Blogs > Saratogian Newsroom

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

Friday, April 15

The City Desk: Closed for business, pending new management

As I'm sure some of you have heard, I will be departing Saratoga Springs as of next week for a new job with WAMC, Northeast Public Radio, in Berkshire County, Massachusetts.

I hope that in my 15 months (and 220 posts) as curator of the City Desk blog I have lived up to the level of reportage established by my predecessor. Thanks to all of you who have kept reading and commenting and occasionally calling in with tips or just to shoot the breeze. I hope I have upheld my roles as an objective observer, critical investigator, and source of easily digestible information.

Also, big-ups to the City Council meeting regulars; Al Calluci, Kyle York, John Tighe, John Kraus, Peter Tulin, Phil Diamond, any and all sources working in City Hall, and anyone else who was nice enough to stop and chat with me whether at City Hall or on the street. These are the people with their fingers on the pulse of city politics, and I cannot thank them enough for letting me into their world.

Saratoga Springs holds a very special place in my life and I will surely be returning often. Thanks again for reading, hopefully I'll see you around sometime soon.

And now, to play me out, ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Elvis Costello...

Thanks again,

Patrick H. Donges

Front page: City DPW has ideas for VLT spending, Cuomo proud of NY budget during Congressional negotiations


City Public Works Commissioner Anthony "Skip" Scirocco has some ideas on how to spend some of the city's $1.5 mil in VLT host funding. [Srtgn]

In Albany; NYPIRG legislative director (and my former boss) Blair Horner is leaving 'PIRG for the American Cancer Society. [CapCon]

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he is willing to bend on some provisions of his 2 percent property tax cap proposal. Cuomo also said the budget battle in Washington has made NY's budget passage look good. [WXXI, DN]

Thursday, April 14

Front page: Planners see brew pub plans, Siro's permit blocked by injunction

Good morning!

The Saratoga Springs Planning Board got a look at what I expect will be a very exciting project, a brew pub with outdoor seating on Broadway. [Srtgn]

In other city planning and bar related news, the board's decision to regulate Siro's outdoor entertainment has been blocked by a temporary injunction. [DG]

Saratoga County legislators voted to appeal a $1.3 mil bill levied by Hudson River-Black River Regulating District. [Srtgn]

In Albany; Gov. Andrew Cuomo scored some big concessions in a new contract with Council 82, the New York Law Enforcement Officers Union. CSEA and PEF officials were unimpressed by the deal. [AP via Record, DP]

The state Senate gave a Long Island girl cake, and a law in her name, on her 11th birthday. [CapCon]

A new report from the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School shows New Yorkers are lacking basic governmental knowledge. [LoHud]

Bill Clinton laments about the hookers in 1960s Times Square. [CNN]

Wednesday, April 13

Some more ideas from residents on spending (or not) the city's VLT $

Thank you to those who responded to my call for comments on City Finance Comm. Ivins' request for public suggestions on how to spend the $1.5 mil slated to be paid to the city in restored video lottery terminal host funding. Here are a couple anonymous responses that didn't make it in the story.

From "a resident": "I have confidence in the commissioner and his colleagues to spend the funds as they see appropriate and I appreciate the opportunity to make suggestions."

From "a native Saratogian": "I'd like to see some of that spent on infrastructure, especially on the west side of town. Also, give it back... a nice break would be nice."

Front page: Comm. Wirth says police admin post may remain unfilled, county officials concerned gas prices may force deficit

Good morning!

City Public Safety Commissioner Rick Wirth may leave a police administrative position open as he considers candidates for assistant police chief and fire positions. [Srtgn]

Saratoga County officials are concerned about how rising gas prices are affecting the budget. [Srtgn]

County officials are also considering opening an unused Northumberland landfill as part of a trash mitigation plan. [PstStr]

In Albany; Albany County Executive Michael Breslin will not seek a fifth term. His brother, state Senator Neil Breslin, will stay in office. [Record, SoP]

Putnam County Sen. Greg Ball received a bizarre package at his Albany office yesterday containing a vial full of a mystery substance and a stuffed monkey. [CapCon]

Following the announcement of the departure of his top aide Dean Fuleihan, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said he will be sticking around for the foreseeable future. [DP]

A Senate hearing was held on the future of "alcopops" (ie. Joose) in NY. [LoHud]

Tuesday, April 12

Tedisco: "The property taxes are too damn high"

Taking a cue from former gubernatorial candidate and "karate master" Jimmy McMillan, Assemblyman Jim Tedisco, R-Schenectady/Saratoga, released a statement today that "the property taxes are too damn high!"

