So Who Are the Leaders of the Pro-Charter Change Campaign?

A question I have is who are the leaders of this year’s campaign to change the city’s form of government to a city manager/ward system?

The 2019 Charter Change Campaign

In 2019 when the advocates of the city manager form of government began to campaign to get their proposal for charter change on the ballot once again, they put up an anonymous website. The website included articles that made questionable claims. There was an option to contact the site. I used this option to ask who the people behind the site were. I received no response.

I did a post on my blog about this. Soon after the post appeared they amended the website to include a list of people they identified as the site’s founders. Skidmore professor Bob Turner’s name was included even though he had stated just a few days earlier that he had nothing to do with the site. This is a link to that story.

The New Campaign

This year the charter change supporters who want a city manager/ward system have two web pages and two Facebook pages using the names Common Sense Saratoga and It’s Time Saratoga. The It’s Time page appears to be a carryover from 2017.

I just checked the website called Common Sense Saratoga. This was the site that was anonymous in 2019 and only under pressure put up five names as the site’s founders. Those names are now gone again, and it is again an anonymous site. In fact that website doesn’t even have an ABOUT option where such names would normally appear (There is a delicious irony that their homepage has the words “Accountability” and “Transparency” in bold type).

The current homepage for Common Sense Saratoga

There is a Facebook page that uses the same title as the website. In this case, it has an About page but there are no names on it.

Facebook now requires that a Facebook page have an owner. The owner is Libby Post, an Albany political consultant.

Try to follow me on this. There is a Political Action Committee called “It’s Time Saratoga.” This is the name of both the other website and the other Facebook Page. According to the New York State Board of Elections this year this PAC has paid Ms. Post’s Albany political consulting firm $3,000.00. The Board of Elections report also shows that Gordon Boyd donated $10,000.00 to this PAC and Jeff Altamari has contributed $3,000.00 to it. That represents $13,000.00 of the $14,300.00 raised so far. I think it is a safe assumption that these two men are among the leaders of the campaign to change the charter. Still it would be helpful to know who the rest of the people are.

Below is the About page for the It’s Time Saratoga Facebook page (No names).

Below is the About Page for the It’s Time Saratoga webpage (No names)

The Organization Saratoga Works Is Opposed to the City Manager Form of Government. Their Website States Very Clearly Who The Leadership of Their Group Is

Contrast the lack of information on the people behind the charter change websites with the Saratoga Works website which is maintained by the opponents of the city manager/wards charter proposal. [JK: Full disclosure-I am married to Jane Weihe]

The difference says it all about what it means to be straight with the community.

10 thoughts on “So Who Are the Leaders of the Pro-Charter Change Campaign?”

  1. Why would the leaders of this group wish to stay anonymous? Why would anyone want to back a headless horse? Perhaps that is what is needed in the presidential race, and anonymous candidate. This year an anonymous canditate for president might prove to be a tantalizing option for many. I guess I just answered my own question.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have always believed that mixing the legislative and executive branches of munipal govedrnment was a bad idea. If someone wanted to run for a city council position, why should she or he have to know about city finance or public works? It still doesn’t make any sense to me, but after reading your article about the anonymity of those backing the current proposal, I have decided to wait until a more responsible group comes up with the idea. Thanks for the insight, and please tell Jane I have changed my mind.

      Allan Carter

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  2. They say follow the money…. what is the motivation of these individuals to keep banging away at changing the form of government in the city other that to concentrate power in an non elected city manager… why? Altruism… highly doubtful, if you have a political consultant group from Albany involved. Let’s keep Skidmore academia’s influence limited to their Campus groups and not using our City as some political theory exercise.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you, John, for doing the research on who’s behind these pages. I think a little more information would be helpful though. I’m all for weighing facts and cutting thru dubious claims. But when raising a fact leads to more dubious reasoning and comments that are more speculative than fact, it’s not helpful.

    For example – is the Gordon Boyd you that donated $10,000 to this PAC the same one you’ve known for “over forty years” along with his wife Sharon that you wrote about here? https://saratogaspringspolitics.com/2017/06/11/new-york-times-publishes-gordon-boyd-letter/. If so, I didn’t see that mentioned as “full disclosure” as you dutifully pointed out for your wife, Jane Weihe.

    If it is the same Gordon Boyd, it would seem that someone who ran a health food store on Caroline Street, who currently runs Mercy House to provide shelter for homeless families in Saratoga Springs, who once ran for County Supervisor and also Saratoga Springs Mayor would be someone who really does have a vested interest in this community, wouldn’t you say?

    I mean, if he was THAT involved in Saratoga County and City government levels, I’m sure he knows a thing or two about how things ran. One commenter above wrote “follow the money.” Someone who knows this community that well and gives back every day to those in need right here in our city seems to have a vested interest in how it’s run.

    Also, one professor does not a “Skidmore Political Science” experiment make. Bob Turner is an associate professor. He’s not a dean. Though, as someone who teaches political science (among other things like environmental science), it would seem his opinion holds a bit of weight as he’s studied civic organization for many years, no?

