Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Extreme Makeover: Public Safety Edition

It’s easy to goad folks into doing something they don’t like. Simply sprinkle a bunch of sugar over top an otherwise bitter idea before cramming it down the pipe. It works. Just ask Mary Poppins.

Undoubtedly, this was what all three developers were thinking when they recently submitted proposals for a new Public Safety block: Give them enough sugar to send them into diabetic shock so they never quite realize their sucking down a 50 pound bag of Denatonium salts. Hence their proposals for a Broadway-front cinema and a year-round farmers market, both ideas that are readily –even blindly –accepted by a very vocal component of city residents. And let’s not forget the appeal to the green sneakers with a quintessential mention of “green” or LEED-certified building standards

Meanwhile, they’re selling a plan that would drastically alter Saratoga Springs’ present landscape. In addition, they’re each adding a multimillion-dollar line-item to a city budget already dependent on shaky revenue sources and the annual fund balance. All three plans include more space than the police and courts need and two out of three propose financing the whole thing by accruing parking revenues over a prolonged-but-not-mentioned period of time.

Another element seemingly omitted from all three plans is the fate of the existing police station, a historic building about a quarter of the size of the most modest police station proposed by the developers. Or even the courthouse in City Hall, another large swath of space that would remain heated during the winters, air-conditioned during the summers and empty year-round.

But wait, there’s more. In following the city’s normally flawed request-for-proposal, the developers also made no mention of what the new public safety facility would cost to maintain. Sure, some include numbers like $2.2 million annually to lease. However, this figure probably doesn’t include the maintenance of the building or the utility costs it may incur.

Sure, these are rough sketches of plans that only include the cursory details. Still, these are decision-breaking questions that need to be answered before the city endeavors to contract such construction out to a private developer, especially before one builds a city-occupied structure that encompasses more than 56,000-square-feet.

Unfortunately, the public’s view is already obscured by the bells and whistles attached to each proposal. News of a cinema coming to Broadway lit up the Times Union blog with over-excited film fans salivating over the notion of dinner and a movie right here in the city proper. Then when the proposals were pitched Friday, the discussion swung over to the age-old talk about whether the city should charge for parking downtown, or if free parking is a god-given right in Saratoga Springs.

None of the discussion so far has focused on whether a city potentially facing a nearly 10 percent budget gap can afford a new public anything, much less a replacement for a building that is already serving its intended purpose, albeit somewhat marginally. Again, there is a failure among city officials to work within the boundaries of what they have at their disposal.

For instance, the city could easily sell all the property mentioned in the public safety proposals and accrue a massive windfall of cash. This funding could be set aside in an interest-earning fund devoted to improving the police department building. Meanwhile, several thousand could be invested into a study of the existing building and what can be done to improve its functionality. Private developers could then build retail, parking garages, cinemas and farmers markets to their hearts content –or as much as the market would dictate. Everyone wins.

Yet this sort of rational talk falls on deaf ears among the new public safety facility’s chief proponents; namely Commissioner Ron Kim, who is already planning the measurements for his new, Bonacio-built office. Hopefully, city residents realize these projects are obfuscating the real issues –the outlandish prospect of building such a structure during the worst economic recession in decades –before they end up biting into the lemon the City Council will soon be dangling before them.

59 Comments:

Anonymous Kyle York said...

Today's post proves that we're all prone to a feisty grumpy day every once in a while. Our host Horatio is human and this ornery oratory is proof. And he MAY even be proven right. But hey, I'd be a bitterly blogging Scrooge as well if I had to do an image search for a Mary Poppins photo.

First off is Financing. The Planners need it and the Public needs it and the Politicians need it and it’s out there in the low-hanging fruit called “Paid Parking.”

You have to start with that income stream or nothing gets built. You have to start there or local workers will continue to drive like demons as they tear through their two-hour tangos.

You have to start there or visitors will continue to bumble down Broadway, their heads on a swivel when they should be watching for pedestrians. You have to start there or our city will forever be held hostage by a DBA that is more committed to Horse & Buggy ambiance than Doing Business.

Having chosen to start there, do it with the broadest perspective, not piecemeal. Jobs done by halves are never done right. And only one Developer got it "right." By applying a LIFETIME of local knowledge, Sonny Bonacio addressed city parking/pricing with the attention to detail that only a LOCAL could integrate.

NO YOU DON'T HAVE TO BUY THE BONACIO PLAN!!! But if we award the BIG job to ANYBODY, let's offer them the Bonacio plan that reflects a real-world understanding of the difference between Franklin Street and Fifth Avenue.

Of course the City will never create a Municipal parking system. And no Parking company is ever going to parade before the Council with a PowerPoint presentation. By itself, parking is a pointless uphill endeavor.

That is the same problem with the small-minded scheme of piecemeal development. No private developer will purchase the Woodlawn lot and replace it with a glorious 2-level garage. To make it feasible, the builder would have to install parking meters. And thus, it would be doomed to failure in the LAND of the FREE... 2-hour parking.

The same problem confronts the next Ziegfeld with his or her plans for a Movie Palace... well, a small Cinematic Emporium on a small piece of Saratoga Emptiness. The Council and the citizenry would scream "MORE CARS!!! WHERE will they PARK?????"

Horatio, please let's be 20/20 about the "present landscape" you feel so sentimental about-- It is ALL PAVED PARKING, PATCHED & BROKEN ASPHALT.

The Municipal Lot. The High Rock Lot. The City Center Lot. The Collamer Lot. And while we're at it-- The Price Chopper Lot.

The smart way to go here is to opt for a comprehensive plan. Build what is needed with an eye on the Big Picture. The comprehensive approach provides the profit to subsidize a Public Safety facility built for the age of computers and the electric light. The same profit underwrites the assurance of adequate parking. Profit allows the well-selected placement of open space, the plazas and vest pocket parks that no single-building designer could justify.

