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

Thursday, April 30

At News Conference

I spent today at the Associated Press spring workshop.

As such, I have not been on the beat, and have nothing to report.

I do have one non-beat thought I wanted to report. I'm scheduled to be in New York City this weekend, but I find myself increasingly hesitant about the trip, as the city seems to the Swine Flu's New York epicenter. To make matters worse, a good friend, with whom I was planning on having dinner Saturday, just called to tell me that she arrived at work Wednesday to find a media circus outside, as on of her students was suspected of having the disease. Wonderful. You can read about it here.

So, do I go, or do I stay home? And if I do go, should I wear a mask the whole time?

Wednesday, April 29

South Side "Wreck"

That was the project bike path planner Jeffery Olson referred to when he left me a message regarding the city's indoor Recreation Center.

(For the record, I thought Olson's 'rec'/'wreck' pun was kind of funny, which is why I've printed it here. I am, in no way, mean to render an opinion on the project by referring to the "wreck.")

Olson, who has been one of the most outspoken among the project's opponents, wanted to let me know that a bulldozer has materialized on the rec field, likely meaning that construction is imminent.

As we all remember, Mayor Scott Johnson signed a contract for the project's construction a few weeks ago, and although an appeal is currently underway of a case to block the building, work is going forward. If construction proceeds on track, the facility, designed to provide basketball and other indoor recreation to the city's youth, could open in 2010.

Tuesday, April 28

party united?

After everyone had a chance to read the article in today's paper on the city Democrat's plan to present a solid front ahead of this year's race, I've heard a mix of reactions.

One politically-aligned person within City Hall said: "After reading your headline I had to razz you a bit because I didn't realize you were writing fiction now."

I agree that it remains to be seen whether or not the Democrats can peacefully put together a slate of candidates ahead of the early-June process of collecting petition signatures begins. From where I'm sitting, it appears to all hinge on Commissioner of Accounts John Franck.

Way back in January, Franck told me that he planned to seek re-election, and that although he hoped to receive the Democrat's endorsement, he indicated that he'd be ready to seek election even without it. Franck was re-elected to his current term in 2007 after running un-opposed.

Things for the Democrats have been a little dicey since last September, when the Democrats for Change, a group associated with former Mayor Valerie Keehn and Commissioner of Public Safety Ron Kim, successfully took control of the city party, gaining a majority over the United Democrats, a group associated with former Commissioner of Public Works Thomas McTygue, and Franck to a lesser extent.

Now, according to murmurs coming my way from various channels, the city committee is wrestling with a way to endorse some of their incumbents (Kim, Yepsen), but not others (Franck), who they see as voting with his Republican colleagues on the City Council more often than they would like him to.

At play is the understandable desire on the part of the Democrats to avoid a repeat of 2007, when Keehn and McTygue successfully campaigned each other straight out of office. But, it wouldn't look to good if the Democrats did wind up having a primary for the Accounts office, but not running a candidate for Public Works.


Yes, with Commissioner of Public Works Skip Scirocco, a Republican, voting with Kim on most issues, the Dems are reportedly considering not running anyone against him. The GOP has already announced that they will back their incumbants, including Scirocco.

Some Democrats have been touting the idea that the process to determine a slate of candidates in the city should process used to select Scott Murphy to run for Congress. As such, they have made an open call to anyone interested in running for office, and will not endorse anyone until after interviewing everyone who comes forward.

There's one hole in the logic there that I can see: There was no Democratic incumbant in the 20th Congressional District when Murphy ran. Back in 2008 you didn't see the chairs of the ten counties in the 20th CD lining up and calling for open interviews to see who wanted to primary Kirsten Gillibrand. Why would they have wanted to do that? Doing so would only have delayed the start of her campaign, or possible wasted the cache held by a well-liked politician.

One person told me that Larry Bulman (who didn't return my phone call today), was accused of acting like Boss Tweed at Satruday's meeting, arguing with the party not to waste time in endorsing their incumbants. But even Bulman, chair of the Saratoga County Democratic Committee, is an outsider in Saratoga Springs. Here in the city, Dems just don't like to get along.

