Saratoga Springs needs two City Attorneys. This city has had two City Attorneys since 1973, with the exception of a period during Mayor Kim's tenure. By my count, that is fifty years. According to the latest version of Finance Commissioner Minita Sanghvi's budget, Sanghvi has defunded the second attorney.
The defunding of the City Attorney position is part of a more complex deal between Accounts Commissioner Dillon Moran, Mayor Ron Kim, and Minita Sanghvi.
Moran is the big winner in all of this. Sanghvi has taken the money that funded the City Attorney position in the Mayor's office ($105,276.88) and shifted it to the Accounts Department to fund a Risk and Safety position there thus transferring authority over Risk and Safety away from the Mayor and granting it to Moran.
Readers may recall that during his first year in office, Kim, with the support of Public Safety Commissioner Montagnino, Public Works Commissioner Golub, and Sanghvi, had Risk and Safety transferred from Moran's department to the Mayor's office. The Mayor was adamant as to how important this reorganization was. He argued that the Risk and Safety Director needed to work more closely with the City Attorney.
Apparently, having lost his election, Kim feels less passionate about the need for Risk and Safety being in his office. He also has offered no pushback about losing the funding for the second City Attorney who works under the Mayor.
Readers also may recall the ever-morphing approach to staffing the City Attorney's office. When Kim came into office, one of his first acts was to fire both City Attorneys. He saw little urgency in hiring a City Attorney initially, touting his own credentials as well as those of his Deputy, who is also an attorney. After a series of legal debacles, he rehired Tony Izzo. Over time, he hired an additional attorney who was supposed to manage Risk and Safety as well as provide the Council with legal services. We all know how this strategy worked out. For those who may not remember, our insurance carrier refused to continue to underwrite the city. The insurance company cited a dysfunctional Risk and Safety program as the primary reason for their decision.
According to the November 22, 2023 edition of the Times Union:
Kim and Commissioner of Accounts Dillon Moran also said that the city Risk and Safety program will revert to the Accounts Department on Dec. 1.
TImes Union November 22, 2023
I have learned that the Assistant City Attorney, Michael Phillips, who was supposed to be handling Risk and Safety, is leaving his job on November 30, 2023, so this may explain the date for the reorganization.
Putting aside the inconvenient truth that all this reorganization has been done behind closed doors, it is unclear how, in this year's budget, this move can happen on December 1. There is currently no money in the 2023 budget in Accounts to pay for a Risk and Safety position for the rest of this year.
Given Moran's history of indifference to procedure and detail and his abusive and overbearing style of management, I find it more than worrisome that he will oversee Risk and Safety.
It is hard to tell how much of this is Democrat Moran trying to expand his power and how much of this is a partisan move to weaken the new Republican Mayor.
What I do know is that the city needs two attorneys, and it was reckless of Sanghvi to have defunded one. The city also needs a Risk and Safety program that functions effectively. What is going on here is highly controversial and needs to be debated publicly by the Council. Let Mayor Kim explain why suddenly the city no longer needs two attorneys and why, after insisting that his office must oversee Risk and Safety, he is supporting moving it back to Accounts. Let Sanghvi explain why she is supporting this reorganization.