Commissioner Moran Schedules Yet Another Meaningless Public Hearing

In Search Of Proposed Code?

On the preliminary agenda for Tuesday night’s (5/3/22) Saratoga Springs City Council meeting is yet another meaningless public hearing. The current City Council members confuse scheduling public hearings with providing a real opportunity for public input. They repeatedly have scheduled these hearings but neglect to tell the public what it is they are being invited to comment on. The public hearing on amending the “City code Re: Alcohol Sales and Use ” is just the latest example of this.

This time I presume it is Accounts Commissioner Dillon Moran who is responsible for this hearing. I’m guessing this has to do with some of the ideas he threw out at the last City Council meeting about extending outdoor alcohol consumption in public spaces but who really knows since the specific wording of the changes to the city code are not provided.

What is the point of asking the public to comment on a change to the city code if the public is not provided with a copy of the proposed language? The devil is always in the details so seeing the proposed changes in writing is essential for the public to be able to constructively respond.

This is just another unfortunate example of this new Council claiming to provide transparency as they stumble forward.

Police Department Exodus Raises Questions About Staffing Preparedness for Coming Track and Tourist Season

Saratoga Springs Public Safety Commissioner James Montagnino’s heavy-handed administration of the Saratoga Springs Police Department is bearing bitter fruit.

In Saratoga’s summer tourist season, the Saratoga Springs Police Department can go from dealing with a city of approximately 29,000 to on some days a population of 75,000. The department will be going into this busy season with a substantially diminished force, and Public Safety Commissioner James Montagnino’s recent actions are only making things worse.

The department already had a number of vacancies at the end of 2021. Seven new hires are currently attending the Police Acadamy but will not be fully operational until the fall, and historically not all the candidates who attend the Acadamy end up completing the process. Eleven other vacancies remain unfilled.

In a single month, though, the department will now also lose three of its officers.

The highest-ranking female officer who was publicly criticized and threatened with demotion by Commissioner Montagnino is retiring.

Lieutenant Sean Briscoe retired this week. He has been with the department for approximately twenty-seven years and is only fifty years old.

Officer Yevgeniy “Gene” Khutoryanskiy has opted for a lateral transfer to the Glenville Police Department. Although he maintains his rank, he took a pay cut which indicates how poisonous the environment in the department has become.

Other police officers in the department are also exploring getting out given the tensions with Montagnino’s oversight and the potential for enforced overtime that this understaffed department will face this summer.

For a good discussion on this check out this episode of Talking Saratoga.

Commissioner Montagnino’s Credibility Takes Another Hit

In early April Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen harshly criticized Saratoga Springs Public Safety Commissioner James Montagnino for “inserting himself into an active police investigation being conducted by members of the Saratoga Springs Police Department” and then turning “to the media to publicize his premature and inaccurate take” on “an alleged incident involving several teenagers at a house party” that occurred in February.

Montagnino’s response was to tell the Times Union that “Heggen and Chief Shane Crooks who told the Times Union that the investigation was ongoing are ‘trying to rewrite history.’ “

Well, now it seems that Commissioner Montagnino was the one who was trying to “rewrite history.”

At the April 5 Saratoga Springs City Council meeting, Public Safety Commissioner James Montagnino waved a piece of paper claiming the investigation that involved a fight at a teen party the weekend of February 27th had been closed on March 1, 2022. According to him, this proved that Heggen and Crooks were wrong to refer to the investigation as “ongoing” and therefore he had not “inserted himself into an active police investigation ” as Heggen had charged.

I FOILed for any police documents related to the case. I have received the forty-seven-page police file. It is heavily redacted (blacked out text) but it is still revealing.

Below is the document displayed by Montagnino at the City Council meeting. This city is required to enter information on local cases into a state database. This is a printout from that database. There is no question that it includes a data point that the case was closed on March 1. Reliable sources tell me that the date was a clerical error.

I am not including all the contents of the police file as I want to protect the names in it from social media abuse. The key thing that the file reveals, though, is that subsequent to March 1, 2022, at least four witnesses were interviewed by the police and signed affidavits. It is clear from the file that the investigation was ongoing and did not end on March 1 as claimed by Montagnino.

It begs credibility that Commissioner Montagnino was unaware of the ongoing investigation as, based on the documents, it involved multiple officers of varying ranks in his department.

