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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, October 6

Kyle York allegations

I would say that in the two years I've been covering the City Council, tonight's meeting was among the most important. The city is facing a multi-million dollar gap in revenue, and has some difficult decisions to make.

What are we supposed to go without? The flowers that make our city an attractive summertime destination or the police officers who keep the rowdy visitors in line? The DPW crews who keep the streets clean in summer and passable in winter or firefighters? Should we close down the visitor center?

In short, I am not envious of Commissioner Ivins' job.

All that being said, I hope that we (the government, public, and press) can get through this year's budget process in an amicable fashion, without the rancor we saw last year. That meeting (documented in the linked article), was referenced to me twice today, once in a candidate interview with Eddie Miller, Independence candidate for Public Works, and once by citizen Kyle York, who spoke at tonight's city council meeting.

York said that a confidential source had confided him that a member of the City Council had been threatened by a union worker, presumably over the budget. York declined to discuss any of the details with me, but said that he would speak with DA James Murphy tomorrow. Police Chief Ed Moore also said he had no idea what York was talking about.

So, although I have no idea what York is talking about, if union members are threatening members of the council, that would certainly be troubling. It's no wonder the parties have a hard time finding candidates.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ask Chief Moore the question directly. "Did you in an unprofessional manner threaten the Commissioner of Finance when the city was dealing with the 2009 budget deficit?"

October 7, 2009 at 5:58 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrew J. Bernstein:

You and the police chief are not the only people who don't have any idea what Kyle York is talking about. Kyle York doesn't have any idea what he's talking about. He never does.

October 7, 2009 at 6:58 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Today's front page story quotes Ken Ivins as saying that Saratoga Springs was promised VLT money when the city agreed to host a VLT facility at the harness track. That's completely false.

Here's what really happened.

In 2002, the City Council and the County Board of Supervisors adopted resolutions approving the State's plan to put a VLT facility in Saratoga. Neither the city nor the county conditioned their approval on any promises of State aid.

The idea of State aid never even came up until 2006, when the Mayor of Yonkers asked Governor Pataki for $20 million of State aid to close the Yonkers budget gap. Yonkers didn't even have a VLT facility yet, but Pataki asked the State Legislature to pass a law giving VLT aid to Yonkers and only Yonkers.

When Saratoga Springs Mayor Valerie Keehn found about about Pataki's plan, she organized all the other VLT host communities (Finger Lakes, Buffalo, Batavia, etc.) and the Saratoga Springs City Council and led them all to Albany to lobby the Governor, the Senate Majority, the Senate Minority, the Assembly Majority, and the Assembly Minority. She covered all the bases, and won approval of a statewide program that promised VLT aid to all the host communities. It happened in 2006, when Valerie Keehn was mayor, not way back in 2002, as Ivins says.

In 2009, the State Legislature changed the law to eliminate the VLT aid to Saratoga Springs but keep the aid flowing to Yonkers and all the other host communities.

What was different between 2006 and 2009? Valerie Keehn was no longer mayor. Instead, we had Scott Johnson as mayor and Ken Ivins as Finance Commissioner. They only made a halfhearted, inept effort to hold on to the State aid. Johnson talked only to Republican members of the Legislature and ignored the Democrats, who happened to hold the majorities in both houses.

Now, Ivins is trying to rewrite history. He apparently thinks voters will forget what really happened and forgive his (and Mayor Johnson's) ineptitude. Big mistake. In fact, electing Ivins and Johnson was a big mistake. Let's hope voters don't repeat it in November.

October 7, 2009 at 7:22 AM 
Blogger demroc said...

wasn't it tony fisher, under tom mctygue, that head butted dave bronner?

October 7, 2009 at 3:30 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't this law firm we are paying to negotiate with the Unions find a way to get our VLT money back? How can the governor just unilaterally back out of the agreement? Can anyone on the boards here explain that?

October 8, 2009 at 8:41 AM 
Blogger demroc said...

Andrew, it has been going around the rumor mill, that this csea guy was from albany and not the city. Have you heard anything ?

October 8, 2009 at 8:50 AM 
Blogger Horatio Alger said...

Look, I have VERY hard time believing the two major parties CAN'T find candidates. Their problem is they can't find candidates to their liking. There's a real big difference.

I guarantee if each respective party went down the list of enrolled members, they'd find an ample number of people willing to run for public office. I'd also guarantee they'd attract more people into the process if the process itself wasn't so exclusive.

The problem we have today is that a small group of people with narrow minds lead parties that have immense financial resources. These people refuse to treat anyone who WON'T tow the party line with even a degree of seriousness. Just look at the slate of candidates we are faced with today. All of them are party hacks in one way or another. In other words, there's a sense of needing to 'pay dues' in a party before you can get the prize, which is a comfy patronage job at the end of the rainbow.

Also, I'm really bothered by this notion that the scrutiny these figures face is like some thorny crown they bear in office. Utter BS. They get PAID! And some of them get paid to do what amounts to nothing! I tell you what: Give me $14,500 per year and health benefits on top of my normal earnings, and you can malign me all you want. Usually, I provide this service for free.

I understand your point, but it sounds like too many politicians have been crying in your ear. Don't let these snake charmers fool you.

October 8, 2009 at 9:10 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK -> interesting that we never negotiated our share until after the fact... Didn't know that. I just remember everyone saying how much moeny the Racino would bring in... i guess they forgot that there is no tax on the gambling for the locals, only the state.

Either way, it seems very wrong that of the 7, 6 get money and we don't.

I still say, blockade the place and give tickets to everyone coming or going until we turn people off or get our share.

October 8, 2009 at 2:13 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Horatio, I think they take their ribbing better than you take yours.