The City is at a great turning point, a rare moment in time when we can trade Paved Grade for the Public Good. And done right, it will be a legacy, our legacy, one of enduring Public GREAT.

-Kyle York
SO Pedestrian

1:37 PM  
Blogger Faulkner said...

Stick a movie house downtown and build a monorail to Ballston Spa... and you should be all set.

4:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last nites city council meeting was anything but business like,instead it had all the earmarings of a pier six brawl.Skippy's band of city employees showed up to protest potenial job cuts and the $485,000 cut from the dpw budget.The meeting became very rowdy at one point, and it was quite clear many of the dpw employees had been drinking and the smell of alcohol was obvious.What was most interesting was ron kims behavior..he knew these drunks were going to be there but he did nothing to protect the public saftey of some members of the public, meanwhile out in the hall Michele Boxelys'(she's John Francks deputy) brother union vp tom mcgraw was cursing at a member of the general public because they had different opinion.These dpw people should be reminded they work for the people of Saratoga Springs and showing up at public meetings drunk will not be tolerated even if commissioner scirocco says it's ok.Should mobs and muscle rule the city,these dpw employees were duped into believing jobs would be lost when in fact dpw budget was actually increased over last years.

3:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great city council meeting last night..the meeting degenerated quickly into foulmouthed hollers from the dpw unit scareing most of the public,digusting.The worst part was when scirocco threated his fellow republican council members....wake up john herrick...hay hay ho ho skippy gotta go,let that be our battle cry john.

4:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paid parking isn't so bad. Most similar cities rely on it. We ain't little ole Saradoga no more.

The development proposals for the City lots didn't answer the questions of vacated space because it wasn’t asked. PS made it clear by omission that it wanted out of the present building leaving behind enough space for their underutilized Public Safety Inspection Department and whatever space was left would be fought over by the rest of the pigeons in the coop (watch out for the Economic Development expansion whose purpose, with four planners should be scrutinized this late in the game). Recognize too, that the new proposed digs are exclusively, a Police Department (and duplicitous Court facility) – waiting to be filled the old fashioned non code compliant way -- guaranteed employment security for the blue man family tree – most living in Wilton (immune from taxes).

The question never asked or answered was how large for how many officers and staff? What is the optimum size for this city? Could we have entertained the idea of electric hybrid units whose fifty miles on a charge to patrol 16 square miles would clearly have been more energy responsible? We’re not exactly the Highway Patrol here.

Say, hasn’t the PSC seemed fiscally conservative of late? Content enough with the budget (not to put on a show like PW) and concerned for the taxpayer’s plight, and no public tantrums about the failometer. Could it be that we suddenly woke up outside of the little myopic world of a co-opted post realizing that the world is anxiously awaiting the waves of the perfect economic storm whose tsunami is waiting to hit our little wonderland? Aligned with all those who ignored the signs last year hoping to gather the most nuts before the storm, could it be that the recent election and the unsettling reality that people even in this town are -- hurting, closing stores, not going out, worrying about taxes, school, food, maintenance and tuition bills, and that suddenly – room for 40 more PS staff may seem a bit selfish and out of line? The world is looking bleak to be crabbing about not enough especially that it comes at this time when it puts the hurt on your neighbors.

I think the Council fears the storm now. We're all holding our breath a little and hoping. Talk of cutting snowplowing and raking - are just the defiant sounds of organized union politics. Hey Bud, be thankful you have a good job – it’s not about you.

Time for Thanksgiving.

4:13 AM  
Anonymous what is the answer? said...

Kyle - this is not saying that I disagree with you, but just a question. Your statement "You have to start there or our city will forever be held hostage by a DBA that is more committed to Horse & Buggy ambiance than Doing Business." ... what do you think needs to be done to spur interest in shopping, dining, staying in Saratoga Springs? Won't metered parking deter people?

6:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A potential solution to the property tax problem and the capital budget would be a 1 point increase in the sales tax. Based on conservative projections this would generate about $6,000,000 a year. You could remove the capital budget from the tax rate and fund it with the enhanced sales tax. A 10 year sunset would allow for approximately $60,000,000 worth of projects that could be paid for in cash instead of expensive bonds. This isn't a new idea for those who have been around before the City Center was built will remember when the city had a 2% sales tax and the county didn't have any sales tax, in the early 80's the city increased the tax to 3% the increased revenue was dedicated to the building of the City Center.

7:14 AM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...

Kyle,

I'm all for progress, but not when it outgrows the present and future city's needs. First and foremost, I simply do not see the need to build a public safety behemoth downtown. The city is growing, but not nearly at the rate that would dictate a 32,000 square-foot PD, plus another 15,000 square feet of courtroom. Again, I implore you and ALL residents to look into this issue and see what it would take to support such a building, in addition to the building space we already have(namely the court and existing police department).

Simply put, this is not sustainable. We complain about union contracts, rising energy costs, declining revenue streams and other budget items that "drive" the tax rate. Well, this is something we can look at and nip in the bud before it causes a 10 percent increase in the levy(which is a rough-but-accurate estimate).

Not to mention, I am against any proposal that includes an above-ground parking deck, especially one that includes 900 spaces. Have you seen the schematic on this thing? Like the existing ones, it's a hideous behemoth.

If you want to harvest the low-hanging fruit of paid parking, that's fine. While I'm not a proponent of the measure -I think paid parking in general is tacky -it wouldn't bother me either way. What does bother me is the creation of municipal space that will allow the PS department to expand at an unprecedented rate.

Faulkner,

Allow me to be the first to wholeheartedly endorse that idea. Besides, they got cheap booze in B-Spa...ALL HAIL THE MONORAIL!!

3:52 and 4:09,

This is why Skip was raising Cain about there "not being enough public comment" on the budget cuts. He didn't think he could rally the DPW troops to protest. Hell, it's their right to participate. But I don't think the term 'participate' was on anyone's mind. More like obfuscate.

