Thomas Dimopoulos

Thomas Dimopoulos

City Beat and Arts & Entertainment Editor
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BALLSTON SPA —The Saratoga County Board of Supervisors held its first regular monthly meeting of the year Jan. 16 at the county complex in Ballston Spa. 

During the meeting, the Board authorized the renewal of an agreement with NTS Data Services, LLC, based in Niagara Falls, for maintenance and support services of the county Board of Elections’ voter database software. NTS has provided voter registration and other election services to county board of elections in New York State since 1981.

The contract with Saratoga County runs through Dec. 31, 2026 and is authorized at a total overall cost of up to $224,011 for the three years. 

County Supervisors also approved the creation of eight, part-time deputy sheriff positions through the 2024 calendar year. Those temporary positions are help meet staffing shortages in the Saratoga County Sheriff’s department. Each of the temporary deputy positions may be employed for up to 75 hours every two-week pay period at a pay rate of $27.10 per hour. 

Board of Supervisors Chairman Phil Barrett also recognized three county Sheriff Deputies who were honored earlier in the day for their actions during two specific events in 2023. 

“This afternoon we were able to attend the New York State Sheriffs Institute event in Colonie, and I want to congratulate the Saratoga County deputies who were honored for their incredible acts of bravery and service,” Barrett said. “Those are deputies Simpson, Whipple, and Milligan.”

Deputies Jeffrey Simpson and Robert Whipple were selected for their actions in May 2023 as members of the Sheriff’s special response team. While serving a search warrant in Clifton Park, the subject of the search warrant began shooting at deputies. Simpson, who was shot, took heroic action to protect his fellow team members and the public-at-large. Whipple, realizing Simpson suffered a life-threatening injury, tended to Simpson’s wound to control the bleeding while under stressful circumstances. 

Deputy Nikklas Milligan was selected after showing exceptional valor and heroism during an in Corinth in June when he and an off-duty Warren County Sheriff’s Office sergeant dove into the Hudson River to save two exhausted swimmers who had come perilously close to the Palmer Dam.

The New York State Sheriff’s Institute’s Deputy of the Year for 2023 award, first presented in 1977, typically recognizes one deputy sheriff each year for an act of exceptional valor and heroism, above and beyond the normal call of duty in the previous calendar year. This year, more than one deputy was chosen. 

“These members personify grace under pressure, and I could not be prouder than I am today,” Saratoga County Sheriff Zurlo said. “There are truly no words to describe just how fortunate the people of Saratoga County are to have them.”

The county Board of Supervisors oversees a $410 million budget and is comprised of 23 supervisors. Each of Saratoga County’s 21 municipalities have at least one elected supervisor; Saratoga Springs, and Clifton Park – the county’s most populous municipalities – each have two representatives. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS —The City Council this week approved a new set of rules to be applied to public conduct during the council’s twice-a-month meetings at City Hall. It is a topic that has come under much scrutiny during the past few years.

“Public Comment has been a subject that was very much a part of this last election,” newly elected Saratoga Springs Mayor John Safford said shortly after taking office on Jan. 1. 

The new Rules of Decorum and Order instruct members of the public to “behave in a manner conducive to the free and courteous expression of opinion,” but warn to not otherwise “engage in behaviors which disrupt the conduct of the meeting.” 

Listed prohibited actions include: Profane language, obscene gestures, threatening statements, shouting or other behavior meant to intimidate members of the council or others present at the meeting. Additionally, sustained noise impeding others from hearing speakers, and items - such as signs - that may block the public’s view, are also prohibited.

The mayor has the authority to declare any person to be out of order for failure to follow directives.

Enforcement comes in 3 steps: 

1. The mayor will verbally request the person or persons violating a rule to cease that conduct.

2. If the violation continues, the mayor issues a second verbal warning, stating that if the violation continues, the violator(s) may be required to leave the meeting room. 

