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

Friday, July 29

In other Planning Board news...

At the Planning Board meeting Wednesday, July 27, the big story was Bonacio's Broadway building, but that wasn't the only thing the board did.

In other news...

The Olde Bryan Inn, Saratoga Springs' oldest building (at least that's what the members of the planning board said, and after all, it does have an "E" on the end of Old) will be growing. The planning board approved the site plan for a 2,600 addition to the building, which was signed off on by the Design Review Commission. It will be located over the patio that currently has a temporary tent over it.
I will be following up and writing a full story about this in the coming week, so stay tuned to The Saratogian for more details.

The Horseshoe Inn Bar and Grill on the corner of Nelson and Gridley streets had its outdoor entertainment permit approved among other minor approvals for sidewalks and curb cuts for its parking lot.
Matthew J. Jones, the restaurant's attorney applied for a permanent special use permit rather than the temporary one they have been approved for over the past four years. He explained that special use permits are generally permanent and said he did not thing there should be any "heightened security" when dealing with outdoor entertainment.
The restaurant was approved in 2007 for a one-year permit, and in 2008 for a three-year permit. "Here we go again," he said. "We've had two test runs, and they were successful ones."
Of course the rolled eyed eyes and heavy sighs of the board when outdoor entertainment is talked about is largely thanks to their ongoing struggle with Siro's where a special use permit has evolved into a struggle involving lawsuits, acoustic experts and six-foot rubber walls.
Board member Phil Lewis said he wanted to reserve the right to "look at the issue every three or four years," adding that he "appreciates the fact that it costs (the owners of the Horseshoe Inn Bar and Grill) money."
On the other hand Clifford Van Wagner pointed out the applicant had done "everything the planning board ever asked of you" but was still unsure about granting a permanent permit.
He said there could be issues outside the owners' control. "Who knows what the track will look like in 5 or 6 years," he said. He suggested a six year permit.
Amy Durland added "Not only might the track change, but the owners might change," in which case the special use permit would stay with the building. She agreed with Lewis' plan.
In the end, the a five year permit was unanimously approved.

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Thursday, July 28

(Updated July 29 at 1:38 p.m.) Johnny Luc's and Club Shadow may be changing hands

The property which has been the center of a whirlwind of controversy over the last month may be up for sale.
According to a manager of Philly's Bar and Grill in Latham, that bar's owner, Rocky Patel, is currently in talks to purchase Johnny Luc's and the former Club Shadow which sits above it from its owner John A. Lucarelli, Jr.
"He is still making arrangements and agreements," said the manager who asked not to be identified.
Details are sparse, but according to the manager the talks may be wrapped up as early as this weekend (July 30).
More details will emerge as we follow this story.
We have feelers out to Patel and Lucarelli, though I don't expect a call back from the latter. To date I have never received a call from him despite leaving messages with numerous people who work for him (including his son), leaving a business card with all of my contact info with a bartender at Johnny Luc's who assured me he would see the owner later that night and messages on his home answering machine.

Tuesday, July 26

Municipal Bike Thieves?

We received a random call today from someone who didn't sound crazy saying that they had seen "the city", cutting the bike chains from bike racks around the Saratoga Springs and taking the bikes.
The Saratoga Springs Police Department said if any city employees had done it it would have been the Department of Public Works.
The desk sergeant said the DPW does cut them just before winter when they are removing the bike racks, but it is pretty warm for that.
Public Works Commissioner Anthony "Skip" Scirocco said no bikes had been taken "to my knowledge."
If anyone has seen or heard anything to the contrary, or noticed any bike thieves in orange reflective vests, give me a call down here.
Lucian McCarty
583-8729 ext. 221

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Thursday, July 21

Parties in the Spa City

Here are some interesting stats from the Saratoga County Board of Elections about the breakdown of registered political party members in the Spa City:

Democrats — 6,006
Republicans — 7,053
Conservative — 158
Working Families — 45
Independence — 1,073

