Saratoga Springs Public Safety Commissioner James Montagnino signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Gaffney’s Bar back on May 25, 2022, stipulating conditions under which the establishment could re-open. The New York State Liquor Authority characterize the agreement as “not worth the paper it was written on.”
I FOILed for the document, and it is quite revealing. Not only has Montagnino assumed authority to negotiate a settlement with Gaffney’s that only the New York Stae Liquor Authority is authorized to do, but it seems he has also wrongly assumed the Mayor’s authority to sign agreements, even invalid ones, on behalf of the city.
According to the city charter, as I read it, the Mayor is the city official authorized to sign formal agreements. Also, agreements are supposed to be adopted by resolution of the full City Council.
Now note how the document is signed: “Acknowledged on Behalf of the City of Saratoga Springs“
Is this Commissioner Montagnino playing lawyer by diddling with the wording? Read carefully. He is only “acknowledging” promises made by Gaffney’s. He knows that an actual real agreement with Gaffney’s (if the city could even do this) would require that the City Council adopt a resolution affirming the action. Why he did it this way is anyone’s guess.
I wrote to Commissioner Montagnino and Mayor Kim, asking whether a document such as this could be signed by anyone other than the Mayor and whether it required Council approval. Neither of them responded.