Others have suggested that the party shouldn't make any endorsements until after a primary election. That might work, but it could leave candidates without their party's full support and delay the start of their real campaigns while you know the politicos across the aisle will be in full swing by summer.

So, if you take off the rose-colored glasses, maybe things are business as usual over with the City Democrats. Or maybe they'll surprise us all.

In other news, McTygue recently sold his Clinton Street home for $270,000. The Commissioner has maintained a residence in the Town of Saratoga for some time, but kept his Saratoga Springs property, allowing him to run for office in the city .

I am planning on writing about the city Republican Party, and have scheduled an interview with chairman John Herrick for tomorrow. Don't worry, we plan to give both sides equal coverage.

Monday, April 27

West Side?

After my Sunday story on Urban Renewal and its last effect on the city, there has been a strong response, albeit, only from one reader.

Someone, whose name I didn't get, called, and said that he was very upset with the article, because of the negative pal the story cast over the West Side, saying that it was "blighted" and a "slum." He contended that urban renewal only dealt with Congress Street, and therefore, the West Side should not have been dragged into it.

As I see it, this is a problem of political geography. Here in the newsroom, we commonly refer to anything west of Broadway as the West Side. Woodlawn Avenue? West Side. Congress Park Plaza? West Side. So on and so forth.

What's more, in Urban Renewal documents, the project that dealt with Congress Street and the former neighborhood that stood where the CVS plaza and Stonequist Apartments now are was referred to as the West Side Urban Renewal project. So, I think my use of that label in the story was justified.

But, the caller contends that the West Side does not start until South Franklin St., where the railroad tracks used to divide the city. Perhaps this is an example of neighborhood names changing over time. In any case, I hope you enjoyed the story, and feel free to weigh in on the neighborhood's real name.

Saturday, April 25

Dem city committee meeting

The Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee met this morning to lay out the process by which they will select the slate of candidates to contest this fall's city elections. We expect to have full details of the meeting on Monday morning, but party chairman Allen Turkheimer assured me that it will be an open process. He said he expected to field a full slate of candidates.

The city Republican committee is set to meet on May 11.

Details on how to be a part of it all (in either party) are here, and in tomorrow's paper.

Friday, April 24

Murphy Wins

Enough said:

Murphy to congress after month-long delay


The Saratogian

ALBANY — Democrat Scott Murphy is now Congressman-elect Murphy after Republican Jim Tedisco conceded the race for the 20th Congressional District Friday.

Murphy and supporters are expected to celebrate the victory at an event in Glens Falls Saturday.

Murphy, venture-capitalist from Glens Falls, will take the seat vacated by Kirsten Gillibrand, when Governor David Paterson named her to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat.

“I am honored and humbled to be going to Washington to represent the families of New York’s 20th Congressional District,” said Congressman-elect Murphy in a prepared release. “I am honored and humbled to be going to Washington to represent the families of New York’s 20th Congressional District.”

The victory announcement came after Tedisco’s concession call.

“I thank Assemblyman Jim Tedisco for his kind words today. It was an honor to compete with him in this hard-fought campaign. I look forward to working with him to move Upstate in the right direction,” Murphy said.

Murphy will now serve for the remainder of Gillibrand’s term, which runs until January 2011.

“Earlier today, I called and congratulated Scott Murphy on a hard-fought contest and wished him well as the next congressman of the 20th congressional district,” said Tedisco in a prepared release. “This was a closely contested election that perhaps lasted a little longer than anyone may have expected or wanted. But it was important for our electoral process and for hard-working people of Upstate New York that it be resolved fairly and decisively.”

Gillibrand, who supported Murphy on the campaign trail and endorsed him in a TV ad, was the first national politician to offer congratulations.

“This campaign was about who would work with President Obama to get the economy turned around and the voters have made the right choice,” she said. “I was proud to give Scott Murphy my full support in his campaign for Congress. Having spent so much time campaigning alongside Scott these past several weeks, I know Scott will be the kind of hard-working and effective leader New Yorkers in the 20th District will be proud of.”

On Friday, the New York State Board of Elections showed Murphy leading Tedisco by a 399-vote margin, which was called an unrecoverable margin by some pundits.

