Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Flying pigs beneath the falling sky

Mark Monday down in your calendar: Ron Kim has made a valid point. The shoot-from-the-lip Public Safety commissioner sensibly griped about Mayor Scott Johnson’s effort to hire a private lawyer to bare-knuckle box a band of obstructionist semi-residents that have sued the city over the proposed recreation center.

The City Council narrowly passed a resolution authorizing a Glens Falls law office to spend up to $20,000 litigating a virtually frivolous Article 78 challenge filed by landowners abutting the proposed facility’s site off Vanderbilt Avenue. Kim, who is better known for his mindboggling ability to speak before his neurological impulses can move from dendrite to axon, objected to the hire under the reasoning that the city already pays its own legal staff, which could just as easily make a court appearance in an attempt to work things out.

“I think we should go to court and negotiate,” Kim told the Times Union. “Why immediately reach for a wallet and throw money at it, especially during these difficult economic times?”

For once, Kim’s knee-jerk assertion seems somewhat reasonable. Why is the city spending even more on this boondoggle of a recreation center? Aren’t there better uses for that cash?

Now, loyal readers of this blog are probably checking the sky to make sure it’s not falling; at the very least, they’re looking out the window for a migratory flock of flying pigs, headed south before hell freezes over. Kim seldom exudes even a hint of rationality when it comes to city politics, the public safety department or anything tacitly associated with them. His inability to grasp the basic tenants of government are legendary, and perhaps second only to a certain vapid one-term mayor who once served as his lone ally.

In this case, the commish has a very good point, even though it’s likely driven by politics instead of the aforementioned sensibility. Taxpayers already in the hole for $6 million and change and still lack even a foundation for the building, which is no closure to completion than it was when it was proposed more than a decade ago. Making matters worse, the city now faces a looming deficit that could balloon up to $3.4 million once the state Legislature is done whittling away at the Video Lottery Terminal aid.

Given all this, wouldn’t this money be put to better use if it went toward finding a way out of the recreation center quagmire; one of the last failed legacies of the Keehn Administration? The city can’t support a new recreations center anymore, especially if there’s any consideration for a new public safety facility. Simple logic dictates that the addition of close to 100,000 square feet of additional building space will be cumbersome for taxpayers to fund.

Sure, any decent attorney should be able to quash the flimsy argument offered by this band of landowners, which showed up at the planning table a dollar short and a day late. The whole premise of their suit is bonkers and will likely be thrown out of court after six months of litigation. Then the city can build and pay upkeep for a structure that was needed during the 1990s before a state-of-the-art YMCA facility was built within walking distance of most neighborhoods within the city proper. Sure. That makes sense, right?

In truth, Kim’s motives in criticizing the hire are probably more rooted in his own political ambition than any sense of rationality. The recreation center has become a political lightning rod for Mayor Scott Johnson, who has largely escaped intense public scrutiny over his first year in office. Interestingly enough, his ally –former Mayor Valerie Keehn –was the first to lob a stone at Johnson over the recreation center during a town hall-style meeting on the Westside last spring. Several weeks later, a vocal opposition swelled among the Southside neighborhoods.

Johnson has done an adequate job of defraying this dissent and has moved the project further toward completion than any of his predecessors. However, there seems to be a void of reason for completing the project, other than to ‘stop the bleeding’ so to speak. In other words, the city has already spent more than $500,000 on the project, so why not spend another $5.5 million and get something out of it. Try pushing that logic on an antsy investor after squandering a half-million dollars on a Ponzi scheme.

The other side note to be garnered from Johnson’s rec center push is that the city’s new mayor seems a bit over-eager to toss money at private law firms. Perhaps this is merely perception, or perhaps political enemies like Kim are simply making a bigger deal out of such allocations and thus garnering press attention. It’s still hard to ignore the fact that Johnson’s council has hired private attorneys on three occasions over the past month, each for about $20,000 and twice from the same law firm.

To say these issues are the first dings in Johnson’s otherwise unblemished armor is exaggerating both. However, don’t be surprised if they arise as campaign flash points if the newly installed Democrats For Change live up to a nasty little rumor that has circulated since they took over the city party. As the rumor goes, Kim will be their candidate for mayor this year, while a certain former mayor will be resurrected as the new public safety head. While the mere notion seems laughable, the fact that the rumor hasn’t dissipated seems offer it legs.

13 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Um if Kim is uh, um, our um new Mayor, then uh, um, uh, I don't think um, uh, that um I could possibly listen um, uh, to another, um, meeting, even if um it is uh, live.

If the guy has a medical reason for the way he speaks. I sincerely apologize. But, how he ever got as far in life, as he has gotten, really amazes me.

10:33 AM  
Anonymous agphoto said...

greetings - a few random shots from 3pt range to get the juices flowing...

1) how about getting rid of the in-house legal staff, since they are apparently not good enough to use? how much could we save if we put out legal work for (semi) competitive bid?

2) i agree, the Y takes up too much of the marketplace, and that's a good thing. this is a white elephant, and if some of the city fathers are determined to be associated with a white elephant, how about locating it in an EXISTING white elephant like UPH?

11:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HO:

Little Scooter, who won millions of dollars as a pretend lawyer who just happened to be at the right place at the right time to cash in on Pataki/Vacco graft, has turned out to be a one-trick mayor who knows how to do only one thing: Hire real lawyers to apend tens of thousands of dollars of taxpayers' money defendng the City against worthless lawsuits.

If Little Scooter was really a lawyer himself, he'd be able to get rid of these lawsuits in his spare time without wasting taxpayers' money on them. Instead, he'd rather go pick out the next costume he's going to wear when he plays dress-up (remember the recent Saratogian photo of him playing cowboy - or was it cowgirl - at a charity fundraiser?).

4:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"In truth, Kim’s motives in criticizing the hire are probably more rooted in his own political ambition than any sense of rationality."

Hear Hear.

In three years, the voice of fiscal conservatism has not passed this Counselor’s lips. Now, for political theatre, we hear a desperate and plaintive concern for saving the taxpayer some change. Where were we back then when the taxpayer was faced with orchestrated and avoidable lawsuits, embarrassing outbursts of imperialistic unnecessary departmental demands and an astounding inability to find consensus let alone do the “people’s” work?

The village has a memory.

5:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hear John Tighe is running for Mayor. Another blowhard!

6:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Saratoga Springs settles with DEC
City leaders approve deal that'll cost $270,000 for environmental infractions

By DENNIS YUSKO, Staff writer
Last updated: 10:00 p.m., Tuesday, January 6, 2009

SARATOGA SPRINGS City leaders approved a negotiated settlement with the state Department of Environmental Conservation on Tuesday that will cost the city $270,000 for environmental infractions associated with the Public Works Department in 2007.

7:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"As the rumor goes, Kim will be their candidate for mayor this year, while a certain former mayor will be resurrected as the new public safety head."

Should this really surprise anyone who has followed this "Change Government" garrison and their devoted minions for the last three years?

The failed first year was spent politicking for change at the public’s expense, the squandered second year saw a self serving program headlined as “Castle Building for the Public Safety Employee's Future” and the last forgettable year witnessed the orchestration of something no less than infantile public performances to portend that our government doesn't work.

Let’s look forward to the next campaign slogan that will have its greatest difficulty expressing any substantial and worthy resume that concerned the public’s interest having destroyed their trust by providing weak legislation, absurd posturing and stubbornness.

As far as the other bench warmer running for the CPS, well that would only provide more nonsense to that ticket.

5:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I keep hearing about what a great facility the new YMCA is, and I agree. Numbers don't lie however, more than 50 kids who used to go to the Y when is was downtown are no longer participating in after school programs. They also need a place to go. While 50 kids is not a terribly large number, it is an indicator of how badly we need the rec center and why the current location is a good one. I hope someone or some group hires an attorney to sue the child haters to recover the money the city spend defending this joke after the city wins.

5:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...tell those 50 kids to have fun playing in schyulerville and malta because saratoga has been taken over by whailing jennies.....

7:09 AM  
Anonymous Let's cut out the middle man and mail my paycheck directly to City Hall said...

"child haters"?

you're worse than kim; spending all your time lobbying for projects that exist primarily to serve your own self-interest.

7:41 AM  
Anonymous The Mayor said...

anon 7:09 You can't talk to me that way. I'm the Mayor! I grew up at Jefferson Terrace and I now am a hero. I will hire more lawyers to get us out of this mess with these neighbors who are ungrateful ingrates.

6:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the well balanced post. Commissioner Kim has a very valid point regarding hiring lawyers.
Rec Center
And your point of 500K vs 5.5 MILLION and growing makes perfect sense. Sadly, a 10% loss sounds pretty good in this economic climate. Timing is everything and this project HAD value, but the value is past. The YMCA is flourishing and they have future growth plans on their exsisting site.
I would like to add another "elephant" and that is the expanded use of our local schools for our Recreation needs. They are vastly under utilized and could be incorporated into a more effective Recreation Program. The city ( Linda Terricola)does a poor job working with the SS District to properly plan the use of these facilities that the taxpayers have already paid for.
We do use some of the schools already,and not all school facitilities are suitable for the Rec to use, but we certainly could find a more logical solution for a lot less money and expand our use of exsisting facilities. Raquetball Courts..The Old Broadway YMCA removed their r-ball courts 5 years ago because so few people played. Why are R-ball courts included in the new facility?

The CDTA could be approached to provide some YMCA focused transportation to help out with access issues for some people who may not have a way to get there.
I ride the CDTA bus and it is comfortable,safe and an economical way to get around. I wish more people knew more about them.

Thank you

7:40 AM  
Anonymous Recreation Collecting said...

Wow.. All I have to say isssss bravvvvoooo! Honestly, most people look @ life and really see that there is just sooo much to accomplish that they don't even know where to begin. And then, years down the line they end up regretting not taking the first steps to help them excel in their career. But you, you are the definition of true efforts and really, I think you got to where you want to be by 'planning'
Planning is something that sounds so simple, but while in Oxford, we learned that if you want to make it big in life just like those wealthy people, you have to A) Start Young (and) B) Plan ahead
And literally planning ahead got me to where I want to be in life with a six figure income and I bless every day that I live, really. All I have to say is kudos to another individual that lives his life successfully like I do :)

11:18 PM  

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