[JK: Pat Tuz sent me an email explaining her resignation]
On the subject of my resignation, on my part it was planned. Life’s circumstances got in the way with our business and a few personal matters, and, as you may know, the Democratic Committee took a lot of time. I decided to complete the petitioning process so that I would not leave anyone in the lurch before resigning. And it was soon enough before the primary so we could give someone else a chance.
I enjoyed the committee very much. There are a lot of hardworking, dedicated people on it and it was a pleasure to work with them.
Thanks for your interest!
The Executive Committee will handle meetings until the right person steps up. It does take a lot of time and commitment so anyone would want to make sure they can make that commitment.
As Yogi Berra once observed, “it’s deja vu all over again.”
One would have hoped that after having served two terms on the Saratoga Springs City Council as Public Safety Commissioner and now having spent over a year in office as Mayor, that Ron Kim would have at last begun to understand how the city’s insurance coverage works. After all, as he always likes to remind us, he is also a lawyer. Unfortunately, Kim is once more resisting paying a deductible due to Traveler’s Insurance for a case settled against the city.
The Latest Insurance Case
In 2019, Kenneth Wilkins fell on ice in front of city hall. He made a claim against the city. Travelers Insurance defended the city in the suit and ended up settling the matter for $65,000.00. The city’s Travelers insurance policy requires the city to pay a $25,000.00 deductible.
On March 13, 2023, Kim was presented with the following resolution to authorize the city’s payment of the deductible due to Travelers Insurance. As the document below shows, City Attorney Tony Izzo signed off on the resolution writing that it “appears lawful and proper.”
Mayor Kim signed off on the resolution, and then, for reasons unknown, he asked for the document to be returned to him, scratched out his signature, and decided he would bring it to the Council.
The resolution was on the Mayor’s agenda for the March 21, 2023, City Council meeting. In a bizarre twist, the Mayor announced it would not be considered in his agenda but would be dealt with at the end of the meeting.
At the end of the meeting, Kim announced that the Council was going into an executive session to deal with a matter from Risk and Safety. As the matter of the co-pay had originated from Risk and Safety, presumably, the resolution was the focus of the executive session.
When the members of the Council emerged from the executive session, Kim announced that no action had been taken during the session. It is simply stunning that Accounts Commissioners Dillon Moran, Finance Commissioner Minita Sanghvi, and Public Safety Commissioner James Montagnino said nothing (Public Works Commissioner Jason Golub was absent). Sanghvi and Montagnino had supported Kim in the previous fiasco, and they are apparently doing it again.
What Is Going To Happen To The City’s Insurance
What insurance company will want to put up with this kind of behavior, and if there is one, what will they charge?
At the March 21, 2023, Saratoga Springs City Council meeting Mayor Kim presented a grant tapping this funding assignment, stating that the grant program was created in 2022 by a Council resolution to provide local non-profits with potential city funding. Mayor Kim also released the following statement: “The grant program was created in 2022 by a council resolution to provide local nonprofits equitable access to city financial support. Historically, the only consistent resource for supporting identified priority needs has been the annual Community Development Block Grant Entitlement Funds, and annual allocations to select nonprofits through the mayor’s budget.” [I contacted the Times Union, and they have edited the article and removed his statement.]
The grantee, Pitney Meadows Farm, is a well-respected, longstanding contributor to the city. They would likely pass any protocol established. That does not change the fact that the taxpayers have no idea how they were chosen, and what other deserving non-profits might have been considered. There is no evidence that the established application and awarding of funds established in 2021 regarding a CDBG-type review, evaluation, and recommendation were followed. There is no evidence of attorney approval that this is an appropriate use of the funded assignment (required). Yes, Mayor Kim is an attorney – he is not the city attorney or impartial regarding this grant.
It is an election year, and nothing looks better for an incumbent mayor (who will likely have a primary opponent in former Commissioner Chris Mathiesen) receiving press for a generous distribution of taxpayer funds for a great cause, minus the established application and award process. Mayor Kim is quite good at pointing fingers to unfairly blame predecessors and, on the flip side, taking credit for established programs he had nothing to do with.