I do not think it unfair to speculate that Commissioner Montagnino cynically cherry-picked this one document from all the records in the case file in order to mislead the public and try to clear his name from the serious charges made by Heggen.

If he did not know that his police officers were still investigating the incident, then it demonstrates how out-of-touch he is with the men and women who serve under him.

Commissioner Moran’s More Booze in Public Places Plan in Jeopardy

Dillon Moran

Saratoga Springs Accounts Commissioner Dillon Moran seems to be obsessed with expanding the number of outdoor public venues in the city where alcohol can be consumed.

In rambling remarks at the April 19, 2022, City Council meeting he announced a number of initiatives including a plan to have the city pass its own law allowing restaurants that expand into public areas in front of their businesses to serve alcohol in those outdoor spaces. Needless to say, the ability to serve alcohol is essential to making these outdoor dining extensions viable. Not surprisingly, though, Moran offered no actual language for the law, and it appears he is in denial about the reality that the city does not have the authority to implement such an initiative.

At the Council meeting, Moran also talked about somehow allowing the consumption of alcohol at “special events.” He has a vision of “Beer Gardens” that will have some kind of presence at events such as 5K races. He also envisions expanding alcohol use into Congress Park, but it is unclear what form this would take.

Commissioner Moran: This is to inform you that there is something called the New York State Liquor Authority

The New York State legislature has granted broad authority to the New York State Liquor Authority (NYSLA).

If you want to do pretty much anything commercially that involves liquor, you must first get the approval of the NYSLA. The NYSLA jealously maintains its power and getting anything from them involves, at the very least, extensive paperwork. Governor Cuomo briefly restrained their powers during the pandemic by issuing an executive order allowing restaurants to serve alcohol in temporary, expanded outdoor dining sites.

As of July 7, 2022, that option will expire unless the New York State Legislature acts to extend the date.

In his campaign last fall, Commissioner Moran set out an ambitious goal to allow restaurants in the city to have permanent access to the public sidewalks and parking places adjacent to their establishments. He claimed to have successfully solicited support for extending the executive order to allow alcohol in these spaces from Governor Hochul during a visit she made to Saratoga. (This blogger is highly skeptical that the Governor made any such commitment). Moran promised, if elected, to also vigorously promote the extension of the ability of restaurants to serve alcohol in expanded outdoor dining settings with the New York Legislature.

So far Governor Hochul has made no announcements that would indicate her support for extending that law, and it appears extremely unlikely that the New York State Legislature will support such an initiative before it adjourns.

In the absence of any state action, at the Tuesday, April 19, 2022, Council meeting, Moran announced that he would be introducing a local law that would authorize the right of restaurants to sell alcohol on the public rights-of-way adjacent to their businesses. Conspicuously absent from his remarks was any acknowledgment that his effort to get state legislation passed or to get Governor Hochul to act had failed. Instead, he asserted that passing a local law could allow restaurants to serve liquor in expanded outdoor dining venues and that this was not only possible but a better option than getting state permission.

The problem is the doctrine of preemption prohibits municipalities in New York from adopting local legislation that conflicts with state legislation, and the New York State Legislature has granted the authority to regulate alcohol to the New York State Liquor Authority (NYSLA).

The following is an explanation of the NYSLA powers.

I find it hard to believe that City Attorney Tony Izzo has advised Moran that the city has the authority to usurp the New York State Liquor Authority’s powers.

What Kind of City Do We Want to Be?

Saratoga Springs is a beautiful and charming city with a vibrant historic downtown. The question is do we want to become known simply as a party town?

Recent proposals from Public Safety Commissioner Montagnino to block off Caroline Street and Commissioner Moran’s proposals to extend outdoor alcohol venues raise the question of what direction the city should go in.

It is so unfortunate to have lost Skip Scirocco. With the city seemingly at a crossroad, his experience and insights would be more valuable now than ever.

Mayor Ron Kim Needs to Apologize to Past City Attorney Vincent DeLeonardis

Saratoga Springs Mayor Ron Kim went into his first term in office by telling the press he would not consider keeping Vince DeLeonardis on as City Attorney because he gives bad advice. Turns out DeLeonardis’ advice was absolutely correct as proven by an item on the Mayor’s agenda for this Tuesday’s (4/19/22) City Council meeting.

