Opinion - Saratoga Springs Politics

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

Monday, 27 November 2023 09:33

Commissioner Moran Pulls Award To Beacon Risk Group From Agenda and Risk and Safety On the Move Again

By John Kaufmann | Saratoga Springs Politics

At the November 21, 2023, Saratoga Springs City Council meeting, Accounts Commissioner Dillon Moran pulled his award to Beacon Risk Group for the "audit" of the fifty points of the city's 2021 Police Reinvention Plan. He said a lack of paperwork was the reason.

Moran had oddly added this item to his agenda sometime after the pre-agenda meeting and before the regular Council meeting. All anticipated resolutions are supposed to be vetted at the pre-agenda meeting.

Normally, items added late to the agenda are supposed to be the result of some kind of time restraint. It is hard to conjure up an argument as to why Moran's resolution could not wait until the next regular meeting of the Council, particularly in light of the fact that proposals for the "audit" were required to have been submitted by July 11, 2023. That is more than four months ago.

As noted in an earlier post, this blog documented that the proposal from a consulting firm named Beacon Risk Group LLC that Moran selected lacked the required insurance and was not properly registered with the state of New York to transact business.

Moran's obtuse two-word reason for pulling the resolution ("missing paperwork") left many questions unanswered. This kind of sloppy, rushed, and flawed action is an unfortunate pattern with Moran.

In the following video, in response to a question from Eileen Finneran, Moran attempts to explain why the city needs to spend $75,000.00 to "audit" the 50 Point Plan. Readers of this blog are invited to submit comments explaining Moran's remarks from this video.

I wrote to Moran on November 20, 2023, and cc'd the entire Council asking how the city could approve the Beacon Risk Group proposal in light of its failure to meet the requirements for insurance along with the company's lack of registration with the state.

I also asked why they had issued two RFPs for the same work. In addition, I asked, in light of the fact that the RFP responses were due on July 11, 2023, why they waited until the end of November to do the award.

The full text of my email is at the end of this post. Consistent with Moran's history, he never responded, nor did anyone on the Council comment.

Another Case of Politicians Behaving Badly

On a different topic, readers of this blog may remember the conflict between Commissioner Moran and Mayor Ron Kim over transferring responsibilities for "Risk and Safety" from the Accounts Department to the Mayor's office.

This was all associated with the Mayor's bizarre and baseless accusations that Moran and then Risk and Safety Director Marilyn Rivers had somehow improperly negotiated the settlement of a lawsuit brought by a terminated city employee.

Mayor Kim has never attempted to hide his animus towards Marilyn Rivers. In a musical chairs-like environment of who is attacking whom, at the time Kim and Moran, who are now buddies, were then bitterly at odds.

Support for a vote authorizing the transfer of Risk and Safety to Kim's office from Accounts included a yes vote from Public Safety Commissioner Montagnino who during that period enjoyed a warm relationship with Kim.

At least that transfer had some transparency to it.

Not this time. The authority for "Risk and Safety" apparently is returning to the Accounts Department. Why is this happening? Who knows?

This time, there will apparently be no vote or discussion on the transfer. Finance Commissioner Minita Sanghvi's 2024 budget has simply slipped money for "risk and safety" under the Mayor's office to the Accounts Department. Kim has not publicly objected to this move and no one else on the Council has said anything.

Kim, Sanghvi, and Moran have apparently made a deal hidden from public scrutiny.

From: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.Sent: Monday, November 20, 2023 10:15 PMTo: 'Dillon'Cc: 'ron kim'; 'Minita Sanghvi'; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.james.montagnino@saratoga->springs.orgSubject: Beacon Risk Group

Commissioner Moran:I am troubled by how the award of an RFP to Beacon Risk Group to audit the 50 points of the city's Police reinvention Plan has been proceeding. New York State requires that all limited liability companies (LLCs) be registered with the state in order to transact business in New York. I have searched the appropriate state database but could find no record of Beacon Risk Group being registered. I also note that in the addendum to the document awarding work to BRG, they have failed to provide the city with documentation regarding various insurance policies required by the city. It notes, for example, that their general liability insurance expired on September 1 of this year.

I am also troubled by the opacity of what is being approved. No contract is attached to the agenda item, which would provide insight into what BRG is proposing to do to meet the RFP’s requirements. There is no copy of the proposal either.

I do not see how the council can approve a proposal they have not seen, aside from the issues of registration and insurance. The lack of these documents is also inconsistent with the need for transparency that you routinely call for.Could you please address these concerns?Thank you,JK

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