Feature: The Unfortunate And All Too Familiar Story Of Anita Daly’s Appointment To County Mental Health

 

Introduction

I recently received an analysis and narrative that documents the history of the hiring of Anita Daly, ex-Supervisor for the town of Clifton Park to a position with the Saratoga County Mental Health Department.  Before publishing the piece I sent copies to Peter Martin and Matt Veitch who are the Supervisors from Saratoga Springs giving them an opportunity to respond.  I also sent a copy to Dr. Frank Arcangelo who chairs the Saratoga County Community Services Board.  The only one to respond was Matt Veitch.  The apparent use of the Saratoga County Department of Mental Health as a vehicle for partisan political appointments is deeply troubling particularly given the extremely vulnerable population that they serve.   The history of the hiring Dr. Prezioso as director of this agency was thoroughly documented on this blog earlier.  In fact, it was one of the reasons I started this blog.  The New York State Department of Mental Hygiene  cited Dr. Prezioso  at his previous job for sexual harassment and his present administration of the county agency has been severely criticized by many staff members. It seems the same players, the Supervisors and Arcangelo and CSB, who were involved in securing a position for Prezioso at the County Mental Health Department are now also responsible for the Daly hiring.

  The author of the piece prefers to remain anonymous.  I include below his original piece along with his response to Matt Veitch’s response.  I thought it was interesting that while Veitch defended the Board of Supervisors in this matter, he pointedly declined to address the ethics of Anita Daly’s  behavior.

Analysis / Narrative

A Case Study: Saratoga County Government in Action

The recent appointment of a sitting member of the Board of Supervisors to a newly created $66,234 title in the County Mental Health Department presents as an interesting case study of the internal operation of Saratoga County government and the contrasts between its adopted policies and their selected application.

And a story published in the Monday, May 16, edition of the Albany “Times Union” serves to remind how many members of the political class, at all levels, abuse their offices for personal gain and, in so doing, further erode public trust and confidence in government.

The May 16 story reports on the soon to be made Clifton Park Town Board appointment to fill the unexpired term of Anita Daly who recently resigned her seat on the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors to take a newly created job in the County Mental Health Clinic along with a 250% salary increase and a proportionate increase in pension benefits.

But we get ahead of ourselves.  Let’s go back to the beginning of this story, which seems to have its start in December 2015, shortly after Daly was re-elected Clifton Park Town supervisor and even before she took her oath of office.

It is now well reported that the Chair of the County Board of Supervisors has acknowledged  Daly’s desire to find full time government employment and was willing to resign from the Board of Supervisors to take advantage of a more lucrative appointment. “We don’t make a lot of money working at the county,” Chairman right said of the annual salaries paid to the part-time county supervisors. Daly was paid $18,580 in 2015. “That’s not a lot of money to try and live on. You can’t really hate somebody for trying to better themselves.

Fair enough, but the chair neglected to note that all but four members of the Board also receive substantial compensation as members of their respective town boards and many also enjoy private or other public sector employment.  And if a potential elected officials cannot “make a lot of money working for the county” perhaps they should not run for office.  It it not “public service” and not “service the politician?”

To his credit the chair acknowledged in a “Times Union” story that the February resolution that will allow the Clifton Park Town Board to appoint Daly’s successor was directly a result of Daly’s well known interest in quitting her elected position and gaining a full-time job. Thus he seems to admit that at least as early as February the County administration had set in motion a strategy to create a job tailored for Daly, ensure that no Civil Service examination would initially be necessary and allow her soon to be vacant seat on the Board of Supervisors to be filled by the Town Board.

Chairman Wright further referenced discussions to vest the appointment with the Clifton Park Town Board were only recently fast-tracked after county officials told the Republican-controlled Board of Supervisors that if it did not pass the provision, the appointment would rest with the governor.

The Public Record:

What Is Known (and Not Known) The available public record on Daly’s appointment begs several unanswered questions regarding the role and function of various officials and committees of the Board of Supervisors, the defined statutory role of the County Community Services Board and the propriety of a legislator voting to create a title for which she was a candidate.

More on all that later, but first let’s present the case details in a non-value laden form, as they are known from existing public records.

On April 13, 2016 Supervisor Anita Daly of Clifton Park announced her resignation effective April 19.  Her resignation statement was memorialized in the Board of Supervisor’s  April 13 Agenda session minutes and specifically referenced “… weeks  of  discussions  with  you (the chair of the Board).”

