Blogs > Saratogian Newsroom

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

Tuesday, August 27

A STAR is born

Well this is certainly a positive campaign. 

In his first press release since announcing his candidacy for Accounts Commissioner about a month and a half ago, John Arpei issues a press release reminding people to re-register for their Basic STAR Property Tax Savings. 

Here is the release, copied and pasted (though I removed his cell number):

PRESS RELEASE:                Please release immediately 8/27/13
CONTACT:           John Arpei, candidate for Commissioner of Accounts for the City of Saratoga Springs
                             Candidate for the Republican Party, Conservative Party and Write in Candidate on the
                                Independence Party line.
                                Cell: ---------------

John Arpei, candidate for Commissioner of Accounts for the City of Saratoga Springs on the Republican and Conservative lines would like to make homeowners aware that now is the time to re-register for their  Basic STAR Property Tax Savings progam.
Homeowners can do so by visiting the Tax Department website at or by calling (518)457-2036.
It is important for them to re-register before December 31st, 2013 and they may do so now. More Information is available at

Labels: , ,

Thursday, August 22

For god's sake stop this

I don't understand why people leave their children and animals in hot cars. It's ignorant and dangerous.

This story out of Mineola highlights that people STILL do this. Think about how hot cars are when you get into them on a hot or even a warm day. As the Nassau County police investigator says, "cracking a window on a 90-degree day doesn't do much."

This guy says it was an accident. In this case in 2009, it was deemed an accident, but still inexcusable. 

Here's a video I saw from Weatherbug Meteorologist Jacob Wycoff on the Washington Post earlier this summer. It is compelling and illustrates how dangerous it can be, even, as he points out, on a day that is not particularly hot.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, August 21

Name dropping

You wouldn’t think Bette Midler and the Presbyterian-New England Congregational Church on Circular Street would ever make it into the same conversation with former Arizona Congresswoman Gabriele Giffords, but last week that’s just what happened. 

Earlier this summer, the Bette Midler Family Foundation had its $10,000 check returned and the Spa City church got its $250 check back.

“It was a surprise,” said Julie Campbell, office manager for the PNECC, saying there wasn’t a lot of explanation about why the church’s contribution was rejected. 

The CPI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative news agency based in Washington, D.C. 

They reported last week that Midler’s family foundation, the church and another family organization all had their money returned because 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations are not permitted to contribute money to political action committees.  

“These are not illegal contributions for us to take, but it’s our understanding that the donations are not appropriate for the donors to make,” Americans for Responsible Solutions Communication Director Katie Hill told the CPI via email. “Thus, we are processing refunds, which will be disclosed on our next report.”

Campbell said the church was not aware of restrictions in donating to PACs when their Social Concerns Committee decided to make the contribution. 

She said the PNECC would be sending their $250 elsewhere. 

“There is always good use for it,” she said. 

CPI reported that Midler (also known as The Divine Miss M, according to that most reputable source Wikipedia) opted to cut a $10,000 personal check to Americans for Responsible Solutions, thereby alleviating the problem.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, August 15

The Paladino bump

In case you were wondering who former gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, who lives in Buffalo, likes for the position of Saratoga County Sheriff, it's Jeff Guildersleeve:

“Jeff Gildersleeve is a man with integrity and has the law enforcement experience necessary to serve as an exceptional sheriff in Saratoga County. I’m also supporting Jeff because of his strong stance in opposition to the unconstitutional ‘SAFE’ Act, and while this is Jeff’s first time running for any political office, he’s brought with him fresh ideas and a new direction to bring this sheriff’s department into the 21st Century,” Paladino said in a statement released by Guildersleeve Thursday. 

Thanking him for the endorsement, Guildersleeve called Paladino a "thought-leader in the Republican Party and someone who isn’t afraid to say what he thinks and stand for what he believes in regardless of the establishment’s position.

"This is my first time running for office, but what I’ve learned from speaking with voters is that they’re tired of the status quo, they don’t want their 2nd Amendment rights trampled, and they want a voice in who serves as their next sheriff,” said Gildersleeve.

Think we can get Elliot Spitzer or John Faso to weigh in next? They don't live here either, after all. (though Faso, according to Wikipedia, lives in Kinderhook, so he's probably the closest). 

