Friday, December 14, 2007

Holiday grab bag

Folks at the Saratoga County offices meandered down to the conference room this week for some cookies, coffee and the annual nondenominational politically correct holiday grab-bag celebration. With the plastic garland hung and the falling from the sky, there’s celebration to be had down at the Ballston Spa offices, especially now that the County Supervisors are again boasting their property taxes as the lowest in the land.

So dig into those spritz cookies and Russian tea cakes, grab a cup of the semi-burnt coffee from its roaster and gather round for the handouts. There’ve been a lot of them this week that have undoubtedly make the coming holiday a merry one for several individuals.

Taking the first plunge into the grab bag was Saratoga Eagle Sales and Services, which plucked out a sweet $1.3 million tax break. Even though Saratoga Eagle doesn’t technically work for the county or even in it yet, the Saratoga County Industrial Development Agency felt it fit to invite them out for the grab bag event, which they rightly saw as the tipping point to steal…er…lure the beer distributor from Queensbury in neighboring Warren County.

So why wheel three exits down the Northway to a city where land and taxes are at a premium? Well, it starts with a five-year tax exemption on their new $12 million warehouse worth an estimated $180,000 per year. Then it continues with an assessment on the warehouse and 27 acres of land that will be frozen at $7.8 million for five years. And to put a happy little candied cherry on top, IDA officials even threw in a one-time exemption from sales and mortgage tax worth about $385,000.

Of course, it’s a bit scrooge-like of Saratoga County to cut millions worth of tax breaks to “bring jobs” a whopping 20 miles across the border and out of a town that could really use the. Needless to say, county officials aren’t expecting any holiday cheer from their neighbors to the north.

Next up for the grab bag was Sheriff James Bowen, who reached deep and came up with the funding he needed to put another pair of half-baked deputies out on Saratoga County’s thoroughfares. In an 11th hour budget amendment, the recalcitrant regulator was provided $64,000 to hire one patrolman and another $49,476 for a dispatcher. This was after they already afforded the sheriff an additional deputy.

Were there an asshole…er…Grinch attending the nondenominational politically-correct holiday grab-bag celebration, it was Bowen. When the county supervisors balked at his original request for eight new employees, the sheriff simply threatened to end his office’s DARE program with local schools.

Now, say what you will about the effectiveness of the DARE program. But for those in elected office, it’s a political hot potato. There’s nothing ignorant parents like seeing more than a man in uniform zipping around middle schools in a spiffed-up drug bust-seized Camero, preaching to the children about the dangers of marijuana, the gateway substance. And anyone that would willingly allow Bowen to pull the plug on DARE could expect such a move to haunt them during the next election cycle.

The big winner this year was Waterford Supervisor and Water Authority Chairman John Lawler, who finally got what every Republican in the county had been trying to get for years: a decision-making Democrat in Saratoga Springs to express interest in the $67 million Hudson River pipeline. The city’s apparent interest may give the county what it needs to convince the state Department of Environmental Conservation into transferring the pipeline’s permits to the cash-strapped water authority, which recently borrowed $6 million from the county to keep itself fiscally solvent.

County engineers apparently drew up plans to include hook-in joints along the county water line, allowing the city to tap in at a later date. The decision to include these joints was apparently made during a meeting “facilitated” by City Attorney Michael Englert, who was Mayor Valarie Keehn’s first appointment after she won office in 2005.

Lawler’s revelation was a bit shocking to everyone across the board, including most city officials. Only a week prior, the city was granted the legal clearance it needed to push forward with their project to tap Saratoga Lake. But at least one city official –a certain lame-duck mayor named Keehn –was not surprised by the decision.

For months, Keehn was rumored to be working with lake residents in their fight against the city’s project. Though she publically denied such allegations –most notably during a verbal fracas that broke out between her and Gordon Boyd at the Democratic primaries in September –she’s done nothing to prove otherwise.

In fact, her unwavering support for Skip Scirocco, the Public Works commissioner-elect, and her undying hatred for soon-to-be banished fixture Tom McTygue might be proof enough of her tacit support of the county plan. And if there’s a Democrat in Saratoga County to have on board with the plan, it’s the one with a string-pulling husband working as an attorney for the DEC.

