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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, March 31

20th CD - live blog over

Well, I think things are winding down here in the newsroom. Keyboards were clacking furiously a little while ago, and editors are getting flustered as they finish up pages past our deadline. I'm attending to some Web-related odds and ends for tomorrow.

Nothing new to report right now, so I think we'll call this live blog event over and a success, at least in terms of traffic to the blog. Hopefully you all enjoyed it and it served a good supplement to whatever you may have been watching on TV.

Thanks everyone for reading and, again, if you were trying to leave comments, apologies I couldn't get to them. We'll be better coordinated next time.

It'll be interesting to see how the national media handles this story.

20th CD - too close?

Tedisco is addressing his supporters right now. It has the tone of a "too close to call" address. However, he said he's confident that, despite the millions spent by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, that "when the smoke clears" he'll emerge the victor.

Cue dramatic music.

Photo by EMILY DONOHUE/The Saratogian, by the way.

This puts us in a heck of a quandary, though, as our deadline looms and Murphy, according to Andrew, still hasn't put out in an appearance.

At this point, as of Saratogian press time, it may just be too close to call...

Update, 10:58 p.m. - Emily's made it back and Andrew is staying put to grab some comments from Scott Murphy, who was just introduced by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. It's gonna be another "too close to call" speech, though.

Update, 11:08 p.m. - Andrew's on his way back into the office. Photographer Ed Burke is probably burning rubber getting back here too, as he stuck around for a "drive by" photo when Murphy came out.

Again, looks like this one's going to be decided in the coming days.

20th CD - results continue

An update from our reporter Emily, who talked to Young Republican Josh Reed of Albany. The group worked hard in Saratoga County, he said. Today they were out in Saratoga Springs and, by some stroke of luck it seems, "We were knocking primarily on Republican doors."

Phil Kline, former Saratoga Springs supervisor, said "Both candidates made an excellent effort to get the vote out," and added that the negative ads and the phone calls people have been complaining about are "the nature of the beast."

"It's a very spirited and short campaign and I think we spent too much money, but again that's the nature of the beast," Kline said.

Emily also talked to Shelly the bartender, who told her beer was the most popular beverage of choice this evening at the Holiday Inn. Shelly said it's the second time working a Republican campaign event (the other was in November, of course) and that Republicans are good tippers.

Andrew just called in with an update, but I told him to call back in a few.

A glance at the TV results showed Murphy may be pulling ahead. It's getting interesting.

By the way, I was looking at the blog traffic, and it's through the roof. Thanks for reading, everyone! More to come.

20th CD - antsy photog

The Saratogian's chief photographer, Rick Gargiulo, just checked in from the Tedisco party to see if he should head back in. Tedisco hasn't made an appearance yet, and he doesn't expect him to for some time.

His concern, of course, is the early deadline the newspaper is saddled with. 11:30 p.m. is the absolute latest we can send pages out to the printer.

I told him to stay put and call back in 20 minutes. That was 10 minutes ago.

20th CD - links to county results

Here's links to election results as reported by boards of elections in the counties that comprise the 20th Congressional District:

Greene, Columbia, Warren, Washington, Delaware, Dutchess, Essex (pdf), Otsego, Saratoga and Rensselaer

Looks like Columbia and Delaware counties aren't putting results online immediately. Remember, all results are unofficial.

By the way, if any of you are leaving comments, I'm not entirely sure I can access them. I know Andrew approves each comment that is left on this blog, and I haven't had too much time to figure out if I can do so, too. In that respect I feel like we're flying blind with this whole endeavor. Wild.

Alas the fate of a mere contributor such as myself.

20th CD - Tedisco camp confident

Got a call from Andrew, who's worried he picked the wrong horse's campaign party to go to (he wanted to be at the victor's).

Emily Donohue talked to Saratoga Couny Republican Committee chairman Jasper Nolan over at the Holiday Inn, who said of Murphy: "He'd have to win by 2,000 or 3,000 votes to make us worried. I think that Jimmie [Tedisco] did a great job. He did everything he could."

Nolan said he's confident there will be no answer tonight as to who the winner in the race is, and that the end result will come down to absentee ballots.

Emily also ran into a group of kids from Generation Joshua, a pro-life Christian organization aimed at getting young people interested in politics. The group sent up 51 kids from all over NY.

Iain Armstong, 15, of Port Jervis, said that even though he's not from the district and too young to vote, he supports Tedisco because he is pro-home schooling and Iain is home-schooled.

Emily also said she chatted with a few inebriated women at the party and added, "Everyone's enjoying stuffed mushrooms and wine here. Swedish meatballs, too."

Update: 9:55 p.m. - Emily talked to Tom Tedisco, Jim's brother, who said he's very optimistic. He hadn't spoken with his brother today. "He's going at a devilish pace," he said of the candidate.

"I don't even think he slept last night," Tom Tedisco added. Given that Tedisco was working the "Night Shift" on his "Miles for the Middle Class" tour, that's probably true.

Tom said he's been helping Jim campaign for 30 years, but added this race "is a big step forward for Jim" because of the national profile.

While standing in the doorway to the party, Emily said she observed a rather frazzled gentleman enter and mutter, "I picked a hell of a night to quite smoking." Looks that way, buddy.

Meanwhile, over at the Gideon: Larry Bulman, the Democratic county chairman, had this to say about the race results: "Too close to call! Saratoga, I feel like I'm at the racetrack."

20th CD - reporters en route

The reporters have scattered and I await my first update via the telephone.