7:14,

I don't think its a bad idea at all. People always say raising the sales tax disproportionately with nearby municipalities would drive business away. I maintain people come to Saratoga Springs for more than the quirky shops. There's a reason people shop at the GAP here instead of the one in the mall, and it's not because of parking or sales tax. It's the ambiance. I'd agree, if you raised the sales tax even a fraction of a percentage, the Spa City would reap the benefits. But you'll have an impossible time of it convincing the DBA. The outrage would dwarf that of our bibulous DPW workers.

9:20 AM  
Anonymous Kyle York said...

H 9:20-

We share much common ground. I believe our current Public Safety needs ARE met by the current staffing levels. I read all I can but I'm no expert.

I have little doubt that our PS contracts are among the most unwise money-sucking Civil Service agreements ever set in ink. I read all I can but I'm no expert.

I believe our current PS facility is from the Stone Age and not suitable for any upgrade that will magically transform 1871 into 2008. But I'm no expert.

I believe our courtrooms, holding areas, and interview rooms are utterly inadequate and unfair to victims. But I'm no expert.

I'd like to see a good comparison study... and we could start with the recent Crime Statistics, such as--

http://www.trulia.com/real_estate/Saratoga_Springs-New_York/community-info/

But my own personal investigations get a polite nod and dismissal.

It should be the job of Commissioner Kim to produce a comprehensive study by EXPERTS, not another proposal authored by smart and passionate locals. I saw some recent stats from the FBI but can't find them now. We are WAY low in violence, but over quota in property crime.

But an EXPERT study would help us all to agree on the size of the new PS building. Ron Kim skips the fundamental studies, passes go and proceeds directly to the Failure-O-Meter.

But the need for a 2000-era structure is real. The parking needs of the CURRENT City Center AND the FUTURE City Center is undeniable. The recent Marine Ball was just one of too many fiascos.

The need for a realistic plan to get downtown workers OUT of the Primo parking spaces and into a nearby affordable garage is all-too-obvious. The need to open those Primo Broadway spaces to our Spending Visitors is beyond any question.

A movie theater and all the other components seen in all three comprehensive plans are open to debate and modification.

But it is time to plan responsibly and build. If not now, when?

Answer? 6:52

I've offered Nashua NH and Manchester MA as examples of towns that didn't die due to paid parking. The resistance of our own DBA mystifies me. I know these individuals and I like them and I want them to thrive.

I could produce more testimonials but the response will be the knee-jerk Mantra of TheyWillAllDriveToWilton.

My friends, when gas is back to well over $5/gallon before St. Pat's Day...

...the green will stay in Saratoga.

-Kyle York
Civic Booster

5:30 PM  
Blogger shotinthedark said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

2:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I spent quite a bit of time living in and around Charlottesville, VA. a town with a successful downtown pedestrian mall. Every lot/spot around the downtown area was paid parking or resident parking only. People grumbled, but they paid, parked, and shopped. In fact, the lots were frequently full. Moreover, the city made tons of money on $10 parking fines for meter violations.
Retailers could stamp a customer's parking ticket for two hours free parking.
What made it viable was a comprehensive downtown development plan. Particular stores have come and gone, but the pedestrian mall, theatre complex, restaurants,ampitheater (new), children's museum, an ice rink, a bus station and city offices have ensured a busy and varied stream of people coming downtown, which have supported the locally-owned shops.

I post this to say that if Broadway offers reasons to come play, work, eat, and shop downtown then people will pay for parking.

6:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

dem roc said: wow, people going out and trying to protect their jobs, i would've never thought people to do that.
someone needs to foil the dept's records to see actually how many people work there this year as compared to last year. there have been a bunch of tmac's guys that have retired and not been replaced. there were 4 woman who tommy thought he needed down in the dpw office, one being joy karam, this budget proposal was going to bring it down to 1. now lets be a little fair about this, can you actually make someone pick up the slack for the other three that are missing, and how well do we think 1 person will do the work of 4? seems like a pretty shitty way to run a business, if thats the way you want to run it.
it's always some poor dumb schmuck that looks at people making $30,000 and thinks they're the ones breaking the bank. or better yet, lets fire the ones making $10.50, because they're the ones really hurting the city. then the next reply is from people like kyle york who want other people to do the work for everyone else. i'm sure he hasn't worked any harder for his job.....maybe he'll let us know what he's been up to.
also again, eventhough there are less people, our venerable ex commish did little to help tax payers in 2009 by upgrading people during his lame duck december last year without any funding for those upgrades. but tom "she wasn't stealing on my watch" mctygue has no problem with that, he showed up at the meeting only to lie about people loosing their jobs, pretending to be a concerned tax paying citizen, something he must missed since being retired to his farm like a brokedown mule.
the department has made cuts, but thats the only place ken burl ivins has gone for any cuts, and he didn't once sit down with the dpw commish to ask his input, for christ sakes he didn't even hand out the amended budget until tues, the day of the public comment hearing. so not only was it a big secret, he never once asked anyone else's input. i'm sorry, he did make one adjustment, while he was speaking thunderously, mush like a revised william jennings bryan about how hard tax payers are going to get hit, he was busy finding money for the mayors sister in law. they just spent all that money to upgrade a phone system that didn't need to be upgraded, so KI decided that her position wasn't needed. his bad, it turns out the mayor wanted her and her $60,000 plus 40% benefits back in. the best part of the meeting is when he called her a communications technician, i guess the phrase operator doesn't carry as much weight.
lastly, commish scirocco doesn't work for john herrick or the republicans, thats what tommy was for and thats why the republican pitbulls are after him and trying to scuttle his budget while not touching their own.
also doesn't the way they want to cut spending contradict their spending habits. i don't think it's right to cut people out of jobs so mayor johnson can continue his pursuit to build another indoor basketball court which will need people to be hired to work it. i think the term indoor rec center has become inappropriate. lets call it what it is, a basketball court with linda t's new office. one last thought, i found it funny when public works asked weeks ago to shift the ff&e ($168,000) to help cover the cost in the budget and the mayor and everyone insisted it couldn't be taken out, well it's out? why make a big stink about it at the meeting mayor?