Following his election as Mayor last November, Ron Kim announced his plan to appoint Ms. Elizabeth Fletcher-Fairbanks of Greenfield as the City Attorney. The City Attorney is considered, under New York State municipal law, to be a “public officer.” As such the person holding the position is required to be a resident of the municipality where they will serve. When it was pointed out to him by then-City Attorney De Leonardis that Ms. Fletcher-Fairbanks was ineligible to serve as the City Attorney due to this stipulation, Kim dismissed this advice. He claimed that the City Attorney was not a public officer. While the appointment of Ms. Fletcher-Fairbanks was withdrawn, he continued to obstinately refuse to acknowledge that the City Attorney position is a public officer even in the face of mounting evidence that de Leonardis was correct.

In a particularly troubling move, Kim publicly ridiculed DeLeonardis for having advised him of the residency requirement in an interview in the Daily Gazette.

Fletcher-Fairbanks, the lawyer Kim is considering, does not live in the city. She ran unsuccessfully for Greenfield Town Justice in 2017.

Kim said DeLeonardis advised him that the city attorney had to live in Saratoga Springs, to which Kim obviously disagrees.

“We did the research,” Kim said, including confirmation from the New York Conference of Mayors.

“We’re not talking about district attorneys,” Kim said. “We’re not talking about the assistant district attorney. We’re talking about city attorneys, who are not a public officer. So here’s my final conclusion about it: Why would I hire somebody who gave me that advice?” (my emphasis)

Daily Gazette December 31, 2021

Fast forward to the preliminary agenda for the April 19, 2022, City Council meeting which contains an item on the Mayor’s agenda the title of which is ” Resolution Requesting State Legislation to Expand Residency Requirement for City Attorney.”

In spite of Mayor Kim’s constant assertions to the contrary, because a city attorney is indeed a public officer, in order for a municipality to hire a non-resident as City Attorney, the NY State Legislature must pass a local law allowing the municipality to do so. That is what the Mayor has finally been forced to recognize in putting this item on his agenda.

This proposed resolution contains the following text:

WHEREAS, Section 3 of the Public Officers Law requires that local officers must be residents of the political subdivision or municipal corporation for which he or she shall be chosen or within which he or she will be required to exercise official functions;


So Vincent DeLeonardis was correct in his advice and Mayor Kim was wrong.

A Character Issue

A person of integrity and humility would feel deep regret for having made a baseless attack in a newspaper on a fellow Saratogian and a fellow city official. Hopefully, on Tuesday night when he introduces his resolution, Mayor Kim will acknowledge his error and publicly apologize to Mr. DeLeonardis. That would be the right thing to do.

Candidates Seek to Fill Vacant Office of Commissioner of Public Works Skip Scirocco.

Four candidates have emerged in the race to fill the seat of the Saratoga Springs Commissioner of Public Works left vacant by the recent death of Commissioner Skip Scirocco. The City Council will decide who will fill the vacancy until a special election is held in the fall. Saratoga Springs Mayor Ron Kim told Foothills Daily that there were four candidates under consideration: Anthony Scirocco Jr (R), Bill McTygue (D), Jason Golub(D), and Robert Bullock(?).

Bill McTygue

Bill McTygue (D) served as Deputy and then Director of Public Works for many years under his brother, Public Works Commissioner Tom McTygue. He subsequently ran for Public Works Commissioner against Skip Scirocco and lost.

Robert Bullock

The only thing I know about Robert Bullock is that he is the husband of Ann Bullock who has been an active Democrat.

The Unseemly History of Ann Bullock’s and Bill McTygue’s Attacks on Skip Scirocco

With the cooperation of Wendy Liberatore of the Times Union, Bill McTygue and Ann Bullock made repeated attacks on Skip Scirocco and the Public Works Department over the years. In spite of the flimsiness of these attacks, Ms. Bullock and Mr. McTygue received extensive coverage in their attempts to smear Skip. None of their accusations ever produced any validation either from the city’s ethics board or from the New York State Attorney General who these two tried to use to promote their campaigns.

Here are links to numerous stories I ran on them.

#Bill McTygue and Ann Bullock: Their Reckless Attack

#Saratoga Springs Ethics Board Issues Decision:  Bullock/McTygue Charges Are Without Merit

#Times Union Watch: Zombie Accusations Resurrected By Newspaper

#Times Union Watch: A Tale Of Three Stories

#Times Union Watch: Editors Print Correction Of Liberatore Story Re Bill McTygue Ethics Allegations

#Ethics Board Issues Decision: City Council and Independence Party score 7, White Walkers Zero

Jason Golub

Mr. Golub (D) is an attorney with a law degree from Columbia University. He previously worked for General Electric and currently is Head of Strategic Partnerships and Chief Diversity Officer for Kahilla.

