April 4 City Council Meeting: Mayor Kim Oversees Madness and Vitriol

The April 4, 2023, Saratoga Springs City Council meeting devolved into a five-hour ordeal of toxic outbursts and recriminations exchanged amongst the Council members themselves and coming from Black Lives Matter members in the audience. Mayor Kim, unable or unwilling to maintain order, empowered the worst behavior from BLM and his colleagues at the table. While Kim’s mismanagement of the meeting was the major factor, his colleagues on the Council must share some of the responsibility for this craziness.

Emblematic of the evening, in a particularly shocking breakdown of decorum and civility, BLM leader Lexis Figureo seized the microphone from Chris Mathiesen as Chris tried to address the Council during the public comment period. In the following video, Mathiesen asks Mayor Kim, “Is this ok with you?” Mayor Kim’s response was to inform Mathiesen that he (Kim) was running the meeting and then to shut down the public comment period. Members of BLM then removed the temporary barrier that separated the Council table from the public seating area and invaded the space adding to the toxic chaos. In fact, one of the BLM people grabbed Public Safety Commissioner Montagnino’s microphone from the Council table and used it to shout epithets.

This city is flirting with real trouble. This aggressive behavior, if unchecked, has the real potential to descend into violence, and yet Mayor Kim and his colleagues at the table that night, with the exception of Commissioner Montagnino who appealed to the Mayor to restore order, sat ineffectually by like bystanders watching a train wreck.

A Pointless Resolution

To understand just how bizarre the evening was, it is important to grasp just how pointless one of the main events on the agenda was. Commissioner Montagnino had brought a complaint of disorderly conduct against BLM member Chandler Hickenbottom following the the shut down of the February 7 City Council meeting after repeated disruptions by BLM members. So the main event at this meeting was the consideration of a resolution offered by Kim that allegedly relieved the city of liability for any litigation resulting from the charges brought against Chandler Hickenbottom (BLM) by Commissioner Montagnino. In addition, because the Council had not formally endorsed Montagnino’s action, the resolution claimed that Montagnino had acted as an individual not as a city official and was therefore not entitled to any coverage for legal costs should he be sued.

State law establishes that elected officials are indemnified for suits related to their office’s duties. The city’s insurance policy covers our elected officials based on this law. This policy would provide money for their representation in court in case of a complaint against them and cover any fines.

The poorly crafted resolution asserted that the Council never authorized Montagnino to bring his action against Hickenbottom and boldly asserted that therefore “…neither Chapter 9 of the City Code nor Section 18 of the Public Officers Law shall apply.” It provided no language from the state law supporting this assertion.

If the New York State Public Officers Law would not cover Montagnino’s liability then he is not covered. If the New York State Public Officers Law does cover Montagnino then he is covered. One way or the other, the resolution is trumped by state law.

So, as Montagnino accurately pointed out during the discussion, the resolution is pointless.

What, then, was the purpose of this resolution?

It was about drama along with petty payback and not the law.

How About Consulting The City’s Insurance Carrier

The primary drafters of this resolution were Kim, his deputy Angela Rella, and Public Works Commissioner Golub. While all three are lawyers, none have any municipal law expertise.

There was a simple way to determine if the action against Montagnino was enforceable. All they had to do was consult the city’s insurance carrier as to our policy.

They didn’t.

Free Speech Suppression?

The proponents of this resolution allege that Chandler Hickenbottom’s free speech had been denied out of some animus based on racism and sexism. In this excerpt, Accounts Commissioner Moran berates Montagnino claiming that Montagnino’s racist rant stopped the February 7 meeting.

What Actually Happened On February 7.

This is a twelve-minute video from the events of February 7, 2023. It was these events that are the basis for both Montagnino’s action and Kim’s resolution. It belies Moran’s intemperate and untrue accusation that Montagnino’s “racist” remarks were what stopped the meeting. Montagnino never spoke during Hickenbottom’s rant.

Speakers at public comment are allowed two minutes. As documented in this video, Ms. Hickenbottom monopolized the microphone for twelve minutes, refusing to adhere to city policy after repeated requests that she give up the microphone to the next speaker. In her comments, she herself observed that she was “going to keep disrupting.”

You might call what Hickenbottom did a form of civil disobedience, but characterizing Ms. Hickenbottom as a victim of speech suppression is a fabrication.

The Council Has Descended To An Unsustainable Low

As bad as past meetings have been, April 4th’s meeting achieved a new low of toxicity and belligerence. Figuereo and his allies continually attempted to interfere with the meeting for four hours, yelling and making thoughtful deliberation by the Council problematic.

The tone and substance of the council members were not much better. The Mayor is unwilling to implement any standard of decorum and civility. In fact, he frequently contributes to the toxic atmosphere that now dominates our City Council.

This Is Not Going To End Well

Given the increasing violence in this country, the grim reality is that the level of unrestrained anger and abuse at the Council table and from the Black Lives Matter people has created a very dangerous environment. There is the real potential for violence if nothing is done to insist on reasonable order and civility. We live in a culture in which the national news is increasingly dominated by random shootings by disturbed people. What happens regularly now at Council meetings is an invitation to disaster.

