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Friday, 19 December 2014 10:33

Area Business Aiding in Ebola Fight

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Health tech company mySmartHealthcare is fighting the Ebola virus from right here in Saratoga Springs.

The company, which is headquartered at 60 Railroad Place, launched a series of online training courses aimed at training healthcare professionals on the proper use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) used to prevent the spread of infectious diseases such as Ebola.

Karen Cornelius, COO of mySmartHealthcare says, “We noticed such a broad fear of it [the Ebola epidemic], so we got on it right away.”

Cornelius explained that safety breaches were occurring due to a combination of misinformation and improper procedures. For example, some health care providers were using duct tape to secure gowns to their wrists and since the tape can be difficult to remove properly, this actually led to a greater risk of contamination. The company saw the need for better instruction and is now one of the leading producers of simulations for donning and doffing (putting on and taking off) PPE.

While mySmartHealthcare is based in upstate New York, their reach is international with customers in China, Singapore, South America, Russia, Turkey and Canada. Locally, mySmartHealthcare has partnered with Albany Med to accredit courses so staff can receive continuing education credits.

Cornelius says that their product is unique because “We create simulations that require the user to go through every single step, it’s very interactive.” Cornelius explained that before her company began producing their simulations, health care providers typically only had exposure to a basic safety video and training sessions often included a dozen or more people. After the brief training, Cornelius says, “Everyone was charged to go and just do it right.”

And that, she says, is where problems can arise.

Simulations with mySmartHealthcare are more interactive than a video or group presentation, and after completing the training, providers have to pass an assessment and prove that they are proficient.

Hospitals can then use this as evidence that they are following CDC guidelines. Institutions can also track every step of the simulation. For example, if a lot of users are struggling on a specific step (e.g. removing gloves), they can hold a special training on that particular action. The interactive portion of the training is important, because as Cornelius says, “You learn better when you do something yourself.”

In addition to primary provider training, mySmartHealthcare also offers trained observer instruction. During news coverage of the transport of the infected Dallas nurse, you may remember the outcry surrounding the plain-clothed person holding a clipboard. Many viewers asked why the individual was not wearing PPE; however, Cornelius says this person is actually an integral part of the team. A trained observer’s job is to ensure all providers are following correct PPE protocol. While they do not have to don and doff their own PPE, they must be trained to notice any safety gaps.

Most importantly, mySmartHealthcare’s training can be accessed 24/7. The company maintains that providers can access it “Anywhere, Anytime, and Just in Time.”

Cornelius says the simulations are so important because they allow for learning in a safe, virtual environment where providers can’t harm themselves or anyone else. “Practice makes perfect especially with low volume, high stakes procedures”, Cornelius says.

Published in News

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Over 3,000 participants will once again line up on Broadway near City Hall on Thanksgiving morning for the 13th annual Christopher Dailey Foundation Turkey Trot.

The 5k race is in memory of Christopher Dailey, who passed away suddenly the day after Thanksgiving in 2001, when he was an 8-year-old third grade student at Dorothy Nolan Elementary School. His parents, Mark and Maria of Wilton, began the steps to starting a foundation in his name just weeks later.

The idea was to build and pay for a recreational facility in Saratoga County for the children of the community—Chris was an avid baseball, basketball and soccer player.

In March of 2006, the Christopher Dailey gym was officially opened in Wilton at Gavin Park. By May of 2009, it was completely paid off. It’s now used for Junior NBA, after-school sports, travel teams and by many others.

As the foundation continues, the funds from the Turkey Trot and the family’s annual golf tournament have since contributed to a vast amount of other programs in the local community.

The foundation’s mission, including the Turkey Trot, is to: “Serve children in the Saratoga Community by providing resources that support youth athletics, the Christopher Dailey Foundation fulfills its mission through sponsorships for the needy, the physically challenged and all children who make sports a part of their life.”

Fundraising for the foundation has gone toward scholarships to local graduating students. It has also benefited the Special Olympics’ Young Athletes Program, as well as the Franklin Community Center’s Project Lift, the Double HH Ranch in Lake Luzerne, Saratoga Springs athletic facilities, Saratoga Youth Lacrosse, Saratoga American Little League, Wilton Youth Baseball, Saratoga Stampede Baseball, Saratoga Rowing, local Saratoga booster clubs, the Saratoga skating team and the Camp Chingacook Campership.