3. If the person(s) does not cease the violation the mayor shall declare the person to be out of order. At that time, a member of the Saratoga Springs Police Department who has been designated as the Sergeant-of-Arms may take steps to remove the person(s) from the meeting room. That person may also be subject to civil and/or criminal penalties. 

Thirty minutes will be set aside at each meeting for public input, and each speaker will be limited to three minutes. All remarks are to be directed to the City Council as a body and not at a specific individual, staff, or member of the public. 

Following council debate regarding whether the 30-minute overall time limit should be extended or  removed altogether, an agreement could not be reached and the amendment was approved 4-1, with Commissioner Minita Sanghvi casting the lone vote against.

“My main concern is by limiting public comments to only 30 minutes, we are creating a situation where some members of our community will not be heard,” Commissioner Sanghvi said. “The way I see it we are here in public service and our job is to listen to our community. If you have 30 minutes and are allotting three minutes per person, we are ensuring that only 10 people will be heard…we can’t limit the number of people who want to contribute to the betterment of our city.”

Written public comment may also be submitted via email at:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Mayor Safford said.  “This email is automatically received by all councilmembers, their deputies, and the Clerk of the Council. Such comments shall be entered as part of the official record of such meeting, so we’re bending over backwards. If you send us an email it’s going to become a part of the public record.” 

During the Public Comment period at this week’s meeting, local blogger John Kaufman and former city Public Safety Commissioner Robin Dalton each expressed concern regarding emergency compensation for city councilmembers’ deputies. That on-call pay for deputies was authorized by the City Council in February 2023 by a 3-1 vote, with one abstention. City Mayor Ron Kim cast the lone vote against the measure.

The Daily Gazette first reported on the topic in February 2023. Last week, with the addition of documents obtained via the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL), Kaufman published comments related to on-call pay status on his blog saratogaspringspolitics.com.      

Newly elected city Supervisor Michele Madigan also commented on the matter. “As a city Supervisor and a former Finance Commissioner I believe it’s essential to address this issue transparently and consider the broader impact on city employees and city taxpayers,” read Madigan, from a prepared statement. “Four of the five deputies in 2023 availed themselves to the on-call funds,” said Madigan, adding a list of responsibilities, duties and attended meetings associated with the potential securing of on-call pay. “As a former finance commissioner for 10 years, I’m well-versed in the fact that these are basic job functions for an appointed deputy in this city’s form of government.”

While not referring to the issue by subject directly, Mayor John Safford began his agenda at the Jan. 16 meeting by seemingly referencing the topic. 

“Based on a number of comments that were made tonight, we are looking into the question that’s been raised and our attorneys are engaged in that right now,” Safford said.  “We will find out what the right thing to do is and work with everybody to correct that if there’s been any mistakes.” 

Safford also announced The State of the City Address will be held 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 30 in the Saratoga City Music Hall, located on the third floor of Saratoga Springs City Hall.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — City Finance Commissioner Minita Sanghvi on Jan. 2 announced the top vote-getters of the Saratoga Springs Participatory Budgeting project as selected by city residents.

“Participatory Budgeting is truly democracy in action,” Commissioner Sanghvi explained. 

The Finance Department first launched pilot project in Spring of 2022 of Participatory Budgeting – as a democratic process in which community members decide how to spend part of a public budget. 

“It’s a great project that allows people to come to City Hall with their solutions. If they see something they think will make our city better that they would like our city to be doing more of, they have an avenue to come to us and request funds for it,” Sanghvi said. 

A volunteer committee evaluates the submitted potential projects, and items are placed on a ballot and put to a public vote.   

In 2022, the City Council approved nine total projects for funding, ranging from an Urban Forestry Project to a free Community Art Program to a Dog Park Water Fountain.

 For 2024, the Saratoga Springs City Council approved to allocate $62,500 to five projects. 

They are:

• Saratoga Springs Farmers’ Market Program Support. Total Cost: $12,000. Location: Saratoga Springs Farmer’s Market, 112 High Rock Ave. 

