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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, November 30

Mayor Johnson: Something will be passed tonight

Mayor Scott Johnson has been "busy as hell" today going through his budget again line-by-line and meeting with Deputy Finance Commissioner Kate Jarosh and DPW and Public Safety officials (I'm guessing deputies since he did not mention anyone else by name).

He said that the Mayor's Department and Recreation Department will come back with $40,000 in additional cuts, and he believes that the council as a whole will cut around $100,000 - which would equate to about a .5 percent rate adjustment for a final 4.5 percent property tax increase.

"It certainly may be the best that we can do given the labor issues outstanding," he said of the hike, which residents have consistently said should be closer to 2 or 3 (or zero) percent.

When we spoke around 4:15 p.m., he had yet to receive final numbers on encumbrances, information he requested at last night's meeting.

"I will not allow that to happen," he said when asked if a default budget could still occur, "We need to agree on something to effectively serve the public."

In response to the web outcry of Kathy Moran's role in the DPW budget, Johnson said she is on the list of employees currently members of city unions that he has discussed with the city's labor council as being made management confidential.

"I find it rather unusual and certainly something that should be addressed," he said of the situation, adding that he was not attributing any intentional wrongdoing, but that even the appearance of improprieties should be avoided.

He called the issue "collateral" in light of other issues that have blocked union negotiations up to this point. The city can apply to the state to make positions management confidential.

"If we had had cooperation of the employees going to MVP we would not be looking at these fiscal constraints and issues," he said, of his plan for city personnel to switch to one health insurance provider, which is currently in litigation.

I will again be live tweeting tonight's meeting at the City Desk Twitter page; hopefully it doesn't go on for as long as last night.

Scirocco: "Everybody should try and step up to the plate and do more with less"

Attention commentators, Public Works Commissioner Anthony "Skip" Scirocco has read your suggestions that he be removed because he called department office manager (and city DPW CSEA union head) Kathy Moran to the mic last night to explain the departmental budget.

On the phone today, he said Moran is a member of a departmental budget committee comprised of the heads of the different entities (ie. water and sewer) who meet to discuss the budget throughout the year.

"There's no conflict," he said of her involvement in crafting the budget "She works there and she has to wear two hats," he continued, adding that as office administrator she tracks the daily changes to the budget throughout the year, as had the previous union head before her.

Scirocco is going over his budget again today to look for additional expense cuts. He mentioned an additional $35,000 in unemployment that would likely be brought to the table tonight.

"It just seems like every budget year the first thing they do is start slashing the labor budget in DPW," he said.

"Everybody should try and step up to the plate and do more with less," he said of the rest of the council. "I think they need to come to the table tonight and make some concessions," he continued, noting a position added to the Finance Department that came under fire last night from Mayor Scott Johnson.

"It's not at easy position to be in when you're looking at mostly salaries," he said of the Public Safety department. "There really isn't a whole lot of wiggle room in what they can do."

"Could they go in there and find some cuts? I guess they probably could," he added.

The council has to pass a budget tonight or the originally proposed 8.48 percent property tax increase will be enacted by default.

NOTE: Due to technical difficulties, there will likely be no video posted from last night's meeting until tomorrow at the earliest. Stay tuned for a compilation of the debate from both last night and tonight.

Front page: 11.30.10 - Council to meet for one last chance to pass a budget, state still consideting NYC OTB bailout

Good morning! For those who weren't at last night's City Council meeting (appx. 25,975 of you), the council did not vote on a budget. Check out my full coverage of the meeting here and recap the meeting live at the new City Desk Twitter page.

How do you all feel about the tweeting? Saratoga Springs Supervisor Matthew Veitch seemed to like it, he clicked to follow the page at some point last night.

The council will meet tonight at 7 p.m. for their last chance to pass a budget. If they do not pass it tonight, the originally proposed 8.48 percent tax increase and labor cuts will be enacted by default.

Check back here later today for video from last night's meeting.

In state news; yesterday's state legislative extraordinary session ended yesterday without budget deficit closing measures in place. The Assembly did manage to pass a moratorium on hydrofracking, at around 1 a.m. [WXXI, TU, Ithaca Journal]

Also unresolved, the NYC OTB bailout, which was still under consideration by the Assembly well into this morning, but will likely not receive Senate support. [Saratogian, Bloodhorse, TU/CapCon]

In local gov't; Troy's Police Chief is denying charges he fudged expense reports in order to receive more overtime funding in next year's budget. [The Record]

The Ballston Spa Planning Board has approved construction of the Guardian House for female veterans, a project spearheaded by Saratoga Springs Supervisor Joanne Yepsen. [Gazette]

Finally, a situation, well The Situation, had some help writing his new book from Spa City native Chris Millis, who will be signing copies of the bio later this week.

In case you missed it last week, here is The Situation and Bristol Palin discussing safe sex...

Monday, November 29

Ivins on budget: "I'm hoping it passes tonight"

Saratoga Springs Finance Commissioner Ken Ivins Jr. said this afternoon he isn't sure if a budget will pass tonight and that he has held meetings negotiating terms since the Nov. 23 budget workshop.

I chatted with him briefly as he was in between teaching computing courses at Adirondack Community College.

"I've talked to some of them," he said of the other council members, adding that he's "hoping it passes tonight."

He also shared some potentially good news; the increase in the city's health insurance bill has come in lower than projected. The deadline for enrollment by city employees was Nov. 24.

Ivins had been wary that the new provision included as part of the federal health care reform act that allows families to insure children up to age 26 coupled with notice from insurers that premiums were set to increase up to 20 percent in 2011 would mean an increased financial burden.

He indicated that Deputy Kate Jarosh has been contacting other city council members today to tell them the news. I put out an email asking for a brief explanation of the new figures to no avail.

I will be (making an attempt) to live Tweet tonight's meeting at the new City Desk Twitter, which can be accessed here.

Gibson names Brunswick native to director post, and Wirth isn't sure if a city budget will pass tonight

In an release this morning, Congressman-elect Chris Gibson announced he has appointed Clifton Park resident Steven Bulger as his District Director. Bulger served as Gibson's Saratoga County Coordinator during his campaign.

“Steve Bulger is a great example of a citizen dedicated to selflessly improving our community. His volunteerism has already made a difference in countless lives and I’m honored and proud to have him serve as my District Director,” said Gibson in the release.

Bulger has worked in the medical manufacturing sector for the past 20 years, most recently as a manager specializing in total hip and knee replacements and trauma fracture fixation implants for the Stryker Corporation.

He is also the chairman of the Clifton Park Planning Board and a member of the board of directors of Saratoga Bridges.

On to the Saratoga Springs budget; Public Safety Commissioner Richard Wirth said today he is unsure whether or not the council will pass a budget tonight or postpone until the deadline tomorrow evening.