The tally, with results still unofficial on Friday, showed Murphy with 80,420 votes, to Tedisco’s 80,021.

Since the March 31 special election, the race has been to close to call, with the candidates swapping leads in early re-counts. At one point, each had exactly the same number of votes.

However, once absentee ballots began to be counted, Murphy’s lead steadily — albeit — slowly increased until today’s concession.

Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives also issued a congratulatory statement Friday afternoon:

“As Speaker of the House, I congratulate Congressman-elect Scott Murphy on his impressive victory in the race for New York’s 20th Congressional District. Scott’s victory is a clear indication that Democrats, Independents, and Republicans across the country want to continue moving America in a New Direction and reject the ‘just say no’ policies of Washington, D.C. Republicans,” she said.

Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee Pete Sessions, who had declared the race a national priority, said the party would have work to do ahead of the 2010 elections.

“After a long, hard-fought race, the final result of the New York special election reinforces what our party has known since November — we have our work cut out for us when it comes to winning in Democratic-held district,” he said in a press release.

The election saw higher-than-normal turnout for a special election, with 160,441 voters casing ballots.

Turnout may have been driven, in part, by a negative campaign driven by national political organizations, with both Tedisco and Murphy attacking each other over the airwaves.

The 20th Congressional District extends from the Hudson River Valley to the Lake Champlain region, encompassing ten, largely rural, counties. Gillibrand was first elected to the district in 2006 and was re-elected in 2008.

Tedisco, who served as the Minority Leader in the State Assembly until resigning his post earlier this month, will now serve the remaining two years of the his Assembly term. He has represented the 110th State Assembly District for 27 years.

Reach Andrew J. Bernstein at or 518-583-8729 ext. 219.

Thursday, April 23

Free Food Week comes to an end

If you're anything like me, there isn't anything better than free food.

So, I was pretty excited to learn that Moe's was giving away free burritos on Wednesday, and the brand-new Chipotle was giving away free burritos today. Of course, Ben and Jerry's gave away free ice cream on Tuesday, but I didn't hear about that until it was too late.

So, a few co-workers and I piled into the car and went for a burrito yesterday. Today, Steve Shoemaker and I went out to Chipotle to complete our comparison. In doing so, we also demoted reporter Emily Donohue to the burrito eating JV squad, as she passed on round two.

Anyhow, I'll admit to being a big fan of Moe's, even though I usually do my best to eschew chain restaurants and driving to Wilton, but Chipotle may be giving them a run for their money. Prices are comparable, as are choices — as long as you only want to eat a burrito. Moe's has more choices for non-burrito eaters.

BUT, Moe's pulls into the lead where portion is concerned, serving up foot-ball sized servings of deliciousness. Chipotle, which is owned by the McDonald's Corporation, serves a still-large burrito, but it's definately more modest in size.

I hope everyone got out there to enjoy the burritos as I did. If not, I'm sure it tastes almost as good after you've paid for it.

Dems seeking candidates

The City Democratic committee is seeking candidates to run for office. Former City Attorney Peter Tulin is chairing the dem's nomination committee. Expect to have names for candidates in the next month.

The dems have laid out a schedule for their nomination process, look for more details on the process in coming conversations.

Also, the Independence party held an open forum at the Art's Council building this evening. I'm not sure what on there, but early reports indicate that none of the region's newspapers or TV stations opted to attend.

I sure hope we didn't all miss the story of the year...

Tuesday, April 21

4/20, Skidmore, and pass the ganj

City Council was all abuzz Tuesday, after Mareesa Nicosia's excellent article on that silliest of hipster holidays, 4/20.

First, a little background: In some municipalities, police use "420" as code-speak for weed and related violatoins. Therefore, some teenagers — probably baked out of theirs minds and floating in a cloud of hot-pocket-induced diabetic shock — came up with the idea of contriving "420" into a date. Thus, "4/20" is born.

Now, you don't see child molesters suddenly switching to the European way of writing out dates in order to gather and celebrate their deviant ways on 28/8. Nor is there a sudden proliferation of drag racing on 9/31. But these pot-smoking hippies have always shown a certain proclivity towards flagrant violations of the law.