It strikes me this would be a good instance for our reporters to be using Twitter, despite my dubious, negative feelings about the whole thing. More on that in an upcoming post at my own blog, Tangled in Wires.

And there it is! Andrew popped into the Holiday Inn to introduce our newest reporter, Emily Donohue, to a few folks. He called to tell me that Tedisco spokesman Adam Kramer said his man appears to be leading in three election districts in Greene County.

And yes, if you look at results posted on the Greene County Board of Elections site, currently Tedisco has a 567 to 453 lead over Murphy with three of 36 machines (8 percent) out of 52 districts in the county.

Andrew's heading over to the Gideon Putnam and Murphy's campaign party now.

Stay tuned, folks.

UPDATE, 9:23 p.m. - Results are pouring in. If you click the link to the Greene Co. BOE above, or the Saratoga Co. BOE here, you'll see the numbers going up and up. So far, Tedisco's winning in both counties.

20th CD - Skidmore intimidation update

Andrew has returned from Skidmore, and he says reports of voter intimidation are mostly unfounded.

Here's how he explained it to me: A Republican poll watcher, armed with a list of all student voters who had ORIGINALLY registered elsewhere (you know, their hometowns around the state/country) before they had registered here in Saratoga Springs, was challenging nearly every student, asserting they couldn't vote because they had originally registered elsewhere.

Poll inspectors on hand determined, by consulting with the County Board of Elections, that as long as a voter's name is in the poll book, they are allowed to vote at the voting machine, regardless of where else they might be registered. Of course, that the students cast their votes does not rule out the possibility of a challenge later on.

Two Democratic poll watchers were called in to keep things on the up-and-up, including Rich Kinney, an attorney and member of the state democratic committee, who said that since he's arrived at the poll, around 10 a.m., a few students had been required to vote by affidavit, but that voting was otherwise going along smoothly.

Sam Solomon, a first year student and Saratoga Springs native (and Caroline St. School alum, he said) was among those required to vote by affidavit. He said his registration had changed because he voted by absentee ballot in the last election, but added that the affidavit was not a big obstacle.

Apparently, there was another incident at Skidmore in which people conducting campaign activities on campus, and were told to scram, even though they were safely outside the poll's 100-foot cordon. Never a dull moment. When the proximity issue was resolved, canvassers returned in an effort to get out the vote. I'm not sure which party was responsible, but if I were a betting man, I'd say the canvassers were more likely blue than red.

As of 7 p.m., about 165 votes had been cast, in addition to 10 affidavits.

20th CD - tick tock

Obviously this is a waiting game until polls close at 9 p.m. and results start coming in shortly thereafter.

I'm bored already. No, I jest. But at least I've got some time to attend to various odds and ends while I sit here.

Of course, the other big news today is the state budget process, which has been delayed due to a state senator from the Bronx falling ill. Here vote will be crucial in passing the state budget no one seems fond of. We'll see how that develops tonight, as well.

20th CD live blog underway

Ok. With a crack of the knuckles, here we go. Sorry if I get pizza crumbs on your desk, Andrew.

In fact, I ran into Andrew in the parking lot about 20 minutes ago. He was on his way up to Skidmore College to check out reports of voter intimidation. We'll let you know if anything surfaces.

Eventually he's going to make his way over to the Gideon Putnam and Scott Murphy's campaign party. Speaking of Murphy, he popped his head into Uncommon Grounds, where I'd been killing time for a few hours before heading back in here. He was doing some last minute meet and greet, presumably to urge the errant voter who's already settled into a relaxing evening in the coffee shop to get up, head to their polling place and pull the lever.

He didn't come say hello to me, though. Of course, I was in the back, reading a book, and he didn't come close enough to see me, hunkered down as I was. I was just fine with that.

By the by, has been live blogging all day about the race.

Our newest team member, Emily Donohue, will be heading over to the Holiday Inn in a bit to insert herself into the Tedisco campaign party. I know she's wondering if she'll end up hearing a concession speech tonight. Will she? Stay tuned.

20th CD results Live Blog tonight

Steve here. The end to the special election for the 20th Congressional District of New York is in sight.

Tonight I'll be taking up another extended stay at the City Desk blog to provide updates about race results and goings-on at the two campaign parties.

Jim Tedisco will be at the Holiday Inn on Broadway and Scott Murphy at the Gideon Putnam. We'll have reporters at both places, phoning in quotes, commentary and observations. I'll be putting those up right here as soon as I get them, so be sure to check back.

I think the real fun here will begin sometime after 8:30 when our reporters head over to the different parties to get the lay of the land before polls close and results start coming in, but check in periodically before then as we may have things to put up prior.

Monday, March 30

Jim Tedisco and the Planning Board

Three items of business today:

1) I will be guest on C-SPAN's Washington Journal tomorrow morning at 9:30, talking about the election. Make sure to tune in!

2) It seems that Assembly Minority Leader and Congressional Candidate Jim Tedisco has taken a stand on Beaver Pond Village, the proposed 85-lot subdivision proposed for Geyser Crest.

In a March 29 letter to Planning Board Chair Clifford Van Wagner, Tedisco expresses concerns about the project, pertaining mostly to the sensitivity of the environment, and the process of environmental review it went through.

Here's the letter's best paragraph:
"It is not my usual practice to intervene in local planning board issues, except in those rare cases, such as this, where the quality of life of existing area residents is about to be substantially and irreversibly altered. I urge you and your board members to re-review the record and seriously consider the substantial negative impact final approval will have on the residents of Geyser Crest before approving any findings."