Support nutrition education with an 8-week Saturday Farmers’ Market program called the Fresh Tent – which offers food sampling of fresh or prepared foods made with locally sourced farmers’ market products; Information on in-season fruits and vegetables, how to shop at the Farmer’s Market, NYS nutrition assistance programs and recipes using seasonal ingredients; An educational food-related activity for children; a $2 coupon for all visitors/participants for spending on Farmers’ Market products. The program will be free and open to the community. Submitter: Saratoga Springs Farmers’ Market Association. 

• Bocce Ball Court. Total Cost: $13,000. Location: Veteran’s Memorial Park, 10 Adams Road. 

Construction of one bocce ball court in Veteran’s Memorial Park. Submitter: Individual. 

• Opera Saratoga Family Programming. Total Cost: $15,000. Location: Opera Saratoga, 19 Roosevelt Drive. 

Produce five outreach opera performances in Saratoga Springs and the State Park for children and family’s education and enjoyment. Submitter: Opera Saratoga. 

• Solar Charging Bench for Public Library. Total Cost: $12,500. Location: Saratoga Springs Public Library, 49 Henry St. 

Provide a convenient and clean energy charging source for electronic devices to Saratoga Springs residents and visitors. Located outside of the Saratoga Springs Public Library. Submitter: SSPL.

• Lake Ave School Centennial Celebration. Total Cost: $10,000. Location: TBD, Lake Avenue School, 126 Lake Ave. 

Celebrate Lake Ave Schools’ upcoming centennial by recording oral histories and memories, photograph mementoes and produce an exhibition for display at the Saratoga Springs Public Library (location pending); intended to promote intergenerational conversation, as Lake Ave was once the high school and junior high building and is currently the elementary school. Submitter: Lake Avenue PTA.

SCHUYLERVILLE — The village of Schuylerville has been awarded $4.5 million to revitalize its downtown, New York Gov., Kathy Hochul announced during a recent gathering in Lake George.

“When people look back and say: What was the turning point? You’re going to remember this day,” said Hochul, using a phrase often referenced by historians regarding the 1777 battles at Saratoga and the surrender of the British army in Schuylerville as the “turning point” of the American Revolution. 

“This is the day it all begins,” Hochul said. “We have the 250th anniversary of the battle(s) of Saratoga coming up soon. Let’s celebrate 2027. Our goal is to greet the world with a really transformed village in time for that, so that’s the timetable we’re looking at.”

The $4.5 million awarded Schuylerville in the NY Forward grant measures about three times the village’s annual general fund budget and will be used to partially aid a handful of large projects. Among them are improvements to building facades, fixing broken culverts to revitalize the canal way, assisting the eventual development of a proposed multi-use building at a key location on Broad Street that currently sites vacant property, and helping fund a multi-year, multi-million-dollar project at Fort Hardy Park. 

Schuylerville, which calls itself “America’s Most Historic Village” is home to about 1,400 residents. In 2022, its Village Board of Trustees appointed a 7-member committee for the NY Forward Task Force to lead the public participation and grant-writing process, and subsequently submitted a letter of intent to apply for the $4.5 million NY Forward Grant.        

Timewise, most, if not all the projects, are anticipated to first “break ground” in 2025, Schuylerville Mayor Dan Carpenter said during the monthly village board meeting Jan. 8. 

The Fort Hardy Park project specifically, will likely result in a potential tax increase in order to see the $20 million, 20-year project through to its completion - a tax burden shouldered by households in the village, which currently number about 700. 

Any such increase related to the park, however, would be “miniscule,” compared to the more immediate circumstances regarding the infrastructure of the local water system as it pertains to Schuylerville and the neighboring village of Victory, the mayor cautioned. 

