Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Deputize me

Despite the waning early fall temperatures, there seems to be a warm front blowing in. And a lot of the hot air seems to be derived from pre-election speculation over the names being floated for the city’s five deputy positions. Namely, this talk has focused on the future deputy mayor and the future deputy Public Works commissioner.

In the race for Public Works, some Web denizens have argued electing Eddie “The Hotdog Guy” Miller would usher in a new reign for the ever-polarizing Tom McTygue. There’s been little doubt about the friendship between these two men –both former horse trainers –and it has fueled rumors that Miller’s run could be backdoor way for McTygue to once again insert himself into the forefront of city politics.

Similar is the talk following soon-to-be former Public Safety Commissioner Ron Kim’s peculiar run for mayor. The term ‘peculiar’ is used here because Kim has decided against doing much campaigning. That’s perhaps because he has literally has no platform to run on, aside from being an council obstructionist and a shill for the city’s all-powerful police union –a group that recently formed a political action committee. Now Kim is rumored to be considering former mayor and political lighting rod Valerie Keehn as his deputy.

Now, voters should be cautioned that both these rumors are far from credible. In fact, they’re both rather incredible considering the voters showed both of these political hacks to the door not much more than two years ago.

Tom McTygue, while not entirely irrelevant in city politics, is no longer a stakeholder in city affairs because he doesn’t own property in Saratoga Springs. His legacy remains marred by stories of corruption and favoritism; tales that haven’t abated in his absence. Miller choosing McTygue as his deputy before the election would be almost as egregious as him selecting the deposed DPW commish after a victory in November.

Likewise, Kim tabbing Keehn as a running mate prior to the election would be enough to get him laughed off the ballot. And Kim even contemplating such a deputy selection is enough to convince some that he’s more deserving of a hot tar bath with some feather than a seat guiding the city into the future.

Interestingly enough, Kim and Miller victories followed by the aforementioned deputy appointments could make city council meetings a bit more interesting to watch. Even riding in the so-called back seat of the deputy position, the death stares between McTygue and Keehn would be enough for Time Warner to sell pay-per-view tickets. Can you say revenue idea?

But seriously, the number-one problem facing the Spa City’s bizarre commissioner-style of government is that voters are never sure who they’re electing into office. Many Democratic-leaning voters pulled the lever for Kim, thinking they’d be re-electing his staff. Instead, they ended up prolonging the administration of Eileen Finneran, Keehn’s former deputy mayor and arguably the one who was calling the shots behind the scenes in her failed administration.

In contrast, Skip Scirocco made it quite known that Pat Design, a former deputy under McTygue, would be his pick for the ‘number two’ position during his 2007 campaign for Public Works Commissioner. No doubt, this was a politically attractive selection because Design carried clout among a number of DPW workers; namely the more moderate ones not dynamically opposed to McTygue.

But regardless of his reasons for selecting a running mate, Scirocco did the right thing: He was honest about his choice to run his department’s day-to-day operations. And the other candidates could learn a thing or two from his example, even if it was one made with political intent.

All candidates running for council should publically disclose their deputies long before November. Their choice shouldn’t be a surprise sprung on the public as the New Year dawns. This is called full disclosure, and aside from changing the city charter, it’s about as close to accountability as a candidate can offer the public.

Yet none of them do. Instead, they wait for the election to shake out and then chose candidates from a pool of campaign workers or political insiders. These choices are often made on a basis of who knocked on the most doors during the campaign; or even worse, who has the most political clout with a given campaign.

Speaking of accountability, how come reporters never ask the commissioner candidates who their choice for deputy would be? How come this is a question that the media typically glosses over both before and after the election? Most times, the selection of the deputy commissioners is one that is relegated to briefs or short, back-page articles chucked into the void of news created by December’s holiday laundry list. So here’s a challenge to all of you reporters out there: Ask who these people plan to chose as their Deputy Dawg, and don’t take “I don’t know” for an answer. If they don’t know at this point, they are either lying or they don’t belong in office.

30 Comments:

Blogger Bologna Bob said...

finally, another post. i thought you had retired Ho. i have to say that this blog has finally motivated me to vote in our local elections. ive never been too informed on the inner workings of our local government, but i find it fascinating and extremeley disappointing at the same time.

11:10 AM  
Blogger Andrew J. Bernstein said...

Horatio,
For the record, both Val Keehn and Commissioner Kim have denied the rumor that she would be deputy mayor, should Kim be elected.

I'll be happy to accept your challenge, and will post that question to candidates we interview for endorsements.

Also, remember that former Deputy Public Safety Commissioner Frank Dudla has been tied (though, not officiall) to candidate Richard Wirth: http://saratogacitydesk.blogspot.com/2009/08/wirth-running-mate.html

11:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good post
It is becoming more and more difficult to find "qualified" deputies who may be able to assume the role. The pool is pretty shallow and the sharks are pretty big!
Not a job for the faint of heart.

12:57 PM  
Anonymous Gumshoe said...

