As background, I spent over a month trying to get information from Saratoga Springs Accounts Commissioner Dillon Moran about his plans for temporary outdoor dining. Moran originally promised to answer a set of questions I sent him. Following that original email, I wrote to him each week asking what the status of his answers was. All my emails were courteous. Each week he cited other demands on him and promised to provide me with answers soon. After the fourth week, he stopped acknowledging my emails, and I gave up writing to him.
On May 16, 2023, there was a City Council meeting. Moran had two items on his agenda for that meeting regarding outdoor dining. One was a public hearing on amending the temporary outdoor dining ordinance’s season closing date, and the other was to establish the fee schedule for temporary outdoor dining.
A Simple Question
I decided to attend the May 16 meeting and ask Commissioner Moran a simple question in person. What is the starting date for outdoor dining for 2023?
Here is how he responded to my inquiry.
An Unexpected Ally
As it turned out, I was not the only one struck by Moran’s unpleasant behavior. Here is a clip of Andrew from Black Lives Matter speaking.
Why It’s Not Just About Me
Mayor Kim should have interceded and asked Moran to “dial it back.” The issue is that Moran not only sent an unfortunate message to this blogger, he, in effect, sent out a poisonous warning to anyone wishing to address the Council. If you disagree with him, you are the potential target of his anger.
Commissioner Moran, There Is No Starting Date
Notwithstanding Commissioner Moran’s imperious pronouncement that the starting date I was looking for is in the legislation, it is not there. Below I have published the full city code on temporary dining, and if readers are skeptical, they are welcome to try to find it themselves. As the ordinance has a hard closing date (November 1, 2022), it seemed reasonable that there would be a starting date.
What Is The Significance Of The Starting Date?
The starting date is important for many reasons.
First of all, it raises legal issues about whether the restaurants, some of which are already open, are operating within the law. Have they opened prior to the official starting date for the season (a date that doesn’t exist)?
What kind of liability do the city and the restaurants have given this apparent mess?
Exacerbating the situation is that the application that they filled out had the fee schedule for last year (2022), and according to Moran’s agenda, there is a new fee schedule. Does that invalidate the application? Can an application containing the wrong fee schedule be approved? Did the restaurants pay the city the outdated amount when they submitted the application? If the city approved the application already, can the city now ask the restaurants to pay more (assuming the fees go up)?
Unfortunately, as demonstrated by the video clip, Commissioner Moran will not answer questions from the public, and his colleagues at the Council table are apparently unwilling to press the issue.
Temporary outdoor dining, which is obviously a potential asset to the city, is, unfortunately, a black box that only Commissioner Moran has access to.
Commissioner Sanghvi: Where Is The Resolution?
Consistent with the management problems that plague the city website overseen by Commissioner Sanghvi, the agenda for the meeting did not include the resolution establishing the temporary outdoor dining fees. The agenda item was there, but clicking on the link resulted in a message that there was no available document (the actual resolution).
I have given up bringing problems with the website to Commissioner Sanghvi as she has made it abundantly clear that she is unconcerned with the issues I raise.
As those old enough to remember Alfred E. Newman of Mad Magazine, Commissioner Sanghvi seems to live in a “What me worry?” universe.
I urged the Council to table the fee schedule resolution until the resolution can be published and the public can have the opportunity to read it. This did no good. Later in the meeting, Moran moved the adoption of the fees, and following Public Works Commissioner Golub’s second, it was unanimously adopted.
As Commissioner Sanghvi has still not updated the agenda with the actual resolution, if you want to know what the new fee schedule is, you will have to endure watching the video of the full meeting to find the point at which Dillon discussed them. Even then, the presentation was poorly done, and you will have, I think, as I did, little idea of what the fees are and how they were arrived at.
City Code On Outdoor Dining
Here is the ordnance from the city website. See if you can find a starting date.