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Thursday, January 20

Saratoga Citizen late to file with NYS Board of Elections, Franck spends 28K on attorney costs

I've got two calls this week asking about the status of Saratoga Citizen's semi-annual filing with the New York State Board of Elections.

Callers have noted that the filing, which was due Jan. 18, is not visible on the BOE's website. The reason for this is that the report is late, but being compiled now, according to Saratoga Citizen organizer Pat Kane.

"We're doing that right now," Kane said on the phone yesterday afternoon, adding that the group is currently reviewing annual tax and financial information.

I also spoke yesterday with NYS BOE Communications Director John Conklin, who initially was unsure if Saratoga Citizen was even obligated to file with the state board because their referendum has not yet been cleared for ballot placement.

Because the group filed a semi-annual report in July 2010, Conklin said, they have a "continuing obligation" to file at least the semi-annual periodic reports and any reports for any period where there is "any activity around the ballot proposition."

They may file a "no activity" report if they have raised under $1,000 in the reporting period, a figure the group may or may not have reached since the July report.

Conklin said the agency typically sends notices to committees who fail to report after five days past the deadline, meaning letters will start to be generated today. If there is no response, they will generate another letter with an "order to show cause" for not filing. Any past-due reports filed up to this point are accepted without penalty.

Committees that fail to respond to the first two letters are then slapped with a $500 civil penalty (charged to the group treasurer), the first step in legal proceedings. At this point committees are required to pay the $500, plus interest, and file the report.

Another note on the charter petition, specifically litigation; As of Jan. 14, Accounts Commissioner John Franck identified the total amount spent on the two law firms hired by the city to deal with the case as being just over $28,000.

He broke it down in an email that included a copy of his court ordered certification of the first petition:

"As of today the total amount of attorney fees are $28,083.52.

Brown and Weinraub, PLLC - $20,520.90

Fitzgerald, Morris, Baker, Firth, PC - $7,562.62"

As I've previously noted, the Accounts Department has $68,044.78 budgeted for professional services in 2010 (line A305 1354 54720 in your 2o11 Adopted Budget).

At the time the budget was passed (Nov. 30) they had already spent $58,204.78 from that line. The contract for Brown & Weinraub to vet the petition was approved by the council July 26, and the contract with Fitzgerald, Morris, Baker, Firth as counsel for the legal case was approved August 27, indicating to me that most of that 28K likely figures into the $58K already spent.

15 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Saratoga Citizen should reimburse Saratoga Springs taxpayers for all the monies spent getting charter change onto the ballet.

January 20, 2011 at 12:56 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's extremely hard to believe that a group that has presented time and time again statements that up to $1million will be saved by their proposal hasn't even completed their financial obligations. Is this called ''LEADING BY EXAMPLE"

January 20, 2011 at 2:40 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The City should reimburse Saratoga Citizen for all their expenses as they lost the lawsuit and should pay for making them spend the money on a frivolous lawsuit. And while we are at it divide the Saratoga Citizen expenses by 3. The City, Elliot masie, and Remiga Foy's gang.

January 20, 2011 at 3:05 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Patrick - Great work. This is serious business. In accordance with Election Law if Saratoga Citizen has received over $100,000 as they have stated specila forms need to be filed with the NYS Board of Elections reflecting all donors. Depending on the amount of donations there could be several forms. It is possible there could be a violation of Election Law if this is not done properly and on a timely basis. Lack of disclosure reflects negatively on this group. Again thank you for your follow up in getting the proper information to the citizens of Saratoga Springs.

January 20, 2011 at 3:24 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Patrick - great worker. This needs to be communicated to the citizens of saratoga Springs. Saratoga Citizen has misrepresented the cities legal costs in two Separate opinion items and the PEOPLE SHOULD IN ALL FAIRNESS AND PROPER REPORTING SHOULD KNOW THE FACTS. Our Council should not be chastised by a citizen group with inaccurate reporting because they cannot make a statement while this is in litigation. It's up to the media to inform. Again thanks for a great job.

January 20, 2011 at 3:29 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If it looks like SNAKE OIL,Tastes' like SNAKE OIL,YOU know the rest.

January 20, 2011 at 5:54 PM 
Blogger Speaking-of-Saratoga said...

Patrick-

I'm glad you're getting the readership you deserve. Unfortunately this story shows the sorry state of a deceitful and disgraceful government we Citizens DO NOT deserve.

As has been noted, there's some digging to be done through the details... two specifics call for particular attention--

The City's delaying tactics have a disturbing pattern of ALWAYS waiting until literally "the last second." This expanded the responsible and reasonable time frame for certification started by Saratoga Citizen... in EARLY JULY.

