Blogs > Saratogian Newsroom

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

Thursday, December 23

Front page: Franck leaning towards reelection run, Beaver Pond Village closer to approval

Good morning! It's supposed to snow today, stay warm!

I forgot to post yesterday that Accounts Commissioner John Franck said he is "leaning" towards running for reelection next year. He has been the most committal thus far, we'll see what the Mayor says on the subject later today.

Beaver Pond Village is inching closer to approval after developers were sent away with some homework last night. [Srtgn]

Gov. David Paterson had a light (conversationally) meal with Sen. Eric Adams and Sen. John Sampson. [CapCon]

Scott Murphy isn't sure what he will do after leaving office. [PstStr]

Gov.-elect Cuomo's staffers are the best, according to transition advisory team members. [IthacaJo]

the law providing 9/11 first responders with health benefits was passed in the Senate. [NYT]

Wednesday, December 22

Front page: NY loses 2 Congressional seats, recreation officials warn of E. and W. Side Rec. changes

Good morning! I hope everyone is staying warm while getting those last few days of shopping in!

New York will lose two Congressional seats because of shrinking population. [Srtgn]

Advocates and officials have started the push for independent redistricting. [LoHud]

City recreation officials are asking the City Council to "take back" the East and West Side Rec. Fields. [TU]

Thursday, December 16

Scirocco and Wirth also plead the fifth on reelection plans

Both DPW Commissioner Anthony "Skip" Scirocco and Public Safety Commissioner Richard Wirth said today it was too early to talk about reelection campaign plans, echoing the same sentiment shared yesterday by Finance Commissioner Ken Ivins Jr.

Wirth did offer some justification, saying he would wait for official party endorsements before making an announcement.

For those of you who have been in town longer than I have; is this typical going into an election year that city officials won't give at least some indication whether or not they're going to run or not? I just figured everyone would say yes regardless of party endorsements. What's the worst that could happen?

Front page: Many OTB plans, little consensus, and Gov. Paterson's exit interview

Good morning!
This will be my last morning post until next Wed.; I pulled the short straw for X-mas/X-mas Eve duties.

I will be meeting with DPW Comm. Anthony "Skip" Scirocco and Public Safety Comm. Richard Wirth today, so look for an update on those meetings sometime this afternoon.

There are a lot of plans for revitalizing the state's OTB industry, but little consensus on what should be done. [Srtgn]

John Sabini and Roy McDonald spoke about OTB and racing on the radio yesterday. [Srtgn]

Saratoga County officials are still working on a deal to takeover ownership of Luther Forest. [Srtgn]

A nationally respected economist says the state's economy will grow, albiet slowly, in 2011. [Record]

Saratoga County officials approved a $294 million budget and appointed new administrators. [PstStr, Gazette]

In an exit editorial board interview with state editors, Gov. Paterson said some laid off employees could end up getting rehired next year. Paterson has also quietly filed for retirement. [Srtgn, CapCon, LoHud]

New York's federal reps have a stake in the earmarks being contemplated by the Senate. [NYP]

Not on the Post's list, Scott Murphy's 40k for Saratoga Youth Court, which is a part of the omnibus bill. [Srtgn]

Wednesday, December 15

Ivins says it is too early to say of he will run for reelection, McDonald and Sabini on OTB and NYRA

City Finance Commissioner Ken Ivins Jr. said today in an interview that it was too early to say if he would run for reelection in 2011.

"I'll be making that decision sometime in the Spring," he said, calling today "way to early" to say.

Ivins was first elected in 2007, and successfully defended his seat in 2009.

The complete interview will be part of a series on the Saratoga Springs City Council's 2010 achievements and their outlook on 2011.

New York State Racing and Wagering Board Chairman John Sabini and state Sen. Roy McDonald were both on Susan Arbetter's The Capitol Pressroom radio show this morning to talk about OTB and the future of racing in New York.

Sabini said the state will have to make up for funding that was provided by NYC OTB for breeder awards, and that he believes the VLTs at Aqueduct will hopefully fund them later.

He said that there was a much introspection at a recent meeting with racing stakeholders, calling the new business landscape formed without NYC OTB (and with the possible consolidation of the other OTBs) is being viewed by some as a chance to "hit the reset button and rethink."

"I hope it lasts more than a day," he joked at the end of the interview, speaking of the amount of thought and discussion being put into plans to reform and save the industry.

McDonald replayed his election season salvo; that lawmakers from the NYC metropolitan area do not understand the issues that are important to upstate residents.

