Saratoga City officials seek olive branch from DA in shooting gag order case

Chris Mathiesen, former Saratoga Springs commissioner public safety, speaks during a special City Council meeting Friday called to address a gag order issued by a state judge.
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Chris Mathiesen, former Saratoga Springs commissioner public safety, speaks during a special City Council meeting Friday called to address a gag order issued by a state judge.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — City officials on Friday backed off voting on a resolution to condemn Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen for getting a temporary restraining order preventing them and city employees from talking about the Nov. 20 Broadway shootings. 

However, the city did request that City Attorney Anthony Izzo email the district attorney stating that if she dropped the gag order they would meet with her to talk over how to handle incidents like the shooting, but if she didn’t drop the order the city would look at fighting the order in court.

“We don’t want litigation either,” said Public Safety Commissioner James Montignino. “We didn’t start the litigation. If District Attorney Heggen were to …  have the gag order vacated then we would welcome that as an olive branch.” 

He also said he believes there could be some good conversation regarding policies for future situations. 

The move came after Heggen had a letter hand-delivered to Izzo just hours before the city’s special meeting Friday afternoon asking city officials to meet to discuss “mutual goals and concerns” to prevent future restraining orders.

In the letter, Heggen said she had no other option but to get the gag order after her concerns regarding a press conference the mayor and public safety commissioner held on Nov. 20 were not addressed and after the two officials continued to discuss the incident. 

“Despite my warnings regarding the impact dissemination of the videos and other information beyond assuring the community there was no threat to public safety at that time, the public safety commissioner and the mayor offered speculation and inaccuracies to the media while outside City Hall crucial evidence was still being gathered on Broadway by police,” she said in the letter. 

When asked by The Gazette to provide clarity on what details were incorrect to ensure accuracy in reporting Heggen declined to comment further. 

During the public comment portion of the special meeting former public safety commissioners Robin Dalton and Chris Mathiesen called out the City Council and told them not to support the resolution put forth by Public Safety Commissioner James Montignino. 

“I am frankly appalled and embarrassed by the leadership of our public safety commissioner and our mayor,” Dalton said. 

She said the mayor and public safety commissioner have put the entire investigation at risk. 

“To not understand but then to want to go on and litigate this gag order is just beyond my comprehension,” she said. “This is not what we elected you to do — these like vanity lawsuits.”

Mathiesen said in the past a press conference like the one the mayor and public safety commissioner held would have been done by the Police Department. 

“Using taxpayer funds to fight the DA’s temporary restraining order is not a good use of these funds -– of city funds,” he said. “This is basically a city council temper tantrum.” 

All of this comes just one day after the mayor met with bar owners, according to Lucy’s Bar co-owner Kelsey McPartland. 

She said topics discussed included creating a committee with police and city officials to talk about safety along Caroline Street. The bar owners also talked about proposals to close bars earlier, check people for weapons with electronic detectors and having bars hire security to block off Caroline Street. 

Lucy’s Bar, which is listed as closing at 4 a.m., but leaves it up to the bartenders, is against the suggested 2 a.m. closure time the city is looking to also establish. 

McPartland said they would be in favor of checking people for weapons and believes it should be a security measure all bars implement. 

No solution has been agreed upon yet,” she said.

Categories: News, News, Saratoga County, Saratoga Springs

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