He co-chaired the Saratoga Springs Police Reform Task Force.

Shawn Wiggins enjoyed coverage by Times Union reporter Wendy Liberatore in proposing Mr. Golub to fill Skip’s vacancy. Wiggins, who is Black and ran unsuccessfully as a Democratic candidate for County Supervisor last November, argued that it was time to have a Black member of the City Council.

“Black residents helped to get the now all-Democratic council elected and if they chose not to appoint Golub that ‘ would be a slap in the face to the Black community.'” he told the TU.

Anthony Scirocco Jr

Mark Scirocco has told me that it was one of his father, Skip Scirocco’s last wishes that his son, Anthony Scirocco Jr,(R) replace him as the Commissioner of Public Works. Mr. Sirocco is not just the former Commissioner’s son but is well qualified in his own right.

Anthony Scirocco, Jr. has worked in the public works sector for twenty years. In 2015 he was appointed as the Saratoga County Maintenance Supervisor overseeing a crew charged with maintaining the county’s roads and handling the administrative duties for the running of the highway garage.

Scirocco has been endorsed to fill the position by the Saratoga Springs Republican Committee. His father was the only Republican on the Council at the time of his death. Following is the statement in support of Anthony Scirocco’s candidacy put out by Republican City Chair Mike Brandi.

Bikeatoga Responds to Questions of Utilization of Existing Bike Lanes and Safety issues

I am an enthusiastic supporter of bicycling in our city.

In 2014 the Saratoga Springs City Council approved a feasibility study for the construction of a 24-mile shared-use path that would form a continuous loop through the city and connect with other biking and walking trails throughout Saratoga County. Since 2014 the city has constructed a number of segments of what is called the Saratoga Greenbelt Trail.

As spring has started to arrive, the city has begun to move forward with the construction of new segments that include a section of Union Avenue and High Rock giving rise to some concerns about the efficacy and safety of these lanes as they extend through the city. I have observed, for instance, that there seems to be little use of the bike lanes on Lake Avenue and North Broadway. Others have raised concerns about the safety of constructing lanes on heavily traveled avenues like Union and Lake. There is an especially high accident rate at the corner of Union and Nelson Avenue for instance. I recall that as Public Safety Commissioner, Chris Mathiesen had proposed directing bikers to less heavily trafficked parallel side streets rather than constructing bike lanes on Lake Avenue.

I sent an email raising these issues to Bikeatoga, a local group that promotes bicycling.

I received the following thoughtful statement from Ed Lindner who is with the group. I think that Ed makes a convincing case that only through the establishment of extensive bike lanes that provide continuous routes for traveling in the city, can an effective program be established.

Statement From Ed Lindner On Behalf Of Bikeatoga

With respect to bike lanes, Bikeatoga’s primary focus is to get the City to build out the complete, functional, and connected bike route network laid out in the 2016 Complete Streets plan and the 2014 Saratoga Greenbelt Trail plan.

It’s well-established that creating a fully connected network of bike routes increases ridership and safety.  That’s one reason why the Federal Highway Administration’s Strategic Agenda for bike and pedestrian infrastructure identified creating connected multimodal (meaning bike/ped) networks as its number 1 goal.  

This People for Bikes info sheet provides multiple real world examples of cities that saw increased ridership when they built out their connected network.   And the 2016 Pucher & Buehler study, 2014 Schoner and Levinson study, and 2020 Portland State University study all reached the same conclusion – building out a connected bike route network results in increased ridership.  It’s just common sense, really.  When deciding whether and when to ride, cyclists are no different from motorists – we choose routes if they can safely and directly take us to where we want to go.  If the car lanes on Lake Avenue ended at East Harrison Street, how many would choose that as a route to drive from the East Side Rec to the West Side? 

Sadly, as you know from experience, Saratoga Springs is a long way from having a functional and connected bike route network.  People for Bikes uses sophisticated data analysis using open source street mapping to create City Ratings for bicycle networks in communities around the country.  Our rating is not good. Saratoga Springs ranks in the 21st percentile of small cities, largely because our network score is 7 out of 100.  This is the data that cycling journalists see when they write articles suggesting the best places for cycling tourists to visit.  It’s not something the Chamber of Commerce is likely touting in our own tourism promotions.  

