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

Monday, November 30

Can the jobs be saved?

It seems that with some budget monkeying, Commissioner of Public Safety Ron Kim has found a way to keep three or four police officers from losing their jobs, and possibly some fire fighters.

However, he didn't bring these suggestions to the table until Monday's agenda meeting, a meeting held the day prior to City Council meetings. Unfortunately, that meeting was less than 24 hours before the comprehensive budget become law by default -- the budget garnered just two votes at a special meeting last week.

It appears to be too late for Kim or anyone else to amend that budget by the midnight deadline, so Kim will, instead, attempt to amend it at tomorrow's regularly scheduled council meeting. The trick is, we've all been operating under the assumption that the budget cannot be changed until Jan. 1, when Commissioner-elect Richard Wirth will come into office.

Kim says when the 2010 can be changed is more a matter of interpretation. I think there will be some interesting discussions at the table tomorrow night.

Wednesday, November 25

Happy Thanksgiving!

There has been a lot of contention in City Hall recently, and I, for one, am very happy to be getting away from it all for a few days. I'll be down in Brooklyn until Sunday, so please contact the newsroom via phone (583-8729) for any urgent needs.

Meanwhile, back in the city, I've heard that there could possibly be some last-minute budget wrangling before Monday's drop-dead deadline to adopt a 2010 budget. There are no additional meetings scheduled at this time, and it did not seem that Commissioner of Finance Ivins Jr. anticipated working further on the budget, but we'll see what happens as the City Council chews a lump of layoffs along with their turkey and stuffing.

I don't have anything firm to report at the moment, but stay tuned. Or maybe it won't happen at all. And uncomfortable feelings at Thanksgiving can be revisited at Hanukkah/Christmas time.

In any event, thanks for reading and have a great holiday -- if you can!

Monday, November 23

No happy holidays here

Despite the Christmas decorations that have already gone up around town, no one was in a very festive mood at tonight's City Council meeting, at which, by a failure to adopt a budget, effectively adopted the budget proposed in early October, thereby eliminating about 40 city jobs.

Happy holidays.

There was some talk, at the council table, of possible finding a few more dollars here or there in the next five weeks, in order to restore a handful of these positions, but no one on the council seemed too optimistic. Who can blame them? These layoffs have been on the table since early October, and if there were no possible moves to save jobs between then and now, what is going to suddenly change now?

One interesting revelation that did come out of the meeting was a statement by Chief Edward Moore, of the police department, who said that he may well leave, so as to create an opening for a younger officer to keep their job.

Maybe we'll see more of this kind of move in other departments? Guess we'll see...

Saturday, November 21


When the Commissioner of Finance Kenneth Ivins Jr. first proposed his 2010 comprehensive budget, I thought the prospect of laying off nearly 30 city employees was a tactic designed to scare the departments into finding other savings, or to try and force the hands of the DPW, City Hall, and Police unions, each of which still has an outstanding contract.

While that may well have been the initial goal, it seems pretty clear at this point that none of the contracts will be settled by next Monday, when the council is required to adopt some kind of budget, or the original proposal becomes law.

Was this a misguided move? I don't know, but I certainly understand why the unions would want to establish a precedent of giving back every time the city was in crisis, lest they become the city's go-to source for more money every time there's a crisis. On the other hand, the unions do have awfully nice benefits.

So, if the city doesn't get what it initially wanted, and the unions see some members loose their jobs, and the tax payers see reduced services (and rising property taxes), what's the net effect? Everyone looses. In the words of Ivins, is this "sharing the pain?" I guess so. Seems like everyone really is going to loose on Monday, no mater how those votes go.

Or maybe someone will pull a rabbit out of a hat.

Thursday, November 19


When I talked to Commissioner of Finance Kenneth Ivins Jr. this morning, after he presented proposed amendments to the 2010 operating budget, he said he was very comfortable with both his original proposal and his newest amendment.

