While the April 18, 2023, Saratoga Springs City Council meeting was subdued in contrast to the previous April 4 meeting, it was notable for Mayor Ron Kim's mismanagement.
Mayor Kim Abrogated His Responsibility Over The Public Comment Period
For starters Mayor Kim announced that while there would still be a four-minute limit on individual comments, he would no longer enforce it. When is a limit no longer a limit?
This means that any person can now filibuster for as long as they want. Potentially one person can use up all the time allocated for public comment.
I expect Kim watched the video of the last meeting, where he appeared feckless as he fruitlessly advised people, what seemed like hundreds of times, that their time was up.
At the April 18 meeting, Kim lectured the public that monopolizing the microphone was unfair to others who might wish to speak, but essentially left it up to members of the audience to sort it all out over who would get to use what amount of time.
This means that if someone takes it upon themselves to venture out at night to address the Council on a matter they find important, they may discover that the person ahead of them has exhausted the available time, and they are out of luck. It seems to me this could potentially add to the disorder at meetings and could lead to some disruptive conflict between those wanting to have their time at the microphone.
You Couldn't Get Into The Meeting
The April 18, 2023, meeting was held in the old Council chambers, and many people could not get into the meeting. They were allowed to sit in the hall where a screen was set up that displayed the meeting.
Pretty much every speaker complained about Kim's decision to hold the meeting in the old Council chambers rather than the Music Hall. It was especially embarrassing because the Council was to honor the late Clarence Dart of the Tuskegee Airmen. His descendants, who had been invited to the Council meeting, were unable to get into the room as no seats had been reserved for them. When people learned that the Dart family was in the hall, many gave up their seats for them.
Kim offered two excuses for the venue. He asserted that the video and audio quality was better in the chambers and that he had assessed the agenda items and believed that public attendance would be sufficiently modest so that the chambers would accommodate those who wanted to attend.
It was clear from the groans in the audience that his rationale did not go down well. For one thing, it should have been obvious that the no-knock warrant issue on the agenda would draw a crowd. A number of Facebook pages, including one sponsored by BLM, had posted calls to attend.
A Different Meeting Without Lex Figuereo
Lex Figuereo and Brigitte Barr were charged with two misdemeanors each for their disruption at the April 4 meeting.
Lex Figuereo was absent from the April 18 meeting, as were most of the other leaders of BLM. I expect that Figuereo's attorney had advised him not to attend future Council meetings until his charges are resolved. In his absence, the group was relatively subdued. With the exception of Angela Kaufman (AKA Diogenes), the other speakers' remarks were free of epithets. No one from the group attempted a filibuster.
All of them directed vituperative attacks towards Public Safety Commissioner James Montagnino. They also spoke in favor of eliminating "no knock" warrants.
If this is representative of the future, it appears that without Lex Figuereo's fiery leadership, the city may be spared the kind of disruptions that has made transacting city business problematic.