Digging Deeper Into the Report On Saratoga County COVID Raises: A Study In Mismanagement

County Administrator

In this post I will go into the report on Saratoga County’s handling of the COVID raises in more detail. I don’t think you can fully appreciate the unmitigated incompetence of the players based on the summary. Only in the details of the events can one appreciate the level of mismanagement. Their extraordinary indifference to the need to keep records of decisions involving large sums of money is incomprehensible. The conflicting stories they told about what happened are also deeply disturbing. This is a long post but well worth the time.

An Acknowledged Error

It is important to note that the authors of the report issued an amending document on August 18, 2020. In the original report the authors stated that the county had violated New York State employment law by recovering moneys from wages without performing a number of required tasks such as prior notice of the proposed action and informing the employees of appeals procedures. They asserted in the report that this failure created a significant liability for the county. The authors now acknowledge that public employees are exempted from these requirements so the report was in error regarding this.

Whose Idea Was The Time-And-A-Half Program

The investigator tried to find out where the original idea to increase the pay for some county workers to time and a half came from.

He reports that on March 13, 2020, Human Resources Director Margaret McNamara met with the three county unions over dealing with COVID. The unions were concerned about pay for quarantined employees. McNamara confirmed that no one at the meeting suggested increased salaries or suggested that there might be a problem of people showing up for work out of fear. This is important because the rationale for the proposed pay bonuses was based on the assumption that the county employees might not show up for work due to the threat of infection.

The author cites his interview with the Deputy County Administrator as the earliest any reference to the new pay schedule idea came up. The Deputy’s recollection appears to conflict with McNamara’s statements.

“At some uncertain time before March 15, 2020, Deputy County Administrator Chad Cooke tells us that he first heard about the idea of paying time-and-a-half compensation to some county employees in the immediate future. He says that Margaret McNamara told him about the proposal, although he does not recall the location or exact circumstances of the conversation. What he does recall is that McNamara told him that the county would or should pay time-and-a-half to those employees continuing to come into work physically (as opposed to those working from home).”

External Report

In the meantime County Administrator Hellwig’s memory is murky. “…he recalls discussing the time-and-a-half at some point by March 15, but he is not sure if it was on March 15 or earlier.” It is apparent in the report that Hellwig wants to put the blame for the idea on McNamara while being coy in his recollections.

“Hellwig recalls that McNamara expressed that she wanted to “get out ahead” of the employee and union relations problems that a pandemic like this could cause, and mentioned the time-and-a-half as an incentive to keep people coming into work despite anxiety about the virus. When we asked Hellwig if he recalls this being McNamara’s idea, or instead something that emerged between them collaboratively, he said he did not recall.”

“…McNamara told us that to the best of her recollection, the idea for time-and-a-half to essential employees arose on March 15 (not before), collaboratively in a private conversation between herself, Spenser (sic)Hellwig, and Chad Cooke (Hellwig’s deputy), a little while before the large department meeting. [JK: This conflicts with Cooke’s recollection] She claims she cannot recall which of the three of them proposed it first, but that consensus was that the extra pay may be a needed incentive to keep people coming into work despite the grim public information about the very high contagiousness of the virus.” [JK: Conveniently for him, Hellwig apparently cannot remember the discussion that clearly].”

External Report

This is all reminiscent of the age old saying that “success has a thousand fathers while failure has none.”

In the club like atmosphere of county government, the need for maintaining any kind of records of meetings or providing written directives seems to be largely ignored. This is all too common in institutions where accountability is largely ignored. The root of this is the utter failure of oversight by the people in control of Saratoga County.

People Received Raises Who By Law Should Not Have Been Granted Them

As documented below, the policy of who would be granted special pay was created with an appalling carelessness, lacking any sort of clarity. Hellwig and McNamara stated repeatedly that all employees working on site would receive the added benefit. Conspicuously absent was any reference at all about the major fact that New York State and local laws made many of the employees ineligible to receive these raises. Other than Hellwig’s cryptic email to the Supervisors there was nothing in writing about the proposed bonuses let alone the legal impediments to such an inclusive program.