A letter accompanying this letter, written by Democrat Hank Kuczynski said the move is an attempt on Tedisco's part to garner support among Geyser Crest residents. Could be, for sure. But what's interesting is that most of the Planning Board is Republican, and while I wouldn't say that the project's progress through the planning process has been politically motivated, I would say that it's been exhaustive in the review area.

While further review might be necessary, I don't think a state assemblyman needed to tell that to Van Wagner.

3) Our website now requires readers to register their email address before leaving comments (nasty or otherwise). We join the Times Union and Post Star in doing so, and I, for one, hope that it will curb some of the abuse we've seen on the web of late.

That's all. Don't forget to vote tomorrow!

Friday, March 27

Strange happenings

I man claiming to be named George Miller, who said he works in the snack industry in New York City just called me, apparently to shoot the political shit.

Although Miller claimed to have no affiliation with any political body other than being a registered republican, he seemed keen on pressing upon me the idea that upstate voters ought to give Tedisco a chance.

What, exactly, he thought call me would do to help, I'm not sure. It would be one thing if he were complaining (as some have) that my reporting on the race is biased against Tedisco, but he wasn't saying that at all. Rather, he said that my stories have been very balanced.

Thanks, George!

However, George and many reader should look forward to The Saratogian's endorsement of one of the candidates, which will be in Sunday's news section.

Happy weekend!

Thursday, March 26

winding down...

I just noticed how much taller Murphy is than Tedisco. Quite shocking. They were seated at the previous debate I attended.

Also, I wish I'd kept a tally of how many times Murphy mentioned Barrack Obama's name, and Kirsten Gillirand's name.

We're now into closing statements.

Leigh Hornbeck, of the Times Union, was rightly complaining that watching on the TV is like watching it on TV is like watching it at home. BUT, I don't have a TV at home, so for me, this is a treat!

A funny feature of this debate is a "red card," which either candidate can hold up at any time, and it allows them to interject a 90-second rebuttal at any time. Tedisco was the first to pull his, and used the time to point out that Murphy was dodging the issue of whether or not he knowingly supported a bill that allowed AIG bonuses, etc..

Live from the Holiday Inn...

Checking in from the Holiday Inn. We're about nine minutes out from the beginning of the final congressional debate.

The media here is all in a tizzy, because we're being kept out of the room in which the debate is taking place. Instead, we're in a side room, watching the debate the same way viewers at home are watching the debate: on a TV.

Some woman, I think she's from the Associated Press, is making a fuss to Murphy spokesman Ryan Rudominer, who, of course, doesn't have anything to do with putting is "in the closet." That's all Channel 9, which is sponsoring this debate. They, I guess, have exclusive rights to be in the room.

In response, three other TV networks walked out from the debate.

Pretty ridiculous.

No promises, but I'll try to check in again during the debate.

Wednesday, March 25

When it rains, it pours...

It was a good day for Mayor Scott Johnson and his proposed recreation center.

All in one day, the lawsuit pending against the building was overturned by judge Thomas Nolan, and the ZBA granted area variances for the center.

The ZBA vote, which was 6-1, nearly served as a referendum on the project, as the City Council did not need the land use board's approval for the project, and Johnson sent it there anyway, possibly in hopes that he will have more ammunition to go to the public and say the project has proper approval.

In other words, the ruling should silence some of the critics.


Steve again.

In a move clearly meant to counter Neil Golub's endorsement of Jim Tedisco (see below), President Obama has endorsed Scott Murphy in the race for the 20th Congressional District.

Tuesday, March 24

Grocery list: Milk, bread, produce, Jim Tedisco

Steve here.

Of course Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand would take to the TV airwaves to endorse Scott Murphy for her old seat in the Assembly, as can be seen in the ad below:

What I find surprising is that Neil Golub, president, founder and guru of Price Chopper supermarkets, took to the airwaves to support Jim Tedisco. Note: I'm not surprised he's supporting Tedisco, just that he took to the airwaves to support him. In wide screen!

Personally, I want my groceries and my politics to remain separate. It should be written into the Constitution.

Note to Danny Wegman: Come to the Capital Region.

Monday, March 23

From the scanner

Often times, the most interesting part of my day is listening to the police scanner, which sit on my desk, in the center of the newsroom.

Occasionally, we'll get something substantive from the scanner, such as the night Gary VanNess went on the lam from Four Winds. Other times, it's edge-of-the-seat stuff, like when state police put APBs for dangerous, armed fugitives from justice thought to be making their way up I87, on the way to Canada, or when police report shots fired in Schenectady.

Most of the time, it's pretty mundane stuff, like heart attacks, false alarms, and that sort of thing. At the moment, I'm listening to a dispatcher advising sheriff's deputies to investigate a report of ATVs in a gravel pit, doubtless disturbing the tranquility up in Greenfield.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, March 21

Murphy and schools

With this week's run on blog topics, here's one that I nearly forgot to write about. On Wednesday, Scott Murphy called a press conference at the Shen school district in Clifton Park, where he was slated to talk about aid for school contained in Obama's recovery bill.

The only problem? The high school at Shen is one building in an enormous complex, and political campaigning is not permitted on school grounds. If Shen were similar to most other schools, Murphy could have safely stood "in front" of the high school, while keeping both feet planted solidly on non-school grounds. Not at Shen.

