Back in August, 2019, Bill McTygue and Ann Bullock accused Eddie Miller of the Independence Party and the members of the Saratoga Springs City Council of colluding in an agreement over the purchase of energy contracts.
Briefly, the city’s Ethics Board investigated the allegations and found them without merit. The police investigated the allegations and declined to bring charges. McTygue and Bullock complained of a conspiracy in city hall and brought their allegations to the New York State Attorney General.
At the time I wrote a long post reporting on the cynical charges the two had brought forward in their attempt to smear the members of the City Council during an election year. As leaders of the group heavily involved in trying to unseat the Mayor and City Council members last fall, McTygue and Bullock used press coverage of their allegations to try to portray the city government as a cesspool of corruption.
Two Stories From Alternate Universes?
So way back in the August 19, 2019, edition of the Times Union the story of the original allegations was reported under the headline:
“Complaint dismissed by Saratoga Springs officials goes to state Attorney General’s office”
Now, more than a year later (October 13, 2020) the same reporter (Wendy Liberatore) publishes a new story under the headline:
“Two Saratogians ask AG to review city gas, electric bids”
Does this new story’s headline sound rather familiar? Yes, except this headline is missing the inconvenient reference to the allegations having been dismissed a year ago.
Now a reasonable person might have expected the new story to inform the readers that this is the second time McTygue and Bullock have brought their complaints to the Attorney General and that after more than a year the Attorney General’s office has declined to bring any action.
Again, a reasonable person might have expected the reporter to contact the Attorney General’s office to find out why, since August of last year, the Attorney General has apparently taken no action.
A reasonable person would be disappointed. Instead, although there is a brief mention of a police investigation that dismissed McTygue’s and Bullock’s accusations the story reads as though these are new, shocking revelations. There is no mention that their charges were discredited over a year ago by the city’s Ethics Board and that the Attorney General had apparently decided not to pursue them over the past fourteen months.
McTygue and Bullock are among the leadership of the group campaigning for charter change. It is probably not coincidental that McTygue and Bullock waited a full year, until just before their charter proposal would be on the ballot, to try to bring their allegations back to life. Regrettably, the Times Union now serves as the hand maiden to their campaign. It repeats McTygue’s and Bullock’s harsh condemnation of the City Council as made up basically of criminals. This is consistent with the charter change narrative that somehow the commission form of government is particularly subject to corruption and needs to be replaced. It is not surprising then that the same day the TU article was published, McTygue visited the Saratoga Works website (they oppose the charter) and put up a link to the story.
Here are links to the original story and the new one.
Article from Times Union By Wendy Liberatore August 19, 2019
Article from Times Union By Wendy Liberatore October 13, 2019
7 thoughts on “Times Union Watch: Zombie Accusations Resurrected By Newspaper”
Facts are scary to the pro-charter group apparently because they refused to debate us after they agreed to, and are accusing us of using scare tactics. We believe that the people of Saratoga deserve the respect of a debate that presents both sides of the charter change argument. We are on the VOTE NO side because of the following facts that actually should scare you:
1. Whether online, at the door getting signatures, or at a press conference, the pro-charter group has not disclosed or presented to the public what this change will cost as compared to the current city budget line items. Transition costs, legal fees surrounding collective bargaining, and the actual number of positions and salaries that this new proposal entails have been completely ignored. The only dollar signs you see in the actual proposal are the four-fold increase in salary for the mayor from $14,500 to $65,000 and the $12,000 per ward representative. Their quest to drastically change how our government is run is what we would call risky and irresponsible. Giving the public incomplete information does not allow the public to come to a valid conclusion.
2. The pro-charter group is leaving something very important out of their argument: that you will only be able to vote for 2 of 8 people that will be governing us and running our city. You would only be able to vote for your assigned ward representative and the mayor. Right now, you can vote for all elected officials. Under this new proposal you would only be allowed to vote for 2. That’s voter suppression. That’s dangerous and takes power away from the people.
3. The pro-charter group is ignoring the fact that your would-be ward representative would be a minority in the city council. Your assigned ward representative would be 1 of 7 elected officials and would need to fight with the other members of the city council to get anything done for your ward. There is also nothing in the charter that prevents other wards from ganging up on yours. When federal funding for something undesirable, like a landfill for example or what happened to my poor immigrant grandparents (destruction of their neighborhood by urban renewal in Albany), comes along…where would it go? That’s divisive.
4. The pro-charter group is crickets on the issue of residency requirements – or lack thereof – for the City Assessor who determines how much property tax you should pay to the city, the City Clerk who manages public records, and the City Manager who would run our city. This is yet another risk.
We will continue to highlight these “scary” facts. Not because we want to scare you – but because the other side doesn’t want you to know. Perhaps that’s why they resorted to making all of those fake sites – because they are scared that you are smart enough to see their proposal for what it is: https://saratogaworks.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Annotated-2020-Charter-Change-Proposal-4.pdf
Happy Halloween….it’s all trick and no treat for the Saratoga Voter when it comes to this scary charter change proposal!
