Blogs > Saratogian Newsroom

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

Friday, February 25

T.G.I.F. - MoveOn v. Gibson on Broadway, Medicaid team suggests $2.3 billion in cuts

Good morning! Is anyone else ready for spring? I know I am.

In the headlines; members and supporters of Rep. Chris Gibson held opposing protests on either side of Broadway yesterday. [Srtgn]

Gibson is currently on an international tour that includes a trip to Iraq. [PstStr]

In Albany; Gov. Cuomo's Medicaid Redesign Team offers suggestions to cut $2.3 billion from the budget. Check out a Q&A with Cuomo here. [TU, YNN/SoP]

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has quietly introduced Cuomo's independent redistricting bill. The GOP controlled state Senate is citing procedure as the reason it has not been introduced in that house. [DN, AP]

Wednesday, February 23

Front page: Beaver Pond Village approved by Planning Board, Gibson criticized for energy panel appointment

Good morning!

The city Planning Board approved the embattled 85-lot Beaver Pond Village subdivision last night, clearing the way for the construction of 84 homes in the southwest neighborhood. [Srtgn]

Saratoga County posted an unexpected increase in sales tax revenue for 2010. [Srtgn]

The tabling of Indian casino plans in the Catskills has opened the door for expansion of Monticello Casino and Raceway. [WSJ]

Rep. Chris Gibson is being criticized by Democrats for appointing a lobbyist to chair his energy advisory panel. [PstStr]

Despite record profits, cash bonuses on Wall Street are declining in response to new regulations, according to Comptroller Tom Dinapoli. [LoHud]

In Albany; New York public sector unions are on the defensive for budget negotiations as the public supports concessions. [Gannett]

State Senate Democrats claim Republican leaders are skirting the debate of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's recently introduced independent redistricting bill. [TU]

State officials respond to President Obama's decision to suspend enforcement of the Defense of Marriage Act. [TU/CapCon]

Front page: Justin Ahigian is SSPD 2010 officer of the year, Cuomo avoiding Wisconsin-esque union fight (so far)

Good morning! Again, my apologies for the late post, my sleep schedule is shot this week for some reason. Any suggestions?

In the headlines; congrats to SSPD Officer Justin Ahigian (pronounced ah-HE-ge-ann) on receiving the 2010 Officer of the Year award from the city's Police Lieutenants union. [Srtgn]

The Victory Dissolution Committee met for the first time in a process that will end with village residents voting whether to dissolve the village for absorption into the town of Saratoga and the village of Schuylerville. [Srtgn]

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer toured Brown’s Brewing Company in Troy in support of new tax cuts for microbreweries. [Record]

In Albany; as Gov. Cuomo espouses the necessity of a public employee pay freeze, over 50,000 state workers are scheduled to receive step and longevity raises this year. [TU]

Gov't experts say Cuomo's tone with unions has been softer than that of Wisconsin Gov. Walker with an eye towards avoiding large scale protests. [AP]

Questions swirl about the effect of Jeffrey A. Sachs, Gov. Cuomo's 'best friend', on the state's health care industry. [NYT]

'First Gal' Sandra Lee is in the March edition of Vogue photographed as the 'woman in white.' [LoHud]

Assemblywoman Jane Corwin got the nod from the state GOP to run for the NY-26 congressional seat of 'Craigslist Congressman' Chris Lee. [TU/CapCon]

Tuesday, February 22

Front page: Schumer tours GloFo. Gibson votes to defund Planned Parenthood, group to protest

Good morning! Sorry this post is a little late today, I was out last night celebrating the departure of copy editor and page designer Kellen Riell to the Cape Cod Times. You will be missed Kellen, Tweet us early and often!

