Friday, April 27, 2007

What a twisted web we weave

Something is afoul in City Hall and it ain’t spilled hydrolic oil. With state Department of Environmental Conservation officers ripping up the floor of the city’s DPW garage off Division Street, Valerie Keehn continues to act smug –perhaps too smug –in the mayor’s office. Maybe that’s because the first-term dark horse mayor knows exactly what is going on.

Keehn and more specifically, Deputy Mayor Eileen Finneran, have in the works a power play to boot the brothers’ McTygue out of public office once and for all. The move would eliminate the two long-serving Department of Public Works officials and give the city’s faction of neoliberals the clean slate they were shooting for when they aimed their sites on changing the commissioner-style of government last year.

Besmirch the McTygues and you besmirch the old-school city Democrats, including names like Ken Klotz, Hank Kuczynski and most notably, mayoral hopeful Gordon Boyd. Ironically –or rather not so ironically –all of these figures fought against and were instrumental in defeating the Keehn-Finneran charter revision push. So to pave the way for a new Democratic Party in the city, this dynamic duo is leading a veritable coup to see that these fellows are on the outside looking in come November.

The first prong of this coup is to highlight the DPW’s failures with regards to operations; make them look like a pack of incompetent and bumbling boobs, with the king boob sitting in the director’s chair. The second prong is to characterize the department as a fiscal failure with the city with specific regards to their purchasing practices, thereby making the short-tempered commissioner out to be a sort of tax-dollar suck hole.

“[You've made] every effort and every attempt to make like someone’s doing something wrong,” a visibly irate McTygue told Keehn during the City Council meeting last week. “Ever since somebody [Boyd] announced they’re running for public office you’ve made every attempt to do that.”

See, the Saratoga Democrats have been divided ever since Finneran split from the party endorsement of Kuczynski for mayor to support Keehn, a fellow school teacher, in the 2005 election; McTygue as it’s been well publicized, staunchly supported the party’s endorsement. Finneran then waged an aggressive “grassroots” campaign to power Keehn past the primaries and onto the ballot, despite the candidate having no credentials whatsoever to be mayor.

In retribution, Keehn, most likely under the advice of Finneran, booted Bill McTygue off the planning board. One month later, she needled Public Safety Commissioner Ronald Kim –who Finneran also helped into office – into taking the former campaign manager on as his deputy, despite her utter lack of experience in running anything to do with police or fire departments. Tom McTygue railed out against the move, saying it smacked of Dreyer-like patronage; the rally cry fomented rebuke from newspaper editorial boards and forced Kim to abdicate his “choice” of deputies.

Two months later, Finneran’s name popped up again, when Nancy Ohlin mysteriously needed to step down from her charge as deputy mayor after needing ankle surgery. With nobody except McTygue to cry cronyism, Keehn quickly swept Finneran into what is in essence the full-time mayor’s seat, which carries an annual salary of more than $60,000.

Both Finneran and Keehn are connected in the state party. Or at least their husbands are. Keehn’s husband is a loyal party member and has nice channels through his job as an attorney with the DEC. He’s also worked closely with the Attorney General’s Office, under both the stewardship of Eliot Spitzer and Andrew Cuomo. And when Keehn stepped up to the plate in 2005, both Cuomo and Sptizer stepped up to give her support.

Finneran also has her ties in Albany, mainly through her betrothed, who works as a litigator for the state in Albany. Hubby Bill Murray –not to be confused with the actor’s namesake –most recently turned up as an “associate counsel” to none other than the state Comptroller’s Office.

But to think there’s a connection between a joint Attorney General-DEC investigation, the ongoing comptroller’s audit and a pair of spouses that happen to be involved with all three state agencies? Don’t be ridiculous. Or at least that’s what Keehn is insisting by telling The Saratogian that she would never “shut down half of the city" because she has “a political ax to grind.”

Well, that ax appears to be full control over the crown jewel of the upstate region’s cities and the grindstone looks suspiciously like Tom McTygue’s granite-hard head. And when there are influential people in Albany with their eyes on the city, shutting down the DPW for a few days to gain a bit of political mileage doesn’t seem like too bad of a move. This is especially the case when your sole accomplishment in office is passing a bull-shit “decency” pledge that no one in the city council abides by anyway.

On a side note, the Keehn administration has found an unlikely ally in David Bronner, perhaps the Spa City’s most notable blustering butthead, who has gone to great lengths to drag McTygue out of office ever since the commissioner advocated tapping Saratoga Lake as a drinking water source. The staunchly conservative anti-democrat was one of the complainers who allegedly complained to the DEC about illicit dumping, The Saratogian reported.

Ultimately, the proof will be in the pudding. If the Keehn-Finneran duo is right and the Brothers’ McTygue are running roughshod over the city, then maybe they’ll have a case to bring to the voters. What is more likely, however, is that this is indeed an elaborate ploy to shoot the moon and take out her opponents long in advance of the primaries next fall.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Horatio: Your speculalations about Mayor Keehn's supposed connections to the state government omitted the most obvious go-between - Ed Lindner, the one-time Democratic candidate for Saratoga Springs City Court Judge. Lindner was the brains of Keehn's 2005 mayoral election campaign (remember the front-page photo of Easy Ed hoisting a brew at Keehn's primary election victory party?). After Keehn unseated Republican Mayor Mike Lenz, she chose Lindner to chair the transition committee that selected Deputy Mayor Nancy Ohlin and recruited City Attorney Michael Englert, and most people believe it was Lindner who advised Keehn not to reappoint Bill McTygue to the Planning Board. At that time, Lindner was a top aide to then Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. Now, he's the Deputy Solicitor General for newly elected Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. If you're wondering who's Keehn's prime connection to the state government, it seems most likely that Lindner's the man.

5:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Check out the new McTygue video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oiG3-woeiGo

7:13 AM  
Blogger Les Clutter said...

What was interesting tonight is when Mark Muholland from Chan 13 was interviewing McTygue at his desk in his office at the DPW building there was an election district map behind him. I wonder if this is how he plows the streets and does the rest of his work?

5:06 PM  

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