The Blogger Shares His Struggles To Moderate This Site

Moderating a blog is a tricky business.  Let me review why I write this blog and how I determine what comments can be published.

I have several goals in publishing this blog.

To begin with it is meant to provide readers information about local politics.  With the decline of newspapers, the resources that newspapers have to cover local government have atrophied.  Even when reporters cover local events, they rarely have the time to dig below the surface.

I do not presume to comprehensively investigate all that goes on in our city.  What I can do is focus on certain events that interest me and dig into them.  I can also alert readers to newspaper articles and television reports that I think are informative.

Moderating Comments

The purpose of “commenting” on my site is to engage people to create a public dialogue.  In an age in which people shout past each other, I try to create an environment in which people feel comfortable sharing their views.  They should be able to post a comment without fear of being personally attacked, humiliated, or berated.

Tolerance vs Censorship

This means that I allow opinions even though I may personally condemn them. 

Simply not airing opinions with which one disagrees doesn’t mean these opinions disappear.  In my mind it is better to air them publicly so that they can be examined and addressed.

I am not naive enough to believe that just engaging in civil dialog will mean that one’s preferred position prevails or that open dialog alone will be sufficient to protect us from the perniciousness of racism or movements like fascism.

I do, however, believe that a culture that is dominated by censorship and the suppression of ideas, even those one finds offensive, will lead to the domination by those with the most power, not necessarily those with the best ideas.

Moderating for Accuracy

Probably most of the readers of this blog are not fully aware of the time maintaining this blog requires.

I am very rigorous regarding the accuracy of my own posts.  As those who follow my blog know, when I become aware of an error in one of my posts I acknowledge and correct it.

Moderating comments is a different matter.  To begin with, time and priorities limit my ability to insure that everything other people write is accurate.  I do, however, exercise my right to block or edit comments when I recognize inaccuracies.  I make a special effort to remove false claims against public figures. 

Is there a comment that expresses something so abhorrent it should not be published?

On the other hand, I have been reticent to edit opinions expressed in comments on my blog even when I find them troubling. 

This is a problematic area with which I continually struggle.  What kind of comment is sufficiently abhorrent that it needs to be censored?

A case in point was a comment from a follower who uses the name Justin Chase.  In response to the Mayor’s call for Juneteenth to become a holiday he wrote:

You stated:
“The symbolism surrounding a Juneteenth holiday is an important acknowledgment of the debt owed to the people who were enslaved in America.”

If they weren’t…where would they be today?
Just wondering.

In a subsequent post, in response to searing criticism, Justin Chase offered that he was simply trying to be provocative to spur conversation.

I believe that I should have removed the above fragment before the full comment was published.  I have subsequently done so.

Justin Chase has been a regular participant on this blog almost since it began.  Considering his previous posts and his subsequent defense it appears that he thought he was being both provocative and amusing when he wrote the above. 

To joke about the idea that black people today should be grateful that their ancestors were captured in Africa and transported under the most horrific conditions to the United States and then treated in the most barbaric ways as chattel is abhorrent.

This incident has caused me to rethink my policy on commenting.  I do not believe that writing simply to be provocative is helpful.  It invites unnecessary conflict.  The substance of what happens in our city along with the thoughtful and earnest observations of the people who follow this blog  generates enough interesting and useful dialogue.

With that in mind, I have written to Justin asking that in the future he limit his comments to what he actually thinks and believes although this will not be the only standard used in deciding what comments to publish. Comments that I believe are meant only to be provocative and trolling will not be posted.

The Need for Civility

I have on quite a few occasions censored comments that I considered to be outside the bounds of civility.  Usually this is simple.  Anyone who follows social media is familiar with ugly attacks that are simply personal and meant to hurt and/or anger.  They commonly include profanity.  They prompt me to quickly click on the trash icon.

More nuanced is the problem of tone.  My standard is based on a question I ask myself.  Is the tone of this comment so belligerent that the only possible response is either silence or an angry reply?

For my blog to be successful in my mind, persons willing to comment should feel confident that they will not be the victim of a response that they experience as humiliating.

I recently published a comment by a follower who identifies himself as Andy Reeder.  He was addressing Justin Chase.  Here is an excerpt:

You’re saying your post was to “promote a rather entertaining exercise in creative banter”? Is that what you call saying black Americans should be grateful their ancestors were brought to this country as slaves?

Was it “creative banter” when you said “Sweden had it right?” After apologizing for their approach earlier this month due to the high death rate, they’ve admitted they have made less progress than expected in achieving immunity and have one of the worst mortality rates in the world. ( https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-06-17/sweden-proves-surprisingly-slow-in-achieving-herd-immunity )

Was it creative banter when you said “everyone has the virus”, despite only 10-20% of the people tested in areas experiencing the worst of the the virus have the related antibodies?

This style does not invite dialogue.  It is meant to bludgeon.  It is meant to humiliate.  It ends any conversation.

Andy is one of the most thoughtful people who posts on this blog.  He brings a wealth of factual knowledge to it.  I have in the past asked him to tone down a comment which he has done. 

I debated with myself long and hard about putting up this most recent comment from him.  I finally decided that given the disturbing nature of Justin’s comment I would allow Andy’s strong response this time.

In Defense of Civility

President Donald Trump is not responsible for the decline of civility in our country, he is a symptom.  His attack on the late Senator John McCain’s imprisonment during the Vietnam War as some kind of proof that Senator McCain was a “loser” was only one of many degrading and gross insults he has made.  As the “leader” of our country his use of the bully pulpit in this manner has without question promoted more of this kind of hateful behavior.

There are no simple solutions to what we face.  What is irrefutable is that if we do not learn how to  discuss our problems and differences then the future is bleak indeed.

I see my blog as a tiny effort to address our malaise.  Civility is not an end in and of itself.  It is the prerequisite to finding answers to the problems that are at the root of incivility.

Saratoga Springs Department of Public Safety Responds To Most Recent Anti-Racism Protest

I spoke earlier this week with Commissioner of Public Safety, Robin Dalton. She had sent out a release about a Facebook event her department had planned to share her department’s response to the murder of George Floyd, publicize to the community that the policies and procedures of the police department have been posted on the city’s website, and take questions from the community.

She told me that the event had been planned several weeks prior and she only learned the day before the department’s planned event that there would be a demonstration regarding the death of George Floyd at the same time .

Commissioner Dalton told me:

“When we learned of the conflict I discussed the issue with the leadership of the Police Department. We were all of one mind. Racism is a plague on our society and we need to support any reasonable effort to combat it. We agreed that the spotlight should be on the demonstration and that our event could and should be rescheduled.”

I asked her about how the police would handle the anticipated blocking of traffic by the demonstrators. She told me:

“The department is committed to the mission of ‘protect and serve.’ Our number one priority is safety. Safety for the demonstrators and safety for any bystanders. Any actions by our officers will be informed by this standard.”