Finnegan is bad, no doubt. But Sutton, the deputy mayor is worse. She is nothing but trouble and may cost Johnson re-election. Finnegan cost Keehn her bid for 2 more years by getting her involved in the McTygue mess. Keehn should have kept Nancy Olin as her deputy and she would still be there. As for Sciroco, his deputy is a mook! The monkey and the organ grinder!

2:15 PM  
Anonymous Demanding to see Ron Kim's high school diploma said...

McTygue and Miller are both former harness track trainers? Say what?

What are you doing here, Ho? Auditioning for a job as a reporter at the Saratogian?

4:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrew J Bernstein:

Frank Dudla returning as Deputy Public Safety Commissioner? What a hoot! Maybe he could run a Stop DWI program. He has the perfect qualifications for it, just like John Sweeney did in Rensselaer County.

5:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did another blogger disappear ? Calling Nancy Muldoon !

6:32 PM  
Anonymous PlanetAlbany said...

Well I see one of them has posted a comment above, but I don't think there is exactly an army of reporters covering City Hall. Didn't I read on this blog or somewhere about how the news media are disappearing? We're gonna be stuck with just you -- not that you ain't mahvellous and all.

6:43 PM  
Anonymous I met Val on Match.com said...

And what about city attorney if Kim is elected? Can you say Peter Tulin.

Remember Kim’s motto. “Better to rule in hell than serve in heaven”

6:47 PM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...

Andrew,

You're on. And thank you for taking the iSaratoga challenge...By the by, I approach both rumors (of McTygue and Keehn as deputies)with a more than healthy, mountain-sized grain of salt. Frankly, I think it's just banter to derail both campaigns. In the case of Ron Kim, I'd say with fair certainty that Finneran would remain his deputy. But I'd also wager a fair amount of the aforementioned mountain of salt(think of the street value) that she'll end up back in the PS department if Connolly wins and Kim doesn't. The DFCers are hedging their bet in this council race, mark my words. The grand prize is the mayor's office. The consolation prize is the PS department.

Demanding,

Common. Cut me some slack. Thoroughbreds, standardbreds. They're both horses right? That makes both of them horsemen right?!? COMMON. I'M A PEOPLE PERSON. DON'T YOU PEOPLE UNDERSTAND?!? Anyway, thanks for the correction. My mind was dithering somewhere between my last beer and the morning coffee.

1:22 AM  
Anonymous Deputy Hack said...

In a new form of government we could be rid of this deputy problem. They are all unqualified political hacks who are there only because of their campaign loyalty. None are qualified. Save 350G plus benefits by getting rid of them.

4:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gumshoe, I'm new to town and this blog, please tell me what's wrong with the current deputy mayor? Thanks

5:17 AM  
Anonymous Jasper or Ronney,Jasper or Ronny said...

One night a Skip had a dream.
He dreamed he was walking along the new city beach with Ron.
Across the sky flashed scenes from his life.
For each scene, he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand:
one belonging to him, and the other to Ron.

When the last scene of his life flashed before him
he looked back, at the footprints in the sand.
He noticed that many times along the path of his life in DPW
there was only one set of footprints.
He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times of his life like when he lost his seat in the board of supervisors to a girl.
This really bothered him and he questioned Ron about it: "Ron, you said that once I became your bitch
you'd walk with me all the way.
But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in on the council there is only one set of footprints. I don't understand why when I needed you most you would leave me."
Ron replied:
"Skip you stupid fuck, During your times of confusion and stuttering,
when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I and the Saratoga Democratic Committee got you elected

8:14 AM  
Anonymous I demand an IQ test as a qualifier to voting said...

Dep Hack,

Yeah, right--and replace it with what? Twenty-four city legislators at $X per year?

Here's a better name for this whoile Charter Change thing:

The Fair Employement Act for the DFC Bored Housewives Club

And you think that group of Einsteins will somehow magically guide us into the Promised Land?

Good luck with that....

8:39 AM  
Anonymous City Historian said...

Anonymous 5:17

Welcome. Allow me to help.

Here is the Clift Notes version of Saratoga politics.

- The Republicans ruled for many many decades. They represent the typical Republican "Main Steet Business USA" ideals: let the local housing industry (developers, lenders, agents, insurance brokers, etc) do their thing and keep out of their way.

- Within the past decade, the worm began to turn as many residents started looking around and concluding that this town was looking more and more like the Long Island shithole from which many of them escaped.

- The straw that broke that camel's back was what you will hear referred to as "thwe county water line project'. The debate that took place a few years back was "should the city sign onto this project?" The Republicans stood for the "yes" (more sprawl in and out of the city limits is a good thing)POV while the Dems represented the "no" side (enough shitty development!)

- Lo and behold, the Dem's argument won the day and they were swept into power.

- With that, came two political unknowns that were basically just along for the ride and took advantage of the coattails effect of that victory. Their names: Val Keehn and Ron Kim.

- The two of them quickly went down in history as two of the most incompetent public officials the city has ever seen.

- Two years later, that incompetence - combined with their vicious desire to control the city Democratic party-- resulted in the Republicans winning back the Council. Amazingly, Kim remained, due to the lack of a serious challenger.

