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Oh, SmAlbany!

Daily posts and occasional longer essays about politics, culture, and life in the Capital Region...updated M-F, midmorning

"I write this not as a booster of Albany, which I am, nor an apologist for the city, which I sometimes am, but rather as a person whose imagination has become fused with a single place, and in that place finds all the elements that a man ever needs..." -W. Kennedy, from O Albany!

Dreyer and Electoral Politics

As I've reported earlier, politics in Saratoga is nasty. The denoument of the Dreyer saga illustrates this so well.

But first, let's get everybody up to speed. Dreyer was Deputy Public Safety Commissioner, in charge of overseeing the administrative aspects of fire and police in the city. Yesterday, the city council decided to discontinue her position, effectively firing her. The state reason was because the city's insurer considered her a severe risk and wouldn't cover the city from lawsuits. As the council saw it, Dreyer had been intensly corrupt: a grand jury had written a report stating:
that she did such things as having an affair with a police officer and using him as a spy against other officers, trying to pressure Police Chief Edward Moore out of office, mismanaging city funds and attempting to keep someone from getting hired to settle a personal score. She's also accused of assigning police officers and resources for political, rather than law enforcement, reasons.
Dreyer, of course, deines all of this, claiming she is the target of a police union smear due to her cutting of overtime for the force and because she is a woman.

I have no real way to judge this on the merits of the case. It seems that Dreyer was at least as corrupt as your average deputy commissioner, and it's hard to see this as a conspiracy -22 people testified against her at the grand jury. From a probabalistic analysis of the merits, it's tough the believe her and not her detractors. And if the insurance issue is legitimate -which it seems to be - it doesn't much matter. The city can't justify that kind of alteration to their risk management financing.

But i do see how the decision conveniently fits the politics of the city right now. If you approach this from the angle of political manuvering, it was an absolute no-brainer for the city council to get rid of her:

1) It's an election year in Saratoga, and the politicians in office are already nervous about the fallout from the property assessment last year. It's an issue that could topple the mayor and others on the city council. Given that...

2) The last thing the council needs is accusations of a "dirty deputy commission" being put into the mix in the fall. So...

3) Throwing Dreyer overboard is almost the only option. From a purely strategic re-election standpoint, it could come down to a "her or me" logic on the city council. Reprimanding her but leaving her in office wouldn't change anything in the fall. It would only give the challengers more grist for the mill.

Just for good measure, the town republicans also refused to back her main staunch defender - Public Safety Commission Tom Curley - in an announcement that they would nominate Lawrence Britt instead of him for his current position in the election. This also happened two years ago, but Curley prevailed anyway. It's not clear how this is going to affect him this time.

Now, I doubt the council was simply being this machiavelian - as Accounts commissioner Stephen Towne said, 'It's not personal; it's a matter of assessing what's best for the city.' But it's certainly is better for all involved than having to deal with it in the fall.

Anyone live in Saratoga who has a better feel for the electoral politics of the Dreyer decision?
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At 1:26 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said:

The council couldn't afford to leave her there, you're right -- after reading the grand jury report, most of the city was itching to see her go, so it was smart politically for those four council members to take action.

As for the Curley endorsement, he actually didn't get it the last time around, either, but he might've had a shot this time if not for him being pretty much the only person in the city who can look at that report and defend her anyway.    

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