Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Brain-dead

Serving in public office can lead to severe brain atrophy, according to recently published reports. The study conducted by the Saratoga Springs electorate over a four-year period showed a direct correlation between serving positions of authority in City Hall and an abrupt decline in cognitive functioning.

Using CAT scans, complex equations and logarithms, researchers determined the average weight of the standard city commissioner’s brain decreased by about 10 percent –or roughly 140 grams –each year served at the public capacity. Similar studies conducted on deputy commissioners and department directors showed a similar decline in brain mass, though results varied significantly. Some deputy commissioners with prolonged exposure to City Hall were found to have lost nearly 50 percent of their brain mass.

“Frankly, I was astonished,” said one of the researchers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “One deputy was literally drooling on herself in a corner.”

The landmark study is now trying to link a precipitous decline in the city council’s aggregate intelligence quotient with the observed brain matter shrinkage. And given the recent discussions over an estimated $3.5 million budget shortfall, it won’t be too difficult.

When faced with a looming debt, city officials have the unabashed gall –or mind-numbing stupidity –to suggest they can’t do anything about it except levy more “revenue” somehow. Some even have the brazen, unabashed hubris to suggest all the spending in the bloated 2009 budget is due to “essential services.”

First-term Department of Public Works Commissioner Skip Scirocco claims his budget is already “operating on a shoe string” and that further cuts would create dire circumstances in the city. The threat suggests the city will be wallowing in filth and vehicles will be falling through pot holes if even a dime is removed from the DPW budget.

Likewise, Public Safety Commissioner Ron Kim said there is “no way” he’s going to be able to cut his budget. But no worries, he said; the city can always raise revenues.

That’s right. Raise revenue, a polite way of saying ‘raise taxes.’ Now it’s just a matter of where these taxes are going to be raised. Will it be in application fees? Will it be in property taxes? Will it be in the form of paid parking, or more traffic cops handing out bull-shit tickets?

Not surprisingly, the only voice of reason during the City Council’s discussion about the budget was a tax-weary resident named Albert Callucci, who watched the genesis of city’s mounting debt and was sounding the alarm months ago. Months ago, the pragmatic-minded Callucci warned city officials they shouldn’t rely on VLT aid from the state and suggested a rethinking of what the departments consider essential services.

But these calls fell on deaf ears. The council went ahead and included the VLT aid in the budget, even as the Paterson Administration warned of the impending belt-tightening at the state level. They also ignored something that is now known as the global recession or worldwide economic downturn. These are terms that suggest consumers might think twice about eating out five times a week or buying designer doggie shawls at a main street boutique. Translation: Sales tax receipts are going to dip.

But amid the fog of their collective brain atrophy, city officials instead decided to balance the badly off-balanced budget by raiding the dwindling fund balance. They also fudged a few numbers on the revenue side so that things wouldn’t look so bad. Everyone patted themselves on the back, crossed their fingers and went into hibernation over the winter.

Sure enough, the city is fucked. Not just fucked, but super-fucked. Porn-star fucked even; the kind of fucked that’s portrayed in some of the more salacious gang-bang videos featured in less savory corners of the Internet.

Now instead of planning for a budgetary shortfall, they’re faced with finding a knee-jerk way of filling city coffers before they go empty. And if anyone is doing the numbers, that won’t be very long. Estimates suggest the city has about $3.8 million of unallocated fund balance, which is just a $100,000 less than what the city is set to spend in 2009 if –and this is a big ‘if’ –all the departments stay on budget(pop quiz: Can anyone name the last time the Public Safety Department was under budget?) This is before even considering the city needs to keep a robust fund balance on hand and would have needed to replace what Finance Commissioner Ken Ivins removed last fall to present a zero-tax budget.

So basically, the city council has failed Saratoga Springs in a way that few could possibly fathom. But to place the onus on this gang of jokers is forgetting the ridiculous and frivolous spending of the previous council, which basically threw money into studies about pie-in-the-sky projects the city couldn’t afford even in a robust economy: a $35 million public safety building, a $6 million indoor recreation facility, unnecessary water pipelines to either the Hudson River or Saratoga Lake.

All along, the city was using the VLT aid –anywhere from $1.9 million to $3.4 million of state funding meant to cover the virtually non-exsistent negative municipal impacts of the racino –to balance an overweight budget that made a fat-back sandwich look lean. First it was the Republican Lenz Administration, and then the Democratic Keehn Administration. Now it’s Republican Mayor Scott Johnson who will have the dubious honor finding a way out of this decade-in-the-making disaster while trying to avoid becoming the city’s third-consecutive one-term mayor.