I attended the Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee’s meeting on Saturday, March 18, 2023. I was asked to leave, but as it was held at the Saratoga Springs Library, all events in the library’s meeting rooms must be open to the public, so I was able to stay and observe what Chair Pat Tuz touted as a “Rah,rah fellowship meeting”. The meeting included some questionable directions to petition gatherers.
Accounts Commissioner Dillon Moran is head of the committee collecting signatures for election petitions. This process has become especially challenging this year as, in addition to the full slate of candidates on the petitions the committee members are circulating, Democrat Chris Mathiesen is also independently circulating a petition for Mayor and Democrat Michele Madigan is also independently circulating a petition for the second Supervisor slot. Someone asked Moran what to do if a person they approached said they wanted to sign the petition for one of the challengers rather than for the candidates on the committee petitions. Moran responded that they should just pass on to the next person. You cannot sign petitions for two different people running for the same office therefore if someone wanted to sign Chris Mathiesen’s petition for mayor, they could not also sign a petition for Ron Kim for Mayor.
Then Committee member Shafer Gaston spoke up. He told the attendees that it was actually not illegal to sign more than one petition for the same office . He told them to tell people they could sign as many petitions as they wanted and they should get the signature anyway.
It is true that it is not illegal to sign for more than one candidate for the same office. But it is also true that your signature may not count if you do this. Election law establishes that if the same person signs for two different candidates for the same office, the signature with the earliest date is valid and the other is not.
So while it may not be illegal to encourage voters to sign all the petitions they want, it is surely unethical and manipulative to mislead a voter into signing a petition for a candidate they do not want to support without telling them that their signature for the candidate they do like will then be invalid.
Neither Moran nor anyone else at the meeting pushed back on Gaston.
[JK: Thanks to an alert reader and friend, I learned that where I used the word “claim” I should have used the word “complaint” which I have now corrected.]
At the March 21, 2023, Saratoga Springs City Council meeting, Mayor Ron Kim submitted a resolution that was meant to further juice up his conflict with Public Safety Commissioner James Montagnino over the claim the latter brought against Black Lives Matter activist Chandler Hickenbottom.
As the video documents, the resolution heading indicated that it was written by City Attorney Tony Izzo.
In the clip, Montagnino calls Izzo to the microphone to inquire about the source of the document :
Montagnino: “You drafted this?”
Izzo: “I did not. It caused me some concern.”
Montagnino: “It says ‘City Attorney’ at the top.”
Izzo: “Yes, so I did check back. I did not draft this document.”
Montagnino: “Do you know who did?”
Izzo: “No, I do not.”
Kim: “I did. I’m an attorney.”
Kim apparently saw no need to consult the City Attorney on the resolution even when appropriating his letterhead.
As it turned out, the resolution not only had the inappropriate heading attributing it to the city attorney, it had additional issues. There were typos, and the text referred to Montagnino’s action as a “summons” when the proper legal term was “complaint.”
The Mayor then withdrew the resolution citing the errors in it and his desire for a vote that would include Public Works Commissioner Jason Golub, who was absent. The Mayor asserted he would have Golub’s vote in support at the next meeting.
In my previous post, I wrote about the Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee’s attempt to repair the damage caused by their refusal to allow three Democrats seeking their endorsement to address the full committee in violation of their own endorsement policy. Chair Pat Tuz’s odd solution to repair this mistake was to allow Chris Mathiesen, candidate for Mayor, Michele Madigan, candidate for Supervisor, but not Tim Coll, candidate for Public Safety, to address the committee as a special meeting to be held March 18, 2023. In addition, for some reason Tuz also scheduled the already endorsed Democratic candidates (Kim, Sanghvi, Moran, Golub, Montagnino, and Boyd) to address the committee at this meeting as well.
Tuz’s plan apparently did not sit well with Mayor Ron Kim.
In yet another intemperate, curse-laden rant, Kim verbally attacks Pat Tuz, the chairperson of his own party.
