Blogs > Saratogian Newsroom

The Saratogian Newsroom blog, complete with thoughts and commentary from our newsroom staff and regular posts on happenings around town.

Tuesday, September 30

Party goes underground

So, reporter Neil Kirby confirmed today that, in fact, work is in progress to create a new bar/nightclub/lounge in the basement of the building that currently houses Esperanto's, Tin and Lint, Cantina, and possibly another business whose name I'm forgetting.

While the most visible impact of the construction may be the relocation of Esperanto's storefront -- moving one slot to the west -- the new subterranean venue would likely provide something sorely lacking on Caroline Street -- a place for people to congregate, drink, and sway to loud music. Just kidding...

In all seriousness, it seems that crowds on Caroline will flow into open door without asking too many questions. The new venue marks a very creative effort on the part of the building's owner to eek more profit out of the real-estate. I suppose one could wonder if there's a need for another bar on Caroline, but drinking isn't really about "need" -- and if it is, there's a much more serious issue at hand.

Needed or not, if I had a few spare bucks lying around, I'd be the first to open up shop in the new space.

Monday, September 29

Double Dipping

Since I've recieved a whole lot of comments (including some baseless hate) about Commissioner Skip Scirocco's alleged double dipping from a couple years ago, and because I have absolutely nothing to write about tonight, I thought I'd post a link to this story on a very similar topic. Enjoy.

Sunday, September 28


The media was pretty quick to anoint Barrack Obama winner of Friday's presidential debate. I tried to be as objective as possible while watching the debate, and I have to say, I wouldn't have called the debate for Obama. To me, the two candidates seemed very even. Each had good moments and bad moments.

One argument I heard is that foreign policy is supposed to be McCain's best issue, and given that, he should have thoroughly trounced Obama. I'm not convinced that a failure to trounce constitutes a victory. I guess I'll reserve judgment for the next meeting. Anyone else have thoughts?

Thursday, September 25


Joy Karam. Whodathunkit?

Joy was one of the first people I met when I first took this job, and Ted Reinert was showing me around City Hall, introducing me to people. Joy always struck as friendly, but distant. She's come out of the office and give me a hard time if I was ever hanging around the police station, but if I ever called for the commissioner (be it Tommy or Skip), she was always quick to pass the along to another staffer. Almost as if she was under standing orders to be vague about the commissioner's whereabouts to members of the press.

That she was caught up in skimming money from tax payers is somewhat surprising, although, given the constantly-swirling rumors of corruption during the McTygue years, it certainly isn't a complete shock.

When I called McTygue today he claimed no knowledge that anything was amis during his watch. If you're not totally convinced, you're not alone. DA Jim Murphy says that as of now, it appears that no one else was involved in Karam's scam, but if Skip noticed a discrepancy, Tommy's eyes must have been shut pretty tight to miss it.

It'll be interesting to see what dirt flies as this continues to shake out.

Wednesday, September 24

Pyschology of a horse vandal

I think it's admirable that the three individuals who knocked over the horse sculpture outside of the MAISE Center came forward to apologize. This is especially so since it's unlikely that they would every have been caught.

But, with the price on their collective heads, an uncertain economy and friends who had already heard tales of drunken horse-tipping potentially chomping at the bit to collect the reward, perhaps it isn't that surprising at all.

What would be truly surprising, is if the folks responsible for vandalizing the horse outside of Tom Roohan's realty office came forward. While the MAISE crew was simply trying to ride the horse -- something the sculptures practically beg drunk passer-bys to do -- the folks who destroyed the other horse showed some serious beef as they systematically tore apar the sculpture, ending their onslaught by taking away a trophy in the form of the horse's hoof.

So, the reward of unspecified amount remains available to anyone with information about that second vandalism. If you know whodunnit, call police: 584-1800.

Tuesday, September 23

Newish Blog!!

In these troubled times, when I find myself working the night shift, shackled to the desk when I would rather be out walking the beat, starting (or, more correctly, re-starting) a second Saratogian blog may seem like a strange decision. And yet, here it is. My predecessor on the city desk, Ted Reinert, started this blog before he left for greener pastures, but he wasn't much of a blogger, and thus never posted more than a couple things on it. I'll try to do a little better.