Wirth did manage to restore funds for the Saratoga Springs Police Department's Captain position and for nine dispatchers who were originally planned to have their functions abandoned to be picked up by the county.

"It really depends upon what we hear from the public," he said, describing tonight's meeting as the last budget workshop.

Wirth said he had not met with Finance Commissioner Ken Ivins Jr. since the last workshop on Nov. 23, and that he was looking forward to the process having "a good ending."

Check out what the council and the public have said in the run up to the two final days of negotiations here, here, and here.

Front page: 11.29.10 - The city budget is living on the edge, Gibson living in his office

Good morning! I hope you're all out of your turkey-day induced comas and ready for the final week of Saratoga Springs Budget negotiations and today's extraordinary state legislative session.

The City Council has scheduled meetings at 7 p.m. tonight and tomorrow night to pass a budget by the Nov. 30 deadline.

Assemblyman Jim Tedisco had an editorial published yesterday touting his proposed "New York State Deficit Reduction and Fiscal Responsibility Commission." [Saratogian]

Sen. Roy McDonald met with constituents in Clifton Park on Saturday. [Fox 23]

Rep.-elect Chris Gibson will live in his office when the new term begins, but he's used to close quarters. [Poughkeepsie Journal]

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is calling for more unemployment aid. [DN]

NYC OTB officials say they will be forced to close if state legislators do not approve a bailout during today's session. The closure would affect the future of Saratoga Race Course. [AP, Saratogian]

State Legislators do not expect much legislating, or bi-partisan cooperation today. [TU]

But, next year the Senate may see some officials not sticking to the party line. [D&C]

Gov.-elect Andrew Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver have held a series of "peacemaking" meetings. [NYP]

Local cops were busy this weekend with DWI arrests. [PS]

And finally, RIP Leslie Nielsen...

Wednesday, November 24

T.G.I.(almost Thanksgiving) - Video from last night's budget workshop

I hope you're geared up for a feast tomorrow, I know I am.

Here is footage of the public comment (and some responses) from last night's budget workshop. Let me know what you think in comments.

The City Council has scheduled two meetings at 7 p.m. Nov. 29 and 30 with one agenda item for each: Finance Department - Discussion and Vote: Adopt 2011 Budget.

Tuesday, November 23

McDonald announces "mobile office hours"

In a Wednesday release, Senator Roy McDonald announced he would be in the Clifton Park Center food court from 1 to 3 p.m., Sat., Nov. 27 with Clifton Park Supervisors Anita Daly and Phil Barrett to discuss the issues as part of his "mobile office hours."

“This is a budget listening tour because a key theme for discussion will be the state and county budgets,” said McDonald. “The best possible budget will be achieved through listening to the concerns and opinions of local residents who feel firsthand the overall weight of the budget.”

Gov. Paterson announces extraordinary session agenda, Gibson appoints northern regional rep

Gov. Paterson just released his executive order laying out the agenda for next Monday's extraordinary session. Here it is:

a. enacting a plan to provide for adequate savings and implementation of other measures to allow for the continued operation of the New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation;

b. enacting legislation that would implement provisions of the 2010-11 budget for Education, Labor and Family Assistance;

c. reducing expenditures for the 2010-11 budget;

d. amending Chapter 536 of the Laws of 2010 concerning the jurisdiction of the Division of Human Rights over claims made under that statute;

e. amending Chapter 225 of the Laws of 2010 concerning the effective date of that provision and the time for covered entities to come into compliance;

f. eliminating the notification required prior to the closure of state facilities;

g. renaming the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel for Governor Hugh L. Carey;

h. appropriating funds received through the federal education jobs fund program;

i. authorizing the Dormitory Authority to create a subsidiary to hold certain properties currently in the possession of North General Hospital;

j. creating a commission to evaluate and adjust judicial salaries; and

k. such other subjects as I may recommend.
You can bet (pun intended) there will be more on that first item in tomorrow's Saratogian.

I'm going to predict that Assemblyman Jim Tedisco puts out a release in the next 24 hours asking why redistricting reform was left off the agenda, but renaming the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel made the cut.

Also just in, Rep.-elect Chris Gibson has appointed campaign staffer, and former staffer for late Congressman Gerald Solomon, Mark Westcott as his regional representative for Warren, Washington and Essex Counties.

"His compassion and knowledge of the issues and challenges people face in the region will help us better serve our constituents,” Gibson said in the release.

Westcott, a lifelong district resident and current Queensbury resident, holds an MBA from Duke University and (NERD ALERT!) he directed Advertising and Promotional Department at Nintendo America. I wonder if he was responsible for the Nintendo Cereal System...

He started an international marketing consulting business, Westcott Marketing, Inc., in 1997.

Tedisco calls for bi-partisan deficit reduction commission

Assemblyman Jim Tedisco has a new release asking Gov.-elect Cuomo to establish an 18-member deficit reduction commission modeled after President Obama's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. Like the federal group, Tedisco is asking for the commission to be established by executive order. More on the release here.

On Nov. 9, Tedisco called for Gov. Paterson to put redistricting reform on his agenda for the Nov. 29 extraordinary session. An agenda for the session has yet to be revealed.

Front page: 11.23.10 - Don't forget, Saratoga Springs budget workshop tonight at 6 p.m.

Good morning! Don't forget, tonight at 6 p.m. up in the Music Hall (City Hall 3rd floor) the second and last scheduled workshop on the 2011 Comprehensive Budget will be held. See you there!

The Saratoga Springs City School District will use the majority of over $170,000 in federal funds to hire substitute teachers to cover while full-time teachers attend training sessions. (Saratogian)

Steven Rattner denied the charge that a DVD distribution deal for "Chooch", an independent film produced by retirement fund officials, was part of a pay-to-play scheme. (TU/CapCon, Saratogian/CityDesk)

Gov. Paterson's office says a CSEA release yesterday of a FOIL request showing several new hires at the DEC while the agency was under a hiring freeze actually depicts interagency promotions. (LoHud, TU/TSW)

Paterson signed an agreement with a Wisconsin-based Mohican tribe to build a 584,000-square-foot casino in Sullivan County. (Daily News)

Good-government advocates support a new report by Reinvent Albany outlining some executive orders Gov.-elect Cuomo could enact to further transparency and openness. (NYT)

Cuomo called for the end to a law that has kept a non-operational juvenile detention center staffed with state employees. (NY Post)

Activists and advocates are gearing up for the Nov. 29 extraordinary session. (TU)

Friday, November 19

T.G.I.F. - LFTCED funds for GloFo road go to Stillwater, and censure likely for Rangel

Happy (chilly) Friday!