So, in answer to your questions, Bikeatoga supports bike lanes on Union, Lake and N Broadway because those routes are an important part of our overall network as laid out in the Complete Streets and Greenbelt Trail plan.  And the best way to increase ridership on those routes, and throughout the entire city, is to create a safe, functional and connected network that allows riders access to every part of town.  This is particularly important for those who ride out of economic necessity to get to work or bring home groceries.  The FHWA publication and PSU study both suggest that connected bike networks promote economic equity.  Because we live in a community where many of our workers can’t afford to live in the city, making cycling a viable transportation option for workers traveling from neighboring communities benefits our small businesses as well. 

There is some reason for cautious optimism.  Last summer Bikeatoga reps met with Mayor Kelly and each Commissioner seeking support for re-energizing the Complete Streets and Greenbelt Trail plans.  We recognized the good work of those who came before us.  And we happily acknowledged that there have been some successes – the Geyser Road trail was a significant achievement, and the Downtown Connector is finally out for construction bids this year.  As you point out, there are also partial bike lanes on Lake and North Broadway (and ¼ mile of Excelsior BTW).  But the bulk of the bike routes envisioned in the City’s own plans remain unbuilt.  There is no network. 

In September 2021, Commissioner Madigan put us on her agenda for a presentation and as a result of our advocacy, the Council passed a resolution committing to building bike lanes on priority streets identified by the Complete Streets Advisory Board in the next 3 years.  FYI, Bikeatoga heard independently from nearly all the candidates running for council last November and we were pleased to hear that there was broad, bipartisan support for the resolution.  We hope and expect that the support of the current council translates into additional bike lanes beyond the Downtown Connector being built this year.   

With respect to Union Avenue specifically, a bit of background.  Union Avenue is a marked city bike route and, besides being home to the racetrack, it’s the principal route coming back into the city for road cyclists who ride the beautiful country above Saratoga Lake.  The State right of way on Union Avenue extends from points east (Route 9P) up to East Avenue and NYSDOT is responsible for paving and maintaining that stretch of road.  The section of Union from East to Circular is the City’s responsibility.  

In 2019, at the urging of bike advocates, Assemblymember Carrie Woerner convened a meeting between NYSDOT and city officials to address the unsafe condition of the “bike lane” on Union from Henning to East.  I put “bike lane” in quotes because the paved shoulder narrows quickly past Henning and then disappears into rubble.  It hasn’t changed much in the last 10 years and it’s still unrideable.  This past year, the city put up a sign warning motorists that cyclists have the right to ride in the car lane, but if you’ve ever ridden Union on a race day in August you have a sense of how problematic that is for most riders.  

Carrie Woerner’s involvement did lead to an ongoing dialogue between the city and state about Union Avenue. Bikeatoga was not part of those early discussions, but we’ve heard anecdotally that NYSDOT was initially amenable to creating some kind of separated bike lane on Union and that the proposal withered due to lack of interest on the part of the City. Last fall we reached out to the Assemblymember again and, following the City Council’s September ‘21 complete streets resolution, Commissioner Madigan also got involved. Bikeatoga was present at a meeting in the Commissioner’s office with NYSDOT and city officials in which the State reps indicated that they are paving Union Ave up to East this Fall (2022) and that their preliminary engineering studies showed that they could create a 5’ wide painted bike lane. While less ideal than a separated bike lane, a five-foot painted lane will permit safe cycling. As I write this, Bikeatoga is unsure of the status of this project – we’ve heard that it’s been held up because NYSDOT, DPW and NYRA cannot agree on who will be responsible for mowing the medians. We are attempting to find out if that issue has been resolved.

Commissioner Madigan also attempted to address the city portion of Union Avenue from East to Circular.  During meetings in the Commissioner’s office involving Deputy Commissioner Deirdre Ladd, Bikeatoga, members of the Complete Streets Advisory Board and city departments, it was agreed that the city should put out an RFP for engineering, surveying and design of a bike lane from East to Circular, so that the city and state projects together would create a connected bike route lane from Saratoga Lake to Congress Park.  Work on the RFP has continued under the current City Council and it’s our understanding that the RPF for engineering and design has either just gone out or is just about to go out.  