Recall how the City's utterly incompetent Team of Hacks raised objections, MANY FRIVOLOUS objections? Now sit here and contemplate their laminated litigious legacy- "After the City attorney's threw out 287 invalid signatures, Judge Nolan ruled 234 valid." So our Legal Beagles disenfranchised 53 foul citizens... like one legally named "Charlene" but she signed the name she's known by- "Cherry." Null & void.

Given all the delay, Saratoga Citizen MAY IN FACT have missed some paperwork filing deadline. My Friend Commissioner Franck did a stellar job of exposing a "Late Filing on JAN 18"... never mind the legally-sound and proper Ballot Initiative SHOULD have been on our ballot in NOVEMBER. Ask Judge Nolan.

But the great opportunity for an investigative journalist waits in a closer inspection of the bargain-basement bills from John Franck. Every individual attorney charges by the hour... even for a 5-minute phone call. Has such a standard detailed bill been presented to the Press?

Another good angle to pursue-- Franck is careful to link all costs to "The Law Firms." Are there any additional charges not assigned to any individual... like filing fees? Courier deliveries? How about fees paid by "The City?"
How about a report on hours $pent by City Employees?

I would not accuse the Commissioner of deliberately lying. But he is brilliantly and knowingly deceptive in announcing the City's "cost" of $28,083.52.

If ONE resourceful journalist stays with this bare-bones story, he/she can join the honored ranks of pros who proved that when the GAO's "Col. I.M. Franck" announced the F-35 jet would cost $47 Million, the paper trail proved a "real" cost of $90 Million each.

Again, my thanks. Now follow the money.

-Kyle York
*I proved County Water underfunded in '04,
*They just sued GE for $27M.
*Just a coincidence, I'm sure...

January 20, 2011 at 8:25 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Saratoga Citizen has done a fine job with this effort.

As you point out in your article, they have volunteered last year to file the report. And they are in the process of filing again this year.

I am sure had hoped they would be on the ballot in November of 2010.

After "illegal obstruction" by the city council , they are still maintaining the mission of reforming the commission form.

Can the judge award the Saratoga Citizen money for their efforts?
I have read they have large legal bills.

Lets get this on the ballot

The people need to vote on this NOW

January 21, 2011 at 6:36 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The detailed attorney fees have been foiled, reviewed over and over and the number is the number. Any misc. costs attributed to the costs would be trivial at best. You're grasping for straws.The judge did not allow the City to present witnesses and that is troubling as there is precedence in such cases. I assume you have no problem with that as it has been done several times in the past.

January 21, 2011 at 2:23 PM 
Blogger Speaking-of-Saratoga said...

This city is home to many attorneys. This is also a socialble city where many non-attorneys have acquaintances who are attorneys. I think all professionals in this city have a fairly good grasp of this lawsuit over the Charter.

This would be a good time for some... call it "small talk." Between friends, it is likely to be a civil and informative discussion, and it starts with a simple question for your lawyer-

"I've got a question and I was hoping you might help me(insert attorney's name here), especially with your professional knowledge. I know you've followed the city lawsuit on this Charter issue. We all got a look at the City's bill the other day. You saw it, right? Okay. Here's my question- Do you believe the work done on behalf of the City... billed at $200/hour... do you think it was all accomplished, signed/sealed/delivered, for a total of 140 hours 25 minutes and 30 seconds of work?

-Kyle York
Follow the Money, Hold 5 men accountable

January 22, 2011 at 2:07 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Saratoga Citizens' filing late finacials to the state actually surprized somebody...who?... you haven't moved yet kyle..follow 9south.

January 22, 2011 at 12:36 PM 
Blogger Speaking-of-Saratoga said...

Anon on 9P-

Please do explain "finacials"... well, after that passing semi allows you to concentrate. It's a shame the lawyers all turn away when they see you coming.

-Kyle York
Saratoga Springs,
Home of the $28,000 140-hr miracle

January 22, 2011 at 3:03 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Only if you explain why you'd leave on 9p.Keep on Truckin' sonny.

January 23, 2011 at 5:11 AM 
Blogger Speaking-of-Saratoga said...

Mother Trucker @ 9P-

Chil, my good friend.
It's your road and your life...
NOT that 9P is a BAD thing!

So tell us-
What did your many lawyer friends think about the "140.5 hour" lawsuit?

-Kyle York
I DO leave my home by daylight

January 24, 2011 at 1:58 AM 
Blogger demroc said...

now you're starting to get it klye. anyway people file late all the time, that's why they don't bother doing anything until the third notice.

January 24, 2011 at 7:28 PM 

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