Saturday, October 31, 2009

Tale of the tape

Running a political campaign a kin to a full-out sprint across a tightrope while ducking a swarm of rabid vampire bats hell bent on sucking you dry. Just one wrong juke and it’s all over except for the cleanup crew.

Campaign managers –or political hacks as their more commonly known –are constantly dashing across this wire. And as the minutes tick closer to Election Day, their speed grows incrementally. One poorly-worded campaign flier or one errant media report can really set a candidate’s run for office in a tail spin. Conversely, one well-timed tip can mean the difference between a concession speech and a victory proclamation on the first Tuesday of November.

In the Spa City, there is no shortage of political chicanery. In fact, the last couple of weeks have been wrought with campaign power plays; so many that voters sometimes need a score card to keep things in perspective. Well, iSaratoga’s stalwart editorial board has decided to offer a layman’s guide to campaign propaganda, sorted and graded for your edification.

Story: City comes up short on health insurance allocation

Details: After spending nearly four years squirreled away in the darkest recesses of City Hall, Eileen Finneran is really starting to become the political spinster everyone knew she could be during her rookie year. The “deputy Public Safety commissioner” –quotes are used here because she doesn’t perform any of the job’s normal functions –is showing why Ron Kim quickly snap her up as his number-two. First, she manages to turn the Rec Center vote, one of Kim’s greatest disasters, into a campaign platform for the Democrats. Now she’s done almost the same thing by leaking this story about her department being in the red on its health insurance contributions.

Finneran paired with her old buddy Skip Scirocco at Public Works to throw a one-two punch at Finance Commissioner Ken Ivins and Mayor Scott Johnson by default. The claim is that the city is short roughly $500,000 in its employee health insurance contributions, meaning there could be a serious budgetary shortfall for both the Public Safety and Public Works departments. The error seems to be egg on Ivins’ face, seeing as though he was the one that proposed the budget. In truth, all five commissioners voted for the budget –including Kim and Scirocco –and none of them seemed concerned about it then. Even Ivins doesn’t seem that concerned. He rightly stated that the money can come from surpluses realized on other lines.

But who really reads that far down in articles, especially one about health insurance premiums? Score one for Finneran. She’s made Ivins appear incompetent, even though the issue she raises isn’t really an issue at all. Her spin gives the otherwise lackluster Peter Martin a shot at securing unseating Ivins and Finneran an alternative office to hide if Kim isn’t successful in his bid for mayor.

Grade: A-

Story: (none)

Details: Scott Johnson’s campaign handlers don’t like dashing across the tightrope too often. They didn’t in 2007 and they don’t appear to being doing so in 2009. He doesn’t wage massive political attacks in the fall, nor does he outwardly offer public criticism to his opponents. These sorts of things are better left to campaign mailers, radio ads and the occasional television spot. In fact, Johnson has literally dumped his war chest –almost $44,000 –into this sort of public relations, which subverts the unbiased media and speaks directly to the voters.

In these ads, Johnson cogently derides the criticism he takes from his opponent and then offers a bit of tinder to fuel the flames already burning beneath Ron Kim’s drive for the mayor’s office: Kim storms out of council meetings; Kim voted for the Rec Center six times; Kim has driven a $3.5 million increase in the Public Safety spending. These are all hard things to dispute, and in the absence of a television camera or news reporters, Kim is simply not able to do so.

By staying out of the spotlight, Johnson can also claim he’s not playing politics on city time. And that’s a pledge his opponent could never make. That’s not to say this sort of campaign tactic can’t come back and bite a candidate in the ass. Avoiding the tightrope can be every bit as lethal as running across the damn thing. Ducking out of the spotlight is also a tough thing to do, especially as mayor. If it involves blowing off media calls, a candidate runs the risk of souring his or her relationship with reporters. And that’s basically a death knell for any campaign.

Grade: B

Story: Waterline extension spurs debate

Details: Eddie Miller, the Independence Party candidate for Public Works, has been trying to convince voters that Skip Scirocco is corrupt. When the story about the Regatta View waterline broke, he though he found his silver bullet. Scirocco claims the city-funded work, which has connected two private residences to city water, was conducted to extend a fire hydrant further down Union Avenue. Miller naturally disagrees.

Scirocco’s challenger claims the DPW chief installed the waterline as a kick-back to a couple of friends. Miller has openly questioned why Scirocco didn’t have the project approved by the council and why the estimated $20,000 project wasn’t paid for by the homeowners. This volley of shots across Scirocco’s bow caused him to stammer a bit. He made contradictory statements to the media, and then back-pedaled to his original stance, making him look either a bit foolish, a bit nefarious or both.

