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

Tuesday, February 19

Comprehensive conversations

Though it hasn't been on many agendas lately, the formation of the Comp Plan Committee in the city has been getting a good deal of discussion as of late by the members of the City Council, but they aren't the only ones.

Four people spoke out against the Comprehensive Committee that has been formed by Mayor Scott Johnson over the objections and without the input of the four other members of the City Council. If you'll recall, Johnson formed the vast majority of the committee by himself without formally informing any of the City Council members in late2012.

Only Public Works Commissioner Anthony “Skip” Scirocco submitted a recommendation (from the list of suggestions). The other three Commissioners (all Democrats, unlike Johnson and Scirocco, which I'm sure is just coincidence), did not submit recommendations. They also tabled a vote on hiring a consultant for the process, later calling the whole thing “Dead on arrival.”

I'm planning a follow-up on the whole thing this week to see whether the committee is going to be meeting without the consultant or not, but I figured while I wait for this executive session to be over I'd post some of the public comments for the meeting to the blog.

The first to voice concerns about the formation of the committee was City Democratic Committee Chair Charles Brown.

He said “If all of the commissioners had a say in how that board was picked, it would be a different board, but perhaps not that drastically,” but he said what would be different would be the sense in the city that everyone had played a role in the formation of what everyone agrees is perhaps the second-most important document in the city.

I would think the democratic process would dictate that we would bend over backwards to ensure all of the voices were heard, since we all live in the city,” he said.

Two others also spoke in general terms, one chastising the mayor and asking he be more conciliatory, and the other saying more renewable energy interests should be included.

In a very eloquent appeal to inclusion, Theresa Cappozola called on City Council to disband the current committee and enact another “in a more democratic manner.”

Capazola pointed out that “the overwhelming majority of members represent development interests or rely on development interests.”

She said she and others who do not support development in the city's “Green Belt” have “become powerless against development because they always seem to be in control and we don't have a seat at the table.

This is a comprehensive plan,” she said, “not a development plan.”

She also asked the rest of the City Council not to vote for any consultants for the project because it would “merely legitimize” the committee which she said is “overly and improperly weighted to development interests.”

The way the committee was formed, she said, has stripped the public of “our small amount of power at the polls” since four of the city's five commissioners were not involved in the process. “This is history repeating itself,” she said. “This is the same fight and the community never wins.”

Anyway, I'll be following up on this, since the last I talked to the mayor about it he said he didn't know if they were going forward with meetings without a consultant.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is an article that was printed previously in the Saratogian. I have eliminated a couple paragraphs for brevity.

November 19, 2002

Mayor Ken Klotz Monday announced his appointments to the committee that will recommend what, if any, land purchases the city makes using the newly approved bond referendum.
Sally Hart Brown, the co-chair of the Saratoga Springs Open Space Project, was named the chairwoman of the advisory committee. The other members of the committee are: Theresa Capozzola, Jim Gold, Jenny Mirling, Jeff Olson, Margaret Roohan and Janine Stuchin.
Finance Commissioner Mike Lenz said he hadn't anticipated the committee to be formed so soon and had hoped that each member of the council would have the opportunity to supply names of individuals for consideration.

''It would be nice for each council member to provide input,'' Lenz said.

Accounts Commissioner Stephen Towne, in a memo to Klotz last week, nominated three people to be named to the advisory group. None of them were among the people selected by Klotz.

Deputy Mayor Hank Kuczynski said Klotz consulted with the people who had made their interest in the committee known.

''He tried to base his selection to have a broad representation of the community,'' Kuczynski said.

My point: So that was OK? Theresa's "eloquent" speech about inclusion is kind of hypocritical don't you think since she was on an open space committee charged with selecting vacant parcels to purchase with open space money which consisted only of Mayoral appointees with no input from other council members. I didn't see her protest when she was the one being appointed with no council say.

This is selective outrage. Politics at its worst and the press is helping it along with no questions or research. This took me all of 5 minutes to find out. You have a great website for researching this stuff. Perhaps you should use it.

February 20, 2013 at 12:38 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think the "Anonymous" who posted at 12:38 p.m. Feb. 20 is being fair to the reporting The Saratogian has done on this issue. The relevant precedent is how prior Comprehensive Plan review committees have been appointed.

By clicking on the "Mayoral Differences" previous-post in this same Blog, we see that The Saratogian did research the appointment process used by prior mayors for Comprehensive Plan reviews. According to this reporting, in addition to Mayor Kotz's picks, each Commissioner had one appointment.

Another tremendous benefit of the "Mayoral Differences" post is that it actually links to a pdf of the 2006 recommendations--recommendations that Mayor Johnson apparently never brought to a vote. A side-by-side reading of the 2006 (never-adopted) draft and our current Comprehensive Plan (available at the City's official web site) shows how woefully outdated the official CP has become. It was approved July 17, 2001--that's BEFORE the attacks of 9/11. Think of the changes our City has seen since then--not to mention the economy, technology and our awareness of climate change.

The City badly needs a modern Comprehensive Plan. It looks like, after failing to follow-through on adoption of the 2006 changes, the mayor is--again--setting another review committee up to fail.

It is the majority of City Council that ultimately will need to approve the revisions. It is only reasonable to proceed, from the outset, with their full participation and consent in the makeup of the committee. To do otherwise is unfair to the many fine individuals who already have agreed to serve.

