Opinion - Saratoga Springs Politics

The below blog posts are written by John Kaufmann.
These opinions do not reflect the views of Saratoga TODAY newspaper.

Friday, 16 December 2022 09:32

Saratoga Springs Democratic Party’s Disinformation Campaign and Attack on Their Own Elected Commissioners

By John Kaufmann | Saratoga Springs Politics
Saratoga Springs Democratic Party’s Disinformation Campaign and Attack on Their Own Elected Commissioners

Pat Tuz, the chair of the Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee, made the unusual move at the December 6, 2022, City Council meeting of officially endorsing an amendment to the city code in spite of the fact that three of the Democrats on the Council opposed and defeated the amendment. In effect, she and her executive committee lined up with the sponsors of the bill, Democrats Mayor Kim and Commissioner Montagnino, openly opposing Democratic Commissioners Golub, Sanghvi, and Moran who voted against the proposal.

For the chair of a political party to choose sides against elected officials of their own party on a fractious issue, if not unheard of, is at least very unusual.

Just as odd was an email Tuz sent out to the members of the city Democratic Committee urging them to attend the December 6 meeting and speak in support of a resolution that was not on the agenda and, in effect, did not exist.

Her ghost resolution was purportedly to "adopt a 2:00AM closing time for bars and restaurants in the City of Saratoga Springs." As has been thoroughly discussed at the Council table and in the media, the city cannot set the closing times of its bars. No such resolution was on the City Council agenda, and there was no public hearing on adopting a 2am closing time. This is a link to the December 6 City Council agenda, and here is the list of public hearings scheduled for that evening.

12.05.2022-preliminary-agenda_page_1-1.webp

What was on the agenda that night was a deeply flawed and likely illegal amendment to Chapter 136 of the city code proposed by Public Safety Commissioner Montagnino and supported by Mayor Ron Kim. The amendment would have given the city the power to revoke a bar's license if any of a series of events took place after 2am. For instance, bizarrely, a bar could lose its license under this proposal if someone had been in their establishment and left after 2AM and afterward committed a criminal offense somewhere somehow, even though the bar had done nothing that contributed to the offense.

Let's be clear that the three Democrats who voted against Montagnino's proposal were entirely in support of a 2:00am bar closing. Their opposition to the code amendment was based on their belief that it was unworkable and would only lead to needless litigation.

An earlier post explored Montagnino's "creative" resolution in detail. Democrat Public Works Commissioner Jason Golub, who is an attorney, captured the problems with this proposal when at the December 6 meeting, he said:

“I think it’s poorly written, I think it’s open to so many different interpretations that I’m not even sure it could be, or is legal. I think it contradicts what our own city attorney suggested as language, which has, once again, been ignored. And I think it contradicts the need to spend more time and understand what the real problems are and what the solutions can be, including, potentially, closing the bars at 2 a.m.”

Jason Golub December 6, 2022, Council Meeting

Nevertheless, in the days leading up to the Council meeting where Montagnino's proposal would be voted on, Democratic Chair Pat Tuz sent out the following emails to Democratic Committee members, and probably others, misrepresenting what was going to be voted on and what the public hearing was about:

"The Executive Committee of the  Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee supports the resolution being proposed at the Tuesday, December 6 City Council meeting to adopt a 2:00 a.m. closing time for bars and restaurants in the City of Saratoga Springs. [JK:Emphasis added] This is important for the safety and security of our residents, and our guests.  In light of serious recent events, and a history of over 20 years of problems, and the fact that  previous attempts have failed,  we feel the time is right for the City Council to do everything in its power to change the closing time to 2:00am and hope that every city council member will approve this measure to take action now." 

Pat Tuz email December 5, 2022

and

There will be a public hearing tomorrow evening at 6:40 [JK: My emphasis]. Please attend in person and share your thoughts.  Or just say “I support a 2am closing."  The meeting will be in the Music Room on the 3rd floor of City Hall.  

If you cannot attend, please send an email with your thoughts and support to the City Council.  Emails are as follows:

[JK: What followed was a list of the five city council members and their email addresses.]