Below is a press release issued by the Commissioner along with a video report of the demonstration from Channel Thirteen News


Release From Department of Public Safety


Saratoga Springs, Department of Public Safety

  Robin Dalton, Commissioner

  Eileen Finneran, Deputy Commissioner

City Hall  Saratoga Springs, New York 12866        

****PRESS RELEASE****

June 30, 2020

It has come to our attention that in the last few days a Black Lives Matter peaceful protest has been scheduled for the same time as our planned community conversation. Out of respect for people who want to participate in both events, we will be rescheduling our community conversation for the following Wednesday, July 8 at 5pm. Our hope is to have this conversation with as many people as possible such that every voice can be heard.

Please join the Saratoga Springs Police Department Chief Shane Crooks and Saratoga Springs Public Safety Commissioner Robin Dalton for the first in a series of community conversations. In this first discussion, hear about our plans for the department and our city in response to the murder of George Floyd and the publication of our policies and procedures pertaining to the SSPD. Question and Answer session to follow. Per the safety protocols in place for the city at this time, this will be held online, via Zoom. We will publish the link to the meeting the day of. 

This is the first in a series of monthly discussions to be hosted by the SSPD and Department of Public Safety, email Robin.Dalton@Saratoga-Springs.org with any questions or concerns. 

Thank you,

Commissioner Robin Dalton

Link to event Facebook page:

https://facebook.com/events/s/a-community-conversation/699748590571104/?t=as

This is a link to the channel thirteen feature on the demonstration

https://wnyt.com/saratoga-county-ny-news/blm-protestors-call-out-saratoga-springs-officials-during-march/5779073/?cat=11960

Saratoga Parents For Safer Schools Candidate Elected To School Board

[JK: I received this release from Saratoga Parents for Safer Schools]

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — Saratoga Parents for Safer Schools recently announced its endorsed candidate, Erika Borman, won one of three seats on the Saratoga Springs School District school board this past Wednesday.

“Erika is a well-rounded candidate who not only feels strongly about school safety and security, but also has great ideas and perspective pertaining to our students’ education and overall well-being.  We believe she will be a great addition to the school board for our students, teachers and families,” said group organizer Kara Rosettie. 

Erika Borman is a mother three boys, ages 7,5 and 2. Her oldest son, Luke, currently attends Dorothy Nolan, and her middle son, Cole, will be starting Kindergarten in the Fall. While Erika currently stays home, her professional background is in healthcare project management for both private and government run facilities. 

“I am both humbled and honored to have been chosen as one of three candidates  to serve on our school board in this year’s election.  We will have many challenges ahead, and I look forward to collaborating with the other board members to provide solutions that will support our students and their families during these unprecedented times and beyond,” said Borman. 

Erika Borman also acknowledges the importance of protecting programs that directly impact the district at the student and teacher level.

“We need to  preserve our high quality education, and along with it our athletic, arts and music programs that contribute so greatly to the growth and personal development of our students,” said Borman. 

Saratoga Parents for Safer Schools considers this a win for the community as a whole. 

“Our district is very fortunate to have Erika on the board. She will be an advocate for our children and families, and will work with our teachers, faculty and board members to help our students thrive,” said Rosettie.

Erika Borman, along with newly elected members Tony Kracleker and incumbent Anjie Emeka, will start their three year term on July 1st.

Saratoga County Democratic Chair Calls For Republican County Chair To Resign

I received a press release from Todd Kerner, chair of the Saratoga County Democratic Committee. The issue was Republican Chair, Carl Zeilman’s promotion of a story that a vile flyer allegedly of Democratic Party origin had been placed on cars in a Clifton Park parking lot. The flyer had its origins on the web nationally and had been challenged as fake. The Saratoga County Sheriff’s department could find no evidence that the flyer had been placed on cars in Clifton Park.

I emailed Chairman Zeilman for a comment. His response is below. He dismissed Kerner’s statements as a “distration.”


Saratoga County Democratic Party Press Release

Saratoga County Official’s Actions Must Be Addressed

The Saratoga County Democratic Committee calls on Carl Zeilman to either resign as Saratoga County Commissioner of Emergency Services or resign as Saratoga County Republican Committee Chair.    

Zeilman earlier this month shared a far-right flyer that was clearly fake.  The flyer was also posted on the Saratoga County Republican Committee Facebook page which stated that the flyers were found on vehicles at a local store in Southern Saratoga County.  This flyer made it appear in dangerous language that Democrats wanted to eliminate Republicans.  Zeilman did this immediately before a march in Clifton Park over the murder of George Floyd.  The use of this flyer by Zeilman to cause turmoil is inconsistent with the role of a Commissioner of Emergency Services.  

The Saratoga County Sherriff’s office stated that they could not find anyone who saw or had a copy of such flyer at the Clifton Park Hannaford where it was allegedly distributed.  Rather, it was an image that was found on social media and a Colorado news story debunked the flyer as a phony document being shared on Facebook pages.  We wish to thank the Sherriff’s office for looking into this matter.    

Todd Kerner, chair of the Saratoga County Democratic Committee said “Zeilman’s tweeting and posting this flyer prior to the demonstration was fear mongering and an inflammatory political act.  The residents of Saratoga County are of all colors, faiths, and political ideologies and deserve their County Commissioner of Emergency Services to be above such political partisan actions.  The Emergency Services Department is a vital office and we need it to be above reproach and for the benefit of all county residents.  It is clear from Zeilman’s actions, one cannot serve as both a political party official and a county Commissioner of Emergency Services.  At a time when it is critical that public trust in our institutions remains firm, Zeilman’s resignation would help restore faith and credibility in the county’s ability to fulfill its responsibilities in a way that respects all of its residents. 

Clifton Park Democratic Committee Chair Patrick Lyons noted “last Monday, hundreds of residents of the Town of Clifton Park were honored to join organizers from Black Lives Matter in a peaceful demonstration to advance our common goals of fairness and justice for all.  This action, which was perpetrated by the Saratoga County Republican party chair and salaried employee of the county of Saratoga, requires formal action.”

Todd M. Kerner, Chair

Saratoga County Democratic Committee


Response From Chairman Carl Zeilman:

“This is typical and par for the course. This is just an attempt to create a distraction from the dangerous policies of defunding our law enforcement, putting dangerous criminals back on the street through Bail Reform and placing COVID19 patients back into nursing homes — all of which Todd Kerner and his Democratic Party stand for.”

Carl Zeilman

City Announces Plans For Reopening

Above is a press release from Mayor Kelly’s office announcing the end of the city’s “State of Emergency.” It expired on June 12.

The city anticipates moving its employees into city hall during the week of June 29.