A handful of years ago, the Schuylerville-Victory Board of Water Management (SVBOWM) retained C.T. Male Associates to prepare a Water System Master Plan. That 51-page report was released In May 2020 and notes that “the majority of the water mains within the Villages of Schuylerville and Victory are 100 to 120 years old and are well past their useful life.” Included was a $7 million water project infrastructure upgrade, Mayor Carpenter said. Most of the funding for the upgrades has potentially been identified, Carpenter added, but the SVBOWM has yet to act on securing the funding. “This water upgrade is going to affect both villages… inaction is going to cost us.” Costs associated with the upgrades would be shared by the two villages. 

“Our water rates are going to go up – and that’s nothing to do with the (downtown revitalization) project we’re talking about today,” Carpenter said. “When people are upset about taxes going up because we’re improving the village, because we’re bringing in new businesses and we’re doing an upgrade to the park – the amount is miniscule compared to what will happen with the water if they continue to do nothing. 

“That’s going to be because for the past 30 years we’ve had an aging infrastructure and we’ve had our head in the sand. We have done nothing to update or fix it and have been doing emergency repairs for the past 30 years,” Carpenter said. “Sitting down with CT Male, we identified that had we applied last year – in early 2023 – almost 75% of the ($7 million) cost of that water upgrade should have been eligible to be covered by grants. But, I cannot promise you if the Water Board takes another year that it’s going to be covered 75%.”

The Schuylerville-Victory Board of Water Management holds meetings monthly. The next scheduled meeting will take place 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 22 at Victory Meeting Hall, 23 Pine St. in Victory Mills. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Minita Sanghvi has announced her candidacy for the 44th State Senate District in New York’s Capital Region. 

Sanghvi, a Democrat, plans to challenge the seat currently held by Republican Jim Tedisco. The 44th Senate District includes Saratoga County, Niskayuna, and the city of Schenectady. 

“I’m running for State Senate because we deserve better,” Sanghvi said, officially announcing her candidacy Jan. 8. “We need a leader who will put people ahead of partisan politics in Albany. I’m not a politician. I’m a parent, business educator, and fiscally responsible public servant. And I’ve built a record of listening to people and working with others to deliver results.” 

Born to a conservative family of entrepreneurs and innovators in India, Sanghvi earned a degree in accounting and an MBA, and immigrated to the United States in 2001. She has taught business at Skidmore College for nearly 10 years, and in 2021 was first elected to serve as the Saratoga Springs Finance Commissioner. 

Sanghvi was re-elected city Finance Commissioner last November and on Jan. 1 began her second two-year term in the position. With that term slated to last through 2025 and State Senate Elections taking place in November 2024, it is currently unclear how and when her seat at the City Council will be affected.    

There are approximately 226,000 active registered voters in the 44th State Senate District – about 176,000 in Saratoga County and 50,000 in Schenectady County, according to the state Board of Elections. Of those, just under 76,000 are registered Democrats and just over 71,000 registered Republicans, with the district-wide balance comprised of about 15,000 registered with other parties, and 64,000 “blanks” – those registered to vote but unaffiliated with any party.    

State Senators serve two-year terms. In November 2022, James Tedisco (R, C) defeated Michelle Ostrelich (D, WF).

Sanghvi listed securing infrastructure dollars for bridges and roads, getting more state aid to counties and cities, helping to revitalize downtowns, bringing green and high-tech jobs to communities, and establishing “an innovation corridor” that connects Schenectady and Saratoga among her priorities. 

If elected, Sanghvi will be the first openly gay and first woman of color to represent New York’s 44th State Senate District, and the first openly gay woman in the New York Senate. 

“I believe in protecting rights and freedoms for all residents, no matter where they live or what political party they belong to,” Sanghvi said in a statement. “I’ll protect women’s access to health care, defend LGBTQ rights, and ensure everyone has an equal shot at the same American Dream this country has given to me.”

BALLSTON SPA — Clifton Park Supervisor Phil Barrett was selected Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, and Saratoga Springs Supervisor Matt Veitch as vice-chair, during the Board’s annual Organizational Meeting, held at the county complex on Jan. 3. Each will serve in their respective positions during the 2024 calendar year.   