At Shen, Murphy, his aids, suporters, and the bevy of reporters who trundled out to hear the stump speach, were forced to relocate off of school grounds before Murphy began the event.

Shen security was on hand, mostly, it seemed, to ensure that the dozens of vehicle parked on the side of their access road didn't cause an traffic problems, but one also has to wonder if word to vacate school grounds came from security, or if the Murphy campaign itself realized their perilous perch on school grounds. A WNYT reporter annoyed all the other reporters at the press conference by houding the issue of who had caused the relocation. While it was a mildly interesting point, it didn't really have much to do with the substance of the press conference.

Dr. Oliver Robinson, superintendent of the distrirct was also on hand, and said that he had only learned of the press conference through the media. While he did make sure to introduce himself to the candidate, he was careful to keep his distnace during the conference, so as not to create the appearance of any kindf of partisanship on his part.

In the end, I don't think the press conference's location bothered anybody (aside from the WNYT reporter), but I sure hope the Murphy campaign will be more careful in selecting future locations.

Friday, March 20

Congressional campaign finance

For a 45-day election, the race for the 20th CD is certainly costing a lot. Check out my story in tomorrow's paper for the full details, but thus far, the political costs of this race are exceeding $2 million, including about $1.3 spent so far by the candidates.

The rest of the funds being spent by national political organizations in DC.

Voters will remember the last time the 20th CD was up for election -- last November -- as the costliest congressional race in the nation, with candidates spending more than $10 million between them.

On election night, shortly after receiving a concession call from Treadwell, Gillibrand said she regretted the cost needed to get the message out to voters.

The question this time around might very well be, which candidate will spend enough?

Thursday, March 19

Open meeting law and executive sessions

Since this is Sunshine Week, I thought I should do a post on open government issues.

Every so often, I'll get a call, email, or blog post that worries that Mayor Scott Johnson is violating state Open Meeting Laws when he and other members of the City Council vote in executive session to hire attorneys to manage litigation on behalf of the city. As anyone who frequents City Council meetings knows, this council makes a habit of deciding to hire attorneys behind closed doors.

Earlier today, I put a call in to Bob Freeman, chairman of the state Committee on Open Government, to asked him about the practice.

The answer is: The council is allowed to make certain decisions in executive session, especially those pertaining to litigation. The council is not allowed to vote to appropriate funds in session, but they may expend funds already appropriated.

As the Mayor's Department's budget includes a line for outside council, the funds are already appropriated, and therefore, the council is acting legally when it votes to expend those funds in Executive Session.

For anyone curious about the letter of law, you can find it here. Scroll down to see the section that deals specifically with executive sessions.

Wednesday, March 18

From this key board to the floor of congress

Earlier today, I received a phone call from Tom Torgesen, the Democrat running as a write-in candidate in the race for the 20th Congressional District.

This time, Torgesen was not calling on his plans, should be be elected, but on an issue much closer to home. It seems that Torgesen sees a need for affordable housing here in Saratoga Springs, and was calling in reference to the Planning Board's decision last week to issue a negative advisory opinion on the proposed "Rail Road Run" development, which had been slated for land behind the Price Chopper Plaza.

"I'm sending a copy of your story about Rail Road Run to Chris Dodd, chairman of the Senate committe on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. We need federal legislation to deal with the cities that will not allow affordable housing," Torgesen said.

I'll let you know if the story comes up for discussion on Senate's floor.

Tuesday, March 17

More elections coming

If the average reader is anything like me, you're still reeling from the two-year slog of the last presidential election, and quickly tiring of the special election in the 20th Congressional District. The last thing you want to hear about is another round of elections, but, don't worry, they're coming.

Ever since New Year's Day, some members of the City Council have been discussing how the council's dynamics change in an election year.

The composition of the audience also changes.

Earlier this evening, I had a few moments to chat with Richard Wirth, who failed in his 2007 bid to steal the Public Safety Commissioner's title away from an incumbent Ron Kim. Well guess what, he's going to try it again this year.

Whether or not he will run against Kim remains to be seen — the commissioner has not yet said if he will seek reelection, or if he might seek another post (Mayor?), but assuming all goes well for him with the city and county GOP committees, we could well see Wirth's second run at office.

Believing that it's never to early to start questioning presumptive candidates on their positions, I asked Wirth what he though about the challenges facing the city in terms of parking.

His answer? "It's a real problem."

His proposed solution: Form a committee comprised of stake holders, experts, and those close to the issue; commission a study; and then figure out the solution.

But hasn't that been done before?

Wirth acknowledges that it has, but says that since things have changed since the last studies, an update is needed, and that it now needs to be done with the intention of actually following through.

My questions is: were the previous studies conducted without such an intention?

Thursday, March 12

Impressions of Tedisco

Two weeks after Democratic congressional candidate Scott Murphy came to visit us, Republican candidate James Tedisco stopped by. As I said after the Murphy visit, this was my first opportunity to sit down with the candidate. Here are my impressions:

Tedisco has a huge advantage in this race, due to the fact that he is a long-time state legislator. Whether or not your agree with his politics, you cannot deny that experience in politics will be of some use to the successful candidate. It also gives Tedisco a track record for him to point to and say: "Look at what I've done." This important, and Tedisco knows it, and duly plays it up. As he should.

However, in our editorial board meeting, he sometimes got bogged down in talking too much about what he has done, and not what he will do. We can infer, from statements that he has made, that he will fight for tax relief for the middle class, among other actions.