"They seem to have a blind side because the NYC metro area is so large and so intense," he said, "Because of the metro area concept we get lost in the shuffle."

"We don't need six months to do this, get to the real issues and lets do it," he said citing issues from racing to upstate roads and bridges and the property tax cap.

He said he would support a consolidation of regional OTBs if the successful corporations did not get stuck picking up the tab for those that have not done as well.

"If they're forced into doing something whee they're losing money, that's a negative impact," he said.

He also said there should be an open discussion on reforming the NYC OTB management, and that he would not discourage downstate legislators who came out with allegations of corruption within the corp.

"My biggest problem in the state of New York is we protect all the generals and dump on all the soldiers," he said, citing his military experience and how soldiers refer to those in the Pentagon as being out of touch with field operations.

At the end of their conversation, Arbetter said that although interviewing McDonald was a pleasure, it was also like "herding cats," to which he replied, "I'm not politically correct."

Front page: School district and city resume rec. negotiations, Espada indicted

Good morning!

The Saratoga Springs City School District Board of Ed. say they are interested in resuming negotiations with the city for maintenance of the East and West Side Recreation Fields. They had announced they would not renew an annual contract with the city in Nov. [Srtgn]

In a radio interview yesterday, NYRA president Charles Hayward said there will be racing in Saratoga in 2011. [Srtgn]

Frederick W. Clark was convicted of assault for shooting a Saratoga Springs resident. [Srtgn]

In a tentative deal with state officials, Saratoga County is set to take over Luther Forest Technology Park. [Gazette]

Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. (whose name rang out this election season as an example of state gov't dysfunction and corruption) was indicted for allegedly stealing from a health care network he manages. He was promptly removed as Assembly Majority Leader. [NYT, SoP]

What goes up...? the price of high school concert tickets. [TU]

Tuesday, December 14

Update from the inbox: Golden critical of Paterson's actions on OTB, Dems critical of Gibson-elected committe chair statements on bank regulation

Everybody is a critic.

State Senator Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn) sent out a release today criticizing what he characterized as Governor Paterson's "paralysis" on saving NYC OTB.

He said Paterson has the authority to vest the operation of some of the NYC betting parlors temporarily with the New York State Racing Association; a deal I've heard little to nothing about from any of the agencies who would have to be involved in the process.

"The Governor could re-open about 30 of the 50 OTB parlors he closed and put people back to work tomorrow," Golden said. "This plan is a win-win for everyone affected by the OTB shutdown and will provide a short-term solution to reopen NYC OTB."

The statement also cites Paterson's "refusal" to consider legislation sponsored by Staten Island Republican Sen. Andrew Lanza and that he "ignored" the advice of his own OTB Task Force.

Golden is a member of the recently organized Senate Republican Task Force on the Revitalization of the Racing Industry, along with Sen. Farley and Sen. McDonald.

In national criticism; the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent out a release asking if Rep.-elect Chris Gibson agrees with statements made by Rep. Spencer Bachus - voted to chair the Senate Financial Services Committee - on financial reform and regulation.

Bachus is quoted in a Birmingham News article as having said, "In Washington, the view is that the banks are to be regulated, and my view is that Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks."

"Does Representative-elect Chris Gibson agree with his new Chairman that Congress serves big banks, not hardworking Americans?" asks the DCCC release.

Front page: Officials displeased with timing of NYRA raises, property tax cap debate begins to form

Good morning! It's beginning to look a lot like winter, and I couldn't be happier. If I'm going to have to look at oppressively grey skies all day, there should at least be a beautiful coating of snow on the ground.

Officials call NYRA's vote to raise the pay of administrative and executive personnel "ill timed" and "unconscionable." [Srtgn]

An 80 year old hood ornament has been missing from the Saratoga Automobile Museum since November. [Gazette]

Battle lines are being drawn by municipalities and school districts on Gov.-elect Andrew Cuomo's property tax cap plan. [TU]

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli is calling for the resignation of 15 of his top aides, of whom 9 were appointed by him. [DN]

Monday, December 13

12.13.10 - Front page: 27-year-old plans Troy council run, Cuomo pushes property tax cap

Good morning! Be safe on the roads today, the rain is forecast to turn to snow later.