3:50 PM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...

demroc,

While we're digging up corpses, let's pluck Val Keehn from the ground. She's the one you have to thank for the indoor basketball court. Johnson's a schmuck for not axing it, but let's have due diligence here: If that disaster is built, it will be testament to the botched mayoral tenure of Keehn.

8:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

demroc said: actually her list of priorities put the police station over the rec center. small point of fact.

9:48 AM  
Anonymous Kyle York said...

"Then the next reply is from people like kyle york who want other people to do the work for everyone else. i'm sure he hasn't worked any harder for his job.....maybe he'll let us know what he's been up to."

I'm glad you asked-
I'm planning a day-trip to Manhattan to comment on the Empire Zone transfer that is the ultimate sucker's bet. I won't be hurling insults or swaggering with your brand of braggadocio. While tax shelters and SEC filings may overwhelm you, you can partially satisfy your interest in my activities by watching the live webcast of Monday's 11:00 meeting-

http://www.poststar.com/blogs/?p=13479&cat=38

On the overall issue of work, my DPW timecards should speak for themselves. And if not for the new DPW policies I'd be on-call to clear streets this winter and working to turn spring's dirt into our floral displays. And I'd be doing it all for $9.50 an hour.

But right now, I'm spending my days trying to enlighten you and my Saratoga neighbors about the Financial TrainWreck coming to Luther Forest. With or without me, the Big News Item of 2009 will give you plenty to contemplate and comment on.

Oh, the work and research I'm doing are all on my own nickel. But it's my pleasure to give you more to ponder and pontificate upon.

-Kyle York
Civil. Service.

11:30 AM  
Anonymous agphoto said...

holiday greetings all!

i decided to raise up from my T-Giving couch to check in on things, and decided to solve this problem.

the paid parking route is probably where we are headed, for better or ill, and so now comes the task of making sure that we just don't think a bold, naked revenue grab is going to work. We need to plan for the transition, and yes create value and incentives to "drop a dime" in a meter downtown as opposed to the free parking at the mall or somewhere...

here's a idea: tokens. Commemorative pieces that detail saratoga attractions like springs/track/ballet/kyle york etc.

Let's make some assumptions: we'll say parking is 25 cents/per hour; and these tokens go for $1. The question is what do you get for this?

- The special coins could be worth 5-6 hours of parking, which is a good space of time to enjoy downtown... of course, if you happen to use 3 hours, then the extra time goes to the lucky meter trawlers.

- If you buy anything at a DBA merchant, you get a coupon for a free token for your next visit.

- the token can be made good for a CDTA ride too, assuming that the synergy wouldn't blow anyone's mind... this seems like an even-steven deal, but remember the pending fare increase. also, this could be used on the seasonal trolley, which is only 50 cents now.

- some provision for monthly parking passes in isolated lots for workers will need to be made. some people like realtors or sales people (in a decent economy) are in need of their cars for short hops all day. but for the office/retail sector, is it too much to assign them a lot at a park and ride -say at the racino- and let them have free shuttle bus service from 8-10 AM, perhaps noon-2pm, and 4-7pm? i am sure the racino would love it if you dropped in for a beverage and a slot or 2... maybe they would help to subsidize this shuttle in part. it's all about being creative...

- these coins could be issued in series in such a manner that might make them collectables- even better! buy one and keep it as a lucky keepsake; i'll take my good-luck meyer lansky token to the track every day. meanwhile the budget gets a gross dollar in revenue.

- this won't take care of the whole gap; but if you combine this parking scenario with delaying the whole public safety thing until the VLT revenue status is clarified and hopefully tightened up at a level that allows for consistent revenue streams, you are on your way towards rough balance.

Thank you for letting me solve this. I will now go back to the leftovers.

11:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In response to anon 3:50pm.The jobs that tommy mac filled at the end of his 30 sucessful years with the great city of saratoga springs,new york were done to fill needed vacancies and to make sure the new commissioner and his staff were up to capacity...so they could meet the work load,everybody in the dept knew that!Here's were skippys' problem might lie....when he took office he upgraded three positions in the first month,those upgrades went to joe o'neil(union pres.),tug mcgraw(union vp)and cliff starring.The money for these upgrades was not in the 2008 budget,the money for the unnecssary reconstruction of the back office also was not budgeted,and then he creates a $50,000 a year job for congress park, totally not needed. another political payoff to jay downing a political friend of the commissioner,during ths summer mr. downing was paid to pick up papers in congress park to the tune of $36 an hour,never mind the flower girl getting the same for watering flowers in the rain,over a course of months it adds up fast.scirrocco and his cronies(who can't get enough)will run dpw into the ground just a matter of time,and by the way skippy...you should listen to john herrick after all he listened to you when you tolded him you could do the job..it appears herrick is right ...you can't.And oh by the way let's not overlook the $50,000 assitant skippy created, to open envelopes and anwser the phone.

10:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon 10:29 This is like calling the kettle black! Have you heard of Raymond Pierce,Tony Fisher,Bill McTygue,Stephanie Voight,Jim Brophy and many others? These bums have been carried for years.

4:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Today's post election admission that we've been in an "official" recession since December 2007 should remind us of the earlier warning in October of that year. Yes Horatio, project programmers should responsibly address the existing building. Space is a terrible and, expensive thing to waste.

Printed without approval by permission:

SpaVoterNotes Issue 3/7


WHAT'S IN YOUR WALLET?

In November of 2005, the now Public Safety Commissioner defined himself. He stood for traffic and code enforcement. He stood for addressing the unwarranted and illegal trespass by long transports that has negatively impacted Broadway and our City's historic West Side. He promised the public that he would work for them "and no one else" - providing managerial expertise and fiduciary responsibility. He gained their support and was elected to office.

