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.