In the headlines; U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer toured GlobalFoundries in Malta yesterday, calling the chip fabrication plant "the future" of New York. [Srtgn]

Rep. Chris Gibson says he supports federal funding for family planning after voting for a budget resolution that cut Title X funding and an amendment on the bill to defund Planned Parenthood. There is a protest against the votes in Saratoga Springs planned for this Thursday afternoon. [Srtgn,PstStr]

Local officials are glad the plan to build an Indian casino in the Catskills has been rejected by federal authorities. [Srtgn]

Saratoga County officials will create new ID cards for veterans. [PstStr]

In Albany; many questions remain about how public employee unions fit into Gov. Andrew Cuomo's austerity budget plans. [TU]

Former NYC Mayor and NY Uprising founder Ed Koch is pleased with Cuomo's redistricting proposal. [LoHud]

Senate Democrats are dealing with lower office budgets now that they're in the minority. [DN]

NYSUT has a new ad opposing Cuomo's cuts to education aid. Check it out.

Monday, February 21

Front page: County officials have mixed feelings on tax cap, Catskill casino plan rejected

Good morning!

County officials have mixed opinions of Gov. Cuomo's proposed 2 percent tax cap. [Srtgn]

Federal officials have rejected the Stockbridge-Munsee tribe's plan to build a casino in the Catskills. [LoHud]

A bill being considered by state lawmakers would let villages use lever voting machines in the 2012 general election. [IthacaJo]

Gov. Cuomo faced down chants of "shame on you" during an address before the Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators. [TU]

Cap insiders say Skelos and Silver are secretly planning to derail the budget process to avoid massive proposed cuts. [NYP]

Friday, February 18

T.G.I.F - Paul Male considers retirement, GloFo expected to have positive impacts on Cap Region

Happy Friday everybody!

If you haven't already, take a look at the videos from Tuesday's City Council meeting. There are statements from Pat Kane and Remigia Foy, Mayor Johnson's rationale for his appeal proposal, and the council discussion and vote.

In the headlines this morning; City engineer Paul Male is considering retirement this year, thoughts he said have nothing to do with a recent lapse in his registration as a professional engineer. [Srtgn]

Sen. Roy McDonald stopped at Quad/Graphics in Saratoga Springs yesterday on a tour of district businesses. [Srtgn]

GlobalFoundries Fab 8 plant in Malta is expected to bring "positive impacts" to the Capital Region. [Record]

In Albany; new reports show how Senate Democrats overspent their budget last year. [CapCon]

Governor Cuomo has proposed a bi-partisan redistricting panel. [WXXI]

And finally; "Tatiana", come on down to the beautiful Spa City for Travers Day 2011! The Price is Right contestant won a VIP trip to the city along with a trip to Scotland and a sailboat.

Check out the full episode (what I'll be doing immediately following this post) online here.

Thursday, February 17

Video from Tuesday's City Council charter change appeal debate/vote

Here are a trio of videos from Tuesday night's City Council meeting related to the charter debate. First you'll see some public comments from Peter Tulin, Pat Kane, and Remigia Foy. Second, Mayor Scott Johnson's explanation for his appeal, and lastly the council debate leading up to the vote.

Check out the third video for the face Finance Commissioner Ken Ivins makes after Johnson takes a jab at Accounts Commissioner John Franck. Enjoy!

Front page: Public broadcasters speak out on proposed cuts, Committee to Save New York challenged on disclosures

Good morning!

Local executives of publicly funded media are speaking out on the Congressional proposal to cut their funding. [Srtgn]

Borders books on Broadway will close in the coming weeks, adding to the list of vacant spaces on Broadway (with neato map!). [Srtgn]

Criminal charges will not be filed against recently resigned Saratoga Springs Police officer Patrick Arpei. [Srtgn]

In Albany; groups are challenging the Committee to Save New York's lobbying application because they did not disclose ties to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. [LoHud]

Have New York's political advertisements reached a "boiling point"? [TU/CapCon]

A new poll shows public support for Cuomo's property tax cap proposal. [AP]

The Gov.'s Medicaid Redesign Team has two weeks to submit a spending plan. [IthacaJo]

Wednesday, February 16

Assemblyman Tedisco pushes for digital legislature

It's not often I see proposed legislation that I can get behind not only as a state resident, but also as the employee of a company whose recently adopted mantra is "digital first."

