Democrats on the Saratoga Springs City Council voted 4 to 1 to spend $10,000 to hire a law firm that has been a generous contributor to Mayor Kim and the Saratoga Springs Democrats to investigate “allegations of discriminatory conduct”.
What Are They Investigating?
The tenth item on Mayor Ron Kim’s agenda at the October 17, 2023, Saratoga Springs City Council meeting was a resolution for “Authorization for Mayor to Sign Contract with The Towne Law Firm to Conduct Workplace Investigation.” Linked to this line were four items, including the actual resolution along with the Request for Quote (RFQ) all of which were extremely vague.
There was no public explanation as to what action required investigation nor who allegedly did the action. As far as I can tell, based on what was said at the meeting, there is no record of an actual complaint.
The Mayor claimed that the city had to hire an outside law firm for this investigation because there was no one available in city hall, including HR, who did not have a conflict of interest. It was never explained what this conflict was.
The entire process was the most opaque discussion I have ever observed at a Council meeting. For those who want to endure the entire eight minutes it went on, I have included a clip at the end of this blog.
The Towne Law Firm Has Contributed Generously to Ron Kim and the Saratoga Democrats
The firm that was selected by the four members of the Council (Kim, Moran, Sanghvi, and Golub) contributed $1,000.00 to Kim’s campaign chest and more to other Democratic candidates and the city Democratic Committee.
The Towne law firm has contributed:
- $500.00 to Kim on July 23, 2023
- $500.00 to Kim on September 19, 2021
- $500.00 to Michael Phillips, who ran for County District Attorney and is now Kim’s assistant City Attorney
- $500.00 to the Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee on October 17, 2022
- $1,000.00 to the Saratoga County Democratic Committee on October 24, 2022
- $250.00 to Gordon Boyd, on June 25, 2023. Boyd is one of the Democratic candidates for Supervisor and ran Phillips’ campaign for DA.
On further research (more on that shortly), I learned that the issue to be investigated was sexual harassment.
In fact, the protocols for such investigations require that to protect all involved, investigations are supposed to be as protected from public scrutiny as possible, which I expect is why the discussion was so obtuse.
As noted, no reason why the human resources department would have a conflict of interest in investigating this was offered. HR is supposed to be the vehicle for addressing issues like sexual harassment. Unfortunately, in the spirit of catch-22, under the issue of privacy, there is no way to find out if there were any actual complaints filed for harassment, let alone why HR would recuse themselves and whether it was appropriate for them to do so.
The need for privacy and caution went off the rails the following day when Mayor Ron Kim went to the Times Union in order to get a story. He included an email that, in effect, identified the target of the investigation along with the potential victims. In the spirit of the protocols that protect privacy, I am not including the emails or a link to the story.
Curiously, Tracy Sangare (sometimes referred to as Tracy Krosky), a BLM activist, read this email during the public comment portion of the Council meeting. It was apparently given to her by a Council member.
Yet More Toxic Behavior
As routinely happens at Council meetings, the discussion about hiring the Towne Law Firm devolved into raised voices and ugliness. For those of you who, for some reason, have not had enough of this stuff, here’s yet another video.
A Civil Voice
In contrast, consider John Safford, the Republican candidate for Mayor, who made brief and thoughtful observations on the city’s insurance and bonding problems during the public comment period.
No one on the Council responded to his suggestions.