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, 05 December 2023 10:26

Commissioner Moran Moves Fast to Expand and Consolidate his Power Over City Affairs

By John Kaufmann | Saratoga Springs Politics

On the verge of leaving office, defeated Saratoga Springs Mayor Ron Kim seems ready to assist his (at the moment) ally, Accounts Commissioner Dillon Moran, in Moran's campaign to expand his power over the city. Moran has two items on his agenda for the December 5, 2023, City Council meeting that, if adopted, will transfer significant power and authority from the Mayor's Office to Moran's Accounts Department.

One resolution would move Risk and Safety responsibilities from the Mayor's office back to Accounts. The other resolution would transfer responsibility for dealing with the New York State Liquor Authority from the Mayor's office to Moran's department.

Mayor Kim's Sudden Conversion Over Who Should Oversee Risk And Safety

Had he not lost the election, Kim would never have allowed Risk and Safety to be moved from his office. Now, as he leaves office, he champions Moran's cause.

Last year, Kim had doggedly pursued seizing Risk and Safety from the Accounts Department in a campaign that spanned three different Council meetings and hours of bitter argument. Kim finally succeeded in August of 2022. Consider this June 7, 2022, meeting video for a flavor of that bitter campaign (It's very long).

 

At the upcoming Council meeting on December 5, 2023, Dillon Moran has a resolution to transfer Risk and Safety back to the Accounts department.

At the November 28, 2023, special Council meeting, Kim asserted that he still believed Risk and Safety should be in his office but oddly claimed that the recent election for Mayor centered around the question of where Risk and Safety should be. According to him, his defeat was a statement by voters that it should be in the Accounts Department. I find this utterly bizarre. While I think the decision by the city's insurer, Travelers, not to continue to underwrite the city due to the mismanagement of Risk and Safety contributed to Kim's loss, nowhere during his race did anyone advocate moving Risk and Safety to the Accounts Department.

Kim was caught in a trap of his own making. Having doggedly pursued control over Risk and Safety on the basis that it should be integrated with the City Attorney, he was hard-pressed to come up with a credible argument as to why, organizationally, it should be moved back to Accounts. I guess this explains his bizarre attempt to try to use the election to explain his change of mind.

Moran Can't Even Craft A Resolution Properly

It is worth looking at Moran's resolutions. A proper resolution ends with a "resolved" clause indicating the proposed action of the resolution. This follows the "whereas" clauses indicating why the action is taking place.

Consider this resolution on Risk and Safety apparently crafted by Moran.( His resolution regarding who should communicate with the State Liquor Authority has the same problem.) 

The resolutions regarding Risk and Safety (actually, there are two on his agenda; who knows what he means to do with the two of them) and the SLA suffer from Moran's inability to craft a resolution properly. Moran is not an attorney, and the prudent thing for him to have done would have been to consult the City Attorney.

It is absolutely chilling to think that he is going to be responsible for the Office of Risk and Safety.

Moran's Resolution To Move Communicating with the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) From The Mayor's Office To His

Moran, who owns a tiny stake in Druthers bar and restaurant and who is a denizen of the downtown bars, has a resolution that places control over the city's relations with the New York State Liquor Authority in his office. As a liquor license is fundamental to bars and restaurants, this positions him as the czar these businesses must deal with when seeking a new or a renewal of their liquor license.

Last December, the Council passed a resolution that instructed the City Attorney, under the Mayor's supervision, to write to the SLA when a liquor license was applied for, up for renewal, or modification to ask the SLA to prohibit the sale of alcohol beyond 2 am as a condition for granting the liquor license request. Moran will offer a resolution Tuesday night, nullifying the request for a 2AM closing. In addition, his new resolution gives the City Clerk, who works for Moran, the responsibility of dealing with the SLA in all licensing matters.

WHEREAS, upon due consideration, the Council resolves that the City Clerk shall have authority, in his/her discretion, to promptly respond to the SLA in writing regarding an establishment’s liquor license, renewal of a liquor license, or modification or amendment of a liquor license and waivers of statutory 30-dayadvance notices.

Moran motion

There has been a broad consensus to close the bars earlier due to both the cost of police overtime to cover the city's bar area that late and to spare the police the abuse they must endure during those late-night hours.

I texted Moran asking that he explain why he wants to reverse the city's efforts to require bars to close earlier than the current 4:00 am time. He responded as follows:

"Can you explain your constant lies? Repeated, constant and willful lies about me?

Dillon Moran text, December 2, 2023, 11:40 am

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