These acknowledged “ … weeks of discussions … “ with the chair of the board preceding her resignation and appointment would suggest that such discussions began in mid-March at the latest and perhaps much earlier.

It is also known that Daly was to become the Mental Health Clinic’s Education and Community Relations Coordinator effective April 22, a few day following her resignation.  It remains to be determined when the actual appointment was made and who signed the required documents.

Prior to her resignation much was taking place in Clifton Park and at the County Seat to ensure a seamless, quiet transition.  Paramount, of course, was the need to make sure her seat on the Board of Supervisors would be filled by the Republican hierarchy.

The chronology below presents the significant actions taken by the County Administration, key committees of the Board of Supervisors and the Clifton Park Town Board to accommodate Daly and ensure that her successor possessed the required political pedigree.

The chronology also references the meetings of the Public Health Committee of the Board of Supervisors and the County Community Services Board which were held during the same time frame – January through April – but at which NOTHING was presented or said about the then proposed deletion of one job and the creation of the one Daly would be appointed to.

This appears particularly interesting because both the Public Health Committee and the County Community Services Board seem to have MANDATED roles in the creation of the new title and appointment.  Roles they did not play because, apparently, they were never advised of what was taking place until after the fact.

The role of the Public Health Committee is described in the Rules and Regulations of the Board of supervisors and includes the following language: “ … and to have general supervision over the  operations and programs of the Saratoga County Public Health Nursing Service and the Saratoga County Mental Health Center.”  Certainly “general supervision” would pertain to abolishing and creating job titles in the Mental Health Center.

And what of the County Community Services Board?  This Board is a “local government unit” as defined in the NYS Mental Hygiene Law and its members are appointed by the Board of Supervisors and specifically vested by State Law with the “full powers necessary for the administration and execution of its duties to appoint and employ … full and part time officers, employees and consultants …” of the County Mental Health Clinic (see NYS Mental Hygiene Law, Section 41.13 (a) and (d).

Yet, in spite of this apparent statutory role in the administration of County Mental Health staffing, the Community Services Board – according to its published meeting minutes – was not even made aware of the creation of the Daly job until after the fact.  At its February 24 meeting the Community Services Board  was simply advised of the new job by the Mental Health director. Here is how that announcement was noted in the minutes of the Community Services Board’s February meeting.

“DIRECTOR’S REPORT/OLD BUSINESS“

“Staffing”

“Regarding the Nurse Practitioner  item – there  is  a  provision  in  the  contract  with  the  hospital  that  would  make  the  NP  item  a  hospital  employee.  The  hospital  is  not          willing  to  change  the  wording of the contract which prevents the County from hiring for  this position.”  [JK: This would interfere with the County patronage system]

“The funds for the Nurse Practitioner item will be used to fund a new position-Education and Human Relation Coordinator.”

Chronology January 11, 2016

Public Health Meeting:  No mention or discussion of   abolishing Nurse Practitioner in Mental Health and establishing “Education and Community Relations Coordinator.”

January 17, 2016

County Community Services Board Meeting:  No mention or discussion of abolishing Nurse Practitioner in Mental Health and establishing “Education and Community Relations Coordinator,” although it alone is  vested by NYS Mental Hygiene Law with the power to “…appoint and employ … “  [JK: Echo of Prezioso hiring]

February 3, 2016

Personnel and Insurance Committee Meeting: Recommends creation of “Education and Community Relations Coordinator” title in Mental Health and sends recommendation to Law and Finance Committee, bypassing \Public Health Committee.

February 8, 2016

Public Health Meeting: No mention or discussion of abolishing Nurse  Practitioner in Mental Health and establishing “Education and Community Relations Coordinator.” Note:  While the  Rules of the Board of Supervisors require the PUBLIC  HEALTH COMMITTEE  “To  oversee  generally  all County  health  programs, including the Physically Handicapped Children’s program;  to consult with the County Community Services Board;  and to have general supervision over the  operations and programs of the Saratoga County Public Health Nursing Service and the Saratoga County Mental Health Center,” the Committee never took up or acted to recommend the action initiated at the February 3 Personnel and Insurance Committee meeting.

February 8, 2016

Clifton Park Town Board Meeting: Res. 27 of 2016 sets public hearing on Local Law to establish procedures for filling vacancy in the office of County Supervisor.

February 10, 2016

Law and Finance Committee Meeting: Recommends amending  compensation  schedule to abolish one  position  of  Psychiatric Nurse  Practitioner  and  create  one position of Education and Community Relations Coordinator in the Mental Health Clinic and passes same to Board of Supervisors Agenda  which met 30 minutes later.