October 8, 2009 at 4:03 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 8:41:

The Governor didn't unilaterally back out of any agreement. There never was an agreement.

There was a law enacted in 2006, that Mayor Valerie Keehn lobbied for, that promised annual State aid to all VLT communities. Early in 2009, Governor Paterson proposed an amendment to change the law so that only communities with a high level of poverty (i.e., all of them except Saratoga) would continue receiving the extra State aid.

Mayor Scott Johnson asked Senator Roy McDonald and Assembly Member Jim Tedisco to try to stop the amendment from passing. McDonald was the most junior member of the Senate, having just been elected to replace the disgraced Joe Bruno. He was also a member of the minority Republican conference, which, under Bruno, had managed to lose the majority status the Republicans held for 40 years. Tedisco was busy running unsuccessfully for Congress and getting ready to give up his post as leader of the tiny Republican minority in the Assembly.

Mayor Johnson couldn't possibly have found two less powerful or influential legislators to rely on. Out of an excess of Republican partisanship, he made no effort to lobby the Democratic Governor and the Democratic leaders of the Senate and the Assembly (unlike Mayor Keehn, who did the hard work of lobbying Republicans and Democrats alike in the Legislature and the Governor's office).

Result: After being ignored by Mayor Johnson, the legislative majorities felt free to ignore Saratoga and passed the amendment to cut Saratoga out of the aid program.

Did the Governor and the Legislature change the law? Yes. Did Mayor Johnson totally fail the leadership test? Yes. Does Mayor Johnson only work well with other Republicans? Yes. Can Mayor Johnson work well with members of all parties and independents? No. Should Mayor Johnson and Commissioner Ivins be re-elected? Only if we want another 2 years of ineptitude and failure.

October 8, 2009 at 4:25 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Here's what really happened.... The DIFFERENCE BETWEEN 2006 and 2009 IS NOT VAL...IT'S NO JOE BRUNO. Wake up. Saratoga has no clout in Albany. Take a look at our stat reps. One has been coasting toward his pension for about 50 years (come on what has over the hill farley ever done?) The other blew all of his credit on a failed congressional run. He even got cut out of State Pork money and then claimed he turned it down. Can't turn down what they are not going to give you, Jimmy.

October 8, 2009 at 4:50 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 4:50:

A few problems with your claim that Joe Bruno made the difference:

1. Buffalo Fairgrounds racino - didn't have Joe Bruno, still doesn't have Joe Bruno, still gets VLT aid.

2. Batavia racino - didn't have Joe Bruno, still doesn't have Joe Bruno, still gets VLT aid.

3. Finger Lakes racino - didn't have Joe Bruno, still doesn't have Joe Bruno, still gets VLT aid.

4. Vernon Downs racino - didn't have Joe Bruno, still doesn't have Joe Bruno, still gets VLT aid.

5. Tioga Downs racino - didn't have Joe Bruno, still doesn't have Joe Bruno, still gets VLT aid.

6. Monticello racino - didn't have Joe Bruno, still doesn't have Joe Bruno, still gets VLT aid.

7. Yonkers racino - didn't have Joe Bruno, still doesn't have Joe Bruno, still gets VLT aid.

8. Saratoga racino - did have Joe Bruno, now has Scott Johnson, doesn't get VLT aid.

Joe Bruno is on his way to federal prison, where he belongs. All the other racino communities have local officials and state legislators who know how to work with Republicans and Democrats alike. They all get VLT aid because they know who to talk to and how to talk to them. Scott Johnson and Ken Ivins are hyper-partisan Republicans who don't have a clue how to get state aid from Democratic officials in Albany. We're suffering the consequences.

October 9, 2009 at 7:33 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why does everyone keep mentioning Bruno, Tedisco, Farley, Keehn? Isn't Scott Murphy handing out money....What about our wonderful Kirsten?

I suppose it's naive to expect our 'representatives' to represent us....

October 9, 2009 at 6:33 PM 
Blogger Horatio Alger said...


If you're thinking that Keehn had ANYTHING personally to do with the VLT funding, you're living in a dreamland. You might have a case to say SHAWN THOMPSON had something to do with it, but even that's a bit of a stretch. Like it or not, the funding was one of the last greasy bits of pork Bruno chucked at the Spa City. I personally believe he knew the hammer was dropping, or at least had some idea, and used the $12 million for the city center and $3.3 for the city as a way to cement his legacy.

Now you mention the other communities, name one that is even remotely close to Saratoga Springs in demographics or even appearance. You can't, because all of those communities lack even a quarter of the wealth that now resides in Saratoga.

October 9, 2009 at 7:45 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a thought, and a question for Andrew to ask. At any point, just prior to the council voting in the 2009 budget - were any of the leaders (Ivins or Johnson) contacted by a leader in Albany with this warning: "Passing a 0% tax increase is evidence that you do not need the VLT funds. If you pass 0%, then we can not guarantee your money." Too bad phone taps don't exist in city hall. They were notified, and failed to heed the warning. Dig deep enough, Andrew...I bet someone in Albany could verify that Saratoga was warned. At this point, you could even try asking around city hall, someone not steering the wheel might be fed up by now. Lord knows Ivins or Johnson wouldn't fess up. As anyone in an Albany office can confirm, NYState doesn't just pull they plug on funding - there's normally lots of talk and threats well before the action.

October 10, 2009 at 8:59 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 8:59,interesting story if this being the case you mean to tell me the democrats for change would stoop to this level of sabotage if you recall it was John Frank a democrat who made the motion for the zero tax increase,mmmm,nice try shawn and eileen.

October 12, 2009 at 2:49 PM 

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