In the November 18, 2020, Times Union, Wendy Liberatore reports more foolishness at the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors.
Just a brief recap:
While there are twenty-three members of the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors, resolutions require a weighted vote majority. This means that the value of a Supervisor’s vote is based on the number of people living in his/her municipality. In fact, as few as six Supervisors from the largest municipalities can constitute a majority over the other seventeen Supervisors.
The Saratoga County Board of Supervisors is chaired by Preston Allen who is the Supervisor from the town of Day. He represents the smallest town by population. Based on the last census he represents only 856 people. Contrast this with Supervisor Tomlinson from the town of Halfmoon. He represents 21,535 constituents. So he represents roughly 25 times the number of people that Allen does.
In the world of the Board of Supervisors, the chair of the board wheels a great deal of power. This was demonstrated by the COVID bonus fiasco which was engineered by Supervisor Allen in alliance with other Supervisors from small towns. They have basically frozen out the Supervisors from all of the large municipalities.
The Supervisors from the larger municipalities have banded together in a group called “The Saratoga County Public Health Northway Corridor Task Force (SCPHNCTF).” The group is made up of the following:
Phil Barrett, Supervisor Clifton Park
Eric Connolly, Supervisor Ballston
Tara Gaston, Supervisor Saratoga Springs
Todd Kusnierz, Supervisor Moreau
John Lant, Supervisor Wilton
Darrren O’Connor, Supervisor Malta
Jon Schopf, Supervisor Clifton Park
Kevin Tollisen, Supervisor Halfmoon
Matthew Veitch, Supervisor Saratoga Springs
Old Guard Doubles Down
In a letter to Chairman Allen dated November 17, 2020, the SCPHNCTF noted that they had been totally frozen out of the recent hiring of a county Public Health Director and the recruiting of a new County Attorney.
The letter notes a history of the current county leadership excluding the participation of the the representatives of larger municipalities. It notes that following the seating of Preston Allen as chair last January, they have been marginalized.
At the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors organizational meeting in January 2020, a number of supervisors expressed concerns regarding a lack of leadership positions, including committees, among those representing large municipalities comprising the majority of the county population.November 17 letter
The signatories expressed alarm and frustration at the apparent rush to fill key management vacancies at the end of Chairman Allen’s term.
For example, positions to lead the Department of Health and County Attorney’s offices have been advertised and the hiring process hastened. Further, last week a proposed appointment to the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership was presented. The assessment of applicants and the interviewing processes have been conducted by the same few Supervisors appointed to key leadership positions in the beginning of 2020. These Supervisors represent a minority of county residents and none are in a position to evaluate applicants with an eye to the needs and concerns of the more densely populated areas of Saratoga County.November 17, 2020
The letter observes that prior to the names for Director of Public Health and the representative to the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership being submitted to the full Board of Supervisors at their most recent meeting, the SCPHNCTF had received no information about any of the applicants.
It is interesting how heavy handed the old guard has been in this business. They appear to be unconcerned about poking the bear (provoking the large municipalities with the votes to take over the county board and marginalize them).
Shutting Down The Hiring Of Management Until The New County Leadership Is Elected In January
The letter supports the hiring of the Public Health Director in light of the COVID emergency. However they advise Chairman Allen that they will oppose any other appointments until January when new officers for the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors are chosen.
If new hires or appointments, other than the Commissioner of Health, are placed before the Board of Supervisors for consideration during the remainder of 2020, we will not support any proposed candidate.November 17, 2020
Breaking With Tradition
The tradition of the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors has been to promote the chair of the Law and Finance Committee to the position of chair of the entire Board. That would mean Daniel Pemrick from the Town of Greenfield would be in line to be head of the Board in 2021. That protocol appears to be under serious threat. According to the Times Union story, Clifton Park Supervisor Phil Barrett declined to comment on the future election of a chairperson except to observe that “there will be a vote on a new chairman at the reorganizational meeting in January.”
One can only hope that the sclerotic leadership of our county government will be swept away in January.