As observed in the “conclusion” section of the report, it is unclear whether Hellwig and McNamara were ignorant about the law or simply utterly inept in the administration of the pay increases. They attribute the payments to ineligible employees as “clerical errors.” The report devotes a great deal of time documenting their failure to make this critical issue clear to either the staff or the members of the Board of Supervisors.

The original email from Spencer Hellwig to the Board of Supervisors advises them that essential employees “as identified by the department heads in conjunction with HR” will receive the additional pay. The author notes that “The email does not define…essential staff and does not comment on whether the time-and-a-half would be paid to union and non-union employees alike, or hourly and salaried employees alike.”

At the special meeting of the department heads on March 15, Hellwig informs them that their “essential employees physically coming into work” would receive the benefit. The report’s author asked Hellwig whether he made any reference as to whether “tiered employees would be excluded from the policy, such as salaried employees, the department heads themselves and their deputies, elected officials, or employees whose compensation was fixed by local law. Hellwig told us that he doubts he was specific…”

When asked about Hellwig’s remarks, “Mr. Dorsey (county attorney) and Dr. Prezioso (Director of Mental Health) told us that based on what they heard, it sounded to them like the time-and-a-half would extend to all in-person workers, without any exclusions.” Others interviewed had similar recollections.

The author of the report observes that these meetings were not followed up with any written confirmation or any clarification. This was particularly important because state and local law barred raises to certain categories of staff.

“…There was no written instruction to the departments disqualifying those employees whose compensation was set by local or state law (who , Ms. McNamara tells us, she believes were ineligible under the policy), department heads or deputies, or elected officials.”

External Report

The report asserts that “There appears to be no email or written (author’s emphasis) memorandum distributed to the department heads memorializing the time-and-a-half policy, or providing department heads with specific details about it, during this initial stage.”

The report documents that Hellwig is asked repeatedly about who was eligible and consistently responded that everyone coming to work was eligible. As just one example at the March 17 Board of Supervisor meeting the report includes the following:

Supervisor Kusnierz: Just on that subject, for clarification, is that applicable to salaried individuals?

Hellwig: Everybody.

Human Resources Director McNamara’s Confusion

All of this is particularly important in light of Human Resources Director McNamara’s recollections.

At the March 17 Board of Supervisors meeting the report notes the following exchange:

Barrett (Clifton Park Supervisor): …and who exactly is covered by this provision?

McNamara: So it is anybody who is coming into work Currently?

Barrett: Anybody? Any county employee?

McNamara: Any county employee.

Yet the report notes that in her interview, Margaret McNamara claimed that she was aware of the legal limits of who could receive the additional pay right from the beginning.

“In McNamara’s understanding of the idea (time-and-a half), all physically-present County employees would be eligible for the time-and-a-half pay, except for certain County officers whose compensation may only be adjusted by local law amendments subject to referendum (such as McNamara herself) or those whose compensation is set by law(such as the District Attorney). All other employees, including non-union and salaried employees, up to and including department heads, would be eligible. However, she does not particularly recall discussing her own ineligibility with Hellwig or Cooke on March 15-she assumes it was a foregone conclusion that officers with compensation set by state or local law must be ineligible.”

External Report

The problem is that two days following her exchange with Supervisor Barrett McNamara directed the payroll supervisor as to who to grant the raises to. She excluded the County Coroner [JK: Why just the Coroner? Unfortunately, the investigator never pursues this.] and the members of the Board of Supervisors but she did not exclude herself or all the other ineligible county employees. McNamara told the investigator that her receiving the pay increase was a clerical error but this is clearly contradicted by the county’s payroll supervisor:

“County Payroll Supervisor Lisa Masten told us that on Thursday, March 19, McNamara directed her (verbally) [JK: Just another example of something that should have been memorialized in a written directive], for the first time, to apply time-and-a- half wages to all employees working in person, beginning March 16. Masten says that McNamara told her the only personnel to be excluded were Board of Supervisors and the County Coroner. According to Masten, McNamara did not specifically mention herself or Spencer Hellwig in these directions, but Masten assumed that they were to receive extra pay because McNamara said “all’ employees coming into work (except the Coroner and the Board.”