A 27-year-old St. Rose graduate, artist and activist is openly contemplating a run for the Troy City Council. [Record]

Some more analysis and opinion on the NYC OTB shutdown fallout. [Gazette, TU]

Gov. Paterson vetoed the moratorium on hydrofracking natural gas drilling, instead issuing an executive order banning some of the drilling. The move is described as a compromise between environmentalists and developers. [TU, LoHud]

Gov.-elect Cuomo will push for a property tax cap. [NYT]

Cuomo received a $45,000 campaign check from a prominent law firm while he was probing one of its attorneys in a pay-to-play investigation. [DN]

It could be a bumpy road for the NYS Senate's new Republican majority next year [IthacaJrnl]

Friday, December 10

T.G.I.F. - City union hearing went late, and Cuomo paid no state property taxes

Good morning and happy Friday!

Got a text last night around 6 from Deputy Mayor Shauna Sutton indicating that both she and the Mayor were still in Albany for yesterday's hearing with public safety unions on health insurance consolidation. More on how things went there later today.

Unfortunately, due to the limits of the equipment here in the newsroom, my first attempt last night to post the city budget documents I've been referring to did not work out as planned. Look for them here by the end of today.

Gov. Paterson said every state OTB could potentially close. [Srtgn]

The Beaver Pond Village subdivision in Geyser Crest is closer to final approval. [Srtgn]

Troy Mayor Harry Tutunjian vetoed the budget passed by the city council Wednesday afternoon, citing the reduction of the contingency fund. They will vote to override. [Record]

Gov.-elect Andrew Cuomo is caught in his first neo-scandal after documents show he does not pay property taxes on a Mount Kisco home he shares with girlfriend Sandra Lee. [CapCon]

Resigned State Commission on Public Integrity Chairman Michael Cherkasky said the agency did not have the tools needed to police state officials. [TU]

A bathroom in a building near Aqueduct may have been the worst lavatory in the state. [NYT]

Rent is 2 Damn High party candidate Jimmy McMillan is taking his show on the road. He will perform his musical stylings next week. [NYO]

Thursday, December 9

Case closed on mysterious city "assessnent" office

In lieu of budget documents (which I promise I will post when I get a chance, hopefully this evening) here is an update on yesterday's post about the hidden "assessnent" office.

As it turns out, there is no "assessnent" office, only a misspelled Assessment Office. City Risk and Safety Director Marilyn Rivers said the site was fixed shortly after 9 a.m. this morning.

Screenshot taken at 2:40 p.m., Dec. 9, from

Gibson to appear tomorrow at first town hall meetings since election

Rep.-elect Chris Gibson is back from vacation this week.

He will be sitting in on two town hall meetings tomorrow in Columbia and Dutchess counties with 103rd district Assemblyman Marc Molinaro.

The Columbia County event is scheduled at 10 a.m., at the Hudson Elks club, and the Dutchess County event is scheduled at 2:30 p.m., at
New Horizons Resources Office in Pleasant Valley.

Sen. McDonald to open Halfmoon office, hold Troy offce hours this weekendi

State Sen. Roy McDonald will open a district office in the Halfmoon Town Hall complex, effective tomorrow at noon.

"I look forward to opening this office to give community members the opportunity to receive assistance along with offer their input on important local and state issues,” said McDonald in a release.

McDonald will also host mobile office hours from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Dec. 11, at the Troy Farmers Market in the Uncle Sam Atrium (on the first floor, near the CVS).

"Community members will have the opportunity to discuss the state budget, ask questions, and offer their opinions on important issues," says a release on the event.

The Uncle Sam Atrium is on Fulton Street between 3rd & 4th Streets.

Front page: 12.09.10 - Public safety unions meet over health care plan, new OTB bill in the works

Good morning! I know I said it yesterday, but today is the day I will publish and comment on some of the budget documents given to me by Accts Commissioner John Franck.

Starting at 9 a.m., city officials will meet with reps and attorneys from the city's two public safety unions for an arbitration hearing on their grievances against Mayor Scott Johnson's proposed health insurance consolidation plan. [Srtgn]

The shutdown of NYC OTB has cast doubt across the state's entire horse racing industry. Officials say tracks in Monticello, Yonkers, and possibly even Saratoga could close. [Srtgn, CapCon]

State Sen. Hugh Farley says another OTB rescue bill is in the works. [Gazette]

SSPD Police Chief Chris Cole says incidents at Saratoga Gaming and Raceway have not increased after they expanded hours earlier this year. State Sen. Roy McDonald calls the restoration of the city's VLT host money a priority this year. [PstStr]

Troy City Councilman Kevin McGrath spent two hours testifying Wednesday before the grand jury in a voter fraud case. [Record]

A new report shows New Yorkers are lacking in "civic health". [TU]

Meet next session's freshman NYS Senators in this informative photo slideshow. [NYO]

Wednesday, December 8

Mr. Franck, what does the "assessnent" office do exactly?