February 10, 2016

Agenda Meeting, Board of Supervisors: Moves recommendation to amend compensation schedule to abolish one  position  of  Psychiatric Nurse  Practitioner  and  create  one position of Education and Community Relations Coordinator in the Mental Health Department.  Supervisor Daly votes  in favor of the proposed change.

February 23, 2016

Board of Supervisors Meeting:  Board adopts resolution amending the County compensation schedule by abolishing one position of Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner and creating the new title of Education and Community Relations Coordinator.  The title now exists and is funded.

February 24, 2016

Saratoga County Community Services Board Meeting:  The Board is advised by the Director of Mental Health that “The funds for the Nurse  Practitioner item will be used to fund a new position-Education and Human Relation Coordinator.”

March 7, 2016

Clifton Park Town Board Meeting: Res. 58 of 2016 adopted Local Law No. 1 of 2016.  Once filed with the Secretary of State’s Office it will go into effect and the Town Board will be able to appoint Daly’s successor.

April 13, 2016

Agenda Meeting:  Daly reads letter addressed to the chair of the Board announcing her resignation from the Board of Supervisors effective at the end of the April 19 meeting.  Daly says:  “After  weeks  of  discussions  with you,  I  am  here  today  to  announce  my  resignation  from  public office as a member  of  the  Saratoga  County  Board  of  Supervisors, rrepresenting  the  people  of  Clifton  Park  effective at  the close of the April 19, 2016 County Board Meeting.” Presumably those “ .. weeks of discussion … “ dealt with the minutia of all this but apparently failed to address the potential application of the County Code of Ethics adopted by the Board of Supervisors  (which Daly voted for) that would seem to have prohibited her from voting to establish the very job she was to fill, and require disclosure of her interest in it (see below).  She neither disclosed nor recused from voting to create the position. The pertinent sections of the County Ethics Code follow. Section 42-3 Prohibited activities; disclosure of interest; Prohibited activities. All County officials, employees, appointees and volunteers must avoid conflicts of interest or potential conflicts of interest. A conflict or potential conflict exists whenever such person has knowledge, actual or constructive, that he or she has or will foreseeably have any interest, direct or indirect, which conflicts with his or her duty to the County or which could adversely affect the individual’s judgment in the discharge of his or her County responsibilities.

Disclosure of Interest.  Any official, employee, appointee or volunteer who at any time during the last two years had or now has, or who will have or intends to acquire a direct or indirect interest in any matter being considered by the County of Saratoga or by any official, board, agency, officer or employee of the County of Saratoga, and who participates in any discussion with or gives an opinion or advice to any board, agency or individual considering the same, shall publicly disclose forthwith on the official record the nature and the extent of such interest.”

April 19, 2016

Resignation effective April 23

New job

So there it is in a nutshell.


Matt Veitch Responds

From: Matthew E. Veitch [mveitch@saratogacountyny.gov]
Sent: Wednesday, May 25, 2016 11:15 PM
To: John Kaufmann
Subject: RE: Comment

Hi John-here’s my comment-

The Personnel and Insurance committee is the committee for the
abolishment and creation of positions at the County, and
almost all Personnel decisions (for all departments) for
consideration for the Board of Supervisors go through this
committee.  Public Health does not have to (and likely would
not) originate the process to create the position, or be very
much involved in it, except to be made aware that the
personnel committee was working on it.  The record spells that
out.  Public Health was not ‘bypassed’ since that is our
process.  Perhaps the wording on the role of Public Health and
other Committees in the Board’s Rules should be changed in
references to staffing or positions. Nothing precludes Public
Health from proposing a position, but if that were to occur,
it would be referred to Personnel & Insurance for evaluation,
and then if approved by Personnel, referred to Law & Finance.

As far as the Community Services Board is concerned, I’m not
sure if statutorily they have the power to block or reject a
decision the County makes in regard to staff positions at the
Mental Health Center.  So I have no comment on that part of
your blog post.

As far as discussions regarding the position: Former
supervisor Daly and I never had any direct discussions
regarding her interest in this position.  As Chairman of the
Board last year, this was not discussed in any meeting that I
can remember.  Of course, Supervisor Wright was the incoming
Chairman, so as has been reported and public statements made,
she was discussing it most likely with him at that time or
early this year.

I can tell you that when the resolution creating the Mental
Health Coordinator position was presented, I supported moving
forward with this position, as how it was explained to me made
sense in terms of serving our residents
better.  Potential candidates for the job were not discussed.

