The Basic Functioning Of Our City Council Is Breaking Down

The May 4, 2023, meeting of the Saratoga Springs City Council was a continuance of the May 2 meeting Mayor Kim adjourned after Black Lives Matter demonstrators disrupted the proceedings. In yet a further escalation of the breakdown of our city government, a new alliance (they are constantly shifting) of Finance Commissioner Sanghvi, Accounts Commissioner Moran, and Mayor Kim refused to approve resolutions on Public Safety Commissioner Montagnino’s agenda. In fact, the three Council members refused to even offer a second to any motion Montagnino made.

Among Montagnino’s resolutions that failed to find a second were two change orders for work being done on the new firehouse. These change orders have, in the past, been approved without debate. Consider this video from a January, 2023, meeting.

Not so at the May 4 meeting. Here is one of the resolutions they refused to second.

People familiar with construction projects know that change orders are hardly unusual. It is unclear how serious the impact of refusing the work order will be. In some cases, other work may not be possible when required work is delayed. It is also unclear what this delay may cost the city. The three members of the Council, by refusing to provide a second to Montagnino’s resolution, deprived the public of any discussion that might have revealed what impact denying these work changes might have.

Watching the Mayor and two Commissioners, it was apparent that they had planned this before the meeting as some kind of retribution.

Following the rejections of the Montagnino resolutions, the three Commissioners complained that they had not been informed about the reason for the changes and offered numerous examples of what they described as the unwillingness of Montagnino to communicate with them. Conspicuously absent was any explanation as to why the three had approved similar changes in the past with no resistance.

This Council’s Subversion Of The Pre-Agenda Process

It has been the tradition of the City Council to hold a “pre-agenda” meeting on the Monday before each City Council meeting. This is where members of the Council would request clarifications on proposed resolutions in order to be able to thoughtfully discuss them at the regular meeting. In particular, in the past, Council members often asked their colleagues to provide background information either during the pre-agenda meeting or before the Council meeting, so they could be prepared for the discussions and votes. At times staff members would attend these meetings to answer questions from Council members on particular proposals.

With the current administration, this is no longer the case. These meetings are now brief to a fault and mostly symbolic. They have been reduced to each member simply reading their agenda items. For example, the pre-agenda meeting for the May 2 council meeting lasted only fifteen minutes. Perhaps City Council meetings would not go on for 5 hours if these Council members did their homework ahead of time.

Montagnino’s change orders were included in his proposed agenda. If the other members of the Council had reservations about Montagnino’s actions and needed more information, the pre-agenda meeting was the time to advise him of their reservations. None of the three asked any questions.

For them to then complain at the Council table that Montagnino had failed to provide them with information is simply not credible. This is especially true because there is an extensive record of these same Council members passing similar work change orders without comment, as documented above.

Denying Montagnino seconds to his resolutions was a new low in the factionalism that dominates this Council.

As further proof of the chaos, not only was the May 2nd meeting disrupted and had to be continued on May 4, but the Council was unable to complete their business even on the 4th and are scheduling yet another extension of the original meeting.

Rude and Unprofessional Behavior

I am not going to bother to include video of the name-calling and ugly behavior of the Council members at this meeting. I have thoroughly documented this in the past, and it seems like a pointless exercise to edit and post more of this stuff. A complete video of the meeting is on the city website for those who wish to watch. Suffice it to say, the current Council lives in a corrosive bubble and appears oblivious about the harm they are doing to each other and to the city.

8 thoughts on “The Basic Functioning Of Our City Council Is Breaking Down”

  1. Not sure whos right in this internal problem. But the Mayor and commitee should TEMOVE THE TRANSUANTS FROM OUR PUBLIC PARKING GARAGES. MOVE THEM OUT. WE CITY RESIDENCE WILL VOTE YOU OUT. DO IT NOW PLEASE


  2. Change your headline to “broke down”. I don’t think it can get any worse than it already is.
    Kim is the fly in the ointment, and I can’t believe citizens voted for him after his dismal stint at Public Safety. As well as his support for Charter Change.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Nice try. I’d prefer to keep the power to vote people out. Don’t think for a minute that a different form of government would empower the voters. Changing our form of government would significantly reduce the power of an individual’s vote and reduce accountability of council members to the public.

    The Wards system pits neighborhoods against each other and does not foster peace. It also increases bureaucratic layers, making voters dependent on their Wardsperson and suppresses the power of an individual’s vote.

    Not only do expensive versions of charter change transfer power away from the people and give it to an appointed bureaucrat called a City Manager that cannot be voted out, it politicizes our neighborhoods and sets up our city for division, not unity. We do not need that. Not now and not ever.

    Look no further than Albany, Schenectady and Troy to see how cities are faring under the strong mayor form.

    Our form of government is designed to maximize accountability of public officials to the voters for their decisions.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree Connie with perhaps one exception. If it would work with the current charter a method for recall would be a good way to address such problems as being faced now, without having to wait for the next election. I’ not sure this is possible yet an idea.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Are there no adults in the room? These people were elected to do the business of the city and ensure fiscal responsibility. It is on them to ask the questions and use critical thinking to ensure the city/taxpayers needs are being met. Clearly there is no leader amongst them and the losers are the citizens of our great city. Get over yourselves and do the job you were elected to do. What a waste of time and resources!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. It is important to remember that the current faction of Democrats who control the Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee bear some of the responsibility for the current chaos in city hall. Not only did they work hard to get this crew elected in 2021 but they wholeheartedly endorsed them all for a second term. These Democrats have now endorsed 3 candidates for School Board even though this is supposed to be a non-partisan election. The deceptive mailer they sent out paid for by the New York State Democratic Committee urges us to vote for “supported school board candidates” without saying who is supporting them. More meaningless slogans from the folks who brought us Ron Kim et al.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I wonder where those disgusting Democrats got the idea to inject politics into such a non-partisan election?

      Regardless, we do know that in 2019, Arrigo brought in a high-powered conservative Republican political consultant to assist with efforts in the Saratoga Springs school board elections. Saratoga Parents for Safer Schools, which Arrigo co-managed in support of three school board candidates, paid more than $9,000 to Go Right Strategies, a Florida-based firm run by Spence Rogers, with connections to Ted Cruz and others. Issue One reported the firm profited heavily from election denialism in 2022 by working for an unsuccessful GOP secretary of state nominee in Arizona. In 2019, Go Right Strategies supported the Saratoga Parents for Safer Schools’ data and messaging efforts, according to Gazette reporting.

      We also know that in 2021, Arrigo’s fellow Libertarian Committee member Amanda Ellithorpe won election to the city’s school board by fewer than 20 votes after receiving a $5,000 donation from “Fight Back Now, LLC,” which was established through a Nevada clearinghouse shortly before the donation was made, according to records obtained by The Daily Gazette.

      Like DuBuque, Arrigo does not live in, nor send children to, the Saratoga Springs district. Arrigo’s home district is Schulyerville. It’s worth noting, Schuylerville’s current school budget is $38.6 million compared to Saratoga Springs’ $137 million budget.

      Lyon, of the Rockefeller College, said the goal in conservative efforts to take over school boards often comes down to interest in influencing sizable school district budgets. In an effort that mirrors what the Koch brothers did at the state level, where they spent heavily to win seats that could give conservatives power where the rubber meets the road, conservatives are now focused on school boards, Lyon said.


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