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Thursday, October 22

Easy questions at candidate forum

Once again, I am having a tough time digesting tonight's candidate forum. There was a lot of information presented, and it's tough to absorb every word.

The one point that I did take away is that I felt the questions posed by the audience were rather soft. While the candidates for Mayor were asked three questions pertaining to sustainability, there was only one question relating to contract negotiations -- and then that was tangential at best. Similarly, neither of the candidates for Mayor were given adequate opportunity to discuss possible new revenues to the city, other than paid parking. Not to say that those issues aren't important, but there are other issues out there.

The candidates were clearly primed for harder questions than they were dealt. I won't go so far as to say shame on the public, because what is important to members of the public may not be the same as what the press or the candidates think are important issues -- but given the omnipotence of the budget issue, I do think that it and related matters should have been given more attention.

The candidates for Finance did spend more time addressing these matters, but it is the Mayor who negotiates contracts, and to whom the city looks for guidance.

27 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrew J. Bernstein:

I don't think your impression that both mayoral candidates were ready for tough questions is correct.

It's true that Commissioner Kim seemed very well prepared, but Mayor Johnson clearly wasn't ready to deal with the recording of Deputy Mayor Shauna Sutton's voicemail message berating a former city employee.

Johnson also wasn't ready for the question about Sutton going door-to-door telling voters that former Mayor Valerie Keehn will be Deputy Mayor if Kim becomes Mayor. Johnson denied Sutton was spreading that rumor, despite the fact that everyone in town knows she did.

Meanwhile, Kim said exactly the right things: He praised Keehn's service as Mayor, noting that she left the city with a $4 million surplus that Johnson squandered, but he said he knows she's not interested in becoming Deputy Mayor, even though he quoted a voter who said she'd love to see Keehn back in the Mayor's office. Then he said he wouldn't presume to make a decision on a Deputy Mayor until after the election when, if he's elected, he'll know who might be available, and he finished by praising his current Deputy Commissioner, Eileen Finneran, who also happens to be Keehn's former Deputy Mayor.

October 23, 2009 at 6:59 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Johnson didn't have a very good night. When questioned about spending thousands of dollars on outside labor lawyers who've wasted two years and failed to settle a single union contract, he mumbled something about needing competent professionals but ignored the need to explain why he, as a lawyer himself, or City Attorney Joe Scala, or Assistant City Attorney Tony Izzo couldn't handle the job.

Kim pounced on the question, noting that, without outside attorneys, he settled all 6 public safety union contracts within months after taking office as Public Safety Commissioner, winning concessions that lowered the starting salaries for cops and firefighters and saving the city big bucks. He also promised to return to the collaborative approach of including the other commissioners in contract negotiations with the workers in their departments.

What's the point of electing a lawyer to the mayor's job if he's going to leave the most important legal work to an expensive and ineffective outside law firm?

October 23, 2009 at 7:18 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scott Johnson didn't offer much of a defense of his practice of making city decisions in private executive sessions of the City Council. At the debate, Ron Kim took advantage of every opportunity to point out that the Open Meetings Law requires public decisions to be made in public.

Johnson kept trying to dodge the issue. When he finally tried a counterattack, it fell flatter than a pancake, because all he could manage was a whiny complaint about the Democrats "taking the high road" by constantly advocating openness and transparency in government. Sounds like he's wrong and he knows it.

October 23, 2009 at 7:48 AM 
Blogger demroc said...

what did you think about the question regarding the tape recorded message. that seemed to send johnson off his game a bit for a few minutes.

October 23, 2009 at 8:01 AM 
Blogger Ben lives on said...

