While the April 18, 2023, Saratoga Springs City Council meeting was subdued in contrast to the previous April 4 meeting, it was notable for Mayor Ron Kim’s mismanagement.
Mayor Kim Abrogated His Responsibility Over The Public Comment Period
For starters Mayor Kim announced that while there would still be a four-minute limit on individual comments, he would no longer enforce it. When is a limit no longer a limit?
This means that any person can now filibuster for as long as they want. Potentially one person can use up all the time allocated for public comment.
I expect Kim watched the video of the last meeting, where he appeared feckless as he fruitlessly advised people, what seemed like hundreds of times, that their time was up.
At the April 18 meeting, Kim lectured the public that monopolizing the microphone was unfair to others who might wish to speak, but essentially left it up to members of the audience to sort it all out over who would get to use what amount of time.
This means that if someone takes it upon themselves to venture out at night to address the Council on a matter they find important, they may discover that the person ahead of them has exhausted the available time, and they are out of luck. It seems to me this could potentially add to the disorder at meetings and could lead to some disruptive conflict between those wanting to have their time at the microphone.
You Couldn’t Get Into The Meeting
The April 18, 2023, meeting was held in the old Council chambers, and many people could not get into the meeting. They were allowed to sit in the hall where a screen was set up that displayed the meeting.
Pretty much every speaker complained about Kim’s decision to hold the meeting in the old Council chambers rather than the Music Hall. It was especially embarrassing because the Council was to honor the late Clarence Dart of the Tuskegee Airmen. His descendants, who had been invited to the Council meeting, were unable to get into the room as no seats had been reserved for them. When people learned that the Dart family was in the hall, many gave up their seats for them.
Kim offered two excuses for the venue. He asserted that the video and audio quality was better in the chambers and that he had assessed the agenda items and believed that public attendance would be sufficiently modest so that the chambers would accommodate those who wanted to attend.
It was clear from the groans in the audience that his rationale did not go down well. For one thing, it should have been obvious that the no-knock warrant issue on the agenda would draw a crowd. A number of Facebook pages, including one sponsored by BLM, had posted calls to attend.
A Different Meeting Without Lex Figuereo
Lex Figuereo and Brigitte Barr were charged with two misdemeanors each for their disruption at the April 4 meeting.
Lex Figuereo was absent from the April 18 meeting, as were most of the other leaders of BLM. I expect that Figuereo’s attorney had advised him not to attend future Council meetings until his charges are resolved. In his absence, the group was relatively subdued. With the exception of Angela Kaufman (AKA Diogenes), the other speakers’ remarks were free of epithets. No one from the group attempted a filibuster.
All of them directed vituperative attacks towards Public Safety Commissioner James Montagnino. They also spoke in favor of eliminating “no knock” warrants.
If this is representative of the future, it appears that without Lex Figuereo’s fiery leadership, the city may be spared the kind of disruptions that has made transacting city business problematic.
3 thoughts on “Mayor Kim’s Meeting Management Continues To Stumble”
Mayor Kim decides he is not going to enforce the time limit rule at the open meetings and let the residents self-regulate. It is obviously primary season, and he somehow thinks this will appeal to voters. The disorder at the meetings continues to escalate, not de-escalate, and this is the recipe for violence.
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The other glaring problem with the last Council meeting was Ron Kim’s last minute change to the resolution that was given the most attention during public comment. The NO KNOCK BAN became NO KNOCK RESTRICTION RESTRICTIONS at 4 PM on the afternoon of the meeting. Who knew? The revision was a more reasonable approach to the issue and is much more consistent with the practices that have been in place for years. Judges and the SSPD have always been reluctant to violate the 4th Amendment rights of individuals. No Knock warrants have been granted and utilized only in the rarest of cases in Saratoga Springs.
During Public Comment, a number of speakers were addressing the ban on no knocks without any Council member stopping them to inform them that the resolution had been significantly changed only two hours before. Many words and a big chunk of time was wasted on comments the did not address the actual resolution being put forth by Mayor Kim that night. So much for transparency.
Given the fact that No Knock warrants are almost never used by the SSPD, there was no good reason to rush the resolution through. It would have been better to inform the community of the significant change spelled out in the revised resolution and table any action on it until the public had time to digest the information.
The revised resolution, the NO KNOCK RESTRICTIONS, has one glaring exception that could not be addressed during Public Comment since no one knew about the revision. It does essentially ban no knock warrants for drug houses. Given the violence, weapons, intimidation and cruelty associated with drug houses, it is difficult for me to understand why such an important tool for the law enforcement agencies dealing with them would be eliminated in Saratoga Springs. Drug houses prey upon desperate addicts. Why are we protecting drug houses?
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Might be a dumb question, but is a mayor allowed to set a time limit on public speakers? I don’t believe it’s called out specifically in the Charter, and I’m no expert in state laws on the topic. With all the litigation this council has stupidly brought onto themselves, I do wonder if the change was because they realized they can’t enforce a that rule without getting themselves into more trouble.
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