Pat Tuz Email December 5, 2022

So why would Pat Tuzv mischaracterize the issue before the Council as "a resolution to adopt a 2am closing time"? And why does she urge Dems to contact City Council members to urge them to support a 2am closing when all five Council members had already taken this position? They had, in fact, recently voted unanimously to ask the County to change the time.

And why did the city Democratic Facebook page similarly misrepresent what was going to be considered at the upcoming Council meeting, falsely claiming that there would be a hearing on "whether to shift the bar-closing time from 4:00 am to 2:am"?

2022-12-12-2.webp

A Classic Example Of Bait And Switch

It begs credibility that Tuz was unaware that there was no public hearing or vote on the City Council agenda to adopt an earlier closing time for the bars. Remember, the statement came not just from her but also from the five other members of the Democratic Committee's executive committee. How could all of these people make such a significant error? Were they just not paying attention?

I don't think so. I suspect that Tuz and her colleagues on the city's Democratic Executive Committee knew that even lay people with no legal background could see the problems with Montagnino's resolution that claimed the city could rescind bar licenses under the most dubious circumstances. Rather than try to mobilize people to support a confusing and probably illegal proposal, it was easier to rally their base around a simple call for a 2AM closing even though they knew this was not the proposal before the Council. So I think the email Tuz sent out was not a mistake but a deliberate strategy.

The Democrats' narrative was soon picked up by the media.

Consider this cover of Saratoga Today.

saratogatodaycover.webp

The television coverage suffered from similar disinformation. WNYT referred to the Montagnino/Kim proposal as a "proposal to change the closing time for bars..."

Throwing Three Democratic Commissioners Under The Bus

Chairperson Tuz had to know that Commissioners Jason Golub, Minita Sanghvi, and Dillon Moran, all Democrats, wholeheartedly supported closing the bars at 2:00am but were opposed to the Montagnino/Kim resolution for very legitimate reasons. This did not restrain Tuz and her executive committee.

Interestingly, this was done by the Democrats' executive committee, which is just the officers, not the full committee, where two of the three opponents to Montagnino's proposal are members.

The consequence of characterizing the proposal as a vote on a 2am closing, not as a vote on a specific flawed proposal to pressure bars to close, was for people to conclude falsely that Golub, Sanghvi, and Moran, by voting against this measure, opposed closing the city's bars early.

That Tuz and her executive committee would promote a false narrative at the expense of the three Commissioners is even stranger in light of the fact that Tuz and her executive committee have remained silent regarding our Supervisors Gaston(D) and Veitch(R), who really are opposed to closing the bars earlier.

So why would Tuz and her committee promote such a falsehood?

And why wouldn't she and the executive committee instead work to find some common ground between the five Democrats in approaching the bar issue rather than involve themselves in taking sides in a contentious and divisive split among the elected Democratic officials?

The answer seems to be that there is a factional split among the Democrats and that Tuz and the executive committee have signed on to the Kim/Montagnino team.

The Democratic Divide Continues

Further evidence of this split among the Democrats was on display in comments Mayor Kim made recently to the Times Union and in an email from Ron Kim that Tuz endorsed and circulated.

Both falsely characterized the three Council members who voted against the Kim/Montagnino proposal as opposed to closing bars at 2 AM.

In the TU article, Kim discussed the defeat of Montagnino's code amendment, saying:

"I'm disappointed. The chief of police, on the record, stated that most of the violence on Caroline Street is happening after 2am. Three of the council members turned a blind eye to that..."

Kim's email that Tuz circulated contained the following:

Unfortunately, my [Kim's] effort with Commissioner of Public Safety Jim Montagnino to restrict operations on Caroline Street past 2 am failed to pass on a 2:3 vote, despite the SSPD Chief of Police stating that most of the reported violent activity on Caroline Street occurs after 2 am.

Commissioners Minita Sanghvi (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), Jason Golub (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), and Dillon Moran (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) all voted against the proposed ordinance. Please feel free to contact them with any comments or concerns you may have about their vote.

Kim email

Needless to say, Commissioners Moran, Sanghvi, and Golub have unfortunately received numerous emails falsely accusing them of opposing a 2AM closing.

It remains to be seen how bitter and divisive this apparent factionalism among the Democrats will continue to be.