Mayor Kelly currently plans for the July 7, 2020, City Council meeting to be “in-person.” Seating for the public will be limited. The rules for attending will be posted at a later date.

At its June 17, 2020, meeting the Council adopted a plan for how the city will operate in order to address COVID19 as it reopens. The regulations should go into effect on June 17. The Mayor hopes to open city hall to the public in mid- July.

The full details are below but briefly:

  1. People seeking services in city hall will have to sign in.
  2. People seeking services in city hall will have to be masked.
  3. Employees serving people in city hall will have to wear masks.
  4. There will be extensive rules for how to decontaminate surfaces and what protective procedures will be required of employees to protect both the public and their fellow employees.

City Adopts Plan To Open Local Businesses

The city has adopted a radically liberalized policy for restaurants to expand to areas adjacent to their property. There will be no charge for the permit and there appears to be no official requirements. Permits will be reviewed on an individual basis. The program will expire on Labor Day.

This is a brief story from WNYT on plans to open.

This is story from WAMC also on plans to open.

This is a story from the Saratogian.

This is a story from the Gazette.

FEMA Emergency Housing: Chaos and Disinformation

At the bottom of this post is a thread documenting the failed effort to secure FEMA money through the county for social distancing housing for the homeless in Saratoga Springs during the pandemic.

There are two particularly interesting elements to these exchanges besides the utter confusion of how to move forward and the valiant and feverish efforts of the city administration and SOS to secure money for housing.

Most interesting is the absence of any direct email from the county. Chad Cooke is the Deputy Administrator for Saratoga County working under County Administrator Spencer Hellwig. As far as can be ascertained from these emails, he is the only one from the county who actively worked on securing funds. How serious his effort may have been is obscured by this Rube Goldberg process. Unfortunately, he never communicates directly through these emails with anyone in the city. Instead Supervisor Gaston, rather than advocating that Cooke work with the city directly, assumes the role of intermediary that only adds to the confusion.

The other element that doomed this process was the claim by the county that SOS had already raised funds for the purpose of renting temporary shelter for the homeless. FEMA requires that moneys fundraised for a particular activity must be expended before FEMA funds can be made available. SOS had done some fundraising and had the purpose of that fundraising been to pay for the housing at the Holiday Inn, they would have had to use up this money prior to accessng FEMA funds. But this was not the case.

In her email (see below) Supervisor Gaston supports the county’s mistaken allegation as follows:

…because SOS moved forward with a fund-raising campaign to cover these expenses, any of the funds raised must be applied to hotel expenses before we can seek reimbursement – this is NOT a County decision, this is straight from FEMA. The only reimburseable expenses for non-congregate housing would therefore be those that exceed the funds that were raised.

Tara Gaston Email April 20, 20202

But the fundraising SOS did was to pay for staff, basic needs, and the rehabbing of a motel they had purchased for future housing, not for the temporary housing at the Holiday Inn. Karen Gregory, the executive director of SOS, asserts that she made this known to Supervisor Gaston to no avail.

Apparently the county and Supervisor Gaston used the fundraising appeal by SOS as the basis of their allegation but did not read those materials carefully enough.

This is a link to their fundraising appeal. Here are some excerpts. The first is the title:

ABOUT COVID-19 RESPONSE FUND

Shelters Website

The text of the appeal notes that

How do you quarantine at home when you have no home?  This is the question all of us at SOS are facing every day.  COVID-19 and its impact on people experiencing homelessness is a dire and evolving situation and we need your help.

SOS Website

But here are the specific items that they are soliciting money for:

We are asking the community to step forward and help us raise $150,000 by April 15, 2020 so that we can:

We are asking the community to step forward and help us raise $150,000 by April 15, 2020 so that we can:

purchase cleaning supplies, hand soap and hand sanitizer

outfit 8 motel rooms for proper social distancing of non-symptomatic individuals [JK: These rooms were in the motel purchased by SOS not the 34 rooms at the Holiday Inn]

outfit the newly leased Saratoga Senior Center with cleaning supplies and protective gear, which are vital to creating a hygienic environment to lessen the spread of the virus if one of our guests or staff become ill

keep front line staff who are working extra hours and extra hard safe and paid during this crisis

increase our access to increasingly scarce food sources through bulk purchases

SOS Website

It is not clear why in spite of Ms. Gregory’s efforts Supervisor Gaston and the county were either unwilling or unable to distinguish between the general needs of SOS which the fundraiser was trying to address and the specific immediate need for FEMA money to pay for the 34 rooms at the Holiday Inn. As none of the purposes of these funds was to rent temporary housing, a reasonable person would conclude that the FEMA moneys renting the Holiday Inn would not be replacing funds raised money.

Our county has an appallingly bad record of dealing with our low income population. While it was many years ago, I had to endure dealing with the county’s social service department when I was executive director of the Saratoga County Economic Opportunity Council. The DSS routinely demonstrated an indifference or even hostility to people in desperate straights. It was routine for them to refuse to help a single mother with a homeless family on a bitter cold, winter Friday night. The attitude expressed by the department was reflective of the ethos of a clique that dominated the county legislature.

I find it truly disheartening that in this case Supervisor Gaston rather than looking critically at how the county handled this, has used these deplorable events to attack Mayor Kelly and Karen Gregory who actually succeeded in housing the homeless.


The Email Thread


From: “Tara N Gaston” <TNGaston@saratogacountyny.gov>
To: “Michele Madigan” <michele.madigan@saratoga-springs.org>, “Marilyn Rivers” <marilyn.rivers@saratoga-springs.org>
Cc: “Skip Scirocco” <skip.scirocco@saratoga-springs.org>, “John Franck” <john.franck@saratoga-springs.org>, “Robin Dalton” <robin.dalton@saratoga-springs.org>, “Chad Cooke” <ccooke@saratogacountyny.gov>, “Matthew Veitch” <mveitch@saratogacountyny.gov>, “Meg Kelly” <meg.kelly@saratoga-springs.org>, “Shane Crooks” <scrooks@saratogapolice.org>, “Vince DeLeonardis” <Vince.Deleonardis@saratoga-springs.org>, “Joe Dolan” <jdolan@ssfdny.org>, “m lynn bachner” <m.lynn.bachner@saratoga-springs.org>, “Karen Gregory” <kgregory@sheltersofsaratoga.org>
Sent: Tuesday, April 21, 2020 1:39:28 PM
Subject: Re: FEMA Funding Shelters of Saratoga

CAUTION: This email originated outside of the City network. Please contact IT Support if you need assistance determining if it’s a threat before opening attachments or clicking any links.


Matt and I will be seeking approval today from the Board to move forward – should that decision be made – but this does not bind us to seeking funding/reimbursement. The final decision can be made later, but this way we won’t need to wait until the next full Board meeting to move forward if that decision is made.