The foundation recently pledged to set aside funds for an adaptive playground in Gavin Park.

“We’ve been fortunate to have such a great community to support [the Turkey Trot],” said Mark on Sunday, the anniversary of his son’s passing on Nov. 23, 2001. “Somehow, it’s turned itself into a family tradition for a lot of people, so we’re happy to be able to have something like this occur as a result of what happened to us. It’s nice to have it in Christopher’s memory. It gives people a chance to think about him a little bit after all these years.”

There were a few hundred participants in the inaugural Trot in 2002. The event has since grown substantially.

Last year there were over 3,500.

As of Monday, that was around the expected number with over 3,000 registered and the big day being Wednesday night’s signup.

“We’re on path for that,” Mark said on Sunday. “One year we got over 450 on Wednesday, but either way it’s still a hefty number of people and it will be a full crowd.”

 

A series of pictures were put together for a slide show, which played as people signed up and collected their 2014 Turkey Trot packets from 4-8 p.m. Wednesday. The slide show documented the array of the Turkey Trot fundraiser’s contributions to the community as well as pictures from previous Trots.

After starting on Broadway at 8:30 a.m., the Trot continues on North Broadway past the Saratoga Hilton before looping into the Skidmore College through the second entrance and returning back down Broadway.

“We like the formula the way we have it for the race, and we want to keep it that way,” Mark said.

Before the race starts, Christopher’s younger brother Brendan, 14, will be one of the singers for the National Anthem—a yearly tradition for the race.

Mark and Maria’s daughter, Laura Rose, 24, has a best friend who will be joining Brendan in the pre-event singing.

 

“We’re looking forward to seeing all the regular people we know and new people who we don’t know,” Mark said. “We appreciate it very much.”

Published in News
Friday, 14 November 2014 11:16

Vehicle Searches: What You Need to Know

On Monday Nov. 10, a Saratoga County Sheriff’s Deputy abruptly resigned following charges of misconduct and harassment.  Sgt. Shawn R. Glans, a 27-year veteran of the force, stepped down after a video showing Glans harassing a young man was posted online over the weekend.

The incident began when Glans received a call reporting suspicious activity around 2:30 a.m. on Friday Nov. 7 near Route 236 in Halfmoon. By the time Glans and his fellow deputies arrived, the vehicle was gone, but a few minutes later they located another car matching the descripting in the Walmart parking lot.

Upon approaching the vehicle, Sgt. Glans noticed a .22-caliber rifle in the back seat and told the car’s owner, Colin Fitch, and his friend, Adam Roberts, that he wanted to search the car.

Fitch replied that he didn’t want Glans to perform the search without a warrant and the scene escalated from there. Glans, who was unaware that Roberts was videotaping the scene with his cell phone, grew more and more agitated during the confrontation. Glans’ speech was littered with curse words and in the video you can hear him allegedly slapping Fitch.

In a press release, Sheriff Michael H. Zurlo said, “The actions of Sergeant Glans both as a police officer and a supervisor were completely inappropriate and unwarranted and not condoned in any fashion by the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office.” Zurlo also maintained that Glans’ actions are not a reflection of the Sheriff’s Office as a whole.

In light of this incident and the pending charges, we decided to dig a little digger into the laws and rights surrounding car searches. The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution protects you from search or seizure without probable cause, but what exactly is probable cause? The most widely accepted definition is that the police must have reasonable suspicion that a suspect has committed a crime. Facts or evidence must be present. For example if an officer sees a bloody weapon in your car or smells marijuana, that’s considered probable cause.

If you’re pulled over by the police, it’s important to remember that you are required to show your license and registration— you can be ticketed if you don’t comply. If an officer asks to look inside your car, you do not have to give your consent. However, if an officer believes evidence of a crime is within your car, your permission won’t be needed. It is unclear what criminal evidence Sgt. Glans believed was present in Fitch’s vehicle.

There are a number of situations when a police officer has the authority to search your car. The first, obviously, is if you give your consent. If an officer asks and you say it’s OK, he or she can proceed with the search.

The second situation is when an illegal or suspicious item is in “plain view.” For example, if an officer pulls you over for speeding and notices a bag of drugs on the backseat, he or she has the authority to search the rest of your car for contraband.

The third situation would be in connection to an arrest. If an officer has probable cause to arrest you, he or she can then proceed to search your car for further evidence.