Margaret McNamara also claimed that she did not want the additional pay. If this was the case, why didn’t she direct Ms. Masten to exclude her?

An Unfortunate Decision By County Attorney, Stephen Dorsey.

At the heart of this debacle is that New York State Municipal law establishes that only the Board of Supervisors had the authority to adjust salaries and that even that authority was circumscribed regarding elected officials and “officers” of the county.

County Attorney Stephen Dorsey told the investigator that on the morning of the March 17 Board of Supervisors meeting, he sent a draft of the resolution authorizing the COVID Committee to Hellwig’s Deputy Chad Cooke, Margaret McNamara, and Adam Kinowski (McNamara’s deputy).

“Dorsey tells us that a little while later, McNamara came to see him and asked Dorsey to add language to the resolution for time-and-a-half pay to physically-present workers. Dorsey says that he discouraged the idea, and instead proposed the formation of a committee, whom the Supervisors could authorize to make compensation adjustments more flexibly as the need arose. Dorsey believed that this more flexible approach was better suited to the circumstances which were changing by the day, and would probably be more appealing to the Supervisors than the idea of extra pay for a fixed period of time. Dorsey says that McNamara agreed to that proposal and left. Dorsey revised the Resolution to incorporate the content that would create the Covid group…”

The report goes on:

“For her part, McNamara generally recalled that Dorsey drafted Resolution 84 and recalled that the COVID group was either Dorsey or Hellwig’s idea. She did not recall any particular recollection about any conversation with Dorsey about initially including time-and-a-half pay in the resolution.”

One has to wonder what the lawyer who interviewed Dorsey must have thought about all of this. The report is unequivocal that state law required that the salary changes could only be accomplished through a resolution by the Board of Supervisors. So here the County Attorney is telling him that he explicitly nixed the idea of including language authorizing the pay increases in the resolution to be adopted by the Board of Supervisors.

The Question As To What, If Anything, Did the COVID group decide on March 19?

The members of the COVID group contend that on March 19, they met and reversed their earlier decision regarding time-and-a-half, limiting it to just the members of the Command Center.

The report raises serious doubts about the veracity of the COVID Committee members’ description of events.

“There is no contemporaneous documentation showing that the COVID group, did in fact decide to limit the time-and-a-half pay to command center personnel on March 19. There are no minutes or notes of the March 19 meeting, and there are no verifiable announcements of the change in policy to the Board of Supervisors, County departments or the unions at that time. On the other hand, there is documentation, discussed through the remainder of this chronology, which justifies doubt as to whether the group in fact made a concrete decision on March 19, or some time closer to the end of the March 20 – April 2 period.”

The report records that on the same day of the meeting, March 19, Deputy Administrator Chad Cooke sent on an email to all department heads that undermines the claim that the Covid group had limited special pay to the Command Center employees.

As a reminder, operational protocol for next week is the same as this week with the exception of further reductions of staff as you have discussed with Marcy (Margaret McNamara). Employees that are deemed non-essential are staying home and will be paid straight time. Employees that will be working are being [paid] time and a half.

Chad Cooke, March 19, 4:34 p.m.

The report points out the obvious: “There is no indication in this email that the time-and-a-half pay would be limited to command center workers.”

Cook told the investigator that he

“…did not learn about the change of policy until days later. But we note that Cooke did not send any follow-up email to department heads correcting this information until nearly two weeks later, on April 2 and by that time the Covid group had met two more times (March 25 and April 2). Having no minutes of any of the meetings, for that reason alone it is simply undocumented as to whether the Covid group made its decision on March 19, or during some later meeting.