His confidence, it seems comes from the deep-seated belief that the tax payer is on his side. He did win re-election by a comfortable margin over an opponent who ran on a platform of doing things differently, so his confidence is not rooted in thin air.

But there are a lot of other skeptics out there, including skeptics who also won election or re-election by a comfortable margin. When one of these two proposals goes into law, lets hope that Ivins is able to convert the skeptics, otherwise we'll only be looking at more cuts in May, should it look like parking revenue will not materialize.

Wednesday, November 18

Budget process end game

With only 11 hours to go before the City Council holds a workshop on the 2010 comprehensive budget, and sees for the first time a revised proposal to be put forward by Commissioner of Finance Kenneth Ivins, Jr., I am finding it increasingly unlikely that this council will agree on any budget.

Although I am not privy to exactly what Ivins will present tomorrow, I have to imagine that unless he has found a new source of revenue other than paid parking, a way not to cut employees in public works and public safety, and reduced the proposed property tax increase, he isn't likely to get the consensus needed to change his original proposal.

Where does that leave us? If the council doesn't approve a budget by Nov. 30, the comprehensive budget first presented on Oct. 6 will become law, including all of the personnel reductions.

Is this what the public wants? According to Al Calucci, who spoke at Tuesday's council meeting, this is exactly what voters want, according to the results of the recent election. Personally, I have a different opinion. While there certainly does need to be some sharing of the pain, I hope that the council is able to come together to build a consensus on a budget that will not cut the city's workforce so deeply.

We are already hard up against the Nov. 30 deadline, and it will take a strong act of will for this council to push their turkey away and return to work, but that is their duty as elected officers, and I hope that the council will be able to reach a consensus on the budget, because a budget by default will only hurt.

Tuesday, November 17

Leadership needed on paid parking

A couple house keeping notes:

1) I apologize that things have been a little stagnant around here lately. I was in a rush to leave the office Friday to catch a plane, and didn't have time to post, and then was off yesterday (to work on Saturday), hence nothing new since Thursday.

2) Readers leaving comments will notice that you will now be asked to complete a word verification "captcha" before your comment will be submitted for moderation. I apologize for the extra step, but I've been receiving a large number of spam comments recently, which I could do without. I'm hoping the word verification will cut down on them.

On to the regular business:

As you can read in the print edition, tonight's City Council kicked off with a public hearing on the proposed 2010 budget. Some of the comments focused on paid parking, which is being proposed to help close a $6.5 million revenue gap. There were quite a few reference to a Reader's View written by Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce President Joe Dalton and published in The Saratogian on Sunday.

While I cannot verify the accuracy of the numbers cited in Dalton's letter, I can tell you that many of the comments that came up on Tuesday, and which referenced the letter, spoke to the practicality of this whole business, and, I think, throw into question the city's ability to get paid parking in place by May 1, as proposed.

The comment that really got me thinking was offered by Kyle York, who pointed out that Commissioner of Finance Kenneth Ivins Jr. proposes a committee shape paid parking. The committee would include pertinent city departments, as well as the chamber, the Downtown Business Association, and the down town Special Assessment District.

We know that the DBA and Chamber are not excited (to put it mildly) about paid parking, while pretty much everyone in City Hall has agreed that it's a necessity. So, what we're going to wind up with is a committee discussing a project wanted by half of its membership, but not wanted by the other half. How this committee is going to arrive at a model that is going to be palatable to its entire membership, and that is going to allow the city to bring in the $1.35 million budgeted in 2010 is beyond me.

Over the years we've had lots of committees, and, in my experience, they often fail to reach resolutions on matters much less complicated than paid parking -- or, if they do succeed, it takes longer than five months. Maybe this time will be different?

Some have mentioned that a parking authority is needed to shape and manage paid parking in the city. I'm not sure that another layer of bureaucracy is what we need, but we do need a strong voice to come forward and put the Chamber and DBA in their place.

