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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, May 23

Zlotnick co$t$

It has cost the city $61,340 so far to fire Mary Zlotnick from her $33,000 a year job.

That doesn't include the time of Deputy Commissioner Sharon Kellner-Chille, Director of Risk and Safety Marilyn Rivers or Accounts Commissioner John Franck, all of whom had significant time wrapped up in the roughly 57 hours of hearings in City Hall.

It also doesn't include the $7,500 they allocated to defend themselves in a lawsuit she filed at the May 7 City Council meeting.

It does include:

-$35,340 for 169.7 hours of Harris Beach Attorney Mark McCarthy's time and seven hours of other Harris Beach attorney's time (It's $200 an hour, if you were wondering).
-$21,235.04 in Hearing Officer Christopher Nicolino's time and hotel expenses (he made $1,600 per diem or $175 an hour).
-And $4,765.75 in court reporter costs.

It also doesn't include the $37.50 or whatever my time cost altogether.

I may do more with this (I'll at least post the invoices), but I am too dejected at my own rate of pay to go on now.


As it turns out, I'm not the only one with this FOIL.

In fact, I know of one other blogger who wrote about it (warning, as always, there may be will be coarse language) and that one Republican candidate FOILed for it.

My FOIL for the information is at the bottom of the page, but here is the FOIL from Kenneth Ivins whose name is redacted in the request, but I bet you can still read it.

Ivins circulated the FOIL to the Republican Committee in the city. 

Franck, of course, called it "bullsh*t politics" (speaking of coarse language). He thought I got the FOIL from Ivins. I didn't.

I have heard word for months (from a very reliable source) that the AG's office hadn't found any evidence that the Accounts Department did anything wrong and would likely be issuing a statement to that effect, but I'm still waiting.

Ivins said it was information that people have a right to know. As for whether it was politics, "Obviously I circulated to the Republican Committee, I have the e-mail list. I don't have the Democratic Committee list." He said he sent it to the GOP "to get people educated" about where tax dollars go.

Anyway, this is probably superfluous, but here is MY FOIL request (same as his, without the redaction or the cover letter).

*Another update in response to comments* I just figured I would add something in here to mention that Franck was also wondering about Zlotnick's funding. "I don't know who is paying for it," he said. I'm putting something together for the newspaper tomorrow, which I will post a link to here. Hopefully I can get some questions answered.

**Update, I couldn't get a hold of anyone to tell me who was paying Zlotnick's bills.

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Movement in the Police Department

At Tuesday's City Council meeting, Public Safety Commissioner Christian Mathiesen stated, matter of factly, that when Greg Veitch becomes the chief of police it will leave a hole in the upper-end of the department that will need to be filled by other officers.

So it sounds pretty official that Veitch is the new chief, which isn't a surprise. I'm told a press conference or press release will be issued Friday about the transition.

The other part of his statement is also something to pay attention to. When Veitch takes over for Police Chief Chris Cole, who is retiring, it is going to mean that two of the top three positions in the department will be left empty (Assistant Chief and Captain). There are I believe five lieutenants and a handful of sergeants, a couple of whom will likely be moving up in the department.

In the mean time, the City Council just voted to hire two new police. While the only dissenting vote was the mayor, John Franck came to the defense of the cuts that have left the department in a seeming perpetual state of short-staffing.

Mathiesen has long advocated for hiring the officers back who had been laid off in 2010. "It puts too much pressure on the remaining members of the force," he said Tuesday. 

Mathiesen said the cuts were "foolhardy" and "apparently taken lightly," for which Franck told him he was "uneducated" about the issue.

Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan, who (curiously) was the one to propose hiring two new officers, argued that the "magic number" in the department seems to be 72 officers, but Franck said before the layoffs "they were saying they needed 91 officers."

Mathiesen, then, said they may need more than 72.

"72 may bee too low, frankly, given the activity in our city," he said. If he had his druthers, he said, he would hire a consultant to evaluate how many officers the department actually needs.

Many seemed in favor of that, but as Mathiesen has told me in the past, it may cost a good deal of money which could be applied to more important public safety needs.

Maybe with two new officers coming in, though, now will be the time.

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Wednesday, May 8

City Council 2013 — X

And we're off to the races. Shauna Sutton announced she is running for mayor today, so it's a race. So far it's the only one contested by two announced candidates (unless you count Supervisor, which I don't, since it is two Republicans currently running for two seats).

Richard Wirth is announcing his campaign against Christian Mathiesen for Public Safety tomorrow in Congress Park, so that will be the second.

Anyway, here is a statement from Democratic Chair Charles Brown about Sutton's announcement (spoiler, he thinks Joanne Yepsen is better):

"I think the fact that the Republican Party has chosen to back the current Deputy Mayor for the office of Mayor is indicative that they are seeking to maintain the status quo.  By contrast Joanne Yepsen's candidacy represents an influx of fresh perspective and forward thinking ideas.  As Mayor, Joanne’s office door will always be open to our citizens, which is why I am proud to support her."
"I believe this race will give our community a chance to focus on our many pressing issues and how we would like our city leaders to lead."

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Tuesday, May 7

City Council 2013 — IX

Who is taking bets?

P.O. Box 3105
Saratoga Springs NY 12866
Phone: (518) 587-6670 and Fax: 587-6672

David Harper, Chair                                                                                                                 Executive Committee
Rose Zacek, Whip                                                                                                                    Robert Barile
Stephen Rodriguez, Vice-Chair                                                                                                Keith Kaplan
Mary Flanagan, Secretary                                                                                                        Amy Cacozza
Michael Cummings, Treasurer                                                                                                 Matt Hogan             
Oscar Schreiber, County Executive Committee Member                                                        Drew Jarosh
                                                                                Joe Kakaty
                                                                                                                                Ken Ivins

For: Wednesday, MAY 8, 2013
City Republicans to Make It Official
To Announce Mayoral Candidate at Wednesday Press Conference
Saratoga Springs Republican Chairman David Harper will officially announce his party’s candidate for Mayor by launching a kick-off press conference this Wednesday, May 8th at 2pm.

WHO:             Saratoga Springs Republican Chairman David Harper, Republican                                    Mayoral candidate and distinguished guests.      
WHAT:          Announcing and kicking off of Republican Mayoral Campaign.
WHEN:          2 p.m. Wednesday May 8, 2013.
WHERE:        Saratoga Arms, 497 Broadway Saratoga Springs.
                        **INSIDE** Conference Room.
CONTACT:   David Harper



I'll put $5 on Deputy Mayor Shauna Sutton, but I'll tell you, they've kept this one close to the vest. I asked her and she said she had sworn herself to silence. 

In other City Council news, Accounts Commissioner John Franck said the Democrats have lobbied him to some extent to run for both Accounts and Supervisor. He said he probably won't do it, though.

"Even I'll be surprised if I do it," he said, citing the time commitment.

I don't know anybody whose done it before, but I know there was a lot of talk a couple months ago about Supervisor Joanne Yepsen doing the same thing  (for mayor and Sup), but that fell by the wayside. 

Still, Democratic Chairman Charles Brown said one of the other City Council members might give it a go. At the time I thought he was alluding to Michele Madigan, but she said she hadn't heard that particular rumor.

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