In January of 2006, the Commissioner appointed a Public Safety Capital Reconstruction Committee and began negotiating new union contracts with Public Safety employees while at the same time hinting that taxpayer money could be saved by doing away with the Deputy Commissioner's post. He then suggested two deputies and finally settled on the one. A few months later, he publicly joined with those who would abolish his office post and the City's current charter. Unfortunately, one can only now presume that it may have been to avoid the present Council debate on this, his now stated original mission.

Today, the Commissioner defines himself again, oddly stating that his career is hinged to the Mayor's proposed Capital Program that saddles this city's taxpayers with a $17 million down payment on a $65 million mortgage. Are those really the costs of quality public municipal space inclusive of maintenance, personnel and overhead expenses, today in 2007, 2008, and 2010 or, of a 30-year replaceable building somewhere off Broadway?

It has become a standard reply to address public concerns as myths with responses labeled as facts. But what assures a community that the proposed costs presented today resemble tomorrow's reality? Or that the $900,000 projected operating costs of an additional 16-man fire station is indeed fact? Is the Commissioner assuming that there will be a substantial increase in residential taxpayers to shoulder the pain while his Mayor campaigns to control growth that would ordinarily be promised to help carry an additional burden of this magnitude? Or in reality, as the potential for more condominiums and single family homes decline, are our residents just going to be strapped with exponentially higher growing debt? Taking heed of the present turn in the National lending market should we better concern ourselves with a cautiously optimistic plan than one that ignores 'all of the tell tale signs of a possible recession' and the potential impact on our properties of declining property values?

Interestingly, the very same Capital Program boosters voiced concern for more "affordable housing" limited to a constituency that doesn't seem to include city taxpayers; in these recent budget presentations we were told that our taxpayers pay less than surrounding communities and by all rights should pay more property tax.

The Commissioner has been asked, as to why the City could not address its overcrowding of the present Public Safety facility notwithstanding, the amusing idea of selling City Hall, with a more tax responsible program. It would seem the Council could work together for the best interests of the City and the taxpayer. Unfortunately, the Commissioner appears to have embraced not only the Mayor's Capital Program but also the "all or nothing approach" in dealing with colleagues.

Has the City actually investigated imaginative solutions incorporating our present celebrated National Historic Register Landmark Property? If it has, why hasn't the public reviewed other fiscally responsible alternatives that would address and improve our public services that would not require such an enormous request for monies and, not to mention the loss of a community's symbolic and irreplaceable cultural resource suggested by the desperate sale option?

Without question, our community recognizes the critically important work that must be performed by members of our Public Safety Department. We are not challenging their present concerns over those Public Safety portions of City Hall that are presently crowded. However, SpaVoterNotes maintains that we are past the days when taxpayer assets such as City Hall should be deemed disposal for any department. When performing the necessary renovations to our valued buildings, we maintain that efficiency be made a part of those plans, with regard to options for the effective use of all City properties and public servants, and that the City above all recognizes the realities of our historic city.

Previous administrations have acknowledged deficiencies in the present facility and past Public Safety Commissioners have expressed similar concerns yet today, none have admitted to providing the public with anything more than a 'one size fits all' proposal that frankly, will not pass public acceptance. Short of making the necessary immediate repairs, the reconstruction will not be determined in this way, and not, this year -- because it is not fiscally responsible.


Today, in defining the Commissioner's self-proclaimed challenge, embracing the Mayor's Capital Plan we ask you,

"WHAT'S IN YOUR WALLET?"

IT'S YOUR MONEY, IT'S YOUR CITY, ASK THE QUESTIONS.


All information presented, may be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed,
published or broadcast for your personal, noncommercial use without prior written permission.

********************************

SpaVoterNotes
Politics is a series of concessions.
We provide a conscience

11:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No wonder people want to work for the city,$50.000 to open envelopes and answer the phones,were do you sign up? My son applied for a job at dpw they said they weren't hiring,maybe not,but they hired scirroccos' son! didn't he campaign against that stuff...seems to be alot of funny things going on in dpw..drunks at council meetings threatning our mayor,monies stolen from dpw office,employees fighting with each other,after one year it's time for a change..Come on Mr. herrick this can't be your best person for this important job...can't believe that two faced bronner hasn't spoke out against skippy hiring his own son,seems the boy can't hold a job.

2:19 AM  
Anonymous Johnny Hytyde said...

anon 2:19 I know your son and he is a retard! The hell with Bronner. He has nothing to do with anything. The only thing he cared about was getting Mctygue out of there. Rightfully so! The criminal that he is. As for the mayor that 50,000 per year is his sister inlaw. How nice is that? The mayor mayor needs to be threatened that little weasel! He's pissing city money away keeping up Jefferson Terrace and other welfare projects. Your worried about Scirrocco when the mayor is trying to build a Recreation Center and also having the city taxpayers pony up monies for law firms of his choice? Give me a break.

1:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2:19 anon:

You're right! It's time for a change. Li'l Scooter, the boy mayor, can't do a damn thing right. Get rid of him!

5:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To anno 4:14am you must be drunk skippy was on the public tit for 30 yrs they even caught him duoble dipping when he was our supervisor then we threw him out of office in disgrace..same thing will happen here he comes from no experence and is unable to comphrend the complexitys'of the dept,his wife has been a traffic guard for dps. for years,his one son works for the state at the harness track (piss catcher) and his other son works at dpw.I would say the sciroccos'have the public tit pretty well covered....some people can't get enough what say you 4:14am

5:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, Do you people really get your jollies spreading lies. Donna Buckley, Scirocco's sec. makes $35,000. a year and she is not in the Union. Tommy hired Betty French to book the Casino at the tune of $70,000. Billy his brother makes over a $100,00. Tommy's two son in laws are Formen, his brother's son also works there. Lets see, Mark Scirocco, is a single father, raising a 6 year old, and works 20 hr. a week for DPW.