Assemblyman Jim Tedisco (R-Schenectady/Saratoga) is calling for the legislature to "replace birch with binary" - stop printing paper copies of bills and reports and instead providing them in a digital format.

Shown above is are copies of two Legislative Digests received by Tedisco's office in the past week as an example of wasteful legislative printing. The books are periodically printed and sent to all legislatures.

"With the availability of 2011 technology such as laptops, smart phones and e-reader tablets, there’s no reason why the New York State Legislature should be stuck using the same process that existed 100 years ago,” he said in a release on the measure.

"Given New York’s dire fiscal situation, every dollar saved on going paperless should go to reducing the deficit and tax relief, not filling circular files across the Capitol."

11,700 bills were introduced during the 09-10 session and printed multiple times. There is no specific line item for legislative printing, but Assembly Ways & Means staff estimates it may cost taxpayers up to $26 million.

The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed similar legislation (by a vote of 399-0) to stop the mandatory printing of congressional bills. Several state legislatures have gone paperless or are experimenting with going digital. They include California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. It’s estimated that Ohio has saved $1.5 million since going digital.

Front page: Saratoga Citizen expect more litigation after council vote, SSPD officer resigns amid criminal investigation

Good morning!

Saratoga Citizen expect they will return to court after last night's City Council vote to file a notice of appeal in their case against the group. [Srtgn]

A Saratoga Springs police officer has resigned amid an internal criminal investigation. [Srtgn]

In Albany; In an 'unprecedented' move, Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy testified before a joint state Senate hearing on education spending. [WXXI]

Ed Koch is asking legislators to keep their reform pledge less their pants light ablaze. [TU/CapCon]

Gov. Cuomo is causing some friction with a proposal to grant new authority to a new financial agency to investigate cases typically reserved for the Attorney General. [NYT]

Tuesday, February 15

Kane: "We can't stop now"

Saratoga Citizen organizer Pat Kane (pictured at left with fellow organizer Brent Wilkes) thinks Mayor Scott Johnson will likely have the votes to initiate an appeal of the NYS Supreme Court decision to validate the group's petition, and that the group will continue efforts to put the measure on the ballot.

"The appeal would be a disservice to the people of the community," Kane said on the phone Tuesday at around 4 p.m.

Kane added that the cost of a special election for the referendum would "pale in comparison" to the amount the city could spend for a trip to Appellate Court or even the lawyers fees for an evidentiary hearing.

"We've come this far, we can't stop now," he said, when asked if the group would continue litigation through the Appellate Court and beyond.

Kane also mentioned support for the council's appeal by the New York State Conference of Mayors and Municipal Officials (NYCOM), calling it "perplexing" that officials from cities that do have a council-manager form of government would support the denial of a referendum in a city they are not a part of.

Discussions between city officials and NYCOM were brought up by Accounts Commissioner John Franck during a Feb. 4 meeting with Kane on the group's fiscal analysis.

"I can't think of a better community to do this than Saratoga Springs," he said, referring to the precedent that would be set if the citizen-produced referendum made it onto the ballot.

The City Council meets tonight at 7 p.m. at City Hall. Make sure to check out the City Desk Twitter feed @SaratogianCDesk for updates from the meeting.

Front page: City Council to vote on charter suit appeal, mandate relief law revealed by committee

Good morning! I hope everyone had a romantic V-Day weekend.

Tonight the city council has a possible appeal of the decision to approve Saratoga Citizen's charter change petition. I hope Sunday's article cleared up some of the questions you've been asking.

In today's headlines; Rep. Chris Gibson voted against extending the PATRIOT Act. [Srtgn]

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's mandate relief committee finds a mandate relief law that is already on the books. [TU]

Senate Democrats are pushing for ethics reform, and criticizing the GOP for not joining in. [TU/CapCon]

Good government group Citizen's Union says a "legislative crimewave" has swept through Albany since 2007. [LoHud]

The New York State United Teachers and New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness have opened a new Onion-esque news site warning of possible tax cap consequences. [TU/CapCon] Check out WBCC at

Friday, February 11

T.G.I.F. - Local Egyptians speak on the current situation, Rep. Gibson called out for living in his office

Good morning and HAPPY FRIDAY!