As far as the resolution to change how County Supervisors are
appointed for the Town of Clifton Park-There is the
legislative function of what they did, and what the purpose
was.  Basically their local law and the County resolution
match the process for both the City of Saratoga Springs and
City of Mechanicville, the other communities with ‘County
only’ Supervisors.  The City’s process (which now matches
Clifton Park) would have the exact opposite effect if I were
to resign-a Democratic City Council would get to appoint my
replacement, most likely a Democrat.  My guess is that the
City got its approval in a past year when a resignation of a
Supervisor was imminent and the City’s Party in power at the
time wanted ‘their person’ appointed.

Also-it is not customary at the Board of Supervisors or my
place as a Supervisor from a neighboring community, to dictate
how another town wishes to do their ‘process’.  You would need
to ask the Town Supervisor or board members from the Town why
they needed to pass the resolution when they did.  I voted in
favor because it was something that the town wanted.  If it
was fast tracked to make the appointment process more
convenient for the town because of Supervisor Daly’s goals-
well again I didn’t know for certain that she would be getting
the job.  If it was known, then it’s unfortunate that it was
not shared at that time with the Supervisors.

As I recall, the resolution was presented to The Board as
‘cleaning up the record’ to make the appointment process match
for all ‘County only’ Supervisors, on the Town’s initiative
after a review of their policies.  The statements made by the
Chairman to the press as to why we moved forward with the law
do not match what was presented to me as a Supervisor voting
on the items that came before me.  Maybe we remember it
differently.

As far as the ethics of it all…you would have ask Supervisor
Daly about why she voted for the creation of the positon or of
any subsequent votes or statements she has made about it.  All
ethics decisions made by any elected official to recuse or
disclose (or not to) or vote on items that come before them
need to be weighed by the individual. I won’t comment on the
ethics decisions of others, and I don’t feel it is my place to
do so.

Speaking for myself, I recuse or disclose in situations where
I decide I need to, and do my best to be up front about any
conflict of interest I may have with matters that come before
the Board of Supervisors.  If I were in the same situation,
and a position at the County became available or was created
that I (or a close relative) might be interested in, I would
make sure to be up front with the public regarding my interest
in it or relationship to it and recuse, disclose or abstain
from voting on anything pertaining to it.

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to respond.

Matthew E. Veitch
Supervisor-Saratoga Springs
474 Broadway
City Hall
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
(518) 587-2198


Anonymous Author Responds

We appreciate Supervisor Veitch’s response to the piece on the recent resignation of then Supervisor Daly and her virtually simultaneous appointment to a newly established County Mental Health Clinic job, one which she voted to title and salary while still a member of the Board.

The original piece noted the role and function of County Public Health Committee as detailed in the most current Rules and Regulations of the Board of Supervisors.  Those rules are unequivocal and exclusively assign to the Public Health Committee  the ” … general supervision over the  operations and programs of the Saratoga County Public Health Nursing Service and the Saratoga County Mental Health Center.”  Certainly “general supervision” would pertain to abolishing and creating job titles in the Mental Health Center.

He seems to argue that the clear language of the Committee’s mandate to have “general supervision” over the operations and programs of the Mental Health Center does not include recommending new program content and its appropriate staffing pattern.  Such an argument turns logic on its head, for how can the Public Health Committee play its statutory role in program design if it is not even made aware of the concept until it has been advanced to the full Board of Supervisors?  It can not.

To overcome this obvious contradiction he simply suggests that the rules be retroactively changed.  Common sense dictates that if the Public Health Committee is to have supervision over, in this case, programs of the Mental Health Center then it should be the starting point for a program design that includes a needs analysis, cost benefit review and program design.  This should, as we shall see, be a role played in consultation with the County Community Services Board.  Instead, the Daly job proposal went straight to the Personnel and Insurance Committee and was passed immediately to Law and Finance and  then – and literally –  a few minutes later to the Agenda Session of the Board of Supervisors.  The minutes of those meeting reference ABSOLUTELY NO discussion, comment, question, etc.

Next, and perhaps more troubling, is the fact that the County Community Services Board – established by and given its authority in NYS Mental Hygiene Law – was, according to its minutes first told of this new job by staff on February 24, AFTER the Board of Supervisors had already  established it.  This although state law vests the Community Sevices Board with the “full powers necessary for the administration and execution of its duties to appoint and employ … full and part time officers, employees and consultants …” of the County Mental Health Clinic (see NYS Mental Hygiene Law, Section 41.13 (a) and (d).