6:44 PM  
Anonymous mamie said...

I will add to 6:44 - That crew that anon 4:14 mentioned earlier were all hand picked McTygue people who all have disgraced their jobs many times. These guys all make a great deal more than any Scirocco makes. Let's not forget when Tommy was there and you wanted to book the casino you had to slip McTygue and his buddy Dickie Bendon a little extra or else not get the casino. I know many that did it! Thieves,Thieves,Tramps and Thieves!

4:11 AM  
Blogger Frank said...

Yea but we love Sirocco cus he buys the beer for the city garage not like that cheap weasel McTygue. Hell Design even made a beer run for us when we ran dry at morning break as we hid out in the Greenridge Cemetery.

But that’s why we love our boss.

4:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a matter of correction Bill Mctygue does not make $100.ooo a year and betty french made under $50.000 last year not a bad amount for keeping Congress Park in a award winning shape,my point is ...skippy said nepotism was not going to be part of his administration...I guess he lied about that to....kind of the way you did concerning the above salaries.Where have you gone David Bronner our lonely town crys out for you.wooo...wooo...wooo,what's that you say mrs.keehan lying dave has left and gone away hay...hay....hay.

8:01 AM  
Anonymous vanguard's ho master said...

where is corporal bronner, anyways?

i miss the nutty bastard.

even though he was crazier than an outhouse rat, he sure made things interesting around here.

9:27 AM  
Blogger Frank said...

Want to get rid of some dead weight? Install a breathalyzer in the city garage. Then have some random drug tests. Come to think about it wouldn’t be a bad idea in the police and fire dept. too. If it all right to test the lowly Wal-Mart worker who makes 12 grand a year how about the 50 grand laborer who can’t read and write. Jesusss screwy Louie’s kin pounded down half a case in the park every day. Testing Louie though might break the thing I mean how high do they go.

11:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see baby Sirrocco the college educated single parent whining to the Saratogian how him and daddy get no respect. They sound like BUSH and his twin daughters blaming everything on Clinton. Come on GOP can’t you come up with someone better then this organ grinder to run DPW. He can’t even keep his monkey {Design} on a string


Want to see something pathetic? Drive down BROADWAY at 6am Friday after the Victorian stroll. The place will look like Arbor Hill. I guess Skippy likes to let his boys sleep in till 9 or so. That way they can sleep it off before a little “hair of the dog” gets their blood circulating again.

11:31 AM  
Blogger Frank said...

An open letter to Mark Scirocco

I see you were complaining to Andrew J. Bernstein at the Saratogian Blog so here is some advice.

You wrote “I also have a college degree which I think makes me qualified to paint hydrants”

No it doesn’t. I do see you have mastered some computer basics. Please show Daddy how to turn on his labtop, that’s a step in the right direction next go To MONSTER.com post, your resume.

You also wrote “that’s right your guy Tommy had hired me”
So on your way out the door call Tom and thank him for giving you a job when no one else would.

Plan B. if the MONSTER.com thing doesn’t work out get a sign write on it “DAY LABORER painting experience US citizen. Now take the sign and stand in front of Home Depot. You will soon understand why you owed Tom thanks.

You also bitch
“i am a full time single parent, I'm sure someone will have something to say about that”

Well yes I do. When you get done with MONSTER.com try MATCH.com.

Plan B. Try a good life coach. As a matter of fact you know a great one Val Keehn
and to top it off she’s single. Now you owe me some thanks for bring you two together.

Please feel free to use Daddy’s laptop trust me he won’t be.

12:38 PM  
Blogger Faulkner said...

We're dying over here! When's the new post?

1:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Greenridge Cemetery is a nice place to hangout, pound a few 16 ouncers, take a nap, set the alarm for 3 pm, and keep the motor running now that there is a chill in the air.
The ultimate trip is having a big snowstorm on the weekend. Just love that OT.
When we get our breaks, do you think we are having coffee? ha ha

3:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, nothing like pushing the buttons of the overpaid.... Anyway, how much did those City Hall steps cost? $300,000 that would pay the year's wages for three DPW "Supervisors" You know, the guys who watch the min. wage clowns do the work and then shout "Coffee Break" every hour. And people complain about teachers.

6:07 PM  
Anonymous Johnny Hytyge said...

Just remember who works for Greenridge Cemetery. That's right! Shauna Sutton! The Mayor's Deputy Bitch! She is being paid by the City and The Cemetery. Seems she is buring us on both ends. Johnson is doing his share trying to hire his own Atttorney firm for a hefty fee. Time to hit the road Scotty Boy! While you are at it take Ken "NO NOTHING" Ivens with you.

5:44 PM  
Anonymous JOHN FRUNKE said...

BREAKING NEWS: TOM MCTYGUE AND EDDIE THE HOT DOG KING ARE TRYING TO BUILD THE INDEPENDENT PARTY INTO A CONTENDER IN THE UP COMING ELECTIONS! RED ALERT! THE FIX IS IN! LET'S PUT A STOP TO THIS NONSENSE BEFORE IT SPREADS! MCTYGUE IS STILL THAT SAME CANCER WE REJECTED! KILL MCTYGUE! PISS ON HIS FLOWER ARRANGEMENT!

5:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since it has been brought up and since I am already tired of hearing him whine let’s talk about “I Need More Money” Scirocco

Leadership:
Sure he got those steps built but at $40,000 over budget and 4 months late. There is leadership for you.
Actually he does not even know what is even going on in his own department. He has no idea what Billy does each day. Pat Design oversees the workers (?), and Kathy Moran (AKA: union President, AKA: I need to be paid to get my breast examined) runs the rest of the office. Leadership????
Oh he can get a group of greedy DPW workers (who do not live or pay taxes in Saratoga Springs) to show up at a council meeting to bully and disrupt the meeting. No wonder he wanted a public hearing. It was so he could turn out a crowd. “I Need More Money” is obviously more interested in lining the pockets of these union workers than cutting costs. The sad part of this whole affair is that the council rewarded this misbehaver by bowing down to his demands and padding his budget even more. This is not the leadership I was looking for when I voted for him.

