Well, the “buy your politician” ethos of Washington D.C. has arrived in Saratoga Springs. Frustrated by a city council they cannot control, our own local version of big business has decided to go on the offensive.
On Thursday they held their kick off fundraiser at the Stadium Cafe. It was quite a success drawing more than two hundred attendees. At the event they were urged to contribute “Five hundred… a thousand dollars.” These people have deep pockets and they are serious.
Because I signed up on their web site, and even though I did not attend their event, I received this thank you in an email:
To the more than 200 residents and business leaders who turned out for last evening’s Saratoga PAC event at The Stadium Cafe, we want to thank you for supporting this event. The Saratoga PAC intends to actively support reasonable, balanced and progressive actions as well as the public officials who champion such efforts so that Saratoga Springs and Saratoga County continue to thrive as a great place to live, work and play. You could feel the energy and enthusiasm in the packed room at last night’s event as we discussed our mission and invited everyone to get involved. What unites us is our love for Saratoga and our desire to see it remain great for the long term. Our immediate pursuit is to invite more people who love Saratoga to support and get involved with the Saratoga PAC. So we hope you will invite your friends, neighbors, family and co-workers to learn more about the Saratoga PAC at www.saratogapac.com. On our website, you can join the PAC to be kept informed and/or make a contribution to support our mission! Thanks again to everyone who attended the event last night or who made a donation to support the mission of the Saratoga PAC! If this statement seems nebulous (and the text on their site is no more informative) it is because the people who organized this event are so tightly networked through their businesses and their social organizations, that they do not have to bother to actually state clearly what their actual purpose is. C. Wright Mills described these kinds of relationships in his book The Power Elite.
These people believe in “smart growth.” If any of the readers of this blog know anyone who does not support “smart growth” please post a comment.
In his brief remarks at the event, chair Robert Manz told the attendees that the money they were contributing would not go to individual candidates. This raises the interesting question of how this money will be spent. I welcome any speculation people may have on this matter. If anyone knows Mr. Manz, maybe they could ask him.
I am out of state or I would have attended their kickoff event. A good friend was kind enough to go to it. Unfortunately, my friend is not part of the “elite” so my friend could not identify most of the people at the event. My friend did recognize:
- Gary Dake, PAC board member (Stewarts)
- Bill Dake (The grand old man)
- Sonny Bonnacio, (who does not know who he is?)
- Todd Shimkus, executive director of the Chamber
- Gordon Boyd, President of an energy consulting firm
- Bobby D’Andrea (Past NYS Assemblyman and who tried to get property his family owns in the green belt rezoned for dense development)
- Phil Klein, (Past county supervisor and in the insurance business)
- Robert Manz, chairman of the PAC (Chief Operating Officer at D.A. Collins- A large construction company
- Tom Newkirk (Saratoga National Golf Course)
- Cynthia Hollowood, treasurer of the PAC (Holiday Inn)
- Joe Dalton (past executive director of the Chamber of Commerce)
- Barry Potoker (executive director Saratoga Builders Association)
In addition there were some political figures:
- Rick Wirth, Republican candidate for Public Safety
- Sara Burger, challenging Chris Matheisen for the Democratic nomination for Public Safety Commissioner
- Ken Ivins, Republican running against Michele Madigan for Finance Commissioner
- John Safford, Republican running against Joanne Yepsen for Mayor
- Skip Scirocco, Republican Public Works Commissioner
It is particularly telling that both Sara Burger and Rick Worth are at this event. Given Matheisen’s leadership in opposing the Saratoga National Golf Course’s attempt to breach the green belt, it is safe to say that he is a key target of this group.
It remains to be seen both how this PAC will be spending their money and how much impact they will have on the elections. Very troubling.