Veitch dismisses all this by spinning the issue.  He says that he does not know if the Community Services Board can ” … reject or block a decision the County makes in regard to staff positions at the Mental Health Center.”  In so doing he admits that it was the  “County” and not the Community Services Board, solely vested with the appointing authority, that filled the title.  Time does not here permit other issues related to ignored role of the CSB to be explored.

He responds to the curious matter of the parallel course traveled by the Board of Supervisors and the Clifton Park Town Board to assume the authority to appoint a successor to Daly at the same time that her new job was being created by ‘guessing’ the motive but then, in a matter of fact manner affirms that this manipulation was “fast tracked” beginning in January as a ‘convenience’ to the Clifton Park because of Daly’s know ‘goals.’  Of course, the real issue is not what the Town and County did to allow Daly’s successor to be appointed by the political hierarchy, but rather that the action telegraphed what has all the appearances of a tailor made job created for a sitting member of the Board of Supervisors and employing an abbreviated process.  That seems the real issue and  one that we can’t fault Supervisor Veitch for avoiding.

Finally, we appreciate Matt’s comments on the issues raised by the apparent failure of Daly to “disclose” and “recuse” her interest in the job – as seemingly required by the County Ethics Code – that she was then about to vote to create and salary.  He says, to his credit,  that – in the same position – he would have followed the Ethics Code mandates.

So we appreciate Matt’s response to the post, particularly because he makes so little effort to challenge any of its content and, in fact, seems to affirm most of it.  The Board of Supervisors and particularly its standing and appointed committees and boards really need to take control of their own agendas and be responsible for their defined responsibilities.  Allowing staff and the administration to manipulate or dictate is no longer acceptable because it becomes an embarrassment at best and something far more problematic at worst.  Time for some to get off their duffs and start asking questions.

Too bad we no longer have a press willing or able to review these matters for the public. This kind of legislative and political game playing to benefit one of their own is only made easier by a weak press and a lazy political opposition.

9 thoughts on “Feature: The Unfortunate And All Too Familiar Story Of Anita Daly’s Appointment To County Mental Health”

  1. As a tax-paying citizen of Saratoga County this situation reeks of political mischief at the County level.
    This misbegotten appointment of Anita Daly to a position she had a hand in creating sullies the reputation of the Saratoga Board of Supervisors.
    Would a County Legislature be able to get away with such unethical, underhanded maneuverings? Maybe we need a change!

    Like

    1. Ms. Gallagher is correct. In fact, the present form of county government is unconstitutional because it violates the principle of “one-person, one-vote.”

      The precedent is that in 1994, Federal Judge Arthur Spatt declared the Nassau County Board of Supervisors, which governed more-or-less the way the Saratoga Board governs, unconstitutional and directed that a county legislature be formed.

      Someone or some group needs to bring a similar suit to abolish the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors which, as mentioned in another comment, is being run as a hobby by a bunch of pols who have no regard for conventional ethics.

      Like

  2. I love how these Saratoga County Supervisors promote themselves as fiscal conservatives, watch dogs of the taxpayer’s dollar, then create a juicy job without a needs assessment and fill it with one of their own who had the gall to vote to create the job she knew she would fill. WOW! I’m sure these Supervisors are quite disdainful of the corruption in Albany but aren’t they doing the same thing here in our county?

    Like

  3. The comments above are much too kind. This is simply an example of legalized corruption, pure and simple. What’s really shameful is the complete abdication of responsibility by both Martin and Veitch. When it comes to ethics, they think of Board of Supervisors is a country club whose exclusive membership entitles them to the usual winks and nods.

    Like

  4. And the Public Defender who when confronted for drunk driving by the Saratoga police tried to get them to drop charges be cause of his position with the county–all caught on video. He’s still employed.by the County.

    Like

  5. Unmentioned in this blog was the time Messrs. Martin and Veitch recently spent lobbying the state legislature to oppose the $15 an hour minimum wage. This especially shameful for Mr. Martin, who pretends to be a Democrat, when he’s really a wealthy attorney whose fortune was gifted as a reward for engineering the leveraged buyout of Ayco Financial by Goldman Sachs. Being on the Board of Supervisors is just a hobby for these guys.

    Like

      1. Joseph Levy, on the mark as ever. There are some good people on the comittee but in the name of unity and a misconvieved belief that uncritically supporting the most retrograde incumbents is the only path, they jettison all principles. Then they wonder why the public is so apathetic.

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s