Much has been made of negative ads in this campaign, and to the casual observer, it probably seems that both sides are dishing out the negativity. But, there is one important distinction. The negative adds targeting Scott Murphy are paid fore solely by the RNCC, while some of the ads targeting Tedisco are paid for by the Murphy campaign.*

The RNCC, and the blue counterpart to it, the DCCCC, are national groups that act of their own volition, and with which the candidates can have no contact, as stipulated by the McCain-Feingold bill. So, I'll take Tedisco at his word when he says that the negative ads targeting Murphy "suck." (Yes, he really said that). However, the overall tone of the campaign has been negative, and you can't blame Murphy for wanting to fight back.

As a guy sitting in a room, Tedisco seems like a guy you'd want to talk to. He is unassuming, knowledgable and confident -- even as he avoids putting a 'yes' or 'no' on whether or not he would have voted for Obama's economic recovery act.

* Added 3/17 at 9:45 p.m.: The Murphy campaign objects to this characterization, and site this video as an example of a negative ad paid for directly by the Tedisco campaign. OK, so both sides went negative...

Wednesday, March 11

Changes in the office

Nope, sorry haters, I am not leaving The Saratogian.

But, I thought readers might be interested to know that we have a new reporter starting here tomorrow. I don't know too much about our newest hire, but I've heard that she went to high school in Burnt Hills, and has been living in New England, working at a newspaper there for some time.

She will replace Ann Marie French on the county beat, mercifully taking over some of the responsibilities that I've been covering since Ann Marie left.

Look for her byline in the coming days, I'm sure we won't waste any time in putting her to work!

Tuesday, March 10

20th Congressional Debate

In addition to yesterday's press event held by Scott Murphy on the Corner of Church and Myrtle Streets, there was also an "editorial board debate," held between the two candidates for the 20th Congressional District. Although this was supposed to have been an editorial board meeting at the Poughkeepsie Journal, to help that paper make an endorsement, both candidates seized upon it as an opportunity to call it a "debate."

Interestingly enough, and unlike the previous debate, held at the Saratoga Springs Public Library, only Republic Jim Tedisco claimed a victory following the meeting:



Tedisco champions help for working families and small businesses

with jobs plan to get economy on Road to Recovery

Candidate for New York’s 20th Congressional District Jim Tedisco (R,C-Saratoga) today scored victory in an editorial board debate at the Poughkeepsie Journal – the second of four debates to be held by the candidates for the March 31st special election.

Tedisco strongly positioned himself as the candidate best poised to fight for “Main Street” economic issues facing Upstate New Yorkers by talking about his Jobs Plan to create jobs, cut taxes and turn this economy around. Tedisco also touted his earmark reform plan to cut the waste and pork barrel spending and ensure that federal money is spent wisely on helping middle class families and small businesses.

“Today’s debate offered voters a clear choice between myself, who has a proven record of creating jobs and cutting job-killing taxes by $18.8 billion and income taxes for working families, and my opponent, who has stood up for the greedy Wall Street millionaires who got us into this mess,” Tedisco said.

“I am the only candidate who is ready to get our economy on the Road to Recovery when elected to Congress. I have a record of positive results for helping working families and small businesses and that’s exactly what I’ll continue to do in Congress,” Tedisco said.

Tedisco’s Jobs Plan would put our economy back on the Road to Recovery by helping small businesses protect jobs, promote energy efficiency, and lower healthcare costs. Tedisco has convened a Main Street Bi-Partisan Economic Advisory Council of more than 40 small business owners and has been endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and NFIB as the best candidate to promote job growth.

Yesterday, Tedisco won the Conservative Party nod and was endorsed by nearly 100 local officials from across the 20th Congressional District.

For more information on Jim Tedisco’s record of helping Main Street and putting our economy on the Road to Recovery, visit

Monday, March 9

DPW's new position

For anyone who hasn't noticed, a story I wrote last week about a City Council meeting, has caused some length discussion (some of it reasonably intelligible, all of it anonymous) about the alleged DWI arrest of DPW employee Kelly Clark, who last week was given a new job of "DPW coordinator," which will allow her to serve in several office functions for the city.

As you can see, the comments on the story are quite imaginative.

Despite lots of calls today, I wasn't able to make much headway into figuring out whether or not the allegations are true. Without any facts to report, I just thought readers of this blog might be interested to know that more than a year after leaving office, Tommy McTygue and his supporters (or perhaps, just his supporters), are still eager to blame the sky falling down on Commissioner Scirocco.

Life being a two-way street, Scirocco's supporters are equally ready to point fingers at McTygue for creating all sorts of messes, some of which might be real, but many of which seem to be imaginary.

Anyhow, I hope to have some answers on the truth about this story (if there is any) tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Saturday, March 7

City Hall Generator

Last Tuesday, police noted an item in the blotter that emergency generator had come on for it's usual test, at about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday morning. This is a weekly test, and usually happens without incident.

However, on Tuesday, the wind was blowing in such a way as to divert the diesel exhaust into the Police Department's cell block, rendering it unusable.

The prisoners were moved to the booking room (where they were held during the months the cell block us unusable because of the degradation of the facility). One of the city's two judges were called in around 3 a.m. to arraign all the prisoners.

The most amusing part of the blotter entry was the part that noted that the generator vendor was called in the middle of the night, and advised the police department that they are no longer under contract with the city.

In the mean time, Asst. Chief of Police Chris Cole tells me that DPW is working to re-route the generator's exhaust away from the cell block, and that the test would be rescheduled for a time when the cell block is not likely to be occupied, such as Sunday afternoon.