$8.4 million in Empire State Development Corp. (ESDC) funds originally allocated to the Luther Forest Technology Campus Economic Development Corp. (LFTCED) has been reallocated to the town of Stillwater for construction of Cold Springs Road. [Saratogian]

As per Gov.-elect Andrew Cuomo's request, New York Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman has set deadlines for three undecided State Senate races to be finalized before the end of the year. Senate Republicans applauded the decision. [WSJ, LoHud/AW]

Local Democratic candidate for State Assembly BK Keramati says the public funding of state elections would alleviate voter confusion and help candidates campaign more effectively. [TU]

Dismissed NYS DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis was given a hero's welcome at an Assembly hearing held yesterday. [TU]

Lake Placid officials say the winter Empire State Games will go on. [Gazette, CBS6]

In D.C., the House ethics panel has voted to recommend censure for embattled NY Congressman Charles Rangel. [Observer]

Thursday, November 18

Gibson: "I'm looking forward to getting to work"

Congressman-elect Chris Gibson called me from D.C. just now to check in and talk about his Congressional orientation, which wraps up tomorrow.

"I'm looking forward to getting to work," he said, with wind audible over the line.

"I don't like to compare and contrast that," he said when asked to compare his Congressional orientation to his military experience, adding that he put the two in "totally different categories."

During orientation week, incoming reps voted designate House leaders - among them Ohio's John Boehner as Speaker of the House and California’s Kevin McCarthy as Majority Whip - and today they voted to extend the moratorium on earmarks into next year.

Gibson said the week has been filled with, "briefings on all the procedures," from setting up a D.C. office to lease requirements for district offices, and "a series of conference meetings for the 112th Congress," which he said has brought all the freshmen representatives (over 100) from both sides of the aisle to meet and greet before getting down to business in Jan.

He mentioned his meeting with outgoing Rep. Scott Murphy, who he spoke to about making D.C. family friendly (both have young children) and, "going about constituent work and good transitions in terms of cases."

Gibson's family will maintain residence in Kinderhook, and he will commute from there to D.C. His wife, Mary Jo, left D.C. today after being there since Sunday.

"We're really enjoying spending time together," Gibson said of the entire NY delegation, mentioning talks with GOP Rep.-elects Richard Hanna (NY-24), Nan Hayworth (NY-19), Tom Reed (NY-29) and Michael Grimm (NY-13).

This morning Long Island Rep. Peter King hosted a coffee session for the NY GOP delegation and another NY GOP event will be held this evening.

He also said NY-1 and NY-25 GOP candidates Randy Altschuler and Ann Marie Buerkle have been in attendance, despite their respective elections being embroiled in re-counts. [NBC]

"I'm very encouraged," Gibson said, speaking of meetings with the NY GOP delegation that have addressed some of his campaign points as upcoming legislative priorities, which include extending the Bush-era tax cuts, regulatory reform, and the biggie, repealing and replacing the Obama health care bill.

He said he was confident the House would pass legislation consistent with "the will of the people" that flipped the chamber to Republican control, with the caveat that they would, "need to manage expectations," with the reality that the Senate will be under a competing "philosophical control."

"All that's going to require is patience," he said, of navigating House bills through the Senate and up to President Obama for passage.

After tomorrow, Gibson will be on vacation until the first week of December.

Steven Rattner nailed by Cuomo over "Chooch" distrubution deal

I just couldn't help using such a Post-esque headline for this post.

NYS AG and Gov.-elect Andrew Cuomo's office just announced that two lawsuits have been filed against Steven Rattner, former head of President Obama's auto industry task force and a player in the "pay-to-play" scandal of former NYS Comptroller Alan Hevesi. [WSJ]

Among the charges leveled by Cuomo, which consist mostly of huge campaign contributions to Hevesi, one sticks out: Rattner allegedly "arranged a DVD distribution deal for a movie, 'Chooch,' produced by (NYS Common Retirement Investment Fund Chief Investment Officer David) Loglisci's brother."

Maybe the distribution deal - arranged between the film producers and a portfolio company of Rattner managed private equity firm Quadrangle Group - sent up red flags because the movie was such a bomb.

According to IMDB, the film grossed just over $35,000 total with almost two months in release.

And, here is the synopsis, pulled from the press kit, found on the official "Chooch" website:

The life of Queens resident Dino Condito (Carmine Famiglietti) is about to take a surprising turn. After letting down his softball team by striking out in the bottom of the ninth against Hoboken, his crew brands him “the chooch.” Trying to cheer up his cousin, Jubilene Condito (Joseph Summa) cashes in his savings from his first holy communion and springs for a vacation to Cancun. “You mean leave Queens?” asks Dino, as if the thought had never occurred to him.

But there’s a mix-up on the way to the airport involving a mysterious bag of money. As soon as Dino and Jube land in Mexico, they’re abducted by a pair of thugs and left in the desert at the mercy of a trio of soldiers. It takes reuniting Dino’s old Queens “crew,” including Dino’s beloved pet dachshund, to save the two cousins. Only after a jail bust, donkey ride, chicken coop explosion, and a life-changing love affair at the local bordello does the crew finally arrive to save the day. Returning home in triumphant glory with his reunited crew and newfound love Ladonna (Paola Walker), Dino discovers the meaning of family, friendship and neighborhood.
I couldn't even make it through those two paragraphs without bursting into uncontrollable laughter. Once you're hero loses in the bottom of the ninth to the team from Hoboken, the movie should probably end, right?

Needless to say, with six reviews (check out what Post reviewer Lou Lumenick said), "Chooch" holds a zero percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. But, there may be a silver lining, the flick is a shoe in for this year's Razzie awards.

Front page: 11.18.10 - The IRS is looking for you, to give you money?! Newsweek profiles Scott Murphy's campaign and Spider-Man is hired by NYC

Good morning!

It's free money day at City Desk, if you happen to be one of 37 county residents who accidentally did not receive their federal tax refund this year. [Saratogian]

You can use your refund to stock up on Joose and Four Loko while you can; the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission have sent letters to the four top manufacturers of "alcopops" telling them the stimulant additives in their beverages are unsafe. [Saratogian]

Albany International Airport will get full body scanners next year, and local travelers don't seem to upset about it. [Record]

Days after Saratoga County Administrator David Wickerham announced his retirement, the county's Director of Central Services, Michael Pratt, announced he will also leave. [Gazette]

Gov.-elect Cuomo is asking the courts to make sure the composition of the Senate is finalized by Jan. 5. [TU]

Is this what a "government shutdown" would look like? [TU/CapCon]

Scott Murphy: "2010’s quintessential endangered Democrat". [Newsweek]

Rep.-Elect Chris Gibson on his week of Congressional orientation. [TU/CapCon]

At least someone out there still can get a job; NYC Mayor Bloomberg hired Spider-Man yesterday. [Daily News, Multiversity Comics]

Wednesday, November 17

Governor Paterson calls Nov. 29 extraordinary session

As was predicted by local pols, Governor David A. Paterson has released a statement calling for an extraordinary session of the Legislature on Monday, November 29.

"There is still unfinished business that must be addressed before the end of the calendar year, which is why I am calling for an extraordinary session of the Legislature," Paterson said.