If paid parking is going to be a new source of revenue for the city (as seems a near-certainty), then I hope the paid parking committee will have a chairperson who will not be afraid to tell the Joe Daltons of the city that paid parking is coming, and remind them that their job is to make Saratoga Springs a premier destination in New York, both for business and pleasure, even if it costs some pocket change to park a car.

Thursday, November 12

More fallout for Murphy

The fallout to U.S. Rep. Murphy over his 'no' vote on the House health care reform bill continues today, in both online and physical forms.

First, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee has launched a web ad targeting Murphy and other Democrats who voted against the bill. An email sent out by the committee to its 250,000 members calls Murphy a "bad Democrat."

"Poll after poll shows that even voters in conservative areas want health care reform and demand the public option. Scott Murphy won his special election thanks to ads featuring President Obama, yet he voted the president's top domestic priority: health reform that Murphy's constituents desperately need. We're making sure he pays a political price back home for that," said Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.

Second,, a left-leaning advocacy group, has planned a 4:30 rally outside of Murphy's Clifton Park office for this afternoon.

"We are at a historic moment for health care policy. Late Saturday night, the House voted to pass the health care bill that contains the public option. Unfortunately, Congressman Murphy voted against the bill. We will be meeting to show the Congressman that we are disappointed with his vote, and urge him to follow the lead of Senator Schumer, a true champion of the public option," said a description of the rally posted on the organization's website.

As you can read in my story from Tuesday's paper, Murphy felt that the reforms would not bring adequate reform to the health care system, and said that he hopes the Senate send back a bill that will better jive with his views, and yet, the idealistic vote may have served to curry negative sentiment among many of Murphy's supporters. Time will tell how this vote effects him.

Tuesday, November 10

Breaking the monotony

9,000+ unique hits in October, thanks everyone!

All continues to be quiet in City Hall, with the election being over, and the budget still pending. I believe that the public hearing next Tuesday will be very interesting, and expect that we will see a proposed budget with some kind of revision.

In general, though, I would say that this is possibly one of the least-stimulating periods that I can recall experiencing in city government.

To break the monotony, I will share a gag that I just read in the current issue of The Skidmore News (available downtown at Esperanto's, among other locations). The joke appears in the paper's "Blurbs overheard" section, and is discussing the college's annual Moorebid Ball, a Halloween dance, named for the former residence hall in which the dance was once held:

"I lost my fake ID at Moorebid."
"Jeez, that sucks."
"Yeah, and when I went to Campus Safety to see if they'd found it, they were ridiculously unhelpful."

Ah, to be in college..

Monday, November 9

A political vote from Murphy?

I was over at a Scott Murphy press conference earlier this afternoon, hearing his reasoning for voting "no" on a landmark health care reform bill that paves the way for health care to be available to a wider audience.

Murphy, who appeared much more harried than usual, and spoke much faster than he usual does, cited a few reasons, that you can read about in my story (a longer version will be published in the morning.) But, I did think it was interesting to note that although he had several issues with the legislation, Murphy did not offer an amendments on the bill.

* No word on exactly why not, but if I had to guess, it would be that the Congressman knows he doesn't have enough political clout to amend major legislation put forward by the House leadership and championed by the President.

I'd further note, that just like when then-Representative Kirsten Gillibrand broke ranks and voted against the Troubled Asset Relief Program back in September 2008, Murphy's vote may have been at least partially to placate the portion of his constituency that is, for various reasons, not in support of health care reform. He knew the bill would go through without his vote, and thus didn't have to worry about having the bill's failure on his conscience, but could also say that he stood up for the interests of major employers (and minor employers) in the district, as well as continuing to talk about the need for further reforms.

When Gillibrand broke ranks in 2008, it was generally agreed upon that TARP was unpopular in the district, and seen as a politically-motivated vote done on the eve of a major election. Perhaps Murphy's vote was similar?

There is a good break down of who voted which way on the legislation here.

*It has come to my attention that a limit was imposed on the number of amendments by rules concerning debate on the bill. Read more here.