Your telling me that a man who as been planning to run for Mayor for months has no idea who he wants for his deputy? Well that’s what Ron Kim said and when asked directly who his deputy was going to he also danced around the question if he was considering.
Val Keehn and refused to rule her out.
You can see raw unedited excerpts of the debate at
http://saratogaindecline.blogspot.com/

October 23, 2009 at 8:09 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When commenting on the amount of criticism a mayor has to absorb, Johnson was probably just reaching for a common figure of speech when he said, "I'm a big boy. I can take it." Not a very good choice of words for a man of such small stature who claims that he does a good job as the "face of the city" even though he often looks like a little kid dressed up a like a grown up.

And he sure didn't do himself any good with the complaint that Kim only talks to him during City Council meetings and gives him the cold shoulder at other times. That sounded an awful lot like, "Mommy, make Ron stop being mean to me!"

October 23, 2009 at 9:20 AM 
Blogger Ben lives on said...

The most telling comment of the night was when Johnson said
"Commissioner Kim
we sit barely four feet apart night after night at the council table and you stopped speaking to me over a year an a half ago not even a simple hello in a year and a half."


Many of us have found the same thing with Kim disagree with once and that's the last time he will ever acknowledge your existence again.

http://saratogaindecline.blogspot.com/

October 23, 2009 at 1:03 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, if the former employee was a slacker, maybe they deserved the berating. Some people can't be reached with please and thank you.
I haven't heard the recording, and can't assume it's authentic, but sometimes people need a little thicker skin.

Also, if Keehn is such a wonderful option, as she must be for Kim to know that she isn't interested (assuming he knows because he asked if she is interested), who cares if someone is spreading the rumor that she will be the deputy? Clearly she will attract some votes, and push away others. Do you really think she hurts the "ticket" more than she helps it?

As for all the lawyers needed for the current contract negotiations, perhaps the contracts that Ron negotiated with them is so mucked up that you need very specialized council to un-muck it. It takes a lot more skill to put the egg back together than to crack it in the first place.

October 23, 2009 at 3:25 PM 
Anonymous Kid Tatter said...

Ben Lives On - Sounds like you are jealous of Val Keehn. How's living out of Saratoga treating you Kaiser? Val Keehn is a much better choice than Shauna Sutton for deputy. At least she is pleasant.

October 23, 2009 at 4:50 PM 
Blogger Horatio Alger said...

"Kim pounced on the question, noting that, without outside attorneys, he settled all 6 public safety union contracts within months after taking office as Public Safety Commissioner, winning concessions that lowered the starting salaries for cops and firefighters and saving the city big bucks."

PROVE IT. Show us the contract. Show us the savings. Show us ANYTHING.

But you won't, because you lying sack(s) --I use this designation because I'm fairly certain four of these posts were made by the same person --know that Kim didn't do any of the things you allege.

BTW, I can easily prove how wrong you are by showing you the city budget, which increases police spending EVERY YEAR Kim is in office. That's a fact. If you don't believe me, look it up on the city Web site.

Unfortunately for your point, you can't show ME or anyone else the police contract, because KIM WON'T RELEASE IT. Nice open government he's running over there. Keep living in your Keehnland dream, while the rest of us pay for the mistakes voters like you made by giving us this dolt and his puppeteer for a deputy as a 'city leader.'

October 23, 2009 at 8:13 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...the recording of Deputy Mayor Shauna Sutton's voicemail message berating a former city employee. "

What was that all about ? Who was on the receiving end ?

October 24, 2009 at 5:23 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Settling a Union contract is more than up to just the lawyers. The unions themselves with their representation have to be willing to work with what is asked of them. If they're not willing to come to some sort of an agreement as a Union, how exactly are the lawyers supposed to settle contracts?

October 25, 2009 at 12:49 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You on vacation again? :)

October 27, 2009 at 7:37 AM 
Anonymous J Thige said said...

I'll be voting for Kim again.

October 27, 2009 at 9:47 AM 
Blogger Andrew J. Bernstein said...

anon 5:23: The recording is a message left by Deputy Mayor Shauna Sutton for former Public Safety executive assistant Suzanne Kwazinewski. I have had a recording of the message for several weeks, and we discussed it with Mayor Johnson during his endorsement interview.