Bikeatoga has had several discussions with Mayor Kim and individual Commissioners and we’re heartened by their expressions of support for finally building out our Complete Streets and Greenbelt Trail plans.  We will see if that support leads to concrete results.  We are hopeful that the current Council will fund actual construction of the East to Circular bike route on the city portion of Union Avenue after the preliminary engineering and design has been done.   We have also asked the city’s Infrastructure Task Force to seek federal funding to connect Railroad Run to the Downtown connector, which would create a link between the Empire State Trail and downtown for bicycle tourists and create a safe route for locals from Exit 15 to Congress Park and to the West Side.   Just today the Times Union has an article reporting that Outside Magazine has named the Empire State Trail as the top cycling rail trail in the United States. 

With respect to safety, we have the bike crash data from 2014 to 2020 and we don’t see cause for concern on Union.  In that seven-year period there were no bike/car accidents on Union Avenue itself (there were 2 on side roads where Union was the closest cross street).  The lack of accidents on Union is particularly hopeful because, although our data on bike usage is far from perfect or complete, the data we do have confirms our anecdotal experience that Union Avenue is a well-traveled bike route for trackworkers, track-goers and road bikers.  

 As for your question about whether it’s better to have a bike lane on Lake Avenue or use side streets, the Complete Streets plan has already answered that.  The answer is “both.”  The 2016 Complete Streets plan calls for a bike lane on Lake Ave, part of which has been built, and a “bicycle boulevard” running roughly parallel on Caroline Street.  Bike boulevards are routes on low-volume streets that have signage and street markings to alert motorists that bikes use the roadway.  Ideally, they have traffic-calming features, but there is no separate lane for bike travel. 

The Complete Streets plan wisely proposed creating both these routes because they connect different locations and different kinds of riders.  If you’re riding to and from downtown to Weibel Avenue (which will eventually have its own bike lane), Lake Ave is the fastest and most direct route.  Can you do it from Caroline? Sure, but the kind of rider who’s uncomfortable riding on Lake Avenue is unlikely to want to ride to the end of Caroline, make a left turn crossing a busy Henning Road and then cross Lake to ride on Weibel itself.  But Caroline is a wonderful route for connecting to East Side neighborhoods, and signage and paint are relatively inexpensive.  So, both routes make sense.  

As for safety, I understand why people think that the side streets are safer than Lake, but the limited crash data we have and my own experience as a rider doesn’t support that.  The Lake Avenue bike lane was built in 2019.  In 2019 and 2020, there was one bike/car accident on Lake Avenue, near Henry Street, on the part of Lake with no bike lane.  In that same period there was one accident on Caroline, near Schuyler Drive.

My own experience as a rider is that streets like Lake and Caroline present different challenges.  It’s true that cars travel faster on Lake Ave and that’s definitely a concern.  But it’s also true that Lake has good sight lines, and the pavement markings make it clear where cars and bikes are supposed to travel.  On side streets like Caroline, cars travel more slowly (most of the time), but parked cars push cyclists into the middle of the roadway, expose riders to the risk of getting “doored,” and create poor sight lines to see cars coming out of intersections and driveways.  In 2017 I was flattened by a car backing out of a driveway between two parked cars on York Avenue.  The driver couldn’t see me and I was on the ground before I knew what hit me.  

The bottom line is that there is seldom a perfect bike route in a built-up city.  Reasonable people can disagree about the best route.  But the city hired professional consultants to create the Complete Streets plan, which they did with significant input from all relevant city departments and considerable public comment.  We have a Complete Streets Advisory Board that works to guide what bike/pedestrian infrastructure gets built.  And any new bike lane, like the one we hope to see soon on Union Avenue, will have the benefit of professional engineering and design consultants to ensure that it is safe.  

So, as I said earlier, when deciding whether and when to ride, cyclists are no different from motorists – we choose routes that safely and directly take us to where we want to go.  At Bikeatoga we want to ride to every part of the city – Eastside and West, downtown, West Ave, out Grand, to the Spa Park, Skidmore College, the racetrack, and back home.  The city has a plan in place to do that.  We just need to commit the resources to build it. 

Commissioner Anthony “Skip” Scirocco Has Died: Saratogians Remember Him

I know that I am not alone in being greatly saddened by the death this week of Public Works Commissioner Skip Scirocco.

Skip Scirocco dedicated his life to serving the people of Saratoga Springs. A quiet spoken man, he served on some very contentious City Councils, and yet through all the years, I never heard him raise his voice. In an age of extreme partisanship, Skip, a registered Republican, enjoyed the affection and respect of his Democratic colleagues.

