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 6

What the City Council thinks of the Saratoga Citizen decision

Members of the City Council may need to work with Saratoga Citizen in order to make adjustments to the petition in order to get charter change on the ballot in November.

The petition specified what dates the city should vote on it and when the plan would take effect, dates that are now passed. As a result, the City Council may be the only entity legally able to make the appropriate changes to the petition.

The New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division for the third judicial district in Albany ruled Thursday that the petition to change the city’s charter did not require a fiscal note attached, which was why city officials rejected it.

Here’s what they had to say Thursday about the court’s recent decision:

Accounts Commissioner John Franck

“I’m going to vote for it,” Franck said of any support Saratoga Citizen needs to get the measure on the ballot.

He originally voted for the appeal, but said Thursday after the city lost its appeal “it’s time” to put the issue to voters.

Public Safety Commissioner Christian Mathiesen

“I’ve supported the efforts of Saratoga Citizen and have supported the rights of the citizens who signed that petition,” Mathiesen said Thursday. “It think it would be a good thing for the city and its residents. It’s been put off for too long.”

Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan

“I believe this needs to be on the ballot,” she said. “This has dragged on long enough.”

Madigan said she believes the city had been suppressing voters’ rights by stalling the process.

“Let the people decide,” she said, adding she would serve in any government the people voted for.

“My concern is that the mayor may set up a charter-change commission,” she said, which would prevent the measure from going on the ballot this year.

Mayor Scott Johnson

“I respect the process and will abide by the result,” he said, but noted that he disagrees with the court’s decision.

Johnson said he is unsure what the city’s next step could be but that he would work with Saratoga Citizen and the City Council to decide where to proceed.

“I always just wanted that group to put all the facts on the table,” he said, adding he was only doing his due diligence as mayor to ensure voters “knew the facts” before they voted on charter change.

However, Johnson said he is also considering setting up a Mayor's Charter Change Commission which would essentially bump the Saratoga Citizen proposal off the ballot in November. He said that may be the only legal recourse on how to proceed because of the issue over the dates.


Public Works Commissioner Anthony “Skip” Scirocco


“At this point I think it’s time,” he said. “We did our due diligence and I certainly wouldn’t support any more appeals. Let it go on the ballot in November.”

He said he would work with Saratoga Citizen to do whatever the City Council needs to do to make that happen. Scirocco said he does not think the mayor should set up a charter change commission.

“I think if the mayor was going to form a commission he would have done it by now,” he said.

Labels: ,

10 Comments:

Anonymous Kyle York said...

Four members of the Council are ready to work with Saratoga Citizen to put the existing proposal on the November ballot for a vote. If the existing proposal is horribly flawed, the public will vote it into the dustbin of history. If it has merit and support, it will pass as is.

But there is NO need for the Mayor to frustrate the other FOUR members of the Council by any mayoral rush to create a "new" Commission. Surely it would result in a rushed job.

And so GREAT job, City Council-- The citizens get their sacred right to vote and nobody needs to waste any more time or money!

What could be more simple? Right Your Honor?

April 6, 2012 at 2:30 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the he hallmarks of the Johnson administration is the furtiveness in which it frequently operates.

According to various reports prepared by then commissioner of finance Ivins, the mayor spent an unprecedented $587,000 on outside legal services during his first three years in office. These expenditures are in addition to the average annual of $168,000 plus benefits to keep the part time city and assistant city attorneys on the payroll.

In 2009 the mayor’s budget was $175,000. For “outside legal services.” But actual reported expenditures for the year were $294,800, $120,000 or 68% over budget.

In 2010, the mayor’s original legal budget was $150,000 but he spent $209,700 by year’s end, a $59,700 cost overrun.

And through the first three months of 2011 the mayor had already transferred an additional nearly $92,000 into the budget line to pay yet more outside law firms. Of course, there was no public discussion of this at a Council table.

Between January 2010 and March of 2011, a period of only 15 months, the administration entered into a least 13 different contracts with outside law firms. One of those was to hire the law firm that lost this appeal.

This form of government under Johnson is not cheap and that may become the real Charter reform issue.

April 6, 2012 at 3:58 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What follows is a recent sampling of the outside law firms Mayor Johnson has retained and for what purposes:

Miller, Mannix, Schachner & Hufner, legal services to City land use boards, $160/hr., $20,000 yearly.

Bailey, Kelleher & Johnson, to advise City Council on City Attorney Scala’s workplace violence incident, $170/hr.

Miller, Mannix, Schachner & Hufner, services to City regarding zoning ordinance amendments, $160/hr.

Thuillez, Ford, Gold, Butler & Young, oversight of defense team in Anderson v. City of Saratoga Springs trial, $200/hr.

Harris Beach, $24,000 annual retainer for “general labor advice.”

Fitzgerald, Morris, Baker, and Firth, $170/hour, to oppose a City Civil Service Commission determination.

Fitzgerald, Morris, Baker, and Firth, LLC, $200 per hour, to defend the City in an Article 78 proceeding.

Brown and Weinraub as legal counsel for the proposed charter revision at $200/hr.

Fitzgerald, Morris, Baker, and Firth, LLC at $200 per hour to defend the City in an Article 78 proceeding in the Matter of Saratoga Citizen.

