No shows lead to canceled Saratoga Springs meeting on funding new city government vote. Without quoroum, meeting is canceled.
By Wendy Liberatore Updated 11:40 pm, Wednesday, January 25, 2017
The three commissioners who came out against a referendum for a new city form of government were no-shows at a special council meeting Wednesday afternoon.
The meeting, called by Commissioner of Finance Michele Madigan, was meant to approve $37,000 in funds for the creation of a new charter and a public vote in the spring.
Yet Madigan and commissioners John Franck and Anthony “Skip” Scirocco did not appear. Without a quorum, the meeting was canceled.
“It’s a shame that we will not be having an official meeting,” said Mayor Joanne Yepsen. “It’s unfortunate our colleagues are not here to uphold their duty.”
Several members of the charter commission, an independent body, suspect that the commissioners are stalling on their legal obligation to fund the commission because all five, the mayor and the four commissioners, will eventually lose their jobs if voters approve a new charter.
The vote will call for Saratoga Springs to be run by a city manager and a council, not its current form with a mayor and four commissioners.
Madigan said that is not the case. She said she asked the mayor to cancel the meeting because she knew Franck, who had a business engagement, could not be there and felt that all five members of the council should be there.
“Commissioner Scirocco agreed and also stated that he wanted all five members of the City Council to weigh in and vote on this important matter,” said Madigan.
“I am the Commissioner who requested this meeting and I am the Commissioner who requested it be canceled if all members could not be in attendance. There was no reason for the situation that occurred today at 4 p.m.”
Yepsen said she emailed all the commissioners and strongly encouraged them to be present, even after Madigan suggested canceling. To avoid any confusion, Madigan said the commission budget will be on the agenda at the next regular city council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 7.
“This illustrates the challenges of this form of government,” said Gordon Boyd, a member of the 15-member commission. “One commissioner wants one thing and another wants something else and then it’s stymied. Nothing happens.”
Commissioner of Public Safety Chris Mathiesen did attend the meeting and reassured the charter commission that he supports their work. “I feel very strongly that this should move forward,” said Mathiesen. “I think the group is going in the right direction and I hope all the citizens will be informed. It’s paramount to our city.”
The charter commission has planned a referendum to take place on May 30. Bob Batson of the Government Law Center at Albany Law School is expected to write the charter by the end of February. “The most important thing is the document,” said Bob Turner, the chair of the charter commission. “It needs to be done by the end of February so that we can have three months to educate the public.”
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