Drama At The City Democratic Committee Endorsement Meeting

It is hard to talk about the February 23 Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee’s endorsement meeting without venturing into psychological analysis or farce.

A group, which I guess one could call “insurgents”, tied up the first two hours of the eight hour, marathon meeting  in a hopeless fight to deny an endorsement for the three incumbents, Mayor Kelly,  Commissioner of Finance Madigan, and Commissioner of Accounts Franck.  This  bizarre event may seem incredible but I managed to get a copy of a paper that Bill McTygue circulated among a select group of members of the Committee before their meeting that lays out this strategy.  I do not know who the actual author(s) was/were because the document is unsigned.

Here is a fragment from the document:

“…in order to avoid further fractionalization of the Democratic Committee in its choice for Party candidates, we are encouraging a consensus policy by the Democratic Committee: NO ENDORSEMENTS”  [their emphasis].

So these people actually thought that by denying the Democratic incumbents the Committee endorsement, this would unite the party and that committee members would  miss the fact that the real agenda was simply to deny the people they see as (there is no other way of putting it) ”the enemy” from receiving an endorsement.

This was made obvious by their support later in the document for a yes vote to endorse incumbent Tara Gaston.  If this were not enough, in arguing for the endorsement of the non-incumbents they listed Dillon Moran and Kendall Hicks but left out Eileen Finneran.  For those of us familiar with the “insurgents”, this is because they support Mr. Hicks not Ms. Finneran.

Having presented their “altruistic” goal to unite the party, the paper goes on to a bill of indictment of Mayor Kelly and Commissioners Madigan, and Franck.

They assert that Madigan and Republican Skip Scirocco entered into a pact years ago which ensures that neither of them will face an opponent from the other political party in  general elections.

So, one might ask, how does Michele Madigan deliver on her side of this alleged deal?  Are we to believe that she has the authority and power to intimidate would-be candidates to keep them from running against Scirocco?  Does she hold some secret power over the current chair, Courtney DeLeonardis, and the past chair Charlie Brown, along with a majority of the committee?  This kind of thing does not survive the most casual scrutiny.  Yet a significant minority in the Democratic Committee embraces this. It doesn’t make any sense but neither does the energy and conflict that these folks appear to thrive on as evidenced by the eight hour plus meeting.

One of their other indictments is a claim that Kelly, Franck, and Madigan support a group called the “Saratoga Conservative  Chicks” and voted to oppose “the local School Board’s policy restricting guns on School property.” The only Council resolution I can find that they seem to be referring to was introduced by Commissioner of Public Safety Peter Martin not Meg Kelly as their document claims. The School Board voted last fall not to continue to arm school monitors (who were primarily retired police officers) but did not vote to discontinue the School Resource Officer who is an armed active duty police officer who has had at least 40 hours of additional training.  (In fact the School Board recently voted to hire an additional SRO) The council resolution supports “trained, educated, experienced and certified individuals, namely law enforcement personnel” (SROs )and offers to work with the school district  to develop an appropriate plan  which doesn’t seem to me to be in opposition to the School Board’s policy as the document claims.

I have scoured the Saratoga Conservative Chicks web pages  and not only can I find no reference that would link the group to Kelly/Madigan/Franck but I cannot find any reference to the issue of arming school staff.  Now it is possible that I missed it but I don’t think so.

It’s hard to know if the group that produced this document is simply sloppy  or if they intentionally misrepresent the facts.

I could go on but instead I will simply publish below the document and allow the readers to draw their own conclusions.

BillyEndorsement1

BillyEndorsement1A

BillyEndorsement2

BillyEndorsement3BillyEndorsement4

 

 

 

City To Save On Health Insurance Costs

[JK:Press Release From Commissioner Michele Madigan]

OFFICE OF THE COMMISSIONER OF FINANCE

CITY OF SARATOGA SPRINGS
MICHELE MADIGAN
COMMISSIONER OF FINANCE

For Immediate Release: February 28, 2019

Contact: Commissioner of Finance, Michele Madigan
Telephone:  (518) 587-3550 ext 2577
Email: michele.madigan@saratoga-springs.org

City of Saratoga Springs to Save over $300,000 in 2019 Health Care Costs

Saratoga Springs, NY — On February 27, 2019, at a special City Council Meeting, Commissioner of Finance Michele Madigan brought forward an updated healthcare rate quote that will save the City $300,000 in 2019. This savings is attributable to the City changing their premium rate structure from a community-rated plan, in which the City’s premium risk is allocated across a large pool, to an experience-rated plan based solely on the City. The ability to switch to an experience-rated plan has existed for some time, but Commissioner Madigan held off bringing any change forward until it was confirmed that the City provider would allow the City to return to the community-rated pool should rates under the experience-rated plan rise dramatically. Madigan stated“As Commissioner of Finance my priority has always been to effectively manage the budget for City taxpayers. Benefits make up 27% of the total Operating Budget, so this change to an experience-rated plan will dramatically reduce one of the City’s largest costs in the short-term while maintaining flexibility to adapt to an ever-changing market going forward. Additionally, the new plan allows for additional out-of-network benefits for City employees, making this a true win-win.”

