Opinion - Saratoga Springs Politics

The below blog posts are written by John Kaufmann.
These opinions do not reflect the views of Saratoga TODAY newspaper.

Tuesday, 16 August 2022 08:33

Commissioner Moran Places Payment of Travelers Deductible on His Agenda for Tuesday (8/16/22) Council Meeting

By John Kaufmann | Saratoga Springs Politics

The bill to pay Travelers Insurance for the deductible the city owes for the settlement in the Tim Wales case had seemed to have fallen into a black hole. The agenda for the August 16, 2022, Saratoga Springs City Council meeting, sent out by Mayor Kim on Friday night, contained no reference to the outstanding bill. Readers will remember that that bill was unanimously removed from the consent agenda at the City Council’s August 2 meeting with Mayor Kim, Finance Commissioner Sanghvi, and Public Safety Commissioner Montagnino raising objections to the payment. [see previous blog]

Sometime this afternoon (Monday, August 15, 2022), Commissioner of Accounts Dillon Moran added a resolution to pay the bill to his agenda for Tuesday night. Assuming he can garner a second, Mayor Kim, Commissioner Montagnino, and Commissioner Sanghvi will be challenged to either approve the expenditure or explain what they plan to do about it. There is, of course, the possibility that the three officials will vote no and avoid addressing what their solution is by smothering the discussion with false allegations, misinformation, and invectives as they did at the August 2 meeting.

Conspicuously absent from Mayor Kim’s original agenda for this meeting was also any reference to his conference with the judge in the Tim Wales case on August 11, 2022. Here again, Commissioner Moran has placed on his agenda the letter that Kim sent to the judge in the case. Readers may remember that Kim had asked for a resolution authorizing him to contact the judge to inquire why the city should have to pay the deductible [see previous blog]. The letter he actually sent to the judge (attached by Moran to the updated agenda) asked instead that the case be reinstated.

Mayor Kim will be placed in the awkward situation of having to share the Judge’s rejection of his request with the public. He may falsely claim that the conference was privileged and that he is not allowed to discuss it. In fact, the conference was not sealed, and a summary of the meeting was placed on the federal judicial website. There is no reason he cannot be forthcoming about the meeting. [see previous blog]

The Saturday Morning “Emergency” Meeting Fiasco

At the August 2, 2022, meeting, the Council voted to remove the deductible payment to Travelers Insurance from the warrant on the consent agenda.

Subsequently, Commissioner of Accounts Dillon Moran asserted that the entire warrant that contained this bill would have to be redone. He chose to tear up the original warrant and had the pieces delivered to the Finance Department.

On Friday, August 12, 2022, according to Dillon Moran, at 11:35 in the morning, Stefanie Richards of the Accounts Department delivered the revised warrant minus the Travelers bill to the Finance Department for review so it could be sent back to him to sign and then be paid.

Despite this, on Friday evening, August 5, 2022, Mayor Kim determined that he needed to call an emergency meeting to pay all the vendors (except Travelers) immediately and not wait for the next regular Council meeting on August 16, 2022. At around 5:30 PM Friday, he sent a notice calling for a special meeting to be held the next morning, Saturday, August 6. The agenda for the meeting had one item, a resolution from the Mayor. In an example of shrill overreach, the resolution characterized Commissioner Moran’s failure to sign the original warrant as “illegal” and authorized the Mayor to sign the warrant if Moran failed to do so by 8:00 AM Monday, August 8, 2022. Although it was unclear whether the Mayor could legally usurp the responsibilities of the Accounts Commissioner, the measure passed four to one.

The bulk of the Saturday meeting consisted of conflicting and inaccurate statements that I cannot begin to describe. I would encourage readers to view the meeting on the city’s website. It was ineptly run, and in the end, it accomplished nothing. No bills were paid. The bills will (hopefully) be approved and paid at the August 16, 2022, meeting. The meeting was an utter waste of time.

Mayor Kim, Commissioner Montagnino, and Commissioner Sanghvi Have Placed the City’s Insurance in Jeopardy

What insurance company will want to do business with the city of Saratoga Springs if the city refuses to meet its contractual obligations and pay its bills?

This is a totally unnecessary mess, and the trail of mismanagement is simply appalling, but there is no sign that any thoughtful strategy exists to resolve the mess.

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