But Miller’s crusade against the project continues to boil down to a he-said-she-said, and has never really picked up legs in the media, despite several articles by two papers. The problem with Miller’s silver bullet is three-fold. First, no one can really explain why Scirocco would want to curry favor with these residents; second, many view the issue as being petty in the grand scheme of a multi-million dollar public safety budget; and third, it’s goddamn boring. Waterlines and infrastructure aren’t sexy things, and unless a campaign can really make a salacious accusation, they’re not the ticket that is going to win an election –especially against an incumbent.

Grade: C -

Story: Impasse in PBA contract negotiations

Details: With less than a week left before the election the Saratoga Springs Police Benevolent Association has begun opening bitching about their contract. They bombarded the Saratogian’s Web site with news releases just one day after they declared an impasse to contract negotiations with the city. The news releases in turn spurred a news story about the sorry state of the negotiations. Unfortunately for the PBA and their slate of candidates, the literature and subsequent article really manage to truthfully characterize their organization as a money-grubbing group of thugs that won’t stop until every patrolman is making six figures.

Laughably, the PBA claims it offered good-faith concessions to the city that weren’t answered. One of these so-called concessions is their willingness to forestall their 3 percent raise this year until 2010, the same year they’ve proposed a 4 percent across-the-board salary increase. In other words, the city would get out of overpaying the cops for two months, only to have the bums collect double come the New Year.

To put it bluntly, the fact that the PBA is even making such a demand in this economy and when eight of their members could soon be without jobs is fucking mind blowing. Moreover, it shows their true strategy in this negotiation: Get Ron Kim elected mayor so he can give them carte blanche with their contract. But whoever thought out this strategy –maybe PBA dunderhead Ed Lewis –didn’t take one thing into consideration. Hardly any of the cops live in Saratoga Springs, thus they and their families can’t vote. They also made Kim look like a flatulent asshole for jumping in the sack with the PBA. Keep in mind, Johnson wouldn’t even accept an interview with the PBA, nor would Ivins or John Franck, the unopposed Accounts commissioner. Uh oh...damage control...

Grade: F

Be mindful, these grades aren’t an endorsement of any candidate per se; but rather how effectively their inner circles conduct their respective campaigns. For instance, it would take all the hash in Amsterdam and at least a 55-gallon drum of bourbon for iSaratoga’s e-board to even stomach the thought of fathoming another two years of Finneran’s dickering in City Hall. But when someone’s good at something –even if that something is really malicious –it’s worthy of note.

Editor’s note: This is the first among a marathon of posts pertaining to the election, politics and everything in between. The whip has been cracked at iSaratoga and its bibulous scribes are hard at work. Let’s just hope there’s enough bourbon to fuel this vicious run.

28 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

HO
All year long, Tom Curley's wife Linda must have been aware of the shortfall. Maybe she should have attended a council meeting to make it public? Nancy Wagner goes to meetings to present to the council, so it must be ok for employees to do that.

What say you, Linda?

12:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The fact that there are NO COMPLAINTS (from the cops and firemen) WHATSOEVER with the job that Kim and Fingernan are doing/have done, sort of explains things -- to me.

I disagree though that "most cops are from out of town." A good many are, but not most.

12:20 PM  
Blogger Andrew J. Bernstein said...

Good post, I'm looking forward to more. For the record, Finneran was NOT the source on the health insurance story. AB

12:37 PM  
Anonymous John Turd said...

Ho,

Start drinking the bourbon now. Finneran will be back in city hall. Now that the village idiot John Tighe has been exposed at the other useless blog everyone will vote against Johnson and Ivins. No one will touch him with a ten foot pole. Tighe is a poison and he is backing the idiot team of Miller ,Johnson and Ivins. Gone,Baby Gone!

2:12 PM  
Anonymous I see dead people said...

A special Halloween greeting to Eileen Finneran . Hey Eileen you can leave the house without makeup today, you won’t scare anyone.

4:16 PM  
Blogger Ben lives on said...

As someone pointed out on my blog the truly sad and discouraging part of all this is the dismal turnout.Maybe it's all the bullshit the empty promises or the clear biases of Saratogian but the winners will be chosen by a pathetically small percentage of Saratoga's population.

4:30 PM  
Blogger Ben lives on said...

So which one of the Kim/Keehn DFC crew was it Andrew?

4:31 PM  
Blogger Ben lives on said...

Michael Mandelkern - Staff Writer for the Skidmore news recanted his endorsement of Ron Kim after admitting he had made serious errors.
Mandelkern wrote and I quote “If you read my column this past week, you need to know that what I wrote is inaccurate. And by inaccurate, I mean like Dick Cheney with a shotgun.”
http://media.www.skidmorenews.com/media/storage/paper1313/news/2009/10/30/Opinionseditorial/My.Column.Last.Week.Was.Wrong-3818967.shtml
He concludes his article by writing “While I scoffed at the recreation center last week, after speaking with Johnson I changed my mind. If you look outside the campus there isn't anything like our Sports and Recreation Center.
So on Nov. 3 let's give him another term so he can fix that.”
Mandelkern does not state how he became so wrongly informed but it doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to see the hand of Kim or a certain Skidmore alum in this.
By performing a "mea culpa" Mandelkern has brought a certain level of integrity back to the Skidmore News and learned an important journalistic lesson. Always assume your sources have their own agenda even when that source is part of the main stream journalist community.

6:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spot on again HO. Spot on again.

As a resident of the city I absolutely fucking marvel at Mr. Kim's (& the crazy wing of the Democratic Party) efforts to blame the rec center debacle on Mayor Johnson. Just a 180 degree turnaround from the truth.

I'll give the Dems credit here; they learned well from National Republicans over the last few election cycles. They are doing more for spin in this city than Brian Boitano in a centrifuge with an inner ear infection. I laugh at your campaign literature as if it was created by the editors of 'The Onion'. Actually, the Onion's satire probably has more truth to it.

While I'm at it, I thought I would give them a shout out for trying to cast Ron Kim as a fiscal watchdog who will "save us from higher taxes". Hey Ron, how much was the price tag on that military style fortress you wanted? While you get back to me on that, could you also explain how spending in your department ballooned during your time as PS Commissioner?

You could also tell me again about what a great leader you are. I noticed that none of your campaign literature talked about how you stormed out of City Council meetings, or berated concerned citizens who dared to question you (like Kyle York), or how you dealt with various groups (like SEMS) with such civility.

Personally, I don't think you can manage a backyard barbecue, much less an entire city. The fact that you are a bankruptcy attorney is starting to make a LOT of sense...

It will be interesting to see if your penchant for mendacity is sufficient to hoodwink enough of the electorate to put you in the Mayor's Chair, because you certainly have NO achievements I can think of that justify your election.

You are an unqualified, insufferable, spoiled, bullying blowhard. I pray that your boorish behavior is nearly at an end and we (the voters) send you packing. You certainly have earned it.

10:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HO:

How many members does the i-Saratoga "editorial board" have? I use quotes because there's no evidence that anyone ever does any editing of this blog. There's no proofreading for grammatical or spelling errors, no fact checking, no style or flair, and, most of all, no good writing.

Editorial board? Grade: F

11:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

12:20 should check the public record on police who pay residential taxes.

Your continued support for Bernstein is admirable, but I can't wait for him to ask the inquiring questions. If one is afraid to alienate the individual or collective individuals, the story will simply lack the story. Encourage him to elevate the perception of a curious press that will relentlessly unfold the news that is newsworthy.

Your take on Kim and Finneran is correct. The one has completely absolved himself from previous political promises to the electorate opting for a tunnel vision priority, while the other has turned herself into a 24/7 underground political hatchet moll.

After losing his supervisory post at the County, this good ole local boy from the west side of town sold his soul to the highest bidder to get back into the City. Having come in with Kim, he should go out with him.

3:18 AM  
Anonymous Watcher in the woods said...

Your efforts to discredit Kim are going to come up short. You fail to print that Johnson is doing as much or more negative campaigning than Kim. His people(the Brien Hollowood letter) bashing the firefighters and his deputy going door to door attacking ex council members. Let's not forget his deputy leaving nasty messages on voicemails at the one employee they cut from the payroll. She also has been spreading bad rumors to John Herrick about other ex-employees.

4:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who is this fucking childish moron who keeps referring to Mayor Johnson's height, as if it matters?

This asshole will probably give himself a fatal heart attack or maybe some type of aneurism after he sees the election results.

Johnson will win in a landslide.

9:07 AM  
Anonymous If he had any brains, Ron Kim will be opening a Korean diner after Tuesday. But he doesn't, so he will likely blame it all on "Tommy" and cause more havoc said...

Guy Knocking on my Door:

"I'm here to ask your support for Ron Kim as our next Mayor"

Your Truly:

"Ha-ha-ha-ha. Ho-ha-ho-ho-ha. Haaaaaaaaaaa. Hoooo. Ha-ha. Gee, that was funny there, fella. Now, if you'll excuse me, I suddenly feel the urge to take a dump."

10:14 AM  
Anonymous Gordilocks said...

John Turd? That's hilarious! You are right on the mark with the village idiot thing. Tighe's blog is poorly done with nothing but one sided crap that will only die after the elction. He is not even in our city so his opinion is useless as is his existence. He had to move out of the city because he can't afford it anymore. Why not go out and get a fucking job like the rest of us. Sucking off the government tit is not cutting it anymore.

11:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HO
Your sottish ways, have resulted in some great posts.....we are awaiting the fulfillment of your promise.............with only two days to go before elections....and that is ........to post a multitude of pertinent election information.