The county Board oversees a $410 million budget and is comprised of 23 supervisors. Each of Saratoga County’s 21 municipalities have at least one elected supervisor; Saratoga Springs, and Clifton Park – the county’s most populous municipalities – each have two representatives. 

On Jan. 2, members of the county’s 12 Standing Committees were also announced. Each Standing Committee has 5 to 7 members. It is where discussion relative to that committee’s focus takes place, with items later forwarded to the full Supervisor Board for potential approval. The Definition and Scope of each of the 12 Standing Committees may be viewed on pages 13-18 of the county Board of Supervisors Jan. 3, 2024 meeting agenda, via saratogacountyny.gov. 

Newly elected Saratoga Springs Supervisor Michele Madigan was appointed to Public Works, Economic Development, and Trails & Open Space committees. 

In addition to his role as vice-chair, Matt Veitch was appointed to the Buildings & Grounds, Human Resources & Insurance, and Trails & Open Space committees. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The sixth class of inductees in the regional Eddies Music Hall of Fame have been announced and includes artists from the fields of classical, folk, jazz and electronic music, as well as a pioneering hip-hop songwriter and two individuals who chronicled the local music scene as journalists. 

The late Jackie Alper, the late Nick Brignola, George Guarino, David Alan Miller, the late Pauline Oliveros, Margie Rosenkranz, Billy Waring and Don Wilcock will be inducted into the Capital Region Thomas Edison Music Hall of Fame on Monday, March 25 at Universal Preservation Hall in Saratoga Springs. 

The ceremony is open to the public and includes musical performances, a social hour, videos on the musical career of each inductee and acceptance speeches. 

The class brings the total number of inductees to 40 since 2019. An aluminum engraved plaque honoring each recipient is permanently hung at UPH. 

The 2024 slate was chosen by an advisory council made up of professionals in the local music field. 

Tickets for the March 25 event are on sale now through the Box Office at Proctors in-person, via phone at 518-346-6204 Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m., or online by visiting atuph.org. 

About the inductees: 

Jackie Alper sang with the Almanac Singers - which included Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger – and later helped found the influential mid-20th century group The Weavers, introducing a 16-year-old Ronnie Gilbert to Pete Seeger, Lee Hayes and Freddie Hellerman. Alper also turned her husband Joe Alper’s 30,000 music photographs into one of the folk revival’s most meticulously documented archives. Together, they played a key role in supporting Caffè Lena in Saratoga Springs in its early years, often housing musicians, including Bob Dylan, at their Schenectady home. She passed away in 2007. 

Troy native Nick Brignola, a baritone sax player and a band leader, shared the stage with jazz greats including Woody Herman and Chet Baker, and recorded 20 albums of his own. Brignola taught jazz theory and history at several local colleges and helped start a jazz education program at the College of Saint Rose. He passed away in 2002. 

George Guarino created Albany’s music television show, “Real George’s Backroom” (1981-91) and Buzz magazine (1985-95). He was a featured DJ at Albany’s infamous 288 Lark (1981-87) and QE2 (1987-90) clubs and was also a DJ at WRPI. 

David Alan Miller has been music director and conductor of the Albany Symphony Orchestra since 1992 During his tenure, the ASO has released more than 30 albums; in 1994, Miller founded Dogs of Desire, an 18-member ensemble that has commissioned over 150 new works from emerging American composers. 

Pauline Oliveros was an American composer, accordionist and central figure in the development of post-World War II experimental and electronic music. A Houston native who relocated to upstate New York in 1981, Oliveros developed a ground-breaking music theory called “Sonic Meditations” and founded the term Deep Listening, a practice of profound sonic awareness which came from her childhood fascination with sounds. Known for her works in composition, improvisation and electro-acoustics, she was Distinguished Professor of Music at RPI in Troy where she founded the Center for Deep Listening. She passed away in 2016. A documentary film project by Daniel Weintraub - “Deep Listening: The Story of Pauline Oliveros” – was previewed this year and includes the likes of avant-garde pioneer Laurie Anderson to Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore. A trailer may be viewed at: vimeo.com/783733294. 