Bi-Partisan:
Let see, he votes the same way Rom Kim does 98% of the time. The speculation is that “I Need More Money” will run as a Republican with no opponent from the “Democrats For Change.” Then after the election he will switch parties.
He aligned him self with Keehn during the election. They had a common enemy, Tommy. He also had the backing of the CSEA. He is now paying the CSEA back for that support at the expense of the taxpayers.
The sad part is that, he actually believes that he can beat anyone in an election. He does not realize that people pulled the lever “Anyone but McTygue” and not “I Need More Money” Scirocco. My pet gerbil could have won that election.
I have to laugh when people complained that Jasper controlled Skippy. Did those folks ever look at his voting record in Ballston Spa? He voted against the majority so many times. Maybe that is why the rest of the county was happy to screw Saratoga.
No wonder there are so many Democrats who are willing to vote for him and so many Republicans who are looking for another candidate to endorse. He is a Keehniac with an R after his name.

Fiscally Responsible:
One of the first things “I Need More Money” did when he entered office was to give promotions and big fat raises to the union officers who backed him in the election. Then he hired Kathy Moran away from John Franck. “I Need More Money” readily admits he does not know much about budgets so he lets Kathy Moran handle that. Gee where do you think her allegiance lies? As the union President would she find ways to cut costs or put more money into the pockets of union workers? This is putting the fox in charge of the hen house.
His front steps were $40,000 over budget. “I Need More Money” spent $45,000 on just the brass hand rails. His rational was that the old rails did not meet code (they were too big around). Do you think that maybe “I Need More Money” could have had steel rails made for maybe about $10,000 that met code? Then he had the steps and sidewalk in front of it heated. What did that cost us? Then he makes a statement that this is makes them “Green.” ?????? He is so stupid that he does not realize that going Green: means using less fossil fuels not more. Hey Skippy, “Green” means a DPW worker with a shovel and a bucket of sand not running up our utility bill.
Listen to him at the council table he is always looking to spend more or put more money in his budget. He even wanted to take advertising revenue away from the ice skating club and put it in the pockets of his buddies.
“I Need More Money’s” solution to everything is to spend more money in “his” department. He wants a blank check.

Low Profile:
A number of people have not formed an opinion about “I Need More Money” because he has not said a lot. He has flown under the radar. “Be quiet and let people think you are stupid or open your mouth and remove all doubt.”
You have yet to see him make a presentation that involves money (Billy has done them all). That is because he has no idea about any fiscal maters.
Thanks to this budget debate people are starting to realize his true colors. He is the dimmest bulb at the council table and only cares about one thing, putting more money into the hands of his buddies in the union. He has failed to realize that he is their boss not their drinking buddy.

Well enough ranting.
“I Need More Money” needs to find ways to “do more with less.” If he does not, then maybe we need to find someone who can. Scirocco is the reason we have two year terms. So we can rid ourselves of dead weight. I will vote for anyone but “I Need More Money” Scirocco. He does not represent the tax payers, but answers to that special interest group called the union. The union’s investment in Scirocco is returning big dividends at the expense of my pocketbook.
I am not a Tommy fan either. The whole McTygue clan should have been gotten rid of a long time ago. We need a new face will to stand up to the union, someone who is smarter then our DPW workers and can truly manage this department for the betterment of the tax payers. I hope this person steps forward and is willing to withstand the heat.

8:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have heard the GOP has someone in mind, but the only info I can get is that he runs a nonprofit in the City. Anyone know anymore?

12:01 PM  
Anonymous mamie said...

Yes, it is true! McTygue is alligning with his loyal core to in filtrate the independent party to make a splash! Spread the word to all! Communism,AIDS,Cancer and McTygue. These morons don't get it! First he was crushed in the election. Then the Dem party rejected not only him but his followers by taking 44 out of 50 seats on the committee with all three McTygue's beaten down! Get the Net! BOYS! We don't want you anymore! We will do whatever it takes to repel your fowl stench!

4:21 PM  
Anonymous FBI/DEC/AG said...

What do Tommy McTygue and Eddie The hot dog man have in common? They love to hold their weiners in their hand!
The independence party endorsing these assholes would be stupid! What deal did McTygue do now? More back door deals! McTygue you are a criminal! Stay out of politics or go to jail!

4:28 PM  
Anonymous Real Deal said...

Announcing:
The Saratoga Citiznery Party.

Anti-Republican because they are just a bunch of pocket-filling ganngsters.

Anti-Democrat becasue they've been infiltrated by a bunch of bored housewives turned anarchists who bow to Vanguard and his cult.

So who's with us?

5:03 PM  
Anonymous agphoto said...

real deal:

a new party is a great idea; i suggest a 'fact-finding' trip to Illinois as the leadership there obviously knows the way to get things done...

{{just keeping this post relevant and topical until Horatio returns to post again - i will be issuing the writ of habeas corpus in one week}}

8:25 AM  
Anonymous Long Time Dem said...

RD

Spell check, Man! CITIZENRY! Or is it CITIZENS?

Either way: count me in.

8:40 AM  
Anonymous 'Ron Kim is chewing on my ankle' said...

Funny, but have noticed that both Horatio and Ben have been MIA for about the same lengthy period of time?

Could they be one and the same person?

Could they be gay lovers who took holiday together?

Did NXIVM's Israeli assasin complete his mission?

Did Vanguard put them on a spaceship to the outer limits?

Did Democrats for Change pay them to just ... disappear?

Did Wyatt and Bronner film some incriminating scenes thru their windows?

Did Val use her newly-single womanly charms on them, convincing each to shut it down?

Did Ron Kim offer each free room & board in his new castle?

Did Chief Moore lock them up?

