Mayoral Candidate Ron Kim’s Regrettable Attempt to Rewrite History

The libertarian website “Moving Saratoga Forward” has posted a video documenting a bizarre event at the recent League of Women Voters Candidate Forum. In the video, Ron Kim, Democratic candidate for mayor, claims that the most important issue facing Saratoga is that “we don’t have an eastside fire station.” He goes on to claim that when he was Commissioner of Public Safety, Republicans blocked his attempt to build a fire station on the city’s eastside. This is not true.

The facts are that the only time he submitted a proposal to build any kind of public safety facility was at the October 2, 2007, City Council Meeting, and it was not a fire station station (minutes):

  1. The project he proposed was a new facility for the police department, not a fire station. It was to be erected not on the eastside but on Woodlawn Avenue. This is from the resolution proposed by Mr. Kim: “WHEREAS, the Final Feasibility study recommended as one of the preferred sites, the construction of a 47,000 square foot facility at the City owned lot at the Woodlawn Avenue Parking Lot;”
  2. His proposal was defeated by Democrats, not Republicans. There were no Republicans on the City Council at the time. The cost of his proposed facility was estimated at $17,000,000.00. It lost on a three to two vote. In favor were Mr. Kim (D) and Mayor Valerie Keehn (D). Opposed were John Franck (D), Matt McCabe (an Independent who had been endorsed by the Democrats), and Tom McTygue (D).
  3. When his proposal for the police facility was defeated, Mr. Kim abruptly walked out of the City Council meeting. According to the minutes of the October 2, 2007 minutes: “Commissioner Ron Kim said that sometimes it is important to stand on principle and did not feel the need to spend any more time with the Council. He then pulled the remainder of his agenda and departed.”

The plain and simple fact is that Mr. Kim never submitted a proposal for an eastside fire station during his tenure as Commissioner of Public Safety as he stated at the League of Women Voters event.

The Video From Moving Saratoga Forward

Here is a link to the video.

8 thoughts on “Mayoral Candidate Ron Kim’s Regrettable Attempt to Rewrite History”

  1. In all fairness to Ron Kim, I did not hear in that video that he brought a proposal for the third fire/EMS station to the City Council table for approval. He merely said that he was working for a third station to serve the east side and that Republicans blocked his efforts. During his second term as Public Safety Commissioner, the make-up of the City Council had changed, There was only one other Democrat serving in 2008 and 2009 (John Franck). The Republicans had the majority and I know that at least one of those Republicans continued to be opposed to a third fire/EMS station while we served simultaneously on the Council.

    Also, I know that the need for a third fire/EMS station to better meet response times throughout the City had been discussed during Ron Kim’s term as Public Safety Commissioner and that Ron was an advocate for that proposal.

    The fact that Ron brought a proposal for a vote during his first term as Public Safety Commissioner for a public safety building which would include a still desperately needed new police station does not contradict his stated support for a third fire/EMS station to improve fire and medical emergency response times during his two terms as Commissioner. Unfortunately, the video attached to this blog entry distorts the facts.

    Chris Mathiesen

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    1. I always respect and appreciate the comments from my friend Chris Mathiessen. With respect, Mr. Kim told his audience that the Republicans “blocked” his effort. There is no public record of Mr. Kim crafting an east side fire station proposal let alone his submitting it to his fellow council members.

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      1. There are many agendas circulated through City Hall that never make it into the public arena. Commissioner Kim would have no reason to bring a proposal to the Council table if he knew he lacked the votes to get it passed.

        City taxpayers funded a study of the deficiencies regarding emergency response times for residents of the eastern ridge. It called for a third fire/EMS station to alleviate the problem and it even mentioned optimum locations for such a station. I believe that the study was conducted at the behest of Commissioner Kim. I was shown the study in 2011 when I was first running for office. At that time, officials in the fire department were frustrated that the study seemed to have been shelved due to a lack of support from the Council members serving at that time.

        Ron Kim definitely was an advocate for better emergency response times for the entire City and he took measures to formally address the problem when he served as Commissioner of Public Safety.

        Chris Mathiesen

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      2. On July 12, 2007, the city held a workshop to consider the “FEASIBILITY STUDY FOR POLICE CENTER AND EAST SIDE EMS/FIRE STATION.” The study recommended Regatta View as the location for the proposed east side station. It was a thorough and thoughtful analysis. On October 2, 2007, Kim submits his proposal for a $17,000,000.00 public safety facility focused on the police including nothing about an east side fire station. At the time there were no Republicans on the Council. Matt McCabe was the point person for opposing the project as excessively expensive. Kim had an opportunity to go for the east side station but instead went for the central facility which he wanted to be situated on the west side on Woodlawn Avenue. Kim had a council made up entirely of Democratic endorsed officials. Instead of going for the east side station, he went for his very expensive proposal for a downtown police station. When his facility was defeated he walked out of the meeting. He subsequently submitted nothing on the Regata View site. Chris, you can speculate that he worked for an eastside facility supposedly behind closed doors but the public record does not support you. Here is a link to the feasibility study http://www.saratoga-springs.org/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Minutes/_07122007-887
        Here is a link to the resolution to build the facility on Woodlawn Avenue http://www.saratoga-springs.org/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Minutes/_10022007-894

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  2. That workshop may have mentioned Regatta View but the study I saw focused on areas closer to the City’s core. The fire department officials that I spoke to felt that Regatta View was to distant from the areas of the City where the majority of emergency calls originate. Whatever study that is cited, Ron Kim can certainly validly state that he worked on bringing about a third fire station to better serve the eastern plateau. There is no contradiction here. It wasn’t his fault that the Council flipped to a Republican majority for his second term as Public Safety Commissioner thus thwarting his attempt to initiate the third station.

    Ron’s proposal for a new police station definitely had merit. When I took office, the police station was in shambles. It had poor security. It was inefficient. It did not meet the City’s building codes. Wires were hanging out of ceilings. Working conditions for our police officers and dispatchers were very poor. We had to budget over $600,000 for improvements which ultimately cost nearly one million dollars. We now have a police department which is safer for all, more efficient and more accommodating for those who continue to work there. What we don’t have is the modern police department that Ron proposed and that we should have. The improvements that we made were only to buy us time but we still need a modern facility as well as a secure records retention building and an evidence processing and storage facility. Had Ron’s proposal been adopted, we wouldn’t have had to spend nearly one million dollars to improve a facility that should have been replaced long ago. This is one of many examples where focusing on 0% tax increases has long term consequences.

    Chris Mathiesen

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  3. Whatever happens, the headline of this blog entry simply isn’t true. Ron did NOT re-write history when he referred to his efforts regarding the third fire station.

    Regarding Charter change, this election should serve as more proof that it is long past the time for us to abandon the Commission form of government.

    Chris Mathiesen

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    1. Actually this election serves as proof that the Commission model is working fine. Democracy like nature loves diversity. We have more choices now then ever. I was able to vote for all 5 candidates, 2 of them independents instead of a single ward leader and the mayor. The public has rejected charter change again and again and if Mr. Kim is defeated (probable) it may very well be due to his support for such a change.

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