Rounding out the grab bag line was Barbara Lombardo, the Saratogian’s entrenched managing editor. The pickings were pretty slim by the time she stepped up to the bag and hoisted out a pair of embarrassing corrections for Thursday’s paper. As she’s certainly grown custom to doing lately, Lombardo needed to rewrite an article clarifying one that basically got all of the important facts wrong.

In this case, it was the article indicating the city’s interest in the county’s water plan. First, The Saratogian reported that Lawler had documentation of the interest. This was wrong, Lombardo stated. Then, the paper claimed the city’s engineers were under the direction of Keehn’s office. This was also dead wrong, Lombardo continued.

And to throw a bit of lemon juice in an already gaping wound, the managing editor misspelled Lawler’s name throughout the corrective article –though this error is somewhat forgivable when taken in context with the others. Yes Barb, without your reading glasses those O’s do sometimes look like E’s.

20 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you see that Andrew Bernstein plagiarized your "Where in the world is Chief Moore?" headline today?

11:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chief Moore earned his vacation. How about you? What have you earned? Chief Moore helps people year round. Who have you helped? Think hard. I know you can convince yourself that you have a worthwhile contribution to society. Maybe should stop blowing smoke up people's asses and get a job.

5:31 AM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...

By 'you,' I'll take for granted you mean me, to which I'll respond that I'm in a similar field as the esteemed Chief Moore. Feel free to see what field this is by checking my profile.

Now, the chief certainly earned some vacation time. Thirty four days is an awful lot of vacation time, although not necessarily an unprecidented ammount. Were Moore to take all of this time off in a row and given he also gets holidays off, he could literally spend the day after the election in November off until the New Year and STILL have three days to burn. Now that's the type of guy I want running my police force.

So maybe you should stop smoking whatever drugs your on and stop sucking posterior and take a look at the realities of the situation. I wouldn't have a problem with the dude's vacation time had he not just crawled away with a huge settlement from the city for a bullshit case that he would have never won, but would have cost the city twice the cash it would have cost to settle. Suck on that ass, put it in your pipe and smoke it.

10:47 AM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...

And yes, I did see that rip-off. I'll have to engage in a chat with Barb over this wanton disregard for iSaratoga's intellectual property. But you can't blame Bernstein for the headline when it was more than likely the work of copy editors –who smartly visit this site on a semi-regular basis. Either way, I’m deeply humbled in a sense by their coming here for such ideas.

7:51 AM  
Anonymous Andrew Bernstein said...

Horatio, thanks for backing me up. However, I'm embarrassed to say that the theft was mine. Your title was stuck in my head when I wrote the story, and put it at the top of my word document as a subject line when I wrote the story... then I forgot to delete it when I filed the story. From there, my guess is that the copy desk mistook my subject line for a suggested head, and left it. After all, it is a great headline. I'm very sorry for the transgression. I can only hope that you'll forgive me some day.

3:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yo lazybones... where the hell is the next blog entry? Feed the masses with your misanthropic musings, oh wretched bringer of pain!

12:56 PM  
Blogger Scoop said...

Man if this keeps up, we better put Horatio's picture on some milk cartons.

6:31 AM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...

Sorry for the week-long absences folks. While venturing out to a non-denomination irreligious holiday celebration, I happened to fall head first into a trough of bourbon-laced eggnog suspiciously left in my path of travel (I’m looking at you, Mayor Keehn). After remaining submerged for several days in this valuable holiday commodity, I was brought back to semi-consciousness by the glowing hue of a nearby television airing reruns of Three’s Company.

Five days later and minus a substantial amount of brain cells, I awoke with a crippling case of writer’s block, likely induced by the combination of too much milk product, a somewhat bloated liver and the zany antics of Mr. Furley.

Needless to say, it’s been a long strange trip. But now that this unhealthy chapter of my life has passed, I can get on with typing up a veritable backlog of vitriol onto this semi-daily diatribe. Keep reading, folks; there's plenty more to come. And Mayor Keehn, I’ve got my eye on you.

9:07 AM  
Blogger shotinthedark said...

Horatio,

Your last comment makes a great case for legalizing pot. Of course, all things in moderation also helps.

3:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think you're repressing you deepest feelings for the mayor

10:16 AM  
Anonymous demroc said...

demroc said:
the idea of where the tee's, in the county pipeline should go, came from the engineers dept, not the mayors office. this was an incorrect fact reported in the saratogian. if you think so little of the saratogian, it seems like you might want to check their facts before transferring them here. engineers decided where to put them not englert, but just like tommy you won't let facts get in the way of pissing on the mayor.
also before you stated that keehn fired billy from the planning board, that is also inaccurate his term was already over and expired. just like the yankees didn't fire joe torre.

10:33 AM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...

Demroc,

Longtime, no fruitless argument; I was rather hoping you got swallowed up with the tail-end 2007. But if you insist on getting your facts wrong and then posting them here, I will surely need to point such instances out. DPW Director William McTygue is RETIRING; which is something that I learned about after the election. He has a hired position, not an appointment. I’ve mulled blogging over this impending retirement, but figured I’d wait until Skip Scirocco hires someone new. The name “Joe O’Neill” comes to mind.

And speaking of facts, do get yourself a pair of reading glasses before suggesting mine are wrong. Did you or did you not read my blog entry, SPECIFICALLY pointing out the Saratogian’s folly regarding the T-joints. I no more trust what is printed in there as gospel than I believe the nonsense proffered by the outgoing mayor’s supporters, present company included.

There’s been a long standing notion that Keehn was at times helping the lake residents fight the city’s plan. Whether this was Keehn trying to garner election support, her giving McTygue the finger or simply her being the “people’s mayor” and trying to help laymen organize, it went directly against her 2005 position of wholeheartedly supporting the lake option.

Is it a coincidence Englert was at the meeting where the decision to place the T’s was made? Perhaps; it is a commonsense move for a municipality that isn’t sure where there future water source will be derived from. However, the city council was resolute in tapping the lake, which would provide a more than ample source of water to supply both the city and every municipality around it, according to studies. In this case, Englert’s presence at a decision-making meeting looks a bit suspicious when the DPW commissioner, the deputy and the director are all absent.

I don’t mind arguing with you over things where you bring insight. This is not one of those instances. Happy New Year. Pull up a bourbon and drink some sense into that skull of yours.

6:05 AM  
Anonymous demroc said...

facts, i like the lecture about facts, only you left them out of your argument. fact is the city engineers decided where to put the t's in. they work under the directive of the comm. of public works. It's actually in the charter.
Paragraph one: billy hasn't announced a retirement. in an earlier post you suggested that she fired him from the planning board. when in fact she just didn't reappoint him after his term expired. and the joe oniell thing is just pure speculation and wishful thinking on your part. (stemming from one of your incorrect predictions)if it happens you'll pull the i told you joe did this for the job in a heart beat. but since billy hasn't said he is retiring, they won't hire 2 people for the job.
also long standing notions don't qualify as facts, and you can guess and wonder about why she did it, but far from factual. looks like you're still suffering from you post holiday hangover. and maybe be a bit more specific with the meeting in which englert was there. isn't it normal procedure for the city attorney to overlook these kinds of things.
PS about that lake thing, how much will it actually cost to build, what will 1000 gallons of water cost? if it's going to supply the surrounding areas, isn't that the reason why most people don't like the county plan?
one more thing you're wrong about, i'm not a val keehn supporter, i'm a skip scirocco supporter. there's a bit of a difference.

4:13 PM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...

Demroc,

Step away the bourbon, dude. Bad advice on my part; my bad. The New Year is here and it’s time to add an ounce of logic to your twisted way of thinking.

FACT: The city engineers and the city attorney attended a meeting the Brothers’ McTygue openly shunned. FACT: The result of that meeting was that the county decided to put in T-valves. Now, what actually transpired at that meeting is only known by the people who attended. In fact, it would be interesting to see if there was a transcript of that meeting. Perhaps a FOIL is in order.

And no, if you’re asking the opinion of someone who’s been through a fair share of municipal meetings, it’s not normal for the city attorney to be at such a discussion, especially seeing as though the DPW commissioner, deputy commissioner and director were ALL absent.