The Emails

From: Pat Tuz <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: December 5, 2022 at 3:05:47 PM EST
Subject: Please support City Council's action for 2:00am bar closing...

Dear Committee Members:

 The Executive Committee is asking all members of the Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee to join us in recommending this course of action to all members of the City Council.

The Executive Committee of the  Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee supports the resolution being proposed at the Tuesday, December 6 City Council meeting to adopt a 2:00 a.m. closing time for bars and restaurants in the City of Saratoga Springs. This is important for the safety and security of our residents, and our guests.  In light of serious recent events, and a history of over 20 years of problems, and the fact that  previous attempts have failed,  we feel the time is right for the City Council to do everything in its power to change the closing time to 2:00am and hope that every city council member will approve this measure to take action now. 

 There will be a public hearing tomorrow evening at 6:40. Please attend in person and share your thoughts.  Or just say “I support a 2am closing."  The meeting will be in the Music Room on the 3rd floor of City Hall.  

If you cannot attend, please send an email with your thoughts and support to the City Council.  Emails are as follows:

Mayor Ron Kim:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Commissioner of Public Safety Jim Montagnino:   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Commissioner of Finance Minita Sanghvi:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Commissioner of Accounts Dillon Moran:   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Commissioner of Public Works Jason Golub:    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Here are a few recent article with some background.  

The Gazette:   https://dailygazette.com/2022/11/28/saratoga-springs-city-council-sets-public-hearings-to-address-downtown-violence-earlier-bar-closing-times/

The Gazette:  https://dailygazette.com/2022/12/03/closing-time-amid-proposal-for-earlier-closings-many-saratoga-springs-b

ars-already-shut-down-around-2-a-m/

Thanks for your interest!  See you tomorrow night.

Pat Tuz

SSDC Chairperson

From: Pat Tuz
Date: December 8, 2022 at 2:47:43 PM EST
Subject: Fwd: Closing Bars at 2 am

A hearty thank you for your help in the form of your presence and your emails at this past Tuesday’s City Council meeting.  Thanks to all who participated in all ways in the discussion on Caroline Street.  The letter below is from Mayor Ron Kim’s office thanking everyone.  

With the proliferation of guns in general and a SC decision that affected New York's formerly very strict concealed carry law, our City Council understands the urgency of this issue.  

The decision was made to form a committee, and part of that is to do a “security audit”.  Although we would have liked to have seen measures taken now, this audit will yield the need for the 136  amendment.  

In the meantime, I suggest we send emails to  the County Board of Supervisors requesting a 2:00am closing time for bars and restaurants in Saratoga Springs.  You can click on this link and use the forms provided for each Supervisor.  

And, all you have to say is the following:   

Due to the ongoing violence in Saratoga Springs, and as it’s a County decision to determine closing times for all bars and restaurants, I am requesting that the closing time for all bars and restaurants be moved to 2:00am.  There is no reason for them to stay open so late as too often leads to violence as was demonstrated by the November 20th incident on Broadway.  

Thanks again for everyone’s help!  

Pat Tuz

SSDC Chairperson

From: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Subject: Closing Bars at 2 am

Date: December 8, 2022 at 9:06:22 AM EST

To: Jen Dunn <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Cc: Ron Kim <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>, James Montagnino <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>, angela rella <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.> Good morning,

I want to thank you again for expressing your support for closing bars in Saratoga at 2 am.  

Unfortunately, my effort with Commissioner of Public Safety Jim Montagnino to restrict operations on Caroline Street past 2 am failed to pass on a 2:3 vote, despite the SSPD Chief of Police stating that most of the reported violent activity on Caroline Street occurs after 2 am.

Commissioners Minita Sanghvi (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), Jason Golub (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), and Dillon Moran (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) all voted against the proposed ordinance. Please feel free to contact them with any comments or concerns you may have about their vote.

I will continue working toward solutions that ensure the safety of residents and visitors to Saratoga Springs, law enforcement personnel, and other first responders and business owners and employees who work at late night establishments in our City.  This is a matter of vital importance to me.

Sincerely,

Ron Kim

Jen Dunn
Executive Assistant to the Mayor's Office
City of Saratoga Springs
474 Broadway, Suite 11
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
518-587-3550 Ext: 2520

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