"We have a responsibility as elected officials and as such, I call upon the State Legislature to join with me in completing this work and fulfilling our obligation as public servants."

Last week, Assemblyman Jim Tedisco called for redistricting reform to be put on the agenda before the end of the year. No word yet on exactly what issues the legislature will address.

Tuesday, November 16

Front Page: 11.17.10 - The City Council does the toe-stepping dance, and New Yorkers stay home on Election Day

Good morning! Forecast calls for rain, shouldn't we be looking at snow this time of year?

The Spring Run Trail opening has been delayed a day due to weather. Officials will open the trail at 2 p.m., tomorrow (Nov. 18), at the trail head located at East Avenue and Excelsior Avenue.

The stress of budget talks may have ignited some irritation at last night's Saratoga Springs City Council meeting, as Mayor Johnson grappled with Comm. Franck and Supervisor Joanne Yepsen. [Saratogian]

The Empire State Games have been canceled, indefinitely. [Poughkeepsie Journal]

Federal prosecutors are looking to re-try former Sen. Joe Bruno if and when his felony fraud convictions are vacated. [Record]

Outgoing Rep. Scott Murphy and Rep.-elect Chris Gibson met in D.C. to talk family friendly activities. [TU/Cap Con]

After heavy enforcement as A.G., Gov.-elect Andrew Cuomo may hire debt collectors to work for the state. [NYT]

Fewer eligible New Yorkers voted in the 2010 midterm election than any midterm election in the past three decades. [NYT]

NYS Parks Commissioner Carol Ash says a new non-profit alliance may be the answer to the threat of park closures. [Buff News]

Friday, November 12

T.G.I.F. - What do Snake Plissken, Chris Gibson, and the Saratogian sports department have in common?

Our very own Sports Editor Kyle Leach wrote in his "Local Yokel" column this week about Congressman-elect Chris Gibson's election night declaration that he would make a bid to bring the Olympics back to New York.
Here it is reprinted in full:

Congressman-elect Chris Gibson's Olympic dream can come true
By KYLE C. LEACH, The Saratogian

The character of Saratoga County is built on the frigid winter days, and not on the sweaty summer nights. Congressman-elect Chris Gibson can see this. And now he wants the world to see it, closing his speech at the Downtown Holiday Inn in Saratoga Springs on Nov. 2 with some regional hope:

“We love New York. We want the rest of the country to love New York. Let’s make a bid to bring the Olympics back here to New York!”

I’m with you, Gibson. In fact, I’m ahead of you.

I put together a list of locations, within the county, for the different winter sports:

Figure Skating

Using single-sport venues to host multiple events is trendy these days. Fenway Park, Wrigley Park, even the New York State Fairgrounds Grandstand; all hosted mid-winter events with ease. It’s time the grand old Saratoga Race Course had its clubhouse fans circling warm air in an effort to heat patrons up, not cool them down.

We can serve brunch with pairs figure skating, and at night take bets on pond hockey, international-style. The judges and rink officials could even sit in the canoe.

Downhill skiing

The alpine skiers strap on their equipment at Dick & Jerry’s Mini Mart, at the intersection of Routes 29 and 147, and move out to the starting line underneath the traffic light. From there, the racers slide down Rt. 147 into the village of Galway to the finish line and massive crowd of onlookers outside the Galway Market.

Speed skating

Olympic champion Bonnie Blair and four fellow winter champions will appear at Cantina on Broadway tonight, in an effort to raise money for the Saratoga Winter Club and the upcoming Junior Speedskating Championship at the Saratoga Springs Ice Rink in January. This is a no-brainer: if the young gliders are coming here for their formative races, get them back for the Olympics.

Let’s just ask Bonnie.

Opening Ceremonies

The spectacle that kicks off the entire Games can take place at Plot 18 over at Luther Forest Technology Campus. That $4.6 billion can quickly be re-directed into the chest-expanding mega- shimmering super-stadium gathering-center Americans yearn for. The Chinese have theirs, we need ours.

You got me excited, Gibson. Let me know how I can help deliver your dream.

The village of Lake Placid (which is in NY-20) hosted the international games in 1932 and 1980, when the U.S. hockey team beat the Soviets in the semi-finals in the famed "miracle on ice" game. The game inspired the Disney film "Miracle" starring world class badass Kurt Russell, who retained that title even in a Disney production, as is clear in the following scene:

In 1981, a year after the actual "miracle" game, Russell stared as Snake Plissken in John Carpenter's "Escape from New York", which is exactly what Chris Gibson has said businesses are being forced to do because of the state's "hostile and uncertain" economic climate.

Politically, Russell is a Libertarian, with a pretty strong opinion on preserving Constitutional freedoms, another pillar of Gibson's campaign.

Disregarding any partisan issues, I smell a celebrity endorsement for both the Olympic nomination and Gibson's reelection campaign. What do you local yokels think?

T.G.I.F. - Gibson taps former Solomon staffers and Glass to discuss Raucci

Happy Friday! Here are the headlines.

Congressman-elect Chris Gibson has tapped several staffers who formally worked for the late Rep. Gerald Solomon, who represented the area for two decades. [Chronicle via TU/Cap Con, Saratogian]

The Gerald B.H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery, where veterans and supporters gathered yesterday for a somber Veteran's Day dedication, is named for the late Congressman. [Saratogian]

Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo named two economic transition teams yesterday, firing back at critics, and maybe cashing out for some campaign donations. [NYT, Observer, Twitter]

Environmentalist Bill McKibben will speak at Skidmore today. [PostStar]

Chicago Public Radio's "This American Life" will air an episode this weekend on
Schenectady crime-celeb Steven Raucci. Show host and creator Ira Glass visited Skidmore earlier this year. [Gazette]

And finally, fast-food chain Wendy's is delving into the gourmet with the introduction of "natural cut sea-salt fries". No word yet on when the new spuds will make it into their Congress Street location. [Atlantic]

I'll be in Beantown this weekend. Leave your comments on the Saratoga Springs City Budget, which will be getting a lot of attention in the coming weeks as the deadline for passage is coming up fast.

Thursday, November 11

Gibson posts message to Vets and Cuomo asks citizens to stay involved

Congressman-elect Chris Gibson updated his Facebook status (which he then tweeted a link to) this morning with this message:

On Veterans' Day we remember all those who served to protect our freedoms and especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our cherished way of life. May God Bless their resting souls and their families. Let us also remember and reach out to those grievously wounded and to those suffereing (sic) post-traumatic stress. Finally, we take pause to be thankful - our country is truly blessed. Chris & Mary Jo

During his 24-year Army career, Gibson served through four tours in Iraq.

Also this morning, Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo appeared on WOR 710's The John Gambling Show. Echoing his new video, Cuomo called for New Yorkers to take a more active role in state Government.

"You have to bring the people into the game," said Cuomo.