12 thoughts on “April 4 City Council Meeting: Mayor Kim Oversees Madness and Vitriol”

  1. I am not, for one minute, condoning the antics of those who continually disrupt the council meetings, yet the antics of the council itself seem to set the tone and character of these meetings. They certainly are not setting any kind of positive role model when the council members yell at each other, accuse each other, and even name-call. It is an abomination that shows little hope of getting better. It makes me sad (and worried for those in attendance)

    Liked by 3 people

  2. John, I agree with your assessment. City business is not getting done. Resident’s concerns are not being heard or addressed. Ron Kim has never sounded more pathetic in attempting to ‘lead’ the meetings, if you can call half-hearted begging and pleading leadership. Saratoga BLM has obscured any legitimacy they might have had with their unhinged and profane appearances. The city has become a total joke to outsiders watching this week after week.

    Something needs to give, this rapid downward spiral leads is dangerous and has to end for the good of all.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Agree that Saratoga BLM is unhinged and profane and has been since they first stained our community. Figuereo telling the SSPD to suck his black d***??!! C’mon man!! Time to shut them down. Figuereo thinks he can steer elections, that he has any real standing in the community, or that anyone other then a small band of discontents take him seriously. C’mon man!! Then there’s that so called social worker who lives in a mobile home community at the lake ranting about capitalist crimes?? It’s time to rid our city of Kim, Moran and Sanghvi and elect responsible citizens who will focus on keeping Saratoga the gem that it has always been.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The meeting on February 7 went on beyond the video that you are showing. After the first adjournment which is where this video ended, the Council re-convened in an attempt to proceed with the Consent Agenda. However, no further progress was made because the activist stood off to the side of the room, demanding that each Council member explain how they reacted to the Tyre Nichols police brutality videos. I was present as the Mayor allowed this inquisition to take place.

    Things got more and more heated as the probing of Council members progressed. By the time the activist got to Commissioner Montagnino, things had gotten very heated especially after the complaints were voiced about Commissioner Goilub’s perceived lack of adequate support for BLM. Commissioner Montagnino dared to defend the SSPD against accusations of police brutality and racism. That’s when the meeting got completely out of control. They had to adjourn and continue the meeting two nights later, an unprecedented occurrence. I assume that this was why the activist was issued a summons, not because she spoke too long during public comment.

    Chris Mathiesen

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Kim should be impeached, along with the rest…it’s beyond embarrassing, as you say, it’s dangerous. I can only imagine what Ellsworth Jones and John Roohan are thinking as they look down on this dumpster fire.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Ron Kim cannot control the room or maintain any semblance of order. It’s dangerous for the people who want to come to city council meetings and have their time before the city. Someone is going to get hurt! Period! Our elected officials are the current representation of the people. It’s their collective job, since the mayor has clearly shown his inability to maintain order, to ensure safety and order so the people can have their time to speak before the city.

    Regarding the ridiculous resolution put forward by Ron Kim and supported by the rest of the council to continue their publicity against Commissioner Montignino it came down to nothing more than a city charter argument with Kim stating “the city charter says I run the meetings so you had no right to do what you did as a Commissioner of Public Safety.” What a bunch of nonsense. Commissioner Montignino if the Mayor cannot maintain the safety of the public and council at meetings, well, you should!

    Liked by 4 people

  6. I would really hate to see our hard working city employees fail to be paid, an injustice almost realized at the February 7th City Council meeting. Those who make our city run should not be punished for the politics of the city. That is my primary concern during these incidents.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. John more rwnj babble, but that is definitely no surprise from you. Unhinged and all the rest of your adjective just reflect everything wrong with the right. Saratoga BLM was pissed and had every right to be, promises made for years and shady shit done by former members of the council under the previous mayor and current ones also speak louder than your delusional nonsense. What they did was stupid, but understandable. Yet you constantly choose to throw gasoline on a fire happily.


    1. Perhaps BLM can take a page out of the two well-spoken and well-supported Black men in Tennessee. They protested, then struggled and they have clearly gotten their point across while getting even more support. Yet, I never heard the name-call, become vitriolic or spew foul language.

      BLM had some support in this city when they started. They have eroded that with leaders who seem to want headlines instead of progress and are going about it in an off-putting and now dangerous manner. Do they want to be heard or do they want to make noise? It is clear they will not get both. I will give you that Council members are not setting a positive manner.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. A two year old has more self control and awareness than these “Citizens”… Kim looks like their mother asking them to behave in the supermarket. With “supporters” like these who needs opposition party…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I agree the entire Council needs to share some of the responsibility with Kim for the dangerously chaotic city council meetings. But I think a share of the responsibility for that and the other mess ups of these Council members should also go to the Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee whose members have empowered them by falling into line to unquestionably endorse this group without ever considering that there might be better people to govern this city.

    Liked by 4 people

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