The police can also search your car if they have probable cause to believe a crime has taken place or if “exigent circumstances” exist. Exigent circumstances can be likened to an emergency situation. An example of this would be if a police officer suspects you may try to flee or destroy evidence in the wake of a crime.

What if you really don’t want your car and personal property to be searched? If the officer has a warrant or can claim one of the above reasons, you must submit to the search. If none of the outlined situations apply and you refuse consent, the officer can hold you until a search warrant can be obtained. The guidelines for detaining a driver depend on the situation, but you can be held as long as it takes police to conduct the investigation, within reason. Remember that detentions are considered voluntary unless you ask (politely) to leave.

As far as the official protocol for the Sheriff’s office, during Monday’s press conference, Sheriff Zurlo said that Glans should have received permission from the car’s owner. If the permission was withheld, Glans could have detained Fitch until a warrant was issued.

Following Glans’ resignation, Justice Lester Wormuth arraigned him in the Town of Halfmoon Court. Glans was released and is scheduled to appear again at a later date.

 

Your RIGHTS:

- The right to remain silent in order to avoid incriminating yourself.

- The right to refuse to consent to a search of yourself, your car or your home.

- The right to leave as long as you are not under arrest.

- The right to a lawyer if you are arrested.

 

Your RESPONSIBILITIES:

- Do stay calm and be polite.

- Do not interfere with or obstruct the police.

- Do not lie or give false documents.

- Do prepare yourself and your family in case you are arrested.

- Do remember the details of the encounter.

 

(Source: The American Civil Liberties Union)

 

 

Published in News
Friday, 06 June 2014 09:51

Reporter's View: Good Music Over Hot Air

SARATOGA SPRINGS – The Bataan Death March of verbiage, pontification and blather about all things relating to the city’s status regarding the proposed Saratoga Casino and Raceway (SCR) expansion was taken to a new level of intensity this week. 

 

We were first treated to a marathon City Council meeting on Tuesday, June 3, in which the mayor’s agenda item about the expansion did not get entertained until nearly 10 p.m. (note that the meeting started at 7 p.m.; note further that the mayor’s agenda is the first of five departments to report, followed by the county supervisors). 

 

This meeting ended about 11:20 p.m., but after the item about SCR’s expansion I had had enough for one evening, thanks. Three plus hours is enough. Mind you, this was a discussion item. Nothing was actually decided. 

 

A “special” public hearing on the next night (Wednesday) followed this — this one solely devoted to the expansion issues.  I hoped that everyone got their comments in, for everyone should feel they had their say I guess. 

 

But, at the risk of being characterized as “un-interested” or “un-involved” I admit I gave this one a pass altogether.  I also cover arts and entertainment, and there was a great new jazz ensemble making its debut (look for a feature on them before their next appearance in a few weeks) on the same night. 

 

Blast me if you want, but I think I made the right call. Good music wins out over hot air. Tell me, what would you do?

 

Now, we hear that there “might” be another “special” city council meeting, this time after Saratoga TODAY goes to press: it is tentatively scheduled for Friday, June 6 at 10 a.m. Unbelievable. 

 

Perhaps something might actually be decided at this one. But from now on, your city council reporter will value both your time and my own. We will report on something that actually happens.

 

The crux of the issue, for those whose eyes are not totally glazed over at this point, is whether the city should assert itself as an involved agency in the review process, known as SEQRA, as opposed to “interested,” which in theory would give them the further right to vie for the lead agency status on this project, instead of the Gaming Commission and therefore greater oversight over what happens. 

 

This would be triggered by filling out a form, stating that the city objects to the gaming commission being the lead agency. However, if this course is pursued, it is likely to generate a costly legal battle, which the city’s attorneys say they have no shot of winning. 

 

So there you are. I have summarized nearly 600 hours of debate in two paragraphs. Yes, I might be glossing over some fine points, but who cares. The mayor believes that an ongoing dialogue with both SCR and the gaming commission can gain more than a legal fight. Time will tell if that is the right way to go. 

 

None of the above should be construed as wanting to restrict anyone’s right to comment. The public comment period to the Gaming Commission extends until June 13 and I certainly encourage everyone who wants to express their opinion to do so. 

 

Just don’t make me listen anymore, OK? 

Published in News
Thursday, 01 May 2014 13:04

Showcase of Homes Announces Builders Lineup

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The 2014 Saratoga Showcase of Homes will include a lineup of 15 award-winning builders and 16 new homes exhibiting some of the newest features available.