So let’s move on from here. I’m really not sure what you’re talking about regarding Bill McTygue. Of course he wasn’t “fired” from the planning board; that’s impossible under municipal law. His term was up, it’s well documented. What I’m talking about is his job as director, which is protected under contract and, which I happen to know, he’s planning to retire from. Will he announce it to the fucking Saratogian? Probably not. So if you’re looking for your “gospel” word from that rag, keep on waiting; I’ll come back to you in a few years.

Long standing notions? To which do you refer? That Valerie Keehn deliberately tried to fuck the city’s efforts to tap the lake? I apologize as I was unaware this was a “long-standing notion.” But if that’s the case, then I’ll retort: Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, especially when it comes to the former mayor and her efforts to do just about everything in her power to undermine McTygue.

Scirocco supporter, Keehn supporter. There's a difference? The way some of the folks here spoke prior to the election, I got the impression they were two peas in a pod. Again, my bad.

Regarding the efforts to tap the lake: I’ve always said the city doesn’t need more water, as the Volkswagen now maintains (let’s see how long that holds up). Look back in the archives of this blog and you’ll come to understand this.

What McTygue was trying to do was build a nest egg for the city, through which it could build larger structures and provide for development in the surrounding municipalities. He saw the lake option as a way the city could earn an extra buck –one the county had been angling to make for decades –which could be used as a revenue source long into the future (see: lower taxes). And to be honest, his idea was probably the most cost-effective one to provide plenty of water for all the areas surrounding the city, were it not for the completely ludicrous fear mongering spurred by the county Republicans, of which your candidate was an integral part.

The county water source is abysmally expensive and one based on the notion that Saratoga Springs will eventually be pulled into it (see: T-joints). Even disregarding the idea that it will prompt untold development among Northway bordering towns, it’s also ripping up a fair amount of forest just to get the thing in the ground.

Fiscally AND environmentally speaking, the best option is none of the above. But if given a choice of one or the other, the lake was the best method to provide for the area long into the future and without having one iota of impact on property values there (see: the number of properties affected by the county plan and the result of the easements on their values).

Whether you honestly believe the city needs a new water source is a matter of opinion. But one way or another, a water line was going to go in somewhere. In my opinion, the bottom line is who makes the buck when the tap is turned. And frankly, I’d rather that buck get pumped into the city than Jasper Nolan’s band of tricksters.

As always, I whole-heartedly disagree with everything you foist as fact.

10:52 PM  
Anonymous trout21 said...

Tom McTygue may or may not have wanted to bring in additional money through selling water but the overwhelming hard information supports that the city needs to find a new source of water.

I strongly recommend to the readers of this blog that they check the decision issued byt the Appellate Division Third Judicial Department of the State Supreme Court. This opininion over turned the decision issued by Judge Thomas Nolan. These decisions arose out of a challenge issued by the Staratoga Lake Improvement District and others trying to disqualify the city's Environmental Impact Study which is the basis for the city's application to utilize Saratoga Lake.

In a unanymous decision the justices reaffirmed all the principle items put forward by the city as to why we should tap Saratoga Lake. Specifically, the justices rejected SLIPD's argument that the city had manipulated the figures used to show that the Saratoga Lake option was more cost effective. The Justices dismissed SLIPD's argument that the city did not properly consider the "no action" alternative re water. The justices, in reviewing the DEC reports (including the 1988 study) affirmed that the reservoir's water quality was in serious decline and that the increasing demands for water would only further exacerbate the problem.

Missing from the decision but just as important is the question of what the city would do in the event of a 100 year draught. According to the modeling done by Barton and Loguidice such an event would exhaust our reservoir. Even the SLIPD people have not questioned this. What they have said is that in an emergency the city could run a temporary line to the lake. It remains to be seen if that would even be feasible but the facts are clear that prudent planning should include replacing Loughberry Lake with Saratoga Lake.