Wash your hands (with soap!), 

Supervisor Tara N. Gaston 

Pronouns: she/her

Saratoga Springs

tngaston@saratogacountyny.gov

518-934-1944


My working hours may not be your working hours. I do not expect a reply outside of your normal work schedule unless this email is marked as urgent. Thank you!


From: Michele Madigan <michele.madigan@saratoga-springs.org>
Sent: Tuesday, April 21, 2020 1:35 PM
To: Marilyn L Rivers <marilyn.rivers@saratoga-springs.org>
Cc: Skip Scirocco <skip.scirocco@saratoga-springs.org>; John Franck <john.franck@saratoga-springs.org>; Robin Dalton <robin.dalton@saratoga-springs.org>; Tara N Gaston <TNGaston@saratogacountyny.gov>; Chad Cooke <ccooke@saratogacountyny.gov>; Matthew Veitch <mveitch@saratogacountyny.gov>; Meg Kelly <meg.kelly@saratoga-springs.org>; Shane Crooks <scrooks@saratogapolice.org>; Vince DeLeonardis <Vince.Deleonardis@saratoga-springs.org>; Joe Dolan <jdolan@ssfdny.org>; Lynn Bachner <m.lynn.bachner@saratoga-springs.org>; Karen Gregory <kgregory@sheltersofsaratoga.org>
Subject: Re: FEMA Funding Shelters of Saratoga

Thank you for this further clarification.  

Commissioner Madigan

Michele Madigan

Commissioner of Finance

City of Saratoga Springs

474 Broadway

Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

518-587-3550 


PLEASE NOTE OUR TEMPORARY LOCATION AT THE RECREATION CENTER, 15 VANDERBILT AVENUE


Confidentiality/Privilege Notice: This e-mail communication and any files transmitted with it contain privileged and confidential information from the City of Saratoga Springs and are intended solely for the use of the individual(s) or entity to which it has been addressed. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any disclosure, copying, distribution, or taking any other action with respect to the contents of this message is strictly prohibited. If you have received this e-mail in error, please delete it and notify the sender by return e-mail. Thank you for your cooperation. 


From: “Marilyn L Rivers” <marilyn.rivers@saratoga-springs.org>
To: “Michele Madigan” <michele.madigan@saratoga-springs.org>
Cc: “Skip Scirocco” <skip.scirocco@saratoga-springs.org>, “John Franck” <john.franck@saratoga-springs.org>, “Robin Dalton” <robin.dalton@saratoga-springs.org>, “Tara N Gaston” <TNGaston@saratogacountyny.gov>, “Chad Cooke” <ccooke@saratogacountyny.gov>, “Veitch Matt” <mveitch@saratogacountyny.gov>, “Meg Kelly” <meg.kelly@saratoga-springs.org>, “Shane Crooks” <scrooks@saratogapolice.org>, “Vince DeLeonardis” <Vince.Deleonardis@saratoga-springs.org>, “Joe Dolan” <jdolan@ssfdny.org>, “Lynn Bachner” <m.lynn.bachner@saratoga-springs.org>, “Karen Gregory” <kgregory@sheltersofsaratoga.org>
Sent: Tuesday, April 21, 2020 1:27:07 PM
Subject: Re: FEMA Funding Shelters of Saratoga

The City Council has many options available to it. Supervisors Gaston and Veitch are working with Chad Cooke and the County to try and get the necessary paperwork in place to begin the reimbursement process per the FEMA requirements to assist Shelters. At present, should Shelters of Saratoga wish to seek reimbursement from FEMA at some point in time for COVID-19, they must meet the FEMA criteria.

The County is correct in that it is the entity that would seek reimbursement for Shelters as the majority of its participants are tracked as coming from outside the City but within County limits. Because the majority of their guests have been traced back to multiple other communities within the County outside of the City, they are the agency that would make the request on behalf of Shelters should Shelters decide to seek FEMA reimbursement.

It is important to note that Shelters does not have to seek reimbursement from FEMA.

It is an option should they choose to do so. What the County and City are attempting to do is lay the foundation should Shelters decide to seek potential FEMA reimbursement. Without that foundation, no FEMA reimbursement is possible.  The biggest hurdle Shelters is trying to overcome is to meet the original FEMA criteria for Non-Congregate Sheltering. The County is trying to help after the fact in the best way possible.

Shelters of Saratoga is the ultimate decision maker in this scenario. They need their legal counsel to assist them in determining what is best for them. The City and County appear to stand ready to help maneuver the FEMA process, but it appears Shelters may not take that route.

PRIVILEGED AND CONFIDENTIAL:

This e-mail communication and any files transmitted with it contain privileged and confidential information from the City of Saratoga Springs Risk and Safety Department and is intended solely for the use of the individual(s) or entity to whom it has been addressed. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination or copying of this e-mail is strictly prohibited. If you have received this e-mail in error, please delete it and notify the sender by return e-mail.

Thank you for your cooperation.


From: “Michele Madigan” <michele.madigan@saratoga-springs.org>
To: “Marilyn Rivers” <marilyn.rivers@saratoga-springs.org>
Cc: “Skip Scirocco” <skip.scirocco@saratoga-springs.org>, “John Franck” <john.franck@saratoga-springs.org>, “Robin Dalton” <robin.dalton@saratoga-springs.org>, “Tara N Gaston” <TNGaston@saratogacountyny.gov>, “Chad Cooke” <ccooke@saratogacountyny.gov>, “Matt Veitch” <mveitch@saratogacountyny.gov>, “Meg Kelly” <meg.kelly@saratoga-springs.org>, “Shane Crooks” <scrooks@saratogapolice.org>, “Vincent DeLeonardis” <Vince.Deleonardis@saratoga-springs.org>, “Lieutenant Joseph J. Dolan” <jdolan@ssfdny.org>, “Lynn Bachner” <m.lynn.bachner@saratoga-springs.org>, “Karen Gregory” <kgregory@sheltersofsaratoga.org>
Sent: Tuesday, April 21, 2020 1:11:00 PM
Subject: Re: FEMA Funding Shelters of Saratoga

To clarify, I believe we need more time to think this through and discuss.  Is there a hard fast deadline on this issue that is needed today, prior to the Board of Supervisor’s Meeting today?  I could use more information, specifically legal advice.  

If the final answer is that this will wipe-out SOS’s entire 150k from their “annual” fundraiser, we should discuss as a council and consider a redefined option 2 or some other option 3.  But I’m also trying to figure out how we handle this on a go-forward basis with FEMA.

Thanks again, 

Michele

Michele Madigan

Commissioner of Finance

City of Saratoga Springs

474 Broadway

Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

518-587-3550 


PLEASE NOTE OUR TEMPORARY LOCATION AT THE RECREATION CENTER, 15 VANDERBILT AVENUE


Confidentiality/Privilege Notice: This e-mail communication and any files transmitted with it contain privileged and confidential information from the City of Saratoga Springs and are intended solely for the use of the individual(s) or entity to which it has been addressed. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any disclosure, copying, distribution, or taking any other action with respect to the contents of this message is strictly prohibited. If you have received this e-mail in error, please delete it and notify the sender by return e-mail. Thank you for your cooperation. 


