Saratoga Springs Mayor Ron Kim falsely told area media that he first heard about the decision by Shelters of Saratoga (SOS) to withdraw from the plan to use the Senior Citizens Center as a low-barrier homeless shelter from the media and not from anyone associated with SOS.
In bitter remarks to the Saratogian Newspaper he stated, “Now for them to just walk away and not even tell us, seems to be less than forthright and trustworthy.” (see longer quote below along with link to news article)
My sources, however, tell me that on Friday morning, February 3, 2023, the SOS executive director, Duane Vaughn, and his board president, Kathy McNiece, went to city hall at 9:00 AM, as it opened, to inform Kim of their decision.
Unfortunately, Kim was not there. The two spoke with a number of people in City Hall, including at least two Commissioners. My sources tell me that Kim was informed of SOS’s decision later that morning by those in City Hall who had talked with Vaughn and McNiece and not by the media as he claimed.
Threats That Need To Be Taken Seriously
On Sunday morning, February 5, 2023, SOS executive director Vaughn wrote to members of the Council about threats made to him and his family:
From: “Duane Vaughn” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: “Angela Rella” <email@example.com>, “Ron Kim” <firstname.lastname@example.org>, “Jason Golub” <email@example.com>, “Dillon Moran” <firstname.lastname@example.org>, “Minita Sanghvi” <email@example.com>, “James Montagnino” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Sunday, February 5, 2023 2:53:28 PM
Subject: Duane from Shelters of Saratoga
I hope that you have not closed the door on conversations in regards to homelessness and Shelters of Saratoga. I hope you understand that the most significant issue that came to rise in the last week was the personal safety of myself, my family and my board president. We were threatened with physical violence and personal lawsuits. This has completely shaken our home. My wife considered going to a family member or a hotel. Members of the community not only threatened my board president, as you know because the police are involved, but found my unlisted home phone number and address. The threats were unbearable. We had days of no sleep and constantly looking over our shoulders. I don’t have a team of lawyers and a police force.
We had to take a serious pause. We must continue to educate and commit to total community buy-in. However, I cannot compromise the safety of my family. I have saved every message and phone number that has called my office and my home just in case further threats arise.
An Intemperate And Reckless Reaction
A tempered and professional public figure, before making an attack on SOS would have contacted them first. Even if Kim had not been informed, he should have acted more prudently. Having dealt with the media for many years, they would have understood if Kim had responded to their inquiries by saying he would get back to them after he had reviewed the situation. Such a professional would have contacted SOS seeking to fully understand the evolving situation.
I would have liked to email Mayor Kim to ask him whether he had contacted Vaughn subsequently. As the Mayor never responds to my emails, I do not know, but experience suggests that he blames SOS for the failure of his plan and sees no need to reach out.
From the February 5, 2023 edition of the Saratogian.
When asked for comment, Kim seemed taken aback by the lack of communication from the Shelters of Saratoga in making the decision to back out without consulting with the mayor’s office or city officials.“One, we’ve never been officially told of this. We’ve heard from news media,” Kim said.“So, I’m disappointed that neither Shelters staff nor their board saw fit to call the mayor’s office and say they’re pulling out,” Kim continued.“
So, I’m disappointed that neither Shelters staff nor their board saw fit to call the mayor’s office and say they’re pulling out,” Kim continued.
“Two, Shelters of Saratoga staff were the ones who were demanding that the city move forward from this. The last conversations I had with them, they wanted a 30-year lease, basically a commitment from the city. Now for them to just walk away and not even tell us, seems to be less than forthright and trustworthy,” Kim explained.
“So, I’m disappointed that neither Shelters staff nor their board saw fit to call the mayor’s office and say they’re pulling out,” Kim continued.
Kim appeared equally disappointed given how far into the process the two sides seemed to be in an agreement.
Kim also noted the city will plan to move forward with creating a shelter site, whether that includes Shelters of Saratoga or not.
“So, here’s what the city’s gonna do. I’m gonna name a task force,” Kim said.
“We’re gonna move forward with finding a site and more importantly finding a trustworthy partner to establish a shelter and navigation center in the city of Saratoga Springs, because it’s sorely needed and that’s what we’re gonna be doing,” Kim continued.
“We’re gonna choose the best-qualified candidate. Unfortunately, what it appears like based on my conversations with the staff at Shelters that they don’t seem to want to do it but we’re gonna find a candidate that can serve the population of homeless in Saratoga Springs,” Kim noted.
“You have my phone number. I would assume the Board of Shelters and their staff do too. They could’ve called me but I guess, I don’t know, maybe they lost it,” Kim added.
4 thoughts on “Mayor Kim’s Unconscionable Attack On Shelters of Saratoga”
Hopefully, the City will look into the source of threats to Duane Vaughn and his family. Threatening violence is never justified. This should be the top priority.
On a podcast last Wednesday, Mayor Kim spoke of having a police presence at the low barrier shelter during school hours and special events at Saratoga Central Catholic School. He also stated that they were considering ripping up the SCCS parking lot, re-locating it to the other side of Hamilton Street where the SCCS outdoor recreation area has been, and taking the SCCS outdoor recreation area and moving it to the area where the SCCS L shaped parking lot had always been. The podcast interviewers unfortunately didn’t press the Mayor about who would pay for police presence on shelter property for nearly 180 school days per year (SCCS schedule is slightly less than the 180 day per year public school mandate) or for expensive improvements to property owned by the Catholic Diocese. Also, the Mayor began to waver on his description of the proposed shelter as ‘low barrier’. The interviewers didn’t seem to press him on that either.
Mayor Kim should have spoken to the SCCS administration and parents as well as the residents of the apartment complex immediately adjacent to the Senior Center before promoting the Williams Street low barrier shelter as the solution to the problem of the un-housed people who have taken over our parking garages. Also, if the City could afford to have a full-time police presence at the low-barrier shelter during school hours and activities, why can’t the City afford to send a police officer to the parking garages to enforce the many laws and ordinances that are being violated there hour by hour? Enforcement would help the working families who have to use those parking garages and could provide the incentive for mentally ill/alcoholic/drug addicted individuals to get the help that they so desperately need. What is happening now is not working.
LikeLiked by 3 people
Oh great, another task force.
How much are these task forces costing the taxpayer? And then the results of the task forces usually mean more spending.
Saratogians should start a Tax Task Force…
LikeLiked by 2 people
I totally agree. The city has resources in place to address this issue.
My suspicion is that Mayor Kim (and politicians generally) form “task forces” to shift responsibility away from themselves. Maybe I’m just bitter, but that’s what I see based on the fact that homelessness is getting worse, not better, as local leaders keep saying they have the solution.
LikeLiked by 1 person
After reading the February 6 statement from Shelters of Saratoga to Foothills Business Daily regarding the Williams Street proposal, it is apparent that there has been a communication failure between the City and SOS. While the Mayor frequently referred to the proposed project as a 24/7 low barrier shelter, the Shelters of Saratoga concept for that property was more limited and included a permanent Code Blue shelter and a day-time resource navigation center, a much less intensive use of the facility and one which would probably not have generated the level of opposition that came from the 24/7 low barrier shelter concept. In deciding to opt out of the Mayor’s plan for that building, Shelters of Saratoga has taken the high road and has made a mature decision.
LikeLiked by 2 people