I'm not going to write any originally content for the 20th District blog (let's be honest, I don't have the time or the energy for that). Instead, it will serve as a repository for the wealth of press releases that I receive from the Gillibrand and Treadwell camps. Any release that makes it's way into my in box (and, as previously noted, there are a lot of them), will be posted on the blog.

In these tough times it can be difficult for a small paper to cover so many elections at once. This is me trying to do a little for you.

Monday, September 22

City Desk?

Well, here I am on my first night of lay out duty. So far, everything is going swimmingly. I'm just putting the finishing touches on tomorrow's front page, and will soon start doing a bit of proof reading. It's probably not a bad thing for a newspaper man to be exposed to this side of the paper's operation. After all, I'm sure I'll come away from this experience with a better understanding of why the copy desk sometimes gets on my case when I come back fro ma late meeting and push their deadline.

Otherwise, it's been a pretty quiet day. Not a peep from City Hall, which I suppose is a good thing. Hopefully I haven't missed a big story by while staying in isolation here...

If I have, feel free to post information in the comments!

Sunday, September 21

Saratoga Homestead

For today's post, please visit my other blog, Good Bye Blue Mondays.

Saturday, September 20

Treadwell's PR Machine

Sandy Treadwell, GOP candidate for the New York 20th Congressional district, has, without a doubt, the bussiest PR machine I have yet encountered in the political races that I've covered. His near-daily press releases are sometimes reminiscent of the daily press releases we're used to receiving from the NYRA people during the track season... "Come to the track today, there's a really exciting ice cream eating contest/hat show/beer garden/hot dog eating contest/free T-shirts/new widget/etc..."

And by saying this, I mean no disrespect. Certainly, Treadwell is offering powerful evidence that he will stay ontop of issues, if elected. I do get a similar amount of material from U.S. Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand, who is running to keep her seat, but she has the advantage of being a congresswoman, and can therefore issue press release on things she's doing in congress. In addition, she has a separate PR machine for her race and her campaign.

Treadwell, who is not in congress, is left to write press releases on issues. He clearly has a lot of ideas, but he sometimes gets stuck in his desire to wail again Gillibrand, and looses his message in the process. Recently, Treadwell has been VERY down on U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel. Of course, he's got to reason to be down on Rangel, but because of the amount of press he's putting out on Rangel, I almost forgot who Treadwell's opponent is.

In the press release I've pasted below, he doesn't even mention his opponent until the last setence. At this point, I think it's safe to say Treadwell is beating a dead horse. New York is far away. And, what is a rent controlled apartment anyway?

Rangel Watch - Day 13

Rangel Gets Offensive, But New York Pols Do Nothing

Halfmoon, NY: The following is a statement from Sandy Treadwell, Republican, Independence and Conservative Party candidate for the 20th Congressional District:

"The failure of leading New Yorkers to ask Charles Rangel to step aside in the wake of admitting to evading federal income taxes, accepting a no-interest loan from a wealthy contributor, and having four rent controlled apartments is unfortunate and another indication of how deeply flawed the political culture on both sides of the aisle has become. And now that tacit support of Rangel’s glib attitude has manifested itself in deeply offensive remarks made with respect to Governor Sarah Palin.

“Unfortunately, this is not some contrived ‘brouhaha’ as Mayor Bloomberg suggests. It’s a serious pattern of abuse and privilege that should not be tolerated. The ambivalence and acceptance toward this kind of behavior is deeply troubling. And now as Congress wrestles with a trillion dollar bailout of our financial institutions the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee has become a sideshow issuing self righteous denials and insulting remarks while at the same time throwing up his hands in the face of crisis. The American people deserve better. They deserve strong leadership they can trust.

“I'm calling on Charles Rangel to step aside not because he's a Democrat and not because I question his commitment to serve New Yorkers and his country. It is simply about what is right and what is wrong at this time of crisis in our country. Americans have the right to expect that a man who writes the tax code will abide by the tax code. Our families work hard and they have the right to expect that their representatives play by the same rules that they do. And that the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee can focus on the financial crisis rather than his own self-induced ethics troubles.