 

The 2014 Builders list includes Bella Home Builders, Belmonte Builders, BCI Construction, Bonacio Construction, Classic Homes, Heritage Custom Builders (entering two homes), Kodiak Construction, Malta Development, Polito Homes, Richbell Capital, Saratoga Builders, Traditional Builders, Trojanski Custom Builders, VanVeghten Construction and Witt Construction.

 

In its 19th year,the Saratoga Showcase of Homes Committee is in full swing planning the upcoming fall’s exciting edition of the area’s premiere new home tour. To qualify, homes must be built within the past year and be in Saratoga County.

 

This year’s event will take place over three fall weekends on September 20-21, 27-28 and October 4-5, featuring the finest builders in the area with their new construction. Last year, 3,500 people visited a display of 14 homes from 11 builders.

 

The annual community event has contributed over $825,000 to local charities in its 19 years.Proceeds from the Showcase of Homes continue to benefit Rebuilding Together Saratoga County and Habitat for Humanity of Northern Saratoga, Warren and Washington Counties.

 

Barry Potoker is in his fifth year as Executive Director of the Saratoga Builders Association. Taking over after the only year the event was cancelled (2009 when the real estate market went sour), Potoker and the 160 members of the Builders Association have bounced back strong and carried on the tradition, raising between $60,000-$75,000 each year.

 

“It’s certainly grown over the years,” Potoker said. “People love going to the show and seeing what styles and trends are new—meet the landscapers and interior designers…The philosophy of the Saratoga Builders Association is to give it all back to the community.”

In 2013, the showcase raised $63,000.

 

“It’s a testament to the kinds of builders we have in this area,” Potoker said. “We have some really fantastic builders and they have been supportive of doing the show, because it takes a lot of work to put on a showcase home. All the homes have interior designers and they’re all furnished and they’re all decked out to the nines, so it takes a lot for the builder to do that. It’s also a testament to the community who buys tickets to go to the show. It has really become a fall tradition over the three weekends.”

 

In addition to building the homes, the builders have to pay a fee to be in the showcase.

 

Introduced last year, the Showcase Chef’s “Comforts of Home” will kick off the showcase festivities on Friday, September 19. Potoker anticipates eight to 10 homes participating in the chef’s event.

“It’s a terrific event,” Potoker said. “We only sell 500 tickets to that because you can only fit so many people in a house. You will know what the food is when you’re going. It has to be some sort of comfort food, whether it’s macaroni and cheese or tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, lasagna or chili. Last year we had music too.”

 

Before that, the Realtor Bus Tour will kick off on the Tuesday before the show (September 16). Not open to the public, the Judges Tour is an all-day affair. Three luxury buses will be filled with realtors, judges and sponsors and leave from the Saratoga Performing Arts Center at 8 a.m. to preview all the homes.

 

Of the 150-175 participants, a select number of judges will go through and judge on a variety of categories—bathrooms, architectural design, interior design, etc. The judges decisions will be revealed at an awards ceremony the following Thursday at the Vapor Night Club, filled with music, dinner and cocktails.

 

The public can tour the homes over the three fall weekends for $20 a ticket.

 

For more details on the 2014 Saratoga Showcase of Homes event, or to view virtual tours of last year’s homes, visitwww.saratogashowcaseofhomes.com. All details and updates can also be found on the “Saratoga Showcase of Homes” Facebook page.

 

Corporate sponsorships are now available and showcase home reservations are currently in progress. For a sponsorship opportunities packet or for information about entering a new home in the event, contact Potoker at (518) 366-0946 orThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Published in News

You Are Now Encouraged To Play With Your Pints

 

SARATOGA SPRINGS – So, it was getting towards the end of the Saratoga Beer Summit, when I stumbled (not literally; well, maybe) into the smiling face of Kerri Tanner at a booth in the back. I took one look at her products, and had to tell her:

 

“I hate you. This was my idea.” 

 

The shocked look on her face was quickly replaced by another smile and a knowing nod. Apparently, this was not the first time she heard something similar. 

 

Well, it says here that Kerri and Robin Morgan better get used to similar reactions and also a lot of delight. They took a simple idea and took it out four new flavor doors— with more to come. 

