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.