In Egypt today; protests continue as the army has agreed to side with President Hosni Mubarak, who did not step down in an address yesterday. [NYT]

In the Capital Region; local Egyptians say reform will take a long time. [Record]

Saratoga Springs resident Alexander "Sam" Aldrich, who sits on the board of trustees for the American University in Cairo and has been to Egypt 38 times since 1972, talks Egyptian politics. [Srtgn]

A discussion on what the uprising in Egypt will mean for governments around the world will be held at Skidmore today. [PstStr]

Read the resignation letter of 'Craigslist' Congressman Chris Lee. [DN/DP]

Republican state legislators are mulling a run at Lee's former NY-26 seat, including Sen. Maziarz, who would set up a 31-31 Senate tie if he departed. [LoHud]

Discussions of the discussions for state ethics reform are seeping into the mediasphere, and it's a blame game. [WXXI]

Assemblyman James Tedisco is again calling on Gov. Cuomo to abandon his proposed 2.75 percent surcharge on thoroughbred horse racing purses [Srtgn]

From Washington; an ethics organization is questioning Rep. Chris Gibson (and others) who are living in their offices, "frat house" style. [NYT/CapCon]

I've always wondered what the party scene is like at the Congressional office buildings. I bet it looks something like this:

Thursday, February 10

Statement from Assemblyman Jim Tedisco on joint budget conference committees

Here's the reaction from Assemblyman Jim Tedisco (R-Saratoga/Schenectady) on the announcement from legislative leaders earlier today that a schedule has been agreed upon for joint conference committees and other deadlines to pass a budget by April 1.

"It’s good they’re following the law and convening budget conference committees. Without question, rank and file lawmakers should be part of the process because one of the most important jobs a legislator has is to craft and pass a fiscally-responsible, on-time state budget. So I’m optimistic."

Legislative leaders announce schedule for on-time budget completion and joint conference committees

In a release today, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver announced an agreement on a schedule for joint legislative budget deadlines.

The dates are as follows:
On or before:
February 28
Senate/Assembly Fiscal Committee Economic & Revenue Reports Released

February 28
Consensus Economic and Forecasting Conference

March 1
Revenue Consensus Report

March 15
Senate & Assembly budget actions

March 15
Joint Senate/Assembly budget conference committees commence

March 28
Final Report of Joint Conference Committees

March 28 - 31
Joint Legislative budget bills taken up by Senate & Assembly

"I am pleased that we are returning to the joint, public budget negotiation process that is set in law," said Skelos. "This model resulted in passage of an on-time budget in 2008 and I’m hopeful it will help us enact a budget by April 1 that meets the fiscal challenges we face and addresses the needs of the people."

"The Legislature has already moved forward with an aggressive schedule of joint public hearings on the governor’s proposed budget. The schedule we are unveiling today provides a clear roadmap for the path we will take as a collective body to achieve a sound budget for New York State that recognizes the divergent needs of our communities and the fiscal reality of our state," said Silver.

Roy McDonald to hit the streets with Troy PD tonight

From a release sent this week, Sen. Roy McDonald, R-Saratoga, will work the night shift with members of the Troy Police Department.

“These officers put their safety on the line to provide security for our families, friends and neighbors. I’m very supportive of these hard working individuals and I’m looking forward to a great experience with the officers and Chief Tedesco,” said McDonald in a release which dubbed the event "Ride Along with Roy".

The release goes on to say that the Senator will be visiting other local departments, including Saratoga Springs. SSPD officials did not return calls for comment on any pending ride along event.

Front page: New July 4 non-profit revealed, "Craigslist Congressman" Chris Lee resigns following shirtless photo scandal

Good morning!

