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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 12

Mayoral differences

Former Mayor Valerie Keehn says she doesn't know what is going on with current Mayor Scott Johnson's formation of his Comprehensive Plan Committee.

After some contentious politics, Johnson named all 13 members of the committee, breaking with precedent.

Keehn was the last mayor to appoint a committee to review the Comp Plan. She called the other day to clear up the debate about how many people she appointed.

Johnson said she had appointed 11 and each of the commissioners had appointed 1 each.

Keehn said that's not what happened. "It's incomprehensible to me why he wouldn't look up the info or just ask someone who was on the committee at the time," she said.

Of course, to be fair, I tried that. No one I talked to could remember with certainty (not even one of the commissioners who made the appointment). And I couldn't find it anywhere in the minutes, coverage of the City Council or in the Comp Plan they came up with.

It's clear Johnson didn't form the committee the way mayors before him had, though.

Johnson started forming the committee in November. It was in The Saratogian a couple times, but he never communicated directly to the other members of the City Council that the committee formation was underway. 

Keehn said when she was mayor, the first thing she did when forming the comp plan committee was request recommendations from the City Council for who should be on the committee: She took two recommendations from each of the commissioners and she appointed the remaining seven seats.

"I didn't say 'Maybe I'll accept your appointments," she said, which is a contrast to Johnson's assertion that recommendations would have to come through him to get to the committee.

He also initially chose 11 names, said he wanted to keep the committee to 13 members, and suggested the commissioners choose someone he had already chosen to be on the committee.

Before Keehn, Ken Klotz (who formed a committee in 2000) appointed five members of the committee and let each of the commissioners appoint one as well. He told me he based that on previous precedent.

Klotz's plan was the last to be adopted. Johnson said Keehn's plan "died on the vine," the committee did, in fact, generate a plan — it was just never voted on.

The required vote of the City Council for adoption would have come when Johnson was in office. It just didn't.

"He probably tossed it in his garbage can," Keehn said.

She said she considered it "an insult" to the work and time the 15-member committee had put in that the plan was never voted on.

"I'd like to know specifically why he decided it wasn't worth him even looking at," she said.

Johnson has not yet returned calls looking for comment. I'll add his comments to the story when I hear back from him.

And while Keehn say's Johnson "probably tossed (the Comp Plan) in his garbage can," someone kept it and here it is:

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

An 82 page comp plan. And you wonder why it wasn't adopted?

February 13, 2013 at 6:07 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a waste of 18 months! Instead of ratifying this work with a complete Council majority (whose membership each appointed members) you chose instead to chase the McTygues and imagine that you would be swept into office again!
How Sad.

February 13, 2013 at 9:03 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is no viable explanation, Val. Johnson is as inclusive as his counterparts on the national level. They are sticking to their traditional ways, which is really good news. The next election cycle will probably result in fewer of them being in office.

February 13, 2013 at 9:28 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would toss out anything created under the Keehne Administration. The Council was in total havoc during that period and they only thing they did successfully was spend all the VLT funds they could get their hands on. They bonded twice illegally the Rec Center, spent over $10 million in DPS for what no one knwos. She also had a major increase when she left. This is not a credible individual and I would not put faith in any statement she would make.Her main goal in office was to get Tom McTygue out of office. During her tenure revenue remained stagnant and sales tax whix is now close to $10 million per year stayed stagnant around $8 million. That was considered the Council from hell and this one may be even worse. The last thing this city needs is the return of Valerie keehne. The only thing that would create would be another drinking partner for Eileen.That office was such a mess when she left it's lucky anyone could find anything.

February 14, 2013 at 4:03 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's incomprehensible that this mayor wasted everyone’s time on that Committee by not bringing it to the Council for ratification. Every Commissioner had appointments on that Committee and had no reason not accept the final product. Her distractions resulted in a year and a half of hard work being left on a shelf. Pathetic.

February 14, 2013 at 6:40 AM 
Blogger cgrey said...

I've been through the plan twice and cannot find the list of committee members. Am I missing it?

February 14, 2013 at 7:54 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's hard for me to understand why anybody in their right mind would want input from this disfunctional XMayor,no offense to you Lucian I don't think you were here to experence the "Queen of Chaos".

February 14, 2013 at 8:28 AM 
Blogger Lucian said...

@CGrey, the list is on page 69 of the Comp Plan in Appendix I.

February 14, 2013 at 10:14 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lured out from the darkness to provide us with her revisionist history, she has forgotten that she essentially tossed it in her garbage can by leaving it on a shelf, to wither on the vine. The insult to the work and time of the 15-member committee was that she never brought it to the Council before the November election. Thanks, for the memories.

February 14, 2013 at 10:29 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course she accepted council nominees. There was a Democratic majority on the Council. Does anyone really think she would have done that if she had been in the current Mayor's postion with a majority on the Council being made up of clearly hostile opposition party members.

February 14, 2013 at 9:24 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

8:28 - You have no disagreement with me on the disfunctional Xmayor, but the work produced by the 15 and those who spoke to the group does not reflect her ideas. Reinforcing the "City in the Country" and encouraging development downtown at the same time buffering that development from adjacent existing districts was/is an important part of that document - much of which is applicable today.

She left us all empty.

February 15, 2013 at 6:38 AM 

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