Of course, should the power fail for real, there is no way to predict whether or not the cell block will be occupied.

Friday, March 6

Congressional silliness

In all of the silliness of the race to replace Kirsten Gillibrand's former seat in the 20th congressional district, nothing has been quite as silly as this press release that I received from the National Republican Congressional Committee a few weeks ago.

Apparently, the NRCC wants to hold Scott Murphy for an "anti-Eisenhower" article that he wrote as student at Harvard University. As someone who had lots of silly thoughts while in college, I think this is one sin that should be forgiven:

Murphy Penned Article Slandering General Eisenhower
More Disturbing “Perspective” on Scott Murphy’s “Hopeful Liberal/Leftist World View”

Washington- During Scott Murphy’s days as President of Harvard’s Perspective, the journal sponsored a lecture by an author named James Bacque, who alleged that General Dwight Eisenhower and Charles De Gaulle were responsible for the mistreatment and deaths of hundreds of thousands of German POWs following World War II. After attending the lecture by Bacque, Murphy penned an article in Perspective subscribing to Bacque’s disproven claims that Eisenhower “repeatedly reduced the prisoners’ rations” in US camps (“Perspective Update,” Perspective, June 1991).

In Scott Murphy’s own words:

“I grew up in Missouri, a state whose skepticism is typified by its much-maligned state slogan, ‘The show me state.’ I absorbed much of this attitude while growing up, but since coming to Harvard, this skepticism has been subsumed by my hopeful liberal/leftist world view. While many of my friends accept on faith that discrimination is pervasive, that neoclassical economics are ridiculous, and that powerful people abuse their power, I don’t. This last assumption is a particular sore spot of mine – I want to believe that Watergate and the Iran/Contra affair are anomalies. But three recent events have shaken my faith.”

“Two weeks later I went to hear James Bacque speak about his new book, Other Losses, a recounting of the treatment of disarmed German personnel in US camps after WWII. Eisenhower ordered that German prisoners not be declared official ‘prisoners of war.’ As a result, the US did not have to follow the Geneva Accords, and Switzerland was not allowed to check on camp conditions. Eisenhower also repeatedly reduced the prisoners’ rations. Bacque claims that between April and September of 1945 more than 500,000 prisoners died in US camps in France and Germany, primarily from deprivation of food, shelter, water, and medicine. In fact, more Germans died in the camps than died on the Western front between June 1941 and April 1945.” (Scott Murphy, “Abuse of Power,” Perspective, June 1991)

What’s almost as disturbing as the idea that Eisenhower starved German prisoners, is that Murphy agreed to host this lector even after the late historian Stephen E. Ambrose of the Eisenhower Institute had reviewed Bacque’s book in the New York Times and concluded that Bacque was wrong on every major charge and nearly all his minor ones:

“Our second conclusion was that when scholars do the necessary research, they will find Mr. Bacque's work to be worse than worthless. It is seriously -- nay, spectacularly -- flawed in its most fundamental aspects. Mr. Bacque misuses documents; he misreads documents; he ignores contrary evidence; his statistical methodology is hopelessly compromised; he makes no attempt to see the evidence he has gathered in its relationship to the broader situation; he makes no attempt to look at comparative contexts; he puts words into the mouth of his principal source; he ignores a readily available and absolutely critical source that decisively deals with his central accusation; and, as a consequence of these and other shortcomings, he reaches conclusions and makes charges that are demonstrably absurd.”

In short, Mr. Bacque is wrong on every major charge and nearly all his minor ones. Eisenhower was not a Hitler, he did not run death camps, German prisoners did not die by the hundreds of thousands, there was a severe food shortage in 1945, there was nothing sinister or secret about the ‘disarmed enemy forces’ designation or about the column ‘other losses.’ Mr. Bacque's ‘missing million’ were old men and young boys in the militia.” (Stephen E. Ambrose Column, “Ike and the Disappearing Atrocities,” New York Times, February 24, 1991)

“A true leader should demonstrate sound judgment and the ability to decipher fact from fiction. Scott Murphy’s blind following of a discredited author, in order to smear the good name and reputation of one of our country’s greatest patriots and finest presidents, shows a lack of judgment for a man who hopes to represent thousands of military veterans in the United States Congress,” said NRCC Communications Director Ken Spain. “Once again, Scott Murphy will have to explain his actions and his ‘liberal/leftist world view’ to upstate New Yorkers.”


Thursday, March 5

No post today

...Having been at work since 7 a.m., I'm too tired. Read this instead:

Wednesday, March 4

Council follow up

There were several important things that happened at City Council on Tuesday evening that I did not have a chance to put in that paper today or tomorrow. Hopefully, I'll get them in for Friday.

In the meantime, blog readers can get a sneak preview.

1) In a four-to-one vote, the city council adopted new water and sewer budgets, and include a 5-percent hike in water bills. Commissioner Ken Ivins was the sole dissenting votes, noting that he wanted to hold the line on taxes to the greatest extent possible, and urging his fellow commissioners to think about a 3-percent tax increase, but doing so would not have left the city with a balanced water budget.

Commissioner Scirocco noted that part of the problem with the water budget is that the past several years have been drier than usual. Obviously, this is out of the control of the city government.

2) In executive session, which came at the end of last night's meeting, the council voted to settle a case with Matthew Gamon, a former city firefighter who sued the city on the grounds of alleged discrimination because of color blindness and his inability to pass a test.

