Mayor Kim: Bypasses City Council With Job Posting

This is a copy of the job description for a Saratoga Springs City Attorney placed on the Saratoga County Bar Association Website

Mayor Ron Kim has posted the position of City Attorney on the Saratoga County Bar Association website (see above). This ad is quite troubling in a number of ways.

The Residency Issue

The job description contains no residency requirement.

As recently as the January 18, 2022, City Council meeting, Mayor Kim has continued to insist that the City Attorney is not a public officer. It is on this basis that he has claimed that they are not subject to a residency requirement. In support of his assertion at that meeting, he declared that our city attorneys do not take an oath of office. He stated:

“So we [JK: We?] think it’s very clear the City Attorney is not a public officer. The criteria that this case goes through so to set that out [sic]. They don’t take an oath like a district attorney.”

Mayor Kim, January 18, 2022 Council Meeting.

Unfortunately for Mayor Kim, the facts do not bear him out. At the bottom of this post, the reader will find the oaths of office taken by all the City Attorneys in Saratoga Springs for the last twenty years.

Evidence shows beyond a doubt that the position is a “public officer”. To allow a non-resident to hold the position would require action by the City Council either requesting the NY State Legislature to pass a Home Rule law (the preferred method) or adopting a local law allowing the city to waive the residency requirement.

Even if the exception were to be established, state law would still require that candidates would need to be a resident of the county, so one way or the other, a proper job description would have to address a residency requirement. Without Council action (which could take from weeks to months) the job at this point requires the applicant to be a city resident.

The Lack of Council Action Regarding the City Attorney Position’s Terms of Employment

As readers may recall, Mayor Kim drafted a resolution for the last City Council meeting proposing terms of employment for the City Attorney position. These included a reduction in hours for the position and a salary range. Previously the City Attorney was a full-time position requiring forty hours and the city employed an Assistant City Attorney to work up to 29 hours. Kim’s resolution proposed only a single City Attorney who would work “an average of thirty hours a week.” [JK: The concept of “average” for calculating a salary is problematic and I am deeply troubled by the radical reduction of in-house counsel time but that will have to wait for a separate post.]

That resolution was withdrawn before the Council meeting. Nevertheless, the terms of employment now appear in the job posting for a City Attorney even though they were never approved by the City Council as required. The Mayor is not authorized to make these offers of terms of employment on his own. It would seem to be improper and unfair to applicants to offer them conditions of employment before those terms have been appropriately authorized by the Council.

One has to wonder what his Democratic colleagues on the Council think of this. But then, they have no one to turn to for legal advice…….

The Documents

Note: The attorneys serve two-year terms unless they are filling out a term that a previous attorney had vacated. In browsing these oaths the reader will find multiple entries for the same attorney in some cases because they were required to take an oath for each new term.

6 thoughts on “Mayor Kim: Bypasses City Council With Job Posting”

  1. I read this blog, the Foothill News and the Gazette with sadness, frustration and anger that Kim thinks he can circumvent the law for his own power. His lack of integrity is appalling – he isn’t 30 days into his term. Where are the other elected officials to stand up against this reckless leadership. I fear what will come over the next two years unless the other elected officials and people stand up against this clear abuse of power. I will be the third signature!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The incentive or reasons for running for public office vary according to individual. At this stage of our civilization, the local officials in Saratoga Springs have very limited latitude to deviate from proscribed administrative functions because of the specificity of our laws.

    As citizens, it is our responsibility to monitor and speak out when an official makes a decision that reflects a misalignment between the common good and the well-being of a specific interest group. Part of this is making sure the spirit of the law is upheld, and in this instance it seems there was a desire on the part of Mr. Kim to want to appoint Ms. Fletcher to the role because of a prior relationship or for political reasons. This required legal maneuvering to get us to where we are now – with Ron Kim advertising the position and conducting a search.

    It looks like he is trying to ‘walk back’ on his initial drive to eliminate the residency requirement and change the definition of a public officer. He does not have the support or the legal basis at this point to do that. So, for him, he should let the issue simmer and hire someone who responds to the advertisement within Saratoga Springs. They will be hired and take an oath and become a public officer. Nothing more should be said by him about this.

    Now, in the middle of a global pandemic, with serious future issues that may require local action at a later time to differentiate our community from others that may fare worse, it is important that our local leaders take the opportunities and use the powers they do have to prepare.

    1) What sort of infrastructure shall we invest in? What will we need in 5, 10, and 20 years as a community?
    2) How do we get citizens supplies they may need? Masks, antibiotics, reasonable buffer stocks of food, etc.

    Past councils have rubber-stamped multi-million dollar contacts for goods that the city really does not need. Are there back-end payments for this? Do we need $2.8M worth of tasers that detect hate-speech? $1M for radios for a few dozen officers?

    Here are some other ideas:

    1) Emergency phones and kiosks like many college and corporate campuses
    2) A local strategic stockpile of critical goods
    3) A volunteer manpower local organizational plan
    4) A legally vetted and legislated plan to close the city and allow access by permit only
    5) Public filtered fresh drinking water stations (the springs are not filtered or tested)

    It is important for the citizenry to not let these folks waste our collective survival resources and I think this will be a good council if we set boundaries early. We need to stop being a collection of households in a geographic area and start to participate – part of this involves the elected officials.

    Like

  3. Apparently good penmanship is not one of the requirements. lol. Love those signatures.
    The new City Attorney will work in the Mayor’s Dept. That means Mayor Kim will interview the candidates and be the only council member to select the person for the job. At the very beginning of his term Mayor Kim said the city did not need a City Attorney. What made him change his mind?

    Liked by 1 person

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