Simply put, there’s no easy way out of this debacle. Despite the sudden panicked calls for paid parking, there’s no way the city will be able to overcome its shortfall without making cuts to its workforce. If that means losing “essential services,” then so be it. The thinning ranks of the common people can’t afford to pay any more to support a city government that is designed as if the average residential income is seven figures. City workers need to be laid off, period. If that means no more street festivals, fine. If that means fewer leaf pickups in the fall, fine. If it means fewer cops on the street fine.

But before the departments punishing residents with diminished services, why not start where the city is fattest? Why not get rid of the deputy commissioners, the most corrupt and useless positions in the city? Eliminating the deputies is easy, as the Republicans demonstrated during the Dreyer scandal. Such a move would save the city roughly a half-million costs, if all five are sent packing.

So then who would run the city’s “essential services” you ask? Well, the commissioners for one. If they’re really interested in holding political office, they’ll need to work for their paltry salaries, not pawn off all the important decisions on political hack thoroughly unprepared to make them. Then perhaps maybe the voters would look beyond the names and political parties running for office and pay a bit more attention to their credentials. This prudence is direly needed these days, as the corruption and political patronage on both sides of the isle has crashed this city’s government into the wall with the force of a formula-one racer. Now the only thing left to do is pick up the pieces.

47 Comments:

Blogger George said...

Every time you raise taxes it cuts income. So if you are going to cut my income I want to see you suffer to.

Tell the Cops, fireman and DPW workers pick your poison pay cut or layoff.

Pretty simple really. The bigger the pay cut the more jobs saved.

1:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that the city is in far worse shape that the general public knows.
And I do belive you are correct that the solutions must begin now. There is exess in every department and that must be adressed first as labor is the largest expense.

But eliminating the deputies will be a mistake. The Commissioners and Mayor $14,500.00 a year and are technically part timers.

Governemnt Reform is now a neccessity.
Fold all departments into one larger organization.
A central operation will eliminate duplication and uneccessary functions.

Outsourcing of non-essential duties

Here are a couple of examples of functions that can be outsourced to other agencies or companies

1. City Payroll
(Paychex or payroll services)
Include a direct deposit process eliminating the need to fill out the payroll checks, record the checks, store the cancelled checks, and eliminate the significant distraction of supervisors handing out the checks will save a good deal of money.

All staff contracts expired on 12/31/08
We have nearly 350 full time emplyees and 100's of Part timers.


2. Recreation
We have a fine YMCA now and a very professional staff that could step in and do it much more efficiently and effectively.
The YMCA staff can move through city to the the various fields and also handle the registration process required to sign up for the Rec programs.

3. Civil Service
Saratoga County also has the exact same process, so we could operate through their existing structure.


The reshaping of the management structure can not come quick enough.

1:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kim's first campaign promise was to look into whether or not he would need a deputy.
After elected, he said he might need two deputies........

The commissioners usually overrule their deputies anyway, so you may have a valid suggestion.

Maybe Lew B could be a deputy in his spare time. Maybe we could eliminate some code "enforcers" who don't enforce anything. Maybe some assistant bldg inspectors, who have nothing to inspect in these hard times.

3:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Annon 1:25 PM:
You missed the City Development Director $120+K. What does he/she do? Don't we hav enough planners or wannabe planners)

Annon 3:37 PM: Privatize PS code enforcement. Big savings and no looking the other way ..

5:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been for the Rec Center for years, but in light of the current fiscal situation it's clear that we cannot move forward with it. It is a great idea, but the rest of the supporters need to face reality.

6:28 AM  
Blogger Huck Finn said...

Let a few of the cops and firemen go. The city has wayyyyyy too many of them. Am I the only one in Saratoga Spring who DOESN'T see crime? Unless you talk about the 'bad element' in front of Lillian's restaurant strumming guitars...

6:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

“Public Safety Commissioner Ron Kim said there is “no way” he’s going to be able to cut his budget. But no worries, he said; the city can always raise revenues.” Spoken like an investment banker (or one who better understands the one sided trap door of bankruptcy)

The last time this Commissioner was asked to investigate grants and secured funding for the “building for his future” campaign, he sandbagged all options that would have resulted in an appropriate solution to the self-inflicted problematic physical plant called the Police Station. Couldn’t grants and more secured funding have been looked into for moderate modern renovations and additions? Not only would have that project have shovel ready today, it would have already broken ground.

