It is like watching a train wreck in slow motion here in Saratoga Springs. The rhetoric, denunciations, and demands for apologies have a certain hyperbolic quality.
Any action is cast in its worst possible light with little concern for accuracy.
Mayor Kelly has now been accused of editing the recording of a City Council meeting to allegedly hide events from the public and of racist behavior when she temporarily adjourned the City Council meeting of July 6 following the audience’s disregard for her order that the public remain quiet while speakers addressed the Council. Prominent among those in the audience who refused to refrain from talking were Black Lives Matter leader Lexis Figuereo and BLM protesters.
Anyone who has attended a City Council meeting during Mayor Kelly’s tenure knows that she runs a very “tight” meeting. She has always rigorously enforced the two minute limit for speakers during the public comment period and has a history of cautioning the public for noise no matter who is in the audience.
Whether or not you believe that her style is appropriate, attributing this recent cautioning of the audience containing BLM protesters to racism and raising her actions to the level that it requires an apology has more to do with the culture wars and serves to increase the poisonous atmosphere that seems endemic to today’s politics both here and nationally.
As to the accusation that the taping of the meeting was altered, Commissioner Madigan is responsible for IT which includes the posting of videos of meetings. She confirmed that the Mayor had nothing to do with editing out the recess that occurred. It has been standard practice to record and post City Council meetings and to leave out recesses such as for executive sessions and any other hiatus of the public aspect of the meetings.
Assuming that Commissioner Madigan is able to recover the missing video the public is going to be very disappointed. The Mayor, Commissioners Dalton and Scirocco get up and leave. After a brief pause, the Mayor and the two Commissioners return and sit down.
What Was Missing From The News Coverage Of The Council Meeting
While the media and the public focused on the events that occurred prior to the Council’s business agenda, they overlooked items that were addressed during the rest of the meeting such as the report from Jason Golub who had chaired the Police Reform Task Force and is part of the three member committee the Mayor has appointed to work on the implementation of their recommendations. I repeatedly see comments in the media and from the pubic claiming that the Council rejected the Task Force recommendation for a civilian review board. This is not the case. Mr. Golub reported to the council on their progress so far.
“Our role is to provide the council with research that will allow you to confidently implement a CRB (Civilian Review Board) that makes sense. ; What I do not want for our city is a CRB in name only that ultimately does not meet the goals for which it is intended. CRB’s can protect civilians and members of the police force… it is critical we get this right for our community and this is where our focus will be.”
“”The totality of our research will be provide to the city ouncil and the public. It will then be up to the city council to determine what to do (with) the finding.”Jason Golub, July 6, 2021
Golub’s committee will provide monthly updates and a full report in October. It will lay out the powers of the CRB and a budget for a two year pilot program.
Unfortunately, the actual work that is being done to advance police reform was drowned out in the media coverage by the bitter recriminations during the public comment period.
Much More Ominous
The campaign BLM leader Lexis Figuereo is carrying out seems to be a mindless expression of his anger rather than a thoughtful organized drive to engage the wider community in a struggle against racism.
I cannot think of a more effective way to alienate this city than to:
- Post videos of himself yelling expletive laden insults at police officers passively asking for people to wait to attend the city council meeting.
- Announcing plans to disrupt downtown as a way to undermine the city’s economy when businesses are trying to recover from COVID.
Lexis Figuereo seems to be on a campaign to provoke the police into living up to his claims of their racism and brutality. However unfortunate Assistant Police Chief Catone’s emotional outburst was at the press conference last week, Figuereo’s disturbing behavior promises to eventually bring about a confrontation that not only endangers his own safety but the safety of the young people he attracts to his actions along with the police.
To date, no one has been hurt. I sincerely hope I am wrong, but things appear to be devolving and coming to a head.