“I once again urge Kirsten Gillibrand to return campaign contributions raised by Congressman Rangel, reject his deeply offensive remarks, and join me in calling for him to step down as Chairman of Ways and Means while the House Ethics Committee investigates his actions.”

Wednesday, September 17

A ride for missing children

This is something different, a bicycle ride to raise awareness for missing children. I find this interesting, especially in light of school regulations in Saratoga Springs that prohibit children from riding bikes to school. Interesting that bikes -- apparently a danger to kids -- could be used to promote children's safety. Now, if only we could get the schools to smarten up.

No post tomorrow or Friday, I'll be back in the office and on the blog Saturday and Sunday. Have a good end of the week!

Greater Capital District

Ride for Missing Children – 2008

On behalf of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), we introduce to you the inaugural Ride for Missing Children-Greater Capital District: Friday, September 26, 2008.

The purpose of “The Ride” is:

· To honor the memory of all missing children

· To raise public awareness of the plight of all missing and exploited children and the need for child safety education

· To raise funds to support the missing children poster distribution process and mission of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children – New York/Mohawk Valley (NCMEC-NY/Mohawk Valley).

Since September 1995, NCMEC/NY/Mohawk Valley has distributed over 5.2 million posters of 3,603 missing children. 2,153 of those children have been “successfully recovered” !!!

The route for The Ride – 2008 will span 100-miles around the Greater Capital District Region in which we will visit several local schools to bring our message of child safety and abduction prevention. We will start at the University at Albany’s SEFCU Arena and visit elementary schools in Voorheesville, Ravena – Coeymans - Selkirk, Coxsackie – Athens, and Greenville school districts, and also visit children at the Bethlehem YMCA. We will return to Albany for our ride down Madison Avenue, ending above the State Museum, where the Missing Persons’ Remorial was built “to light their way home”.

We Ride 100-miles in one day, as one long unified team of Riders, riding 2 x 2 escorted by The New York State Police and local law enforcement of the jurisdictions through which we ride. The Ride stops at schools for educational Rest Stops, with “Silent Tributes” to missing children, recovered children, and fallen officers along the way.

Together we will work toward our mission:
to make our children safer …one child at a time.

Tuesday, September 16

Council civil at workshop

Space in the paper is tight, so I didn't get a chance to write about tonight's workshop on the revised RFP for the development of the city-owned land on High Rock Avenue.

I was able to stay for a bout 40 minutes of the discussion, which focused mostly on the relative merits of seeking LEED certification for the new public safety building. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a set of standards used to evaluate new buildings whose developers want to make a "green" statement. Things like geo-thermal heating, rain-water use/re-use, and solar panels are just a few of many items that can help a building achieve one level of LEED certification. The idea is that additional construction costs will be offset by savings on building operation/maintinance costs.

The proposed building designed by LaBella Associates under a previous RFP would have meet the minimum standards for LEED certification, and Commissioner of Public Safety Ron Kim asked the council this evening if they wanted to include such a requirement in the new RFP.

The problem with LEED is that in addition to higher construction costs, applying for and recieving the actual certification can be extremely costly. There are some state grant funds availabe, but they aren't easy to get.

So discussion tonight, for part of tonight, anyway, centered on whether it was worth pursing certification, or if it was good enough to build a green building that could, in theory, be LEED certified, but not actually go through the application process.

Ultimately, the council decided to include language in the RFP that indicated a desire to be green, but left open to developers whether or not they would actually propose to seek LEED certification.

After that was settle, there was some wrangling over which commissioner's name would be attached to the RFP. Then I had to leave.

It was very nice to see the council having a productive conversation and getting stuff done, and prior to the meeting, at least two members of the public said as much, also referencing last week's capital budget program, which the council passed unanimously after some amendments. However, at last night's workshop, there were still some overtones about who had made mistakes in the past, and who hadn't worked will with the council. It seems there are still some skeletons in the closet, even if the council is not getting stuff done.

Monday, September 15

The REAL economic crisis

So, it seems that the stock market took a slide today. Bummer. According to The Times, the slide amount to a 4.4% decline in the market. However, the mainstream news media is overlooking an economic crisis that will effect everyday people much more than the stock market's continued ruminations.