External Report

Regrettably the investigator does not cite that among the recipients of this email were Cooke’s boss Spencer Hellwig and Margaret McNamara. These two were both on the Covid committee that had allegedly changed the policy that day. So the obvious questions are 1) did they not read Cooke’s email when they got it, 2) if they did read the email, why didn’t they send out an email advising the department heads that Cooke’s email was incorrect and advising them of the revised policy?

McNamara claimed as proof of the March 19 decision that she had telephoned the representatives of the three affected unions that day and informed them of the decision. The investigator addressed this:

But that is not contemporaneously documented either… McNamara did not attempt to document those communications (retroactively) until late May. Moreover, the PBA president denies outright that he heard of the change in policy on or near March 19.

External Report

The report cites an email on March 23 sent out to the Board of Supervisors regarding questions put to him by Times Union reporter Wendy Liberatore in which she asked how many employees would be receiving time-and-a-half. Hellwig responded:

We are down to 380…Most of that number is made up of corrections, road patrol, DSS, and public health.

Hellwig email of March 23

The problem is that as observed by the investigator, if on March 19 the Covid committee had limited the raises to just the 40 employees in the command center, “…the number of effected employees should have been well below 380, and would largely not include Corrections and Road Patrol employees (who, with a few exceptions, were mostly not working the command center).”

In that same email related to answering Liberatore’s questions Hellwig answered that the following would be receiving the raises:

The Sheriff, the Public Health Director, the Emergency Services Director, the MH (mental health) director and other department heads are included in this group.

Hellwig Email March 23

The investigator observed:

If the Covid group decided on March 19 to end time-and-a-half pay for everyone except the command center personnel, it does not make sense that Sheriff Zurlo is included among those receiving extra pay (he was not a command center worker).

External report

I would also observe that Zurlo along with the Mental Health Director were ineligible under New York State and local law to receive this money. Elected officials cannot be granted raises effective during their current term as noted by the authors of the report. Hellwig appears to be oblivious to the laws even at this later date.

The investigator notes regarding the Liberatore article:

Any County employee reading this article–indeed any person reading this article–would have reason to believe that all physically present workers were getting the extra pay (or at least those in the departments mentioned by Hellwig).

External Report

The investigator included a text message exchange between Margaret McNamara and PBA president Ryan Mahan on the evening of March 23 related to Liberatore’s article.

Facially, this exchange appears to indicate that on March 23 Mahan was not aware that time-and-a-half ended for almost the entire PBA membership effective March 20 (even though McNamara says that she told him this telephonically on March 19). Notably, McNamara’s reply does not correct Mahan. He opened this exchange with the statement, “I assume we are still getting time and a half this week?”, and McNamara’s response does not tell him that he is wrong, nor does it attempt to remind him of the bad news she tells us she gave him on March 19.

External Report

On Tuesday March 24, Hellwig sent out an email to all Supervisors with a spreadsheet color coded to show which management level employees were to receive time-and-a-half. “There were thirty-two (32) managers in that group, including Margaret McNamara and Adam Kinowski (her deputy).

McNamara and Kinowski were not command center personnel; if the Covid group had decided to limit the benefit to command center personnel on March 19, McNamara and Kinowski should not have been scheduled to receive time-and-a-half as of March 24. Hellwig and McNamara tell us that McNamara and Kinowski were listed in error.

On March 25, in response to an inquiry from Supervisor Schopf as to which employees are receiving time-and-a-half by that point Hellwig replied (he cc’ed all supervisors):

All non-management regular employees that are physically reporting to work are getting time and a half for every hour they work.”

Hellwig March 25

The investigator notes:

Hellwig’s email does not mention anything about limiting the extra pay to command center workers. Hellwig tells us this email was an error.

External Report

Later that same day (March 25) Hellwig circulated a draft press release to the Board of Supervisors about who was receiving time-and-a-half.

That release acknowledges command center staff, but does not appear to indicate that they would be the only ones receiving time-and-a-half. It appears to state that the number of employees receiving it was still 340.