Skip was obviously not in politics for the money. He made a whopping $14,500.00 a year as Commissioner. He did it because he loved his city.

Skip also loved his music. His popular band Skippy and the Pistons played at many Saratoga Springs High School events back in the day as Matt Jones recalls in his piece below. In later years the band delighted Saratogians of all ages by occasionally performing at events in the summer in Congress Park.

Matt Jones

Matt Jones is an attorney with a long history in the city. His father Ellsworth Jones served as Mayor of Saratoga Springs.

Skip Scirocco was a rock star…literally, a rock star.  Although he was a few years ahead of us at Saratoga High, virtually everyone in the class of ’72 knew him and the band that he founded called Skippy and the Pistons.  That band performed at many, many high school events during our school years and even at a few of our class reunions.  All of us will remember him for the joy he gave to us many years ago at our high school dances.

Skip was among the most affable people I have ever met.  Invariably, he greeted us with a strong handshake and a big smile. He was the same unpretentious person whether you were talking to him while he was working on one of his vintage cars or addressing him as Commissioner of Public Works at a City Council meetings.  He made you feel comfortable and welcome; a gift that made him beloved in the community.

We are holding our 50th high school reunion in a few weeks and during that weekend we will be raising a glass to our long-time friend who enriched our lives with the music he gave us a long time ago.

Matt Jones

Skip never indulged in keeping enemies.

He was independent of political influence from either party.

I remember him most for his leadership in opposing the establishment of casino gambling in Saratoga Springs. He was way out in front of his colleagues. The Mayor and other Council members waffled on the issue for weeks until Skip insisted on bringing a resolution to the table that was forthrightly against the expansion. This led to a Council vote that killed the plan.

He was also a fierce supporter of the city’s greenbelt. He opposed every proposal that potentially compromised the rural character of the outer district.

Skip was also passionate about preserving the city’s historic landmarks. This is a link to a very moving history of Skip Scirocco’s work with the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation. It highlights images of his work with the Foundation and it includes some nice videos of Skip. I highly recommend taking a few minutes to watch it.

Samantha Bosshart

Ms. Bosshart is the executive director of the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation.

We lost a great friend to preservation with the passing of Skip.  I started at the Foundation the same year that Skip was elected to office, 2008.

During his tenure, the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation recognized many preservation projects that the City of Saratoga Springs completed under his leadership.   Projects recognized with Preservation Recognition Awards include the restoration of the stairs and lions at City Hall; the restoration of the roof of Drink Hall; the restoration of the sidewalk, stairs, and dogs at the Canfield Casino; the restoration of the Deer Park Spring; the restoration of the Katrina Trask Gateway in Congress Park; the restoration of the ceiling of the ballroom at the Canfield Casino; and the rehabilitation of City Hall following the damage from the lightning strike.  This year I was looking forward to recognizing his efforts in the restoration of the Civil War Monument in Congress Park and the parlor of the Canfield Casino. It won’t be the same without him there to accept the awards.   

Of all the projects, I am most grateful that I had the opportunity to get to know Skip best by working with him on the four-year restoration project of the Spirit of Life and Spencer Trask Memorial in Congress Park, a joint project between the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation and the City of Saratoga Springs.  We both took great pride in the success of that special project.  

Skip made a lasting impact by preserving the historic architecture and landscaped heritage of Saratoga Springs for future generations. He was a wonderful friend to the Foundation and will be greatly missed.

Thank you for asking for me to provide a comment.  I’m honored that you thought of me.  I considered Skip a friend.

Samantha Bosshart

Executive Director

Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation

Tom McTygue Remembers

Skip became Public Works Commissioner after defeating Tom McTygue in a contentious election in 2007. McTygue, a Democrat, had served as Public Works Commissioner for over 30 years. Last year Skip announced his plan to name the carousel in Congress Park after McTygue who had spearheaded the campaign for the city to buy the carousel and locate it in Congress Park.

I spoke to Tom about Skip’s death. Tom told me he had talked to Skip several weeks ago when he learned of his diagnosis of cancer. Tom had warm praise for him.

He worked hard at a very difficult job and he had tremendous accomplishments. God bless him and his family.

