On May 5, 2022, Dillon Moran posted the item below on his Facebook page and paid to boost its promotion. He accuses unnamed “social deviants” of spreading disinformation to the public about his efforts to inform the citizens of the substance of his proposed expansion of alcohol use in public places. Unfortunately, in his intemperate remarks, he unintentionally exposed the fact that he failed to comply with the requirements of the city charter.
Violating Requirements in the City Charter
Commissioner Moran appears to be completely oblivious that in publishing legal notices on May 1 and May 2, he failed to meet the requirements of publishing these notices in a timely manner as required by the Saratoga Springs city charter.
Notices for public hearings for ordinances must be published twice, and they must be published at least five days prior to the hearings.
The hearing was held on May 3. These two notices were published one day ahead and two days ahead respectively. By my count, they are four days short and three days short of compliance.
The Real Issue
The real issue here is not so much the technicalities of meeting the city’s legal obligations, important as this is. The real issue is how best to inform citizens of changes in city policies that may affect them.
How many would have thought to look for the text of Moran’s ordinance in the classified section of the Daily Gazette on May 1 and 2?
I went into this in some detail in an earlier post but briefly, the city has developed a user-friendly method that Commissioner Moran chose to ignore. The city publishes its proposed agenda on the Friday before its Tuesday meetings. Items in the agenda that set public hearings have regularly included a link to the actual proposed text of the law or ordinance to be considered.
Rather than graciously admit that he should have included such a link to his hearing in the agenda, Commissioner Moran has chosen instead to accuse those who have pointed out his error of having some kind of malign intent to mysteriously harm the city.
Making The City Vulnerable
In not meeting the requirements for public notice, Commissioner Moran has placed a cloud over the resolution he wants to be adopted. Strictly speaking, someone could probably bring a suit to nullify the city’s resolution. Of course, Moran and his fellow council members could just redo the process, but the point is that this kind of sloppiness has the potential to create liabilities and expenses for the city. Eventually, the indifference to detail of this council will catch up to them.