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

Wednesday, March 16

In response to your comment...

A response to a comment by Saratoga Springs resident Kyle York on my story today on the City Council's vote to appeal the decision in the Saratoga Citizen case. Both comments, which are also attached to the story online, are re-posted below.

Kyle York wrote on Mar 16, 2011 4:52 AM:

"In fairness to all readers, I believe the article as written suggests that the City is gaining momentum. While that may be the "spin" desired by the three Council members who voted to spend more money, it is poor journalism... albeit written in a hurry to make deadline.

FIRST, it is disingenuous to report that any Court had looked at the second stack of petitions submitted by Saratoga Citizen and "ruled on behalf of the city." The Judge ruled that it's TOO SOON to look at the second set of citizen signatures, not while the FIRST stack of petitions are being challenged... AGAIN... by the City.

The "Round Two" petitions were returned to Saratoga Citizen due SOLELY to the CLOCK, not any fault or flaw in CONTENT.

SECOND, it was with great enthusiasm and drama that the Mayor announced "the New York Conference of Mayors and Municipal Officials (NYCOM) had voted at its Feb. 28 meeting to join the city in the appeal." That's true-- There was a VOTE.

The VOTE has no legal bearing NOR is it "news" unless Mr. Donges makes it clear that NO JUDGE has yet ruled on whether NYCOM will be welcome NYCOM to the City's $200/hour legal fight. In fact, the Court may find NO sufficient cause to afford NYCOM ANY status as intervenor.

The Court may choose to grant NYCOM amicus curiae status... or the Court may elect to leave NYCOM by the curb... but always welcome to post a comment on any news story in Saratogian blogs.

I was hoping the reporter might have asked the Mayor if NYCOM was willing to back their rabid "vote" of enthusiasm for litigation with any offer of financial support when the bills come in.

-Kyle York
Fan of the hard-working City Desk,
Stickler for spin-free Accuracy."

patrickhdonges wrote on Mar 16, 2011 7:58 AM:

"Kyle, as always, thanks for the input. Some responses I hope you will consider.

On your first point; I believe your concern is addressed at the end of the second paragraph, which states, ' was ruled (the second set of petitions) had been submitted too early and would therefore need to be resubmitted to the city.'

Both Mayor Johnson, publicly last night, and Pat Kane, in a phone message earlier this week, characterized the ruling on the second set of petitions as being 'in favor of the city.'

Second; NYCOM is only mentioned as having voted to join the city in their appeal. You are correct that a judge may choose whether or not to afford them any input at all, as was the case before Judge Nolan with briefs filed by Eliot Masie and Saratoga SUCCESS. The news here, in my estimation, is that the mayor mentioned the group's vote in his appeal proposal, indicating they may be a factor in the appeal process.

I hope you will trust that the financial impact of this appeal on the city budget will be reported on (likely at length) in both print and the City Desk blog as proceedings... proceed.

-Patrick 'Spin-less in the All-Spin Zone' Donges

583-8729 ext. 219

I always post my contact info at the end of these comments because, as those of you who have called me already know, I will entertain any and all calls or emails on the content or context of my stories. In fact, I'll go so far as to say I can be a pretty nice guy, even while being berated for being an awful writer or accused of being in the pocket of politician or party x, y, and/or z.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Patrick,alot of talk going around city hall and the DPW garage that former Deputy Commissioner of Public Works Jim Brophy is being mentioned as a possible challenger to Skip Scirocco in this Novembers' elections is their any truth to this?

March 16, 2011 at 9:30 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From a city dog catcher to a city painter!!
Another good reason for PROFESSIONAL management.

Lets get the charter on the ballot before we regress even further.

Maybe we can get Tommy and Billy Mctyques to come back too. They are now seen loitering around City Stall again.

Lets Vote

March 16, 2011 at 10:58 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At least Brophy has experience with the dept.that's more than one can say about Mr.Scirocco and might explain the turmoil in the dept.there's no leadership skills there now.

March 16, 2011 at 1:14 PM 
Anonymous Kyle York said...

Will NYCOM offer ANY financial support in this lawsuit that weighs so heavily upon their future?

Perhaps the Mayor or NYCOM officials might offer such newsworthy and relevant information.

And while "in favor of the city" is an example of accurate legal wording, it is a fine example where the plain language would be better than to seemingly add a chalk mark to the City scorecard.

The Court was saying "It's too soon for me to look at these petitions. You're welcome to come back with them later."

It's analogous to printing a story about a lawsuit where a third party is granted status as "intervenor" versus "amicus curiae." At such a time a journalist can perform a service by converting legal lingo into clear language.

Context matters... as was seen in the webcast and captured on your own video. To see/hear the Mayor's full account of the NYCOM vote and the "second petition" ruling is to see why readers/viewers are best served by the 5Ws when legal phrases are bandied about or wrapped in flowery and dramatic prose.

So with all respect I ask- Is the NYCOM vote an empty resolution... or is their concern so deep that it reaches into their wallet?

-Kyle York
amicus literatus

March 16, 2011 at 6:01 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I for one would like to know what the chairs of the City political parties positions' are on the continuing this most recent taxpayer funded appeal.

Do Herrick and Ulmann support it or do they believe the question should be put to the community for a vote.

Is there a compelling reason why the City attorney's office cannot file the appeal? This does not seem to be a rather simple question of law. Why does the Council members not put such a question to the mayor?

What account is the $10,000 coming out of? At $200/hour, $10,000 equates to 50 billable hours. Are we to believe that "expert" outside council needs an entire week to prepare such a simple appeal?

And if the appeal fails, them what? It seems that the real story here is why - given the Municipal Home Rule amendment in the State Constitution and the laws that resulted - that our fundamental right to petition the City Council is being denied under cover of some fabrication and the fog of politics.

The reality is that little is being done in City Hall these days because of the inertia of the current administration and the time and energy wasted on denying us a fundamental right granted by the State Constitution and present Charter.

If the programs and projects that have been ignored, stonewalled and simply ignored by this administration had been addressed over the last 3 + years there may very well be no growing demand for reform.

No labor contracts, no Waterfront Park, no long term financial plan, no action on Comprehensive Plan changes written over 3 years ago, stonewalling of FOIL requests,overspending attorney fee lines, $10s of thousand overspent last year in Public Safety overtime and just plan stupidity and arrogance.

Now this.

March 17, 2011 at 8:36 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why did the city abandon the saratoga lake option (as a back up source),many Republican cotrolled Councils voted to make that option a realty.I hope Mr.Scirocco is not considering using the county water system as a back up(pcb laced water?),many city dollars have already been spent towards the saratoga lake option..lets move forward on that.

March 22, 2011 at 6:40 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All we need is Brophy back in the system, along with him will come Remiga.

March 24, 2011 at 1:53 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please bring Brophy back into the System,he definitely has the experience to run the DPW operation and I don't think you'll here him say "I don't know" as is the case with the current commissioner,they are pushing him to run I know that,but will he? I hope he does,maybe the streets will get shaped up and have him do something about the terrible tasting water we have here in the city...GO BROPH.

March 25, 2011 at 7:08 AM 

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