Standard and Poor's report on the city's bond rating
And why not, I'll post Michele Madigan's press release about it. See below.
Mayor Johnson took exception to some of her language in the statement, particularly the use of the word "languishing" when referring to the union contracts. He (and PBA President Paul Veitch) both said it was somewhat standard to have the contracts expire and be renegotiated in the following year (they all expired at the close of 2012).
Madigan was also not pleased with the time it took me to write the article. I told her I was going to do something with it, but it wasn't particularly newsworthy since the rating hadn't changed, it was a reaffirmation of the already good credit rating.
I said something to the effect of: "'Everything is still good in Saratoga' doesn't make for the best headline.'"
Here was her response the other night:
When we spoke earlier today you gave me the impression that you think the recent news from S&P isn't actually news, because "there was no change". This belies a fundamental misunderstanding of how rating agencies communicate with the public. To say there is "No Change" means there was no communication. It sounds as though you are saying the Yankess winning the Series is not news because they won it last year. S&P actually issued a rating of AA+ for Saratoga Springs, the fact that this is the same rating they gave us last year does not diminish the fact that this is a stellar credit rating and that it was based on current information. If you look at any trade press or investment press, you will see that every single utterance from any of the main four rating agencies is reported ad nauseum. The Saratogian is the "trade press" for local politics, so I would expect, at the very least, that you would see fit to mention this latest rating action from S&P. The only way investors of our bonds can find out about our current rating is through the press or a subscription to S&P. The Gazette did publish our rating for this year so it can be located easily, but sometimes they are fee based. It's the Saratogian that really needs to publish our rating for this year.
I disagree with her fundamental concept here. Trade press covers it because the people who read trade press care about bond ratings. She uses the analogy of the Yankess, but I would compare it more to the India team winning the Cricket's World Cup.
That might make the news in places that care about the cricket world cup, not here.
She also said to me "when I see stories about compost" that she thought the bond rating was more important.
I'm not saying the city's bond rating isn't important, but it wasn't so important to the everyday people of the city unless it actually affected their daily lives.
Thus, we waited to run the story until I could pair it with an update on the city's union contracts, which as the report points out “could put some downward pressure on Saratoga Springs’ finances in the next few years.”
The compost story, for example, may not have impacted Saratogians' daily lives, but it was certainly a talker.
For instance, it generated 23 comments on the website. As of 11:37 Thursday, the bond rating story generated one, and it was about the union contracts.
I think Commissioner Madigan's perception of the newsworthiness of the city's bond rating may be somewhat skewed, since, let's face it, she reads trade journals.
I spoke to Michele Madigan today and it seems we may have had a breakdown of communication over the article and possibly have misconstrued one another's points of view.
She emphasized that she was just trying to get across the importance of the bond rating because she knew it wasn't the sexiest news story.
Also, she said cricket IS very important in some places (with a laugh, of course).
And next week she will be bringing up some of the Housing Authority salary questions at the City Council. We'll see how that goes.