With that being said, I wanted to note that there were several members of the public who took the mic at City Council to decry the activities at Skidmore on Monday afternoon. A reverend worried that it set a terrible example, and called Skidmore's administration scofflaws. Public Safety Candidate Richard Wirth used the opportunity to take a political hit on Commissioner Kim, all but alleging that Kim had directed the police to look the other way. (Which Kim, of course, said was not the case.) Chief of Police Ed Moore pointed out that a) there had been no calls to Skidmore yesterday afternoon, and b) officers who regularly patrol that area were working on other assignments yesterday (in particular, a violent domestic incident).

Want the real story?

The lawn around Haupt Pond may have been full of students peacefully smoking weed on Monday, but it's unlikely that any of them possessed more than a violation's worth of the drug. The city's drug unit officers are understandably more concerned with arresting drug dealers, and those involved in more deadly drugs. In fact, little less than a year ago, police busted a large net of dealers up at Skidmore.

Taking the paddy wagon up there on Monday might have resulted in a few arrests, or it might have resulted in a riot, and all for what? A few appearance tickets? It's certainly disingenuous for Campus Safety to -- quite literally -- look the other way, as demonstrated on Tuesday's front page, but I don't think the police are to blame.

Before I sign off, I wanted to relate one of my favorite 420 stories from my time at Skidmore. In the fall of my first year 420 fell on a Tuesday, and it happened to be the first nice day of that spring. As such, the professor teaching my seminar on Environmental Imperialism decided to take the 15 of us outside for the afternoon. The class met from 3:40 to 5:00.

We walked down to a secluded spot by the pond (in those days 420 activities were held on the campus's central green), and we got about the business of rats stowing away in merchant ships, and seeds blowing out of farmer's storage bins. There was noticeably poor attendance that day, but to the college freshman not yet wise to the ways of weed, that was easily attributed to the weather.

Suddenly, at 4:20 p.m., there was a whooping rising over the campus from the general direction of the green. A few students flashed each other with quick glances. Others giggled audibly. The professor just seemed confused.

Then the moment passed and we got back to work.

Friday, April 17

New building inspector?

As-of-yet unconfirmed rumors tell me that the city's building inspector, Lauritz Rasmussen, has been fired as of this morning. Watch for complete coverage.

Thursday, April 16

Smart money

At this point, barring an exasperating court battle that leads to a concession, or an assassination attempt, the smart money has to be on Scott Murphy in the still-ongoing race for the 20th Congressional District.

Courtesy of the National Journal:

Time to Panic at Tedisco?

NY-20 Special Election

-             votes  %age
Murphy       79,404  50.05%
Tedisco      79,237  49.95

Advantage: Murphy +167

Partial Absentee Ballot Tallies

-                             Absentee Ballot Makeup
-             Murphy  Tedisco        Dem  GOP
Columbia Co.  383     222             53%  26%
Delaware*     149     134             37%  52%
Dutchess      275     217             42%  34%
Essex*         88      62             35%  47%
Greene*       216     231             32%  47%
Otsego*        51      64             34%  50%   
Rensselaer*   221     211             31%  43%
Saratoga      509     672             29%  53%
Warren        254     181             32%  56%
Washington    267     186             33%  54%
Total         916     826             36%  46%
Margin:      +323

"At last: final numbers from" Saratoga Co., and Assemb. Jim Tedisco (R) "picks up 163" votes after "all paper ballots -- including military -- have been counted" (Seiler, "Capitol Confidential" blog, AlbanyTimes Union, 4/15). But "the results are not good for" Tedisco, since that 163-vote margin "was not enough to overcome businessman Scott Murphy's (D) lead. Tedisco's" camp "was hoping to take over the lead" once Saratoga was final. "There are still about 700 challenged ballots in the county that may end up being included in the count," but the "majority of ballot objections across" the CD "have been lodged" by the GOP, "making it difficult for Tedisco to overturn even a narrow deficit as most of the votes get counted. ... And there are still additional absentee ballots left to be cast in Columbia, Dutchess and Warren" Cos., all of which Murphy carried on Election Day (Kraushaar, Politico, 4/15).'s Vielkind; "The lead is of course subject to change, but is psychologically important. As the canvass moves to challenged ballots, it looks as though Murphy is going in with a slight lead. More ballots were set aside because of objections from the Tedisco" camp than the Murphy camp. "Bad news for Tedisco" (4/15).

