We used to call the annual “mayor’s message” the “mayor’s massage,” since it usually rehashed recent accomplishments and rarely broke news. Nonetheless, annual messages by chief executives are carefully scrutinized for clues to future action.
Kingston Mayor Shayne Gallo’s first annual message at City Hall Tuesday night was as notable for what it left out as for what it included.
Off to a hilarious start — Gallo was introduced by sometimes rhetorically challenged Common Council President Jim Noble as “Thomas” Gallo, the message ran to some 30 minutes of hopes, dreams and faith. This was a good thing because if the mayor doesn’t have faith in his city, it’s time to pack the chuck wagons. Ironically, neither of the current mayor’s relatives named Thomas preferred the name. His brother, Thomas Robert, went by T.R., having read somewhere, apparently, that the firstRoosevelt was a great president, while their father was called T. Robert. No matter, everybody knew what Noble meant.
Elected last November, Gallo has by now repeatedly made clear the priorities of his administration. He will, in something of a juggling act, attempt to expand city services by consolidating operations and partnering with neighboring towns and the county. Again and again he told the crowd of about 125 familiar faces (to him, in any event) that he would enhance the quality of life in his “model city” but would not increase taxes to do so. Gallo seems to believe he has all the staff necessary to achieve his goals. It only comes down to better management and leadership, he advised.
On that theme, Gallo apparently couldn’t help but take a shot at his immediate predecessor, former mayor Jim Sottile. Speaking of the city’s $39 million budget (devised by Sottile and approved by the Common Council), Gallo deplored the “unfortunate impact of a million-dollar deficit due to the prior administration’s allocation from the city fund balance.”
Gallo of course knows better. The million-dollar “deficit” was in fact an appropriation from a more than $4 million fund balance last year in order to hold the residential property tax to about 2 percent. The real “million-dollar deficit” was the fund balance deficit inherited by Sottile when he took office after mayor T.R. Gallo suddenly died in 2002. The current Gallo, it would seem, can’t forgive Sottile for denigrating his brother’s fiscal legacy.