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, 02 July 2024 09:38

Dillon Moran’s Legal Bills Grow: Will The Council Approve Them Tomorrow Night?

By John Kaufmann | Saratoga Springs Politics

Dillon Moran’s Legal Bills Grow: Will The Council Approve Them Tomorrow Night?

Tomorrow night, July 2,the Saratoga Springs City Council will decide whether to pay bills that Accounts Commissioner Dillon Moran and his Deputy, Stacy Connors, have run up when they hired a private Manhattan attorney to represent them in the ongoing investigation of the on-call pay scandal. As readers may recall, their attorney bills $1,250.00 an hour. In eight weeks, including the most recent bill, the sum has grown to $60,992.65. The detailed bill is posted on the Council agenda on the city’s website.

If Moran and/or Connors were to be indicted as part of this scandal, the cost to this city for their representation would run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The hourly rate being charged by Moran’s lawyer is not only the highest rate ever billed to the city; it dwarfs the rates charged by other attorneys who have recently represented city officials. Former Mayor Meg Kelly’s attorney billed the city at $395.00 an hour to represent her during the Attorney General’s investigation. Moran’s lawyer is billing at literally three times that rate. Readers will remember that Moran complained bitterly about paying Kelly’s bills. Likewise Finance Commissioner Minita Sanghvi, who hasn’t had a problem bringing Moran’s bills to the Council for approval, complained about Kelly’s and former Commissioner Robin Dalton’s bills and just recently floated the idea that the Council might want to start putting a cap on what the Council would pay lawyers hired to represent city officials. She hasn’t mentioned this idea since Moran’s and Connors’ bills appeared.

Municipalities have the authority to scrutinize and challenge legal fees on the basis of reasonableness.

To date, the city has yet to determine whether Moran’s attorney’s rate is reasonable for the city to pay.

I am reminded of that famous quote from former Supreme Court Justice Stewart Potter, who said of pornography, “I know it when I see it.” While I don’t know what the legal definition of “reasonable” is I feel I do know an unreasonable lawyer bill when I see one and I would say that is what the Council will be asked to consider tomorrow night.

There is also the question of whether Moran has a conflict of interest if he chooses to participate in the vote on his bills tomorrow night. Approving the payment of the bills implies that they are reasonable. As the lawyer will be representing Moran, it would seem grossly inappropriate for him to vote on that issue.

If Moran cannot vote on the bill, it is unlikely to pass.

Whether or not Moran is determined to have a conflict of interest, the underlying issues will truly define the character of those who represent the citizens of this Saratoga Springs.

To adopt Sanghvi’s resolution would be an outrageous example of cronyism. The arrogance of Moran and Sanghvi, along with Public Works Commissioner Jason Golub, if he votes for this, will be simply stunning. They will be telling us that our tax money is in a piggy which they can dip into at their whim.

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