External Report

The investigator reported that all the members of the Covid committee told him that they met on March 25 and they decided to continue to pay only the command center employees time-and-a-half which they claim was a continuation of the March 19 meeting decision. The investigator observed, “Here again, in the absence of any written notes or minutes from the March 19 or March 25 meetings, there is no contemporaneous documentation of these decisions.”

On March 26, McNamara meets with all three union representatives.

According to Mahan, during this meeting McNamara said nothing about any plan to limit the time-and-a-half pay to command center workers for the then current pay period. On the contrary, Mahan says that McNamara told them, in sum or substance, that the time-and-a-half pay for all physically-present workers would be in place through the end of that pay period (until April 2). but that she was uncertain whether it would continue after that.”

External Report

In support of the authenticity of Mahan’ recollection he cites a letter sent on March 27 to the Board of Supervisors thanking them and asking them to “…consider extending the compensation rate to help offset the emotional impacts that are weighing on our members and their families.”

The letter does not convey any understanding that the Covid group had purportedly decided to end the time-and-a-half pay for all but command center workers back on March 19.

External Report

In our discussions with Margaret McNamara, she did not specifically recall meeting with the union representatives on March 26, but does not doubt that she could have. She was adamant, however, that if she did speak with them that day, there is no way she would have told them that the time-and-a-half pay would continue to April 2. She insists all three knew by March 19 that time-and-a-half ended for everyone except the smaller command center group.

External Report

On March 26, 560 employees of the county including Hellwig, McNamara, and Sheriff Zurlo, received checks with the time-and-a-half bonuses. “Hellwig, McNamara, Cooke, and Kinowski say that they and others were paid the time-and-a-half in error and should never have received it.”

On Friday, March 27 and again on March 30, Ryan Mahan (PBA) says he spoke with Margaret McNamara, looking for an update on whether the time-and-a-half would be continuing into this week. He says that in both conversations, McNamara was non-committal, and indicated that she was still working on the issue. He says that as of March 31, no one in the county had told him that any decision had been made to reduce time-and-a-half to the command personnel.

External Report

Bear in mind that not only allegedly had the administration decided not to continue the policy forward, they allegedly had plans to recoup moneys paid.

The report cites the following text exchange with the CSEA president to add credibility to Mahan’s contention that McNamara was keeping him in the dark. [JK: These are text messages with the usual grammatical errors.]

Brackett: You get any word on what’s going on with the time and a half pay?

Mahan: Absolutely no idea. Marcy (McNamara) spoke in circles on Friday. Today she called at 8 am and asked that I not speak to anyone they were working on ideas for compensation. I still don’t have a clue. They haven’t given a solid answer yet.

Brakett: K I went there and couldn’t get a answer she said he call me later and I’m waiting.

On March 31, twelve days after the decision was allegedly made, the first written record of the Covid group’s decision to limit time-and-a-half appears. The chair of the Board of Supervisors publishes a statement on the county’s website. He states that only the employees at the command center will be getting time-and-a-half.

The investigator observes, “There is a notable parallel between this announcement and “Task Force’s (the group of supervisors critical of the administration) open letter from the day before.” [JK: I remember thinking that Hellwig probably wrote the statement for Allen as damage control.]

On the same day, Margaret McNamara has a remote department meeting, in which she advises them that the county was limiting the time-and-a-half benefit to command center employees. For some or most of the people on this call, this is the first time they have heard about this.

In the case of Ryan Mahan (PBA) he first hears about the change in policy on March 31 when a PBA member alerted him to Chairman Allen’s announcement on the county website. Mahan maintains that like himself, this was the first time the other unions learned about this. He shared a text with the investigator from the representative of one of the other unions, “Wait, Time and on half ended on Tues?”

The report documents emails from Mahan repeatedly asking for clarification from McNamara on March 31 and April 1. On April 1 he writes:

We are getting asked a million times over who is still getting the time and a half. This was never discussed, not one union had a chance to prepare for answering members questions. I personally have members in the command post who don’t know anything about this and now they look like they’re lying when they say I don’t know.

Please provide me with the complete list of the 40 workers still receiving time and a half as this and the issue of compensation is looked into.