February 20, 2013 at 2:25 PM 
Blogger Lucian said...

Thanks, Anonymous 2:25 p.m., I appreciate the support.

I thought the committee the previous commenter was referring to was comparing apples to oranges, personally, since as you point out Mayor Ken Klotz allowed all the commissioners an appointment to the Comp Plan Committee he appointed in 2000 (as reported in this blog post,, which you also kindly pointed out). But he/she isn’t the first commenter to take shots at me or the newspaper and won’t be the last (and the ones you see are just the ones that I publish!).

February 20, 2013 at 2:50 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that the Mayor has just added another folly to his repertoire. The whole Council should have had at least 1 member that they could have appointed without Johnson’s approval. After all, the Council members are considered elected leaders of the City just as the Mayor is. The reasons this has become such an issue is #1 the fact the Council was left out of the process and #2 their appointment had to be on the Mayor’s list and #3 this is another case of Mayor Johnson inserting his Strong Mayor attitude where it doesn’t belong and quite frankly enough people are tired of it.
By State law the Mayor has the right to appoint all board positions to the Zoning and Planning Boards, every other Board should be equally set by the 5 Commissioners.

February 22, 2013 at 12:31 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lucian, in an article you wrote on 9/15/2012 it is stated “Mayor Scott Johnson announced last week that he is forming a commission to explore charter change in the city, but it will have no impact on the Saratoga Citizen charter change proposal that will be put to voters in November.”

Since September and another statement made by the Mayor regarding his Commission, it has been over 6 months and he still hasn’t named a committee PUBLICLY. I read on a blog today that once he publicly names a committee that he can have no further input (that is supposed to be the law) and all meetings have to be open to the public. However on that same blog, it was mentioned months ago that the Mayor did indeed choose a Commission and they have been meeting with the Mayor’s input, until which time that his amendments to the Charter are agreed upon by the Commission, at which time he will publicly name them.

A true king, 5 years in the making.

February 24, 2013 at 12:57 PM 
Blogger Lucian said...

Anonymous 12:57

I spoke to the mayor at the end of last week and he said the committee has not been formed yet and has "taken a back seat" to the Comp Plan Committee.

You're right in saying he originally said it would be formed around the time of the election, and then later that it would be formed by the end of last year. As I wrote in Sunday's story about the Comp Plan and Charter Change committees, it still hasn't been formed, according to the Mayor.

I heard a month or so ago the same rumor: that the committee had already been constituted and was meeting behind-closed-doors (at the Deputy Mayor's house) because it hadn't been technically named. I put the question to the mayor and deputy mayor and they both said it was false.

Since I don't know who will potentially be on the committee, I can't ask them myself, but there you have it.

February 25, 2013 at 10:27 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Mayor has not formed a Charter Committee. Bias and misrepresntation fill this page. As far as the Comprehensive Plan the Charter and State law state specifically the Council has no right to appoint. They would review the finished product and have input at that time. If the dollars needed for the consultant is held up they do the city a disservice and should be charged with comptempt of the City Charter. This foolishness needs to stop. The Democratic Party calls for bi-partisonship but quickly undermined the Mayor since they have been in office. The GAPS Committee to study South Broadway is the charge of the Planning Dept. under the Mayor's perview. Without notifyig the Mayor they decided to make this effort and notify after the fact. As a professional he supported it but it was dead wrong. Resuly - A mental health center being considered at the entry of the city which in my opinion will kill any growth being considered in the area. #2 - In the response to the State of the City the Mayor was chastised for voting no on a 0% budget. I would have as well. After being constantly hounded about union contracts he was not given the funds to negotaite those contracts in the professional fees line. Talk about hypocrisy. And now the second most important document the city can produce is being held up for no valid reason other than ego, partisonship and a Council acting like little children in the playroom. I guess it should be expected. We have a Democratic President who doesn't respect the Constitution and will kill the economy with his policies and lack of skills other than speaking on the road at every turn. We have a Governor who is blowing smoke and mirrors at every turn and might possibly destrpy thoroughbred racing with hsi casin plan which hopefully the people turn down at the voting polls. Look at New jersey and Pa. and see what Casinos are working out for them. Bankruptcies all over the place including the State capital of Harrisburg and possibly Scranton which borders the nearby casino is Wilkes Barre. There are only so many dollars out there The governor speaks of people flooding to Conn. and losing dollars in this state. How about the people who come to saratoga Springs every summer for our meet. Is that not the same in reverse. There is one difference. The Saratoga meet is successful and both casinos in Conn. are hurting. I'm becoming tired of tax and spend Democrats who continually misrepresnt the facts to the people and will conintue to do so until the people run them out of office.Lucian - you can fact check every one of these comments.

February 26, 2013 at 3:48 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the commenter from February 26, 2013 at 3:48 AM. Where are the names of the people that the 3 upset council members want to appoint? I'm sure if they were submitted, Mayor Johnson would consider them. Each council member interprets their level of power given to them by the city charter. This isn't about the fairness issue. This is about researching solutions and putting the product out for public input. After that, they can vote it up or down and make hay out of it at election time. Time to get back to business and stop the posturing.

February 27, 2013 at 11:29 AM 

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