Opinion - Saratoga Springs Politics

The below blog posts are written by John Kaufmann.
These opinions do not reflect the views of Saratoga TODAY newspaper.

Thursday, 20 June 2024 10:10

Moran’s and Connors’ $1,250/hr Manhattan Attorney Bill Still Not Produced by Sanghvi

By John Kaufmann | Saratoga Springs Politics

 

Moran’s and Connors’ $1,250/hr Manhattan Attorney Bill Still Not Produced by Sanghvi

At last night’s Saratoga Springs City Council meeting, Finance Commissioner Minita Sanghvi pulled the item from her agenda that proposed to give Accounts Commissioner Dillon Moran and his Deputy Stacy Connors $49,946.50 “to be used in responding to the subpoena served on them by the District Attorney’s office.”

They were apparently supposed to give this money to an unnamed attorney for performing unknown tasks. No bill or invoice for services was presented with this unusual resolution. As of today (June 19, 2024), other members of the Council and the public have yet to see an accounting of what this money will pay for.

My sources tell me Moran and Connors have engaged a Manhattan attorney who is charging a “discounted” rate of $1,250 an hour. This bill seems to be only for services provided to answer a subpoena. Sanghvi’s resolution also provides that “Dillon Moran and Stacy Connors may continue to request additional reasonable legal fees or expenses from time to time….”

It is my understanding that it is unprecedented for the Council to give money to individuals to pay their legal fees rather than to directly pay the bill submitted by an attorney. While public officials are allowed to hire a lawyer of their choice, note that the fees are required to be “reasonable.” This means not only an evaluation of the hourly fee but also, for instance, a review of the tasks performed and the number of hours billed to carry out that task. To my knowledge, no such review has taken place by the City Attorney, yet the Council was asked by Finance Commissioner Sanghvi to give the money to Moran and Connors anyway.

It is also unclear if the city requires any kind of vetting process before city officials hire private attorneys. In any case, it was revealed at the Council meeting that the scope of the State Police investigation of the on-call pay scandal has expanded to include members of the Finance and Public Works Departments as well as former Deputy Mayor Angela Rella. This will ensure that more legal bills will be coming before the Council for approval. The Public Safety Department has not been involved, as then Deputy Jason Tetu was the only deputy not to take advantage of the on-call pay offer.

It is ironic that both Moran and Sanghvi have bitterly complained about paying former Mayor Meg Kelly and former Public Safety Commissioner Robin Dalton’s legal bills that have been a fraction of the bill Moran and Connors have already presented at what may be only the beginning of the legal process against them. Sanghvi even argued at a recent meeting for a cap to be put on the amount public officials should be reimbursed for legal fees.

She did not bring up a proposal to cap fees again at last night’s meeting.

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