After Further Review, The Ruling On The Field...

On 4/15, attys for both Tedisco and Murphy "argued three issues before" Judge James Brands: "whether objections to absentee ballots can be lodged based on the applications for absentee ballots, whether ballots objected to by one candidate's representative can be counted if both elections commissioners overrule the objection...and whether voters with multiple residencies can register to vote in a place other than their 'domicile'" (Vielkind,, 4/15).

Brands "ruled poll watchers may no longer use the application filed by absentee voters for a ballot as grounds for objecting to that voter's ballot." Dems "estimate up to" 1K "ballots across" NY-20 "were challenged because the voter didn't give a reason for his or her inability to vote in person that seemed adequate to a poll watcher." He also ruled that "in cases where a ballot has been challenged by a poll watcher but" elections commis. "unanimously overrule the objection, the ballot should be counted and then photocopied for possible later review by a judge. The ruling affects about 100 ballots, Murphy lawyerHenry Berger said."

Attys continued to argue "the residency issue," and "briefs on the issue are due" 4/20, "when all parties are next set to appear in court" (Hornbeck, Albany Times Union, 4/16).

This means "most of the" more than 1.2K contested absentee ballots "will be counted" (Vielkind,, 4/15).

...After Tedisco Threw Red Flag After Red Flag After Red Flag After...(You Get The Point)

As Tedisco's attys objected "to nearly every absentee ballot mailed to" Columbia Co. from NYC or FL, "lawyers for" Murphy were "accusing the" GOP of "weeding out Jewish names and stalling where there is clear legal precedent to allow the votes." In court, Dems argued, "citing precedent," that votes from citizens with second homes outside NY-20 "are valid so long as voters with multiple residencies don't case ballots in multiple places."

"The thinking behind the" GOP attitude "toward what" one Dem called "the 'weekend population' is that they are mostly affluent professionals and that they lead" to the Dems. Atty Thomas Garry "went one step further, holding up his yellow pad and showing the names of those challenged." Garry: "Cohen, Pollack, Rosegarten, Winakor -- there's a pattern: they're Democrats and they're Jewish." Tedisco attyJames Walsh: "My children are Jewish, and I'm offended at that. We have research to indicate that many of these people who reside on the Upper West Side and in Florida and other areas live there primarilyy, and they are continuously requesting absentee ballots in Columbia County when they are not eligible to vote there" (Vielkind,, 4/13).

The Tedisco camp also challenged "ballots of students who come from outside" NY-20, "many of whom attend Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs." Saratoga Co. Dem Chair Larry Bulman said "several of the student ballots were being challenged on grounds that the students improperly claimed residency within the district. ... He did not have a specific number of student ballots that were challenged." Bulman: "It's ridiculous -- these same students voted with no problem in November."

Walsh: "What we're doing is trying to prevent fraud." Saratoga Co. GOP Chair Jasper Nolan "said the issue...has come up in the past." The final result at the on-campus polling center, "according to the student newspaper," was 167 votes for Murphy, 11 votes for Tedisco (Vielkind,, 4/15).

"The average time" to dispense with an individual ballot 4/13 "was two-and-a-half-minutes," and there were 38 challenges in Columbia Co. 4/13 by GOPers to only one by Dems, according to Murphy spokesperson Ryan Rudominer. "Walsh didn't dispute that number." Walsh: "This is about weeding out people who have committed voter fraud" (, 4/13).

Albany Times Union's Hornbeck, on the atmosphere in Columbia Co.: "It reminded me a little of Hollywood week on American Idol, when" judges Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson, Kara DioGuardi andSimon Cowell "decided who made it and who didn't." On 4/13, Columbia Co. officials "looked at 78 ballots, but opened less than half of them. At this rate," according to Board of Elections Commis.Virginia Martin (D), "it will take six more days to get through all the absentee ballots in the county" (4/13).