Ron Kim’s Rant
From Ron Kim To Pat Tuz (Mar 14, 2023, at 6:13 PM)
Not clear to me why the two non-endorsed candidates are getting 15 minutes to address the Committee while the endorsed candidates are only getting 5 minutes—what the FUCK IS GOING ON!!!!! ARE YOU WORKING TO FUCKING MAKE SURE THAT THE CANDIDATES WHO ARE FACING A CONTEST WILL LOSE?
You (Ron Kim) have already spoken. You may take as long as you want. BUT, the purpose of the meeting is fellowship, encouragement and GETTING EVERYONE OUT TO GET PETITIONS SIGNED. I got 50 so far. How about you?
Just as an FYI, some are not signing due to: 1) Endorsement unfairness. 2). Ron and Dillon fights at CC meetings. 3). Jim Montagnino
This can be overcome, but, we have to get the signatures to get on the ballot so let’s get going.
Cancel culture: Cancel culture is a phenomenon in which those who are deemed to have acted or spoken in an unacceptable manner are ostracized, boycotted or shunned.
Saratoga Springs Democratic Chair Pat Tuz has invited Chris Mathiesen and Michele Madigan, along with the candidates the committee previously endorsed for City Council positions, to address a meeting of the Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee on March 18. Conspicuously absent from her list of invitees was Tim Coll, candidate for Public Safety Commissioner.
As readers will recall, all three Democrats, Mathiesen, who is running for Mayor, Madigan, who is running for a Supervisor seat, and Coll, who is running for Public Safety Commissioner, had sought endorsements to run on the Democratic line in the November city elections. All three were interviewed by the endorsement committee, rejected, and then refused the opportunity to address the full committee in violation of the committee’s own policies. The Democratic Committee then went on to endorse all the incumbents (Kim, Moran, Sanghvi, Montagnino, Golub, and Boyd for Supervisor)
The committee experienced significant criticism from the press, the public, and some of the committee’s own members for their closed, undemocratic endorsement process. The Democratic leadership then came up with this absurd March 18 meeting as their idea of a remedy for this mistake. The committee has made its endorsements and is currently circulating petitions for all the incumbents, so this meeting will change nothing. So what is the point? And why spend the committee’s time listening again to the candidates they have already endorsed as well as is planned?
In this context, Tuz’s decision to allow her committee members to hear from some of the Democrats who weren’t endorsed but not all is even more perplexing and only serves to highlight the undemocratic, heavy-handed methods of Ms. Tuz and her executive committee.
Tuz Cancels Coll in Email Exchange
[JK: the full text of the emails between Tuz and Coll can be found at the end of this post]
After seeing the announcement of the meeting he was not invited to in the committee’s newsletter, In the Loop, Tim Coll wrote to Chairperson Tuz asking that he, too, be allowed to address the full committee at their meeting on the eighteenth. Without being specific, Ms. Tuz responded by informing Coll that “their [Republican] values….are different than our [Democratic] values,” and since he had been endorsed by the local Republican committee, she would not allow her committee members to hear Coll speak. It is interesting that Ms. Tuz chose to ignore that Coll is a registered Democrat.
Coll responded that the best way to determine what his values actually are would be for him to attend the committee meeting and have the opportunity to engage in conversation with the members. He reminded her that he had asked her to forward his email requesting this opportunity to her entire committee and asked if she had done that.
Tuz responded with a spirited attack not only on anyone who would be a registered Republican (which he is not) but anyone who would accept an endorsement from the city’s Republican Party. She goes on at great length extolling her own virtues, including describing herself as one of the “believers in democracy,” implying that Coll is not.
Conspicuously absent was an answer to Coll’s fundamental question as to whether Tuz had circulated his email to the committee as he had requested.
Coll, who was not registered in any political party for many years, was clear he intended to seek support from both the Democratic Committee and the Republican Committee when he was initially interviewed by the Democrats. This is consistent with his campaign theme in which he eschews tribalism in politics and his belief that we need to repair the divisions in our political culture.
Tuz conveniently ignores the irony that the local Republican Party, which she contends is anti-democracy, was willing to rise above partisanship in the interest of the city by endorsing a Democrat and had no problem with Coll speaking to their full committee.