All of those numbers were as of April 1. The board uses them to determine how many people are required to sign petitions in order to get on the ballot under each party line. A petition needs to be signed by 5 percent of the number of each party from June 7 to July 11-14, the filing dates.
At this point, the Board of Elections is waiting on the final objections to be filed by voters who see discrepancies in the petitions. For instance, if a person who signed a Republican petition is not in the Republican Party or signed multiple petitions.
That process can last a couple weeks to sort through and for the board to make its determinations.
But as far as the Democrats and Republicans in Saratoga Springs are concerned, the slate of candidates is already established. The Democrats announced Brent Wilkes for mayor, Michele Madigan for finance commissioner, Christian Mathiesen for public safety commissioner and incumbents Joanne Yepsen for city supervisor and John Franck for commisioner of accounts (to see a brief run down of Wilkes' and Mathiesen's platforms click here, and for Madigan's click here).
The Republicans announced their list of incumbent candidates — Scott Johnson for mayor, Richard Wirth for public safety commissioner, Ken Ivins for finance commissioner and Anthony "Skip" Scirocco for public works commissioner and Supervisor Matthew Veitch — and I will be writing a story on their platforms in the near future.

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Wednesday, July 20

Sen. McDonald may have money coming in from Same-sex supporters, but that coin has a flip side

“There have been people who said they would donate millions of dollars against the people who voted on some of these issues,” Sen. Roy McDonald said in a recent Saratogian story I wrote about money coming in from same-sex marriage supporters since his vote for marriage equality.
And it seems his fear is becoming a reality.
Recently the National Organization for Marriage announced it will be making good on a pledge of $2 million to defeat the four Republican senators who voted for the bill and the three Democratic senators who voted against same-sex marriage in 2009, but reversed that decision this year and passed it.
"This is the first step in what will be a sustained, determined effort to make sure the constituents of these cowardly Senators know what they have done," Brian Brown, NOM's president said in a recent press release.
The release outlined how the organization is spending $150,000 on mailers comparing Republican Senators Roy McDonald, Mark Grisanti, James Alesi and Stephen Saland, and Democratic Senators Shirley Huntley, Joseph Addabbo and Carl Kruger to Benedict Arnold, the Revolutionary War general who sold out his country and his until-then winning war-time reputation for British Pounds.
The mailers highlight previous stances some of the senators took against same-sex marriage and some of the money they have received since their vote from same-sex supporters.
"It is shameful that these state Senators flip-flopped on such a critical issue when they saw gay marriage backers raising millions from Wall Street," Brown said.
As of the story that ran on July 15, McDonald had raised $118,000 in campaign contributions since June 1, some of which came in the form of $10,300 contributions from same-sex marriage supporters, while other contributions came from Republican and union sources.
"You can't run a campaign on $10,000," McDonald said in the interview for that story, but he also added “in the last campaign, more money was raised against me than for me.” He won that race against Democrat and Saratoga Springs Supervisor Joanne Yepsen.
It will be interesting to see if that magic will happen again.

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Tuesday, July 19

Same-Sex marriage in the Spa City

The city has not received many calls about same-sex marriage licenses according to Saratoga Springs Accounts Commissioner John Franck— that is, not many from people other than the media.
The commissioner said numerous calls have come from local media, as well as larger outlets like the New York Times, asking if any same-sex marriage couples had requested licenses and whether the city planned to open City Hall Sunday— the day the law takes effect— to issue the licenses.
"Since we have not received any calls requesting it, we will not be open July 24 to issue marriage licenses," he said. To date, Franck said he has only received two calls from private citizens, and they were general questions, not inquiries about Sunday and because City Hall would not typically be open Sunday, the 24th would be no exception.
"We are going to have a large demand, but we have not had any demand for (July 24)," he said.
In other cities like Albany and New York, the city clerks have been so inundated with requests for the licenses they are holding lotteries to see who can get legally wed Sunday and who will have to wait.
During the same City Council meeting Tuesday, Franck explained the new forms issued by the state.
"The changes are very minor," the commissioner evaluated.
On the current forms, there is a specific half for the Bride and Groom's information. On the new forms, both sides simply say "Bride/Groom/Spouse." They each have a spot to put the sex, but it is an optional addition.
Similarly, the original form has a spot that asks for each spouses' father and mother. The new form states: "Father or parent," and "Mother or parent," and where it used to ask for the "Signature of the Groom" and that of the "bride," now it just says" "Signature."

Here are the new and current documents with the changes circled by Franck:

Saratoga Springs Marriage License Forms

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