Incoming Mayor Ron Kim Fires Long Serving Assistant City Attorney Tony Izzo and Current City Attorney Vince DeLeonardis

The December 21, 2021 edition of the Daily Gazette reports that mayor-elect Ron Kim will terminate City Attorney Vince DeLeonardis and Assistant Attorney Tony Izzo.

I was stunned to learn of Tony’s dismissal. Tony Izzo has been the Assistant City Attorney for roughly the last thirty-five years through many administrations. No one loves and has devoted more time to our city than Tony.

People who follow this blog know that it is rare for past Mayor Joanne Yepsen and me to agree. The Gazette story reported that on February 17, 2016, Mayor Yepsen issued a proclamation acknowledging Tony’s service to our city.

The proclamation cited Izzo’s “incredibly impressive and detailed knowledge of city government, city history, city events and City Hall that is useful to all departments and employees on a daily basis,” along with his “exceptional work ethic, incredible selflessness, natural kindness, abundant compassion, wonderful sense of humor and able storytelling.”

Daily Gazette December 21, 2021

I could not agree more.

The Gazette reported:

“Tony’s a great resource for the city,” Kim acknowledged. “I just feel like we need more of a litigator there. Everybody has a different style, as attorneys. He’s a great counselor. He’s been great for the city. I think we’re redefining that role.”

Daily Gazette December 21, 2021

Pardon my skepticism, but I think this has more to do with the tribal mentality of those who will be taking control of the city. We live in an age in which too often “you are either with us or against us.” In such a world there is no place for my friend, Tony Izzo.

A Dubious Rationale

According to the Gazette, Kim also cited his dissatisfaction with City Attorney Vince DeLeonardis. In particular, he noted his dissatisfaction with DeLeonardis’ advice to the city council regarding the recommendations of the city’s task force on police reform.

The Governor’s executive order establishing these task forces statewide stated that its determinations “…shall be presented to the local legislative body in such political subdivision, which shall ratify or adopt such plan by local law or resolution, as appropriate [JK: my emphasis], no later than April 1, 2021.”

“‘Shall’ is a very clear interpretation in the law,” said Kim, who’s also a lawyer. “It means you do it. And that was just a fundamental disagreement of two attorneys.”

He continued: “I read the executive order to say that you appoint these people, they do their research, they do their hearings, all of which they did — and then they make recommendations, and the City Council or the governing body shall” adopt the plan.

Kim added that it is “important that the mayor and city council have a city attorney giving honest, good, strong advice — but also sees the direction that they want to go.”

Daily Gazette December 21, 2021

Mr. Kim overlooks the words “as appropriate” in the order. With respect to Mr. Kim, the idea that Saratoga, along with every other municipality in the state, was required to adopt whatever these task forces decided on begs credibility. The Saratoga Springs Task Force, for instance, made at least two recommendations that the city could not legally adopt because they conflicted with federal or state laws or policies. One has to wonder how Mr. Kim interprets “as appropriate?”

In my four-plus decades here in Saratoga Springs, Vince DeLeonardis was the most thoughtful and fair City Attorney I ever dealt with. His termination is a real loss to the city.

The New City Attorney?

In the meantime, I am told that Mr. Kim has selected Elizabeth Fletcher as the new City Attorney. Ms. Fletcher is a bankruptcy attorney and as best as I can tell, she herself filed for bankruptcy in both 1997 and in 2010.

I believe Ms. Fletcher lives in Middle Grove. New York State Public Officers Law Section 3 requires that public officers, of which the City Attorney is one, are required to reside in the municipality where they exercise their authority.

12 thoughts on “Incoming Mayor Ron Kim Fires Long Serving Assistant City Attorney Tony Izzo and Current City Attorney Vince DeLeonardis”

  1. Where are Ms. Fletchers current bankruptcy clients going? Can’t maintain an outside practice as full time city attorney Any chance Mr. Kim is picking them up? Sounds like a kickback to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. [JK:My friend Jim Martinez has somehow been blocked from commenting by WordPress so I am putting it up for him]

    I should be shocked but not surprised, given the mayor elect has a reputation of quickly listening to his handlers and supporters, while abandoning good common sense for likeability. I had vowed to put that storied past behind him and support this mayor as all the others I have over the many cycles of change. The city attorney (CA) was always a mayor’s appointment till recently when the current CA represented the entire council in matters. This attorney has provided this city with exceptional service during his tenure and will be surely missed. There is no logic in dismissing the Assistant City Attorney. He has provided every council and every administration with institutional knowledge that was not overlooked and valued by all those mayors of different stripes elected for their terms during those 35 years. Again, the impulsive clumsy response to dismissing valuable city staff to establish one’s two-year term is questionable at best and so ill advised.

    So, we now have two bankruptcy attorneys and perhaps a third to give one pause in imagining where the ship of the city is headed. We should recognize that for the last decade and maybe more recently the last four years our city not only weathered the storms and completed the projects its critics had challenged, but successfully planned ahead, while leaving the city in good standing for these apparent beginners.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I was stunned by this. I don’t know DeLeonardis, but I do know Tony a little, and he is a fine man. He served all Mayors without partisian bias, and as you wrote JK, was ‘devoted’. Not a good move, IMHO by Kim.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I worked with Vince when he was in private practice. A good attorney and litigator . Always easy to work with.
    As for Tony, the fact that each administration kept him on shows his value to the city. He will be missed.
    My thought is Ron Kim intends in theory to be his own city attorney and name someone who will rubber stamp whatever he wants to do. Two bankruptcy lawyers?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Word has it that Mr. Izzo will become the new City Historian. If so, he would be a perfect fit given his knowledge and passion for this city. I don’t believe he will miss running down Freedom of Information requests and his replacement may very well seek him out as a resource for less trivial matters. It is always a mistake to dismiss valuable and dedicated employees simply to make a flash in the pan.

    How could we ever replace that Gary Cooper silhouette walking up Lake Avenue from the parking lot with the sun behind him?

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Folks, am I the only one who believes that Vince D.’s sacking is due, at least in part, to ‘guilt by association’? In this case – marriage to Courtney, an erudite and forceful advocate spokesperson for anti-charter change people? You can’t often go wrong placing your money on pettiness and vindictive.

    The firing of Tony Izzo is much harder to decipher. The easy answer – that it is a bonehead move worthy of the people who brought us the Fail-o-Meter – might in fact be the case.

    But consider: the new regime might have concluded that nothing short of destroying the fabric of our city’s history – a cultural revolution a la Mao, the Taliban, and a recent President (who also won with less than a numerical mandate, but I digress) will allow them to accomplish their aims.

    So, see ya History. What’s next? I offer the following morning line as to which pillar shall be toppled:
    Health: (3/5)
    Horses: (6/5)
    (I made Health the favorite to go first as I have personal knowledge that at least one incoming commission loves that track…)

    Lines are now open – get your bets in early. I’d comment further, but it’s time for my forced march into the countryside. As always, I thank you for playing.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I may have misspoken. The repositioning of the Assistant City Attorney within Town Hall is still without clarity from the mayor elect. It seems ill-advised that such a valued employee comprehended by all previous mayors would be summarily dismissed lending to the appearance of a clumsy slash and burn policy. If the Historian’s office is indeed the new appointment, the city residents still win, if not, we lose a valuable passionate individual with years of institutional knowledge that will be difficult to substitute with a two-year replacement.

    Why does this approach to governance appear vaguely familiar?


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