According to Murphy atty Henry Berger, "more than 600 absentee ballots have been put aside unopened because one or the other of the candidates objected to the ballot" (Hornbeck, Albany Times Union, 4/14). Across NY-20, Dems estimated "that the majority of the challenges" -- about 60% -- came from Tedisco's camp. GOPers were "especially aggressive in" Columbia Co., "which Murphy won on Election Night by more than 1,880 votes (Kraushaar, Politico, 4/13).

Inconclusive Evidence On This One

Tedisco had "been challenging absentee ballots right and left," Murphy complained. And 4/14, Tedisco attys "challenged the ballot of one person they could be fairly certain had voted for" Murphy: Sen.Kirsten Gillibrand (D). "Every vote still up for grabs takes on heightened significance, but the move plays into" Murphy's "accusations that" Tedisco "is systematically trying to disenfranchise" Dem voters. Tedisco atty John Ciampoli "said he was told that" Gillibrand "campaigned for" Murphy in NY-20 on Election Day. Ciampoli, citing state law: "If she was present in her voting district, in her county, at the time the polls were open, she was required to vote on the machine."

Gillibrand spokesperson Matt Canter "said" Gillibrand "did not enter the district that day until the polls had already closed: She awoke in Albany, flew" to DC, "flew back to Albany, and drove to Saratoga Springs for" Murphy's election-night party, "arriving after 9 p.m." Canter "called...Tedisco's challenge 'desperate and disturbing'" (Halbfinger, New York Times, 4/15). But even if Gillibrand was in NY-20 on Election Day, "election law requires only that a person applying for the absentee ballot must have a 'good-faith belief' that they won't be in the district on the day of the election," according to author and poll war veteran Jerry Goldfeder (Hornbeck, Albany Times Union, 4/15).

Tedisco spokesperson Tyler Brown: "Representatives from the campaign are raising concerns on those ballots that may have been improperly cast, regardless of who they may belong to" (Jacobs, The Hill, 4/15).

But Gillibrand didn't buy it. In an op-ed to The Huffington Post and Daily Kos, Gillibrand: "Today the Republicans stooped to a new low by challenging my ballot. The...challenge is frivolous and without merit. ... Their latest move to challenge my ballot is part of a much larger attempt to disenfranchise legal Democratic voters and delay Scott Murphy's inevitable victory in the 20th. ... Every day that the national Republicans waste with their dishonest stalling tactics is another day Upstate New Yorkers are deprived their member of Congress. ... Let my vote and every vote be counted" (4/15).

Meanwhile, National Review Online's Freddoso writes, "Aside from any question of the merits of that challenge, it does not look good to challenge the franchise of a sitting senator. But it is interesting that Gillibrand's staff told the New York Times that she was not there when the polls were open because there were Senate votes scheduled for that day in Washington. Gillibrand did not participate in any of the three roll call votes that took place in the Senate on that day)" (4/16).

Good Thing He Doesn't Work At A Newspaper, 'Cause He Obviously Doesn't Understand Deadlines

Tedisco sent a "written request" to the NY Board of Elections, Gov. David Paterson (D) and the DoJ 4/13, requesting "an additional 15 days for absentee military ballots to arrive." Yesterday was "the date that had previously been" set as the "deadline for military ballots." The letter "says 'the Federal Voter Assistance Program of the Department of Defense recommends allowing 45 days from the time of sending overseas ballots to allow those ballots to be received and returned to election officials.'" Because of the "timing of the special election," officials allowed "for about 30 days" (Troy Record, 4/14).

Copyright ©2009 by National Journal Group Inc. The Watergate 600 New Hampshire Ave., NW Washington, DC 20037
202-739-8400 • fax 202-833-8069 is an Atlantic Media publication.

Wednesday, April 15

DRC review of the City Center

Of course, the good stuff to come out of tonight's DRC discussion of the City Center didn't come out until after deadline, but as I'm typing this, the seven commissioners are discussing the proposed design, and although I'm only half-listening to the web cast as I finish up some other work, I think it's fair to say that the body has concerns about the project.

What I'm hearing is that the DRC is worried about the lack of a Broadway entrance, and the pedestrian experience of walking by a mostly-glass wall, and whether or not it provides enough a pedestrian interaction.

