On Friday, January 6, 2023, Saratoga Springs Deputy Mayor Angela Rella delivered the above notice to the City’s Human Resource Office advertising an opening for a City Attorney. The salary for the new City Attorney is listed as $95,000 to $120,000 for an average work week of thirty to forty hours. (It’s a salaried position so what is the story with thirty hours?)
It is unclear what the posting of this position means for the future employment of Tony Izzo, the Saratoga Springs’ current City Attorney.
Neither Kim Nor Rella Bothered To Advise Izzo
After delivering the position posting, Ms. Rella left early on Friday. Izzo only learned about the posting because other people in City Hall happened to see it.
Izzo, who served as the city’s Assistant City Attorney for almost thirty-five years before Ron Kim appointed him City Attorney in early 2022, is well-known and well-liked in City Hall.
Neither Mayor Ron Kim nor his Deputy Angela Rella had the courtesy of meeting with Tony Izzo to inform him of his status which now seems to be up in the air with this posting.
Commissioner Sanghvi’s “Right Sizing” Budget
A look at how Finance Commissioner Minita Sanghvi has designated money for City Attorney positions makes this situation particularly confusing. There is $93,600 for a City Attorney in the current 2023 city budget that was adopted in November. Tony currently fills this position. Finance Commissioner Sanghvi also set aside another $70,000 for a City Attorney in an attachment to the budget.
Finance Commissioner Sanghvi set aside money outside of the 2023 budget for six new positions in the city. One of these six positions is identified as being for a City Attorney. Money for these new positions was allegedly not included in the city’s budget because it was supposedly unclear as to when these new positions would be filled.
The use of this device conveniently minimized the size of the budget increase from 2022 for the Mayor’s office as it did not include money for another City Attorney nor the funding for a second new position in his office.
This budgeting device is often used when estimating a starting date for a position is hard to predict. It is useful if filling a position first requires the candidate to acquire special training, for instance at the Police Academy, and it is unclear when that training could occur.
In the case of hiring another City Attorney this makes little sense, though, especially since the position was quickly advertised at the beginning of this budget year.
Why Commissioner Sanghvi did not just include the position in the regular budget is unclear.
Current City Attorney Izzo’s Status
It is unclear what the status of current City Attorney Tony Izzo is now.
Are we going to have two attorneys on staff again even though Kim began his term in office swearing the city didn’t need any City Attorneys? Is Tony Izzo going to be demoted? Is he going to be terminated? Where does Tony Izzo fit into this configuration? Who knows? There is only silence from the Mayor’s office.
It’s About Human Decency
The idea that neither Kim nor Rella bothered to inform Izzo on Friday of the posting for a City Attorney position is just shameful. Kim has every right to employ whomever he wants as the City Attorney, but his office also has a responsibility to treat Tony Izzo with respect and courtesy by making clear to him what his status is or will be.
This incident was not an anomaly. It is reflective of an attitude that pervades City Hall these days. Employees are routinely ignored or dealt with rudely particularly by Mayor Kim and Public Safety Commissioner Montagnino. The treatment of Izzo simply amplifies publicly what is going on in City Hall daily under the current administraion.
7 thoughts on “Kim and Rella’s Lack Of Heart—City Attorney Tony Izzo’s Position in Limbo”
We already knew that Ron Kim is ignorant, inarticulate, and incompetent. Now we can add mean and nasty to the list of his shortcomings. Warning to anyone thinking of applying for the City Attorney job: DON’T.
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I was surprised and disappointed when Mayor Kim, as he was initially taking office, decided not to keep Vince DeLeonardis as City attorney and Tony Izzo as assistant City attorney. It’s hard to find a good City attorney and Vince De Leonardis filled that role well. He was one of Joanne Yepsen’s most intelligent appointments. Tony Izzo had served as a loyal assistant City attorney and had years of experience carrying out those specific responsibilities.
No one who understands the operations of our City government would ever advocate for the elimination of both the positions of City attorney and assistant City attorney but that was exactly what Mayor Kim originally tried to do. His attempt to substitute his status and that of his deputy Mayor as licensed attorneys failed. He then apparently asked Tony Izzo to come back into City Hall as City attorney and Tony graciously agreed to take on these new responsibilities. The position of assistant City attorney has not been filled.
I may be too picky but the letter released by the Mayor’s office seeking a new City attorney has one line that I focused on. Under the heading ‘Essential Functions of the Job’, the second line states ‘Advise MAYOR AND CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS on matters related to governance, personnel, contracts, land use, taxes, and finance’. However, the Mayor IS a City Council member so this is redundant. It also points out a long-standing problem with the vague relationship of the Commissioners with the City attorney’s office. There is no doubt that City attorneys work closely with the mayor. He or she is appointed by the mayor. However, some City attorneys have been less-than cooperative with the Commissioners and their departments. Political and other influences have at times in the past come into play with City attorneys who acted more as if they were the mayor’s attorneys.
Currently, the Commissioner of Accounts has expressed a desire to hire an attorney to provide needed legal advice. The fact that Tony Izzo must be overwhelmed by the responsibilities once shared by two attorneys could be part of the reason for the Commissioner’s request. Another reason might be the continuing friction between Mayor Kim and Commissioner Moran. Mayor Kim and Commissioner Montagnino both seem to have difficulty understanding that they were not elected serve as quasi city attorneys. I can understand why Commissioner Moran might not feel comfortable having to rely on Mayor Kim for legal advice.
There was never any question about the legal services provided when Vince DeLeonardis and Matt Dorsey supervised the City attorney’s office. They were both fair and balanced. It is vital to the operation of local government that all City departments have equal access to ethical, competent legal services.
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After seeing how they’ve handled this situation with Tony, I can’t imagine any reputable lawyer will want to jump in with Ron. What will likely happen is what we’ve seen with some of the other hires and appointments, meaning city hall gets someone not qualified for the role who just so happens to request a raise shortly after starting.
I still can’t believe some of these deputies got a raise, especially since it came from people who trashed the work done by prior deputies when they tried to change the charter. This whole crew continue to walk all over the budget, without any pushback from Minita. I wonder who will eventually have to pay up for these mistakes? My guess is taxpayers.
If only there had been a competent city attorney when Ron took office. Oh wait, there was and he pushed him out for personal reasons, which started this avalanche of terrible decisions made by the current council. Election day can’t come soon enough.
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I agree with every one of these above comments. However, I am both appalled and saddened by the treatment of Tony. He is not just a competent attorney who holds an amazing amount of city history in his head, he is a truly nice and caring person. To treat him with such callousness and disrespect makes my blood boil. I didn’t think Kim could go lower yet again he succeeds at this.
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Gayle is right, especially since Tony agreed to come back to work for the City after first not being re-hired for the first time in well over 30 years.
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Last month Ron Kim was sitting at the city council table, touting how much money he had saved the city by cutting one of the city attorney positions… meanwhile, at the same exact moment, he is preparing an application to rehire the position. What a terrible move.
Agree with all of the sentiments expressed above –
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I appreciate a good attorney., especially Mr. Izzo. Years ago, I broke a mirror, and I was looking at seven years of bad luck, Mr. Izzo got it reduced to two years of bad luck and 40 hours of community service in a beauty salon.