Opinion - Saratoga Springs Politics

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

Monday, 22 August 2022 09:16

Mayor Kim and Commissioner Montagnino Finally Admit They Have to Approve Payment of Insurance Deductible

By John Kaufmann | Saratoga Springs Politics

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After weeks of refusing to pay the $25,000 deductible the city owes Travelers Insurance for the settlement of the Tim Wales case and plenty of drama, the Saratoga Springs City Council voted unanimously to pay the bill but not before more theatrics from Mayor Kim.

As noted in a previous blog post, conspicuously missing from the Saratoga Springs City Council pre-agenda meeting on August 15 was any reference to the deductible the city owed Travelers Insurance.

At the August 16, 2022, Council meeting, however, Accounts Commissioner Dillon Moran offered a resolution on his agenda to pay the deductible. Public Works Commissioner Jason Golub seconded the motion. The discussion that followed the motion to pay was laden with disinformation from Mayor Kim (see video clips below). In the end Mayor Kim begrudgingly agreed to vote for the resolution but not before he repeatedly announced that his office would “fully investigate” the events associated with the litigation and settlement. Public Safety Commissioner Montagnino was unusually quiet in the discussion other than expressing his support for the Mayor to pay the bill and pursue his investigation. Finance Commissioner Sanghvi is on vacation for the month of August and was not present at the meeting.

There was no indication that the Council would have addressed this issue had Commissioner Moran not put this on his agenda. Were the other Council members just hoping this would all go away?

Mayor Kim Continues to Complain about Conspiracies

While finally voting to pay the deductible bill to Travelers, Kim persisted in airing his belief that somehow Accounts Commissioner Dillon Moran had played a role in determining the $100,00 pay out to Tim Wales. Kim has yet to produce any evidence that this was the case.

At the August 11,2022, during proceedings before Judge Mae D’Agostino (see previous post) that Kim had requested, Kim claimed the following:

“What we wanted to call attention to the Court was that this settlement discussion was conducted by a representative of the city council that basically has an extreme conflict of interest when he conducted this. As far as we know, he presented himself to this court in front of Judge Magistrate Stewart as a city representative.”

Although not named, the person Kim characterizes as the “representative of the city council” who “conducted” the settlement is obviously Dillon Moran. Kim seems to have based his conviction that somehow Dillon Moran clandestinely influenced the multi-billion-dollar company Travelers Insurance to do him a favor and pay his friend Tim Wales $100,00 on the fact that Moran and Risk and Safety Director Marilyn Rivers attended a conference with the magistrate in the case that Kim claims he didn’t know about. I have seen emails to City Attorney Tony Izzo informing him of the meeting. I have seen emails from John Aspland, the attorney representing the city, confirming to Mayor Kim that Moran appeared at the court’s request. None of this seems to have satisfied Kim that there was plenty of notification of the meeting and that it did not involve Moran posing as a representative of the city to negotiate the settlement. I am FOILing for these emails but if history serves me, it will be many weeks before I can secure them if the city agrees to release them at all.

The Role of the City Attorney

The City Attorney is supposed to represent all the members of the City Council, but the reality is that the City Attorney serves at the pleasure of the Mayor. The job of the City Attorney is to give fair and unbiased advice even if it is not what city officials always want to hear.

As the following video clip shows, however, when current City Attorney Tony Izzo had the opportunity to end the controversy between Moran and Kim, he unfortunately chose instead to do his best to obscure the fact that Mayor Kim’s allegations were false.

After Kim once again claims that the city had not been advised of the settlement discussion and that Moran had attended this meeting without notifying the City Attorney, Moran calls Tony Izzo to the microphone. He asks the City Attorney if he had been notified about the conference and whether that notice included the fact that he (Moran) was among those summoned.

Rather than simply confirming that he had received an email stating that Moran had indeed been summoned, Tony responds that he received two emails and states obliquely that “individuals” were asked in one on the emails to attend.

Kim then quickly takes the questioning in another direction focusing on whether John Aspland attended the meeting. It’s hard to tell which meeting Kim is referring to or why any of that matters.

On some level, this is a very sad business. Tony is one of the nicest people I know, and he was put in the difficult position of being asked to give evidence that would contradict the Mayor’s assertions. Nevertheless, the city needs an attorney who can be relied on to give the Council correct information no matter who might be hurt or embarrassed by it.

The next video below follows a polemic by Mayor Kim claiming that he and the rest of the Council were excluded from any knowledge regarding the insurance settlement. In an earlier post, I provided readers with the notices that Izzo and Deputy Mayor Angela Rella received in July advising them of the settlement.

In response to the Mayor’s allegations, Moran asks Tony again to come to the microphone. He asks whether Tony received a notice from the insurer’s attorney about the settlement on July 11. Tony pauses. When he starts to respond, Mayor Kim tries to drown out the discussion, but Moran persists in asking Tony about a further email sent to him on July 18. Tony provides a qualified yes.

Mayor Kim Offers Rambling and Incoherent Defense Regarding His Failure to Adhere to a Council Resolution

The conflict between Moran and Kim continued at the Council table, with Moran raising the issue of the letter Kim had sent to the Judge in the Wales case asking that the case be reinstated.

At the August 2 City Council meeting, Mayor Kim had requested and received a resolution from the Council authorizing him to contact all the parties in the Wales lawsuit asking why the city owed a $25,000.00 deductible. However, the actual letter Kim sent went only to the judge in the case and contained no reference to the deductible. Instead, Kim asked that the Court reinstate the case. [This was explored in an earlier post]

Moran asked the Mayor why he felt he had been empowered to ask that the case be reinstated. Kim’s first reaction is to state incorrectly that the City Attorney sent the letter. (Only Mayor Kim’s signature is on the letter.) I will leave it to the readers to decide whether the rest of Mayor Kim’s defense against Moran’s charges makes any sense.

Kim Falsely Claims That the City Never Authorized a Source of Funding to Pay for the Wales Settlement

In the following clip, Kim alleges that the city never encumbered funds to pay for the Wales settlement. In the next clip, Moran reads from a January resolution that provided the funding and which Mayor Kim voted for.

Mayor Announces His Plan to Investigate Wales Case

This lengthy section of the Council meeting dealing with the Wales case settlement ended with Mayor Kim dramatically promising the city’s people that he would carry out an investigation into some unknown malfeasance associated with this settlement. It is unclear exactly who is going to carry out this investigation.

At the risk of sounding snarky, he might begin his investigation within his own department.

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