More Madness From The Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee

The Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee is circulating two petitions for candidates they have endorsed for city positions to run in the November, 2023, local elections. One has all their endorsed candidates on it except for Ron Kim for Mayor. The other petition is just for Ron Kim for Mayor.

Given Kim’s email with its epithet-laden rant at Accounts Commissioner Dillon Moran, it is reasonable to assume that he is insisting that his name not be on the same document as Moran.

I must say that the Democratic Committee has become something of a black box. It has been impossible to get any reliable information as to what prompted the Mayor’s outburst and what Moran has done to incur Kim’s wrath.

Democrat and former Commissioner of Public Safety Chris Mathiesen is also circulating petitions to run for Mayor. There appears to be at least one committee person who is carrying Mathiesen’s petition, not Kim’s, along with the petition for the other incumbent candidates endorsed by the committee. If both Kim and Mathiesen get enough signatures, there will be a primary in June between the two. The winner will appear on the Democratic line in the November election.

My sense is that Gordon Boyd, who is running for one of two County Supervisor positions, has established himself as the de facto leader of the Democratic Committee. Former Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan, who the committee did not endorse and who was one of three Democratic candidates not allowed to address the full committee, is circulating a petition for the second Supervisor position that the committee did not fill. If she gets enough signatures, she will appear with Boyd on the Democratic line in November.

Mayor Kim Reverses Course: City Council Meetings Resume Original Schedule

Saratoga Springs Mayor Ron Kim has reversed his plan to change the starting time for City Council meetings and when the public comment period is held. This notice is from the city’s website posted at 1:39 on March 3, 2023 (The agenda on the city website still wrongly has the 5:00 PM starting time):

Mayor’s Office
Posted on: March 3, 2023
City Council Meetings to Return to Usual Start, With Public Comment at Beginning
Mayor Ron Kim announced today that meetings of the Saratoga Springs City Council will return to their usual start time of 7:00 PM, with public comment at the beginning, starting March 7, 2023.

“I conferred with all members of City Council prior to announcing that the start time and order of meetings would be changed to allow for longer public comment, and all four Commissioners agreed to the change.  Having received feedback from the community, I’ve ultimately decided the public will be better served with meetings starting at 7 PM, and public comment being held at the beginning of the meeting.”

Mayor Kim’s Bad Idea: New and “Improved” Meetings

On Tuesday, February 21, 2023, Saratoga Springs Mayor Kim announced his new schedule for City Council meetings. The meetings will now commence at 5PM not 7PM and the public comment period will be moved from the first item at Council meetings to the last.

This initiative is, according to the Mayor, to allow more public input.

Some of us are a little skeptical. It may have more to do with minimizing access by Black Lives Matter activists.

Unfortunately, it will affect more than the Black Lives Matter activists who have disrupted recent Council meetings. For one thing, it means that citizens who may want to address the Council about an agenda item will have to wait until the item has already been acted upon before they can address the Council.

I expect there will be some very unhappy people when they show up at a Council meeting to oppose something and discover they cannot address the Council until after the issue is voted on and done.

I corresponded with Public Works Commissioner Jason Golub about this plan, and he raised concerns over its adoption:

While I understand the idea behind changing the start time for the city council meeting, I think the feedback we received from constituents at the last council meeting was that we need to be more measured and thoughtful concerning community needs in making this decision. In particular, I’m concerned that the public comment start time will now be a moving target which will make it hard for individuals to know what time they need to be at the meeting in order to speak. In addition, for community members with jobs, beginning the meeting at 5PM will be problematic. I applaud the mayor’s decision to implement monthly community meetings to spend time working on solutions to significant community issues, I think we should perhaps reconsider the 5PM start time pending input from constituents before making any significant change.

I also think that placing the comment period at the end of the meeting is problematic.  People commonly come to our meetings in order to try to affect proposed actions to be enacted at the meeting.  Placing the public comment period at the end of the meeting would make their concerns moot.

Commissioner Jason Golub

Here is how the editorial in the Daily Gazette characterized it:

The move is designed purely to make the meetings less convenient for people to attend, to ensure fewer people are aware of the board’s actions. and to discourage public participation and criticism.

Daily Gazette Editorial February 23, 2023

The Mayor tried to put a better public spin on the plan by announcing that the time allowed for each public comment speaker would be expanded from two minutes to four minutes.

It was regrettable that when the Mayor announced these changes, there was no pushback from his colleagues on the Council. Hopefully, they will find their voices at the next meeting.