The reality of today’s shortfall in revenue will test ALL departments to heed those concerns for efficiency and better management. In case you haven’t noticed, most of us are doing just that already in our own lives. But it is because our Public Safety Department is our largest budget drain, it also has the greatest potential for discovering excessive waste -- accumulated during fat times. For the past four years and during the last two years when most perceptive people understood the fragility of dependence on ‘revenue streams’, the Commissioner blindly strove to increase his department’s cache by arguing for and increasing the size of his membership. An already swollen force for a small city, efficiency and better management was never a consideration. Maybe a product of universal Police management thinking, no one ever presented a study that examined the optimum size of a police force for a community the size of Saratoga Springs. Not surprising, today it takes two years and counting to get a list of apartment houses from the Accounts computer to the Public Safety computer in order to obtain a list for inspections.

So even as the singularly driven Public Safety Building Project and now the so-called ‘parking revenue panacea’ that started on the wrong premise by envisioning a facility that far exceeded the requirements of this City, and even the Committee's Chair once stated that, "the need is absolutely real, but in the end, public safety response has to be in proportion to community need, ability to pay and community desire for safety-related services", we still travel that path. The code talk there is, staff first, public second (no parades, no patrols, no dare instead of no overtime). He also understood that it was his Committee’s duty to identify revenue streams and he banked that responsibility squarely on the shoulders on the City’s present and future taxpayers. It was hardly a ‘whisper campaign’ that vocally recognized the unreliability of VLT monies, yet it was precisely that money that was earmarked with the City taxpayer expected to pay the difference. As we now negotiate contracts, do we recognize the role and importance of the taxpayer to support them?

Timing is everything, yet who could have predicted that that information that signaled the economic downturn and collapse of our financial institutions would have been kept quiet in the dark for 18 months while our own home grown Madoff’s encouraged non-sustainable development and spending? Could grants and more secured funding have been looked into? Yet apparently, we now have much needed funds for a SWAT team so that our next bank job won’t have to rely on the State Police tactical squads. Hmmm, maybe we need a helicopter and an amphibious team of seals for lake disturbances. It's high time for some PS liposuction and some nip and tucks for the rest of the City Departments. Take a cue from today's banking and auto giants by getting leaner and meaner.

Two words for the Finance Commissioner: Fiscal Conservatism

7:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With all the new construction in the city it is mind boggling that we are in such a financial mess,can anyone say mismanagement?
Perhaps it is time to consider a more efficient form of government that actually looks out for it's citizens.Enough is enough!

7:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The dems left the city in dire straits. Thinking that they could continue to suck on the state dem leaders tits to keep the milk and honey flowing. Guess what - they got screwed just like the rest of the country is by the progressives. Vote every one out of office dem or rep.

7:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The city has a policy that if you have a city cell phone it's for business use only...not for personal use and if you use it for personal you have to pay a rate per minutes.

Before the (now retired) purchasing person left there were cell phone bills of over $300 to individuals. I can't imagine what they are like now!

Why not charge the individuals who use them for personal use as well? That would cut a lot of fat out of the budget!

8:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about some of the non profits who are the biggest users of city services pony up. Seems they have a say in our city elections. Maybe they should start paying the consequences.

3:06 PM  
Blogger mark said...

The most amusing and well written post from Horatio yet! Made me laugh out loud, while it touched upon the serious flaws and shortfalls in our local government. We all need to do more with less. This includes local government, as well, not just personal finances. Ironically, the big loser in all this might be the kids over in the Terraces who will find their field in a new state of ruin when the construction of the Wreck Center ceases.

4:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The vocal voters are the newbys who don't/can't understand why people would oppose doubling the tax rate. After all it's still cheaper than Westchester. These are the same ones that expect a gourmet food market in town as a right. In actuality, the folks in town are solid middle class - they want their kids to play little league and soccer and stay away from drug dealers. They shop at Hanaford or Price Chopper with coupons clipped from the Saratogian or Post Star, not the NY Times or Boston Globe. There aren't enough of the rich progressives here yet to foot the bill and expecting the rest of us to step up and pay a long way away.

10:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

7:21... I thought Joe Bruno was a republican. He's the one who drove the Saratoga gravey train. How's that blow hard Tedesco doing? Remember his promise to get the tax money from the race track for the city and school distict? That hasn't happened yet. As a republican, all I can say is the Saratoga Republican Party is joke right now. Of course we always have that 100-year-old carpet bagger Farly or fairly or whatever his name is, helping us in the Senate.