Did Michelle Riggi's pack of 28 dogs chew them to little bits?

Did Skip bury their bodies out behind the skating rink where all the dead bodies are kept - canine and otherwise?

Hmmm?

Hmmmmmmmmmmmm?

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm?

12:06 PM  
Anonymous Tar Baby said...

A new party is a good idea but not with Mctygue involved. Real Deal is a McTygue cronie! McTygue is the slime that oozes up from Saratoga Lake. Pond Scum if you will! Outline whose with this new party and maybe you could convince people. right now it's just the McTygue boys looking for a way back in!

12:26 PM  
Anonymous Kyle York said...

Photo and Phellow Mourners-

The prolonged silence from our cybersoliciter only serves to confirm what I postulated in the first comment of this once-lively discussion--

After an exhaustive image search for the perfect Mary Poppins' pixels, our host Horatio went into hyperglycemic shock and now he "sleeps with the turtles."

My tears fall like snow...

-Kyle York
Sugar. Coated.

10:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hereby declare this blog a totally free zone for discussion, debate and disputation.

Ho and Traitor Ben, having been exposed as one and the same person and having totally abandoned the periodic blogging of issues of interest to Saratoga Springs, are hereby consigned to the dustbin of history.

Admirers of our current mayor, Little Scooter, do your worst!

Nostalgic recollectors of Valiant Val and Liar Lenz, do your best!

This blog is open to comers one and all. Write and post whatever you want. The moderator is gone.

Freedom of speech. Freedom of blogging.

Goodbye, Ho. Hello, Free for All!

4:39 PM  
Anonymous John Frunke said...

How about that! We have ousted the cyber heads! First Shot in the Dark has been identified and now the McTygue cronies are scrambling! I shall take over in 26 days! As for val, I like it! I like it alot!

5:00 PM  
Anonymous City Hall Chicks said...

High Time to expose the McTygue's once and for all. They hid many things from the tax paying fools of Saratoga. Used our money on personal projects sp many times it would make your head spin. Never vote them or their cronies back into office.

4:08 AM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...

4:39,

I'm not one to criticize my own audience, but if you think this blog has anything to do with (dis)utopia, you're a real Grade-A moron. As for the moderator being "gone," who the fuck do you think is posting all of your nonsense? Allow me to hand you the dunce cap and point toward the corner.

4:08,

Move on. Please.

Kyle,

These are trying times, old friend. Sometimes life has to take precedent over the blogosphere. Not to mention, it's always good to step back for a minute and evaluate exactly what you're doing. That is all that is happening here. That and deep hibernation. Besides, the WiFi signal in my bear cave isn't very strong...

6:58 AM  
Anonymous agphoto said...

i knew it! Ho, congrats on the fake-out (perhaps unintended) and drawing out those who would speak evil of the 'dead'...like Mark Twain, the reports of your demise have been greatly exaggerated...

of course, if people want to believe that you too were trampled at Wal-Mart, no one can stop them.

enjoy your vacation, and come back strong. meanwhile, Kyle is there to reprise his Al Haig role at any time...

11:15 AM  
Anonymous Kyle York said...

Constitutionally, gentlemen, you have Horatio, ShotInTheDark and the agPhoto in that order, and should Horatio decide he wants to transfer the helm to Shot, he will do so. He has not done that. As of now, I am in control here, in the Elitists' Condo, pending return of Horatio and in close touch with him. If something came up, I would check with him, of course.

-Kyle York
I am not a Haig

3:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HO, welcome, and it is so good to see that you are alive and well on the tube.
Can't wait for your next posting.
What will it be:
The bailout?
The City Hall steps?
Bonacio being awarded the bid for the new PS bldg?
Outing the former PD Chief?
Confirming the DPW investigation?
The scoope on the new NY Senator?
Can't wait, please post soon.

4:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Politics is a series of concessions.
The fix is in.

6:57 PM  
Blogger Faulkner said...

Please post soon before my rash spreads any further.

4:18 AM  
Anonymous The Office of Vangard (3rd smartest guy in history) said...

TO: Ho
FR: V

You will continue to remain silent and refrain from making any additional new postings.

Failure to heed my orders will result in your no longer having acess to my harem.

We will continue the transisiton of this blog over to Mr Wyatt and his ever-obedient wife.

If there are any questions, direct them to your assigned coach, Mrs Keehn.

Your continued cooperation is appreciated -- and expected.

2:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Demroc said: A lot of non-factual crap floating on the blog these days. i think the whiners came here after bernstein asked them to produce a shred of evidence on their persistent whining about dpw. it seems that a lot of the mctygue supporters, after getting kicked to the curb, have a lot of free time on their hands to embelish their caveats. my favorite is the monkey who claimed it was skips fault for karam stealing from the city. this was revealed to the police in august, and they stated a fact that it went back into the 90's. ooops, well, this group never let facts get in their way in the first place. was it the guy who was in office for 8 months, who revealed it to the police, or maybe your anger should be directed to your buddy tommy, since despite his statement in the paper of, "it didn't happen on my watch." it had.
also the steps were put in by another company which has nothing to do with dpw, they screwed up and had to fix a mistake, which you blame on his bad management???? again don't let the facts get in the way, because i know you'd just ignore them anyway. lets see back in november of last year it was, "he's to republican", this year he's to democrat, please make up your mind. the guy doesn't care about the party he cares about the city, since he actually lives here. i know it's rare to see our dpw commish actually do that.

4:27 PM  
Anonymous Shot in the pants said...

Demroc! What do you mean McT doesn't live here! He has several addresses within the city. One is on Clinton St. where he grew up! Another is his current girl's address under Stephanie Voight. Another is at Remiga "We Don't Need Ya's" house. Bonnie Sellers is the most recent address. He even lived with Mamie of city hall for a bit!

5:33 PM  
Anonymous a former mayor who said ummm twice in every sentence said...

I shall return

7:35 AM  

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