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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

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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Anonymous Anonymous said...

According to Board of Election records on the subject, it shouldn't be such a shock that Madigan was bringing up these police hires. She's been the single largest recipient of PBA campaign contributions.

Madigan has taken $2000 from the PBA, while the Saratoga Dems have only given her $800 in the same time period. Wonder where her allegiance lies? Prior to their donations to Madigan, the PBA has never given more then $250 to a candidate.

Also, why so much support the local plumbers unions? Contracts for the Public Safety building projects perhaps?

May 23, 2013 at 1:36 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Madigan would be the perfect person to bring up the police hires as she has the her hand on the pulse of the finances. She would know if the City could or could not afford the new hires. It will also be interesting to see where the contribution balance of Mayor Johnson's $31,252.39 ends up. Shauna Sutton's campaign?

May 24, 2013 at 12:56 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations to the new chief! John Franck thinks he knows all but knows very little. Look at how much the city has grown, like it or not. The public safety department has to grow also. Tax revenue has to be increasing just look at sonny bonacio's buildings. The fire department is handling the ems which is terrific. We have trained, professional, and staffed personnel all the time. The city has to realize what comes with growth; the need for more police, fire, ems personnel, public works employees and equipment. Just wait until the new casino opens which means more growth! The city must keep up with it. Again, like it or not!

May 24, 2013 at 6:50 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The budget that was responsibele for some of the layoff was a default budget whi was voted down 4 to 1. It also carried just under an 8% tax increase. Unfortunately Commissioner Matthieson who usually doesn't have a clue what happening made several errors. To promote the Assistant Cheif without even interbiewing potential candiaite fromt he outside is about as dum as you get.Also he should research before he criticizes. The year of the cut two commisssioners - DPW-Scrocco and DPS - Ron Kim oversatted their expense for the current year by $1.5 million so in essence they created their own layoffs. Ivins on the other hand was presnted with this information at three different budget workshops and did not agree. Later when the $3 million swing took place he stated he put too much faith in his commissioners. What about himself. Was he not intelligent enough to do the research the public did? All three should never complain or whine about their eventual problems and probably should never hold office again. There are not 5 Lieutenants in the Police Forceso this will create a major vacuum at the top. It will be the blind leading the blind but that's already happening. If this Council continues to allow the unions to run the city we will be mired into so much long term debt that if the economy fails the city will be in severe trouble. EMS is not the success that people have stated and has lost money from day One. The people are being painted a pretty picture. Without the close to $400,000 in Safer grant funds in 2012 there would have been a major loss which will occur in 2013. The seven year plan is terrible flawed but the salaries of the two captains and four Lieutenants keep on moving up at a quick pace. It's a shame no one actually reads the Saratogaian and its fine article on 2012 payroll, comp time and OT.

May 24, 2013 at 7:00 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The toxic environment from Caroline St. is now lining the walls of City Hall with some exceptions but very few.

May 24, 2013 at 7:02 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A casino would not mean more staffing but would hurt Saratoga in several ways. The conference center planned would directly compete with the City Center and that creates minimal gain. More dollars would be taken out of the economy of the city than gained. EMS will never cash flow and more people in Public Safety isn't the solution. It is leadership and fiscal management. Neither Department has shown the ability to reflect that. It has been stated the numbers speak for themselves but the accurate numbers have not been shown. The public is being fed a bunch of propaganda and not facts. My commentary can be supported by fact. the Council commentary cannot. Operationally the EMS service has been excellent but will never see black from 2013 on. Just keep feeding those pension funds, OT, sick time and comp time and not matter how much the City grows it will not ne enough to overcome the long term debt.I can understand the perspective from the other side but they are making very sure a certain few are getting the bulk of the dollars and the majority gets nothing but manipulation and poor planning. Typical of an union environment.
6:50 - I can understand your stance. You are probably union and a memeber of the SSFD but you're not an economic genious. Growth never necessarily means more revneue. The economy is teterring and the future of racing is in jeopardy. You are looking at the picture through tunnel vision and have no grasp of the dilemma that currently exists and will contiue to exist unless someone reigns it in.

May 24, 2013 at 1:05 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Selecting a new chief without proper interview process and allowing possibly better qualified candidates to apply as well is a major mistake and reflects the type of operational management the city does not need I personally like Gregg Veitch but this decision is a serious decision and all competent candidates from outside the city should have an opportuntiy to compete for the position as well.Who fills the major hole in the middle between one chief and one Lieutenant??

May 24, 2013 at 1:17 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since the EMS service was brought up again, maybe all these EMS people can explain to me, if the ambulance business is such a cash cow, how come none of the hospitals or private medical service providers are looking to milk this cow? You can't tell me the people who sell Asprin's for $30 would let an opportunity to make money slip through their fingers.

The hospitals already have the billing infastructure in place, this would just be one more item to add to the final check. There's no way hospital administrators leave the kind of money on the table that Madigan and Mathiesen want us to believe the EMS service can make.

May 24, 2013 at 8:13 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@12:56 AM So Madigan made her decision to push for the police hires, and the police station rebuild, and everything else because she "has her hand on the pulse of the finances".

What, so suddenly, is the motivation of the PBA to give out 4x's the amount of the total political contributions they've given to every other local government candidate COMBINED in the last 5 years to Michelle Madigan?

May 24, 2013 at 8:18 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey 700am FD has 4 captains and 6 lieutenants.

May 25, 2013 at 12:00 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 813 - There are hospitals throughout NY that do provide ambulance service. However ones that don't currently, will probably not. The reason is that Commercial Ambulance services have a monopoly. It is very difficult for start-ups especially in City's (where most hospitals are located). There is quite an extensive application and approval process from regional and state boards that are controlled by the Commercial side of the service. A Hospital based ambulance, would most definitley cut into the commercial ambulances profits and would most likely not get approval.

May 28, 2013 at 6:07 AM 

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