And may I add my own pre-election advice/observation...........
a vote for Kim is a vote for higher taxes, union dominance and a Public Safety Palace.

4:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

4:23 re-read the letter from Mr. Hollowood. He praises the firefighters and police officers. His problem is the same many Saratogians have, it's the unions thinking the taxpayers are bottomless pits of mooney. At least Mayor Johnson had the good sense not to attend a nomination meeting with the unions in a year of negotiations.

4:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 9:07:

Little Scooter in a landslide? Nope. He'll be buried under a landslide. What a phony. For two years he's been pretending to know what he's doing. Wasting taxpayers' money and accomplishing nothing. Time for him to go. Good riddance.

4:44 AM  
Anonymous Saratoga Truth Squad said...

After nailing EACH and EVERY contest two years ago, this year's election is even easier to predict.

So here we go:

- Johnson x 4%
- Scirocco x 6%
- Wirth x 2%
- Ivins x 5%

Meanwhile, the OVER/UNDER on "Just How Many Hot Babes Has Vanguard Banged in his NXIVM Harem?" remains at: 34

8:16 AM  
Anonymous Sad Sack said...

I think you're confused. Tighe's been with Vanguard for a while. So he is bunging him regularly. That number is up to 56.
Kim by 6%
Scirrocco by 9%
Martin by 3%
Connolly by 2%

1:02 PM  
Blogger Ben lives on said...

Fine time to take a vacation

1:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do we have enough public safety people on staff?

Consider this, if you will......

On any given day, the Police Dept. has these people on duty. A Chief, an Asst. Chief, a Captain, three lieutenants, three sergeants, four investigators, three juvenile aid counselors, and then we also have the six mandatory patrolmen, complete with patrol cars, investigator's cars, chief's car, asst. chief's car, and miscellaneous cars such as the Dare Car.
And that's only the day shift,......shall I go on?

The point is this........they ALL ARE POLICE. They ALL can respond to emergencies, they ALL are trained and re-trained to the point ad-nauseum.

They ALL can respond, ALL of them.

Don't forget the arson investigations, the undercover drug unit, etc. etc.

Shall we talk Fire Dept.?? Shall we go there?

3:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is that Patrick Swayze on the high wire?

4:02 PM  
Anonymous My Dog Humped Ron Kim's Leg when he came Electioneering this Weekend said...

I'm telling you people:

They are unloading the barrels of Kool Aid RIGHT NOW at the joint where the Dems are meeting tomorrow night.

This ain't gonna be pretty.

5:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Sad Sack,

How did your predictions go?? Here's a hint for you. Next time you attend a DFC cluster-boink, leave the Kool Aid to the candidates....

8:17 PM  
Anonymous Saratoga Truth Squad said...

Sad Sack: Good job, there. You can now confess. Which of the below is true:

1) You're a complete moron

2) You're a DFC insider

3) Both 1 and 2

The correct answer is...3!

But we all know who the TRUE forcasters of elections are, don't we:

The Saratoga Truth Squad, in partnership with The Real Deal!!

Still undefeated!

(although even we didn't call the Johnson landslide. Fire those college kids doing the interviews!)


But, by popular demand; here are our.....

'Day After' predictions:

- The DFC nuts still don't 'get it' and will refuse to back down.

- They will attempt to retain control of the local party despite defections within their ranks.

- This will lead to a renewed battle, but one which will be settled mid 2010--and one in which the DFC will lose.

- The new party leader will be the hand picked choice of Mrs Joanne Yepsen

- The 2011 Mayoral candidate of the Democratic party will be either Mrs Yepsen or John Franck.

- The remnants of the Kim/Keehn wing will pout and walk-out of the Dem party (as per the Ron Kim school of politics).

- They will form a new party, financed by the NXIVM cult and its associated allies.

- The Democrats will win council control in the 2011 election.

- Various NXIVM associates (including DFC members) will be indicted for federal crimes.



Your heard it HERE first!!!!!!!!

Thanks for the space, iSaratoga.

10:43 AM  
Anonymous Saratoga Truth Squad said...

An ugly scne last nite, with Val Keehn and Ron Kim getting into that little dustup with that guy at the Inn.

Anyone know what that was all about?

10:45 AM  
Anonymous Sad Sack said...

Truth Squad:

You can't be talking about the DFC walking out. Especially when it was the McTyglits that walked out pouting in 2008. You must have a short memory. Yepsen was brought up to the DFC'ers 6 months ago to run for mayor when they were searching for candidates. Now you did say MRS. Yepsen. Isn't she Bill McTygue's girl? John Franck will never win another election. Remember where you heard that first! The repubs will run someone against him next time. His support will not include DFC'ers and his fate will be the same as theirs. He didn't support them and they will return the favor. Long live the republicans!

2:21 PM  

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