcy, the whole crew needs to GO.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Andy and T. Mulligan and JK–

    1. If polling meant anything at all, Trump wouldn’t be our President. Remember how surprised people were when he got elected? The polls all said it was going to be Hillary. Polls are polls. They take a sample and ask them questions that people may or may not be truthful about when they respond. And even in the beginning of his presidency when Trump would claim that he was doing such a great job because the polls say so, that he would gloat about and display as indisputable evidence, I have a feeling it did not reflect everyone.

    2. As far as the hospital crisis – Cuomo said himself more than once over the past week that we are giving ventilators away (not just to one state but to several in the past week) and in Saratoga – there is no shortage of staffing or emergency equipment – you can read it yourself as our City releases these updates. Every. Single. Day. http://www.saratoga-springs.org/civicalerts.aspx?AID=451

    3. The goal in New York has changed – have you noticed? We went from slowing the spread and flattening the curve to “stopping” the spread and Cuomo has stated that wants to guarantee “100%” safety for all. This is impossible and he setting a trap – I’m not sure if it’s for himself or someone else – but notice the subtle change in words that he is using now. Interesting. Why not guarantee 100% safety for all of the other things that can kill? Why this? Why now?

    4. Yes, COVID-19 is named for the year. This time. The other seven versions are not named that way and it’s not conventional: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/types.html

    5. T. Mulligan – Not nice. “Mediocre” must be the new word for “deplorables”? You insinuate a desire for them to not “walk the earth”. Sounds like you are in to the American Eugenics Movement from way back in the day? While you may not see eye to eye with them, that’s really not cool.

    Like

    1. 1 – Hillary won the popular vote by almost 3 million votes, and if you followed any of the reputable poll reporters, like 538, the race was both fairly close and highly uncertain. They had him at about a 30% chance of winning. If your media intake said he had no chance it winning, that’s on them/you, not the polls actually done. A poll about who you’ll vote for is also obviously different than asking about people’s behavior during a pandemic.

      https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/why-fivethirtyeight-gave-trump-a-better-chance-than-almost-anyone-else/

      2 – NY is giving away ventilators to states like NJ, Michigan and Maryland because of where we are in our process compared to where they are. We’re also giving away some after receiving more than 1,000 from China and Oregon earlier this month. With the federal government not doing its job, the states are having to share as the wave of the virus hits places at different times. It not hitting Saratoga very hard is a good thing, but without proper preparation and social distancing we could turn into NYC. To avoid that is literally the whole point.

      3 – Of course the language is changing as the virus and the State’s response progresses. Once you flatten the curve, the goal then becomes making sure that curve doesn’t bend back the wrong way, as some places around the world have seen. This situation is wildly different than “normal” causes if death. Sneezing on someone from 4 feet away isn’t going to increase the chance of a car crash or cancer. But limiting social interaction will limit deaths caused by a highly contagious virus. The mortality rate is tough to know due to testing problems, but if it’s 2% and there are 230,000 Saratogians, that’s 4,600 dead. Some places are seeing a mortality rate much higher. You and Justin OK with thousands of dead locals because you want a bagel from Uncommon Grounds?

      4 – What does the name have to do with anything? It’s a coronavirus first detected in 2019. That’s it. Names like MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) were stopped because it leads to people wrongly assuming only people in one area can get it, and also leads to racial animus. These been some of that seen in the US with covid19, as awful people calling it the “China virus” led to attacks and harassment of Chinese Americans.

      Justin, I have friends and family in NYC, and the strain on some hospitals is devastating. It is disgusting/baffling that you would insinuate they’re lying and that what’s being reported by reputable papers and news stations (not “unverified sources”) in the area is somehow all wrong, especially when your counterpoints are a scanner (???) and a shady website where one of the top stories is literally “Cyborg becomes ‘human weather station’ after surgically implanting ‘fins’ into his head”. Logic like yours is the reason the U.S. is getting hit harder than other countries, and we’d all be better off if we focused on the guidance of of health and policy experts, not baseless conspiracy theories.

      Like

      1. Andy–

        1. Sorry dude – but fivethirtyeight was one identified (read about halfway through) for producing an inaccurate prediction in 2016: https://thehill.com/hilltv/what-americas-thinking/405942-gallup-top-editor-faulty-polling-in-2016-led-to-inaccurate-data

        2. I cannot say for sure where the ventilators came from, can you?

        3. Of course not. But are you ok with making conclusions, policy and practice from incomplete data?

        4. There were two incorrect comments (not by me) about the origin of the naming of COVID-19. I was merely taking the readers to the CDC website to clarify.

        You also seem to have put me in a certain “group” in your mind. I belong to none.