A new non-profit organization headed by city Finance Deputy Commissioner Kate Jarosh will plan and raise funds for the July 4 All-American Celebration. [Srtgn]

Siro's employees and neighbors of the track season staple spoke out on a proposal to extend hours for outdoor entertainment. [Srtgn]

Buffalo area Rep. Chris Lee has resigned following reports that the married legislator sent a woman on Craigslist a shirtless photo. [Gawker]

More interesting than his pecs, there will be a special election to fill the spot. [TU/CapCon]

Carl "I'll take you out!" Paladino was considering a run at the seat, but appears to have uncharacteristically backed down. [SoP]

A(n obviously fictional) source close to Fred Dicker tells me the vet Post reporter began immediately doing push-ups to prepare for a potential rematch with Paladino. after last year's "Kerfuffle in Kinderhook".

Wednesday, February 9

Front page: State releases Saratoga Citizen financial disclosure report, Cuomo to consider restoration of VLT funding

Good morning!

City Finance Commissioner Ken Ivins Jr. (pictured above) will hand off the organization of the city's July 4 All-American Celebration to a new citizen-created not-for-profit at a ceremony today. Check for an update after the event.

In the headlines; The New York State Board of Elections has posted Saratoga Citizen's Jan. 2011 financial disclosure report. [Srtgn]

Gov. Cuomo said he will consider the reinstatement of VLT host funding during a breakfast yesterday with Assembly Republicans. [Srtgn, CapCon]

Schenectady Mayor Brian U. Stratton is expected to announce his resignation today in order to take a post with the Cuomo administration. [TU]

Both sides of the aisle at the state Senate will reduce payroll. [TU/CapCon]

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said Cuomo's budget task forces are delaying the budget process. [WXXI]

Good government groups want to know about "First Girlfriend" Sandra Lee's investments. [DN]

President Obama is now smoke-free according to the First Lady. [DN]

Maybe C-3PO finally convinced him:

Tuesday, February 8

Saratoga Citizen campaign finance report posted to New York Board of Elections website

The wait is over.

Charter change group Saratoga Citizen's January 2011 periodic report to the New York State Board of Elections is online. For those of you keeping score, the group was late to file by the Jan. 18 deadline.

Here is the summary:

Opening Balance $2,008.94
Contributions $10,460.00
Miscellaneous Receipts $.00

Total Receipts $10,460.00
Total Expenses $6,598.59
Closing Balance $5,870.35

Report pages posted below:
Saratoga Citizen Jan. 2011 periodic report - Schedule A, Individuals/Partnerships
Saratoga Citizen Jan. 2011 periodic report - Schedule B, Corporate
Saratoga Citizen Jan. 2011 periodic report - Schedule F, Expenditures/Payments

A few notes; Pat Kane estimated in an article after Judge Nolan's decision that the group had accrued $100,000 in legal expenses. The report shows only $6,000 in expenditures on legal fees.

Also, a sole corporate expenditure from Northeast Association Management, Inc., of which Brent Wilkes is president. The explanation is "Brent Wilkes", so I'm going to guess at this that this is a personal account opened through the business.

Front page: Legislators split on full casino gambling, "Virgin Alexander" to open this summer

Good morning! I'm as sick of snow as the rest of you, but there's something about the way this morning's powder is hanging onto tree limbs that has revived some of it's fleeting (albeit freezing) charm.

Saratoga Hospital and Albany Medical center have applied to the state Department of Health for construction of their new "experimental" partnered facility in Malta. [Srtgn]
(Cut from this story, but evident in photo; Saratoga Hospital President and CEO Angelo Calbone enjoys snacking on pretzels)

Local officials have split support for full casino gambling statewide. [Srtgn]

As Mayor Bloomberg (and others) testified on the budget, Spa City officials delivered their resolution on the restoration of VLT host funds. [WXXI, Srtgn]

John D. Sabini, chairman of the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, will speak to the public at 7 p.m., on Wednesday, Feb. 16, at the Parting Glass. [PstStr]

The film shot in Saratoga Springs last summer is slated for a release this summer. [TU]

Check out the trailer:

I got a kick out of this because at one point during shooting I was standing with the crew on Gardner Lane (the alley between n.Fox Jewelers/Uncommon Grounds and Lillian's that leads to the library) as they did blocking for the scene which opens the trailer. That piano is next to the service door of Uncommon.