As for the city, the Saratogian ran City wages last year. Take a look at how many DPW workers made over $50,000. That's a lot of money to flush oil down the toilet at the city garage.

1:34 PM  
Anonymous 1 + 1 = 2 said...

We, by that I mean us proud American Christian Foot Soldiers, especially liked the "fuck" paragraph.

2:16 PM  
Blogger Faulkner said...

How about an extra 25 cent tax on every single alcoholic drink served in Saratoga? You will be flush by the end of the summer.

8:37 PM  
Anonymous agphoto said...

hear, hear faulkner! if that isn't enough the key to revenue enhancement is right under everyone's nose:

4:20 - evidently there's a mkt for this.

we used to debate about the morality of racino's; now they are a fact of life.

Return saratoga to it's heyday of debauchery and it's rightful place as Sodom... or is it Gomorrah? If alky and weed taxes aren't enough; let's go brothels!

And no, i am not kidding... the first politician that comes out in favor of a real solution, as opposed to parking meter quarters, bake sales and/or similar stupidities, gets my vote.

Oh, and welcome back HO! When are you going to post about your vacation with the Somali pirates? : )

5:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last time I checked on it, property transactions like the sale of the house on Greenfield Ave (behind the Riggis) need to be recorded at the county clerk's office.
Can't somebody just do a little research?
You mean to tell me that our city hall people don't know who owns property in their own city?

5:13 AM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...

1:25,

The reason I argue for the deputies to be eliminated is that they're really nothing more than patronage jobs. And in the case of the DPW and Public Safety, they're basically useless. DPW has a high-paid director's job and Public Safety has high paid chief's jobs. Those are positions civil service would never let the city eliminate.

But the deputies? They're basically like glorified secretaries. Take for instance my personal favorite: Eileen Finneran. She's spent her entire tenure as a deputy (in both the mayor's office and PS office) basically using the position to play politics. Remember the report of her skulking around the Board of Elections during working hours?

I was at first thinking you'd need to boost the commissioner's pay. But upon further thinking, why? They'll be the same, part-time defacto leaders they are today. But the change would place a greater onus on the directors of each respective office. The only one who might need to go full-time is the Mayor.

As for the rest of your ideas, I think they're all very thoughtful and measures that should be done without regard to the ongoing fiscal crisis. As you've shown, there are certainly ways to cut. The problem is, the people with the power to cut aren't thinking outside the box. And frankly, I don't think they're thinking at all...

Huck,

Ron Kim just told us we don't have enough cops and firemen. I tend to agree with you though. We've got a worst-case scenario PS force. Fortunately enough, we really haven't seen such a calamity since the the convention center fire decades ago.

7:00,

Here, here. Again, I refer to my above comment about the worst-case scenario. When was the last time we needed a SWAT team here? If there was a rapid response need in Saratoga, would the state police be all over that like white on rice?

7:10,

Admittedly, the city council has done very little over the past decade to allay calls for a new government. But don't expect to solve the problem by merely changing the structure. The problems in the city's government are endemic to local governments on a whole. Most people running for public office locally have one of two goals: To use it as a stepping stone for something else(such as an assembly seat or a lobbyist position), or to create their own fiefdoms. On very rare occasions do you get a candidate that doesn't have either of these goals in mind. And there's a reason for it too. It's because hierarchies of the Democratic and the Republican parties basically want to have the final say in who comes into the system and who goes. In as much, they select candidates on the basis of so-called electability, instead of what a candidate will tangibly bring to an office.

So you can build whatever government you want; strong central mayorship with wards; constitutional monarchy; et cetera. It will still gravitate to the same mess we're in today.

7:21,

This fiscal mess has been a long time in the making. Anyone who has read this blog for a while will know I'm no fan of Val Keehen's. But to blame the entire mess on her is really marginalizing the whole issue. Lenz started the mess. Keehn furthered it. Now Johnson has basically done nothing to correct it. They're all equally culpable. As for the state, everyone knew the VLT aid was going to wither up(with exception to Val Keehn, the dolt who actually believed the Legislature chiseled the aid into stone). It's hard to blame the Dem administration for cutting aid the city didn't deserve in the first place.

As much as I loathe the Racino(and boy do I loathe it), the thing is a money-maker. It draws people to the city. They spend money, we get the sales tax. And as much of a bane on society that it is, the Racino hasn't caused an outbreak of crime in the city. Thus, it's only natural to think the fund would --and did --eventually wither up. We're lucky we got it for as long as we did. It's a shame that three consecutive administrations pissed a multi-million dollar revenue stream into the wind. Had that money been saved, we'd have a nice $10 million nest-egg that could have gone toward a number of public benefit projects.