 

Behold Brew Salt. A homegrown product (manufactured in small batches) with unlimited potential. Available in lime, habanero, chocolate and bacon flavors. An idea refined from your Uncle Vito at the Elks Lodge putting table salt in his Genny Cream Ale, combined with the growing love of all things craft brewing, Brew Salt stands poised to add zingy exclamation points to pints from coast to coast. 

 

The difference between Brew Salt and the shaker at your local sports bar or pub starts with the base ingredients “We use high-quality grey Celtic sea salt,” Robin notes, “which is mineral-rich. From there, the flavors are added, which is Kerri’s department- she’s the chef.” It’s all vegan (yes, even the bacon), high quality and gluten-free.

 

Indeed, the skillsets of these two local entrepreneurs are perfectly balanced. Robin is a free-lance marketer; Kerri is the foodie/recipe specialist. They met three years ago by happenstance when Robin moved to the area and made a random hair appointment. By the time the rinse and blow-dry was done, a partnership was born. Their respective partners supplement them handily: Patrick McGowin and James Morgan provide beer acumen and financial expertise. Or vice versa, and perhaps on occasion, both.

 

“We went e-commerce (see: www.brewsalt.com) and vending at big events like the beer summit, but now in a relatively short period of time (the site was launched just this year) we are looking around at a larger kitchen just to meet current demand.” Robin said. 

 

In the meantime, the team is making PR visits to taverns and retail establishments locally. A major perk of the job – every day is TGIF in their world

 

So it should be no surprise to soon see the Brew Salt shakers, with their distinctive bowler and handlebar moustaches on the shelves of discerning specialty stores, or adjacent to the Bloody Mary condiments on the finest bars. 

 

The effervescence of Kerri and Robin matches the effervescence of their product in your glass. So, a tout to those in a position to say yes to such things from your friendly food editor: Get Shakin’!

 

Recommended Brew Salt Beer Parings:

IPA's:  Bacon, Habanero or Lime

Porters / Stouts:  Chocolate or Bacon

Lagers / Pilsners:  Bacon, Habanero or Lime

Nut Brown: Chocolate

Or: Mix it up!

 

- Brewsalt.com

 

Published in News
SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Adirondack Trust Company today announced an increase in its dividend of 50 cents per share, from $25.00 per share to $25.50, due to overall business performance, including record levels of deposits (excluding assets held in trust), commercial loans, consumer loans and residential mortgages in 2013. As of December 31, 2013, The Adirondack Trust Company’s total loan balances increased 12.7% to a record $568 million due to record levels of new mortgages, consumer loans and commercial loans. Credit quality improved as measured by both net charge-offs and delinquent loans. Deposits, excluding assets held in trust, grew 1.34% to a record of $785 million. Net income for the year was $7.4 million. The Adirondack Trust Company is an independent, employee and locally owned and operated community bank offering a wide variety of business and personal services. The bank has $1 billion in assets and twelve branches. The Adirondack Trust Company is rated by Bauer Financial as a 5-Star bank for the period ending December 31, 2013. The bank offers trust, insurance and investment services and originates real estate mortgages, both residential and commercial, and commercial business loans throughout its market area. The bank’s website is www.adirondacktrust.com.
Published in News
Friday, 24 January 2014 11:56