2:46 PM  
Anonymous demroc said...

dem roc said:
well simply marvelous. a simple welcome back would've done.
first i'll address the fact that the city engineers were there. they work under the directive of the public works. blame game continues. the engineers had never talked to the mctygues ever about this issue? I'm sure tmac relayed to the engineers what he wanted. if you're suggesting that the engineers acted in some rogue fasion then i'd like to see a little proof of this.
in a previous post you stated that val keehn fired billy from the planning board and because of that, it was ok for tommy to treat the mayor like shit. you said that was the opening salvo in their war and the dem's problems started there. not my words they were yours.(not verbatim) i was only clarifying. i actually just wanted to talk about the yanks.
and of course billy is going to retire. we all retire at some point. would you like to tell us all a more specifec date. i can tell you it won't happen within the year. he needs to finish putting in his time so he can collect his full retirement. besides i'm not sure what that has to do with the cost of earl grey in hong kong. and which joe oniel are you talking about, jr. or sr. Sr. has already done the job and seems like he'd be qualified.
the long standing notion!!! do you pay attention to what you write? you chastized me for not having any facts, then started waving your arms like a lone survivor on a desert island, drawing attention to all the facts you provide in your posts. but i simply pointed out that long standing notions and long shot speculation does not qualify as fact. these articles are generally well researched and written, however at times it stoops to the level of dear abbey or perhaps at times matches the gossip of a local bingo hall. (mostly when mentioning local politics.)
i never said you said anything about the water. my only problem about it was excatly what you said. but instead of coming out and telling it like it was, (we could sell water and make money), he allied himself with groups of people who oppossed the county plan. the anti sprawl crowd esp. so on one hand he had keyrouze down at the county saying we didn't want this big water facility because it was going to spread urban sprawl up and down the northway corridor, and on the other he has a secret plan to be the counties purveyor of waterwhich would bring sprawl to the northway corridor. the same problems which exist with the county plan exist with the city plan. now the people out to the lake don't want it, can't say that i blame them. at what point was honest tom going to come out and announce this revenue maker to everyone. i don't think we really need one i was merely asking the question to see if someone might know. the million dollar question is going to be what is the cost per 1000 gallons for the city plan. if someone heard a price i would be curious to know what it is. the only way we could afford such a big expenditure is to sell the water. which i think we should do. but it will piss a lot of people off.
and so lame with the fear mongering thing. your guy got stompped not because of fear mongering but because he was an idiot. (politically speaking) people were just sick of the antics and didn't trust him. but i know you'll blame the other people for it. are you sure you've stopped drinking from new years?

4:10 PM  
Anonymous trout21 said...

According to the DEIS and supported by the Appellate Court's decision the cost per thousand gallons of Saratoga Lake water would be $1.34 as compared to the county's which would be $1.96.

It is possible that Tom McTyue hoped to sell water. Such action in the end would be subject to intervention by the city council which if this was attempted to the point it would effect sprawl, would be quite the hot issue.

There is little question that Tom McTygue failed to respond shrewdly to the provocations by Keehn.

It is possible to support the need for the city to develop Saratoga Lake without endorsing the way McTygue dealt with Keehn or supporting the use of Saratoga Lake to provide water for sprawl. At least the decision on the use of Saratoga Lake would be subject to a decision by the city rather than the county. I think that the defeat of the Andersons (Exit 14)reflects the fact that there is the real possibility of mobilizing successfully against fragrant sprawl.

1:31 PM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...

Demroc,
Where are my manners? Welcome back, friend. Now allow me to debunk your reasoning. First, I’ve NEVER said or implied Bill McTygue was “fired” by Keehn. He was booted from the planning board, an act which was quite clearly the gauntlet being thrown down by madam mayor and a tangible turning point in their political relationship.

And if you wanted to talk about the Yanks, then why have we been plowing down this tangent for the past four months or so?

Now, I’ll reiterate my previous statement: There are only a handful of people who know what happened leading up to, during and after that meeting; without proper minutes, the public will never know. Like I said, perhaps a FOIL is in order. Outside of some record, everything else is just hearsay.

The county obviously has a vested effort in proving the city wanted the T-joints, as the simple suggestion could be enough to sway the state into transferring the permits to a water authority that is tenuous at best. If the county can prove the city wants water, then they certainly have a contingency plan if AMD doesn’t come charging in to the rescue with the chip fab plant.

As for Bill McTygue, the dude’s in his early 60s and several years past the typical civil service retirement age. I’d offer to you that he could retire whenever he wants. As I’ve said in the past, Tom McTygue was trying to secure a nest egg for the city; perhaps his brother is holding on to see this through.