Faulkner,

A painful pox on you for suggesting such a tithe! Alas, the state is already banging me for a their latest booze tax. I'd rather watch this city crumble into the fault line running along Route 50 than pay an extra quarter on my already overpriced libation!

agphoto,

The 'weed tax' is a serious consideration that even California's Republican Gubenator is considering. I'm frankly astonished the state Legislature hasn't considered it. Being the first state to legalize marijuana for commercial use would be a huge shot in the arm for that state's economy. What would be the federal reaction to a wholesale breaking of the Marijuana Tax Act? It would be like a state-wide 4:20! Barbara Lombardo would spontaneously combust with tacky editorials...

But seriously, think of the level of tourism visiting Amsterdam each year solely for it's marijuana. Now think of the mass exodus of potheads taking weed sojourns to the state first in legalization. And if you really want to get dirty about it, station a bunch of cops on the Mass, Connecticut and NJ borders to arrest all the stoned boneheads bringing out herbal souvenirs...man what a money maker.

By the by, those pirates need to drink more rum...

5:13,

Property sales take a while to register. I'm sure the city, which is none too happy about the house being dismantled, has put an APB out on that deed. My guess is that its purposely being delayed by the buyer and/or seller. At the latest, we'll know by September, when someone pays the school taxes. But I imagine there is truth to the rumors circulating about the Riggis wanting more yard; they haven't come out to deny them, which any resident facing such criticism certainly would. Hence all the saber rattling on the city's end. They know they're powerless to do anything, so they went to the press about it. This will likely end the same way the scuffle over the Rip Van Dam did. The place will stay vacant and exposed to the elements. Once it rots to shit, the Rig...er...the 'new owner' will be able to demolish it for their own purposes.

7:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Granted Saratoga was jolted by the recession as most governments in the country were, but how in hell could the dolts in power seriously fold the VLT money into the budget? How could they think that the state wouldn't cut the VLT money. Especially after the way the state was going after it in the past. Stupidity is rampant and common sense is gone in out town.

1:43 PM  
Anonymous greed at its finest said...

Saratoga has been living in a dream world for awhile. Let's start with not living within its budget. Isn't that what spurred the housing mess? Spending beyond your means? How can the city not look at the state of the US economy.
Then move on to the cost of living in Saratoga. The average price of houses / condos are out of reach compared to the average income of people within the Saratoga limits. So who is able to purchase?
And retail rents on and near Broadway? They are over the asking price for rent in NYC, Chicago, and Atlanta. Does this make any sense? No wonder businesses have no inventory and are struggling to stay open. Has anyone noticed the lack of stores able to stay open nights? Who can afford to pay staff when there are no sales?

Saratoga needs a huge dose of reality. I work downtown. There are no buses full of people coming in to shop and eat, the Skidmore parents are no longer flush with cash, the restaurants have open tables, and there is no shortage of parking on Broadway during the week day. And not to poke a finger at the City Center, but where are the conferences?

Where do our elected officials think all their money will come from? If businesses struggle, so does the city payroll, etc.
And the "Raised revenue" can't be expect from failing businesses. As far as the police and "essential services", the last time I made a call, it took the cops 45 minutes to show up. They went to the wrong business first because someone wrote down the wrong address, and they said there was nothing they could do about the continued vandalism we had been seeing at night - they suggested we hire a private investigator - but wrote a report. PLEASE!

7:09 AM  
Anonymous I await Her return said...

The Progressives Prayer:

Val is great
Val is good
Take my word
Like you should

Times were bleak
Wisdom rare
Along came Val
Like fresh air

She gave us hope
She made us pure
No longer bored
We found our cure

We will rise
Again to thrones
Take my word
We've called our loans

Oh blessed Val
With a sigh
I seek your love
For spirits high


PS:
Val, I miss your front porch teaching sessions SO much!

Please: we need you!

8:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ivans does the budget, DPW never saw the budget until it was on the table, cut half million dollars, when told it would be around 200,000. DPW is working with 9 less people the the year before. You can do with less services, but remember that the people that pick up leave, plows the Streets. How much can you cut there, if you can't plow no one moves, that is a problem. The Commissioner is in the office aleast 7 hours a day, and has not had a day off since taking office. Pat Design works about 10 hr a day.

7:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At his salary, make it 14 hours a day.

DPW labor needs to be cut another 15%.

DPS needs a 20% cut.

Do it NOW!

7:10 AM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...