The release is framed as a reaction to the Assembly's passage of rent regulations yesterday.

"Some may be outraged about the cost of rent in New York City, but there’s no doubt about it, New York State’s property taxes are too damn high!" Tedisco said in the release.

"If the Assembly can protect rent-controlled apartments in Manhattan then it has the time to bring tax cap legislation to the Floor for an up or down vote before the month is up."

Front page: Residents respond to call for suggestions on VLT aid funds, state legislators introduce bills to increase pension payments

Good morning!

As has already been mentioned here, Saratoga Springs Finance Commissioner Ken Ivins Jr. has asked for the public's input on how to spend appx 1.5 million in restored VLT aid funding. Thanks you those who called yesterday to give your two cents. [Srtgn]

City Commissioner of Public Safety Richard Wirth says the Saratoga Springs Police Department's Assistant Chief position will be filled. [DG]

As donations dried up, farms for retired thoroughbred racehorses have had a hard time keeping up with care for the animals. [PstStr]

In Albany; environmental groups rallied against hydrofracking for natural gas at the capital yesterday. [AP via Record]

Legislators have introduced 55 bills thus far this session that would increase pension payments, broaden the scope of disabilities that can be used to claim retirement pay, or enhance health insurance benefits. [TU]

The Assembly voted to extend rent regulation policy, setting up a potential showdown with the Senate, who will be likely pushing for Gov. Cuomo's proposed 2 percent property tax cap. [NYT, CapCon, SoP]

Monday, April 11

Ivins on putting VLT aid in reserve fund: It's not that simple

City Commissioner of Finance Ken Ivins Jr. put out a release today asking for city residents to make suggestions on how to spend $1.5 million in state aid for hosting video lottery terminals at Saratoga Casino and Raceway restored in the 2011-12 state budget.

He has previously said he would support putting the balance of the restored funding in the city's unreserved unappropriated fund balance, which he has said time, and time, and time again is currently below the amount recommended by the office of the state comptroller.

Putting the money into the city's unreserved unappropriated fund balance is, "not a simple, straight option," because the funding must be used for two specific purposes per state law: defraying the city's infrastructure and operating costs associated with hosting the gambling machines at Saratoga Casino and Raceway or lowering property taxes.

It's a pretty big target to hit; as far as I can tell the funds could be used for everything from filling potholes and building sidewalks near the racino to police department overtime costs for those long summer nights on Caroline Street.

What do you think the $1.5 million should be spent on?

Front page: LoWV cancels civil discourse panel for lack of officials' interest, Cuomo's first 100 days 'victorious'

Good morning! Sorry about my hiatus, but I'm back for one last week of posts. Friday is my last day at the City Desk, but stay tuned for a new curator in the following weeks.

Making headlines today; the Saratoga League of Women Voters has canceled a program on civil discourse because only one local official signed up. [Srtgn]

County public safety officials say a $750 emergency medical instrument can help save lives in fires. [PstStr]

A replacement dam at Geyser Creek in Spa State Park is set to be completed by the end of the summer, state officials say. [DG]

In Albany; a "dedicated fund" for road and bridge replacement will need to be bailed out by the state after being spent into a $3 billion deficit. [TU]

A rally at the capital against hydrofracking for natural gas is planned today. [AP]

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's first 100 days in office characterized as victorious. [Gannett]

Former state senator Hiram Monserrate, expelled after being charged with assaulting his girlfriend, currently "the boss" at a Queens pizza joint opened at his old campaign headquarters. [NYP]

New York film director Sidney Lumet passed this weekend, here's a sampling of his work. Enjoy.