From: “Michele Madigan” <michele.madigan@saratoga-springs.org>
To: “Marilyn L Rivers” <marilyn.rivers@saratoga-springs.org>
Cc: “Skip Scirocco” <skip.scirocco@saratoga-springs.org>, “John Franck” <john.franck@saratoga-springs.org>, “Robin Dalton” <robin.dalton@saratoga-springs.org>, “Tara N Gaston” <TNGaston@saratogacountyny.gov>, “Chad Cooke” <ccooke@saratogacountyny.gov>, “Veitch Matt” <mveitch@saratogacountyny.gov>, “Meg Kelly” <meg.kelly@saratoga-springs.org>, “Shane Crooks” <scrooks@saratogapolice.org>, “Vince DeLeonardis” <Vince.Deleonardis@saratoga-springs.org>, “Joe Dolan” <jdolan@ssfdny.org>, “Karen Gregory” <kgregory@sheltersofsaratoga.org>, “Lynn Bachner” <m.lynn.bachner@saratoga-springs.org>
Sent: Tuesday, April 21, 2020 12:55:32 PM
Subject: Re: FEMA Funding Shelters of Saratoga

Marilyn and Council and others,

First, I need to clarify some of the circumstances. I understand that SOS (please correct any of the following):

1 – Obtained about $62K from the City’s CDBG fund to cover the first month of hotel costs.
2 – Is now seeking FEMA funds for at least xx more months of hotel costs.
3 – Has completed an “annual fundraiser” that was also described as fundraiser for COVID-19 expenses, raising $150K.
4 – The County states that it, not the City is the appropriate entity for seeking FEMA reimbursement.
5 – The County requires an agreement to “cover these expenses” with the City, and will subsequently seek FEMA reimbursement for 75%.
6 – FEMA reimbursement will only cover amounts need above and beyond amounts that SOS has available to cover COVID-19 costs, including hotel. Since SOS had a fundraiser that was represented as a “COVID-19 Fundraiser” all of these funds will have to be utilized before and reimbursement is allowable.   In the alternative, the County may enter into a minor contract for up to $15,000, which does not require full Board approval, and could be used to defray expenses “in addition to any other available sources.”

We need to determine the best way forward to meet our fiscal responsibilities to the city and county.  If we contract with the county, option #1, there is a greater likelihood, on a go forward basis I assume, that we will obtain reimbursement for our federal funds that are expended on behalf of SOS and our other non-profits: there are many and they are in need to especially for our various food pantries and soup kitchens operating in the city and county.  This coupled with the strong possibility that we may be receiving additional CDBG entitlement funding in the near future ensures that we must have the reimbursement process and procedures down cold.

There was information from FEMA that came to us about “exigency or emergency” we could “just move forward”, and I believe this would pertain to the 62K CDBG grant to SOS. This money was approved by City Council with little expectation of FEMA reimbursement and is a worthy re-purpose of CDBG funds. 

But an RFP might have been helpful, so can we get one done now?  Additionally, I don’t have a response as it pertains to the covid-19 fund raiser hosted by SOS.  It is true that this has been a public fundraiser that seems specific to covid-19 and was to include hotel rooms and other services.  I would need legal advice to understand better how the fundraiser impacts FEMA reimbursement.  It is hard to believe that the FEMA rules or the County’s suggestion are meant to wipe out all of a non-profits funds for the entire year. This would be counterproductive to say the least. Especially when it is due to an unwittingly worded marketing tool that inadvertently rendered the non-profit ineligible for FEMA reimbursement.

I think our best option is to support option #1 as outlined below – at least as far as SOS goes since a large percentage of the people being helped by these funds are from throughout the county, but I say this as we move-on in a go forward basis.  But, if requesting FEMA reimbursement will unequivocally wipe out the $150K, I think we should consider Option 2 and look for an Option 3. If we pursue option 2, I would ask the County to consider an amount that more closely represents 75% of the monthly cost (which at this point is $62K) of housing 35 people.

Thank you so much for providing all this information.  I’m not sure I have been all that helpful, but as I read through all of this – it’s more complicated that I originally assumed.  If for some reason I have something not quite correct about my position going forward, I am happy to further discuss.   

Three council members have weighed in with option 1 and I’m not sure exactly what that means at this time and I am not opposed to this option on a go forward basis.

Thank you,

Commissioner Madigan

Michele Madigan

Commissioner of Finance

City of Saratoga Springs

474 Broadway

Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

518-587-3550 


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Confidentiality/Privilege Notice: This e-mail communication and any files transmitted with it contain privileged and confidential information from the City of Saratoga Springs and are intended solely for the use of the individual(s) or entity to which it has been addressed. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any disclosure, copying, distribution, or taking any other action with respect to the contents of this message is strictly prohibited. If you have received this e-mail in error, please delete it and notify the sender by return e-mail. Thank you for your cooperation. 


From: “Marilyn L Rivers” <marilyn.rivers@saratoga-springs.org>
To: “Michele Madigan” <michele.madigan@saratoga-springs.org>, “Skip Scirocco” <skip.scirocco@saratoga-springs.org>, “John Franck” <john.franck@saratoga-springs.org>, “Robin Dalton” <robin.dalton@saratoga-springs.org>
Cc: “Tara N Gaston” <TNGaston@saratogacountyny.gov>, “Chad Cooke” <ccooke@saratogacountyny.gov>, “Veitch Matt” <mveitch@saratogacountyny.gov>, “Meg Kelly” <meg.kelly@saratoga-springs.org>, “Shane Crooks” <scrooks@saratogapolice.org>, “Vince DeLeonardis” <Vince.Deleonardis@saratoga-springs.org>, “Joe Dolan” <jdolan@ssfdny.org>, “Karen Gregory” <kgregory@sheltersofsaratoga.org>
Sent: Tuesday, April 21, 2020 10:25:58 AM
Subject: Re: FEMA Funding Shelters of Saratoga

City Council:

I write this email to you to obtain your direction in dealing with an issue pertaining to FEMA funding regarding Shelters of Saratoga. You will see an email train within this email outlining the journey Shelters and the County are currently undertaking.

I need your answer before NOON today.

On April 7th, 2020 you as a City Council unanimously approved CDBG Block Grant Funds in the amount of $61,950 to fund an emergency COVID-19 response for homeless housing for Code Blue at the Holiday Inn here in Saratoga Springs. Shelters of Saratoga immediately thereafter began housing approximately 35 guests at the Holiday Inn in Saratoga Springs. I have been informed that 25% of the population is comprised of Saratoga Springs residents and the other 75% of the guests belonging to various communities in the County.