Cuomo also said he would work to keep the trial of 9/11 "mastermind" Khalid Sheikh Mohammed out of the state, and said he "needs the facts" on hydrofracking for natural gas.

Front page: 11.11.10 - County Animal Shelter to hire more personnel in midst of DEC fine, and Gov.-elect Cuomo puts out new video

Good morning and happy Veteran's Day! It's Nov. 11, which a year from now will be a story all by itself. Here is the news.

The Law and Finance Committee of the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors approved $255,596 for new desk officers, assistant district attorneys and personnel at the Saratoga County Animal Shelter. The county is being fined $2,000 by the Department of Environmental Conservation for improper operation of an incinerator at the shelter. [Saratogian, Gazette]

A new exhibit at the New York State Museum displays the personal effects of local soldiers. [Record]

Gov.-elect Cuomo has a new video thanking voters and pledging restore integrity, restore fiscal discipline, and lift the veil of secrecy at the Capital. [WNYC/The Empire]

The State Senate, which is currently in transition pending the outcome of three races, may not heed Gov. Paterson's call for a special session before the end of the year. [TU]

Paterson said he would like to resume teaching after leaving office. He was an adjunct professor at Columbia University from 2000 to 2007. [Daily News]

Wednesday, November 10

Tedisco on redistricting: "It should just be good for the public"

Assemblyman Jim Tedisco was on YNN's Capital Tonight last night promoting his push to put redistricting reform on the agenda of an extraordinary session held before the end of the year. Here is the clip:

It appears as though at one point Tedisco is lamenting a lack of cojones (if you will) among the so-called "leaders" of the state legislature to take initiative on this type of reform. Time will tell if he is the only state legislator taking the NY Uprising pledge seriously during the upcoming session.

Tuesday, November 9

City, School District: The city will no longer maintain East and West Side Rec. Fields

This joint release from Saratoga Springs and The Saratoga Springs City School District just in:
The City of Saratoga Springs has managed and maintained the East Side and West Side Recreation Fields, owned by the Saratoga Springs City School District, since 1978. This arrangement has been by mutual agreement, renewable on an annual basis. However, beginning on January 1, 2011, the Saratoga Springs City School District will be implementing its own plan for sole management of those properties. This transition process will occur through communication and sharing information between the city and district; investigating a variety of related budgetary and regulatory issues; and developing a plan that the Board of Education will approve.

“The East Side and West Side Recreation Fields are a valuable resource to the community of Saratoga Springs. The collaboration with the city over the past 32 years is appreciated,” stated Superintendent Janice White.

Mayor Scott Johnson agrees that the collaboration and cooperation between the city and the school district has well served the community. “As well as the prior arrangement has worked in the past, fiscal realities and budgetary constraints dictate the city turning future maintenance and management over to the district, as owner. Of course, we will fully assist in all measures to make this transition as seamless as possible,” stated Mayor Johnson.
Spoke with Mayor Johnson and Comm. Scirocco; both indicated that they had discussed the issue of finances with district officials. The city receives $50,000 annually for upkeep of the fields, an amount Scirocco said did not meet the cost to the city.

Outgoing Rec. Dept. Director Linda Terricola deferred comment to Johnson, as my call was the first she had heard of the agreement. Comm. Ivins also declined comment.

Tedisco calls for redistricting reform and Gibson names Spa City native as chief-of-staff

*CORRECTED 1:30 p.m. - Forgive my election gaffe, I'm sure I speak for pols and us hacks alike when I say we're just glad it's over.

Assemblyman Jim Tedisco (R-Schenectady/Saratoga), who beat Dem. challenger *BK Keramati last week to retain his seat representing the 110th, released a statement this morning calling for an Extraordinary Session to be held before the end of the year to discuss redistricting reform.

Tedisco is prime sponsor of A.06721, which aims to. "establish clear rules for redistricting that will allow fair and equal representation, reduce political gerrymandering and provide public accountability in the process of reapportionment," by creating a 19 member redistricting commission appointed by the Governor (3), Senate Pro Temp (1), Senate Minority Leader (1), Assembly Speaker (1) and Assembly Minority Leader (1), with the twelve remaining elected from each of the state's judicial districts in the election following the census.

Here is Tedisco's letter to Paterson:

The Honorable David A. Paterson
Executive Chamber
State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224

Dear Governor Paterson:

I am writing in support of your call for an Extraordinary Session to be held before the end of the year. In addition to the important fiscal issues that must be dealt with, I respectfully recommend that redistricting reform be added to the agenda.

For several years, I’ve carried legislation in the Assembly for redistricting reform (A.6721) to create legislative districts based on common communities and not political power blocks. Assemblyman Michael Gianaris also sponsors a redistricting reform bill on his side of the aisle (A.05279). These are just two redistricting reform measures that could be considered during an Extraordinary Session called by you.

There's no better time for the legislature to finally enact true non-partisan, independent redistricting reform than this year when it’s after an election and several members of the legislature are in their final term. There's already a majority of legislators who have signed New York Uprising’s redistricting reform pledge – so the votes are there if this is allowed to come up for a vote. If redistricting reform is passed this year, this change to the constitution would then be able to come before the legislature again next year and be on the ballot in 2012. Given the support for redistricting reform now – there’s no reason to delay.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at 518-370-2812. Thank you for your consideration.


James N. Tedisco
110th Assembly District

Reports following last week's election indicated that the legislature would likely not return for a session before 2011. Paterson and Gov-elect Andrew Cuomo will hold a press conference at 2:15 p.m. today (webcast here) following a closed meeting in NYC.

Also this morning, NY-20 Congressman-elect Chris Gibson (R-Kinderhook) announced the appointment of Saratoga Springs native Steve Stallmer as his chief-of-staff.

“I look forward to helping Congressman-elect Chris Gibson represent our friends and family and implement his vision to rebuild our economy so small and family businesses can once again prosper,” Stallmer said in a release.

Stallmer has a degree in political science from Marymount University in Arlington, VA and he is married to Kathleen Stallmer with two children, Kaylee, 6, and Andrew, 4.

Front page: 11.9.10 - S(no!)w, why the Dems lost NY House races and why a property tax cap is only the first step

Oh the weather outside is, weather. Here are some headlines.

It snowed yesterday, springing municipal road clean-up services into action. The rest of the week is expected to be clear (and cold). [PostStar, Saratogian, TU]

Division Street's former Ellsworth Ice Cream Co. building may soon be revamped into a new mixed-use building. [Gazette]

Experts say a state property tax cap will only begin to solve fiscal problems. [WXXI]

Rotterdam residents attempting to go to Town Board agenda meetings are being locked out of the Town Hall, and they aren't happy about it. [Gazette]

PEF has sent memos to Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo asking him to reconsider Gov. Paterson's layoff plans. [TU/State Worker]

Analysts: the "red tide" swept up NY's House Dems last week. [Wash Post]

Finally, just a day after going live moderators had to pull several anti-monarchist comments off the official Facebook page of the British Monarchy. [Telegraph]

My guess is her majesty responded, "let them troll MySpace!"