    Saratoga Works names listed:
    A quick Google search of George Cain shows he backed the former city mayor’s re-election and a bunch of other Democrats in a Saratogian op-ed.

    The only John Dalton associated with Saratoga Springs I can find apparently died in 2005. I’m pretty sure he can’t put money toward a movement that started in 2019. So is it his son with the same name? Again, can’t find anything.

    Courtney Deleonardis is the former chair of the Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee who resigned en masse with the rest of the committee because they didn’t like the finance changes.

    Chris Obstarczyk became the City of Saratoga Springs republican Party Chair in 2019. Raised in Western New York just outside of Buffalo, Chris graduated from SUNY Geneseo and Albany Law School. Chris practices law at the law firm of Levy & Obstarczyk PLLC where he is the resident partner in the firm’s Saratoga County office.

    Janice Partridge is married to Jeff Partridge (according to this article https://dailygazette.com/2010/08/14/0815_nyorkers/), who worked volunteered for Scott Murphy’s House of Representatives campaign and also on Joanne Yepsen’s campaign for state Senate since moving here in 2004.

    Similar photos seem to indicate that Jeff and Jay are the same person. Again, not much to go off of in Google and it’s only a best guess from simple Google and Facebook results. If so, he is a former Long Island Railroad worker.

    Jane Weihe is the co-chair of Saratoga Works and the wife of the other of this blog, John. She campaigned with Commissioner of Finance Michele Madigan last year.

    Connie Woytowich is a NYS master teacher who teaches science for Colonie and has been heavily involved in local PTAs and camps for kids.

    If anyone else wants to help fill in the gaps of who these people are on both sides, that would be lovely.

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    1. Gordon, like most of us is complicated. He has done a number of good things for our community. I remember for one of his birthdays he raised money to restore the organ at what used to be the Mount McGregor Prison. Not many remember when he ran a health food store on Caroline. Retail was not in his blood. I thought of him as the Faulty Towers (John Cleese) of groceries. You remembering this dates you🙃

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    2. I’m not entirely sure what the point of the above response is as any one of us can google each of the people mentioned and make our own determination. I’m sure, as I do, many reading this know most of them and have our own perceptions of who they are and what they stand for. That said, if you’re going to post things but only partial then it’s important to get it right.

      “Courtney Deleonardis is the former chair of the Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee who resigned en masse with the rest of the committee because they didn’t like the finance changes.” There were many and important reasons that Courtney and others resigned and very little had to do with finance changes. I don’t even know where you got that information unless from someone on the current committee. For as long as most can remember and certainly when I was on the committee it was understood that one of your main responsibilities was to support (or at least not harm) the candidates endorsed, by majority vote, by the committee. If you are unable to do so it would be ethical to resign, especially if you choose to support an opposing candidate, which is what I did when I was unable to support Meg Kelly. Those on the current committee chose not to abide by that long held expectation and chose to support a primary candidate against Michele Madigan in her re-election bid (who had been endorsed by the committee). Not only that, Patty Morrison who put forth the primary bid against Madigan remained on the committee. This was inappropriate at so many levels and unethical in the spirit of the committee expectations. Even after asked to resign while doing this she refused and many of those who are still on the committee supported her decision. Those that chose to resign, did so for ethical reasons not financial.

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      1. Well, Gayle, it was to be helpful. I started by saying “when raising a fact leads to more dubious reasoning and comments that are more speculative than fact, it’s not helpful.” I’m not trying to argue. Quite the contrary.

        To your argument, what’s the point of John posting about who’s behind the Facebook pages since we can all search that information for ourselves too? I thought we were sharing facts here. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        That said, your additional information adds to that, so I thank you for that.

        As for where I got my information, it was whatever local news sources game up. This blog came up numerous times as well as The Saratogian and TU.

        I never said the reason they resigned were financial, though I’m sure “didn’t like the finance changes” could have been more clear. I felt my comment was getting long winded. In my mind, I was badly paraphrasing “in the wake of city Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan’s loss to Patricia Morrison” from the Daily Gazette.

        Here are some of the articles I had discovered. Again, thank you for your additions – very helpful.

        https://dailygazette.com/2019/08/01/democrat-turmoil-continues-in-saratoga/
        https://www.saratogian.com/news/local-news/saratoga-springs-democratic-committee-leadership-members-resign/article_9ea82c2c-a8b8-11e9-86c0-5b3634117d5c.html

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      2. Thank you and I’m not trying to argue either. I’m thinking the purpose of John’s blog naming those involved was a follow up to this prior one indicating that there was nothing showing who they were. And, if I got a bit defensive over the reason some chose to resign from the Dem Committee it is because of the plethora of misinformation coming from that group. Once the election was over I would have though they may have reached out with an intent to reunite. Instead they continue to attack and divide. It makes me both angry and sad.

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