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Tuesday, December 15

Interesting assertions in Planning Board letter

*Correction appended 12/17: Jamin Totino is a registered member of the Democratic Party

A somewhat interesting letter from Sunday’s paper, linked here. Michael Perkins, a member of the Planning Board, wrote to take issue with another letter, written by Barbara Trypaluk, which criticized the planning process related to Beaver Pond Village.

Perkins, who did not vote on Beaver Pond Village, is also vice chairman of the Saratoga Springs Republican Committee, and appears to be writing to fend off accusations that the planning process was unduly politicized along party lines.

Well, I suppose that’s all well and good, but do think it’s interesting to note two points: Perkins says that the board is split between Democrats and Republicans. Not so. There are currently four Republicans on the board (Perkins, Dan Gaba, Philip Klein, and Chairman Clifford Van Wagner). Jamin Totino, Laura Rappaport and Amy Durland and Democrats. Rappaport’s term ends on Dec. 31, and given Mayor Scott Johnson’s record of appointments, I find it doubtful that she will be re-appointed, or that she will be replaced by another member of her party. Although, who knows. In any case, the board isn’t really that balanced.

Secondly, Perkins states that there are no voting blocks, but from what I have observed, after sitting through many, many Planning Board meetings, is that when a vote is not unanimously in favor, Durland and Rappaport often vote together (often against proposals), while the remaining five often vote together as well. This is not always the case, to be sure, but there are clearly some patterns.

Finally, I can’t help but wonder if Perkins was somehow authorized to write this letter on behalf of the whole Planning Board, as it appears he has.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a minor correction to your blog. I checked the letter you linked to and Mr. Perkins made an accurate statement regarding the 3 republicans and 3 democrats. His letter was about Beaver Pond and the quote was, "I recused myself, but the rest of the board that voted on the preliminary approval of the subdivision represents a diverse group of individuals from differing backgrounds (three Republicans and three Democrats)."

So in reference to Beaver Pond, he is claiming that the rest of the board consisted of 3 republicans and 3 democrats. I believe that stement to be accurate or am I missing something?

December 16, 2009 at 6:57 AM 
Blogger Michael said...

I was not writing as a spokes person for the planning board. As a citizen of this city, I read a letter that incensed me greatly and it is my opinion expressed in that letter and my opinion alone!

And my bad to Jamin for getting his political affiliation incorrect! Bad assumption on my part, but that’s not the main point. I have been a part of this board since 2005 and have seen members come and go. I’ve been on boards where I was only 1 of 2 republicans yet it still represented a very diverse board. People from all walks of life and appointed by different mayors. And during all of those years, I can tell you that every person took their job seriously and was trying to do what’s good for Saratoga Springs. We may not all agree on everything, but we did not let politics become a part of our decisions. So Barbara’s letter and her assertions are an insult to me and every planning board member that has ever served republican, democrat, or otherwise. (my opinion)

And I know you’ve been to a lot of meetings, but in fairness, you haven’t been here that long. I urge you to look between the years 2005 and on, add up all the votes, and I think you’ll see that I’m right.

And one final point. I joined the republican committee in 2005 because I wanted to make a difference. A year later, the chairperson put me on the executive committee, and a couple years later, a second chairperson asked me to be their vice chair. I am not ashamed of being recognized for adding value to the committee in helping to get republicans elected to office. I would be ashamed, however, to write a letter like Barbara’s that blatantly misrepresents the facts and unfairly attacks good people that are doing good work for this city. Mchael Perkins

December 16, 2009 at 8:26 AM 
Anonymous Lew Benton said...


As a former member and chair of the City Planning Board, it has been my observation that the current board has become rather political in its decision making process.

I am also concerned that there are ex parte discussions taking place in the run up to votes on significant development proposals. This would be especially problematic if such discussions involved elected officials or any of their surrogates. The SEQR process has also been dumbed downed.

Several years ago we saw a overt attempt by a Public Safety Commissioner to influence the outcome of a major project on Railroad Place without disclosing his financial interest in the application. The then Board dealt with that attempt by requiring adherence to the City Ethics code, but some of us were left with an uneasy feeling about it.

It demonstrated why balance and a full knowledge of GML, case law and the code of ethics as they apply to the conduct of Planning Board reviews is essential.

It is important to have balance on the Planning Board and all ex parte discussions, if they cannot be avoided, must publicly announced on the record.

The public must be able to have complete confidence in the integrity of the process and the appointing official, the mayor, must appoint members who understand their roles, are intimately familiar with all the City's land use regulations, applicable City and State statues, and can apply them fairly and consistently. Members must also know their obligations under the City and State ethics laws.

Politics MUST be left at the meeting room threshold.

Lew Benton

December 16, 2009 at 9:23 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Way to stay away from the real issues, Bernstein. Instead of addressing the merits of either letter you chose to insinuate that Mike Perkins is acting as an operative of the Republican Committee and outright suggest he is writing on behalf of the Planning Board. Neither is true. Perkins wrote the letter because Trypaluk's and a preceding one from Mary Beth Delarm were inaccurate from the start and inflammatory to those who VOLUNTEER their time (and lots of it) to serve the City. Why didn't you take the time to point out the Amy Durland voted against the preliminary subdivision because she believes, and has all along, that the property should not have been segmented. Why didn't you point out the parcel I of the subdivision has been designed, in many way, to meet the higher standards the RR zone that parcel II meets. Why didn't you point out that, assuming BP will be developed, the development will preserve far more open space than Geiser Crest ever hoped too and, by the way, where Mary Beth Delarm lives. Apparently you haven't been paying attention during the PB meetings you used to attend. By the way, Totino is a Democrat.

December 16, 2009 at 1:26 PM 
Blogger Andrew J. Bernstein said...

Michael, thank you for your response.

anon 6:57 a.m.: 3 Republicans, 2 Democrats, 1 independent. Please see the post for details.

December 16, 2009 at 2:43 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any fool can see that the developers run the city of Saratoga. As for doing what's good for the city of Saratoga ...what a joke! The planning board's Republican majority typically votes as a block & this is why almost every development project has passed.Beaver Pond Village will have a big impact on our taxes. If you think the police & fire departments are stretched now, just wait a couple years. Maybe Trypaluk got carried away with her accusation about the Nolans ... hey, it is a small world, especially in Saratoga. It WILL be interesting to see who are mayor picks to fill what's her name's spot. Lighten up Saratoga! ALL you planning board members are only volunteers. Right!

December 16, 2009 at 3:16 PM 
Anonymous Won't get fooled again said...

Andrew even you must see this Trypaluk women is a crank.She lied about the Nolan's and your paper fell for it and she lied about Eddie Miller.But hey when did you ever care about the truth

December 16, 2009 at 8:47 PM 
Blogger Andrew J. Bernstein said...

anon 8:47: We printed a correction to Barbara's letter, to clarify that Judge Thomas Nolan and Jasper Nolan are not related. She didn't fool us, the letter contained an error, which was corrected.

I care about the truth everyday, and if you feel differently, I would invite you to come to my office and discuss your concerns with me in person.

December 16, 2009 at 9:31 PM 
Blogger Andrew J. Bernstein said...

Please note, Jamin Totino informed me today that although he was independent when he joined the Planning Board, he is now a registered Democrat. I stand corrected.

December 17, 2009 at 1:19 PM 

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