Shelters of Saratoga has run a fundraising campaign called the “COVID-19 Response Fund.” I’ve attached a PDF of their web page explaining their fundraising efforts. The page indicates that Shelters as of this date has meet their goal of $150,000.

Shelters of Saratoga is now seeking FEMA funding. They along with Mayor Kelly have been in contact with Supervisors Gaston and Veitch to work with County officials on attempting to obtain reimbursement for their efforts. Chad Cooke at the County is working with them on this endeavor. There have been strenuous conversations regarding this matter.

The FEMA requirements are at issue. Before Shelters of Saratoga initiated their hotel accommodation endeavor, they needed to have obtained a directive from the Saratoga County Department of Health directing them to establish the accommodations for “Non-congregate Sheltering” based upon a medical need. Please see the attached FEMA PowerPoint Sheet on Non-congregate Housing.

The County has offered two (2) avenues of assistant=ce to Shelters of Saratoga thanks to the hard work of Supervisors Gaston and Veitch and Saratoga County Deputy Administrator Chad Cooke:

On Mon, Apr 20, 2020 at 9:11 PM Tara N Gaston <TNGaston@saratogacountyny.gov> wrote:

Thank you all for your patience. After a number of discussions, it appears that there are two options moving forward with this: 

  1. The County – as the legally responsible public health entity – would contract to cover the hotel expenses with the City and then the County can seek up to 75% reimbursement from FEMA. A note about this, however, is that because SOS moved forward with a fund-raising campaign to cover these expenses, any of the funds raised must be applied to hotel expenses before we can seek reimbursement – this is NOT a County decision, this is straight from FEMA. The only reimburseable expenses for non-congregate housing would therefore be those that exceed the funds that were raised. This agreement with the City would require full Board approval, which Matt/I can put forward tomorrow at the Board meeting.
  2. The other option is for Spencer to enter into a minor contract for up to $15,000, which does not require full Board approval, and could be used to defray expenses in addition to any other sources available. 

Matt and I are open to whichever option is preferred. I recognize that neither option is ideal, but at this late date in the process it is what we are able to do with regards to FEMA funding. I would also like to recognize Chad, who has spent a lot of time seeking out other possibilities and clarifying the guidance. 

The discussion thus far has been passionate for both Mayor Kelly and Karen Gregory.

The Saratoga County Board of Supervisors meet today at 4PM.

I need City Council needs to let us know which option they support with regard to this matter. Option 1 or 2.

Please remember that Shelters of Saratoga Serves all of the County. It serves approximately 25% of the City’s needs. It is thus best to have the County take the lead on Shelters FEMA reimbursement, not the City. Regardless, of who, however does assist in applying for FEMA funding.

All entities across the nation must follow FEMA federal guidelines to obtain federal FEMA funds. They are written in stone and non-negotiable.

Please assist me in helping Supervisors Gaston and Veitch. Which option should they pursue.

I need your answer before NOON today.

I apologize for the short notice.

Thank you,

Marilyn

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This e-mail communication and any files transmitted with it contain privileged and confidential information from the City of Saratoga Springs Risk and Safety Department and is intended solely for the use of the individual(s) or entity to whom it has been addressed. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination or copying of this e-mail is strictly prohibited. If you have received this e-mail in error, please delete it and notify the sender by return e-mail.

Thank you for your cooperation.


From: “Karen Gregory” <kgregory@sheltersofsaratoga.org>
To: “Tara N Gaston” <TNGaston@saratogacountyny.gov>
Cc: “Chad Cooke” <ccooke@saratogacountyny.gov>, “Marilyn Rivers” <marilyn.rivers@saratoga-springs.org>, “Matt Veitch” <mveitch@saratogacountyny.gov>, “Meg Kelly” <meg.kelly@saratoga-springs.org>, “Shane Crooks” <scrooks@saratogapolice.org>, “Vincent DeLeonardis” <Vince.Deleonardis@saratoga-springs.org>, “Lieutenant Joseph J. Dolan” <jdolan@ssfdny.org>
Sent: Tuesday, April 21, 2020 8:14:49 AM
Subject: Re: FEMA Funding Shelters of Saratoga

CAUTION: This email originated outside of the City network. Please contact IT Support if you need assistance determining if it’s a threat before opening attachments or clicking any links.


So let me understand this one more time – you are saying that the money I raised to secure the safety of my agency needs to be redirected to the hotel in order to continue. Is this in writing somewhere? Obviously, you all know I cannot risk the security of my agency and my board would never approve. 

So, in 14 days, I will be handing out tents to 35 people and putting them outside during a pandemic when all of the guidance is telling us the exact opposite.  Homeless communities all over the Country are being impacted and people are dying. 

Can the County provide the FEMA guidance or sections of the law that mandate the use of SOS funds raised prior to the use of FEMA funds for hotel stays for the homeless?  

Thank you. 

On Mon, Apr 20, 2020 at 9:11 PM Tara N Gaston <TNGaston@saratogacountyny.gov> wrote:

Thank you all for your patience. After a number of discussions, it appears that there are two options moving forward with this: 

  1. The County – as the legally responsible public health entity – would contract to cover the hotel expenses with the City and then the County can seek up to 75% reimbursement from FEMA. A note about this, however, is that because SOS moved forward with a fund-raising campaign to cover these expenses, any of the funds raised must be applied to hotel expenses before we can seek reimbursement – this is NOT a County decision, this is straight from FEMA. The only reimburseable expenses for non-congregate housing would therefore be those that exceed the funds that were raised. This agreement with the City would require full Board approval, which Matt/I can put forward tomorrow at the Board meeting.
  2. The other option is for Spencer to enter into a minor contract for up to $15,000, which does not require full Board approval, and could be used to defray expenses in addition to any other sources available. 

Matt and I are open to whichever option is preferred. I recognize that neither option is ideal, but at this late date in the process it is what we are able to do with regards to FEMA funding. I would also like to recognize Chad, who has spent a lot of time seeking out other possibilities and clarifying the guidance. 

Wash your hands (with soap!), 

Supervisor Tara N. Gaston 

Pronouns: she/her

Saratoga Springs

tngaston@saratogacountyny.gov

518-934-1944


My working hours may not be your working hours. I do not expect a reply outside of your normal work schedule unless this email is marked as urgent. Thank you!


From: Marilyn Rivers <marilyn.rivers@saratoga-springs.org>
Sent: Monday, April 20, 2020 8:45 PM
To: Karen Gregory <kgregory@sheltersofsaratoga.org>
Cc: Tara N Gaston <TNGaston@saratogacountyny.gov>; Matthew Veitch <mveitch@saratogacountyny.gov>; Chad Cooke <ccooke@saratogacountyny.gov>; Vince DeLeonardis <Vince.Deleonardis@saratoga-springs.org>; Meg Kelly <meg.kelly@saratoga-springs.org>; jdolan <jdolan@ssfdny.org>; Shane Crooks <scrooks@saratogapolice.org>


Subject: Re: FEMA Funding Shelters of Saratoga

We need the required documentation in place before any submission to FEMA can take place.

Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone

——– Original message ——–

From: Karen Gregory <kgregory@sheltersofsaratoga.org>

Date: 4/20/20 8:30 PM (GMT-05:00)

To: Marilyn Rivers <marilyn.rivers@saratoga-springs.org>

Cc: Tara N Gaston <TNGaston@saratogacountyny.gov>, Matt Veitch <mveitch@saratogacountyny.gov>, Chad Cooke <ccooke@saratogacountyny.gov>, Vince DeLeonardis <Vince.Deleonardis@saratoga-springs.org>, Meg Kelly <meg.kelly@saratoga-springs.org>, jdolan <jdolan@ssfdny.org>, Shane Crooks <scrooks@saratogapolice.org>

Subject: Re: FEMA Funding Shelters of Saratoga

CAUTION: This email originated outside of the City network. Please contact IT Support if you need assistance determining if it’s a threat before opening attachments or clicking any links.


We need to sustain these 35 hotel rooms for at least 2 more months – this will cost the County nothing – this will be covered by FEMA.

On Mon, Apr 20, 2020 at 8:27 PM Karen Gregory <kgregory@sheltersofsaratoga.org> wrote:

Hi Everyone – so everyone is clear as to what is needed.  

The goal is to get FEMA funding to cover the cost of hotel rooms to keep 35 homeless people from Shelters of Saratoga who are being fed and case managed in the Holiday Inn while we help them to get employment and housing during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

We need the DOH to declare that they are directing this to happen.

The City then with SOS can apply for the funds from FEMA and we can continue keeping people safe and supported. This will lead to permanent housing and employment.

Please, I am asking that we do not over complicate this.  All we need is the County Department of Public Health to make this directive, please.  Then, Marilyn, we will need you to take the lead on writing the grant.

I don’t think I am missing anything with this – but, we are running out of time.  Please, the last thing we need is to put this population outside into the community during this pandemic.

Folks, 1 in ever 3 homeless individuals in Boston has contracted the virus. The reason we are not seeing those numbers in Saratoga is because we were proactive and we saved lives and did not infect the City. 

Please, this is incredibly time sensitive.

Thank you.

Karen

On Mon, Apr 20, 2020 at 8:04 PM Marilyn Rivers <marilyn.rivers@saratoga-springs.org> wrote:

Would someone please tell me what the City needs to do to remedy this quagmire? 

I want to help.  Please tell me how to help.

Please…

Marilyn Rivers 

Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone

——– Original message ——–

From: Meg Kelly <meg.kelly@saratoga-springs.org>

Date: 4/20/20 5:54 PM (GMT-05:00)

To: Marilyn Rivers <marilyn.rivers@saratoga-springs.org>

Cc: Karen Gregory <kgregory@sheltersofsaratoga.org>, Tara N Gaston <TNGaston@saratogacountyny.gov>, Matt Veitch <mveitch@saratogacountyny.gov>, Chad Cooke <ccooke@saratogacountyny.gov>, Vince DeLeonardis <Vince.Deleonardis@saratoga-springs.org>

Subject: Re: FEMA Funding Shelters of Saratoga

Tara are you all set for your meeting tomorrow?

Also did you get Cathi Duncan to sign Lindsey’s letter?

Ty

Meg

Sent from my iPhone

On Apr 20, 2020, at 5:31 PM, Marilyn Rivers <marilyn.rivers@saratoga-springs.org> wrote:

I have not heard anything throughout the day. Are you folks all set for tomorrow? If not, please let me know how I can assist.

Best,

Marilyn

PRIVILEGED AND CONFIDENTIAL:

This e-mail communication and any files transmitted with it contain privileged and confidential information from the City of Saratoga Springs Risk and Safety Department and is intended solely for the use of the individual(s) or entity to whom it has been addressed. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination or copying of this e-mail is strictly prohibited. If you have received this e-mail in error, please delete it and notify the sender by return e-mail.

Thank you for your cooperation.


From: “Karen Gregory” <kgregory@sheltersofsaratoga.org>
To: “Tara N Gaston” <TNGaston@saratogacountyny.gov>
Cc: “Chad Cooke” <ccooke@saratogacountyny.gov>, “Marilyn Rivers” <marilyn.rivers@saratoga-springs.org>, “Matt Veitch” <mveitch@saratogacountyny.gov>, “Meg Kelly” <meg.kelly@saratoga-springs.org>
Sent: Monday, April 20, 2020 3:20:24 PM
Subject: Re: FEMA Funding Shelters of Saratoga

CAUTION: This email originated outside of the City network. Please contact IT Support if you need assistance determining if it’s a threat before opening attachments or clicking any links.


Any updates anyone? 

On Sun, Apr 19, 2020 at 3:06 PM Tara N Gaston <TNGaston@saratogacountyny.gov> wrote:

Yes, the County would be the applicant. Chad said he would have more information tomorrow, so let’s wait for him to get back to more and we’ll sort it out. Rest assured Matt and I (and Chad mostly!) are on the case. 

Supervisor Tara N. Gaston

Saratoga Springs

tngaston@saratogacountyny.gov

518-934-1944

Pronouns: she/her

My working hours may not be your working hours. I do not expect a reply outside of your normal work schedule unless this email is marked as urgent. Thank you!


From: Karen Gregory <kgregory@sheltersofsaratoga.org>
Sent: Sunday, April 19, 2020 2:09:02 PM
To: Marilyn Rivers <marilyn.rivers@saratoga-springs.org>
Cc: Chad Cooke <ccooke@saratogacountyny.gov>; Matthew Veitch <mveitch@saratogacountyny.gov>; Meg Kelly <meg.kelly@saratoga-springs.org>; Shane Crooks <scrooks@saratogapolice.org>; Tara N Gaston <TNGaston@saratogacountyny.gov>; Vince DeLeonardis <Vince.Deleonardis@saratoga-springs.org>; jdolan <jdolan@ssfdny.org>


Subject: Re: FEMA Funding Shelters of Saratoga

My impression is that SOS cannot apply for funding for this…the City or County must. However, I am going to need funding to cover staffing & food/supplies. 

On Sun, Apr 19, 2020 at 11:45 AM Marilyn Rivers <marilyn.rivers@saratoga-springs.org> wrote:

Has a FEMA application already been made for the funds for Shelters of Saratoga? If so, who made or is making the application? The City can easily do an MOU with Shelters of Saratoga for the services Sheltersis supplying, but I’m understanding that 75% of the recipients are from out of the City from other areas of the County.  That is why we need your assistance. 