Other concerns were of a sloping slice taken out of the building's corner.

What I haven't heard yet is that with the building's orientation, sun shining into the building in the afternoon could make the convention space uncomfortable and/or neccessitate shading, which would obviate the intent of showing the world what's going on inside. Of course, this may have been addressed after I left.

Look for follow up in the paper in the coming days.

Tuesday, April 14

The next council?

Well, I can hardly believe were thinking about the next election before the current election is wrapped up, but here we are.

Today, Commissioner of Finance Kenneth Ivins Jr., a Republican, announced that he will announce tomorrow that he will seek a second term as Finance Commissioner. This the first formal announcement regarding a second term that we've seen.

Richard Wirth, who lost to Ron Kim in a landslide in the 2007 race for Commissioner of Public Safety, has told me that he will run for the seat again, but he hasn't yet made a formal announcement.

Others on the council have said that they will likely run, including Mayor Scott Johnson, Commissioner of Accounts John Franck, and Commissioner of Public Work Skip Scirocco, but none has made a formal declaration. Kim said, the last time I asked, that he was still considering his options and would not make a decision until some time this spring. We'll have to wait and see...

Word on the street is that the Democrats are having a hard time finding candidates for the three seats on the council currently held by Republicans, but it is still early in the political season. We'll have to see who comes out of the woodwork...

Monday, April 13

Be heard on the City Center

As you'll read in my story in tomorrow's paper, the City Center is on the schedule for this week's Design Review Commission meeting, slated for 7 p.m. Wednesday.

There's been lots of discussion of the project online, in the Sound Off column, and around town.

Mayor Scott Johnson was emphatic in sending the project to the board, that he wanted a "full review," not merely an advisory opinion. This is your chance to be heard on the project. With a 45-day time frame imposed, it is likely that there will be other opportunities for comment. But you know that old saw? The one about doing today what you shouldn't put off until tomorrow?

Saturday, April 11

Military ballots a done deal for Tedisco?

Thanks for the sign-off, Steve.

I'm sorry that I left every one in the lurch, but I was off Thursday and Friday for Passover, and on Wednesday I was in such a rush to get my Matzah on that I completely forgot to post anything to the blog before leaving the office.

By way of amends, I'm back with a special Saturday post.

I was just catching up on The Saratogian Online, when I came across a comment on a story about what happens in the case of a tie in the race for the 20th congressional district by The Troy Record's Tom Caprood when I noticed a comment left by "politicaljunkie."

The poster argues that the race for Senator Gillibrand's former Congressional seat will surely be swayed to Assemblyman Jim Tedisco by the still-to-be counted Military ballots, as those ballots typically break for Republicans.

I would like to offer an alternate view.

While it is beyond question that military voters do typically break for Republicans, I think there is a chance that we could see in this race a higher percentage of military votes going to Democrat Scott Murphy.


As a U.S. Rep., Gillibrand was a strong advocate for veterans, and was endorsed in 2008 by some veterans, including Captain Mike Biss, of the Saratoga Springs Police Department, who was featured in a TV ad for Gilibrand. During his campaign, Murphy frequently reiterated that he wanted to continue Gillibrand's work in that regard. Of course, Tedisco also said that he would like to work for veterans.

So, if military voters vote as they usually do in national elections, they will vote for Tedisco, as the poster suggests. If Gillibrand's inroads for veterans "rubbed off" on Murphy and his campaign, those votes could have been up for grabs by either candidate.

Either way, we should know the result... in a month or two. More important, whichever way the Millitary votes go, I think it's a little silly for "politialjunkie" to suggest that the race is a foregone conclusion -- or that we shouldn't be interested in it any longer.

Thursday, April 9

Bernstein out - for a few

It looks like Andrew left without saying goodbye. He's off until Monday for well-earned R&R, but if you need a reporter, contact the newsroom at 583-8729 and we'll take care of you.

Tuesday, April 7

Executive session

It's now 10:04, and we are still in the midst of the Mayor's agenda. Four more departments to go, plus two supervisors. Uhg.

The good news is that once my deadline passes (about four minutes ago), I'll be turning off the web cast and going home. The bad news is that I'll have to make a long round of follow-up calls in the morning.

