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Thursday, August 5

Franck on charter petition: "It's out of my hands"

Spoke with Accounts Comm. Franck today about what exactly is happening with the certification of the signatures delivered to the council July 20 by Saratoga Citizen.

He said Albany-based law firm Brown & Weinraub (which is being retained as counsel in the matter at a rate of $200 per hour) has five or six people going through the 1,280 signatures, analysis of which is about half-way completed.

Franck clarified for me the city's deadline to approve or reject the petition, and exactly what Brown & Weinraub are looking at. Basically, when these petitions have been approved in the past detractors sue the City Clerk, AKA Franck. He wants to absolve himself of liability before anyone can even think of filing suit, telling me he only saw the first page of signatures before they were taken by lawyers.

"I want to stay out of that whole process," he said.

"It's not just the signatures," he said, noting what he felt was a misnomer perpetrated at the Aug. 3 meeting when organizers asked the council to act then and there to approve the petition.

"It's the petition, the charter document and whether or not a financial study has to get done."

He referred to New York State Municipal Home Rule Law Sect. 37.11, which states:

11. No such petition for a proposed local law requiring the
expenditure of money shall be certified as sufficient by the city clerk
or become effective for the purposes of this section unless there shall
be submitted, as a part of such proposed local law, a plan to provide
moneys and revenues sufficient to meet such proposed expenditures. This
restriction shall not prevent the submission of a local law to adopt a
new charter or to reorganize the functions of city government, or a part
thereof, relying partly or solely on normal budgetary procedures to
provide the necessary moneys to meet the expenses of city government
under such reorganization, whether or not such reorganization includes
the creation of new offices, provided only that such reorganization
shall not require specific salaries or the expenditure of specific sums
of money not theretofore required.
Pretty dense, I know. Basically the lawyers are figuring out if the petition itself requires a financial study.

"I don't know whether or not they need financials," Franck said, calling the section "confusing". Lawyers are currently going through case law to find out if the group needs a financial statement or study.

"I'm going to go with whatever their recommendations are," Franck said, noting (as he does often) that he is an accountant, not a lawyer.

He has until August 19, 30 days after they brought the signatures forward, to certify the petition. He said he will likely need the entire 30 days, or close to it, based on the pace of the attorneys reviewing the proposal.

On Aug. 19, he will report to the council on what action to take. If he does not certify, Saratoga Citizen has five days to take him to court. If he does certify, the council has 60 days to approve or reject the referendum.

If they do not approve, Saratoga Citizen can present the additional signatures needed to override a council vote, at which point Franck has 20 days to have them certified. If the council sleeps on it for their 60 days allowed and rejects the proposal, election day will have come and gone by the time lawyers get a crack at the next round of signatures.

Franck said that his understanding of the law was that the group would be able to call for a special election if the referendum is left off the November ballot.

"At the end of the day its whatever the people want," he said.

It seems as though the people are going to have to speak up a little louder if they want to see this proposal make it to the ballot in time for November.


Blogger NOW. HERE. THIS. said...

Good Sir Donges, I differ--

I have great faith in Commissioner Franck and I respect his articulate hometown voice. It is my personal belief that the other Council Members ALL have respect for the "Common Saratogian." None of the five has anything to fear of saying "yes" to a community discussion.

As for the possibility of an "Alternate" future, I believe that at least three of the five men have such deep & broad support that they would be embraced by the community as LEADERS, beholden to NO Department, responsible ONLY as a voice of reason and guidance.

Of course, we can hand the City to the CSEA, the DBA, or stick with a Council where Complaining is Commonplace...

...and Good Governance is beholden to Good-Faith Civic Galas or Foul-Mouthed Greenfield Cowboys.

-Kyle York
Let The People Debate,
Let The People Decide.

August 6, 2010 at 1:31 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would be an injustice to a large number of citizens who would like to have this on the ballot and start debating. By not allowing this it makes one wonder just what the Commissioners are afraid of.

August 6, 2010 at 6:33 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When John Franck says it's out of his hands what is he talking about? He is the head of the department that is in charge of this process and as such should be doing the work himself or have one of the 2 city attorney's do the job. At $200.00 per hour and only being half done in 2 weeks when the average person checking the names against the voter registration list could do it in a day is absolutly stunning. It also doesn't take a lawyer to understand "This
restriction shall not prevent the submission of a local law to adopt a
new charter or to reorganize the functions of city government, or a part
thereof, relying partly or solely on normal budgetary procedures to
provide the necessary moneys to meet the expenses of city government
under such reorganization, whether or not such reorganization includes
the creation of new offices, provided only that such reorganization
shall not require specific salaries or the expenditure of specific sums
of money not theretofore required." as meaning that no financials must be put forth for a charter to be amended or changed.

August 6, 2010 at 6:48 PM 
Anonymous constitutionfan said...


