Commissioner Madigan On What It Will Take To Pay For The Mayor’s Legal Costs

[JK: I received this release from Commissioner Madigan.  Saratoga Today published it in this week’s edition.  In speaking to Commissioner Madigan she also noted that this type of purchase also requires  “quotes” from three different vendors. ]

At Tuesday’s, August 2, 2106, City Council meeting Mayor Yepsen asked the council to approve a letter of engagement from Harris Beach Law Firm for its representation of her before the City’s Ethics Board.  The City Charter (section 4.4.13 Payments Prohibited) requires that Council members seek prior approval before incurring liabilities for which the city will be responsible.  Her engagement letter was dated May 2016 and included an hourly rate of $230.00 per hour.   It is most unfortunate that Mayor Yepsen waited until August to seek Council approval of this engagement and thus provided the council with an invoice that totaled $12,340.00 – which calculates to approximately 54 hours of work.  It places the members of the Council, especially the Commissioner of Finance who is required under law to “promulgate Finance Policy and Procedures”, in an extremely awkward situation as this request asks us to violate our City Charter and Finance Policy.  Additionally, this taxpayer expense seems excessive for such a basic and non-legal matter; essentially the Mayor asked the taxpayers to pay for her rebuttal to a non-binding Advisory Opinion from the Ethics Board that found “as a matter of law” the Mayor violated section 13.3.I of the City’s Ethics Code.  It also begs the question for a more detailed itemized invoice.  Commissioner Mathiesen requested we forward the Harris Beach invoice to the NYS Bar Association for review of excessive hourly billing.  However, since neither the Council or the public received an itemized invoice, the Council has no way of knowing what the Mayor asked Harris Beach to do for those 54 hours.  The Mayor had plenty of time to present a contract to the Council, at least 3 months, as Harris Beach presented the Mayor with the contract in May. With Council guidance and approval, we could have requested a stronger contract, better rates, and included a clause not to expend beyond a certain amount, or denied the contract from the begininng – all of which are standard practice.  Instead the Mayor unilaterally signed the contract without proper approvals and presented the City taxpayers with an unitemized liability for $12,340.00. The invoice was approved 3-2. However, before paying this invoice on behalf of the taxpayer, it is only fair the Council and public receive an itemized invoice for services requested by Mayor Yepsen and rendered by Harris Beach.

 

 

5 thoughts on “Commissioner Madigan On What It Will Take To Pay For The Mayor’s Legal Costs”

  1. I noticed in the Saratoga Today article on this billing issue that the Mayor is quoted as saying she got “bad advice”. The quote goes like this: “It was very confusing. This was my first time dealing with lawyers like this. I was given bad advice, my deputy left, and I went four weeks without a deputy.” It’s not clear what that bad advice was and leaves one wondering who gave it to her. It also seems to be another case of the Mayor’s inability to take responsibility for her actions. Nothing’s her fault. It’s someone gave her bad advice, or her deputy left, or she didn’t write the letter the Commissioner of Finance wrote the letter, or her deputy wrote it, or Madigan’s deputy wrote it…..(see posting on Mayor Yepsen: I Didn’t Write that Letter) or whatever.

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  2. Oh paleeeeze. I watched her say I didn’t write the letter and I knew exactly what she meant cuz she also included madigans email saying she wanted to take measures to secure the box. They both wanted to write the letter, her deputy put first draft together and madigans deputy did final edits and once over. Once again another silly distraction but let’s remember she is the only one who doesn’t need representation from a criminal defense lawyer.

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    1. FINALLY someone sees that!!! THANK YOU!!!! And please note, this was NOT for a legal case either (ethics is a completely different thing). In effect, she is hanging the taxpayers out to dry with the 12k. NOTHING was right about this, period. IMHO? She violated the ethics code AGAIN by this, as well as voting against her own censure.

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