The question is, how much of a bump will this get Guildersleeve in the election?

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, August 14

Of all the weird events at the track...

In addition to Fabulous Fillies Day and the Sizzling Hot Pink Saratoga Hat Luncheon, the New York
State Department of Health is putting on a little display and exhibit at the Saratoga Race Course.

Per the press release:  

"Newborn Screening Exhibit: The New York State Department of Health will display an exhibit on the importance of newborn screening at Saratoga Race Course. Provided by the Association of Public Health Laboratories, the national exhibit reveals the scientific discoveries that enable mass, rapid and accurate testing of newborns. The exhibit will be on display at the event tent on Wednesday and outside the Jockey Silks Room on Thursday before returning to the event tent again on Friday."
So in case you are visiting the track and think, "should I have gotten my newborn screened for various diseases before leaving the hospital?" this display will explain why you should have.

Now go bet.

Labels: ,

Friday, August 9

Taiwanese Glove Puppetry — 台灣布袋戲

Here is a little supplemental information on Taiwanese Glove Puppets I received from a woman I met at International Day at Saratoga Race Course.

Yuchi Young was part of the Taiwanese American Association in Albany booth under the tent at International Day. She sent me a brief synopsis on Glove Puppets, something I was intrigued by.

Anyway, I thought it was interesting, so here is what she sent me:

Photos by the Se Den Society
Glove puppetry has been part of the traditional folk culture in Taiwan for more than 200 years. Originated from China’s southeast coastal area of Chuan-Chou, Fu-Chian Providence in the 17th century and it is a form of popular entertainment performed mostly during local temple festivals, birthday or ground-breaking celebrations on a small elevated stage. During 1980s, puppet shows became popular in Taiwan as prime-time TV program series. 

Measured about 30 cm in height, the puppet is made of wooden head and cloth body. They are controlled by three fingers; pointer for the head, thumb and middle finger for the hands. Master puppeteers are able to manipulate puppets into performing extremely complex actions, such as fighting with weapons.

The role of each puppet, such as male or female and gentleman or warrior, is expressed by its particular head and facial design, dress adornment and color. The scriptures of puppet shows are usually adopted from popular old Chinese love or war stories. They have contributed to the preservation of social values and heritage.

Labels: ,

Thursday, August 8

Cause of Woodlawn fire still under investigation, despite reports

Saratoga Springs Police Lt. John Catone is adamant that the cause of the fire that destroyed a century-old building and displaced 39 people is still under investigation and that reports that it was an electrical fire (as the Times Union reported Tuesday and Saratoga Wire initially reported as the suspected cause of the fire) are false.

He sent out this message to reporters in his system this morning to emphasize that point: 
"Some of you have reported that the cause of the Woodlawn Ave Fire is electrical. I would like to inform you that your information is NOT correct and by reporting such information you are actually hampering the investigation. When the time comes and we complete the investigation there will be a joint press release or press conference in which myself and the Fire Chief will discuss the investigation. I have no time limit in which the investigation will be finished. That rumor has been floating around for a while. When I interviewed people after the fire they, too, said they heard it was electrical but Catone denied it then as well."
The TU doesn't cite any sources but "authorities" at one point and "police" at another. 

Saratoga Wire cites Catone citing residents and says "they suspect" that it was electrical, but I don't know if that is what police or residents suspected. *The Wire also said it was only a "working hypothesis."* 

In the wake of the fire, I was told by a couple of residents the electrical issue was what they had heard, too. It seemed to be the rumor running around. 

I talked to Catone about it yesterday and he wouldn't say what the cause was and said it is too early to tell. He said the county Fire Origin Team and Investigator Jack Barney were working on the case.

When I asked him if foul play was suspected he said "We think we know, but I'm not saying one way or the other."  

Dale Willman of Saratoga Wire came to The Saratogian office to argue with my characterization of what he initially wrote about the cause of the fire. 

He said I took the statement out of context and they didn't call it an electrical fire. 

Here is the full paragraph:

"Catone says because of the way witnesses have described the start of the fire, they suspect it may have been caused by an electrical problem. However he says that is only a working hypothesis right now. The building where the fire began is so damaged they will be tearing what remains down later Sunday, so he says they may never be able to determine with certainty the final cause."
So... fair enough. Willman couched it saying it was a suspected cause of the fire and only a working hypothesis. In this post I originally wrote that Saratoga Wire reported it WAS an electrical fire.

