At the January 2, 2024, Saratoga Springs City Council meeting, newly elected Mayor John Safford introduced a resolution to make a payment required by a court order. This should have been a routine vote to approve the court settlement/but not for Accounts Commissioner Dillon Moran.
In 2023, requests by Saratoga Springs Republican Chair Mike Brandi to secure documents from the city under the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) were ignored in flagrant violation of the law.
Brandi sued the city, and the court sustained his complaint that the city had violated FOIL and ordered the city to pay his costs ($2,500.00) and to provide him with the documents.
This blog has documented the disintegration of the city's response to the Freedom of Information Law under the previous City Council. FOIL is at the heart of open government. Months ago, this last Council acknowledged that it was routinely in violation of its obligation to release public documents to citizens in a timely manner but, in spite of this, chose to take no action to address the problem.
The following is a video from the January 2, 2024, Council meeting. As the video documents, Accounts Commissioner Dillon Moran first pretends he does not know who the litigant was that the city was required to pay. Moran asks Safford, "Who is this check going to?" After Mayor Safford confirms that it is going to Brandi, Moran disingenuously asks whether Brandi is the G.O.P. chair. After Safford confirms that Brandi is the G.O.P. chair, Moran feels "compelled" to ask, "The G.O.P. chair sued the city?" and when Safford confirms, Moran asserts, "It's not very civil." The Council then moves to a vote. Moran votes no on complying with the order to pay. He offers no explanation.
Ugly Partisan Behavior by Moran Right Out Of The Gate
As readers may know, all but one of the candidates endorsed by One Saratoga won the seats they ran for in the November election. Their theme was "City before party." It was hoped by many that that successful message in this last election would result in a Council whose members would avoid cheap partisan attacks and that their votes and actions would reflect a commitment to doing what is best for the city. Apparently, Dillon Moran didn't get the message.
In this first Council meeting of the New Year, there was nothing even thinly disguised in Moran's gratuitous, partisan performance. It makes no difference who requests documents from the city. Under New York State Law, all citizens have the right to secure documents under FOIL, and all government bodies in New York State are required to respond in a timely manner or pay the consequences. Dillon Moran does not get to decide any of this.
It is most disturbing that he would vote to ignore the court's order. Moran now oversees Risk and Safety. Rather than set a standard for rigorously adhering to all city, state, and federal requirements as he had just taken an oath to do when he was sworn into office the day before, he openly flaunted the court's authority in order to indulge in partisan grandstanding.
Moran's behavior signals that he, for his part, is not about to leave the acrimony that plagued the last Council behind.