Friday, November 6

Storm coming

It's looking a lot like late fall outside the newsroom windows, and that can only mean one thing: the calm before the store.

Now that the election is over, the council members have to put through a budget by Nov. 30, if they want to avoid the layoffs contained in the current budget draft. So far, I have not heard of any revisions made to the budget, and I know that Commissioner of Finance Kenneth Ivins Jr. wants to meet with the newly elected Commissioner of Public Safety, Richard Wirth. But after a quiet and brief meeting on Wednesday evening, I think it's safe to say that we'll be back to business as usual by the next meeting.

After all, Commissioner of Public Works Skip Scirocco is still going to want to prevent the loss of jobs in his department, as will Commissioner of Public Safety Ron Kim, even if he is a lame duck. On the flip side, everyone is going to want to keep taxes as low as possible, and I hate to burst the bubble, but I think it's fairly clear that the VLT money isn't coming back.

All of that comprises a lot of challenges that this council is going to have to address, and all in the next three weeks.

So, even if the election is over, but things on the council are still plenty busy.

Thursday, November 5

Thoughts on the new council

Things around here are unbelievably quiet since the election. That's fine with me, the election contained enough stress for me to last until next summer, when we can start thinking about state and national races in the area.

The biggest question I have regarding the newly-elected City Council is the role that Commissioner of Public Works Skip Scirocco will play. He often voted with lame duck Commissioner of Public Safety Ron Kim, a Democrat. Now without his reliable ally, will he come back into the GOP fold?


Wednesday, November 4

Not too much adjustment needed

I have to admit, I'm not sure what to write for my first post-election post, so I'll just write what's on the top of my mind at this moment.

First of all, I'd like to thank the 3,000 readers who used last night's live blog to follow the city elections. The flexibility and easy access this blog provides us in the newsroom is, I think, a real benefit to readers, and last night's readership numbers prove that you are taking advantage of it.

The readership numbers mean that about a tenth of the city's population chose this blog over TV news to follow the election (or as a supplement). I'd further parse that by noting that about 7,000 voters participated in yesterday's election, roughly a fifth of the city's population, and nearly half of voters in the city turned to us for Election Day coverage.

This, I believe is the power of the local media. No other media outlet covered the four contested city races in as much detail as we did -- most focused on the Mayor's race, which is silly considering our form of government -- and readers clearly recognize that, so thank you.

I will admit that I spent some time last night in a mild state of dismay, fretting about how I was going to learn all the new faces on the city council, but then realized that I was acting foolishly, as Richard Wirth is the only new face, and because he has regularly attended council meetings for the past two years, I know his face very well.

In addition, his likely choice of deputy, Frank Dudla, was one of the first people I met upon taking this job in 2007. In short, I think Wirth's transition into office, from a press perspective, will be smooth, as I think we already have a good rapport. I am looking forward to building on our relationship. Plus, we're both from "downstate."

I will also say, though, that Commissioner Kim was another of the first people I met back in 2007, after he won election to his second term. Because I first covered the City Council during the lame duck phase of the 2006-2007 term, I have a longer-standing relationship with Kim than I do with some of his colleagues on the current council.

You can have your opinion on the commissioner, but I will say this: his passion at the council table was good for selling newspapers. I also feel that I have a good rapport with him, and I wish him the best as returns his primary focus to his law practice.

Tuesday, November 3

2009 Election Night live blog: Over

Our reporters are back and we're all busy crunching numbers, typing away and making sure stories get done and on the page on deadline.

I'm declaring this live blog both a success and over. Check back here and at my blog, Tangled in Wires, tomorrow for more coverage of election results and stats on just how many of you checked us out tonight.

And of course, keep it tuned to for hometown coverage of your hometown races.

2009 Election Night live blog: FYI

A response I left to an anonymous commenter in a post below, inquiring why our numbers aren't matching what the Times Union is reporting:

"The TU seems to reporting what the Saratoga County Board of Elections has; as of 10:36 p.m., the BOE was still reporting only 23 of 25 districts, as was the TU.