Attention city webmaster, I think I found someplace some cost savings could be made. You mean to tell me we have an assessment office AND an assessnent office?! Is this what you would call a duplication of services?

Screenshot taken at approximately 4:15 p.m., Dec. 8, 2010 at Highlighting done by yours truly using Microsoft Paint.

Front page: 12.08.10 - The budget rolls on, while OTB closes

Good morning! I'd like to take a moment to thank city Accounts Commissioner John Franck, who gave me an early Festivus gifts of line by line copies of the originally proposed 2011 Comprehensive Budget, the amended budget, and a breakdown of where the departments added up after negotiations. Expect to see a post later today with some of those numbers.

NYC OTB has closed following the NYS Senate's failure to pass a measure that would've prevented bankruptcy. The measure failed 29-21; some legislators were not in the chamber for the vote. [Srtgn, TU, CapCon]

At last night's City Council meeting, Saratoga Springs Mayor Scott Johnson introduced a proposal to accept the donation of a sculpture being crafted from steel formally part of the WTC towers. [Srtgn]

The council also unanimously adopted a new taxi ordinance and dog licensing laws. [Gazette]

NYS DOT officials say the agency is set to focus on repairing the state's ailing bridges. []

A new report shows property taxes will jump due to state pension increases. [NYP]

The state's oldest inmate has died in prison. [BuffNews]

Elizabeth Edwards, embattled, estranged wife of former Dem. presidential candidate John Edwards, died of cancer yesterday at age 61. [WaPo]

Today we also remember John Lennon. [RollingStone]

Tuesday, December 7

Front page: 12.07.10 - NYC OTB's last chance and City Council will meet tonight

Good morning! I hope everyone had a great weekend. If you haven't seen "Black Swan" yet (which I'd imagine is most of you since I had to go to Manhattan to catch a show), I highly recommend it. It opens in Albany Dec. 17.

Also, I hope you caught my stories on the City Council. The council will meet tonight starting at 6:45 p.m.

In other news; NYC OTB has one last chance today as the Senate sits to negotiate a bailout plan. [TU]

Rep.-elect Chris Gibson hired Clifton Park native (and longtime Congressional staffer) Stephanie Valle as his communications director. [Srtgn]

A Troy grand jury will begin to hear a voter fraud case against two city officials today. [Record]

Advocates and officials are worried new federal dredging guidelines could further contaminate the Hudson. [PstStr]

While he couldn't get legislators to close the budget gap; Gov. Paterson authorized $16.7 million in member items and pardoned six immigrants facing deportation. [TU, WXXI]

And, congrats to Margaret Kellett of Gansevoort, who got handed $1,000 cash money yesterday just for eating some ice cream.

Friday, December 3

T.G.I.F. - More dough for GloFo, and none for OTB (yet)

HAPPY FRIDAY! I hope everybody got out to the Victorian Streetwalk last night. I posted a couple of photos from my stroll down old Broadway on the City Desk Twitter page.

The Saratoga County Industrial Development Agency voted Thursday to accept an application to expand the tax incentives to GlobalFoundries by approximately $112.4 million. [Srtgn]

The state Senate will be back in session this Tuesday to consider a bailout for NYC OTB, which will begin to close up shop today regardless. [Srtgn, AlbWatch]

Students are holding out for $40,000 to keep Saratoga Youth Court alive another year, and officials are seeking $100,000 in donations to complete Spa Park repairs. [Srtgn, PstStr]

Early retirements at the county will spur departmental reorganization. [Gazette]

Longtime Republican state Sen. Vincent Leibell is expected to plead guilty to federal corruption charges after his resigning from the Senate effective today. [PoJo]

NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg advises Pres. Obama to get better advisers in GQ. [NYP]

Thursday, December 2

Wirth refutes Ivins, says he is not working on a task force to discuss dispatch service takeover

Public Safety Commissioner Richard Wirth is refuting a claim by Finance Commissioner Ken Ivins Jr. that he has planned the formation of a task force to examine allowing Saratoga County to takeover some functions of the city's public safety dispatchers.

The nine positions were originally slated to be abandoned to county control in Ivins' 2011 Comprehensive Budget proposal.

