Incoming Finance Commissioner Minita Sanghvi Issues Reckless And False Accusations: Show Us the facts!

Newly elected Finance Commissioner Minita Sanghvi has gone to reporter Wendy Liberatore of the Times Union claiming, without offering any evidence, that Mayor Meg Kelly intervened in the appointment of the head of the city’s Information Technology Department (IT) to secure a job for her current Deputy, Lisa Shields.

In shockingly intemperate remarks Ms. Sanghvi told the Times Union “This is a gross abuse. It’s so egregious, so over the top.”

“This is our city’s IT,” Sanghvi said. “It’s all of our security systems and making a hire based off the favoritism and cronyism, it’s a blatant disregard for our city and our city’s safety. I’m frustrated and angry Mayor Meg Kelly is pushing her into this position. I do not like this at all.”

Times Union December 9, 2021

Ms. Sanghvi also declared that Ms. Shields is unqualified citing the fact that her computer science degree was awarded in 1981.

Due Diligence Be Damned!

Ms. Liberatore apparently made no attempt to verify the accuracy of Ms. Sanghvi’s accusations.

The IT department is under Finance Commissioner Madigan so she would be the one to hire Shields were she to decide to before leaving office at the end of the month. I contacted her and she told me that Mayor Kelly never reached out to her regarding Shields. “Never,” she emphasized.

She told me that she felt it critical to fill the IT position as soon as possible so that the current head of the department could assist in the transition. She told the Times Union that it has been a struggle to find the right candidate. She also said that she would not appoint Shields without support from Ms. Sanghvi. Commissioner Madigan was quite concerned, given the workload, that the position not be allowed to be vacant.

I emailed Ms. Sanghvi asking her what evidence she had to accuse the Mayor of inappropriately interfering in the hiring process for an IT director? A simple question which in light of her severe, public denunciation of the Mayor should be on the tip of her tongue. To date, I have received no response.

Kevin Kling is the current IT director. He plans to leave his position in January after twenty-five years on the job. According to Commissioner Madigan, Kling, who was part of the team interviewing candidates, selected Shields as who he believed should replace him. As Mr. Kling is leaving there is no possible way he would be subject to inappropriate influence.

I find it beyond strange that Ms. Sanghvi attributed the fact that Shields graduated with a degree back in 1981 as the basis for declaring her not competent for the position. Based on that standard, a large number of software engineers at Google, Microsoft, etc. who are in their fifties would no longer be competent to work with computers. I suspect that even Mr. Kling’s degree goes back a long way.

Dear reader, who would you consider better able to determine the competence of an applicant to be the head of IT? A person whose background is in accounting and marketing [Sanghvi] or the veteran director of the city’s IT department [Kling]?

A Callousness That Bodes Badly For The Future

Lisa Shields is probably among the three best public servants I have met in the fifty years I have lived in Saratoga Springs.

Most people have probably never heard of Ms. Shields. This is because she does her work quietly without fanfare.

The thing that has struck me most about Ms. Shields is her openness and her lack of defensiveness. She is an extraordinary listener. She never offers glib answers.

She is conscientious and puts in many hours.

With respect to Ms. Sanghvi, Ms. Shields would not apply for a position if she did not believe she would do a good job.

Commissioner Madigan had urged that Ms. Sanghvi meet with Mr. Kling before making any judgment about Ms. Shields, but rather than do this, Ms. Sanghvi went to Ms. Liberatore.

While Ms. Shields enjoys wide respect and affection in City Hall, it is always possible that there is someone more skilled for the position. For Ms. Sanghvi to announce to the TU, though, that Ms. Shields is not competent, aside from not being true, shows poor professional judgment and strikes me as being simply cruel.

12 thoughts on “Incoming Finance Commissioner Minita Sanghvi Issues Reckless And False Accusations: Show Us the facts!”

  1. Knowing that Mr Kline was leaving, the position should have been posted and advertised to get applicants. Maybe it was I didn’t see it. If not then it’s ablatant BS.


  2. Sadly, Sanghvi has decided to start off on poor footing.

    I have a degree from 1997 – it still strengthens anything I do in my current career.