Ryan Mahan, April 1

Finally on April 2, Chad Cooke sends out an email spelling out the policy regarding who will be paid what.

Significantly, payroll supervisor Lisa Masten tells us that Chad Cooke’s April 2 email was the first notice she received that the County was limiting the time-and-a-half pay to command center workers for March 20-April 2 pay period. She had never heard that before from anyone. In fact, Masten and her assistant spent the weekend of April 4-5 manually re-coding the entries in the Kronos system to effectuate this change–during that weekend…

External Report

At the April 21 meeting of the Board of Supervisors, Margaret McNamara is asked to confirm that she advised the union heads of the decision to end time-and-a-half for all except the command center employees. She reaffirmed that she had so informed them.

Two of the three unions declined to make themselves available to the internal investigation. As part of that investigation Margaret McNamara wrote to the three unions asking them to confirm that she had informed them of the decision to end time-and-a-half for all employees except the control center staff.

Daniel Sisto responded on behalf of the PBA on May 28. He wrote “The statement that the union was advised that the time-and-a-half rate of compensation for all hours worked by members of this union would cease on March 19, 2020 is factually incorrect.”

…Siston and PBA President Ryan Mahan, in our interviews with them, vehemently denied McNamara told them on March 19 that time-and-a -half ended for non-command center personnel, and they maintain that they did not learn that until March 31.

External Report

For our purposes, we find the responses of the other two unions, UPSEU and CSEA, to be inconclusive by themselves, because those representatives have declined to be interviewed and these emails are not self-explanatory. There are also additional documents that we have obtained from PBA (after the Subcommittee released its report) which urge a conservative interpretation of these emails. [JK: This has to do with the poor wording of McNamara’s query to the unions]

External Report

In support of the unions’ recollections the report has this text exchange between the head of two of the union locals:

Mahan: Marcy [JK: Margaret McNamara] just emailed me and asked me to confirm that I knew 1.5 pay was stopped on the 19th. This not correct Marcy. You told us a week later that we were approved til April 3rd and there were no guarantees after that. You actually promised you were still fighting for us.

Beardsley: LOL grimey.

Mahan: She is lying to us as she asks for a favor.

Beardsly: Yes. I am not surprised and than [sic] she wants you to answer the one question and not tell the whole story.

Mahan: Clear as day. She said definitely approved til April 3rd. Asking people to lie to her is not fucking cool.

Beardsly: I told Paul what we say officially and what we explain off the record doesn’t have to be the same. And she holds a lot of chips shes [sic] front line on our contracts u go against her u will be paying for it till you retire.

The investigator sums up his assessment of this conflict between McNamara and the unions:

But, on the whole, the question of whether HR notified the unions of the change in policy for time-and-a-half on March 19, or some time later, is at least very contestable.

External Report

Meetings of the Covid Group Did Not Comply With the Open Meetings Law

As the above factual chronology indicates, one of the challenging aspects of the County’s current predicament is the absence of a clear record of what occurred during the Covid oversight group’s several meetings. This issue is compounded by the fact that, as a matter of state law, the meetings should have been open and minutes should have been taken.

The Open Meetings Law also requires the public body to take minutes of all meetings, “which shall consist of a record or or summary of all motions, proposals, resolutions and any other matter formally voted upon.” That did not occur here

External Report

Confusion Over Other Municipalities Giving Bonus Wages For Covid

At the March 17 Board of Supervisors meeting there was the following exchange between Supervisor Kusnierz and Margaret McNamara:

Kusnierz: So, is New York State with a hundred and ninety billion dollar budget doing the same for their employees? Are they doing time-and-a-half? They have a lot more unions than we do.

McNamara: Every municipality is doing it. I’ve talked to several…

Kusnierz: Time-and-a-half?

McNamara: Yeah, City of Saratoga Springs, time-and-a-half. This is just off the top of my head. Um. Town of Malta. I just talked to Supervisor Lant [of Wilton]. I said are you paying them, he said yes he’s paying them.