I've changed that because Willman is right (much to my chagrin) they wrote it was the "suspected" cause, not the cause, and I should have included that word in the original post's description.

My mistake.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, August 7

Going but not for good

So everyone who reads this blog knows, I will be absent from the newspaper for about four months — including through the upcoming election — starting in September.

I recently enlisted in the New York State Army National Guard and am going down to Georgia for my basic training. I may be back at the newspaper for about a week in late December, but otherwise I won't be back until late January or early February.

Just wanted everyone to hear it from me, and since I just had a conversation with two politicians, two reporters and a prolific city blogger about it, I figured I should probably get on the record with it here.

Monday, August 5

Public Safety Tuesday night

Executive Session at the City Council meeting Tuesday night will have discussions of a few things related to real estate in the city, including the status of two different land swaps Public Safety Commissioner Christian Mathiesen is looking at.

He would not say what the properties were or why he was interested in them, saying he would discuss them in the future but "this is definitely not the appropriate time."

From what I've heard, it may have something to do with property on the East side of the city, near Saratoga Lake, where residents have expressed concern about the need for a fire or ambulance station.

Here is a segment from an article I wrote last October, when Mathiesen said he was eying some land:

"Mathiesen said he has focused in on an area of the Eastern Plateau where a station could be located, but he would not divulge where because his office is currently looking at properties for acquisition by the city.He said with 28 square miles of city to cover, “you can make an argument for more than three stations,” but “the first step is to acquire the land.”

“I’ve been putting up with that first step for four years now,” (George Shulof, president of the Interlaken Homeowner’s Association) said. “I’m hopeful, but it’s taken too long.”

Only a small percentage of the emergency call volume goes to the Eastern Plateau, but Mathiesen said most of the responses from the new station would go to the eastern side of the city and to the Northway.
I'm told he is hoping to swap a city-owned parking lot for a piece of land on Route 9P. Mathiesen referenced "issues regarding the possible land swaps" Monday morning when asking to be added to the executive session.

The other land swap, I'm told, is that he may be looking at some kind of land swap with neighbors of the West Side Fire Station, but I've not heard any reasons why.

Also on the executive session, Accounts Commissioner John Franck will also be discussing an Article 7 proceeding — basically a lawsuit filed by someone grieving their assessment. They are usually filed by commercial or rental properties and can take years to settle.

We'll see if we actually hear anything in the open about any of that tomorrow night.

Labels: , , ,

Steps toward the Geyser Road Trail

After a decade of little activity on moving the Geyser Road Trail project forward, it looks like somebody kicked the city into high gear on the project this year.

It was in the Capital Improvement Project budget this year for an engineering study to get the project "shovel ready" in the hope that funding would come along like it did for the Spring Run Trail years ago. In that case, it was stimulus funds. In this case, it looks like they are hoping for some grant funding.

"It's been too long and we're finally moving forward," Mayor Scott Johnson said Monday morning at the City Council agenda meeting.

Tuesday night, the City Council will be voting to apply for a few different state grants for the $1.7 million project. The grants would each require the city to match up to $425,000, but Economic and Planning Director Bradley Birge said some of that could come out of the$150,000 that was applied to the engineering study.

If the city were approved for the grant, Birge said it would take about a year for the engineering and a season for construction.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, August 1

The tale of GreenBeard's Gold

There is buried treasure at the end of Victoria Lane, at least according to user GreenBeard.

I found it (the post, not the treasure) while I was scouring the website for a SeeClickFix issue to cover for the paper, which I have been having trouble with lately because any new posts are usually repeats of old ones, which I have covered (search Seeclickfix on The Saratogian website to see what I mean). I've repeated a few, but it usually gets the same response from the city.

If anyone has a SeeClickFix they would like for me to cover, let me know. I've searched the past few weeks for anything new to no avail, but perhaps there is something I've overlooked. Otherwise, keep posting your traffic gripes on the website.

Or post links about buried treasure on, though I can't promise anything. Here is a link to the post.

And here is my best rendering of what the map likely looks like:

Labels: , ,