“I’m 46 years old I’ve been running past the guys while their changing in their underwear all the time they get a little bit miffed, but it doesn’t shock me,” she explains. “I just feel bad for the junior females that have to go through that…”
Wait, stop. Freeze that frame for a minute. Take a closer look behind Cotter. There’s a blue bumper sticker on locker 12, several inches above the officer’s head. The sticker stands out starkly among the dented grey lockers. But even starker is the message it sends: Elect Scott Johnson.
It’s hard to mistake the message, especially if you’re Al Turkheimer, the chairman of the city’s Democratic Committee. And given the party’s endorsement for mayor –Public Safety Czar Ron Kim –it’s a message he clearly received.
There are sparsely few plausible explanations for the committee selecting Kim for their endorsement, and none of them are too soundly rooted in logic. First of all, there’s the obvious: Kim’s department is the last sanctum of the deposed mayoral administration of Valerie Keehn. His deputy, Eileen Finneran, is a large source of the political bickering that shredded the party in the run up to the 2007 election.
In as much, Kim’s candidacy is dividing decision, albeit one far less divisive than tabbing Keehn herself. Still, if the Dems were looking for a unifying voice, they effectively strangled it into silence by running Kim.
Of course, there are Kim’s own idiosyncrasies, which make him an easy target for the veritable tsunami of Republican attack ads come November. He’s not a gifted orator and is highly prone to munching on his own shoe. His shoot-first-and-forget-about-the questions attitude toward government have virtually filled newspaper archives with a cornucopia of direct quotes that make him sound akin to a rabid mental patient still high on his last Thorazine shot he received before fleeing the ward.
His nearly four years in office is littered with failed ideas that basically sucked from the get-go. Not even two months after he took his oath, Kim was already pining for a second deputy for his office. He quickly sided with the Keehn Administration and inexplicably selected patronage sponge Lew Benton for his public safety facility planning committee. That panel of geniuses returned a solely taxpayer-funded plan to build a Public Safety Castle almost as large –and even more expensive –than the $25 million Breyo mansion.
But why stop there? Kim is also known for becoming red-faced when he doesn’t get his way. When his fellow city councilors refused to advance a ‘more affordable’ $17 million public safety facility –one that carried an average tax rate increase of roughly $200 per year –he stormed out mid-meeting.
And then there’s the taxpayer-funded “failure-ometer,” which ironically ranks as one of Kim’s greatest failures. First posted in a basement window in City Hall, the placard was intended to count the days in which the City Council ‘failed’ to act ‘an even more affordable’ $11 million public safety facility. A clearly-high-on-ether Kim told at least one media source he planned to take the failure-ometer on tour throughout the city. The whole incident drew a stern and well-warranted rebuke from the mayor Kim is now set to challenge.
“It’s an unfortunate example of New York Post-style sensationalism that is inappropriate for the dignity of City Hall,” Johnson told the Times Union.
So why the fuck did the Dems choose Kim? Well, let’s get back to the sticker in the Spa City’s police station. The police and fire unions are two voting blocks that can easily swing a close election in favor of a candidate. Generally in Saratoga, these unions have been known to ally themselves with the Republicans. As some may recall, the firefighters illegally used their station in 2006 to host a John Sweeney meet-up with former New York City Mayor Rudy Guilani. And of course, there’s the sticker brazenly displayed in the police department’s locker room.
Things have changed since then. Police Chief Ed Moore stood behind Keehn and Kim by extension, because both were offering him a palatial department featuring his own plush office. Kim has also been an ardent proponent of allowing the already-out-of-control overtime budget blast through a ceiling no previous administration could have ever imagined.
In fact, Kim has kowtowed to the police and fire unions whenever possible. Now he’s put both Johnson and Republican Finance Commissioner Ken Ivins on the defensive by saying the proposed $1.3 million worth of cuts to the public safety budget will prompt him to slash nearly three dozen jobs, including 14 firefighters and 18 cops.
In its infinite wisdom, the Saratogian has already blamed these proposed layoffs on Ivins and made special note that he is in fact the Republican on the same slate of candidates as Johnson. This sort of propaganda fuels Kim’s run by jumping his support base beyond just the unions and their families. This is despite the fact that it was Kim himself who proposed the cuts and said he wouldn’t support them at the same time. Now how’s that for brazen stupidity?
Yet the fickle and easily swayed electorate isn’t known for its intelligence. Just one little white lie in the media can explode into a full-blown scandal that will sink even the most formidable opponents. Just ask former Public Works Commissioner Tom McTygue about the FBI investigation lie that helped sank his re-election campaign. In other words, the party is of the mind that they can capitalize on the outrage Kim has prompted himself, and then use it to show Johnson and his ilk as band of callous ogres looking to diminish public safety.
The sad part is that Johnson’s administration has caused enough actual tumult now that just about any viable candidate could vanquish him from office. Unfortunately for the Democrats, Kim is not and never will be a viable candidate for anything. His popularity as a public safety commissioner was largely derived from the aforementioned hysteria and the Republicans keep running human gongs against him. That will all change now. And unfortunately for Turkheimer, there’s a good chance the Republicans will take four out of five council seats come next fall.