7:09,

I agree with the notion that Saratoga Springs really needs to find its identity. During the early 1990s, that was a diverse community that was affordable and unique. At some point, that turned into an upscale settlement for the rich. As you've suggested -and I agree -there was a significant impetus to turn the city into a mini-Manhattan. And it almost worked, had it not been for the lingering economic woes. The fact is, property speculators overdeveloped the city and made it unaffordable for the people who really added to the city's collective identity.

Regarding the police, I can't say I've ever had a problem with their response. They've always been fair and forthcoming with me on the sparse few occasions I've summoned them. I will say, however, I'm always amazed by the number of cops that show up to a routine call. One car and backup is fine. But when you have in excess of the three showing up, it draws me to wonder whether they're overstaffed.

7:32,

You are correct, Ivins does do the budget. But he doesn't do it by himself. DPW submits their own budget to the finance commish, who then crunches numbers and comes out with the city's total budget...which then goes before the whole council and gets adjusted until it's adopted.

Now, Scirocco's budget is the second largest in the city. In as much, it is his obligation to find the small insignificant costs that are driving it through the ceiling. And I can tell you safely, leaves and snow removal ain't what's driving the budget.

For instance, I vividly recall a moment earlier in the year when a crew of DPW workers were doing something over by the west side fields. There was one guy operating a front end loader, one guy helping him and three guys smoking cigarettes on the side of the road. Presumably, two of them were to control traffic(which they weren't doing) and the other was to supervise(which he wasn't doing). This is a classic scene I've happened into on a regular basis.

Mind you, I'm not saying this is unique to Scirocco's rule. The same shit happened under McTygue. But the bottom line is the department simply must trim costs and do jobs with three workers instead of five. If union mandates force the city to keep certain levels of workers on jobs, then the jobs themselves must be cut. The supervisors also need to get on the ball and make sure these guys are working, not treating their lungs to the smooth flavor of North Carolina's finest crop.

The problem I find with Scirocco is that he sold his soul to the unions back in 2007 and his up for re-election this fall. So basically, I don't have any faith that he'll try to cut down his department's hours or lay off workers, even if it's in the best interests of the city. Paterson tried that at the state level and look what's happened to his approval rating.

9:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How many men does it take to plant a street tree? SIX. Four to dig a 30-inch hole with shovels, five to backfill with shovels, a supervisor to read the work order and three trucks and a backhoe. Complaining about Union guarantees generates the only sweat these days for these dolomites.

Now with a proposed Beaver Pond subdivision, the DPS starts bellowing that it doesn't have enough prowl car time to circulate around another couple of streets?

Paleeezzzzz.

4:12 AM  
Blogger george said...

There is just so much waste just Sunday at the auto show in the State park were two Dare cops and a car and all I could tell they were doing was looking pretty and having their picture taken and Kim Phat Duong says he’s down to essential services

4:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think she's doing double duty with Billy and her other advisor. It's so nice to see boys sharing, isn't it?

11:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem is in Albany. Don't those idiots know that VLT means Very Low Taxes! We Saratogians are being fed lies when the state says the money needs to go to deserving, poorer communities. I think that Schumer should pressure Obama to provide a targeted bailout for communities that are forced to raise taxes enough to support their outrageous spending - after all, it's only fair.

7:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They don't call them VLT's anymore.
Take a look at the billboard on South Broadway near the Kaydeross bridge.

In bold letters is clearly says "1700 Slots".

They used to have State Police stationed at the Racino for the first few years. Guess what? No problems, and the police were snoozing on the job.
Now that the State police are gone, they tried stationing the local PD there. They don't even do that anymore.
I say that until our city gets a share of the take, we provide NO SERVICES to the Racino.
And that means no more DPW cleaning up the messes along the roads leading into the Racino. If you don't believe me, just take a ride out Nelson Ave and Jefferson St and you will see city trucks there almost every day picking up the litter from the Racino.

8:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Obama should direct bailout funds to the citizens of all local governments that are run by bumbling fools that want to build unnecessary rec centers and public saftey facilties at the height of an economic downturn and budget shortfalls.

And then he should impose some sort of federal takeover of any city that elects as its mayor anyone named Johnson, Kim or Keehn.

1:30 PM  
Anonymous Bored Housewife on Prozac said...

My ribs are hurting from all the laughing I have been doing lately whenever someone mentions the idea of Ron Kim running for mayor.

I mean, it just gets me!

Ha Ha ha ha . Ho ho ho ho ho!

See what I mean?

5:32 PM  
Blogger Faulkner said...

