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

Thursday, March 28

Oh rumors...

Former City Police Officer Ed Braim is not a Saratoga County Sheriff's deputy, according to Sheriff James Bowen, despite what Bowen called "nasty rumors" to the contrary.

"I don't know who started that rumor," he said, but it's not true.

Ed Braim resigned from the Saratoga Springs Police Department in December after he allegedly assaulted a man at a Caroline Street bar.

He was one of three officers suspended for the alleged assault, but the only one who was charged criminally. The other two officers were suspended for an undisclosed amount of time. 

Braim resigned and the charges were dropped, though he may still be facing a lawsuit (though I can't find it in the county database, if he is).

Anyway, Bowen said "he is not working for us and I have no intention of hiring him."

So let the rumors cease.

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Friday, March 22

City Council 2013 — VI: The Democrats *Updated - twice*

Tomorrow the Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee meets and Chairman Charles Brown said he expects to be able to announce tomorrow a time and place where Joanne Yepsen will announce... her intentions for the 2013 election.

The presumption is that it will be her announcement that she is running for mayor.

Brown said Yepsen's been meeting with an exploratory committee for some time, "talking through her options."

One of the conversations that I've heard was been going on for some time is whether she could run for mayor and maintain her seat as a city representative to the Board of Supervisors. Most everyone agrees it is legal, but Brown said there is a question as to "whether that would be seen as a power grab."

Highlighting the fact that most supervisors on the legislative BofS also act in an executive capacity in their town governments, Brown called it "the norm" in the county.

Still, what works for towns like Day and Galway, won't necessarily work for Saratoga Springs.

It seems she may no longer be considering that as a viable option, but Brown said "she put seven years into that seat at the county and she wants to make sure that it will be taken by someone who will take up the work she has done."

*Update for clarity* Brown emphasized that the Yepsen is no longer considering running for both offices simultaneously (adding it is not a foregone conclusion that she is running for mayor at all). Any announcement that will be coming from her, likely won't happen until early April. *END of update*

The newest talk around town is that another Democratic member of the City Council may be exploring his/her options in that regard and may run for both positions simultaneously.

"That discussion is ongoing," Brown said Friday.

Here is where I start with speculation:

So John Franck and Christian Mathiesen both have full-time jobs on top of their positions on the City Council.

The only Democrat that leaves is Michele Madigan.

I called her a little while ago and will post her comments when I get them.

*UPDATE: I haven't talked to Madigan, but I received a message from her*

"I've been hearing a lot of rumors about supervisor but my name, as of yet, I had not heard in relation to that rumor. My main concern is running for finance commissioner, not running for supervisor... that wouldn't be my main concern, anyway."

She said endorsements should be coming out in the next month and we'll have to wait and see.

Another source in the Democratic party said the talk was started with Yepsen and has drifted to the other City Council positions, but because it is so early no name has been honed in on as of yet. 


Brown said the committee will also be discussing its platform Saturday and may send it out. If they do you can read about it in The Saratogian (I'll post the full press release here).

I also asked him about whether Joanne Yepsen had ever intended to announce her candidacy on March 20, as I had heard. Brown said he couldn't comment on whether that was true or not.

*Another Update*

I'm leaving for the day and I have heard nothing from the Democrats on their platform or their announcement about upcoming announcements. That doesn't mean the committee didn't decide anything this morning, just that they didn't tell me about it. I'll be following up on Monday. 

*Update added Monday* Brown said "we're still doing some fine-tuning" of the platform and they have not released it yet. 

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Wednesday, March 20

Still going after last call

Though I thought last call had already come and gone on the discussion over bar closing times, the issue came up again at City Council Tuesday night.

Public Safety Commissioner Christian Mathiesen, who last year championed a failed effort to make last call earlier, voiced a renewed appeal to address late night drunken crime at the City Council meeting Tuesday night under an agenda item titled: "Lawlessness after 2 AM."

"It is so important to acknowledge that we do have a problem," he said.

During his campaign for Public Safety Commissioner, Mathiesen referred to that problem as a "toxic atmosphere" on Caroline Street late at night.