We had folks from the League of Women Voters set up in our lobby, receiving numbers from volunteers pulling final tallies at each district.

Please remember all results are unofficial at this time."

See the pics below (click to enlarge).

2009 Election Night live blog: All districts reporting

Final (unofficial) numbers as reported by the Saratoga League of Women Voters are in.

Total across all 25 voting districts in Saratoga Springs:

Ron Kim - 2,833
Scott Johnson - 4,156

Public Safety
Richard Wirth - 3,354
Kevin Connolly - 2,978

Dept. of Public Works
Anthony "Skip" Scirocco - 4,143
Ed Miller - 1,367


Kenneth Ivins Jr. - 3,469
Peter Martin - 3,104

2009 Election Night live blog: Scirocco apparent winner

Emily has reported via text message that as "Skip" Scirocco accepted his victory, someone put "Hot dogs, anyone?" on the PowerPoint behind the incumbent, in reference to his opponent, Ed Miller, who sold hot dogs in Congress Park for years and, last year, from a spot on Broadway.

Apparently Miller was on hand for the (let's hope) good-humored jab to shake Scirocco's hand and congratulate the Republican candidates the Independent Party had endorsed (Miller is on the Independent committee).

"It's a great night. The sweep is great. I knew we could do it," Scirocco said. "We never took the race for granted. We knew how hard we worked. This time we worked even harder."

2009 Election Night live blog: LoWV results update

Additional districts reporting now, with current (unofficial) results below. We're now waiting on Districts 22 and 23:

Ron Kim - 2,428
Scott Johnson - 3,365

Public Safety
Richard Wirth - 2,678
Kevin Connolly - 2,537

Dept. of Public Works
Anthony "Skip" Scirocco - 3,407
Ed Miller - 1,154


Kenneth Ivins Jr. - 2,789
Peter Martin - 2,658

2009 Election Night live blog: More districts reporting

More unofficial results in from other districts now (excluding 11, 15, 17, 18, 19, 22 and 23), again courtesy of the League of Women Voters:

Totals across reporting districts

Ron Kim - 1,941
Scott Johnson - 2,492

Public Safety
Richard Wirth - 2,012
Kevin Connolly - 2,045

Dept. of Public Works
Anthony "Skip" Scirocco - 2,534
Ed Miller - 907


Kenneth Ivins Jr. - 2,022
Peter Martin - 2,141

2009 Election Night live blog: BOE results as of 10:05 p.m.

Here's a quick screen grab from the county Board of Elections results site (click to enlarge). Of course there's a lot of counting left to be done, but Johnson is starting to outstrip Kim. Could Ron Kim's tenure on City Council be coming to an end?

Update, 10:12 p.m.

Mareesa called in from the Dems HQ. She chatted with a Kim family friend, Linda McTague, from District 9, who said the campaign was a Kim family effort. "It's not looking good," she said. A fact illustrated, perhaps, by Mareesa's comment to me that things got very quiet there.

McTague lamented all the hard work "that's going to get lost tonight."

On the other side of the street, Andrew reported it's a party over at GOP headquarters.

2009 Election Night live blog: Reactions as results roll in

Reaction from some of the candidates and their allies:

Ken Ivins Jr. (Republican Finance incumbent) apparently took a small lead of 4 (current numbers will be available soon) and let out a big whoop.

Eileen Finneran, deputy commissioner of Public Safety: "...We're losing."

Peter Martin (Ivins' opponent): "This is nerve-wracking."

Andrew's sizing it up as a Republican sweep. Mayor Johnson's mother may have called it before anyone else!

2009 Election Night live blog: 7 districts in

We've got results from seven city districts (1, 3, 4, 12, 14, 16 and 20) courtesy of the Saratoga League of Women Voters. Remember these numbers are unofficial.