What Is Tuz Afraid Of?
It is hard to understand why Tuz would refuse a simple request to forward Coll’s email asking to speak to the full committee. She had already successfully blocked his endorsement.
Tuz’s refusal to forward a legitimate and courteous email to her committee was a pointless abuse. The endorsements are done. She seems to be utterly oblivious that such pettiness only serves to undermine the narrative that was supposed to repair the original media damage done by their flawed endorsement process.
I understand that there is some dissension among the rank-and-file members of the committee over the endorsement of Montagnino for Public Safety Commissioner. My guess is that Tuz, directed by Gordon Boyd, is worried that a compelling presentation by Tim Coll might further undermine Montagnino and threaten Tuz’s and Boyd’s credibility.
Hope you are well. This email is really to the entire committee. I am sending it to you and respectfully request that you forward it to all of them.
I read in the latest edition of your newsletter, In the Loop, the following:
“Since our endorsement meeting last month, we’ve heard from several of our members, the general public and even endorsed candidates that all candidates should have been allowed to address the full committee rather than only those recommended. ”
The timing of this is rather odd given that the Committee’s endorsements have already been made and petitions are being circulated, but nevertheless, I agree with the members of the committee who have championed openness and inclusivity.
On the other hand, the newsletter also announced that I would not be given the courtesy to address the committee citing the endorsement of the city’s Republican Committee.
It is unclear to me who made the decision that the full committee should be able to hear from some but not all of the Democrats who sought their endorsement.
The current political environment is already toxic with extreme partisanship. This is an opportunity to show that our local Democratic Committee is better than this. I believe your committee should have the opportunity to hear from me and judge me on my qualifications and character, not on who does or does not support me.
I respectfully request the opportunity to join my fellow Democrats who were denied the opportunity to address the full committee during your endorsement process to now have the opportunity to meet with your members and allow them to decide for themselves who might best serve the city of Saratoga Springs on the City Council.
From: Pat Tuz <pat.tuz@> Date: Mon, Mar 13, 2023 at 12:24 PM Subject: Re: Interview with Dem Committee To: Tim Coll <tcoll>
I thought you got the Republican endorsement. Can you clarify?
On Mon, Mar 13, 2023 at 12:26 PM Tim Coll <tcoll> wrote:
Yes, I did.
From: Pat Tuz <pat.tuz@> Date: Mon, Mar 13, 2023 at 12:52 PM Subject: Re: Interview with Dem Committee To: Tim Coll <tcoll>
I thought you all should have been allowed to speak – at that point, or prior to your endorsement by the R’s. I don’t remember what day that happened. It does not make sense now that you be allowed to speak to our group because you were endorsed by the R’s. You have to stand for something which I presume is their values which are different than our values. And right now we have to move forward and get things done.
But, good luck and see you out there!!
On Mar 13, 2023, at 6:36 PM, Tim Coll <tcoll> wrote:
I agree with you that there was a mistake made and we should all have been allowed to speak. It appears, based on your email to me, you are not going to forward my emal to the membership as I requested. I hope I am incorrect and that you can assure me that you did indeed share my message with all your committee people. It would be unfortunate if this became yet another mistake.
I was surprised that you alleged that I, an enrolled Democrat, do not now share the values of you and your hcommittee. The best way to determine what my values actually are would be for me to attend your committee meeting and have the opportunity to engage in a conversation with your members about my qualifications and goals for the city as Public Safety Commissioner.
I respectfully request that you share my email with all committee members if you have not done so and that you reconsider your decision to bar me from addressing your committee.
From: Pat Tuz <pat.tuz@> Date: Tue, Mar 14, 2023, 1:06 PM Subject: Re: Interview with Dem Commitee To: Tim Coll <tcoll42@>
So Tim, an interesting conversation to be had.
I know that you were Unaffiliated, then registered Democratic, then/now got endorsed by the Republican committee and they are helping with your petitioning. And that you are not a “political” guy as you say. I don’t know what that even means if you are running for office. Maybe you believe some Democratic policy (universal healthcare), and some Republican policy (strong police, law & order). But you have chosen to align yourself with them via the endorsement.
