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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, July 30

It's Magic!

Cozmo in Congress Park June 28, 2012

Rumor has it that the Saratoga-famous Cozmo (the Magnificent!, I'm sure) has been up to his old tricks again.

The man with the magic hands first made news last year when he made a ticket for "entertaining without a license" disappear in City Court. 

Cozmo (Neil Dupree) had been issued the ticket after some complaints came into the Police Department about him soliciting money from those he entertained (including children), something he denied. 

The more impressive magic, though, may have been how the police stirred up the charge that dated back to the early 20th century and had a special section for "moving pictures" (the talkies). It was particularly mystical since the Accounts Department doesn't issue the licenses the ordinance referred to.

The charge was dropped, as Assistant City Attorney Tony Izzo explained, because the city couldn't charge someone for doing something without a license if the city didn't issue them.

Well, Tuesday I gather he was drawing more complaints. A police sergeant said the proprietors of the craft fair in Congress Park had complained that Cozmo was performing in their fair, despite their having rented out space in the park.

Again, though, Izzo said no one can rent exclusive rights to Congress Park and "they will have to coexist."

I went down to catch up with the magic man Tuesday, but by the time I got there he had... disappeared.

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Tuesday, July 23

Campaign Finance fun

It occurs to me that this break-out box (as they are called) that appeared in print never made it online. I wrote a story on the mayor's race, but here is what all of the other city politicians have been doing:

Office         Candidate Starting balance     $ Raised      $ Spent
Accounts        John Franck $8,636 $7,798 $2,556

         John Arpei $0 $100 $0

Public Safety   Christian Mathiesen $3,372 $0 $76

       Richard Wirth $31 $6,291 $1,083

Public Works     Anthony "Skip"     Scirocco $949 $9,273 $2,022

  William McTygue $0 $9,977 $1,080

Finance    Michele Madigan $2,386 $6,939 $2,684

A few things to point out.

John Franck seems to have the most money on hand of any candidate (except those for mayor). Most of his money has come in $100 and $200 contributions, though there is one $2,323 unitemized entry from February, which is likely his annual fundraiser.

John P. Arpei's $100 reported Monday was contributed by John P. Arpei, but then he only officially announced he was running two weeks ago.

Christian Mathiesen didn't just not raise or spend any money as of Monday, but he filed a "no activity statement" last week indicating he hadn't done any fundraising or spending between the January and July periodic filings. The "Starting balance" was actually from his January disclosure.

Richard Wirth received mostly small contributions with two notable exceptions: $1,000 from both Leon Pokoik from Sarasota, Fla., and the Saratoga Springs Republican Committee. I also noticed a couple police officers on his list, but they were for under $100 apiece.

Anthony "Skip" Scirocco's money has come with a few big contributions. There was a $500 from Minerva Coins and Jewelry and a $1,000 from the Saratoga County Republican Committee. He also has a list of unitemized: one for $4,019 from June and another for $500 even from April. The latter seems a little odd to me, since they are usually aggregate numbers from small donations or transfers...

William McTygue started with nothing earlier this year and raised about the same amount as Scirocco between January and July. Most of it came in small contributions, though there were two $500 ones from Charles Morrison and Bonnie Design. There was also an unitemized donation from July for $2,618.

Despite not having an opponent, Michele Madigan has raised a relatively substantial sum in the last six months. Her biggest single contributor was the Police Benevolent Association (She also has managed to get more cops hired, so you know…) with $1,000. She was the only candidate they contributed to. She also received a $445 contribution from Sheila A’Hearn.

She also received unitemized contributions of $245, $975 and $1,374, all on the same day in March.

If you are interested, visit the Board of Elections website and type in the name of the candidate you want to look at.  When the next screen comes up, you can look at all of the individual pieces of the candidate's fundraising committee.

For donations, scroll to the bottom and select the year you want. Then click "Get List" to see contributors that year.

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Wednesday, July 10

DA Reappointed to forensics commission

Saratoga County District Attorney James A. Murphy III has been reappointed to the 14-member Commission on Forensic Science, which handles developing a program of accreditation for forensic labs in the state, as well as developing minimum standards for the laboratories.

Murphy has been in the position since 2004 when he was appointed by Gov. George Pataki. He was then reappointed by subsequent governors, now including Andrew Cuomo.

"I am gratified that you have accepted this reappointment and I am confident you will continue to serve the people of New York with dedication and distinction," the governor said in a statement.

