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SARATOGA SPRINGS: Pax Saratoga

Two out of the five members of the Saratoga Springs City Council refused to sign Mayor Valerie Keehn's pledge of civility, saying it was "meaningless" without the willingness to enforce the existing Code of Conduct.

Public Works Commissioner Thomas McTygue and Accounts Commissioner John Franck declined to sign the pledge Keehn brought to the table at the Tuesday, Feb. 6, meeting. Keehn first mentioned the pledge in her State of the City address Sunday, Feb. 4.

It reads: "We, your elected officials, will conduct ourselves professionally and with civility toward the public and each other at all times."

Keehn had already signed her copy at the outset of Tuesday night's meeting, as did Finance Commissioner Matthew McCabe and Public Safety Commissioner Ron Kim. But when discussion on the proposal was asked for, Franck said the pledge was unnecessary because of the existing rules of conduct that were established by former mayor Michael Lenz.

"To me it's a meaningless clause," said Franck. He said that if the existing rules were not followed, the pledge was not going to be of any additional help.

In recent meetings, exchanges between members of the public and the council have escalated to shouting matches.

Franck said when Lenz was mayor, if a member of the public was unruly, he or she would be escorted out and asked not to return for a while. That part of the code of conduct was amended under Keehn last April, he said.

Franck and McTygue also said the mayor needs to be more aggressive in using the gavel, whether it be toward a member of the public or one of the council members. "If you don't hear the gavel, I don't see where a civility clause is going to help you," said Franck.

As for the council members' conduct, Franck added: "Either we act right or you'll get rid of us anyway."

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