Friday, March 29, 2013

Mayor Johnson and the SSPF

Johnson Stacks Deck
For SSPF… for Love
or Money.

FOR YEARS, there have been efforts by hard-working and seriously-dedicated city officers to document the myriad hazards at 66 Franklin Street. Over the last DECADE the City’s files are filled with Code Violations, negative Engineering Inspections, warnings from Fire Officials, and urgent Complaints from Public Safety experts.   

There were SO MANY SAFETY CONCERNS that a DEMOLITION HEARING was requested...BY THE CITY... and the Hearing was held on SEPTEMBER 3, 2010 before Judge James DOERN. 

On that day, Judge Doern ISSUED a SIGNED DEMOLITION ORDER and presented it to THE CITY... as per the CITY's request. VICTORY for THE CITY!!!!!
As expected, SSPF challenged the Demolition Order with an Appeal. So a Hearing was held before Judge JEFF WAIT on OCTOBER 6, 2010. Now, just like you see on TV, THE CITY was certain to DEFEND their HARD-WON DEMOLITION ORDER by bringing in a bevy of important WITNESSES-- Code Enforcement & Building Inspectors & Engineers & Fire Officials & Public Safety Spokesman and City Attorneys...right?

And like the Charter Change fight, the Mayor would surely not hesitate to hire OUTSIDE legal expertise to DEFEND the Demolition Decision that was celebrated by TWO offices—The MAYOR’s Building Inpectors AND the PUBLIC SAFETY officers. If ever there was a time for a VIGOROUS defense of a city VICTORY, THIS was the CASE…right?

Well guess what--
On the Hearing date, only ONE person showed up from the City.... and that was Assistant City Attorney Tony Izzo. All alone.

JUDGE WAIT was so stunned by the one-man turnout that he remarked on the transcript that he thought the CITY’s move was 

a little odd.”

The REASON that no City Official showed up is that they had all received orders from HIZZONER to NOT SHOW UP. They were all TOLD to sit in their offices and offer no testimony, to make ZERO EFFORT to defend the City's valid DEMOLITION ORDER.

This made for many happy SSPF blue-bloods who vociferously support the Mighty Mayor. And it made for a VERY happy SSPF attorney who faced no certified experts. The Owner has been forced to spend THOUSANDS in the two-year fight to RESTORE the original VICTORY for the Safety-Oriented city. 

That victory came on March 12, 2013 when Supreme Court Justice Thomas Nolan ruled "Here, the administrative record compiled was extensive, if not massive, and contained substantial evidence and provided reasonable basis for the conclusion that 66 Franklin Street's structural failure and overall deterioration posed a danger to public health, safety, and welfare."

So did the Mayor choose to leave City Residents at risk from an unsafe structure that would be gone if not for the Mayor's interventions? So was the Mayor/Lawyer… who spends freely to contest every legal LOSS… was he actually WALKING AWAY from a legal VICTORY???

Here's a link to help navigate the file of the Legal Process--
...sadly without ONE SINGLE memo from the man who meekly lets Deputy Mayor Shauna do his talking for him.

COULD the mayor have intervened inappropriately by insisting that no city officials testify against the interests of the SSPF? And might he have received funds from SSPF members for crippling the City’s legal argument? Or does mayor Scott simply “like” the SSPF? 

COULD the mayor have denied the advantage of outside legal assistance to the City to allow the SSPF to face the weakest city defense?  And might he have received funds from SSPF members for his crippling the City’s legal argument? Or does mayor Scott simply “like” the SSPF? 

COULD the mayor have arrogantly abandoned the city’s hard-won Demolition Order and left the city’s fight to a private individual? And might he have received funds from SSPF members for his crippling the City’s legal argument? Or does mayor Scott simply “like” the SSPF? 

COULD the mayor have appointed the SSPF Director to his 13-member Planning Commission as a Thank You in political payback? And might he have received funds from SSPF members for giving them a seat at a very important table? Or does mayor Scott simply “like” the SSPF? 

While I CAN track donations to the mayor’s campaigns, I can NOT match the individuals against the membership of the SSPF… because the SSPF has refused to provide a list of their members. 

SO considering the Court proceedings of October 6, 2010... is anyone still so certain the mayor has allowed the SSPF to beat the city in Court without “sacrificing his honor, integrity and soul?” And in those same Court proceedings, do you believe the mayor’s actions showed “nothing nefarious” as victory was hand-delivered to the SSPF? And do you still look at the mayor’s “do-not-testify” instructions and “see no Mayoral involvement at all”?

I am most thankful for all the sources in City Hall who spoke openly and angrily as they were forced by the mayor’s edicts to abandon the work they do with such dedication and commitment. I share their sincere disgust and I will protect their wishes to remain anonymous.