Margie Rosenkranz has been the executive artistic director of the Eighth Step Coffee House since 1987. Founded in 1967 in the basement of the historic First Presbyterian Church in Albany, the organization is renowned nationally for its presentation of top contemporary singer-songwriters, as well as social justice work. 

An unsung hero of hip-hop, Harlem native William “Billy Bill” Waring began his musical career with longtime friends Kurtis Walker (aka Kurtis Blow) and producer Danny Harris. Waring got his first taste of hip-hop music at DJ Kool Herc parties and from 1980-84 he penned the classic songs “Hard Times,” “Basketball,” “You Gotta Believe” and “Games People Play,” and co-wrote much of the Fat Boys’ first album. 

Don Wilcock, founder and president of the Northeast Blues Society, founded “Kite,” the area’s first arts weekly, in 1970. As a journalist, his columns have appeared in numerous area publications. Wilcock is contributing editor of The Blues Music Magazine, and he also co-produced the annual Fleet Blues Festival, a three-stage event featuring the world’s hottest blues stars.

More information about the Eddies Music Hall of Fame is available at theeddiesawards.com. The Capital Region Thomas Edison Music Awards and Hall of Fame, as well as UPH, are part of Proctors Collaborative. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Where did the Van Gogh go? How did a painting that went missing more than a century ago end up in upstate N.Y.? Who should be allowed to keep an important piece of art by a world-famous artist after it is found? 

You may learn answers to these questions by asking them directly of the artist whose just-published book poses these and other inquiries for the curious. On Jan. 17, author and artist Jonathan Santlofer appears at Northshire Bookstore Saratoga as part of his promotional book tour. Do take heed of the answers you may glean however, because as Santlofer points out in his author’s notes at the book’s conclusion: what you have just read is a novel that mixes fact and fiction. 

Billed as a spellbinding thriller of masterpieces, masterminds and the mysterious underbelly of the art world, Santlofer re-introduces readers to Luke Perrone, hero of The Last Mona Lisa and a descendant of the man who stole the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in 1911. Luke navigates the shadiest corners of the underground art world to track down Van Gogh’s notorious death-bed self-portrait. What he discovers is a consequential history that traces the journey of the painting back to World War II, when agents of the French Resistance protected it from destruction by the Nazis. 

With “The Lost Van Go,” Santlofer offers an open invitation of the artists’ domain in verses selected with care: “Late morning sun filtered through the floor-to-ceiling windows, across my palette and over half-finished paintings leaning against the walls of my Bowery studio…” 

The journey name-checks boxes of varying layers of cool: Secreted away in a wine crate with a false bottom and flanked by bottles of Bordeaux is a copy of Celine’s “Mort a Credit” -  a novel us U.S.-ers realize as “Death On The Installment Plan” and know enough NOT to read til the end, because then – well, it’s curtains!  There are visions of a diner in Queens near Astoria Park (“half-full, but noisy, customers crammed into booths, waitresses shouting orders, Lil Nas X on the jukebox”) Louboutins (“My one and only pair,” says Alex, “they’re going to cripple me but they look good,”) and artful journeys to European destinations. 

“My brain was moving at about the same speed as my rented Opel Corsa on a three-lane highway heading out of Paris, commuter cars and trucks cutting across lanes without signaling, horns beeping and me trying to drive,” Santlofer writes. 