The only decision that has been made in the meeting's first three hours that will not make it into tomorrow's paper was a vote taken in executive session to extend the 2008 maintenance agreement with the city school district for the east and west side rec fields, until a new agreement for 2009 can be reached. Why, exactly, this decision had to be taken in executive session, I'm not sure.

Monday, April 6

Back on the beat

Everyone here in the newsroom was pretty excited last Thursday, when Assemblyman Jim Tedisco called to announce that he'd be stepping down from his post as Minority Leader in the State Assembly to concentrate on his tradition to to Congress.

Why were we excited? Because he promised us that he wouldn't talk to any other news outlets until Friday, giving us the scoop. Of course, we didn't know (as Tedisco almost certainly did know), that the Times Union and AP were in the process of writing stories about the pressure he was getting from within his own conference to resign the leadership post.

I woke up Friday with the hope of, at the very least, a passing mention on FOX 23; "The Saratogian is reporting...," as they sometimes do.

Nothing. Instead, the TU story was getting all the buzz. Sure, we did get out in front of the story a bit before other papers, but it wasn't the triumphant scoop I'd been imagining. All because we don't have proper resources to dedicate to coverage of a congressional race AND the capitol.

What we do have is me, an over-worked reporter who has not done an adequate job of covering city issues in the week since the election.

I am the city reporter, and beginning today, I will be re-focusing on city matters, while still making sure to keep readers current on the latest in the congressional election-turned horse race.

Friday, April 3

Enough said...

Photo illustration by the Troy Record

Thursday, April 2

Census coming to town

Quick a.m. update:
Beginning this month, and stretching through to July of this year, U.S. Census employees will be visiting every house in the city.

Employees will wear physical identification, and will use hand-held computers to capture GPS coordinates and other data.

Although members of the public should expect Census bureau visitors, the Police Department wants residents to know that they should call police if they see anything suspicious taking place in their neighborhood.

Wednesday, April 1

Resolution delayed

Had I had a genie in a bottle yesterday, I would have wished for just one thing: a decisive end to the campaign for the 20th congressional district.

Unfortunately, I didn't have a genie in a bottle, and we are now going to have to wait two weeks at the very least to know the victor -- and there is a distinct possibility that litigation ensuing from the recount and absentee ballots will take months beyond that.

Strictly speaking as an observer of the race, I am really tired of covering it. I had hoped beyond hope that I'd be able to tap out my last words on the story Tuesday night, or maybe Wednesday, and lay it all to rest, but it is not to be.

We will now have to follow the election through the various ballot counts, and, as I said, likely litigation.

I'm sorry that this post-election day check-in is coming so late at night, but we had another busy day at the office today.

As you already know if you followed Tuesday night's live blog, I was stationed for the evening with Scott Murphy's camp at the Gideon Putnam. We had an 11:30 drop-dead deadline, so my blood pressure was rising steadily, when it was 10:30, 10:45, 11:00, and Murphy had still not appeared to make his speech.

Murphy aid Ryan Rudominer noted that Tedisco was still talking on Channel 9. "We don't want to be rude and interrupt him," he said.

So, Murphy finally took the stage at minutes after 11. I wasn't particularly surprised to see Senator Kirsten Gillibrand introduce him, but I was surprised to see Governor David Paterson take the stage. With his approval ratings in the basement, I thought that any Democratic success (or possible future success) would want to keep him at arm's length. But perhaps the governor wants to use the special election as a way to raise his own popularity. Of course, it also bears noting that Paterson was not active on the campaign trail.

So, it's going to be a long while before we know the outcome. In the mean time, I'll be stewing that I didn't get my one wish.

On another note, Tedisco told supporters to call him "Landslide Jim." HA! Even if Tedisco is the victor when the smoke clears, this race was no landslide -- as we all thought it would be back in late February.

One last note. Thanks to everyone who tuned in to the blog on Tuesday night. Over 5,500 people viewed this blog on Tuesday, shattering all previous record! More than 3,000 readers clicked onto the blog in the span of one hour, 10 to 11 p.m. That's a whole lot of readers, thank you! For more on the blog process, you can mosey on over to Steve's blog.