Mayor Scott Johnson said that the council, under advice from outside counsel, noted to settle the case outside of court for $28,000. Of the settlement, $21,000 will be paid by the city's insurer. The remaining $7,000 will be paid out of the city's reserve for settling such cases, managed under the Risk and Safety budget.

Stay tuned for more follow up.

Tuesday, March 3

I want more

First off, Thanks to Steve for live-blogging from this afternoon's Congressional debate. I hope some of you got the chance to tune in.

Secondly, I want to say that after following this race for the past month, I am sick of three things:

1) I am sick of Scott Murphy's story about the first time he went to visit his wife's family's dairy farm in Washington County, and her cousins taught him how to milk a cow before letting him into the house. That's great. I've heard this story at every Murphy event I've been to. I get it. Move on, it's time to talk about something else.

The story about Murphy's giant family having Sunday dinner together falls into the same category. Very folksy, wonderful. Find some other way to relate to voters, please.

2) Enough discussion of Obama's economic recovery plan, and Teidsco's failure to take a side. We get it. Jim Tedisco won't say which way he would have voted. Let me take a stab at why: he's a Republican, so he would almost certainly have voted against it -- as did every single member of his party. BUT, as a politican on the campaign trail, he doesn't want to be the guy who voted against fixing the economy. SO, he differs answering, and instead says again and again that he supports tax relief for the middle class -- as does Scott Murphy -- so, he's not really against the recovery act afterall. The point is made, move on.

3) Conversly, I'm sick of Jim Tedisco not answering questions. As we know, he has not been answering questions on this theoretical vote on the recovery bill (which I'm sick of hearing about) for some time. Today, he succeeded in not answering questions all through the debate. Instead, he would offer his standard litany of sound bites, somehow twisted to conform to the question posed, while only paying lip service to the actual question.

It's time for these candidates to take this campaign to the next level and show voters a real campaign of issues, and to offer us a real choice. As I see it, Murphy (a self-described fiscal conservative) and Tedisco (a self-described conservative), are so close on so many issues as to be nearly indistinguishable. What's a voter to do?

There are four weeks left before the election, let's see some more substance from these men.

Tedisco/Murphy AARP debate over

The debate is over and people are slowly filtering out of the room. The TV cameras and reporters and other journalists flocked, for the most part, around Tedisco and then migrated over to Murphy while the second, smaller wave of reporters unable to get into the scrum then descended on Tedisco.

As packed as this room was, it seems there was also a spillover room with about 70 people, if moderator Susan Arbetter's numbers were accurate.

During the closing statements, Murphy again reiterated his support of Obama's economic stimulus plan and his bipartisan approach to problem solving. Tedisco stressed his record of service and his blue collar biography. Standard fare for a closing argument.

For now I'll leave Andrew to get comment from the candidates and those in attendance while I head back to the office. Most likely I'll combine all these little posts from the duration of the debate into one lengthy post.

This live blog was a bit more difficult to keep up with than I thought it would be, but for a first time experiment here at the Saratoga City Desk, I think it went alright. Hopefully it provided some immediate information that will then be synthesized in a full article to appear tomorrow.

Question: How do you propose funding districts to prepare our kids for the future:

Murphy: Property/school taxes are draining taxpayers.

No Child Left Behind has not worked. All it does is cause kids to be tested every week. Unfunded mandates from the federal gov't need to stop.

Tedisco: Property tax cap must be implemented. It's a regressive system that taxes families out of homes and states. Must also work to eliminate gov't mandates, look into consolidating services, charter schools for in-need, low-income districts.

Question: Considering environmental and economic problems, do you support the sprawl of development that is encroaching areas like Saratoga Springs, and how would you support the last bits of greenspace?

Tedisco: There needs to be some incentives that support commercial development but must be balanced with those that preserve green space. Some laws and ordinances must be put into place to protect certain regions, and such efforts HAVE already been implemented such as forest preserve lands.

Murphy: This district is ripe for urban renewal. Many small cities with beautiful buildings that can be preserved. Saratoga Springs in the case study for how to renew downtowns, to limit sprawl but maintain opportunities.

But utilities and infrastructure is an important to address. Many of these cities were laid out 100 or more years ago. Must attack these issues through the economic recovery plan: money is set aside to put people to work on shovel ready projects.

Question: Charge upper-income Medicare beneficiaries a higher premium to ensure it remains funded?

Tedisco: People taxed enough. Officials must put down philosophical swords and come together and realize that stimulus needs to go directly to middle class.

Murphy: Wants to create commonsense solutions outside of Republican and Democratic ideologies to find savings in Medicare and health care.

For the sake of transparency, I should note that I haven't been able to hit every question that's been asked of the candidates thus far. The candidates are doing a good job of sticking within the time limits and the debate is moving along quickly.

I'm averaging about every other question here.

Question: How can you maintain independence in voting after accepting outside aid from respective national parties?

Murphy: Has been relying on the support of small businesses, not the Democratic Party. Differs in opinions from the Democratic Party: example, 2nd Amendment rights.

Thinks it's important to support federal stimulus, but as a fiscal conservative

Tedisco: Doesn't kow-tow to millionaires, but battles them. Remember Eliot Spitzer's plan to give licenses to illegal aliens? he asks the audience.

(Editor: Doesn't seem like the best of examples to give. I doubt Spitzer donated money to any of Tedisco's campaigns)

Doesn't call millionaires for support. Relies on friends and family for their financial/political support.