In the same statement, Murphy said: "I am honored to have been appointed to the Commission to ensure that we maintain the best practices for all the forensic science labs in New York State. Only by having state of the art labs, vigilant testing and retesting, and disciplined protocols can we ensure that evidence is properly examined and useful in criminal cases."

Back in May, when I found out he was on this commission, he was a good source for a story about crime labs in the state, particularly the State Police Crime Lab in Albany.

The rest of the board consists of:

Chair: Michael C. Green, Executive Deputy Commissioner
New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services

Kathleen Corrado, Ph.D., Director
Onondaga County Forensic Science Laboratories

New York State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D’Amico
Albany, New York

District Attorney William J. Fitzpatrick
Onondaga County

Brian J. Gestring, Director DCJS Office of Forensic Services
Albany, New York

Richard Jenny, Ph.D.
New York State Department of Health

Peter J. Neufeld, Esq.
New York City

Marvin E. Schechter, Esq.
New York City

Barry E. Scheck, Esq.
New York City

Marina J. Staji, Ph.D., Director of Toxicology Laboratory
Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in New York City

Ann M. Willey, Ph.D.
Chatham, New York

Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, MD, MPH
New York State Department of Health

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Tuesday, July 9

Case of the missing signs

Sound Off for July 9, 2013:
"I would like to know what happened to the 'Health, history and horses' sign that used to be on Church Street as you’re coming in to Saratoga from the west. It just disappeared about two months ago and I’ve called the police, city hall, and even Channel Six. Nobody knows. That sign belongs in Saratoga.

Sound off is an opportunity for readers to voice opinions anonymously. Callers have 30 seconds to sound off. Call 583-8713."
Today's Sound Off caller isn't the only one who has been wondering about where the "Health, History and Horses" signs that have disappeared from some of the  at the entryways to the city have gone to.

I've had a couple of inquiries as well about those on Church Street, Geyser and a couple others that have slipped my mind.

Well, mystery solved. DPW stole them!

To be fair, the signs they took down were pretty well dilapidated. The one pictured from Geyser Road, for example, has a baseball-sized hole in it. Others, Public Works Commissioner Anthony "Skip" Scirocco said, were rotting out.

"That was more embarrassing than not having a sign at all," he said, pointing to the hole (as pictured above). But he said the plywood material and cheap frames meant "they were never going to last for long."

Unlike the new signs, pictured here with Skip and City Artist "Extraordinaire" Philip Steffen.

They're made out of a composite aluminum with a honeycomb core and have 23 karat gold gilded lettering. They will hold up much better to the weather, as Steffen explains in these short videos.

The first is about why they chose new signs:

The second is about the reduction in maintenance. It also shows the flashy roses Steffen painted.

"The longevity of these signs will be two or three fold (what the wooden ones are)," Scirocco said. DPW will be phasing in the new signs as the older ones fall into disrepair. The cost is slightly more than the old signs, and also similar is the amount of time Steffen has to invest in each one.

"This is all hand-painted. It takes a long time," he said. But the signs should last years with only periodic touch-ups for the outlines of the letters, which are not gold.

So there you have it. Signs stolen by our own Department of Public Works.

Just remember this next time you call Channel Six, Sound Off caller.

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Monday, July 8

Arpei to make it official *Updated*

It's been quite some time since John Arpei was endorsed by the Saratoga Springs GOP to make a run for Commissioner of Accounts. A little more than a month after Arpei was endorsed and said he would make his announcement official within the week, he is prepared to make that announcement... within the week. 

Here is the brief announcement from the GOP:

"John Arpei will formally announce his candidacy for Commissioner of Accounts of the City of Saratoga Springs this Wednesday, July 10 at 12:30 pm in Congress Park near the veteran’s bricks.
Dave Harper
Chair, Saratoga Springs City Republican Committee"

This will make the first time since 2007 when he took office that Accounts Commissioner John Franck will have opposition.


I received another announcement about Arpei's announcement. This time from Debbie Harper (not sure if or what the relationship is to Dave Harper). This one had a little more personal flair.

"Long time resident, John Arpei is announcing his run for Commissioner of Accounts for the City of Saratoga Springs on his birthday. Wednesday, July 10th at 12:30 pm he will gather with friends, relatives and supporters at the Veteran’s Walk located in Congress Park. There, at his Father’s memorial brick he will declare his candidacy."

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