Dillon Moran Fabricates New York State Health Department Memorandum

The voters receiving this flyer from Dillon Moran can be pardoned for believing it is a memorandum from the New York State Department of Health citing the city for a water quality issue. The word “Violation” appears to be stamped on it.

In fact this is a fake document created by Mr. Moran’s campaign. The city was not cited with a violation and this document did not originate with the New York State Health Department.

The purpose of this document is to make people fearful about their drinking water and to make people believe that Commissioner Skip Scirocco has failed in his responsibilities to protect the public.

The reader will note that the document which is unsigned is dated September, 2017. What is most disturbing is that the chart that appears to be part of this memo was actually from a document issued by the Department of Public Works in May of 2018.

I have written to Mr. Moran asking where I can find the document he has put on his campaign mailer but so far he has not responded.

A little history and a little science is required.

The chemical Trihalomethanes (TTHM)is a byproduct of Chlorination as is indicated on the chart on the Moran flier. The chemical is formed when Chlorinated water sits for a sustained period while in contact with organic matter.

The incident Mr. Moran is highlighting occurred in 2017 when this chemical was detected in water on the Skidmore Campus. Apparently, when the water in some storage facilities there sat idle during the summer, TTHM was produced. In a notice to students on December 20, 2017, Skidmore official Michael D. West advised students that water samples taken in August of that year tested positive for the chemical. In his notice he wrote:

“Skidmore administrators are working closely with officials from the City of Saratoga Springs water department and the New York State Department of Health to learn more about plans to minimize formation of the byproduct when water use is low.”

No further incidents have occurred.

The reader will note at the bottom of the flyer with a bold red background, there is a quote from Mr. Moran that states:

“Over use of a known carcinogen because it is cheap, to treat our water is reckless.”

As the reader can see, the city is not treating its water with TTHM. I think the term reckless might be better used in characterizing this flyer with its inflammatory allegations and its deceptive depiction of a document as though it were issued by the New York State Health Department.

More Problems For The Hicks Campaign

In an article published in the October 31 edition of the Gazette, Kendall Hicks denied receiving letters from prison from a woman convicted of child pornography involving her daughter. Mr. Hicks told the reporter that he was on active duty and that the woman he was then living with failed to forward the letters to him.

The problem is that he was stationed locally not oversees at that time. In fact the envelopes show that neither letter was sent to his home address where his then partner was living. Letters were sent to his post office box in Saratoga Springs and to an address in Johnstown. Mr. Hicks owns apartments in Johnstown where presumably the correspondence was sent.

Commissioner Madigan: An Unfortunate Turn of Events

Steve Williams has written an excellent article on the nasty nature of this year’s campaigns in Saratoga Springs. 

The Gazette article in today’s (October 31) edition, which I link to here, reports that Scott Solomon, the owner of Siro’s, has sent a complaint to the state Board of Elections regarding Commissioner Michele Madigan.  According to the Gazette, in his claim he asserts that Commissioner Madigan “bullied constituents” and was guilty of a “clear abuse of power.”

Mr. Solomon had sought the Commissioner’s support in opening his restaurant.  Apparently he specifically asked her for and received assistance in his application for a liquor license. 

In early October, upon learning that Mr. Solomon was planning a fundraiser for Ms. Madigan’s opponent, Patty Morrison, she wrote two emails to him.  In one of them, the Gazette quotes her as having written:

“You can get in line like everyone else, I’m sorry I considered you a friend. I hear you have a lot of code violations by the way. Enjoy.”

When questioned by the Gazette regarding her emails she told Steve Williams that she had apologized to Mr. Solomon and she believed that he had accepted her apologies.  She told Williams:

“I got angry. I am human and I lashed out.  I called him and apologized.”

Most us would have found Mr. Solomon’s behavior in this affair a source of anger.  Commissioner Madigan had gone out of her way to assist him and it would only be natural to experience his actions as a kind of betrayal. 

Having said that, it is no excuse for Commissioner Madigan’s response.  Being in public office requires elected officials to display self control.  In this case Commissioner Madigan’s email was egregious.  In spite of the fact that her office has no control over the enforcement of building codes, her email could be interpreted as a threat.

There is simply no way to excuse this behavior.  The problem is that in this election we are reduced to choosing between two candidates for an office which is at the center of our city’s operation. 

As reported on in previous posts Ms. Morrison’s attitude toward the administrative duties of the Finance Office is more than disturbing.  She appears utterly cavalier about how that office works.  At one point in her debate with Commissioner Madigan she said she would maintain a 4% fund balance.  Commissioner Madigan pointed out to her that this number was grossly inadequate and would prompt an audit exception from the state Comptroller.

It was apparent that Ms. Morrison is unconcerned about the challenges of administering the Finance Office and assumes mistakenly that others will handle the duties of running that office.

In addition the literature that Ms. Morrison has been distributing  in this campaign continues to make false and misleading statements about her qualifications, actions by Commissioner Madigan, and various issues facing the city. One of her most recent pieces of literature repeats the false narrative that the city has been remiss in collecting taxes on properties.  This accusation has been thoroughly debunked.  This is emblematic of either her lack of interest in the complexity of tax collection or of her willingness to cynically exploit public ignorance regarding the matter.

Let me repeat that I find Commissioner Madigan’s behavior in her dealings with Mr. Solomon inexcusable.  I do not believe that her email to Mr. Solomon was a threat but an example of a pattern of intemperate behavior that she can be rightly criticized for.