Just so you know, some of us have given up years of our lives to volunteer, especially after Trump was elected by the Republicans. As believers of Democracy, we felt it a duty to pass along free and fair elections, a woman’s right to choose, true equal rights for all, to our children. I came of age in the Civil Rights era, took my rights for granted, now see them disappearing.
Many of us used to but will no longer consider voting for local Republicans. They have entertained election deniers, taken busloads down to Washington DC for January 6th, are supporters of our election denying Congresswoman in D21, and the Democracy deniers in our federal government. That is very serious. And local is where it all starts. So how can we support you?.
You may not consider yourself “political” but you can’t get anywhere unless you have a “group” to help. So, it’s best to align with one, I get that. But, you chose the wrong one.
So, yes we were wrong, and will give Michele and Chris the chance to speak to our committee. But, we just can’t give it to you.
Good luck Tim!
From: Tim Coll <tcoll@> Date: Tue, Mar 14, 2023, 2:03 PM Subject: Re: Interview with Dem Commitee To: Pat Tuz <pat.tuz@>
Saratoga Springs Mayor Ron Kim will be naming Michael Phillips as the second City Attorney at the next City Council meeting.
Phillips ran for Saratoga County District Attorney against Karen Heggen during the last election and was soundly defeated. As Phillips’ campaign manager was Gordon Boyd, it is not surprising that Kim will now appoint Phillips to the City Attorney job. For those of you who are not familiar with Boyd, he is on the executive committee of the Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee. More cronyism.
Of course, this choice only furthers the chasm between the city and the county.
In addition, as I expected, the Mayor plans to have Phillips take over most of the responsibilities that were Marilyn Rivers’. In addition to his City Attorney responsibilities, then, Phillips will be in charge of Risk and Safety for the city. Given Phillips’ employment history, he does not seem qualified.
While the city attorney is often the initial contact person for risk and safety issues in most municipalities, there is normally a full-time person under them to carry out the extensive responsibilities of the job. Typically that position requires a college degree and a number of years of experience in the fields of commercial property and casualty insurance and risk and safety management.
The city website has a long list of skills required for the current Risk and Safety position. They include
-good knowledge of laws and ordinances relating to claims filed by or against municipalities
-excellent knowledge of Public Entity Insurance
-ability to prepare, originate, organize and conduct training seminars
-ability to determine needed reserves for future claims payments
Ron Kim’s plan instead is to have the City Attorney assisted by someone in a newly created position called a “claims manager.” That position will require only a high school degree.
It’s hard to imagine how Phillips, with no background in municipal law or risk and safety, will manage these responsibilities along with the other legal demands that will be made on his time.
Given the chaotic situation in the Mayor’s office, trouble lies ahead.
Kim’s Flawed Election Petition
The Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee is currently circulating petitions to get their endorsed candidates on the ballot for the November local city elections but had to recall the separate Ron Kim petitions they were carrying. As previously reported, Ron Kim refused to be on the same petition as the other Democratic-endorsed candidates, and committee members were circulating a petition with only his name on it along with a separate petition for the rest of the slate.
Apparently, however, the separate Ron Kim petition had an error and had to be taken out of circulation after it was distributed. Interesting that Kim, who, as he likes to remind us, is a lawyer, either did not check his petition before it was distributed or somehow didn’t notice there was a mistake. Pat Tuz, chair of the Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee, sent out the following email to her committee members:
“The Ron Kim petition has the incorrect spelling of his name. It cannot be used. Please remove it from your pack. NEW Ronald J. Kim petitions will be available this evening after 7:00 on Otis Maxwell’s porch..”
[JK: Full disclosure. Jane Weihe, my wife, is the campaign manager for Tim Coll, who is running for Public Safety Commissioner against Montagnino.]
The March 7, 2023, Saratoga Springs City Council meeting provided a number of insights into the character of Public Safety Commissioner James Montagnino, none of them very flattering to say the least.
In earlier posts, I have written about the crisis of morale in city hall in general and in the police department in particular. When you observe how Montagnino behaves toward his “colleagues” on the Council at this meeting, you can begin to understand how difficult it must be to serve under him.