2014 Saratoga Winterfest Week Events

• Friday, January 24: Labatt Blue Pub Crawl. Peabody’s (7–8 p.m.), Trotter’s (8–9 p.m.), City Tavern (9–10 p.m.), Caroline Street Pub (10–11 p.m.). Bars will have specials on Labatt Blue and will be giving away Labatt jerseys, hoodies, etc. Free Shuttle from the Gideon to Saratoga Downtown. • Friday, January 24: Stadium Café Warming Tent. Hang out with the Stadium Cafés inside the Warming Tent all weekend and pick up Burger and Blue Special coupons. Locations: 389 Broadway and 112 Congress. Plus, hang out at the West Side location on Friday at 7 p.m. for Hockey Trivia Night and at 7 p.m. on Saturday at the Broadway locations. Chances to win hockey tickets and memorabilia • Friday, January 24: Funk Evolution at Vapor Night Club at Saratoga Casino and Raceway, No Cover, 9 p.m. • Saturday, January 25: 2014 Cabin Fever Luncheon at Saratoga National Golf Club, Cost: $65, 11 a.m. The annual Cabin Fever Luncheon put on by the Soroptimist International of Saratoga County (SISC) is the winter event not to miss. The money raised from these events helps fund awards programs, service projects and grants to the community. •Friday, January 24–Sunday, January 26: Saratoga Frozen Springs Classic Pond Hockey Tournament. Visit the website to register and book a room, www.saratogafrozenspringsclassic.com • Saturday, January 25–Sunday, January 26: Winter Antique Show at National Museum of Dance, 11a.m. to 4 p.m. The National Museum of Dance is happy to announce their Fifth Annual Winter Antique Show. Last year, the show welcomed over 1,400 guests. Over 50 vendors will be displaying their vast variety of wares. • Wednesday, January 29: Paint STARRY STARRY NIGHT at Saratoga Paint and Sip Studio, 7–9 p.m. at 80 Henry St. in Saratoga Springs. Cost: $38. Register on our website to reserve your seats and with the help of artist instructors (and wine), you will take home your version of this classic masterpiece. • Thursday, January 30: Cross Country Ski Lessons 2014, 6:30–8 p.m. The Town of Clifton Park, in cooperation with the Shenendehowa Nordic Club, announces its Beginner Cross Country Ski Lessons program. Classes are offered as snow conditions allow from 6:30–8 p.m. on the above dates at the Shenendehowa Adult Community Center. All ages and families are welcome. • Friday, January 31: AudioStars at Vapor Night Club at Saratoga Casino and Raceway, No Cover, 9 p.m. • Friday, January 31: Candlelight Ski and Snowshoe from 6–8:30 p.m. at Saratoga Spa State Park. Families are invited to enjoy an evening at Saratoga Spa State Park’s free candlelight ski and snowshoe event. In addition to a one-mile candlelit loop, the park will be offering ice skating and hot food and drinks. Snowshoes will be available to rent. This event will take place at the Warming Hut. This is a weather dependent event. Call Alli Schweizer at (518) 584-2000, ext. 116 for more information. • Friday, January 31: Winterfest Wine Tasting from 6–9 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Saratoga Springs/Ballroom. Sample a selection of delicious affordable wines, paired with savory Hors D’ Oeuvers. Live music and raffles. Admission is $20 a person at the door and $30 per couple.
Published in News
Friday, 10 January 2014 11:09

DA Murphy Begins Fifth Term

BALLSTON SPA— Saratoga County District Attorney James A. Murphy, III was sworn in as District Attorney on Monday, January 6 by County Clerk Craig Hayner. Murphy begins his 5th term as DA, marking his 17th year as top prosecutor and his 26th year in the DA’s Office. Murphy has significantly expanded the role of the DA by focusing on victim’s rights and been a longtime supporter of strengthening the laws that allow victims the right to speak at sentencing, receive restitution and compensation from the Crime Victims Board and have an active role in the outcome of their criminal case. As the chief law enforcement officer for 14 police agencies in a county of 215,000 people, Murphy runs an office of 21 assistant district attorneys, 5 investigators, a crime victims unit and as well as a number of support staff functions. He and his assistants prosecuted nearly 10,000 criminal cases last year along with a staggering 96,000 vehicle and traffic offenses in the 44 justice courts in Saratoga County as well as Saratoga County Court and grand jury. Upon being sworn in Murphy said “I am honored to serve Saratoga County as DA and to continue to bring justice to victims of crime in this county. By joining with law enforcement, not for profits, community agencies, schools, parents and government officials we can work together to make our community safer.” Saratoga County is unique in that people want to live here because our quality of life is high, the scenery is beautiful and our towns and cities are thriving,” Murphy continued. “In part, this is because our crime rate is low and we live in a very safe place. I attribute that to the hard work of the men and women in my office and their close relationship with the police officers and their extraordinary work. I proudly stand with my partners in law enforcement who dedicate themselves to doing the right thing to make sure the correct person is charged, that criminal cases are thoroughly investigated and that the interests of justice are served in each and every case.” A significant step that Murphy recently accomplished was the installation of digital recording rooms in nearly every law enforcement office across the county allowing police officers to digitally record defendant›s statements from beginning to end. As a result, claims by defendants of «coerced confessions» by police have vanished. Hearings on voluntary confessions have been reduced to the defense attorney and the judge watching the recording, with very few witnesses, significantly reducing court time. The DA said he hopes soon to implement new technology by allowing for televised/ remote arraignments. The idea is that defendants would not be required to be transported from jail to justice courts throughout the county, ultimately saving on manpower, overtime, court time, fuel and enhancing safety and security of the inmate. A two-way teleconferencing feature would allow the defendant and all parties including the judge to see and talk to one another remotely. “If private business can do it and save money, why can›t the public sector as well?” Murphy said. “The most important thing is to safeguard the defendant›s constitutional rights. If those are protected and we can save taxpayer dollars, then I think it›s a good idea.” Murphy further said, “Mostly it›s an honor to work in the trenches alongside them.”
Published in News
Friday, 10 January 2014 10:55