A visit to the canal houses of Amsterdam meanwhile are besotted and blessed with all the pleasures and perils of a modern-day zipline crossing the globe. “He told me to sit tight and do nothing until he got back to me. Then he took off, leaving me on a street with semi-naked women in windows undulating and beckoning me, like I’d been dumped into ‘Dante’s Inferno’ by way of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’…”   

There is admiration, of course, for the artistry of Van Gogh himself, which Santlofer scribes through the vision of his protagonist while perusing the artist’s work. “I moved from portrait to portrait, noting several had been painted in the same year, but all different, as if there was more than one Vincent, and I suppose there was, depending on his mood and mental state,” he says. “And for a moment I could see Vincent, thumb looped through the palette mixing colors. I could have stood there for hours.”   

Jonathan Santlofer has taught at Columbia and The New School, been exhibited in more than 200 collections worldwide and serves on the board at Yaddo. “The Lost Van Gogh,” (352 pages, $34.99, published Jan. 2, 2024 by Sourcebooks Landmark) is his seventh novel.  He will appear at Northshire Bookstore Saratoga, 424 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 17. For more information, go to: northshire.com

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Minita Sanghvi has announced her candidacy for the 44th State Senate District in New York’s Capital Region.

Sanghvi, a Democrat, plans to challenge the seat currently held by Republican Jim Tedisco. The 44th Senate District includes Saratoga County, Niskayuna, and the city of Schenectady.  

“I’m running for State Senate because we deserve better,” Sanghvi said, officially announcing her candidacy Jan. 8. “We need a leader who will put people ahead of partisan politics in Albany. I’m not a politician. I’m a parent, business educator, and fiscally responsible public servant. And I’ve built a record of listening to people and working with others to deliver results.”

Born to a conservative family of entrepreneurs and innovators in India, Sanghvi earned a degree in accounting and an MBA, and immigrated to the United States in 2001. She has taught business at Skidmore College for nearly 10 years, and in 2021 was first elected to serve as the Saratoga Springs Finance Commissioner.

Sanghvi was re-elected city Finance Commissioner last November and on Jan. 1 began her second two-year term in the position. With that term slated to last through 2025 and State Senate Elections taking place in November 2024, it is currently unclear how and when her seat at the City Council will be affected.    

There are approximately 226,000 active registered voters in the 44th State Senate District – about 176,000 in Saratoga County and 50,000 in Schenectady County, according to the state Board of Elections. Of those, just under 76,000 are registered Democrats and just over 71,000 registered Republicans, with the district-wide balance comprised of about 15,000 registered with other parties, and 64,000 “blanks” – those registered to vote but unaffiliated with any party.    

State Senators serve two-year terms. In November 2022, James Tedisco (R, C) defeated Michelle Ostrelich (D, WF).

Sanghvi listed securing infrastructure dollars for bridges and roads, getting more state aid to counties and cities, helping to revitalize downtowns, bringing green and high-tech jobs to communities, and establishing “an innovation corridor” that connects Schenectady and Saratoga among her priorities.  

If elected, Sanghvi will be the first openly gay and first woman of color to represent New York’s 44th State Senate District, and the first openly gay woman in the New York Senate.

“I believe in protecting rights and freedoms for all residents, no matter where they live or what political party they belong to,” Sanghvi said in a statement. “I’ll protect women’s access to health care, defend LGBTQ rights, and ensure everyone has an equal shot at the same American Dream this country has given to me.”

Thursday, 04 January 2024 14:41

New Year, New Council, New Rules

SARATOGA SPRINGS — John Safford shuffled among the three-dozen or so public spectators attending the night’s gathering inside the Saratoga Music Hall, exchanging pleasantries and engaging in conversation. 

Draped in a dark navy blazer and a white button-down shirt accented by a burgundy tie, Safford carried with him a bottle of Saratoga-label water and a rectangular leather organizer from which unfolded the night’s meeting agenda and a draft copy of new “Public Meeting Expectations and Rules” the council will, in some form, be looking to implement. 

“Can we be seated please?” said Safford, as the clock ticked closer to the 7 p.m. start of his first meeting as the city’s new mayor. “Let’s get this thing going.” 