October 27, 2009 at 11:08 AM 
Blogger demroc said...

sitting on the dock of the bay, watching the thige roll away....please inform jt and his 500 aliases that i am not chadwick. thank you. It is flattering, however.

October 27, 2009 at 5:00 PM 
Anonymous Kid Tatter said...

So Andrew, What does the recording say? Will it become public before the election? The public has the right to know.
Horatio needs to back off with his hate for the democrats. You are a Tommy lover that just won't give it up. How's your Miller campaign doing?

October 27, 2009 at 5:28 PM 
Blogger Andrew J. Bernstein said...

"Kid Tatter," We are discussing whether or not the recording should be made public. Since it was a private message, I'm not entirely sure that the public "as a right to know," or what value making the recording public might have.

Anyway, if we decide to post the audio, you will certainly know about it.

October 27, 2009 at 5:41 PM 
Blogger demroc said...

oh the suspense.

October 27, 2009 at 6:13 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think as a public employee, leaving a message with or on public equipment, it's public.

Or, if the lady on the receiving end wants it public, you should honor her wishes and publicize it. The person who left it has no expectation of privacy, they lost that expectation when they LEFT THE RECORDED MESSAGE! (duh...)

That being said, if it is that bad, Johnson should understand that some may support him only if he finds a new deputy, and says so up front. I for one wouldn't vote for a guy who stands by and watches that kind of behavior and does nothing, if in fact the voice mail is as incriminating as some make it out to be (I can't say, i haven't heard it).

Even the worst employees have a right to be treated with respect, even if it is while you politely inform them that their performance is the reason they are now unemployed.

October 27, 2009 at 8:51 PM 
Anonymous Food for Thought said...

Let's face it. Sutton is not fit to be in any kind of position in government. Her incompetence may cost Johnson his second term. Although this is her season. The season of the witch that is.

October 27, 2009 at 9:34 PM 
Blogger Horatio Alger said...

5:28,

I am beholden to no politician, party or view. I call 'em as I see 'em. Unfortunately, there's nothing I could write that would diminish your psycho-sexual sadomasochistic longing to wear Tom McTygue's skin like it were a finely tailored suit(a la Silence of the Lambs). There ARE hospitals that treat these sort of fetishes. No matter where you live in the city, Four Winds is only down the street.

BTW, where do you get the remotest idea that I hate Democrats? First of all, I don't 'hate' anyone in this city. There are people I strongly dislike, but hate is an entirely different ball game. Secondly, if there was a group that came close to hating, it would be the DFC scum that helped squander a perfectly good chance to set this city on a proper track for the future.

October 28, 2009 at 10:45 AM 
Blogger Andrew J. Bernstein said...

anon 8:51: I have no reason to believe that the message was left using publicly-owned phone equipment. It was most definitely not recorded on publicly-owned equipment.

Honestly, having listened to the recording, I don't think it's enough to cause some of the blow-back that has been suggested here. But, I guess we'll see.

October 28, 2009 at 2:37 PM 
Blogger demroc said...

again, before i get accused by horatio and no tomaxstein soze, 5:28 was not me. but if you say so, ho. i think a lot of people have that impression of what you do. and you know, that's fine if that's who you like. i've just stopped arguing with you about it.

October 28, 2009 at 3:18 PM 
Anonymous Kid Tatter said...

Horatio,

Here's a newsflash! Every newly voted council has the chance to put our city on track. Each time we think we did it right we get disappointed. This time will be no different. The change of our government form will be the start of the city to get on the right track. It has nothing to do with democrats or republicans. It certainly has nothing to do with this sorry lot that calls themselves the independent party!

October 29, 2009 at 7:21 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So does the transcript of the message get posted? Did the woman who received it agree to let you share?

October 29, 2009 at 10:12 AM 
Blogger Andrew J. Bernstein said...

anon 10:12: We're still discussing.

October 29, 2009 at 10:24 AM 

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