The issue was long-debated at the City Council meeting and had a few public meetings and workshops. The State Liquor Authority said any change that happened with last call must be made at the county level.  That prompted the City Council to send the issue to the Board of Supervisors.

That didn't go so well for Mathiesen — the proposal never made it out of committee.

Still, that didn't stop his effort, or at least didn't stop him appealing to the state to continue the effort to change last call. Things had been quiet for a while, though, until Tuesday that is.

Mathiesen outlined the fight that sent two police to the hospital Friday night at just before 3 a.m. (and severely damaged the suspect's face) and, of course, the break-in at City Hall at 4:40 a.m. Saturday morning.

"People are still being over-served. Ultimately I think we really need to look at these hours," he said Tuesday. "The people who continue to deny this (problem) I do not understand."

Many of those people are bar owners, bar staff and those in the tourism industry. In fact, three heads of tourism told Mathiesen last year that he was damaging the city's reputation with his rhetoric.

Mathiesen, of course, responded to them in April saying “I think the city being dangerous late at night is counterproductive. I don’t think talking about it is. It is dangerous downtown late at night.”

He also said it is costing the city money in overtime for police and, citing Friday night's incident that sent two police officers to the hospital.

*Update* I've changed this part of the post to clarify what Mathiesen meant after he called me to clarify his point.*

Mathiesen said Tuesday that he would like a state-wide solution to last call.

"It would be better for everyone if we change last call to 2 or 3 a.m.," Mathiesen told me Wednesday, clarifying his position. "I think that would be a better solution."

Of course, given the fact that two City Council members supported the change, one recused because he is part-owner in a bar, another voted against it and one said "I’m completely disinterested in this issue... All I wanted to do was kick it to the county," I'm not sure he had the votes to change it even at the City Council level.

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Saturday, March 16

City Council 2013 — V

Thursday, March 14

City Council - 2013, IV

Just heard some more rumors from credible sources contradicting something from a previous post.

Word is, Dave Patterson will not be running for mayor as he will soon not be a full-time Saratoga Springs resident.

I had heard credible talk about him running and blogged about it a few weeks ago. A little while after that post I caught up with him and while he didn't confirm the talk, (some of which was from the GOP Chair Dave Harper, who said "I think Dave is definitely a candidate" though didn't say for what) he said he was considering his options and would get back to me.

I have it on very good authority, though, that he is house hunting in Florida and plans on only being a six-month-a-year Spa City resident (I wonder which six months he'll choose?). That wouldn't make him a very effective mayor, at least half of the time, so it seems he won't be making a run.

On the other side of the ticket, rumors still persist about Joanne Yepsen's imminent declaration of her intention to go for the mayor's seat.

I blogged about this one too here and here and I haven't gotten her to budge any further on whether she will be running or not. I've heard it will be announced this month — the 20th is one rumor out there — but today she told me "I don't have that on my calender" and that she is "no further along in my decision."

As for whether the mayor will be running for reelection, I have a call in to him now and will ask him when I speak with him.

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Tuesday, March 5

Mayor undergoes emergency surgery *Updated*

Mayor Scott Johnson will not be at the City Council meeting Tuesday night after undergoing "emergency surgery" Tuesday, according to Deputy Mayor Shauna Sutton.

"He's ok, which is what is most important. It was nothing serious," she said. "He just wasn't expecting it."

She said the mayor has not told her or administrative assistant what the surgery was about or many details. Sutton said "I got the impression it was an outpatient procedure."

Either way he will not be in attendance tonight, but she said the things on his agenda will still come up. I don't know if she will bring them up or not. Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan will be running the meeting.


Just so everyone knows, Mayor Johnson is fine now and said he has been back to work all week.

"To borrow a saying from Mark Twain: The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated," he said. 

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Friday, March 1

New SSHA Board

I've been meaning to post something on Accounts Commissioner John Franck's intention to wipe the board clean at the Saratoga Springs Housing Authority since he mentioned it last week to me. Well, the City Council agenda reminded me, since the first item on his agenda at Tuesday's city council is a resolution urging the mayor to do just that.

The full resolution is below, and a story should be posted soon.

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