Totals across those districts:

Ron Kim - 975
Scott Johnson - 1,282

Public Safety
Richard Wirth - 1,012
Kevin Connolly - 1,042

Dept. of Public Works
Anthony "Skip" Scirocco - 1329
Ed Miller - 1,329

Kenneth Ivins Jr. - 1024
Peter Martin - 1,074

Emily has also reported that Sheriff Bowen has a 5-to-1 lead over his opponent, former village of Corinth officer Jason Longton. However, Bowen asserted it's not over until it's over, though his nerves seem to be dissipating.

2009 Election Night live blog: Issues in District 17

We're getting some reports of difficulties extracting ballots from a machine in District 17. Details are unclear, but reports are that the problem is resolved and numbers will be available soon.

More details on that as they become available.

— — —

A reminder to all of you that numbers are unofficial.

— — —

Mareesa has reported 108 in Johnson's favor to Kim's 128 in District 4.

She also sighted Saratoga Springs Supervisor Joanne Yepsen chatting with Tech Valley Times founder Bob Millis. Shes said, "I'm completely honored to be serving a third term ... working on major issues that we've started in the last four years, like economic development, sustainability, issues on seniors and youth and people that don't have a voie."

— — —

Andrew spoke with Public Safety candidate Rich Wirth, who's feeling confident. Early results were rolling in from Democratic districts, Wirth said by way of explanation.

Meanwhile, across the way, his opponent Kevin Connolly tonight was "Certainly exciting. Not having been through this before, there's no poll to go by or anything like that, so I'm just hoping for the best. We'll just see what happens. I know that it's been a good campaign, a great experience ... now we're just waiting to see what the results are."

2009 Election Night live blog: Results coming in

Four districts reporting so far (I believe they're 9, 4, 17 and 12). Over at GOP headquarters, Andrew described the results this way: Johnson currently up by 98, Ivins down by 113, Scirocco up by 257, Wirth down by 58.

Emily said a Wirth supporter was among the large group watching as results come in, crossing his fingers" that his man can overtake Connolly's lead. Remember to check out the Saratoga County Board of Election sites for numbers.

She also said that out of three districts, (4, 7, 12) Ivins is losing, but not by a lot. "The results that are in from the districts don't surprise me at all," he said. He also said that in those districts, he's actually ahead of where he was two years ago.

Beer seems to be the popular choice among Republicans, according to the bartender on the scene.

2009 Election Night live blog: First impressions from the Dems party

Mareesa is over at the Inn at Saratoga. From her text message to me: "The stage is set for a night of political festivities ... The wine glasses are lined up, a fire is glowing in the fireplace, and campaign signs are hanging around the room."

Kevin Connolly, Peter Martin and Ron Kim are all on hand.

Kim told her: "We think we've done our work; we've got our message out, and now we're going to let the voters speak. I think our message is one that, in the end, our voters will come home to.

Andrew popped in and just reported mood at the Dem gathering is pretty grim.

He also said results are starting to come in and that so far, things are split. Mareesa just reported that so far, District 9 has Kim with 126 votes and Johnson with 131.

Just got our first updates from the field: First reports

Receiving our first reports from the field now.

First up from Emily Donohue at the GOP gathering in the Holiday Inn:

Ben Potoker, a founding member of the Upstate Conservative Coalition is raffling off the "Heritage Guide to the Constitution" at a booth he has set up there. His is a seven-month-old organization based in Saratoga that meets monthly to discuss local and national issues.

"Me and my boss got tired of just complaining to each other," Potoker said of the group's founding. They have officially endorsed Finance candidate KennethIvins, their only offical endorsement. Looking for new volunteers and expand their role in the 2010 election.

Emily also talked to mayoral candidate Scott Johnson's mother, who is confident her son will win, because "...he's so highly intelligent and he uses his head." She added, "He reasons and he weighs things, and he's always done that since he was a little boy." Awww!

For what it's worth though, my mom would throw that kind of support behind me if I was running for office, too.

I think.