    Based on her logic, I assume I would not want to be a student or client of Commissioner elect Sanghvi should her accounting or marketing experience not have been earned by a recent college degree.

    To quote the Commissioner elect, “I don’t like this at all.”

    She may be angry, but turning to the media before she has any experience is, in my opinion, quite disappointing.

    I should add, that I voted for her and would hate to regret picking another bad apple…. (I’ve done that before!).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The impulse to go directly to the media to address a concern, rather than trying to resolve it directly is lazy, disingenuous & totally unprofessional. To the incoming council – Wendy & the TU are not your HR department , it’s so unbecoming to keep whining to them, not to mention Minita’s statements were terribly unfair to Lisa Shields – I was shocked at how overtly ageist they were. Minita should start practicing what she preaches.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. “The impulse to go directly to the media to address a concern….”

    But she is an elected official who wants transparency. I’m not sure if the regular private sector office worker “If she had a problem, she should have taken it to HR” logic applies here.

    This blog is always advocating for transparency, and rightly so.


    1. Mulligan–I don’t understand how going to the press with an unsubstantiated accusation could represent transparency. What would represent transparency would be for Ms. Sanghvi to have revealed what evidence she had (if any) to support her comments to the press.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Advice for new finance commissioner: Going after Mayor Kelly or Lisa Shield on competence or ethics? Sit down. They are both out of your league. This is a time for serious people to work to solve the problems we face. I hope your inauspicious debut and poor judgment in using a gossip columnist to air your self-aggrandizing whine is a one off.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. 1. The core of engineering has not changed since the inception of computational theory, though technology has moved forward.

    2. Ms. Shields has strong background before her time at city hall working for large well-known hardware/software firms (hp), and her skills are no less applicable

    3. The job description clearly states the focus of the role is on contracting and services management, not on applied engineering or what people refer to as “coding”

    4. It has been unfilled, though advertised for at least 1 year.

    5. Comissioner Madigan did do some effort in recruiting for the position, but the pay is wildly un-competitive for the industry (94K in a role where starting salary is normally 120K

    Just thought I’d state some facts that were not clearly elucidated in the TU article. It is exhausting, though, I’ve discovered trying to explain facts in this realm of politics is a waste of time.

    PS. If anyone knows anyone still versed in the 62-year-old language COBOL ask JK to message me, lots of work available with few people trained in it, looking to hire.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Reason number 399 I am worried about the City and the amateurs we elected at this critical time…

    I wish to state that Lisa Shields is one of the finest people I know – in or out of City Hall.

    I don’t think Mayor Kelly, with less than one month to go in her term, is in any position to dictate hiring decisions to anyone, let alone Commissioner Madigan, who certainly is going to keep her own council. However, I don’t see anything wrong with a supervisor recommending someone for a position.

    As far as Wendy L.: to call her a disgrace to journalism would be damning with faint praise. She is a Mouthpiece, pure and simple – an unquestioning PR flack who should have been put out to pasture long ago. I have long since take the pledge to swear off reading her (except when JK reviews her ‘work’ ).

    The fact that this former (mediocre) theater critic keeps her position causes me to wonder: What does she have over the Editors at the TU? And further, I wonder how she would feel if someone started a rumor about how she keeps her position (read between the lines.) All we need is someone to allege this or that, and apparently that’s good enough to see it in print at the TU!

    But apparently I’m not qualified to start this rumor – I got my journalism degree before 1981.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Ouch!!! Does she know that the Senior Technology Advisor, up at Skidmore, graduated from King’s College in 1984? I am not really sure she has the personality to succeed in this position, as she is already unwilling to listen to anyone who has been there or who has prior experience. There is a whole community that would attest to and agree wholeheartedly with the assessment that Mr. Gonick and Mr. Kaufmann have posted here. She is also willfully ignoring the good advice of the current IT head, as well as the multitude of people who would attest to why hiring Ms. Shields is the best move here given all the factors. For what? This slate of candidates have ridden in on a wave they created by demonizing the people they ran against, or disagreed with, as somehow being corrupt, when there is no real corruption to be found. So of course, they haven’t even taken their oaths yet and they are making poor decisions based off this twisted mindset.

    Liked by 1 person

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