I'm going on hunger strike until there is a new post.

5:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a life long Republican and it turns my stomach to think about voting for Scott Johnson or Ken Ivins.
These two self proclaimed "fiscal Conservatives" are full of *#@*!.
Beach Projects, Dog Parks, Trails and the GD Wreck Center!! They must note be reading the paper.
Come on can you say RECTAL CRANIAL EMERSION!
John Herrick has these boys drinking the Kool Aid.
They must think we are all stupid

Ron Kim has got Saratoga Springs priorities straight.
I am voting for him.
He will get the job done!! Lets get rid of these knuckleheads Johnson and Ivins!!!

6:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

5:32 PM - If Mr. Failometer has hopes to run as a Mayor or as an Administrator in a "new form of government”, he forgets that the public has a memory obviously longer than his own.

Having run keenly with his rebellion three years ago (for Charter Change) complaining that Commissioners innefficiently only “ focus on their departments and not the Public at large” he squandered the opportunity to prove himself a worthy Administrator by not only helping to politically sabotage the majority on the Council he might have enjoyed, abdicating his administrative duties and placating to the requests of his employees instead of his electorate but also, for creating chaos for the last year desiring to prove his fail-o-meter vision. No one can even begin to dissect the bizarre loss by his majority Council colleague and mayor who sat and watched every opportunity and responsibility slip through her hands.

Yes, dazed and confused summarizes today’s Saratogian quote:

“… former mayor Valerie Keehn, who is not sure what position she might run for; and Commissioner of Public Safety Ron Kim, who also said he was not sure what position he will run for.”

6:30 AM  
Blogger george said...

To life long Republican your about as much a Republican as Val Keehn.nice try

11:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No doubt we are going through some tough economic times..but Johnson, Ivins, Frank and the Republican party are exploiting this down turn and creating a fiscal crisis. These people, along with their political slug deputies are incompentent. They vote for an unrealistic and irresponsible budget, continue to add new spending, and thumb their noses to new revenue. There only solution is to lay off people. They intend to deal with this self inflicted crisis on the backs of City employees. Just lay off 30 or 40 people and everything will be just fine. I hardly think so!!! I'm a life long loyal republican...or at least I was. I definitely intend to be very active this election cycle as we all should be to defeat these morons and bring back a more responsive and intelligent government. Vote no to Johnson, Ivins, Wirth, Frank.

12:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know that we are on hard times and the city has to cut their budget. In DPW do you cut all of the part timers and the labor people, the worker bees, or the high paying job. Now you have to remember that DPW has alot of Grant money coming in to do jobs with and if they don't have the man power they will have to return the money. That is one problem, another is you have to pay unemployment. Take the 4 of July event, Iven has the money to pay DPW, but the employees may not be there, they maybe gone already. And DPS, I can't even go there. Maybe they should start looking at having the employees paying more of ther insurance, even the retirees.

5:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Me thinmr. herrick still thinks he lives in the village of stillwater. As a life long republican I can honestly say Ivens and Johnson have recently lost the city of saratoga. Can't wait for these clowns to start going door to door. Maybe tigho and his 3-4 akas will make tem believe they are doing the right thing. Maybe Kenny can bring chariot fights, Gladiator fights, Revolutionary war enactments, Civil War enactments, WW1,WW2, Korea, Vietnam and gulf war reanacments to Congress park for his hobby.Ivens and Johnson are to Saratoga Springs what Cheney and Rumsfield were to the National security of this country. Fudge the numbers to make the republicans look good and sacrifice the citizens to do it. Rethinking my membership to the GOP, as are several residents.

6:25 PM  
Blogger muldoonmedia said...

Lets cut the fat just like they did and still do at the Visitors Center and the Racing Museum which is primarily run by volunteers.

Get rid of half of the DPW staff and get qualified volunteers to help plant and water flowers etc. (See I just saved Saratoga a half a million dollars right there)

Get rid of secretaries in City Hall, every mayor should know how to type and file paper work- lets implement the working class mentality "if you want something done, then do it yourself!"

Get rid of the Racino and turn it in to affordable housing for working class people. The Racino adds NOTHING of quality to this community and its the beginning of the ghetto-ization of Saratoga.

Put a moratorium on developing any new commercial structures for the next 5 years. Thats right folks, no new shopping centers, condos etc. We don't need any more!!

Regarding police overstaffing, yes they are overstaffed even though they consistently deny it, Jasper Nolan just stated at a GOP convention recently that Saratoga Springs is the safest community in ALL of NEW YORK STATE!!