Mean Spirited and Vindictive
Montagnino’s enmity toward Accounts Commissioner Dillon Moran has been on full display for months. Most recently, Montagnino unsuccessfully tried to promote the candidacy of someone to replace Moran as the Democratic nominee for Accounts Commissioner. In a previous incident, Montagnino accused Moran of being an alcoholic.
The venomousness Montagnino is capable of towards Moran was never better dramatized, though, than at the last City Council meeting on March 7. Moran, who was unable to attend the meeting live due to COVID, participated in the meeting via Zoom.
At the end of Moran’s agenda presentation, Montagnino asked for the floor and spoke to Moran. He asked if Moran “could speak more clearly; your speech sounds somewhat slurred.”
Unfortunately, the video does not allow a clear view of Montagnino’s expression as he offered this advice to Moran. I do not think it is unfair to characterize Montagnino’s expression as a smirk. After a pregnant pause, Moran, while clearly irritated, did not respond in kind.
By the way, as the video below documents, Moran could be easily heard speaking clearly on Zoom.
Macho At The Council Table
In this clip, Montagnino uses his rhetorical skills to raise the temperature at the meeting by accusing Mayor Kim of “caving” on putting a proposed homeless shelter at the senior citizens’ center. Notice Montagnino’s tone and his pointing at the Mayor.
Talking Over People
One of the tools Montagnino commonly uses against his colleagues is to weaponize his loud and very oratorical voice to talk over them.
Montagnino Has No Supporting Cast
Thoughtful legislators seek support from their colleagues for proposals before presenting the actual resolutions at the Council table. This achieves a number of objectives.
It is a healthy sign of respect to consult your fellow Council members on issues you plan to raise before going to the media.
Consulting your colleagues concerning planned legislation helps everyone to better understand the issues and allows the legislator to address any questions his/her colleagues may have.
If there is no support for the proposed legislation, it avoids wasting time on a pointless discussion at the Council table.
It avoids pointless conflict at Council meetings.
It increases the chances that the proposed legislation will actually pass.
This is not the way that Montagnino operates. His first plan of action is to contact the press and television. As in the case of his proposal to install porta-potties for the homeless at the parking garage the homeless frequent, he succeeded in getting stories about himself and his plan in the local print press and television prior to the Council meeting. Bear in mind he had not discussed any of this with his colleagues. They only learned about his proposal when they read about it in the newspapers or when they saw it on the proposed agenda.
Andrew Waite reported in the March 12, 2023, edition of the Daily Gazette that Montagnino had not bothered to solicit input from the community either. He quotes Todd Shimkus, the president of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, on the previous experiment with porta-potties at the Woodlawn Ave. Garage:
“This was a miserable total complete and absolute failure. I don’t want to describe the horrific things that happened to them because they were so bad.”
“If the commissioner made one phone call to any of the business leaders who had been around for any time, we would have been able to advise him that this would be a big mistake. Well intentioned, but a big mistake.”
Todd Shimkus, Chamber
This proposal suffered the same fate as pretty much all of Montagnino’s other initiatives. It failed. In fact, he could not even get a second for his motion. He then tried to get his colleagues to support a public hearing on his porta-potty proposal, and it, too, failed to gain a second.
In the following excerpt from the meeting, Public Works Commissioner Jason Golub, in sharp contrast to Montagnino, thoughtfully lays out all the issues that would need to be addressed before it would be possible to act on Montagnino’s proposal. He is especially thoughtful in observing that without a full proposal, it is pointless to ask the public to weigh in at a public hearing.
The Smartest Person in the Room
Commissioner Montagnino exemplifies the archetype of the “smartest person in the room.” This is the person who is so enamored of what they see as their superlative intellect that they find little value in listening to others unless it provides an opportunity to belittle them.
Such people are oblivious to the concept of collegiality or cooperative decision-making. In fact, they take particular pleasure in correcting their colleagues in a tone and style that is unhelpful.
In the case of politicians, they are more interested in sharing their genius with the public through the news media rather than working with their colleagues on solutions.