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

Tuesday, February 24

Yes, we are still talking about the recreation center

I'm fresh off of writing about a letter from Commissioner Ron Kim and a counter-press release from Commissioner Kenneth Ivins.

What are the two officials writing about? The recreation center, of course.

Despite that the council approved a construction contract last week, the issues is building is still an issue in the community. Don't believe me?

Two stories I wrote about it last week are continuing to get large numbers of comments on our website. The stories are here and here. As usual, the comments run the gamut of poor taste, enjoy.

Of course, there is also an ongoing lawsuit. Stay tuned on that one.

Meanwhile, the council will discuss the proposed public safety building and the related issue of paid parking at a special meeting tomorrow at 7 p.m. in the Music Hall. While it seems that the recreation center is going forward, the Public Safety facility is not yet a done deal, and while the council was moving toward an encouraging consensus in that regard back in December, nerves seemed to have become significantly more frayed since then. We'll have to see what comes out of tomorrow's meeting.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrew J Bernstein:

Why do city officials and Saratogian reporters keep getting hung up on the word "bonded"? Why can't the city and the press simply say that the city borrowed money to build a recreation center and now wants to use it to build a public safety center instead?

If the lenders don't agree that the money can be used for a different purpose, pay off the loans and take out new ones.

Finance Commissioner Ivins and Mayor Johnson say that will cost millions of dollars. Obviously, that's wrong. It doesn't cost millions of dollars to pay off a $6 million loan and then borrow the same amount again. Thousands, maybe. Millions, no.

February 25, 2009 at 7:27 AM 
Blogger Andrew J. Bernstein said...

anon 7:27 a.m.:

For your information, "bonding" money is different than "borrowing." Borrowing implies a loan offered by a financial institution, whereas a bond is a physical note that can be purchased by anyone. While the function is similar, it is not the same thing.

As far as the exact cost of repaying the bonds and floating new ones, as you know, there are two different beliefs: one is that it would be exorbitantly expensive to recall the bonds. The other is that it could be done relatively cheaply.

I am in the process of getting in touch with an expert who might be able to shed more definitive (and impartial) light on it. Keep watching the paper for the answer.

February 25, 2009 at 2:28 PM 
Anonymous Kyle York said...


Your POST had a major TYPOST--



Be there...
or read Tom's take.

-Kyle York
Meeting. People.

February 25, 2009 at 5:08 PM 
Blogger Andrew J. Bernstein said...

We've already talked about this in person, but just for the record, the 7 p.m. time was a reference to when the council was expected to begin discussion of the development. As you now know, from sitting there, this did turn out to be correct.

February 25, 2009 at 9:55 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrew J Bernstein:

Your explanation of the difference between bonding and borrowing is total baloney.

You say a bond is a "physical note that can be purchased by anyone." What do you think a borrower signs when he/she/it borrows from a financial institution? That's right: a promissory note, a mortgage bond, a loan agreement, or some other legal document, or "physical note," that's legally known as a negotiable instrument the lender has a right to sell to anyone who offers to take it off the lender's hands.

Plain and simple, a bond is just a promise to repay a loan. Nothing more, nothing less.

Stop paying attention to Ken Ivins' mumbo jumbo and use some common sense.

February 25, 2009 at 11:12 PM 
Blogger Andrew J. Bernstein said...

anon 11:12:

It's OK if you don't like my explanation, but the bottom line is that this is not a matter of common sense or a matter of semantics, a bond and a loan are two different types of financial instruments (albeit similar in function). Had the City taken out a "loan" on the recreation center, we would be talking about loans, but they didn't. They floated bonds.

Here's some more information:

Bond defintion:

Loan definition:

Some discussion on the difference between the two and their comparative merits:

February 26, 2009 at 9:43 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrew J Bernstein:

Good homework, you busy little beaver! You're right. There's a difference between a bond and a loan, just like there's a difference between a Ford and a Chevy, a house and a condo, a Coke or a Pepsi, but the differences are a lot less than what they have in common.

Don't be fooled by Ivins' b.s. Using bond proceeds is no more complicated than using loan proceeds. Any reasonably competent bookkeeper can figure it out. Our problem is that it's still way too complicated for Ivins. He's a financial illiterate, and it's up to the Saratogian to bring his shortcomings to the public's attention.

February 26, 2009 at 9:32 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrew J Bernstein:

Good job!

On Feb 25th you wrote that you were in the process of getting in touch with an expert who could shed more light on the subject of paying off the loan.

In the March 1st paper, the Saratogian published Mark Lawton's Reader's View, which explained clearly that paying off the loan is no big deal, it won't hurt the city' credit rating, it's the right thing to do, and Ken Ivins knows it.

Please keep the spotlight on Ivins, Johnson, and Franck. They've been hiding behind the supposed difficulty of retiring the bond as an excuse for ramming through the unpopular recreation center that keeps running into more serius difficulties because they refuse to obey the law. Now that their lies have been exposed, it's up to the local paper to keep the heat on them.

March 1, 2009 at 2:20 PM 

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