Monday, November 8

Front page: 11.8.10 - Spa City development ramping up and government cheese here and abroad

Good morning! I'm back in action with daily morning updates. Here is what's going on today.

Developers are looking to start construction projects (some likely postponed due to the economy) in Saratoga Springs. [Gazette]

While the may have cleaned up nationally, analysts say the GOP missed out by not taking a single statewide seat in New York. [TU]

Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo described by former aides as methodical and at times combative. And months before taking his first executive post Cuomo is already fielding questions about a presidential run. [NYT, WSJ]

One position no party won; the battle for an eloquent acceptance/concession speech. [NYT]

NY Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver may face a coup attempt in the new term. [NYP]

And finally, it was a cheesy weekend worldwide. The Irish government got panned for a plan to give struggling families cheese, and the U.S. government was revealed as a being complicit in a campaign for more cheese. [Irish Times, NYT]

Has anyone had this Domino's American Legends Wisconsin 6-Cheese pizza? It looks delicious and terrifying.

Sunday, November 7

Yepsen sends "thank you" to supporters

In what I am going to assume is her final campaign email, Saratoga Springs Supervisor Joanne Yepsen sent this to local supporters this morning:

Dear Friends,

The whirlwind pace of campaigning may be over, but the many individuals who made possible a strong race for change in the 43rd District are still front and center in my thoughts. I continue to feel humbled, overwhelmed by the number of individuals who supported our campaign to work toward a better future! It is your financial, vocal and organizational support that helped build and sustain incredible momentum, right up until the polls closed.

While final numbers for each election district are not yet confirmed or fully counted, I am genuinely proud that we did so well, particularly in the cities. Our campaign was about reform, stronger fiscal responsibility and accountability. And with your help, we have set the stage for future wins, throughout the district.

The 43rd Senate District deserves the very best representation, to create jobs, hold down taxes, promote equality, and fight for the middle class and small business owners. Your help moved this district closer to that goal.

For today, I am fortunate that I can continue to do what I enjoy most: work for the people. As County Supervisor, I have the privilege of representing my neighbors and friends in Saratoga Springs. And I look forward to continuing to be the best public servant possible.

With my warmest thanks and best wishes for the upcoming holiday season,

Joanne Dittes Yepsen

I spoke with her Thursday for a story on how Saratoga Springs residents voted compared to the rest of the state/country/district.

She said she was looking forward to continuing her representation of the city on the county board. Yepsen beat Sen. Roy McDonald in Saratoga Springs by over 200 votes.

Wednesday, November 3

Post Election Night: Video from Saratoga GOP rally

Here is some video of the party at the Holiday Inn; that first shot is County GOP Chairman Jasper Nolan announcing that "Murphy has conceded." As previously mentioned, their public address system for the left much to be desired in terms of volume.

The last few shots show Mayor Scott Johnson and Public Safety Commissioner Richard Wirth, who made sure they were in front of the reception line to greet the Congressman-elect. Gibson and Jim Tedisco also had a touching moment (literally and figuratively) as Tedisco hugged him and took a moment to congratulate him and offer a lament on his failed campaign against last year against Murphy.

At the bar with the Congressman-elect and the City Council's memo mixup

Last night was quite a night for local Republicans. The party faithful saw two longtime public servants, Sen. Roy McDonald and Assemblyman Jim Tedisco, successfully defend their seats. And, of course, they put Kinderhook native (and rock star for a night) Chris Gibson in Congress.

I just happened to catch up with the Congressman-elect at Gaffney's around 1 a.m., where he joined his campaign organizers for a post-election drink. He had one glass of what appeared to be red wine; sources could not confirm what varietal.

Thanks to Chris Fitz Gerald of the Troy Record for coming out to assist with coverage at the Holiday Inn last night.

Over at City Hall, the council held a special meeting at 10:30 this morning to approve three spending warrants, an item that is usually done without discussion as part of the consent agenda at regularly scheduled meetings.

According to commissioners Scirocco, Wirth and Ivins, who I spoke to at last night's GOP event, not all the council members got copies of the warrants for approval.

Scirocco and Wirth both said they had not seen the warrants before Monday's meeting.

I'm assuming at this point that they were passed this morning unceremoniously, more on this later today.

The scene from the Gideon Putnam (12:40 am)

Mareesa Nicosia and Lucian McCarty here, live blogging from the Democratic headquarters at the historic Gideon Putnam hotel in Saratoga Springs.

12:40: Aaand, we're out. Thanks for reading. Goodnight.

12:38: Addendum: Murphy apparently picked up the bar tab for the rest of the night after his speech. "Please stick around. Congressman Murphy has opened the bar. If someone would like a drink he would like to thank you all," Bulman said.

11:56: People are dispersing here and all but one TV camera has been taken down. A few dozen people are sticking around talking over music, which is reminiscent of that at a middle school dance. Murphy, with drink in hand, is still here speaking with people.

11:45: Murphy: "There is still a lot of work to be done. We'll see what the future holds. I don't have any plans at this moment. Stay involved. Stay active. " He said he hoped his supporters would "continue to stay involved in the discussion; in the dialogue, and continue to be part of the solution."

Murphy said he spoke to his opponent Chris Gibson before delivering his speech. "I always knew it would be a close election because we had a credible opponent."

He thanked the groups that supported him such as labor groups, the Independence Party, and Working Families. Murphy said he will continue to stay active in public life, though he did not know what capacity. "If you had asked me an hour ago I would have said as a congressman."

11:18: The mood at Democratic Headquarters has taken a somber slip. Even before the three back-to-back concession speeches, many people around the room slouched in their chairs with their drinks in hand waiting for the speeches they knew were coming. Yepsen thanked her supporters and brought much of her staff and family onstage. "I have no regrets," she told one voter as they embraced before her speech. "Now I have a personal life."
Now the remaining supporters in the room (perhaps half as many as there were an hour ago) are standing anxiously awaiting the speech none of them wanted to hear Scott Murphy deliver.

10:55: It's pretty quiet here with the Democrats. No candidates have appeared, and the enthusiasm that was evident about an hour ago has definitely faded. Rob Rydak says, "I'm not conceding, but these numbers don't look like they're changing." Jennifer Jensen Bergan is up a few thousand votes.

10:32: Keramati's optimism seems to be slipping. He's talking about statistical possibilities, but currently it's 2:1 favoring his opponent, Tedisco.

10:30: Sorry for the lapse. Trying to round up candidate spokespeople here. Word on the street is Yepsen is in Rensselaer and might make appearance before 11 p.m. Murphy's spokesman says no comment until final results. We're waiting. Everyone is drinking, food gone from platters in hall.

