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Barbara Lombardo of Saratoga Springs, NY, is a journalism adjunct at University at Albany and retired executive editor of The Saratogian, The Record and the Community News. Follow her on Twitter @Barb_Lombardo.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Charter change and reader's views

Note: This blog post was accidentally posted onto a different Saratoga staff blog -- The Document Library on Jan . 17. It still exists there, and now it's here as well.

A reader's view about the proposed change to the Saratoga Springs City Charter has generated a number of comments, including some inaccuracies about The Saratogian's position on the topic.

For decades, The Saratogian has criticized the five-headed monster that is the commission form of government for many reasons, particularly the lack of a point person for action, information and accountability; the inefficiency of a system with departments that can't or won't and don't have to work together; and for a City Council whose members are both legislators and administrators.

If you want a simple example, try to find out whether there's a snow emergency in effect, who calls it, and who calls it off. The public should have one place to call for questions, not be bounced from one department to another by well-meaning people who are hamstrung by an inefficient system.

That said, The Saratogian editorialized against the 2006 charter change referendum, which ultimately failed. The newspaper has not editorialized on the specifics of the current proposal.

It's easy to observe and criticize the deficiencies in an existing system. It's more complicated to determine whether a proposed, long-term replacement to the current form of government would be an improvement. The Saratogian is not taking its responsibility lightly, and does not want to cavalierly weigh in on the merits and shortcomings of the latest proposal.

Another issue that's being discussed is how many words are allowed in letters and reader's views. We state "preferred lengths" as a guide. We never give more or less space to a reader's submission based on the newspaper's editorial position on an issue. The editor who is placing letters and reader's views on the printed page is trying get them in quickly, erring on the side of giving people a chance to have their fair say, and thus encourage intelligent and civil discourse. If you feel you haven't been given that opportunity, talk to me.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Barb,what is a point person of action? and where is one or ones' lacking in this citys'gov't..be specific. What depts' don't work together? again be specific. The Commissioner of Public Works calls all snow emergencys one would think after 30 yrs.of Tommy Mctygue doing it would be automatic,maybe someone should tell Mr.Scirocco that he now makes the call.This was probably the worse storm of the year and Scirocco didn't call for a snow emergency??? Therefore cars were not moved...results a mess...Where's the Paper on this?

March 9, 2011 at 2:18 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I seriously doubt Commissioner Scirocco could run a bubble gum store and surely not a $10m a year department. No action plan - no leadership. The inmates are running the asylum and getting paid for lunch breaks on top of it at a cost of almost $300,000 a year. Broadway is in seriously need of cleanup along with the lots and this is creating lost busioness for the retail establishment who desparately are in need of sales. Sewers have not ben cleared and people are walking through a foot of water just to reach a clearing if they can find one. Time for retirement. I hate to see the costs involved in the last three weeks because of poor management and organization. Possibly his office manager can take over. It seems like she is runnin gthe department anyway along with her union position!!!!

March 10, 2011 at 2:55 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Barbara,

After years of editorializing for Charter reform and a more transparent and accountable City government you seem to be running away from the issue.

Fred Eton must be spinning in his grave. You, of all people, are aware of the ever growing costs of this form of government and it failure to advance programs and projects even when the money is available.

What gives?

March 11, 2011 at 5:02 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This government reduced a just under a $40,000,000 to approximately $37,000,000 in the last three yers despite rising costs. The previous comment has no merit. Just pure propaganda. If the previous administration hadn't given away the house and burned thru $11m in four years in one department we would be alot better off financially. That in spite of having two commissioners who are marginal at best.

March 18, 2011 at 9:16 PM 

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