View Larger Map

Monday, February 7

Front page: OTB on racing committee agenda, Tedisco calls out 2.75% racing "surcharge"

Good morning!

Racing stakeholders will meeting before the state Senate’s Standing Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering are expected to discuss Off-Track Betting. [Srtgn]

Assemblyman James Tedisco calls Gov. Cuomo's proposed 2.75 percent surcharge on racing purses a tax. [PstStr]

Cuomo is taking aim at school district superintendent salaries during budget presentations. [NYT]

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver will back Cuomo on ethics reform, while Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos holds out on a key provision. [NYP]

New York State Police drive 1,400 state funded vehicles home. []

Wednesday, February 2

A few more local officials react to Gov. Cuomo's Executive Budget presentation

From last night's City Council meeting, Saratoga Springs Supervisors Joanne Yepsen and Matthew Veitch shared their views on Governor Andrew Cuomo's Executive Budget presentation.

I spoke to Veitch briefly before the meeting began. He said that restoration of the VLT host community funding was one of the top agenda items being proposed as part of the county's 2011 legislative agenda. "It's the first thing on our list," he said, "We're going to make that push no matter what."

He added that he had been in conversations with city Accounts Commissioner John Franck on scheduling a VLT host community lobby day, which could coincide with the county's annual lobby day, scheduled for March.

In a note passed to me during the meeting, Yepsen said:
"The governor's budget proposed today will ultimately benefit students, taxpayers, and the businesses of New York, instead of legislators and special interests. There is just simply less to go around and with the AIM funds decreasing, municipalities, although an extremely difficult task, must collaborate, share services and delay projects; in short, cut spending. As an economic engine and a host racing city and county, Saratoga is positioned well to re-receive VLT revenues. I will continue to strongly advocate with the governor's office for our fair share. I appreciate the governor's leadership in fiscal budgeting and ethics reform and his charge to our state representatives to join him in transforming New York."

Finance Commissioner Ken Ivins Jr. also offered some analysis during his regular discussion of city finances. He mentioned the 2 percent property tax cap passed in the state Senate this week, and that the bill did not include mandate relief language desired by both Cuomo and municipalities.

He said that the governor's mandate relief task force, which includes two representatives from the New York State Conference of Mayors, will meet March 1.

He also described Cuomo's proposed decrease to AIM funding and the elimination of VLT host revenue to every city by Yonkers, to which DPW Commissioner Anthony "Skip" Scirocco replied, "That's fair."

"They protected it that way," said Mayor Scott Johnson during the ensuing explanation that Yonkers has tied their VLT host money into their education funding.

"this is only a third of the process," Ivins said, "We'll have to wait and see how the legislature deals with it."

Front page: It's beginning to look a lot like Greenland, Cuomo's budget applauded and decried by local officials

Good morning, it's good to be back in Greenland, er, Saratoga!

A citywide snow emergency will be in effect from now until Monday due to the double whammy of storms expected to hit today/tomorrow and Saturday. Remember, move your cars, or the city will gladly do it for you.

In the headlines; The City Council is taking another look at the 2011-2016 Capital Program with a public hearing on a proposed amendment scheduled for 5:50 p.m. on Feb. 15. [Srtgn]

Gov. Cuomo presented his 2011-2012 Executive Budget to cheers and jeers from local lawmakers and school officials. [Srtgn]

The state's horsemen were not pleased to hear a proposed 2.75 percent surcharge on racing purses was part of the budget plan. [Srtgn]

Legislative leaders seem to be willing to work with Cuomo. Union leaders, not so much. [TU/CapCon, SoP]

Check out the complete Powerpoint of Cuomo's budget presentation. [LoHud]

Check back here later today for more reactions from local officials to the executive budget proposal.