Emily also spoke with Saratoga County Sheriff Jim Bowen, who admitted he's nervous. "You're always nervous when you run."

"I run the department everyday for the people, and that's what I run on," Bowen said. "It's up to the people to make the decisions."

2009 Election Night live blog: Keep your eyes on the numbers

One site I'll be keeping my eyes on all night is the Saratoga County Board of Elections'. They'll be posting the latest results there. Click here for a link.

We're also seemingly the end point for runners for the League of Women voters, two reps of whom are set up in our lobby and will be running returns in to us as they get them.

2009 Election Night live blog: Leave your comments

As the subject line above says, leave your comments.

Last time we engaged in this little exercise, I was unable to moderate comments (Andrew has the blog set so each comment requires approval, and we haven't figured out how I can get access to them). While that's still technically the case, we've come up with a low-tech workaround to resolve the issue: I'm logged into Andrew's account at a neighboring computer and will wheel five feet over from time to time to review and approve/reject comments.

Weighted down by pizza as I am, it may take a little longer to get there than it normally would.

I love low-tech solutions.

2009 Election Night live blog: And we're off!


Web editor Stephen Shoemaker here (just one of me, despite Andrew's pluralization of my surname below, of which you can be sure I mocked him mercilessly), filling in at the City Desk while reporter Andrew J. Bernstein is dispatched along with the rest of our reporting staff to the Republican and Democratic camps or rounding up results in county and municipal races.

So here's how this is going to work: Bernstein and reporter Emily Donohue will be with the Republicans at the Holiday Inn in Saratoga Springs, while Mareesa Nicosia will be across the street, stationed in the Inn at Saratoga, where the Dems are going to be holed up.

The "old guard" Democrats, we've been informed, will be in Gaffney's.

The reporters will be phoning in updates, quotes, hopefully some photos and whatever else might be of interest to you readers. I'll be manning the phones and keeping you updated on the latest that we know in terms of numbers and whatever else comes across my desk.

The main thrust of this live blog will be the City Council races here in the Spa City; though additional details about other races may crop up.

So settle in, grab a snack and a beverage, and hit refresh every 10 minutes or so (no guarantees what the average time between each update will be, but I kept rather busy during our last election live blog). On our end we've been fetted with pizza, soda, leftover Halloween candy (and in my case, some espresso earlier in the evening), so we're ready to go.

In the meantime, I think I'll go brush my teeth. See you all soon.

Election night coverage begins

We here at The Saratogian are getting ready to head out to the two major party's encampments, at The Holiday Inn and the Inn at Saratoga. Polls will be closing in less than 30 minutes, and we expect results to start rolling in shortly thereafter.

So far, it sounds like turnout may be high for an off-year election, but may not be on par, but down in some key districts, including Skidmore, where the Democrats had put in a big effort.

Web Editor Stephen Shoemakers will be taking over the blog, and will be posting live updates throughout the evening. Check back frequently for the most-current election news.

Election update

SARATOGA SPRINGS — As of mid-day, election officials say that voting is going smoothly in the city, with only a few hiccups.

A new location for some polls had seen a delayed opening, while voters in another district reported a problem with a machine.

At 10 a.m. at the Lincoln Baths, the new polling site for five voting districts moved from the City Center — 3, 4, 8, 9, and 25 — voting was going smoothly, although Deputy Commissioner of Accounts Michele Boxley said that the day had got off to a rough start. When poll workers arrived to set up voting machines before 6 this morning, they found the doors locked. Later, the doors opened, there was a shortage of extension cords, and the marble hall rang with echoes, but voters were able to cast their ballots without incident.

Some voters leaving the poll, however encountered a harsh reality related to the new site.

Judy Donovan, a resident of Broadway, called The Saratogian today to report she was ticketed for turning left onto Route 9 after voting. Even though she saw the no-left turn sign, it apparently confused her and she turned anyway.