The People’s Wall: On Expanded Gaming

Note to Readers: We invite your thoughts and emails. Please keep your comments brief (150 words or less) and email them (no snail mail please) with a phone number to confirm to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Saratoga TODAY reserves the right to edit or reject any offensive or other language as needed. What a dilemma Saratoga Springs is faced with. If Saratoga Casino and Raceway is chosen to get a Vegas-style casino – Downtown Saratoga will be destroyed along with SPAC and other businesses! If Rensselaer is chosen for a casino, then Saratoga Casino and Raceway will be destroyed! If Saratoga Casino is gone – what will replace it? Saratoga will not get the revenue it has bee accustomed to receiving. It would be interesting to know how the Saratoga hotels and restaurants do during the winter months. SPAC, of course, is idle. Other than the Victorian Streetwalk, First Night, Chowderfest and the Flurry there is not much going on downtown in the winter. A casino with entertainment could help fill the gaps and even help downtown if there was a designated area (like a visitors center) that promoted downtown Saratoga. The City Center’s concern about the size of the event space at the casino could be resolved if the casino agrees to have only entertainment (dancers, singers, bands, etc.) and not conventions! John J. Totten Saratoga Springs Why I’m against the proposed casino complex: It’ll bring more crime, pull people from downtown, undermine the city convention center and other venues, increase congestion, put a strain on infrastructure, lead to more devastation to families due to gambling and other addictions, bring the guys in shiny suits back to town, make this a less attractive place to live (which will affect property values), and be spiritually deadening. Look at the places near casinos that are dark and struggling. We don’t need any more development. We’re a small city. The Chamber’s “fact finding forum” on the proposed Vegas-style, full-scale casino, hotel, restaurants and convention center, was short on facts, long on vague promises, and almost all about business and money, not community effects on people, city, crime, etc. 450 casino “supporters” we’re bussed in under threats of fines to pack the house, just like a stacked deck. The Chamber event was an infomercial for the first hour! Skip Carlson and Rita Cox were sweetly promising to live in harmony with Saratoga, but a casino, convention center, hotel, and restaurants would try to keep their patrons there and would be in competition. Mark Baker, John Baker and Harvey Fox raised concerns about dangers about a “mini-Vegas” on downtown, but SAVE, a citizens group, was not allowed to speak. 58% of Saratogians voted against allowing casinos, and in electoral terms that’s a landslide, but that doesn’t matter unless people pressure the politicians. Robert W. Davis Saratoga Springs Add me to EXTREMELY opposed list. Ask people if they remember horse racing in Atlantic City? Some will recall the Matchmaker, the United Nations Handicap and world-class racing and then the casinos came to make everything better... Marilyn Lane Saratoga Springs A pragmatic approach is to establish a point that both parties can agree upon. Without a doubt, gambling brings risk: property value, crime, quality of life, infrastructure and tax risks to name a few. There are also benefits: jobs, economic growth & tax revenue. In similar cases where risks of adverse conditions potentially harming tax payers, their land values and quality of life for residents are absorbed by property owners’ (AK, PA oil & gas) ongoing compensation in the form of royalties is paid to the land owners. Let’s share the risk and reward with the residents and taxpayers by sharing profits based on property tax participation- pro-rated proportionately. In this model, true entrepreneurship prevails. If the pro casino faction balks, their self-serving greed will surface. If they accept, their points gain validity. With great decision-making power comes immense responsibility. I hope Saratoga’s leaders raise the bar for accountability and social responsibility. Stephen D. Berg Resident and Business Owner The nightmare of Saratoga’s historic flat track forsaken for the air-conditioned “Destination Saratoga Casino” is too threatening to be ignored. Yet, to date, it seems NYRA is sitting this one out. At the casino forum, two thoroughbred breeders and one for the standardbreds represented horse interests. Collectively they tried to convey concerns of being left behind and told chilly stories of failed racetracks when a casino comes to town. But where was NYRA? Could it be in collusion with the Governor’s office (where it seems SPAC has gone), or are there conflicts of interest? What say you NYRA? Robert M. Toole Saratoga Springs So my take on the meeting at the city center is that we still know very little about what the potential development of the 160 acres really is. I think this meeting was nothing more than fluff from the development side. We have to “wait and see” how much they