And it is this:
Last week, the price of candy in our office vending machine jumped up a mind-blowing 17% in a matter of minutes. Suddenly, my daily M&M fix is going to cost me 90 cents, up from 85 cents. I don't own much stock, having used most of my investments to pay for college (thank god this recession didn't come two years ago!), but I do eat a lot of M&Ms.

This is the big story. Reports have indicated that prices at area retailers have increased even more, to as much as $1.09 at some establishments. And THAT, is the real economic crisis.

Sunday, September 14

Sunday Smorgasboard

Is it just me, or have I been writing a whole lot about the city Democratic Committee lately?

Well, here's some news from the decidedly less dramatic city GOP Committee:

The Saratoga Springs Republican Committee (Thursday) night elected its officers for the next two year term. John Herrick was re-elected Chairman of the Committee, and will be joined by Michael Perkins as Vice Chairman, Mike Cummings as Treasurer and Donna Martin as Secretary.

"I am honored to be re-elected as Chairman of our committee and it is my goal to continue the great successes that we have had over the last two years," said Herrick. "We have a great team of hard workers in place and we are all 100% committed to getting more Republicans elected, particularly Matt Dorsey, Roy McDonald and Sandy Treadwell during this election cycle."

Herrick and Cummings were re-elected to their posts, while Perkins and Martin, both active members of the committee, are new to their elected positions.

Press release courtesy of GOP spokesman Andrew Mangini.

In other news, my colleague Ben Arnold over at Disutopia of Saratoga Springs, has a very astute analysis of the Democrat for Change sweep of the council during last Tuesday's primary. I highly recommend giving it a read.

Finally, I feel that I should let the public know that beginning some time later this week I will temporarily vacating the city desk (the physical city desk, not digital one). With some staffing changes here at the office, my services are going to be needed for the next few weeks over on the copy desk. (Curse you lay out skills, I rue the day I ever learned Quark.).

During this time, which unfortunately coincides with the busiest and most interesting period of the political year, I will do my absolute best to keep up with this blog, but don't be surprised or alarmed if posts here contain a few more links to the outside, and a few less witty lines. (Oh yes, I'm still deluding myself into thinking that I'm witty.) Sorry to kick the week off on such a down note, but I didn't think it was write to spring the bad news on you later. Happy Monday!

Thursday, September 11

Budget vote

Personally, I'm much more excited for tomorrow's vote on the proposed capital budget than I was for last Tuesday's primary. I think the meeting should have it all: comedy, drama, the bliss of victory AND the agony of defeat. Hopefully there won't be any violence.

Be there, Friday at 2 p.m., City Council room.

Wednesday, September 10


Here's something different:

Why would such "vandals" be so motivated to repeat the same action over and over again and risk arrest at the home of Saratoga racing? Maybe we should try to understand the message they may be trying to send. I read that they only target replicas of horses and they only focus on the legs.
In your article, the employee of the MASIE Center said it very well. "The back two legs are broken. ... We are going to try to get him back to as much of the original condition as possible".
This is no problem when you're "a horse sculpture". What if you're not "a horse sculpture" but one of God's creatures who breaks only one leg at the race track? Do you "get him back to as much of the original condition as possible" or just kill the creature and rush back to the fun and games?
I believe these "vandals" are trying to send a message. That's my comment.
Dennis Karius
Guilderland, NY

Tuesday, September 9

Election Night

Woo! What a rush. After my indecision yesterday, I made up for it today by going to the poll, and not voting for any of the city races.

A glitch with the County Board of Election's web-based reporting system notwithstanding, election night seemed to go pretty well. Election Day is another story, there were reportedly problems with the state's new ballot marking machines, which were put in place primarily for disabled voters, but were available for anyone who doesn't feel comfortable that lever or electronic machines used in other parts of the county are recording votes accurately.

Now that the results are in, I can honestly say that I'm shocked that the Democrats for Change took nearly all of the seats on the city Democratic Committee. Honestly, I was convinced that the party would remain split.

Other results are not shocking at all. Roy McDonald won the GOP primary to succeed Joe Bruno? No Way! Mike Russo won the Democratic Primary? Again, I'm shocked.