Supervisor Pemrick: Town of Greenfield is.

Kusnierz: They’re paying time-and-a-half for anyone who comes in?

McNamara: Yeah, City of Saratoga Springs

From the report:

It is well-documented that none of the municipalities mentioned in this exchange were paying essential employees time-and-a-half (outside of regular overtime).

External Report

It was very strange that Supervisor Pemrick offered that his town was paying pandemic bonus when it wasn’t. Not sure what that was about.

It was also very strange that Ms. McNamara would state that “every municipality is doing it.” This was a stunning overstatement. It’s hard to understand what prompted her to make such a statement.

According to the report, Spencer Hellwig was the source of the false statement that Saratoga Springs was paying Covid-related time-and-a-half. He told the investigator that at some unspecified time prior to March 17 he spoke to Mayor Meg Kelly. Somehow, he claims, there was a miscommunication. According to his rendering of the story, she thought he was asking simply whether the city paid time-and-a-half. As this is required by state labor law for overtime she purportedly said yes. He allegedly thought that she was saying that Covid employees were being paid time-and-a-half for their regular hours. Of course, like most other things in this report, Mr. Hellwig made no record of this call.

The readers of this blog will pardon my extreme skepticism of his account.

Allegedly, Ms. McNamara had similar confusion in conversations with the Supervisors of Wilton and Malta. Somehow her inquiries regarding their policies about granting special pay for Covid related wages resulted in her mistakenly thinking these towns had similar policies to what she was proposing.

These is quite a coincidence. Somehow the three inquiries made by Hellwig and McNamara all resulted in the same miscommunication.

It is regrettable that the investigator did not pursue how Ms. McNamara came to believe incorrectly that New York State was similarly granting special Covid pay.

Conclusion

The picture this narrative paints of County Administrator Spencer Hellwig, Human Resources Director Margaret McNamara, and County Attorney Stephen Dorsey is not flattering.

Remember that during this time even the front line hospital staff at most risk were not getting special payments and the first responders throughout the county were similarly operating diligently for their regular pay. The original idea was bad and in many ways self serving. Only after the public outcry do the managers at the county decide they allegedly don’t want the bonuses.

It is also worth noting that after thirty-two years, Spencer Hellwig was eligible to retire. I believe in the New York State retirement system, ones retirement payments are directly related to your last years of employment. If this is the case, Mr. Hellwig would have particularly benefited from the time-and-a-half program.

I would remind readers that when Supervisor Kusnierz moved that Mr. Hellwig be terminated, many of the supervisors present were outraged and asked over and over “Why?” To ask such a question demonstrates just how much trouble our county is in.

5 thoughts on “Digging Deeper Into the Report On Saratoga County COVID Raises: A Study In Mismanagement”

  1. I assume we are to blame this on the FOG OF WAR on COVID, but this seems to illustrate a total lack of respect for the process. I am not sure of the need to “get ahead” of the situation but March 15th is a long way back in the rear view mirror. Hard to say why these individuals haven’t tenured their resignations just on the mishandling of the correspondence, holding meetings, documentation… If this is the way its been done at the county for years, then they have in their own minds done nothing wrong? All the town supervisors get their cut of sale tax revenue and don’t want to rock the boat… not much of an incentive to CHECK on their oversight of the county government.

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  2. The investigation report should be a mandatory reading for every Saratoga taxpayer. The cover up by Hellwig and McMamara of their own misconduct should result in their immediate termination. Their credibility or ability to tell the truth is zero. The County attorney should be fired for failing to stop this charade while he sat through the meetings and did nothing. Legal malpractice???

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  3. I will be emailing my county supervisor to put in writing my expectation that McNamara, Hellwig and Dorsey be fired immediately. This is one of the most blatant, unrepentant and gross abuses of taxpayer money I have ever seen by the County- we deserve BETTER.

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  4. Again, these decisions made by the administration to spend funds that are in critical short supply begs the question: Was leverage applied to dispense hush money because of a past transgression that was known by the employees of the County? There are serious problems at the County.

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