cram into their RFA’s, and then it’s too late. I would like to see their proposal BEFORE it is filed! Why can’t we have a meeting to discuss the proposal that has the very real possibility of altering what we have worked for, for so long? Why have we never embraced harness racing like we have thoroughbred racing? As a life-long resident do not recall any development of that part of racing to improve attendance. Is it really “failing” to the point we could lose if casino development is blocked? What other options have been explored? I think it was abundantly clear the opposition to Casino expansion has made their presence known and as someone said; the large turnout for, against, and undecided does represent we are a concerned community; and hopefully we can all stay on this issue like flies on rice! We should we have a voice at the next meeting! Just saying... Kim Fonda My family spans five generations in Saratoga Springs, including my daughter who, if we stay, will attend the same school as her mom, uncle, great grand-uncle and great grandmother. I can work anywhere in the U.S., but chose to come home – a rarity based on the AP story of January 4, noting the mass exodus of young professionals from upstate NY. I have many concerns about the siting of a casino in Saratoga Springs - principal among them is the recent talk of ‘promises,’ and ‘assurances’ being made in the name of getting this deal done. I’m equally concerned about so-called ‘partnerships’ to exist between private interest groups and our city, and its residents and businesses. While I’m sure some of our public officials have benefitted from their own personal partnerships with these private interest groups, let’s ask ourselves honestly: How real are these promises? How binding are these assurances? How strong are these partnerships? Private casino interests are just that: private. These same people promising public partnerships have a single objective: maximizing private interests. There is nothing inherently wrong with maximizing private interests. There is something disingenuous about doing so under the pretenses of acting in the public’s best interest. I submit to you the same group promising you partnerships and thoughtful expansion will act in the public’s interest only if doing so furthers their own agenda. That is something less than a true partnership. We’ve now heard the following: “We’ll build a “Saratoga-style” casino.” “We will close at 1 a.m. if the Saratoga Springs bars have to” “We don’t plan to offer subsidies on drinks / meals / entertainment” “We will work with the local businesses” “Development will be in line with Saratoga’s culture and history” What precisely are the legally binding mechanisms requiring private casino interests to adhere to these promises? Moreover, when it suits these same interests to sell to new owners in order to maximize their own bottom line, what can this city point to in order to bind successors and assigns as to these same promises? Private casino interests are the first to speak of their neighborhood pride. Can you say the same for Genting, Ceasar’s, MGM and other corporations buying up casinos nationwide? What kind of partnership should we expect then? Casinos are in the business of making you feel as if you have a chance to win, when you otherwise know the odds are stacked decidedly against you. It’s smoke and mirrors. This entire bid for a “Saratoga-style” casino in partnership with the city and its businesses and residents is just more of the same. I respectfully ask our elected officials to please stop buying the talking points of the racino – your citizens are smarter than that. Uphold the vote of your citizens and pass a resolution against the siting of a casino in Saratoga Springs. Brooke McConnell Saratoga Springs I am urging each member of the City Council to protect the precious resources of our City and pass a resolution against full gaming in Saratoga Springs.Powerful forces, fueled by greed alone, are determined to force this facility down our throats if we stand idly by. No community in history has withstood the crushing social impacts of casino gambling within their city limits. Increased problem gambling, embezzlement, drunk driving, burglaries are all proven to increase when a casino comes to town. Detroit needs a casino. Monticello would benefit from a casino. Placing a casino in Saratoga would be like encouraging a dingo farm to be next to a child care center. As a former local business owner, 34 year resident and Grandfather, I treasure what Saratoga has to offer. As a property owner, much of our personal wealth lies in the local residential and commercial properties we have worked so hard to acquire, renovate and maintain over the decades. A casino threatens property values. This is a proven fact, not merely an opinion. I wouldn’t choose to send my granddaughter to college in a casino town, and suspect many other families wouldn’t either. Please just say ‘no way’ to the casino...they only care about themselves. Russell Pittenger Saratoga Springs
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