Mayor Safford and Public Safety Commssioner Tim Coll represent the two new members of the five-person City Council. They are joined by council returnees Jason Golub (Commissioner of Public Works), Dillon Moran (Commissioner of Accounts) and Minita Sanghvi (Commissioner of Finance). The city’s long-standing Commission form of governing equally provides each of the five councilmembers one vote at the table. 

Two city Supervisors do not vote at the council table, but instead represent the city with voting power at the county level as members of the Board of Supervisors. They are: returning Supervisor Matt Veitch, and new Supervisor Michele Madigan – the latter of whom had for a decade served previously as city Finance Commissioner. 

The most immediate change of the first-and-third Tuesday of the month council meetings featured a return to a previous format; council meetings will now have a 7 p.m. start-time - one hour later than had been the case the past six months, and the relocation of the supervisors’ reports to the meeting’s end. 

The Public Comment period which had allowed each speaker up to four minutes to address the council has been trimmed to three minutes, and a 30-minute limit overall set to allow members of the public to address the City Council.    

“Public Comment has been a subject that was very much a part of this last election,” Mayor Safford said.  “The other thing we’re going to be very interested in doing is making sure there are no comments… or response that you might give from the audience to what’s being said. And this is true as well at the council table.” 

A clock will be displayed atop the council table indicating to speakers how much of their time remains, the mayor added. “We’re going to be quite strict about timing.” 

A two-page draft titled “Public Meeting Expectations and Rules” was made available at the meeting in the Music Hall Tuesday night. 

The draft calls for those wishing to speak during the Public Comment period to sign their name and address on a sheet prior to the start of the meeting - a process similar to the method used at county Board of Supervisors meetings. 

The proposed Rules of Decorum and Order prohibit behaviors disruptive to the conduct of the meeting.  Specifically, the draft reads: “disorderly, disruptive, disturbing, delaying, or boisterous conduct which may include, but is not limited to, handclapping, stomping of feet, whistling, making noise, use of profane language or obscene gestures, yelling or similar demonstrations.” Signs, placards, and the distribution of literature are also to be prohibited in the meeting room during a meeting. 

Should the rules be violated, Safford will first request the rule violator to cease their conduct, with a verbal warning to follow should the violation continue. 

“If the person does not cease the violation the presiding officer shall declare the person to be out of order at which time the Sergeant-at-Arms may take steps to remove the person(s) from the meeting room,” according to the draft copy of Public Meeting Expectations and Rules. “If applicable, such person may be subject to civil and/or criminal penalties that may apply to their conduct.” 

A lengthy council discussion was had regarding the restriction of “handclapping” and general displays of emotion and what may be allowed, as any expression - celebrating the recognition of an achievement award, a response to a statement albeit popular or unpopular - may temporarily cause interruption of the rhythm of any meeting. 

“There is a certain amount of flexibility that the chairman (the mayor) has as to what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable,” Safford said. Members of the council subsequently initiated discussion about how to best ensure that the rules for allowing any public expression are applied equally to all meeting attendees, whether they be popular or unpopular. There is more work to be done.      

Initial discussions regarding the proposal took place at the council’s hour-long pre-agenda meeting earlier that day. Safford stressed that the pre-agenda meetings are where he would like much of the council’s debate over agenda items to take place. The pre-agenda meetings –  typically held in the past on a Monday morning and lightly attended by the public, have preceded the much larger publicly attended Tuesday night regular meetings. 

“If we’re going to have any controversy over any of these, I’d like to air them out here, before we have a problem tonight,” he said at the morning pre-agenda meeting on Jan. 2, later adding “this is what we want to do at this meeting: get all this stuff aired out so we don’t have this kind of conversation tonight.”  Of the Tuesday night gatherings, Safford said, “this should be the most boring meeting of the month.” 

The mayor said he hopes to have the new Public Meeting Expectations and Rules document fully prepared and ready for vote at the council’s next meeting, on Jan. 16.

Page 8 of 105

Blotter

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Property Transactions

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