Changing to an experience-rated plan and the associated savings are the result of a comprehensive healthcare review initiated by Commissioner Madigan in mid-2018 that included members of the Finance Department, Legal Department, and Human Resources. The review included an evaluation of both the City’s broker and the healthcare provider. Per Commissioner Madigan, “This thorough and open process involved employees across departments and representatives from each of the City’s seven bargaining units. We’re proud of the results and the collaborative effort that went into achieving it.”

The new experience-rated plan will go into effect on April 1, 2019, and the City Council will have the ability to reevaluate whether it should stay in the experience-rated pool or move back to the community-rated pool in the fall annually. This timing aligns with the preparation of City’s budget, a process that begins in the summer and concludes in November of each year.

Madigan states that she will continue to evaluate ways to manage City expenses while still providing resources to meet the demands of the City. “I have kept the property tax rate stable for eight years with my recommendations to contribute to critical capital needs, to create, strengthen, and tap reserves when appropriate, to push for additional revenue opportunities, and to look for creative solutions to address large expense drivers for the City, such as healthcare.”

The Special City Council meeting held on February 27, 2019 will be available on the City website, and Commissioner Madigan will review the process on Tuesday, March 5, 2019 at the regularly scheduled City Council meeting.

Michele Madigan

Commissioner of Finance

City of Saratoga Springs

474 Broadway

Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

518-587-3550

Saratoga Springs Republican Press Release Announcing Their Candidates

For Immediate Release

February 27, 2019

Contact: Matt Hogan: (518) 859-3628

SARATOGA SPRINGS CITY REPUBLICAN COMMITTEE ENDORSES MATTHEW VEITCH, STEPHEN MITTLER, ROBIN DALTON and ANTHONY “SKIP” SCIROCCO 

SARATOGA SPRINGS – The Saratoga Springs City Republican Committee endorsed four candidates at their meeting on Tuesday evening.

City Republican Chairman Matthew S. Hogan said, Anthony “Skip” Scirocco received the committee’s endorsement for Commissioner of Public Works; Robin Dalton received the committee’s endorsement for Commissioner of Public Safety and Matthew Veitch and Stephen Mittler, each received the committee’s endorsement for County Board of Supervisor.

Chairman Hogan said, he expects the City of Saratoga Springs to elect Republicans this November.

“We expect 2019 to be a good year for the City of Saratoga Springs Republican Committee,” said Chairman Hogan.  “We have a very strong slate, of qualified and experienced candidates who will work hard and deliver results for the people of our City.”

A current member of the County Board of Supervisors, Matt Veitch said, “I am honored to receive the endorsement of the Saratoga Springs Republicans for another term.  I look forward to campaigning on my record of public service and representing the residents of our City at the County level.  Keeping the County on a continued path of low taxes, efficient government, and maintaining our great quality of life are my priorities for the upcoming year.”

Stephen Mittler, Candidate for County Board of Supervisors said, “I thank the Saratoga Springs Republican Committee for their trust in me and my ability to represent the City of Saratoga Springs at the County level. As a life long Saratoga County resident, and a resident of Saratoga Springs for 15 years, I am so looking forward to working with City Council to continue to enhance the lives of our residents.”

Candidate for Public Safety Commissioner, Robin Dalton said,  “I am honored to receive the endorsement of the Saratoga Springs Republican committee and look forward to bringing my leadership, experience and passion for the City of Saratoga Springs to the office of Public Safety Commissioner.” 

Anthony “Skip” Scirocco the current Commissioner of Public Works said, “I appreciate the support of the Saratoga Springs Republican Committee and their trust in my ability to serve the city we all love. In my time in office, I’ve worked to update the city’s infrastructure, utilize technology to improve the delivery of services, and give residents peace of mind every day that the water and sewer systems are working, the roads are clear and safe, and that our city is beautiful and the envy of surrounding communities.” 

 

 

 

Saratoga Springs Republican Party Makes Endorsements

I spoke with Matt Hogan who chairs the Saratoga Springs Republican Party Committee.  He shared with me the candidates selected for the coming November election:

  1. Skip Scirocco for Public Works Commissioner
  2. Matt Veitch for Saratoga County Supervisor
  3. Steve Mittler for Saratoga County Supervisor
  4. Robin Dalton for Public Safety Commissioner

 

 

Democrats Endorse Candidates

The Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee met on Saturday, February 23rd to decide on endorsements for positions in the upcoming city elections.  The endorsement  meeting lasted a grueling eight hours.

