On Friday, July 16, 2021, four of the six Democratic candidates for local office convened a press conference on the steps of city hall to announce that they planned to diffuse tensions in the city by doing a better job of listening to Black Lives Matter (BLM) activists. They seemed to be unaware of the history of city officials attempting to do just that.
Present at the press conference were Ron Kim (Mayor), Minita Sanghvi (Finance), Dillon Moran (Accounts), James Montagnino (Public Safety), and Shawn Wiggins (Supervisor).
The candidates admonished the current City Council for allegedly failing to try to engage the leadership of BLM to address their concerns. The candidates asserted that had the current Council members done so, the city would have been spared BLM’s demonstrations.
Ms. Sanghvi told those present:
“A lot of that would have been unnecessary if the city leaders had gone and talked to [the BLM people] where they are at Congress Park and resolved to meet at a later date instead of having them come here to Broadway and have the police tackle them. It shouldn’t have gotten that far in the first place.”Minita Sanghvi
Ron Kim stated, “They don’t feel heard. Nobody’s listening to them, so that’s why they’re marching in the streets.” He continued:
“I’m not saying we are going to wave a magic wand and grant anything [activists] are asking for, but I am saying listening to people is part of the job here. It’s part of the job description and that’s not happening, and that’s creating some of these problems”Ron Kim
But there is a history of attempts at dialog
Apparently Mr. Kim and Ms. Sanghvi are unaware of the history of efforts to engage the local leadership of BLM in a dialog. As just one example, here is a recording of Commissioner Madigan speaking at a special meeting of the City Council on October 1, 2020.
I contacted Commissioner Madigan and asked how the local BLM responded to her offer to meet with them. She responded:
Deirdre and I met with Lex and Jamaica Miles in October for nearly 3 hours.
Reviewing their 13 demands and outlining which demands we already meet, which needed state and or county involvement, which needed more work and follow-up. I was also looking into moderated meetings with BLM All of Us with Dale Willman.
I set a timeline for deliverables and getting back to them with next steps. I called them both literally 4 business days later to review the progress I made, but a personal matter came up so I was 1 day behind on deliverables.
Lex screamed and swore at me on the phone, didn’t care about my “personal issue”, I didn’t do enough and hung up on me. Then he made several videos complaining about me and the cost of my renovated office, and said all I did was whine about my personal problems (which was untrue, I simply said I wasn’t as far along as I liked but had info on each deliverable I promised and wanted to review that with him and Jamaica).
After the videos and being publicly excoriated by him and others, I decided they were not working with me in good faith and there was nothing more I could do to move the conversation forward. Again he just yelled, demanded, became vulgar, hung up in me, and then made ugly videos.
I wish the Democratic candidates all the best in this latest attempt to engage Mr. Figuereo in a conversation that will reduce the tensions in the city. They are incorrect and unfair in claiming, though, that those currently in office haven’t also tried to do this.
A Troubling Fundraising Email From Ron Kim
The email below was forwarded to me. It does not bode well for the coming campaign season.
My recollection of Mr. Kim’s two terms as the Commissioner of Public Safety is that he had a tendency towards intemperate outbursts. This email seems to indicate that he has not left that trait behind.
According to Mr. Kim we are seeing “the right wing tear down democracy in Saratoga Springs.” Citing “critical race theory” and “racist dog whistles” he claims “we are seeing the Trump playbook being implemented right on Broadway.” I’m not sure what he means by this but it seems a bit hyperbolic.
While Mr. Kim seems to be putting himself forward as the only candidate to preserve democracy in Saratoga Springs and save us from being taken over by Trumpism, let’s remember that his Republican opponent Heidi Owen West is actually a registered independent. His other opponent Robin Dalton changed her Republican registration also to independent, publicly criticizing the policies of Donald Trump and the national Republican Party.