Public Works Pushes Back On Commissioner Moran’s Outdoor Dining Authority

Commissioner Moran has modified his proposal to authorize himself as the arbiter of outdoor dining. The revised amendment to the city code would now require the “advice and consent” of the Commissioner of Public Works on any plan to establish outdoor dining on city properties.

In our commission form of government, the Department of Public Works has the responsibility of maintaining the city’s roads and sidewalks. The Commissioner of Accounts cannot usurp that authority.

At this morning’s pre-agenda meeting Commissioner Moran asked Tony Izzo, the interim City Attorney, if the changes to his proposal would require a new public hearing. Tony responded that if the change were substantive then there would need to be a new notice and a new hearing. Unfortunately, technical problems with Zoom interrupted the discussion. When the Zoom meeting was able to continue Mayor Kim told the participants that Commissioner Moran would talk further with Tony and resolve the issue later. At this point it is unclear whether there will be a vote on this issue at tomorrow (Tuesday, 3/1/22) night’s City Council meeting.

I found it interesting that the Commissioner of Public Safety, James Montagnino, offered no pushback regarding the marginalization of his department from the permitting process for outdoor dining. Public Safety used to be represented by the Battalion Chief of the Fire Department on the committee that oversaw the expansion of restaurants onto city streets and sidewalks. Other members of the original committee, the Director of Risk and Safety and the City Attorney have also not been reinstated.

Fees and Decorations

The proposal also institutes fees now for permits for outdoor dining and now allows “decorations” which were previously prohibited. There is no indication of any standards for the “decorations.”

14 thoughts on “Public Works Pushes Back On Commissioner Moran’s Outdoor Dining Authority”

  1. So there are no worries about rowdy patrons or fire risks that would possibly require Police and/or Fire access to these restricted streets…. isn’t that special.
    No worries be happy hour… I think we should all be worried with this bunch in city hall… is incompetence a job requirement for Democrats that hold office?

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  2. It’s doubtful that street closings and those narrowed for the proposed dining options for selective businesses would not be vetted by the Public Safety Department given last year’s initial omission of emergency lighting and warning strips on Jersey barriers. You would think that fire and emergency access routes would certainly take precedent over placing private commercial dining in a public right of way. One could always count on our City Risk Manager to provide her risk averse oversight rather than risk volatile decisions that could haunt the city treasury later. The logic for not having these reviews is what?

    The acting City Attorney has his hands full.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This episode is an interesting insight into how checks and balances work in our commission form of government. Dillon has learned that he can’t grab power and hunker down in his own little silo if he wants to get anything done. Because responsibilities for running the city are dispersed among the commissioners, they must of necessity reach out and work with fellow Council members if they want their plans to succeed. Dillon now understands that he must communicate and work with the Department of Public Works and although he managed to keep Public Safety out of the mix, he will soon find that he will have to connect there as well as he realizes that provisions must be made for emergency vehicles to get down these roads he wants to close. Oh, and about those decorations –l hope he realizes that will take some thought and enforcement in order to avoid them becoming fire hazards for instance.

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    1. This is not an example of our current charter. It is an illustration of individuals operating outside the procedures and established protocols with abandon. One must question whether they have read the city Charter to have created so much drama and discourse in 8 weeks. Stay tuned and pass the popcorn.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Jim–I totally agree that these individuals are “operating outside the procedures and established protocols with abandon”, and I’m pretty sure too that they haven’t read the city charter. After all Kim, Moran, and Sanghvi are obsessive charter changers who continually prove they are clueless about the government they want to change. Fortunately, veteran Public Works Commissioner Skip Scirocco does know and understand the charter and was able check Moran’s power grab.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. The “checks and balances” ideals of our current charter only works if the other elected officials decide to do what they were sworn to do. Between the city attorney issue and this asinine plan, it looks like the elected Democrats are just letting each individual do what they want, either for ego or lack of understanding. We all knew they wanted to change the charter, but I didn’t think they’d do such harm to the city, and their own reputations, to show the flaws of the current system so quickly.

        Liked by 4 people

  4. Yes—any form of government only works as well as the people who hold office make it work. It’s important to try to distinguish between which problems that arise are attributable to the form of government and which are caused by the officeholders. If the officeholders are the problem, as I believe they are, the remedy is to remove them next year not to throw out the charter.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I absolutely agree. The most important part of our current form of government is that voters get to elect or remove the leaders that make decisions at the executive and legislative level. Voters give candidates the chance and time will always tell if they are up to the task.

      An important part of this equation is the candidates. Please consider stepping up to run if you have the time, desire, and integrity to help make Saratoga work. What I have learned is that there are people willing to help you if you have the moral and ethical fortitude, along with the willingness to listen and truly work for the good of the city of Saratoga and its people. While so much lately has focused on identity politics, true Saratogians could care less about party affiliations and more about the actual person, who they really are, and what they can do for Saratoga. Our form of government allows for those with such attributes to withstand the test of time. I hope that there are some good people that are willing to learn, work hard, and step up!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. One caveat to that is while voters eventually choose, the local parties are the ones making the most important decisions in terms of resources and endorsements. City residents are now stuck with a subpar group of elected Democrats because of how poorly run the local chapter is. It’s my understand that there had been a group with “moral and ethical fortitude” but they were eventually replaced by the current group focused on personal slights, ego and the belief that the charter itself is broken. Voters have decided against changing it multiple times at this point, but this group seems to think they’re smarter than the rest of us and have allowed the new mayor to basically become a CEO with no accountability. This is definitely the most uninspiring council since I’ve been in the city and I hope better options present themselves in the next election.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Real authority flows from being able to build a consensus for actions in the interest of the common good. I am not sure why Dillon Moran thinks he needs to concentrate power in his office with regard to outdoor dining. He has been a proponent of allowing expanded outdoor options, and the people who make policy for this activity have done a fine job thus far. This seems unnecessary.

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  6. I have been a Saratogian for a long time and never heard the term Battalion Chief. Is this something that has been changed by negotiations with the Fire Chief’s union? Is this because we will soon have three fire stations and we are creating three Battalion Chiefs?
    As far as there being safety risks by having Jersey barriers in the city right of way, it seems the Public Safety Dept. will rule on that as well. But it should be noted that any object or deterrent to normal traffic flow is easily resolved by notifying the PD and FD of such hazard so their emergency vehicles can access other routes. Very similar to road openings, foot races etc. Unless, of course, the emergency is in that very location where the hazard exists.

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  7. henry 37–Except Moran’s plan is to close roads Thursday-Sunday nights, May to September so it’s not just like closing for a foot race

    Liked by 1 person

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