I'm now going to take a five minute breather before gearing up for November's general election.

Monday, September 8

The primary is nearly here....




Serenity now...

The primary is now merely 13 hours away. I returned home to an unprecedented amount political junk mail this afternoon. It seems that Democrats from the United Democrats and Democrats for Change each think they can win control of the city committee by filling voter's mailboxes with waste paper. It's not a race for votes, it's a race to kill trees.

The interesting thing for me has been realizing that I have no idea of who to vote for in any of the races, and I think (I hope), that I know a little more about the races than the average voter, as a result of my coverage of the races. After the amount of blah campaigning, letters in The Saratogian, and various absurd allegations, I'm equally underwhelmed by candidates from both parties in pretty much all of the races.

So, on this, the eve of primary day, I don't have any advice for voters who might remain undecided, not in any of the races. Every one is a politician, and every one has run a political campaign, and no one has emerged with their message wholly intact or pure. And that, I suppose, is politics as usual.

In any event, I hope the primary's coming (and going) will bring us some serenity, at least until the Presidential Campaign kicks into high gear.

Friday, September 5

BONUS: Special Friday Post

I'm politicked-out.

Instead, I thought you internet crawlers might enjoy the opportunity to pigeon-hole yourselves based on the type of comments you proffer on various blogs.

Read the various guidelines here.

No post Sunday, see you on Monday.

Thursday, September 4

Signs of election season

We're at T-minus four days to the 2008 primary, and the electioneering is in full swing. Here are the top ten sings that we're in election season:

1) The only thing turning faster than the leaves are members of the Democratic Party rushing to find their friends.

2) People who are usually candid start spouting meaningless rhetoric and double talk.

3) Lawn signs sprout like spring has come late.

4) Your mailbox is stuffed with political junk mail, in addition to the regular junk mail.

5) Candidates for public office start popping up in odd place, like on your door step. Or the police station.

6) Politicos seeking various offices seek out any opportunity to remind the opposition that they don't like the opposition. Public meetings, farmers' market, open mic night at Cafe Lena, etc...

7) Newspapers publish candidates' answers to generic questionnaires in lieu of actually doing time-consuming analysis.

8) The mud flies often, in every direction, and without reason.

9) There is an uptick in sneakers sales as candidates pound the pavement and wear through their shoes.

10) Suddenly, everyone has to pick a side, and it's much more complicated than choosing
between blue and red. No waffling allowed here!

Wednesday, September 3

DEC investigates DPW

I wrote about this back in August. But I thought it was time for an update. The DEC met with the city's counsel (outside counsel, not the City Attorney) some time last week. Mayor Johnson said today that there was no conclusion, and the discussions are still ongoing. This all relates to a hydraulic oil spill back in Feb. 2007, for which the city could face some fines.

Johnson said he hoped the matter would be resolved soon, and that the city would be exonerated. He did not indicate when any future meetings would take place. However, Johnson did offer greater-than-usual insight into the legal machinations of the city government at the City Council meeting, when he said, prior to going into executive session, that the council would be discussing matters including the potential DEC fine. Of course, the council took no action after the session. That's all I know right now, but I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, September 2

Into the fray

So, I've been away for a few days. Did you miss me?

Let me first apologize for my unannounced and protracted absence. I was ill on Thursday, and then I was off for the holiday weekend on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. That gets us to today. I am very much back at work.

Today, work involved sitting in City Council while Commissioner Kim voiced his stringent objections to a proposed capital budget program that leaves not one cent for his proposed public safety building. He's certainly got a right to be pissed. I'd be angry to if I'd worked tirelessly to plan a project, and suddenly my funding was cut. But, that aside, I'm not sure how his impassioned objections will help secure funding for the proposed infrastructure.

If I were Kim, I would have focused instead on thanking the council for giving me $400,000 to buy land for, and plan a third fire station. But commissioner Kim has never been on for conciliation. During the pubic comment period he made a public plea for anyone to email him with opinions on the capital budget program, and whether or not they agree with it. I'm interested to hear what kind of a response he gets.

Commissioner Kim's email address is: Feel free to cc me on any emails sent to him:

See you tomorrow!