As much as I like to bitch and complain, Mr. Nolan is correct and we should all feel proud and grateful to live in such a community!

The only time we need an excess of law enforcement is when the tourists blow into town and mistakenly think that they own the place and have to right to do whatever they want at the expense of the locals. WRONG!!

5:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I’m all for efficient and cost effective government, unfortunately there a contradiction of terms. That said I do not believe that taking a chain saw to the 2009 budget will advance any real or long lasting reform. One way or another we will pay for any cuts now being suggested. Whether it is a loss of service, property, an increase in insurance costs, or crime. These reckless cuts can even cost a life. Bottom line, one way or another we’re going to pay. We need to intelligently assess our revenue and expenditure lines; identify items of value, not just cost and then prioritize those items. Any efficientsy discussion must start with this form of government. How difficult is it to find one good candidate to hold public office? We have to find 5. Five good candidates to function both as administrators and legislators. Five good candidates that have no political agenda other than to service the public honorably. Five good candidates that will appoint competent and well qualified deputies, not just political hacks who worked on their campaign. Five good candidates that are not in the pockets of special interests groups; DBA, Chamber, Developers, Unions, Landlords, Reps and Dems. It’s time to broom this form of government and allow well qualified and professional administrators manage the City.

3:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Never thought of it like that before...........

GET RID OF THE RACINO.....

Other than providing income to the businesses who sell oxygen to the seniors who frequent the place, what good does it do our city?

Employment you say? Heck, the highest paid people there are retired cops (police chief included) who are already collecting weekly pensions that are higher than most Saratoga residents earn by working 40+ hour weeks..........and working those hours.

Just shut the place down, get rid of the gamblers. The Seniors will have more spending money....instead of losing their social security checks every month.....

Let the horses run their races for the die-hards.

4:19 PM  
Anonymous Mr. Sarcasm said...

Don't worry. All is gonna be alright. Hank Kuczynski is running again. How lucky are we?

4:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A few suggestions

1. By stopping the work at The Rec Center that would save $900,000.00 a year.

2. Let's consolidate departments.

By folding The Accounts Department and Finance office into the Mayor's office will save nearly $500,000.00 per year.

3. Contracting payroll services to an outside service and changing pay days to every two weeks vs every week will save nearly $250,000.00.

4. Contract with The YMCA to provide Recreation Services saving nearly $350,000.00

5. Sell the unused city beach on Saratoga Lake. ?? not sure what the debt service is on that. May be nearly 100,000.00

6. Encourage city workerforce early retirements. This is not a short term savings but certainly needs to happen to achieve long term results.

7. Develop a parking commission to study and develop a well thought through parking review to determine a solution. This may become a revenue source if done correctly.

8. Collect the back taxes owed to the city.
The Finance Office is sitting on well over 400,000.00 in back taxes.
Collect them please.

Does the city pays the School District taxes for the property even if the property owner does not pay the city. ??? Why?

This result is well in to 3 million dollars in savings and growing.

Why would we want to slash jobs that provide essential services and the city has spent years and 100's of thousands of dollars training them?
The people who lose jobs due to layoffs are also the lowest paid and are the future of the departments.
Once released, they will be recruited by other local municipalities and will be unavailable when we have opening due to retirements.
Then we go back to the raw recruit who needs the training before they can start working. I do understand that ALL departments need to be trimmed, but doing it wisely is the most effective...Not Political!

Commissoner Ivins wanted suggestions!

Well what about these?

These are "real dollar savings"

3:56 AM  
Blogger george said...

Every time you raise my taxes you in effect are cutting my salary my spending money. If the police fireman and dpw workers really want to save jobs they could voluntary offer to cut their salaries. End of problem.

That was simple wasn’t it?

6:22 PM  
Anonymous I Used to be Mayor, Don'tcha Know! said...

I'm writing my acceptance speech for Saturday.

Does anyone know if it's spelled "committe" or "comitte" or "committee" or "comite"?

I asked Gerard, but he's a little ..slow (but don't tell him I said that, ok?)

8:00 AM  
Anonymous I Used to be Mayor. Don'tcha Know! said...

Ummmmm, uhhhhhhhhh.......excuse me:

Did you people forget about...me?

Where's that Supervisor nomination and endorsement I asked for?

I know, little Miss Smarty Pants didn't want any part of sharing the spotlight with me. But since when did she run this party?

Helloooo! Did I miss a memo?

I'm calling Vanguard right now.

Peter: you're in deep poop now! You, too, Al.

9:45 AM  

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