Co-chair of Saratoga Works
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Thank you, Connie
You have hit many important points in this post. The one that speaks to me and that I find some to not understand is about the concept of wards. I’ve had people say that we are already somewhat divided and this may be a bit true (West VS East, etc.) That can only be exacerbated by breaking our city into wards. Right now, if one section of the city needs or wants something they can lobby ALL members of the City Council and each one really needs to listen as each one will depend on their vote in the next election. They cannot afford to simply ignore the request. For example, even though it’s taken way too long those in the Eastern Plateau have been fighting for a needed EMS/fire station. In the Commission form, the Mayor and all the commissioner need to listen as they are a good size voting block. (I witnessed this when I worked in City Hall and worked on campaigns – no one could ignore any portion of the city) If we had a ward system, the only persons they would need to listen are the Mayor and their own representative. The other 5 have nothing to really gain and if those 5 decide the spending the millions that would be required they have little incentive to vote for it and may be disincentivized to vote for it if they think it could hurt their approval in their own ward. Rather, they need to think about how that money could be better spent in their own ward. The people of the Eastern Plateau would have no influence to get this done.
Of course, this could happen with any issue that benefits ONLY those in a ward and especially if it might take away from an issue in another ward. I would think that we generally do better when everyone on the Council is responsible to all of us – not just a few of us.
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I cannot imagine anyone kept reading the TU article after seeing who the 2 Saratogians in question were. McTygue and Bullock are desperate to be relevant. Not even Wendy and her spin machine could make that believable.
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A long time ago, My Father told me ” to stay away from people that call government agencies and bear false witness against others. When someone makes accusations and summons the Police, IRS, DEC, Dept. of Labor, Attorney General etc, STAY AWAY FROM THEM, because one day they’ll call these agencies on You!” When several members of this charter change gang tried to discredit Dr. Chris Matheisen( Attorney General’s Office) a few years ago, I promptly separated Myself from this group. Mustering this Times Union reporter( who happens to be this gang’s minister of propaganda) to exhume their absurd allegations is strictly politically motivated. This gangs intentions are depriving and slinging mud on the reputation of myself and more important this particular year, the repute of Our “hard working” city council members( who are doing a yeoman’s job thru these tough times, I must add). I can only suggest that all of us , our families, friends and neighbors, stay away from this self indulging gang, AND VOTE NO to charter change.
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I will never understand what Wendy Liberatore has to gain by writing such biased garbage. It’s like she thinks every article she writes qualifies as investigative journalism. Stick to facts Wendy, no one wants your opinion, and let’s leave the investigative journalism to Keith Morrison. As far as I can tell, she doesn’t even live in Saratoga Springs, but she seemingly has a vested interest in giving this group of yahoos a platform on which to perpetuate their lies. I honestly believe that if all of the people who are supporting charter change knew the level of depravity that key individuals associated with charter change resort to on a fairly regular basis, this wouldn’t have even made it on the ballot again. False accusations, frivolous lawsuits, misinformation, disinformation, and alternative facts sum up the M.O. of this group.
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In reading this over again, I see one paragraph that has been all too common for the McTygue/Bullock faction that also appears to now include Ron Kim, Bob Turner, Sarah Burger and others on the Pro-charter change group.
“It is distressing that in their campaign to change the city’s form of government (both Mr. McTygue and Ms. Bullock are in the leadership of the city manager effort) these people think nothing of trampling on the names of people in our city government in order to try to portray the current administration as corrupt and incompetent and thus urgently in need of a change in government.”
This group has gone after current Commissioners with blatant mistruths, exaggerated or completely false claims and downright bully tactics – to a point where one member, Pat Kane took to body shaming a Commissioner. If this is how they do business or promote what they put forth as something good for the city they’ve lost all credibility in my eyes.
While I unfortunately expect duh nastiness from McTygue/Bullock et al simply based on past behaviors there are some that I am sorely disappointed to see involved. There are others who have remained silent and this also disappoints me. Even if one believes this charter change to be positive, not stepping forth to decry the low level, vitriolic, deceitful claims is to be either intentionally complicit in that they approve of such actions or they are unintentionally complicit in staying quiet. The one person who has surprised me most and thus disappointed me most is Julie Cuneo. I had always viewed her as honest with integrity. Her silence here screams the loudest.
Any honest discussion about the charter change proposal would include an up-front admission from all sides that no one has all the right answers all the time. That might in turn lead to a full, engaging and positive civics lesson — a constructive debate about how we can best manage our small city. Instead, some of the change proponents have authored a kind of sniper fire which arrives by mail, peppered with exaggerated and sometimes provably fictitous claims intended to alarm, rather than enlighten. Haven’t we been subjected to quite enough of that already this campaign season? The thing is, deliberate, calculated deceptions carry the risk of seeming autobiographical — and looking around, one comes to a lament: some authors of it have in the past done a great deal for Saratoga Springs and, simply put, they know better.
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