Tara and Matt please tell us what you need for Tuesday’s meeting and we’ll try and get it for you.

I apologize for seeming to be confused.  I’m coming in after the fact trying to help.   For the record,  the City has only just begun its FEMA process for reimbursement. We are still in the documentation phase.

This is an extraordinary situation for all of us.  Tell me what you need to make this happen. 

Thank you, 

Marilyn 

Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone

——– Original message ——–

From: Meg Kelly <meg.kelly@saratoga-springs.org>

Date: 4/19/20 11:32 AM (GMT-05:00)

To: Tara N Gaston <TNGaston@saratogacountyny.gov>

Cc: Karen Gregory <kgregory@sheltersofsaratoga.org>, Matthew Veitch <mveitch@saratogacountyny.gov>, Chad Cooke <ccooke@saratogacountyny.gov>, marilyn.rivers@saratoga-springs.org

Subject: Re: FEMA Funding

Tara,

I did ask Spencer to split this and I asked for 30k before the fema application was out. He said he will bring it to the meeting. Should I prompt him or not? Your call.

Thank you

Meg

Sent from my iPhone

On Apr 19, 2020, at 11:23 AM, Tara N Gaston <TNGaston@saratogacountyny.gov> wrote:

CAUTION: This email originated outside of the City network. Please contact IT Support if you need assistance determining if it’s a threat before opening attachments or clicking any links.


Mayor and Karen: 

I just spoke to Chad about the application for FEMA funding for non-congregate housing. I understand that an agreement between the City and County is required in order for this to take place, but believe that I have resolved many/most of the concerns on the County’s behalf. This will need to be brought up at the next County meeting Tuesday. Chad will be providing additional information as he has it tomorrow, but I understand Marilyn Rivers was also working on what was needed in the agreement. If anyone has additional information that Matt and I can bring forward at the meeting on Tuesday, please let us know. We want to push this as quickly as possible, but need to be kept in the loop so we can answer questions from fellow Supervisors as necessary. 

Thank you very much for all of your work on this keeping people healthy, and we look forward to getting this through the Board. 

Wash your hands (with soap!), 

Supervisor Tara N. Gaston 

Pronouns: she/her

Saratoga Springs

tngaston@saratogacountyny.gov

518-934-1944


My working hours may not be your working hours. I do not expect a reply outside of your normal work schedule unless this email is marked as urgent. Thank you!

Confidentiality/Privilege Notice: This e-mail communication and any files transmitted with it contain privileged and confidential information from the City of Saratoga Springs and are intended solely for the use of the individual(s) or entity to which it has been addressed. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any disclosure, copying, distribution, or taking any other action with respect to the contents of this message is strictly prohibited. If you have received this e-mail in error, please delete it and notify the sender by return e-mail. Thank you for your cooperation.

Confidentiality/Privilege Notice: This e-mail communication and any files transmitted with it contain privileged and confidential information from the City of Saratoga Springs and are intended solely for the use of the individual(s) or entity to which it has been addressed. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any disclosure, copying, distribution, or taking any other action with respect to the contents of this message is strictly prohibited. If you have received this e-mail in error, please delete it and notify the sender by return e-mail. Thank you for your cooperation.

Thank you.

Karen A. Gregory

Executive Director

Shelters of Saratoga

14 Walworth Street

Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

Phone: 518.581.1097 x 301

Fax: 518.581.8735

Email: kgregory@sheltersofsaratoga.org

Thank you.

Karen A. Gregory

Executive Director

Shelters of Saratoga

14 Walworth Street

Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

Phone: 518.581.1097 x 301

Fax: 518.581.8735

Email: kgregory@sheltersofsaratoga.org

Latest On City’s Budget Issues

According to an article in the Gazette Newspaper, Adirondack Trust was the successful bidder for the short term bond (twelve months) against anticipated city tax revenues. The interest was just .15 percent. I know that Commissioner Madigan was concerned about the rate the city might have had to pay so this appears to be good news.

The article also reported that the city issued $7.4 million in long term bonds which have an interest rate of only 2.15 percent.

Commissioner Madigan attributed the attractive rates to the city’s high bond rating of AA+ for the last nine years.

According to the article

In addition to borrowing, Madigan’s plan to balance the city budget this year includes drawing $6.5 million from the city’s fund balance, asking for $3.4 million in expense cuts by city departments, and achieving at least $277,000 savings from a voluntary employee furlough program.

Gazette June 5, 2020

I remain confused as to how $6.5 million plus $3.4 million plus $277,000.00 will fill the projected city deficit this year of $15 million to $17 million. I have sufficient faith in Commissioner Madigan and the council that there is a solution hidden in all of this.

Commissioner Madigan Takes Strong Exception To Release By Blogger

In covering the continuing fiscal crisis the city is facing I published a spreadsheet produced by the Department of Finance that addressed the city’s monthly cash flow. This was the same information that had been sought by Accounts Commissioner John Franck.

In a spirited email to me, Commissioner Michele Madigan asserted that the spreadsheet was an internal document and that my decision to publish the document was inappropriate. She advised that she would no longer be responding to my communications to her.

In fact, this is a public document and FOILable, but also this document was and is available on the web. Because the city is seeking a bond to address the immediate need to cover the June payroll, the city was required to publish a variety of information. This is because investors have a right to information about the city in order to assess the risk of such bonds. The spreadsheet was part of a larger document prepared by the law firm the city engaged to issue the bond, Walsh and Walsh, LLP. The spreadsheet is on page 43.

I have sympathy for Commissioner Madigan’s response to me. She is under a great deal of stress. Commissioner Madigan is dedicated to this city and to the need to inform its citizens. I am hopeful that over time she will reconsider communicating with me.

Readers of this blog may recall that I had previously sent her a series of questions about the city’s plans to address the $15 to $17 million dollar short fall projected by Commissioner Madigan. At the time she had emailed me that she planned to address my questions. At least in the short run, this is not going to happen.

Police Take The Knee In Schenectady

There was a march today (May 31, 2020) in Saratoga Springs in response to the death of George Floyd, the latest victim of police violence in our country. The march began at the Spirit of Life statue in Congress Park. Lt. JasonMitchell expressed his regrets over the death of George Floyd to the assembled demonstrators. From there, led by Mayor Meg Kelly, Public Safety Commissioner Robin Dalton, and Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan, the group marched to city hall. Mayor Kelly addressed the crowd calling for justice, kindness, and community. The group returned to the park where they dispersed.

Here is a link to the rally: https://cbs6albany.com/news/local/saratoga-springs-sees-peaceful-protest

In Schenectady, in a deeply moving statement of solidarity, the Schenectady police took the knee with local demonstrators.

https://www.news10.com/video/schenectady-protest/5552944/