        Perhaps Marcus Aurelius says it best with his meditations on what he learned and who he learned from: “…of him that brought me up, not to be fondly addicted to either of the two great factions of the coursers in the circus….nor in the amphitheater partially to favor any of the gladiators, fencers…..”

        No need to be quarrelsome or imply that I am heartless or careless. Instead of being intolerant, I have the ability to dutifully entertain many interesting thoughts from others without accepting them.

        Good night, brother.

        Like

      1. It’s all tongue-in-cheek JK.

        I like Andy.
        He’s an engaging fellow.
        A conscientious type of guy.

        Wish more commenters were the same.
        Sorry for delay getting back to you but I’m doping my best at “social distancing” (lol).

        Thanks,

        JC 😉

        Like

  5. 1984versus1776-

    1 – Not sure your article says what you think it was. No specific critique of 538 was offered (it was just lumped with several others), and it’s coming from a pollster potentially trying to shift blame. Check the first link I sent again, or the tweet below showing 538’s Clinton odds compared to others. 538’s final poll had a 29% chance for Trump. Certainly not a sure thing. I’m not quite sure why we’re even arguing about this, other than you initially badmouthing the idea of polling saying the public won’t return to notmal shopping purely based on Trump winning, which seems pretty apple to oranges to me.

    2 – There were articles about this in just about every news outlet: https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2020/04/04/827314791/this-is-a-big-deal-new-york-hails-ventilator-deliveries-from-china-and-oregon

    3 – We’re in the middle (maybe?) of an ongoing pandemic where a lack of testing makes any analysis incomplete. Assuming that, we can either potentially over-swing and shut down interactions like we have done, or instead cross our fingers and hope it isn’t as bad as other places are actually seeing it? What we’ve done undoubtedly hurts businesses, to say nothing for the social impact on those who can’t see loved ones, but the other options could result in the avoidable death of millions of Americans, including thousands of Saratogians. What’s your trade here? What is your proposal?

    I don’t care about the historical naming of viruses or Marcus Aurelius, so I’m just going to skip those entirely. Whatever your intent, saying “there is no shortage of staffing or emergency equipment” in Saratoga while ignoring what’s going on downstate and around the world could certainly be construed as insular-looking at best, and heartless at worst. “Why not guarantee 100% safety for all of the other things that can kill?” is also a comparison that could be considered careless, as you’re seemingly trying to equate things like cancer or car crashes with a highly communicable disease that there is no medical treatment for. The comparison isn’t fair or useful.

    Like

    1. Andy–

      Can we just agree that the scientists just don’t know enough at this point and that the research is ongoing? Let’s not get into a p!ss!ng match like Cuomo and De Blasio/Trump
      https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.14.20062463v1.full.pdf:

      Adjusting for age, gender and ethnicity the results suggest that 2.8 percent of people in the county had already had the virus. That might not seem like many, but at the time of the study — on April 4 and 5 — only 1,094 people in the county were recorded as having the virus. The study suggests the real figure is between 48,000 and 81,000, it is one more piece in a jigsaw which is slowly building up a picture of a virus which may be far more prevalent — and possibly far less deadly — than was at first believed. If SARS-Cov-2 is already endemic in the population there is nothing we can do to stop it but no great reason to try to stop it, either: it has already ripped its way through the population with only a small proportion showing any symptoms.

      Still comes down to data: while the algorithms may be spot on – the data we are plugging in to the algorithms is incomplete/inaccurate.

      Unlike you, I don’t claim to know everything up to this point. I like my humble pie until the data is clear.

      Like

      1. The link to the study is invalid/ broken.
        I had earlier decided to end this thread that Justin began but I am curious and skeptical of a study that purports to be able to determine the number of infected based on very limited data.
        Please send in a comment with the link.

        Like

      2. “Unlike you, I don’t claim to know everything up to this point. I like my humble pie until the data is clear.”
        1984versus1776, try to ease up on the thinly veiled insults.

        Like

      3. After everything you’ve said about reacting too quickly, it’s pretty rich that the website you linked to says this at the top:

        Caution: Preprints are preliminary reports of work that have not been certified by peer review. They should not be relied on to guide clinical practice or health-related behavior and should not be reported in news media as established information.

        I think we’re done here. There’s a virus with no cure killing people around the world, and your takeaway is somehow “there is nothing we can do to stop it” when social distancing does just that, and that there’s “no great reason to try to stop it” as if a materially increased mortality rate for the older population, which Saratoga has a lot of, isn’t a reason to try to stop it. Snarky comment aside, waiting for data rather than potentially overacting will get people killed.

        Like

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