Thomas McTygue

Eddie Miller

Eddie Miller, former chair of the local Independence Party, ran against Skip twice and lost. In spite of this, Skip hired him to work for his department. Eddie had the following to say about Skip.

City Hall, The Dept. of Public Works, and the City of Saratoga Springs took a big hit today with the passing of Commissioner Anthony (Skip)Scirocco.

He possessed a certain flair for running his department with precision and a strong knack for managerial proficiency. 

Commissioner Scirocco was also a knowledgeable and strong voice on the City Council for 15 years.

Besides being a devoted family man, he was a great neighbor and friend.

I’m going to miss him.

Eddie Miller

Tom Denny

Tom Denny has led the Sustainable Saratoga tree planting program for a number of years and worked closely with Commissioner Scirocco. Here he speaks on his own behalf and not as a representative of Sustainable Saratoga.

Skip was a calming presence on the City Council and an independent and influential commissioner.  From my time on the Comp Plan Review Committee, I will always remember his courageous defense of the Greenbelt and sustainability, when he opposed a large golf resort expansion in the Greenbelt.  His opposition to the Casino was decisive in the Council’s deliberations.  I worked closely with him on urban forestry issues and he deserves great credit for professionalizing that area by establishing the position of City Arborist. 

Tom Denny

Tony Izzo

Tony has been the city’s Attorney or Assistant Attorney for some thirty-five years and worked with Skip during the many positions he held with the city.


I worked with Skip for many years and through all the offices he held with the city. From his earlier years as animal control officer, through his terms as a County Supervisor and finally as Commissioner, I always saw him bring the utmost dedication and commitment to the city he loved.

A good man and an invaluable colleague.

Tony Izzo

Tom Lewis

I was party chair in the last century (1990-2001) and asked Skip to become a member of Saratoga Springs Republican Committee in early 1996. In 1997 he successfully challenged long term sitting Supervisor Fred McNeary, and after an endorsement won a seat on the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors, where he served with distinction for 8 years.  It was no surprise that he was then able to earn being our Public Works Commissioner.

I can enthusiastically say that Skip was one of the most modest and selfless of elected officials I ever knew. It was never “about him.” He just got the job done, efficiently without ever boasting about how good he was. He exemplifies service over self.

Tom Lewis

Commissioner Scirocco’s Colleagues in the Last Administration

Meg Kelly (Mayor)

Words will never take away the grief I feel from the loss of my dear friend and colleague DPW Commissioner Anthony “Skip” Scirocco.  He was truly one of the greatest mentors, friends, leaders, and dedicated servants to the City of Saratoga Springs and its residents.

Skip was a man who truly loved Saratoga Springs and invested his time, energy, passion, and love into preserving our beautiful history and keeping Saratoga Springs as beautiful as it is.  From the Casino Improvements to the Katrina Trask Staircase to the City Hall Renovations, he gave everything he had to preserve our history and keep everything so picturesque.

Through my time in City Hall, I am proud to have called him my friend.  His passing is a great loss to the City and my love, support, and condolences go to his family.  I will always carry with me his sense of humor and his ability to always find the positive in any situation.

Meg Kelly

John Franck (Commissioner of Accounts)


I had the great honor of working with Skip on the City Council for 14 years (2008-2021).  I always found Skip to be non-partisan and an advocate for the little guy.  The City Council Meetings are typically contentious and chaotic, but I always found Skip to be the calmness in the Storm, which I can tell you first hand is very difficult to be.  When I was young my Mom used to always instill in me that everyone is replaceable, but it’s clear to me she never met Skip.


John Franck

John Franck

Robin Dalton (Public Safety)

I am heartbroken over the loss of my friend Skip. His smile, his laugh, his love for this city, I don’t think I will ever walk into City Hall and not look down the hall expecting to see him. Even when we said our goodbyes, he was still the one reassuring me with his wisdom and advice and his peace and happiness for the wonderful life he lead. Corrine, Mark and everyone in your family and the DPW family, I love you all, thank you for the gift of Skip and everything he did for our city.

Robin Dalton

Michelle Madigan (Finance)

Skip and I often worked together in a bipartisan manner and as a result accomplished much together during my 10 years on the council. He ran a big department responsible for water, sewer, streets, facilities, and the beautification of our city. He has very big shoes to fill. His crowning achievement and he had many, was the beautiful renovations completed on city hall following the lightening strike. He was also a devoted and loving family man.

I’m gonna miss him!

Michele Madigan