- The result: the city Democratic party has still not recovered, and is actually now controlled by the lunatic , cult-like fringe followers of Ms Keehn and Mr Kim. That power grip is showing signs of weakening, though. But in the interim, they couldnt even field a competent and viable slate of candidates for the upcoming election.

- Oh yeah, about the Deputy Mayor. She your typical Republican hack serving a Republican mayor. But you should have seen the one serving the aforementioned Mayor Keehn.

That one makes the current one look like a genius!

10:29 AM  
Blogger Andrew J. Bernstein said...

Commissioner Ivins just told me that if he is re-elected, he intends to keep working with Deputy Commissioner of Finance Kate Jarosh.

12:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey 6:32pm

I have not disappeared, I just moved to saratoga.com
yesterday, you may find my new blog there.

citizen Nancy Muldoon

1:01 PM  
Anonymous Sauerkraut and Mustard said...

I'd have to agree with the deputies being useless. The mayor's deputy couldn't handle the dead bodies in the cemetery she works at. She has no people skills and a personality of a junkyard dog. People wish to be treated with respect and she doesn't have the ability to do any of this. She was put in the position as a personal payback for helping the mayor get elected. Spencer Helwig was Johnson's campaign manager and screwed things up so she took over.

1:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's wrong with the current deputy mayor?

Before running Scott Johnson's successful campaign to be the munchkin mayor, the only job Shauna Sutton had was as superintendent of Greenridge cemetery.

She's never had any experience dealing with living people over 5"2" and it shows. When faced with a normal human being she always says something stupid or nasty that reflects badly on the city and its people.

Time for her to go. The only problem is that if Little Scotty gets rid of her, he won't have any supporters left at all.

5:19 PM  
Anonymous Kyle York said...

Please forgive me for repeating myself--

WHERE DID ‘WE’ GO?
By Thomas L. Friedman
September 29, 2009 (NYT)

"The American political system was, as the saying goes, 'designed by geniuses so it could be run by idiots.' But a cocktail of political and technological trends have converged in the last decade that are making it possible for the idiots of all political stripes to overwhelm and paralyze the genius of our system. Those factors include a blogosphere that at its best enriches our debates, adding new checks on the establishment, and at its worst coarsens our debates to a whole new level, giving a new power to anonymous slanderers to send lies around the world."

Please forgive me for repeating myself. Hey, why break a cherished CyberSaratoga tradition?

-Kyle York
Facebook Friend of John Hancock

7:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

City Historian has it down pretty perfectly as far as this Saratoga Dem. is concerned. Partisan hacks have ruined everything, from local politics, all the way to the president. Pax, PhilthyRex

8:09 PM  
Anonymous Foghorn Leghorn said...

Kim's fundraiser last night was an overwhelming success. And by success, I don't mean SUCCESS than half assed organization with Remiga Foy is spearheading. I thought she was in Wesley with the rest of the old bags.
Kim had cars and people spilling all over the place. I was proud to be part of that scene.

3:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HO:

Three deputy options for Dickworth if he gets elected Public Safety Commissioner:

1. The private dick picks the public drunk and we see the return of Frank DUDla.

2. He skips DUDla and brings back the criminal Erin Dreyer.

3. If the Republicans lose the mayor's office, he picks up the displaced deputy mayor and slides Shauna Slutton over to Public Safety.

It's hard to decide which option is worst. They're all dreadful, especially since whichever one it is will be paired with Dickworth. If they get into office, it will be hard times at Public Safety.

4:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just love to listen to people who mistrust the government and can't stand the thought of a public option.

There's generally a better than a 50/50 chance that these same complainers work or are retired from a government job and already have health insurance paid by the public.

5:51 AM  
Anonymous Captain Caveman said...

That's absolutely true about Dudla. He is a regular at many drinking establishments. Worth is a dick so that makes him Dickworth. He's a private eye so what's that tell anyone. He slime! `Ron Kim is the only real choice for mayor. Martin seems a better option than Ivins. This is easy.

2:19 PM  
Anonymous Kyle York said...

Captain Caveman-

Glad to see you've got computer access in your subterranean dwelling. With such connectivity, would you be so kind as to substantiate your slander with a specific reference or two? Should be easy.

-Kyle York
Investigating Voter

11:02 PM  
Anonymous The Captain said...

Vfw,Elks,Principessa Elena,Eagles,West Side stadium.

8:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tommy still owns property at the end of York Ave.

8:03 AM  
Blogger Horatio Alger said...

8:03,

The only property in Saratoga Springs that is listed under McTygue's name is on Henry Street. His wife also owns property out on Route 29. But in both cases, it's vacant land, which means he couldn't claim it as his residence...or at least not unless he moved a trailer onto it.

I guess it's possible the property you speak of is in an LLC owned by McTygue. But even in that case, he'd be hard pressed to convince critics of his intent to live there.

8:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In today's Ragatogian, Dickworth reported that he's still hanging around with DUDla, "inspecting" various locations. Must be a wine tasting tour. No mention of STOP DWI. That definitely won't be a priority if they get into office. Private dick. Public drunk. Total disaster.

5:10 PM  

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