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.