Appeal from Saratoga Citizen vs. the City of Saratoga Springs Court Decision.

Now we learn that our tax money has been wasted again. A lot could have been done with the $10s of thousands this administration has spent on outside law firm and it begs the obvious: why is the city attorney not doing this.

Maybe it's time for the City Council to take a hard look at this.

April 6, 2012 at 4:05 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why should citizens of this city trust the Democrats anymore when it comes to large and lasting changes within our city? Their track record is terrible. Let's talk about how they screwed up their accounting years ago and voted to put us on our own city sales tax rolls, taking us off the county rolls, and costing us greater than $1 Million a year, EVERY year. Then fast forward to the council where the democrats voted to create the Rec Center (a project in which they are now hilariously against and blame Mayor Johnson for). Now they want to change the form of government and no one in the democratic party has even let us know how much EXTRA charter change is going to cost, let alone attempted to make up a budget they know has false numbers (like what they've done in the past). Sorry City Dem's, coming from a Dem myself, you have lost my confidence.

April 6, 2012 at 4:50 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Council with the exception of the Mayor and Commissioner Franck are all part of this flawed process from Day One. They have show total disrespect for this charter and this Mayor so why would they respect another. The Day we allow a City Manager to negotaite Union Contrcats will be the day of the demise of the City. This started the demise prior to this administartion so now it will complete the job. I strongly believe the cost is prohibitive and when the time comes will debate against it strongly.We still don't even know the source of the sustantial amount of money Saratoga Citizen has generated. Their financial note if you want to call it that is ridiculous. I believe in people's right to vote but at least the product should have merit. If you took it to the bank for a loan they wouldn't give you a dime. The people of Saratoga Springs deserve better than a flawed plan and people whose only goal is in their self interest inckuding the animal catcher, tooth fair and librarian who oversees other departments but hasn't made a financial commentary since being in office.

April 7, 2012 at 2:11 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kyle - By now everyone knows your distaste for the Mayor but calling the current body a Council is a at best an overstatement. This body is a group of people who places their own self interest and perspective before the people's self interest and that has been clearly evident from Day 1. I think if you can't see that you really need professional help.

April 7, 2012 at 2:18 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't believe the judge's deceision is fire proof,scott do the right thing here...form a commission and make it legal..I signed the original petition and was told it was to Upgrade the current charter,obviously I was mislead like alot of people,come to findout Saratoga Citizen is no different than any other power hungry group,just can't trust this group you either kyle.

April 7, 2012 at 6:09 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the commentor, anonymous of course, that claims the Johnson administration has overspent on outside legal fees, just look at the current budget to see that we are spending less now on legal fees than before Johnson took office, with far better results on union contracts. This is just the same old "New Dem Kool Aid" mantra that you'd think would be obsolete by now.

April 8, 2012 at 1:30 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Several people were mislead even at the meetings. It was the art of deception. The statement that this Charter Change for example only effects 205 OF THE CHARTER IS CLEARLY LISLEADING WHEN IT EFFECT ALMOST 100% OF THE BUDGET BECAUSE IT ADDRESSES EVERY DEPARTMENT AND EMPLOYEE IN THE cITY. oF COURSE YO HAVE TWO SALES MANAGERS RUNNING THS SHOW AND DOING A GREAT JOB. If oyu like what you're getting from the current council you'll love the lack of day to day follow up on the city departments. The cities used for examples are all deteriorating or have deteriorated from the A Class form of government. It was developed for a city of 25,000 people not a city where the day by day utilization expands from 40-70,000 people. That is the character of SS. That's why it is unique and needs an unique form of government that is flexible enough to address it. It can be improved with some assistance from the unions and should be approved. I urge the Mayor to call for a Mayoral Commission and send these jokers packing. n two years when we elect a new council maybe we can find people who will put the people first and their persona perspectives in a closet when they attend a meeting.

April 9, 2012 at 2:15 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's talk about the millions of dollars wasted by allowing Commissioners to negotiate union contracts. McTygue was the only commissioner who used common sense.
Voter suppression starts with pointing out the facts initially and than providing a reasonable cost analysis attached to a quality product. Half of the 2300 people were duped into thinking minor chnages were going to be addressed. Madiagn would approve anything that might get her more attention to feed he overpowering ego and thirst for control. She doesn't respect any part of this government and has shown a total lack of professionalism and respetc for the process and the Mayor from Day One.
Mattheison would respect any process that would get him off the hook for the unacceptable job he has done attempting to place his personal perspective down the throat of the taxpayers.
John Franck who well know and has been quoted as stating this will be unaffordable continues to play the game and is losing his credibility day by day.
That leaves Mr. Criroccco who finally gets a wy out of his esteemed record of his humiliatin ght e McTygue people and using biased personnell practices at least to treat his pets abd harass and for ce his better people into a severe morale state and much resentment.Replacing him is the highlight of charter change. As a matter of fact it is the only positive I can find in the program other than allowing the trnasition team of non-elected figures being involved in the year long transition. Hope they don't lose our best people in thhe process.

April 9, 2012 at 7:20 PM 

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home