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

Wednesday, December 9

Bernstein thrown out of county dems' meeting

First, a moment of levity on an otherwise dreary evening (both in the meteorological sense of the word and in a journalistic sense). This is post number 500 on the Saratoga City Desk! It's been quite a ride, since post number one, way back in January, 2008. Hard to believe that it was nearly two years ago...

Thanks for indulging me.

And now, the reason you came: Not an hour ago, Larry Bulman, chairman of the Saratoga County Democratic Committee, unceremoniously asked me to leave a meeting of the county committee. I attended the meeting to see if there was anything to the speculation that Bulman might resign his chairmanship as a result of testimony he gave in the Joe Bruno's trial -- speculation that he categorically denied yesterday.

Even though it didn't seem that a resignation was likely, my editors and I thought I might as well attend the meeting, if only to get a flavor of what the County Dems are thinking after a tumultuous election cycle in 2009, and ahead of important national and state elections in 2010.

Of course, it's the right of any body or group to decide if their meetings are open or closed, and certainly Bulman was within his rights as chairman to ask me to leave. BUT, I still find myself miffed in the manner in which this all transpired.

After discussing the meeting with several members of the city committee (from both factions), all of whom lead me to believe the meeting was open, I arrived early, and spent time talking to former City Chair Lou Schneider and former candidate for Commissioner of Finance Peter Martin. I also said hello or exchanged a few words with Election Commissioner William Frucci, Commissioner of Public Safety Ron Kim, Supervisor Joanne Yepsen, Deputy Commissioner of Public Safety Eileen Finneran, City Chairman Allen Turkheimer, and Mary Marsicano, a member of U.S. Rep. Scott Murphy's staff. I thought I had at least made eye contact with Bulman, but maybe not.

It's pretty well established that each of those individuals know who I am, and I think it's pretty clear that I am not a member of the county committee, so I feel confident in saying that the reason for my presence was clear. Plus, the notepad really should have given it away. I will admit, however, to failing to wear my press pass.

The meeting began, and I was sitting toward the back but with a clear view of Bulman at the head table. He began the meeting by discussing, in general terms, the 2009 elections (incidentally, he thinks Dems in Saratoga Springs may have picked the wrong issue). Then he took a few moments to speak out against reports in The Saratogian (the blog post linked to above), and the Times Union that discussed a possible resignation. He also stated that he intends to run for re-election to his post in September.

Bulman threw out a few digs at press for printing rumors, including at least one aimed directly at me -- but that's fine and nothing extraordinary. To the criticism I say this: if I hear that there is discussion, even if only by a few people, that Bulman has problems from within his committee, and then I note those conversations, I'm not printing a rumor, I'm reporting a conversation of which I am aware, and which readers might find interesting. To me, that's an important distinction, but maybe others don't see it that way.

Anyway, just as the committee was getting set to discuss the state-wide and national campaigns in which we will all be embroiled next year (Assembly, Senate, Congress), Bulman interrupted Bob Reilly to ask if there was any press in the room. Of course, I identified myself as such, although I was somewhat surprised since I was fairly confident that Bulman had seen me. I was, it would seem, the only press in the room. He then announced that the meeting was closed to press, and asked me to leave, which I did.

So much for the claims of "open processes" made so often by Democrats. I plan to attend Saturday's meeting of the City Committee, we'll see if I get thrown out of that one too.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrew J Bernstein:

In case you haven't noticed, the Republican Party controls the Saratoga Springs City Council, the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors, and the local delegation to the State Legislature. The Republicans have dominated local politics for a century or more. The local Republicans supported George Pataki, whose gubernatorial administration the NY Post called the "most corrupt in the history of New York State," George W. Bush, who presided over unspeakable war crimes and ruined our economy, and Joe Bruno, who plumbed new depths of greed and corruption.

Instead of spending so much time covering the Democrats, why don't you try shedding some light on the political party that controls everything that goes on in Saratoga?

Why don't you report on Republican Mayor Scott Johnson's refusal to say one word about the sordid crimes of his political mentor, Joe Bruno? Wouldn't it be interesting to know why the Mayor keeps on hanging around with criminals but doesn't want to talk about it?

To put it bluntly, if you want to know who's responsible for everything that's wrong in the local economy and local government, it's the Republicans, stupid!

December 11, 2009 at 7:02 AM 
Blogger Andrew J. Bernstein said...

Do you really think it's fair to blame everything that's wrong in the local economy on the Republicans?

December 11, 2009 at 12:39 PM 
Blogger Andrew J. Bernstein said...

Also, while I am certainly interested in covering Republican politics in the city and county, they are much more secretive about when and where they meet.

December 11, 2009 at 12:40 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrew, As I recall when the DFC took over the SS Democratic Committee they pledged a "new openess"--posting meetings time and places in the paper, opening the meetings to whomever wanted to attend (presumably Rebpublicans as well), etc. in spite of some "oldtimers" concerns that this could expose campaign strategies, etc. prematurely to the public and opponents. It will be interesting if they live up to those pledges tomorrow when you try to attend.

December 11, 2009 at 7:44 PM 
Blogger demroc said...

oh, that sounds like my kind of fun.
anon 7:44 andrew is talking about the county committee. you are talking about the city committee.

December 14, 2009 at 3:21 PM 

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