City bids on Union Ave parcel; Democrat kicks off Senate challenge of Marchione; Saratoga Springs Police investigate 'suspicious mailings'

Details have begun to emerge regarding a special City Council meeting apparently convened in great haste on Monday. An email announcing the 2 p.m. gathering was sent 10 minutes prior to the meeting start, where council members convened to approve budget transfers for a potential land purchase by auction. The 13.8-acre property up for bid (see HERE) is located across Union Avenue opposite Saratoga National Golf Course. The property - the great majority of which is wetlands - is near a parcel the city previously targeted to build a fire/EMS station. That project is currently in a holding pattern, due to an ongoing investigation. Bidding continued Thursday and the city’s bid is “not the winning bid, by far,” Auction Advisors managing partner Joshua Olshin told the Times Union. City Police are asking local residents or business owners who receive unsolicited mail from a correctional facility to let them know about it. Two complaints were received during the past two weeks from local businesses about received mailings sent from the Coxsackie Correctional Facility, a state prison located in Greene County. In both cases, the recipient said they did not know the person who sent the mailings, or anyone incarcerated at the prison. Authorities said the content of the mailings were not threatening, but that two local businesses received similar correspondences in a short time frame is unusual. Police did not indicate what was stated in the letters. The Saratoga Springs Police Department may be reached at 584-1800.

One of the finest films in recent yearsThe Salt of the Earth (2014) – will screen Feb. 11 at The Tang Museum. Directed by Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, The Salt of the Earth explores the life and work of photographer Sebastião Salgado, by his son, Juliano, who went with him during his last travels, and filmmaker Wim Wenders, himself a photographer. The event accompanies the Tang exhibition Borrowed Light: Selections from the Jack Shear Collection, which includes a work by Sebastião Salgado. If you see one film this year, make it this one.

Democrat Shaun Francis kicked off his campaign challenge on Thursday to unseat two-term Republican Kathy Marchione in the 43rd State Senate District. Francis said he will work to get rid of big money in politics, promised to cut red tape on small businesses, and to enact a fair tax that will insure that the wealthy and corporations pay more, reports The Post-Star.

Marchione first won the seat in January 2013. Four months earlier she defeated incumbent Republican Sen. Roy McDonald in a high-profile primary. McDonald became the target of religious and social conservatives after supporting the Marriage Equality Act, which legalized same-sex weddings in the state. The vote made McDonald a hero among gay-rights supporters across the state, but infuriated some former allies in his home district. McDonald, who had previously voted against same-sex marriage, reversed his position in 2011, saying: “I’m trying to do the right thing.”