9:38: Democrat Chris Coons was just announced to have won a senate seat in Delaware over Christine O'Donnell. A cheer went up in the crowd closest to the television.

9:35: At one table, a small group of people are set up, compiling results as they come in from various districts. Candidate for Saratoga County Family Court Robert Rybak hovered over the table, frequently on the phone. When asked how he felt about his chances, his response was simple: "I'll let you know in an hour."

9:29: Larry Bulman, chairman of the Saratoga County Democratic Committee, says Yepsen and Murphy have been out making phone calls up until almost 9 p.m. Really? "We've had a lot of people on the street."

Local Dems' chances: "I feel good about it."
Is it a close race here, for Yepsen and Murphy? "Every vote is gonna count in this election."

9:25: The mood here is optimistic. Jeff Partridge of the Saratoga Democratic Committee said he expects all of the local candidates to win "of course." But with the national results on a large screen in the corner, Partridge said he is not as optimistic about the national results. "We took a hit in the House, but we're holding the Senate," he said. "We're bleeding red here."

9:18: BK Keramati is milling about the crowd, talking with those on his campaign and those who support it. He said he feels good about tonight, regardless of the outcome. "I can't lose, no matter what happens," said the candidate for the 110th Assembly District. "We ran a great campaign. We had great volunteers and we got the message out."

9:10: no sign of Murphy, was expected to be here at 9, photog says.

9:03: CNN has called Gillibrand's win in NY. No surprise there.

8:59: Yepsen is said to be in building, we're hoping she makes appearance soon. Bartender said he hasn't sold many drinks so far, wonder if that bodes well or worse for the Dems here at the Gideon Putnam?

8:58: With only minutes until the polls close, men and women with red and white political buttons have begun to filter into the ballroom where candidates will eventually announce their victory or concede defeat.

8:29 p.m. The Gideon staff is setting up huge silver platters out in the hall, but their spread doesn't yet rival what the GOP folks have over at the Holiday Inn. Mmm. Can't wait to find out what is under those lids.

8:24 p.m.: Lucian and I are here at the historic Gideon Putnam hotel, playing the ol' hurry-up-and-wait game with other press and about a billion cameras all set up on a stage. Only four of the tables have people sitting at them.

Bunches of red, white and blue balloons adorn the stage, and "Scott Murphy for Congress" signs are plastered everywhere, on the tables, on the stage, on the podium.

Tuesday, November 2

The scene from the GOP (12:10 a.m.)

Patrick "City Desk" Donges and Chris Fitz Gerald here at the Holiday Inn, hobnobbing with the Saratoga Republican set.

12:10 - Back at the office after Gibson's speech. The new Congressman was greeted like a rock star; we may have witnessed the political birth of the next Ronald Reagan.

The only new part of his speech, saying he wants to bring the Olympics back to Lake Placid, which he said would help with economic development.

11:20 - Jasper Nolan announces Murphy has conceded to a roar of applause followed by someone in the crowd repeating, "Murphy, you're fired!" They're now singing "na, na, nah, na, hey, hey, hey, goodbye."

11:06 - "Scott Murphy, you're fired" I'm not sure if that was Jasper Nolan or Gibson trooper and fellow veteran Dave Bronner.

10:55 - Mayor Scott Johnson got here in time to see Roy McDonald's acceptance speech. "It's a great time to be an American," McDonald said. Awaiting Gibson...

10:50 - Jennifer Jensen Bergan poised to be county's first female judge since 1791. "We want you to stay involved," says Tedisco to Democrats, who aren't looking too hot right now. Murphy and McDonald still lead.

10:30 - Jasper Nolan: "We don't want to embarrass anybody, but we're very confident," on high numbers thus far for Tedisco, McDonald, Jensen Bergan and Gibson.

10:24 - It looks like McDonald is getting ready to speak. He's up almost 2:1 with 29 reporting.

10:14 - Bartender says "a lot of wine and a lot of beer" are the drink of the night. Gibson and McDonald still up.

10:05 - 18%: Gibson 7,229; Murphy 1,153. 16%: McDonald 5,313; Yepsen 3,105. WNYT has called it for Farley; he's got 2,488 to Savage's 1,102 with 21% reporting.

9:57 - Somebody from the hotel is on stage trying to get the microphone working. They're speaking out of a podium amp to a room that is brimming with excited supporters, not the most prudent plan.

9:54 p.m. - 11 percent reporting: Gibson up 4,544 to Murphy 3,267. 9 percent: McDonald takes a lead 2,999 to Yepsen at 1,833. Jensen Bergan and Rybak are neck in neck; 3,940 to 3,374.

9:50 - Pandemonium, someone is yelling into a poorly amplified microphone and no one can hear. City Attorney Joe Scala is here, as is Joe Dalton. Jasper Nolan is attempting to announce another speaker...

9:45 - First local results rolling in have McDonald up 1'582 to Yepsen 858 with 6 percent reporting. Pretty close early on.

9:40 p.m. - Tony Jordon on the mic, "What a difference a year makes." Cites excitement around Gibson campaign.

9:35 p.m. - HUGE!!! applause for Fox News projection of Gibson winning. The sound system here is awful. "That speaker needs a lot of improvement," says supporter in leather tasseled jacket. County Treasurer Samuel J. Pitcheralle thanks voters.

9:30 p.m. - Assemblyman Jim Tedisco standing behind me as Saratoga County Clerk Kathy Marchione gives her speech. Tedisco feels good about the results, he's looking for a nine member pickup in the Assembly for veto override power. They're sushing the room for being too loud. I thought this was a Grand Old Party?!

9:25 - Saratoga Springs Supervisor Matt Veitch said he didn't vote for Paladino or Cuomo. He would not confirm if his rent is 2 damn high. City Finance Commissioner Ken Ivins Jr. said he's seen a lot of Gibson sign waving driving around the district today.
(Edited at 11:30 a.m, Nov. 3; I meant to type Cuomo, but there was Gibson fever sweeping the room)

9:13 - Applause for Fox News projection that Republicans will take the House. No results yet.

9:10 - City Public Safety Deputy Frank Dudla calls Gibson "a breath of fresh air." The Gibson love is flowing here, there is a large banner and two blown up photos of the Col. on the wall.

9:05 - Applause for Rand Paul, who is giving his acceptance speech. Score one for Aqua-Buddha!

9:00 - Polls are closed! President of the Saratoga Senior Center Board of Directors Roger Calkins said he's never seen so many people at this event. He was one of about 300 Gibson supporters outside in the cold yesterday during Bill Clinton's stump for Murphy.

8:55 - McDonald spokesman Kris Thompson says Roy is here "relaxing with his family". He said he's heard turnout has been good district wide, and that "it's in the hands of the voters" at this point.

8:45 - Assemblyman Tony Jordon (112th) is here. He's running unopposed this year. He's looking hard at the state Comptroller and Attorney General races as they "will have the most lasting impact" financially.