Question: Remove tax cap from Social Security?

Murphy: Yes, must remove.

Tedisco: Don't need to remove. Must rein in earmarks in federal budget; if so, could fund a lot of things, like Social Security.

Question: Positions on nuclear power as a source of energy?

Murphy: Must have a whole host of clean energy. Solar, wind, hydro, bio-fuels (not necessarily ethanol) and even nuclear provide great options for the future. Must invest in these energy sources to drive costs down and create jobs.

Tedisco: Must move away from dirty fossil fuels and would like to look at nuclear energy. Every nation must be involved in coming together to create a cleaner environment. Wants to work across party lines to bring countries like China and India on board to work for better pollution controls and clean fuel energy resources. Must be a holistic approach not just for America but all nations.

Question: How do oil companies, who are big contributors to campaigns, affect your thinking?

Murphy: No oil companies in his campaign. Future is moving to green jobs and tech. Excited for Obama's plans, because a lot of those jobs and tech is going to be based in upstate NY. Money must be spend on smart cars and smart energy grids that can transmit energy from wind and solar in other parts of the country to big cities.

Takes his first real shot at Tedisco, saying he hopes

Tedisco: Doesn't need to talk about what he could do, can talk about what he HAS done. Has implemented a statewide alternative fuel fund that supports the exploration of cellulose ethanol, etc. Has provided grants and incentives to buy alternate-fuel vehicles. People who control oil are not our best friends. Must move toward alternative fuels and hopes to take state initiatives to the federal level.

Question: Will you support or oppose a balanced Social Security plan to guarantee the plans benefits for future generations?

Murphy: SS is a bedrock and it should not be cut. Diverting money to private accounts is a horrible idea; take a look at what's happening with 401K's: You could be wiped out through no fault of your own. Everyone should plan for their own retirement, but SS is the base of those plans. It serves as a safety net.

Tedisco: Constituents are tired of being told one thing and seeing another done. Example: Thru-Way would be free after 90s; lottery would go to education. Same with SS. Need to change the structure, but not by spending more. Must remain solvent.

Question: What policies would you support to make Medicare more affordable?

Murphy: Father's parents are still alive, but drugs costing more every year; need to make sure it's affordable for everyone. How do we do that? Again, must reform Medicare and get uninsured into system because it's a huge drain on the system. Uninsured roll the dice to see if they need medical treatment and when they do, it's for the system.

Again, need to drive costs down by opening prescription drug market.

Tedisco: AARP has it right: Divided we fail. Must come together in a non-partisan way. Must digitize records; hospitals should provide error rates; bulk prescription drugs available in international markets.

Must allow people more affordable access to their prescriptions as they get sicker and conditions become more chronic.

Second question: How would you shift long term care services and funding so people can stay in homes as long as possible?

Murphy: A critical issue that he's dealt with personally with his 94-year-old grandmother who fell and broke a hip.

Must be aggressive in this issue. It can be cheaper to care for people in their homes, part done by volunteer world others by gov't services. Would push for more of this.

Tedisco: Same funding streams that go into health facilities should go into the homes because patients feel better physically and psychologically when in their own home; tax credits for family members that opt to stay and home and care for a loved one. Sponsored the Long Term Health Paternship Program in NY that allowed a 20 percent tax credit. Combine federal income tax reductions with the state tax incentive and make it really affordable.

Opening statements

First question: What policies would you support to make health care and health insurance more affordable and accessible.

Murphy: Small business faces this challenge everyday. One of the main ways to solve is to get into group buying plans with local chambers of commerce or other organizations. He would support Obama's plan to open the health plans that Congressional members have; don't take away choices they already had, but open up new groups. Will increase buying efficiency and reduce costs.

Would also increase the technology to drive costs down and increase efficiency.

Must also fight for lower prescription costs down; bring in from Canada and make it safe and legal so people can safely purchase prescription drugs.

Tedisco: Health care is a right, not a privilege. 48 million NYers without health care. Must join on state and federal levels, such as with Child Health Plus.

The real answer: Provide associate pooling. Let different individuals come together statewide and nationally to purchase individual health accounts. Should make hospitals print error rates so consumers can compare services. This would also help diminish liabilities and lawsuits.

Open up prescription drug purchases to the international market to drive down costs and allow municipalities to buy in bulk.

Live blog: Tedisco/Murphy AARP debate

Susan Arbetter of WMHT is explaining the rules of the debate: No stand-ins for the candidates (which provoked some laughter); questions will alternate from audience to panel; opening statements will be three minutes only, responses to questions will be two minutes in length; only questions addressed to BOTH candidates will be considered; closing statements can't exceed two minutes; time limits will be strictly observed.

"I can be a real jerk," Arbetter joked about sticking to time.

-- 1:40 p.m.

The room here in the Saratoga Springs Public Library is jammed full and there's a line of people that aren't going to be able to get in. The candidates are both standing at their podiums and the debate is about to get underway shortly.

I think it will be interesting to see if both candidates keep their comments tailored to the obvious demographic of this AARP-sponsored debate, or if they'll veer off and make more sweeping comments.

Live blog event later today

Jim Tedisco and Scott Murphy are set to square off today in an AARP-sponsored debate at the Saratoga Springs Public Library (read today's article). Andrew's going to be covering the straight news story and I'll be there armed with my laptop to live blog in this very space.

The debate starts at 1:30 so check back here a little before for the start of the live blogging action.