Hopefully the voters of this city will be sophisticated enough to weigh the capabilities of the two candidates and not base their decision on who to vote for on this very unfortunate set of events.


[JK: I received the following statement from Commissioner Madigan]

Over the last nine months, as I’ve campaigned for my fifth term as our city’s commissioner of finance, I’ve encountered both the highs and lows of seeking public office:  the pleasure of interacting with thousands of my fellow citizens, listening to their ideas for what they want their city to be in the months and years ahead; and the on-going frustration of having my opponent’s campaign disseminate misleading information and flat-out  falsehoods on a number of topics throughout this election season. 

Recently, in a personal conversation on my private email account, I let those frustrations get the better of me.  I used language that was regrettable. I’m sincerely sorry I said it, even in private.  I am sincerely sorry for that. I have since apologized to the recipient of that email and I apologize to my supporters and our citizens for my use of poor judgment.

It is unfortunate that, now more than ever, it is politically fashionable to never admit a single mistake and to present yourself as wholly infallible at each and every turn.  But my time as a city official has taught me that true leadership requires more. A true leader is thoughtful and reflective. A true leader holds him or herself accountable even in the face of political discomfort.

All elected officials help constituents navigate bureaucracy; it’s part of the job. Most people feel betrayed when they discover that a friend is actively working against them, it is part of being human. As Finance Commissioner I have no power or authority over any business this man is doing with the city, and I regret that I made it sound like I did. I do not, have not, and will never use my office for any other purpose than to benefit the city.

Who Would You Hire to Oversee the City’s Finances?  Michele Madigan or Patty Morrison?

[JK: Link to video fixed]

In our form of government, the Commissioner of Finance is the chief financial officer of the city.  This job involves:

 

  • the responsibility for 8 different City budgets every year
  • working closely with the other Council members and all the city departments to balance and prioritize their needs within the limits of estimated revenues, the New York State 2% tax cap, and the interests of the taxpayer
  • overseeing the implementation of the budget
  • maintaining a  balanced budget
  • making budget adjustments as the year progresses
  • making borrowing and investment decisions

This job requires many skills. For instance:  

  • attention to details
  • a mind for numbers
  • an understanding of the regulations that determine how money is raised and how it is spent in a municipality
  • the ability to hire skilled staff to assist in managing all these responsibilities.  

 

When we vote for a candidate for Commissioner of Finance we are, in effect, hiring a person to do this job.

 

There is no question that there are issues to consider outside of the skills required to manage the city’s finances.  In our form of government the person holding this office will also, as a City Council member, be in a position to vote on important issues facing the city such as the hospital expansion, how the city should grow, bike trails, etc.

I am concerned, though, that many voters may underestimate how much damage a person can do if they are put in charge of the Finance Department and lack the necessary knowledge and skills to manage it.

At the League of  Women Voters forum last week, voters were  finally given the opportunity to compare the two candidates running for Commissioner of Finance this year: the current Commissioner, Michele Madigan, and Patty Morrison. The contrast between the performances of the two candidates was striking.  Ms. Morrison seemed completely at sea when she had to address questions  about the Finance Office.  It appeared that she saw no need to prepare herself for this event by learning about the responsibilities and workings of the department she seeks to head. Instead she relied on pushing vague sound bite type issues about

the alleged unresponsiveness of government which she promised to remedy.

In contrast, Ms. Madigan talked in detail about what the Finance Office does and the many things that she has done to both make that office more efficient and to utilize that office in forwarding the progress of the city. 

Voters need to get away from indulging in focusing on personality when assessing candidates. Elections are about choosing the most competent person to do a job, not on choosing who you would like to invite to a dinner party or who you would like to have a beer with.  

I know that the readers of this blog are busy people but I urge them to take the time to watch the approximately twenty-five minutes of the League of Women Voters’ Candidates’ Night during which Ms. Madigan and Ms. Morrison were questioned and decide for themselves who is best suited to take on the responsibility of managing our city’s finances.

The segment where the two debated can be found here At 1:25

Mayor Kelly Announces EMS Location For East Side and Eastern Plateau

[JK: I received this press release from Mayor Kelly’s Office]

EAST SIDE FIRE/EMS STATION 3 IS ON THE MAP!

Mayor Meg Kelly, City of Saratoga Springs, is thrilled to announce that she has secured a tentative agreement for a third FIRE/EMS station. Mayor Kelly is negotiating a land-use agreement for a parcel located on the Oklahoma side of the Saratoga Race Course, after years of unsuccessful efforts spanning numerous administrations. This station will serve “District 3”, including the ‘eastern plateau’, a region that has been advocating since its considerable growth for improved response rates.

“Finding the right location to meet this critical need has been my top priority,” states Mayor Kelly. “My administration has been steadfast in its efforts to make improved FIRE/EMS service a reality for our citizens, and it is happening.

Thanks goes to the Franchise Oversight Board for its thoughtful consideration of an excellent solution to this longstanding issue. I would also like to thank the New York Racing Association (NYRA) for supporting and facilitating this important public safety matter.”

The Mayor believes that the long-awaited FIRE/EMS Station 3 will be huge asset to the people of the City of Saratoga Springs.

“I appreciate all of the many efforts that have gone into and will continue to go into the completion of this essential building and service. We will see this through,” states the Mayor