"Hopefully commissioner Wirth holds to his word," Ivins said of the idea today, noting that he couldn't recall when he heard the task force was being considered.

"No," Wirth said when asked about a group being formed around that specific topic.

He did say he was looking into the formation of several task forces between Saratoga Springs and surrounding municipalities to determine opportunities for mutual revenue production. He will meet with Saratoga Springs Supervisor Matthew Veitch on Monday to discuss the idea.

"I'm looking for ideas because it could be a lengthy process," he said of a possible county takeover of dispatching services, saying he was open to any and all ideas on the issue.

"But I will only do what's best for Saratoga Springs," he continued.

Sen. Roy McDonald at HVCC today to talk services for the disabled

Senator Roy McDonald will hold a public meeting today at 1:30 p.m. at Hudson Valley Community College's Bulmer Telecommunications Room with officials from state and local organizations that provide services to individuals with disabilities and their families.

According to a release,McDonald was approached by the different groups to hold the meeting.

“It’s an honor to be approached by these organizations who provide valuable services to thousands of individuals and their families in the greater Capital Region area,” said McDonald. “They asked for a meeting to discuss the services they will be able to provide in the future, especially considering the difficult economic situation the State is in.”

Representatives from the New York State Rehabilitation Association, New York ARC, NY United Cerebral Palsy, Saratoga Bridges, Rensselaer County ARC, the Alternative Living Group, Catholic Charities, Wildwood Programs, and other groups are slated to be in attendance.

Front page: 12.02.10 - OTB on last leg and Dave from Harlem talks Mets, policy

Good morning! Remember, tonight is the Victorian Streetwalk, which I used to think was an attempt to raise sales tax revenue through a one night amnesty program for city prostitutes conditional on their adherence to Victorian dress, as demonstrated below...

It is actually a pretty fun street fair.

Speaking of revenue, after two days of wrangling for disk space the videos from both the Nov. 29 and Nov. 30 special City Council meetings on the budget. Here they are:

I spoke with Scirocco and Franck yesterday on their reactions to the budget/vote. I will post some of their comments here today, and probably turn it into a weekend article after speaking to the rest of the council.

In other news; NYC OTB will close tomorrow without intervention from the NYS legislature. [Saratogian]

GlobalFoundries says they will employ 450 additional workers at their Fab 8 semiconductor plant in Malta. [Saratogian, PstStr]

Rensselaer County voters and officials will likely testify in an election fraud case targeting Democratic county election commissioner Edward McDonough and Troy city councilman
Michael LoPorto. [The Record]

Outgoing Gov. Paterson spent four hours on sports talk radio yesterday. His office also turned over emails expected to hash out what happened earlier this year when the rumor mill spun a yarn about a supposed sex scandal. [DN/DP, NYP]

New Yorkers collecting unemployment insurance will have to speed up job hunting efforts after MA tea-party backed Sen. Scott Brown blocked a funding extension. [DN]

Hey Scotty B., at least the Yanks made it to the post season!

Wednesday, December 1

Front page: 12.01.10 - As for the 2012 city budget...

Good morning, on this, the first of December! Time flies when you're arguing budget lines.

The City Council did manage to pass an amended 2011 Comprehensive Budget last night, 4-1. Based on comments made by the public and officials I'd expect the budget process to be a lot different next year. [Saratogian]

You can check out live reporting from the meeting on the new City Desk Twitter feed. Is this helpful to people? It seems to be gaining popularity, nine followers in two days isn't bad.

My tweet of the night came after running into Mayor Scott Johnson scarfing down a slice of pizza at Esperanto about a half-hour before the meeting.

Video from both Nov. 29 and last night's meeting will also be online by end of business today.

In other news; the state Assembly has passed a bailout measure for NYC OTB. The fate of the company, and likely the fate of NYRA, now rest in the hands of the Senate. OTB has said they will start layoffs Friday without a plan in place. [Saratogian, DN]

A public hearing on the Saratoga County budget went by without criticism. Three residents showed up to thank supervisors for the plan. [PstStr]

The NYS Environmental Protection fund will provide grants to Malta and Halfmoon this year for preservation projects. [Gazette]

Gov.-elect Cuomo met in a closed meeting with Assembly Democrats yesterday, hours before chastising the legislature for inaction during this weeks special session. [WXXI, TU]

Democratic Sen. Antoine Thompson of Buffalo conceded to Republican Mark Grisanti after nearly a month of recounting, putting the Senate one seat closer to Republican control. [NYP, R D&C]