8:20 - What a spread! Cheese, veggie and fruit plates with bruschetta, spinach and artichoke dip, mini chicken cordon bleu, veggie and chicken quesadillas and the crowd favorite, crispy asparagus with asiago cheese. Classay!

8:15 p.m. - City Commissioner of Public Works Anthony "Skip" Scirocco is here chatting with Jasper Nolan. "Have you heard anything?" he asked when he walked in.

8:00 p.m. - Races are already being called in New Hampshire. There are five screens set up here; a T.V. and a projector in one corner of the room playing Fox News, another T.V. with CNN, a large projector with the Saratoga County BOE results page up, and another projector, footage TBD. Probably for speeches later.

7:48 p.m. - There are more press than candidates or supporters here at this point.

Chit chat with Yepsen supporter

8:45 p.m.: Just chatted with Celeste Caruso, local Realtor, Sustainable Saratoga board member and friend of Democratic state senate candidate Joanne Yepsen.

Caruso says Yepsen is well-liked in Saratoga and has a good chance in the election, although "it's hard to unseat an incumbent."

"Traditionally any in-roads (for Democrats in a mostly Republican area) -- which we made with Kirsten Gillibrand and Scott Murphy -- to get our foot in the door is a triumph," Caruso said.

Residents of outlying areas in the 43rd Senate district don't know Yepsen as well, she said. But she's crossing her fingers.

Yepsen expected to arrive here shortly.

Election Night 2010

It's finally here, folks.

We've got two reporters and one photographer each at the GOP's and Democrats' election night headquarters (GOP is at the Holiday Inn on Broadway and the Democrats are at the Gideon Putnam in Saratoga Spa State Park).

They will be updating this blog throughout the night with results, reaction and a little colorful commentary so you can feel the election night excitement from the comfort of your couch.

So how are you feeling this election night? Are your candidates going to come through or are you starting to get nervous?

Me? I'm just happy that I won't have to watch another political ad until next year!

Stay tuned and follow us on twitter for the latest tonight.

Yepsen email: "WE'RE WINNING!"

Got this around 3 p.m. from the Yepsen camp:

From: Joanne Yepsen [] On Behalf Of Joanne Yepsen
Sent: Tuesday, November 02, 2010 2:48 PM


All of our poll watchers are reporting BIG turnout throughout the district. Now more than ever, every single vote counts! This is going to go down to the wire!

Get out and vote! Call a friend who hasn't voted, and drive them to the polls with you!

We're on our way to winning this together!

Thank you,

Joanne Yepsen

Candidate for the 43rd Senate District

Poll inspectors: Job was a tough sell this election because of new machines

A couple poll inspectors in Saratoga Springs told me that the job, which pays about $175 for the day, was a tough sell this year because some past inspectors were wary of the new, electronic voting machines.

"There were 20 people that the Board of Elections had said couldn't come (work) this year because they didn't want to use the new machines," said Sheila Arpei, a poll inspector at Division Street Elementary School who's done the job for four years.

Deputy Commissioner of Elections Kathleen Anderson said she couldn't verify Arpei's statements.

"I have no idea. That's her opinion," she said. "We have inspectors retire every year. I don't know why they retire."

I'm waiting for a call back from an elections commissioner who can provide more information.

Chris Alexander, an inspector at the Lincoln Baths polling site, said she decided to work the 17-hour shift this year because she'd heard the Board of Elections was having trouble getting enough volunteers.

"Change is always hard," she said. "Like all changes, it can be scary. This is my first year as a volunteer and I did it specifically because I feel very comfortable with computers."

Voters also complained today about missing the lever machines, Alexander said, but "once people (use) the machines once, they're fine with it."

Other poll inspectors interviewed said the new ballots posed a challenge for some older folks whose hands shook while writing or because the font was too small for them to read.

"It's a little tough for them," said Linda LeTendre, who is working at Division Street Elementary School.

Another minor hangup was that the machines won't read a write-in ballot unless the voter has written very firmly, Alexander said.

"You have to write really dark and press hard," she said.

The machine will spit out the ballot if voters don't follow directions, so there's little risk of a botched vote.

"It's fairly easy," said Anthony Fiorino, a Saratoga Springs resident who cast his votes using the new system for the first time this afternoon. "It's just different."

Turnout strong for midterms, Dems leader says

Mareesa here.

Just got off the phone with Jasper Nolan, chairman of the Saratoga County Republican Committee, who was en route from the county Board of Elections to the Holiday Inn, the GOP's adopted election day headquarters. Chris Gibson and other candidates will be appearing there later this evening.

“I can’t say whether it’s abnormally busy or what,” Nolan told me, referring to polling places around the county. There are 107 total.

On the phone from his vantage point in South Glens Falls, Larry Bulman, chairman of the Saratoga County Democratic Committee, called the day’s turnout so far “very strong for midterm elections."

He said voters are complaining about two things:
No. 1, Moreau residents must vote on additional propositions that are located on the back of their ballots.

“A lot of people are missing” that it’s a two-sided ballet, Bulman said.

Another complaint, about the new, electronic voting system, is the issue of privacy.

“People are being told they have to have a poll inspector accompany them to feed their ballot into the machine,” he said.

Some voters are have been wary of inspectors handling their ballots because they are two-sided and leave no room for privacy.

“I recommend that people could feed it into machine themselves and if there’s a problem they can call an inspector over to help them,” Bulman said.

He said he'd be speaking with commissioner of elections Bill Fruci.

I’m off to check out our local polling places myself. Look for an update this afternoon when I return.

Monday, November 1

Clinton in the Hall of Springs and food for thought on NY-20

William Jefferson Clinton, or "Slick Willy", as he was known during a certain infamous point during his two terms as the nation's 42nd President, joined NY-20 Rep. Scott Murphy for a last minute campaign rally today at Saratoga Spa State Park.

He who has been repeatedly referred to as a "rock star" in the press for his campaign appearances (today was his 127th), Clinton seemed engaged but groggy, which could be hardly helped considering the 6:30 a.m. door time for attendees and 5:30 a.m. press check-in.

He did receive rock star applause, and apparently a man fainted before he had even stepped on stage. That marks the second time this month a spectator has hit the deck in his presence.

I did feel that while most of the music played during the event was in good taste, I thought certain picks, like Soft Cell's "Tainted Love", may have been somewhat disconcerting considering the occasion.

Murphy spokesperson Patrick Boland was overheard telling the press that there was little personal touch from the Congressman on his playlist.

My favorite quote of his speech; "They repealed arithmetic," referring to the dismissal of "pay as you go" budgeting rules after he left office.

And, some brief food for thought: Looking over final results from last year's special election for the NY-20 seat; while Murphy beat Jim Tedisco by 400 votes overall, Tedisco crushed him with over 4000 more votes in Saratoga County.

Is this a sign of things to come tomorrow night? Stay tuned!