As for the sprawl argument, it’s a bunch of shit either way; there’s a lot of hypocrisy on either side. But with the city plan, there’s a lot less water being supplied and thus, a lot less sprawl. And economically speaking, the city plan was just a hell of a lot more viable until everyone on the lake started suing.

The dollar amount listed above is the one I recall --$1.35 per 1,000 gallons. It’s a lot better than the county’s travesty, but with limits. The amount of water the city could draw from the lake wouldn’t be nearly enough to erect Clifton Park North, like the supervisors and a host of development interests are presently planning in Moreau and the surrounding area.

And allow me to correct you yet again: My “guy” did not get stomped. In fact, I don’t have a guy (or a gal for that matter). I’ve searched long and hard for a politician to believe in only to find empty shills that ultimately do things I vigorously disagree with (in the case of McTygue, see the sale of the Lillian’s parking lot).

With that caveat, I’ll also add that the beating some politicians take doesn’t nearly fit their misdoings. The only reason I defend McTygue at all is that there was (and remains) a vocal minority of people who wanted to paint him as the antichrist. While he ain’t an angel, he sure as shit ain’t the caricature some paint him out to be.

As for “your guy” Scirocco, we’ll let time tell his legacy. I’ve got my fair sum of doubts but I’m willing to give every politician a spin. But let’s just say I’m not optimistic.

In closing, you're right with one regard: I haven't stopped drinking. In fact, I'm digesting your most recent missive with a brimming glass of merlot. Sometimes is necessary to wash down tripe with something palatable.

6:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

demroc said: well it's good to see some holiday cheer. but merlot is so boring, why not try a barollo or something from the rhone valley. but at least you don't drink chardonnay or pinot gris.
quick comment on the water:
ok we're going to spend 20 million dollars to build a water facility. then turn around and pay for the water at $1.35/ 1000 gallons. on top of the 20 million. the city water and sewer rates are already going to increase this march, and the water budget is $2million in the hole. and the catch is we can't sell it to anyone for fear that that city or town may conrtib to sprawl. wake up, the only way we could ever afford such a capital expenditure, is by selling it.
I'm pretty sure you said keehn fired billy in an earlier post, but at the very least you most certainly implied she "got rid of billy". see you have a way of trying to shade things without really coming out and saying them.
much like the statement about the engineers. you made it sound as if val keehn sent englert in to undercut tommy at the meeting, when in fact you're not sure what happened because there are no minutes. when you get the minutes to the meeting let me know.
as for bill mctygue i'm not the one who said he was going to retire. i could care less. i'm just pointing out that while you're busy correcting everyone you never respond with factual information. ( in regards to the local political scene) very often they are misbegotten notions and conjecture, much like the segment you admitted to being conjecture here. you have no idea what happened at the meeting but that won't stop you from coming up with an unlikely scenario. it must've been the mayor int the conference room with a candlestick holder. talk about fear mongering. no wonder your guy got his ass jacked to the curb by the small minority of people who were so clearly fed up with his bullshit. it must be the same small minority of dems that supported the mayor in the primary as well.
don't worry spring training is right around the corner, can't wait to see that 60 minutes with wallcae and clemens.

4:31 PM  
Anonymous Born On The Fourth said...

I thought Jim Kunstler was smart.Why was it so important for the special % Roohan/Bonacio to Nader Keehn with Boyd? The people havn't spoke yet, we are to busy working to pay our new property tax's. A lot of us feel this special % has begun to create another Lake George village out of downtown. Why does the new ADK Trust building on Church St. look so stellar and Bonacios Railroad Place looks like a Troy housing project? You know its state law for every new bedroom created, a developer needs to add 1.5 parking spots in a seperate location. Developement and progress are very good for our city but not all the same product, a second and third vacation condo for the 2%. The MiniChopper to go by June to another condo building is further building the foundation for parking problems for downtown business. Where did the couple from Florida go that proposed a movie theatre franchise on Lilian's lot. Did handsome McTygue scare them away? Do you remember seeing a good band downtown or sitting next to a mom with dreadlocks at dinner? How about the antiques and vintage clothes on Caroline St? or a great pizza.Hopefully Scott Johnson does.

10:19 AM  

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