Donovan said the state park police officer who ticketed her told her the sign was new and that she was one of many people ticketed for turning left in that location Tuesday.

However, Dispatcher Fran Lewis, a communications technician at the New York State Park Police said the sign has been there all eight years she has worked there.

“I don't know what they're talking about,” Lewis said, referring to Donovan's report that the officer said the sign is new. “I know my officers would never say anything like that.”

Lewis said turning left out of the Lincoln Baths is a safety issue for drivers. The best alternative is to leave the park via the Avenue of the Pines intersection or the National Museum of Dance.

“They have to leave in the proper way,” Lewis said. “If you miss that sign, you shouldn't be driving.”

Here’s a word of warning for voters in districts 3, 4, 8, 9 and 25 (and anyone else leaving the Spa State Park) via the Lincoln Baths: Don’t turn left onto Route 9. It's illegal and there’s a no left-turn sign located in the median.

Gerald Erchak, a voter in district 1, a downtown district west of Broadway which votes at the Wesley Community, said that he had gone to the polls specifically to support Stop Corruption candidate for Sheriff, Jason Longton, but found that the rows of voting switches had become misaligned with the paper marking ballots. The result was that Erchak said he was unable to vote in the Mayor’s race.

“It was pretty aggravating,” said Erchak, who brought the problem to the attention of poll officials, who invalidated the vote he cast on the machine, and allowed him to vote on a paper ballot.

Still, Erchak said he was voter number 80, and wondered how many of the 79 voter ahead of him had been confused and possibly voted for the wrong candidate.

“In my opinion, this invalidates the entire election,” he said.

Board of Election Commissioner Diane Wade said the problem was not dire enough to warrant invalidating the entire poll.

“The strip was slid over a little bit, but it was fixed,” she said, and added that no other votes were believed to be effected.

Polls close at 9 p.m., check back at for up to the minute results and election coverage.

— Andrew J. Bernstein and Mareesa Nicosia

Monday, November 2

Election is here, go vote

Silly season ends tomorrow, and I'm pretty excited.

Because polls don't close until 9 p.m., and results don't usually start coming in until a little after that, Election Day is a night of great pressure for me, with five stories to write on deadline (the four city races, plus a general round up).

To make it a little easier on myself, I'll spend the afternoon (after I vote) writing "dummies." A dummy is basically an outline of a story, with holes in which we'll insert quotes. Most races will get two dummies (ie, Johnson wins and Kim wins). Some races will get three dummies (ie, Johnson wins, Kim wins; Johnson, Kim too close to call).

That way, if I happen to be hanging out at the Holiday Inn, with the GOP candidates, and a candidate takes an insurmountable lead in the polls, I can get a quote, call it in to the newsroom, and the story will be more-or-less ready to go on the page.

Of course, we'll do our our best to add color from an evening of poll watching, and also keeping an eye on where the candidates are strong. Sadly, it also means that roughly half of my afternoon's work will go to waste.

Leading into an election, everyone always says that turnout is important. Well, duh. If people don't turn out, no one wins. Still, the question is getting the right people to turn out. Both sides were spending Monday going door-to-door to motivate their base, to get more of their voters to come out. The forecast is for rain, so that may have the effect of giving some voters a chance to stay home. I think that many of the city races will be close, so this could be one of those years where every vote counts.

I would think that Geyser Crest, and its three election districts (16, 18, and 20) will be important. All three have a strong GOP enrollment advantage, but, as I've noted before, the GOP has been blamed (for reasons that escape me) for plans to put a new development in Geyser Crest. It may not wind up mattering, but we're going to watch those districts closely.

Similarly, voters in five districts with an Democratic enrollment advantage (3, 4, 8, 9, and 25) will now have to drive an extra mile to vote. If the Dems don't carry those districts, I don't see how they can be successful in this election. Incidentally, both mayoral candidates live in districts effected by that move, and will have to visit the Lincoln Baths to vote for themselves.

Incidentally, I live in one of those districts too.

That's all, go vote.