The committee split over endorsing Mayor Kelly but she prevailed and she is now their endorsed candidate.

In a last minute action, Patti Morrison asked the committee at the meeting to endorse her for Commissioner of Finance.  In the end, the committee endorsed Michele Madigan in another split vote.

Eileen Finneran and Kendall Hicks sought the committee’s endorsement for Public Safety Commissioner.  Due to a previous commitment, Ms. Finneran was unable to attend the meeting but sent a statement.  The committee decided not to endorse either candidate and leave the decision to be determined in a primary.

John Franck (Commissioner of Accounts), Dillon Moran (Commissioner of Public Works), and Tara Gaston (Supervisor) were endorsed by consensus.

The committee declined to endorse Steve Mittler who was seeking to run for supervisor.  Mr. Mittler is not currently registered as a Democrat.

I understand the Republican City Committee will be meeting on Tuesday to decide on their endorsements.

 

 

The Election Season Is Beginning Early And Doesn’t Appear To Bode Well

As some background, the local primaries have been moved up significantly creating a bit of a scramble for some.

 New York State used to hold its primaries in the fall.  In 2012 the Federal Government requested that New York move the primaries for US Senate and the House of Representatives up to June in order to insure that military and overseas ballots had sufficient time to be received and counted.  At the time the State Legislature considered moving the state primaries up to the same June date.  The New York State Assembly controlled by the Democrats supported the change but the Senate where the Republicans were in control rejected the change.  The Republicans argued that because the legislative session ran through June, they would not have enough time to campaign. 

 According to an excellent article in the New York Times  that explains all this, “New York’s bifurcated primaries, however, have caused the state to spend millions of dollars more; at the same time, having two separate primaries can also suppress voter interest, election law experts and state officials say.”  The Times story goes into more detail about other problems with having primaries occur on two different dates.

 So in January when the Democrats took over the New York Senate they passed a package of reforms which included adjusting the dates for state primaries.  According to a January 10 article in the New York Times :

The proposals are a veritable wish list for those who have blamed New York’s laws for driving down voter turnout. The measures include allowing early voting, preregistration of 16- and 17-year-olds and consolidating state and federal primary elections, which are now held in different months.”

 “Lawmakers also plan to pass bills to allow vote-by-mail and same-day voter registration, though those proposals will also require voter referendums — and passage by the next Legislature, scheduled to be seated in 2021 — as they change the State Constitution.”

 The legislature is also considering bill to limit the contributions and require reporting for LLC’s.  These are Limited Liability Corporations which have been used to hide the ownership of these LLC’s while allowing large contributions.

 So all primary elections this year will be on June 25th.  This means that candidates will be able to start circulating petitions on February 26.  The petitions must be submitted to the local board of elections between April 1 and April 4.

 The Saratoga Springs Democratic Party has set up a committee to consider endorsements.  The committee is in the process of interviewing candidates, and the City Democratic Committee will vote on endorsements on Saturday, February 23.


So Who May Be Running For Saratoga Springs City Council Seats In The Upcoming November Election?

 Here is the latest information I have on the Democratic field of candidates.  I assume that all the council seats will be contested in the coming primary.

Definitely Running:

Meg Kelly – Mayor

John Franck – Accounts

Michele Madigan – Finance

Eileen Finneran – Public Safety

Skip Scirocco (Republican) – Public Works

 Extremely Likely To Be Running:

Dylan Moran – Public Works

 Rumored to Be Running:

Bob Turner – Mayor

Billy McTygue – Accounts

Kendall Hicks – Public Safety


 

An Exchange With Shafer Gaston That Suggests What The Primaries and Elections May Be Like

 To Shafer Gaston from John Kaufmann on January 9 at 3:39 PM

I was told that you had solicited Ron Kim to run for mayor.  I wanted to confirm whether that is true.

To John Kaufmann from Shafer Gaston on February 9 at 3:59 PM

It is true.  He declined.

To Shafer Gaston from John Kaufmann on February 9 at 7:18 PM

 Interested in why you are seeking someone to replace Mayor Kelly

 To John Kaufmann from Shafer Gaston on February 9 at 7:21 PM

 At the time, Mayor Kelly had not announced she was running for re-election.  Unfortunately, due to the compressed timeline that few people were expecting, if there were going to be candidates for city offices they would need to announce much earlier (and therefore be approached much earlier) than in previous years to make the timeline.

 To Shafer Gaston from John Kaufmann on February 9 at 7:43 PM

 Why wouldn’t you check with her first?

To John Kaufmann from Shafer Gaston on February 9 at 8:42 PM

 On the other hand, why would I check with her first?