Friday, August 24, 2012



City Judge Jeffrey D. Wait, a contribution-paying supporter of the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation (SSPF), is now using his authority as sitting City Judge to actively delay/postpone/obstruct the demolition of Saratoga's most egregious Safety Hazard-- 
The FireTrap at 66 Franklin Street.

The most recent pro-SSPF ruling by Judge Wait is detailed here:
Judge Wait attended the 2012 SSPF Annual Fundraiser Dinner held WHILE HE WAS ASSIGNED the SSPF case. The photograph is from the May 11, 2012 SSPF dinner at the Saratoga Auto Museum:

The photo is titled "Kathleen Lucey & Judge Jeff Wait"...and was taken from the website of the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation. Here's the link--

Before the SSPF removes the photo, here is what the SSPF's "Fundraiser Story" looked like online on August 29, 2012:

For those who question the truthfulness of SSPF, a local paper covering the 2012 SSPF Fundraiser wrote "The special evening is one of the foundation’s largest fundraisers of the year. Judge Jeff Wait was spotted at the event…"

So it is an undisputed fact that Judge Jeffrey Wait voluntarily attended the SSPF major fundraising dinner of 2012. He did not attend as a featured speaker or to take a house tour. The ONLY question is did he contribute $65 to further the legal efforts of SSPF at the door that evening... or did he pay only the "member's rate" of $55 to the SSPF? The very very funny question is "Jeffrey Wait, are-you-now-or-have-you-EVER-been-a-member?" 

The City Charter and NYS Fire Code clearly authorize City Code Official Daniel Cogan and Public Safety Commissioner Richard Wirth to Order the demolition of unsafe structures "...without notice or hearing"--

City Code Administrator Daniel Cogan prepares a thorough report with detailed substantiation requesting the demolition of 66 Franklin. In the report prepared on September 1, 2010 Mr. Cogan concludes "As a Public Safety Officer I feel that it is within my duties to ask for an order to demolish this structure (66 Franklin Street) in order to mitigate a serious safety hazard and remove the threat of harm."--

City Judge James Doern reviews the report prepared by Daniel Cogan and issues a three-part Order in which he orders the Owner Joe Boff " demolish and remove said building (66 Franklin Street) from the premises and to make the premises safe." This Order is issued on September 3, 2010--

Through some process, City Judge Jeffrey Wait takes control of the entire case from Judge James Doern. Wait orders a Hearing to nullify the Demolition Order issued by Judge Doern and in which Wait states "I strongly disagree even if the Code Enforcement could or would have the authority to order demolition." The Hearing is held on October 6, 2010--

When Daniel Cogan learned of the Hearing held by Judge Wait and the dismissal of the demolition Order issued by Judge Doern, Mr. Cogan expressed outrage at the process, writing "If a Public Safety Officer, whether they be Fire Chief, Building inspector or any certified Code Enforcement Officer, does not have the authority to take action on behalf of the City (see "Step 1" above), then why have these people and positions in place." The single-page note was written on October 8, 2010--

Judge Wait was apparently so irritated by the content of Cogan's letter that he ordered it removed from the official case docket or any further discussion, writing "I am sealing that letter and directing the parties to refrain from making further reference to it." Judge Wait issued his ruling on October 28, 2010-- 

Judge Wait states on the record “He (Judge Doern) has asked if I wouldn’t mind handling this matter (the 66 Franklin case).” DOES JUDGE DOERN recall the conversation? If so, when did he “ask” Judge Wait to “handle” the matter?

Judge Doern’s Order on September 3, 2010 was an order to demolish the structure… thus bringing closure to the case. WHY WOULD JUDGE DOERN offer to hand over a case that was essentially closed and resolved?

DOES JUDGE DOERN recall Judge Wait asking for the case at 66 Franklin, or does he have any recollection of Judge Wait making inquiries about the status of the case prior to the handover of the case?

DID JUDGE WAIT EVER PRO-ACTIVELY SEEK OR SUGGEST the transfer of the 66 Franklin case from Judge Doern to his (Wait's) case load?

Judge Wait’s words indicate he was willing to lighten the work load of Judge Doern whom he called a “part time Judge.” WHAT OTHER CASES DID JUDGE DOERN “ask” Judge Wait to “handle” in September/October 2010? WHAT OTHER CASES DID JUDGE WAIT ACCEPT from Judge Doern?

HAS JUDGE WAIT EVER ATTENDED ANY SSPF FUNCTIONS in addition to the May 11, 2012 dinner?

HAS JUDGE WAIT MADE ANY OTHER FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTIONS to SSPF aside from the $65 or $55 May 11, 2012 dinner?


ARE ANY MEMBERS OF JUDGE WAIT’S CLOSE FAMILY active members of the SSPF such as to give the appearance of impropriety?

The Judge has no business sitting on this case.
Any questions?