It seems pretty obvious to me that Puppet Franck is simply doing as his strings demand; stall the process, and cover his backside. The Saratoga Sitizen group has worked diligently for over a year to put together an option for the voters to consider; the petition merely allows them that option.

It's pretty obvious that rather than give the voters that right; it benefits Franck and the Council to hire an expensive law firm on with taxpayer money, and say "it's out of my hands."

Please-the voters are not dumb. If the Council approves the petition, and puts it on the November ballot, which is the right thing to do, they all may very well mught lose their jobs, power and influence. That is why this is "out of your hands" and the voters know it.

This Commission form of government is antiquated, costly and corrupt, which is exactly the way the puppentmasters like it. Every argument, every bit of spin, employed by the naysayers is transparent.

They want to deny the voters the right to alter their precious power structure; they want nothing changed(except of course, our ever increasing tax rates); and they demonize anyone, or anything that might shine a light on their dark little kingdom. Keep the serfs paying taxes; we know better than they how to govern...and the Council has no clothes.

August 7, 2010 at 9:18 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everything is out of Franck's hands! It's way over his head! Tommy Mac is not there to lead him around by his tail so he is lost! Why not get the heck out all together and do us all a favor!

August 8, 2010 at 11:17 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Majority rules not the minority, these signatures represent the minority.The biggest supporters of change have been promised jobs or promotions that's the fact of the whole matter.

August 8, 2010 at 7:09 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The good old boy (and girl) network is starting to sweat. They think if they say some outrageous lies often enough, they will eventually become true. Reading the comparison of an out-of-control city in California is disgusting. Do they really think that Saratogians are so naive? Saratoga Springs is long overdue for establishing a government that is accountable, professional and transparent.

August 9, 2010 at 11:49 AM 
Anonymous Michael said...

The charter as proposed severely restricts representation. Five council members who run their departments and are elected every two years are very receptive to the publics interests. The proposed charter with five, at large, elected members who are limited to legislation only will most likely act as rubber stamps to the city manager. To overcome this and because of the large physical size of the city , there should be representation from each election district to provide voter accountability.

August 9, 2010 at 1:33 PM 
Anonymous Dan De Federicis said...

Is it too much to ask to let the people vote on this? I just can't help but feel that there is an effort to stall and undermine this whole process - again all that the Saratoga Citizen is asking is for the question to be put up for a vote. In other words: democracy. NOTE: I am signing my full name and disclosing that I am on the Saratoga Citizen Committee.

August 9, 2010 at 9:46 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all 7:09, you don't need a majority to get a referendum on the ballot. You do need a majority to vote it into law. Where do you get your information from like people have been promised jobs or promotions? Sounds like you are a fairy tale writer.

August 9, 2010 at 11:41 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What has the City spent in attorneys fees to date in checking 1,200 signees? Last Tues. 8/3 after 2 weeks they were only half done? How lonk and how much will the cost be when they get the other 2,000+ signatures?

August 10, 2010 at 8:51 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If anyone has faith in John Franck doing the right thing they have their heads in the clouds. By outsourcing the job he is required to do to an outside atty. group at $200.00 per hour when we have 2 city attorney's is an abuse of his position. If Saratoga has that much money to throw around to stall a legal process then he and the Council must be sweating out something. Could it be that IF a new charter is passed, we will find so many skeletons in the closet, it will make Halloween look like Christmas. Let the people decide.

August 10, 2010 at 12:03 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

11:41pm here's fairy tale the petitions are worthless and where presented in a dishonest it or not they're the municipal law.

August 10, 2010 at 12:43 PM 
Anonymous saratoga kid said...

Al, you asked a question about who would run a meeting in the absence of the mayor. The proposed charter answeres this as I pointed out to you. What a part time Commissioner does or doesn't do is up to the part time Commissioner, obviously they don't have full time jobs, but the don't have to worry the have dept. heads (deputy commissioners) to run the departments. And Al don't say you can't come to any conclusion that The proposal on the table will expand government not reduce it. I doubt you read the proposed charter as you didn't even know who would run the meetings in the absence of the mayor. If you are going to make assumptions read the material first.

August 11, 2010 at 7:19 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...


With all due respect, the Spa City residents DID vote on this. And they rejected it, hands down. I think the final tally was 60-40 back then(which was about four years ago, if I'm not mistaken). Besides, circulating a city-oriented petition on an off-year election is in itself a bit bogus. Smacks of agenda, IMO.

August 20, 2010 at 3:21 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 3:21
The reason a petition is circulated in an off election year as last time is that you can't vote for council posts if you are also voting on a new Charter that will change the positions (Commissioners). So it makes sense to have a document in place then the next year you vote the people in for the positions that are included in the new Charter if it passed the year before. Nothing bogus, just good planning.

August 24, 2010 at 11:03 PM 

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