During this last week, I received two more emails from the Saratoga Springs Finance Department. One from Finance Commissioner Minita Sanghvi, and the other from her Executive Assistant, Samantha Clemmey. Both reiterated that Commissioner Sanghvi had no time to answer questions about the budget until after the 2023 budget was passed. In addition, Commissioner Sanghvi charged me with making false claims on my blog and called for me to correct the record.
Minita Sanghvi Wants You to Know That She Doesn’t Read This Blog
Commissioner Sanghvi has taken me to task for writing that she read the post that dealt with her refusing to answer my questions on her budget. In her email, she asks me to set the record straight for the readers of the blog by informing you that while she regularly reads the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Daily Gazette, Saratoga Today, the Washington Post, the Saratogian, and the Times Union, she stopped reading my blog sometime this summer or fall. Apparently, while she wrote me to criticize my post, it was her staff who alerted her to its contents, and I guess she scrupulously avoided reading it herself. Maybe Ms. Clemmey read it to her.
Minita Sanghvi Wants You to Know That She Never Received an Email I Sent Her
In one of the emails I sent the Commissioner, a copy of which was in the post she did not read, I observed that there was no point in my taking up her offer to meet with me regarding the budget in December as, by then, the budget would have already been adopted. I wrote in that post that she had not responded.
Rather than simply asking me to resend the errant email or, better yet, respond to the copy of it in my post, she tasked her staff to search the city’s servers for it. Her Executive Assistant not only searched the servers, but she also sent me screenshots of the failed searches proving that the Commissioner never received it.
Let the record show that I acknowledge that the Commissioner never received the email I sent her.
As it is now established that she knows the contents of that email, it would be helpful if she would address the substance of my concern i.e., that a meeting after the budget is adopted is pointless.
The full text of the emails is below.
From: “john kaufmann21” <email@example.com>
To: “Minita Sanghvi” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cc: “kaufmann” <email@example.com>
Sent: Monday, November 7, 2022 8:45:39 PM
I am sorry about the confusion regarding my last email to you. While you apparently did not receive it, the email from Ms. Clemmey indicates that you read it on my blog. In any case, here is the text from my email response again:
“As you are aware, my questions pertain to the 2023 budget, which must be adopted by November 30, 2022. It is pointless for you to offer me dates to meet with you in December.”
I am also not clear why you would task your IT staff to search your servers and then have your staff craft graphics of the computer screens when you clearly had read my post and knew what I had written to you. The simple approach that would have spared your staff for better things would have been to simply email me asking me to send it again.
When you offered to meet with me at the last Council meeting, I assumed, as did most people observing the event, that you were offering to meet with me prior to the adoption of the city budget so I could be better informed to thoughtfully provide input at the next scheduled public hearing and to inform the readers of my blog on the issues.
I am rather stunned that you appear to not understand that meeting with you to get these answers in December after the budget has been adopted would be pointless. Can this really be true?
I am also troubled by the idea that answering my questions should be so burdensome. My questions were based very specifically on the items in your PowerPoint which I specifically referenced using the same numbers you used in your presentation. If these PowerPoint items were crafted based on rigorous research and analysis, the questions about them should have been easy to respond to.
The optics of your statement that you do not have the time to answer questions from the public on your budget is extremely troubling. You and your staff continue to point out opportunities for the public to comment on the budget. What is missing is the opportunity for the public to hear replies from the Finance Commissioner to questions about the budget. This should not be a one way conversation.
An informed public is the lifeblood of democracy. If you were not prepared to devote the time required to fulfill your duties as Finance Commissioner, you did a disservice to this city in running for office.
I also did not understand the offer extended by your Executive Assistant to set up a call with you if I “still require a further level of assurance.” I’m not sure what this means.
To: John Kaufmann
From: Minita Sanghvi
CC: Samantha Clemmey
Date: November 9, 2022 4:24 PM
Subject: Re Response
I am sorry but I stopped reading your blog in later summer / early Fall. I read the Saratogian, Saratoga Today, Daily Gazette, Times Union, New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal to stay abreast local, and US news. So providing a little context is always helpful in your future correspondence.
My staff informed me about you not being able to reach us. So our staff checked the servers to ensure your correspondence was not getting caught in the security system. We do this with any complaint from our constituents trying to reach us.
If you have made false claims on your blog, I am assuming you will print an appropriate retraction. After all, truth and facts are the lifeblood of our democracy.
I want to clarify – that I am not meeting you as a writer of a local blog. It is not an accredited source of media with oversight or fact-checking. I am meeting you as a constituent who has questions about the budget. I appreciate your interest and am really excited to share our budget process and data with you. However, as you know, we are still in the process of working on the amended budget. So once the process is over, I am happy to meet with you.
Best, Commissioner Sanghvi
Commissioner of Finance
Saratoga Springs, NY
From: Samantha Clemmey
To: John Kaufmann
CC: Minita Sanghvi, Heather Crocker
Date: November 7, 2022 1:17 PM
|Samantha Clemmey <firstname.lastname@example.org>||1:17 PM (2 hours ago)|
|to me, Minita, Heather|
Good Afternoon Mr. Kaufmann,
I had reached out last week on 11/02 inquiring about setting up a meeting between yourself and Commissioner Sanghvi. I have not yet heard back from you. In the spirit of transparency, and to assure we did not miss an e-mail from you, I had our I.T. department run a full City-Wide e-mail search for Commissioner Sanghvi, myself, and Deputy Crocker. The attached screenshots indicate that no e-mails were received from you since 11/01/2022.
Given that you published on 11/04/2022 that you had responded and never heard back, please double check that this e-mail was sent to the correct recipients.
I will, again, let you know that at this time I am not scheduling any non-city department related meetings for the Commissioner until the budget has concluded. The public has been given ample opportunities to comment on the 2023 Comprehensive Budget. A list of dates and times for budget workshops and public hearings were published at the start of October, providing advance notice for the public. The second Public Hearing for the Comprehensive Budget will remain open at least until the next City Council meeting on November 15th, 2022 at 6:30 PM. If you would like to make any further comments to the Council, we encourage you to do so at that time or during the allotted Public Comment period.
I would still be happy to extend to you one of the following dates/times for a meeting:
– Monday December 5th at 1:00 PM
– Friday December 9th at 11:00 AM or 1:00 PM
– Monday December 12th at 10:30 AM
If you still feel you require a further level of assurance – I am able to set up a call with the Commissioner.
Again, thank you for your patience as Commissioner Sanghvi and the Finance Department continue to navigate through this incredibly busy period. I can assure you the Commissioner and her team are working tirelessly around the clock to publish a balanced, thoughtful, and forward-thinking budget.
Samantha F. Clemmey
Executive Assistant to Commissioner of Finance
Department of Finance
474 Broadway – Suite 15
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
518-587-3550, Ext. 2526