A Portrait of Dillon Moran and the Democratic Team

Are there two Dillon Morans?

On February 8, 2023, Saratoga Springs Accounts Commissioner Dillon Moran warmly endorsed his fellow Democratic City Council members on his Facebook page. He portrays himself as a happy member of the team. One would assume that they enjoyed great respect from him for their work on the Council. But this enthusiastic endorsement is in sharp contrast to other comments Moran has made about his Democratic teammates-particularly Mayor Ron Kim and Public Safety Commissioner James Montagnino.

Moran’s endorsement:

What Does He Really Think?

Consider what was revealed in papers submitted by the attorney representing Marilyn Rivers, the city’s Director of Risk and Safety, in her complaint against the city for creating a hostile workplace:

This is just a taste of what Rivers revealed about Moran’s unflattering characterization of his colleagues and, in particular, Mayor Kim, James Montagnino, and Finance Commissioner Minita Sanghvi. (I will be posting in detail about the Rivers charges at a later date). Creepy best describes his depiction of these people.

The Private Moran vs. The Public Moran

And then there is this:

On February 1, 2023, I sent the following email to Commissioner Dillon Moran to confirm a conversation I had had with him regarding the violation of the city’s purchasing policy by Mayor Ron Kim and Public Safety Commissioner James Montagnino.

Thank you for taking the time to chat with me today.  I just wanted to confirm some of the things we talked about.

I was pleased to hear that you considered the process of awarding a contract  to E Stewart Jones’ firm was an egregious violation of the city’s purchasing policies and, if not challenged, poses an ongoing threat to the city’s financial controls.  I respect your approach to dealing with this as expressed in our phone conversation. 

You told me that at the February 7, 2023, City Council meeting you would bring a resolution forward that would ask Kim and Montagnino to acknowledge that the city violated its purchasing policy and that if they declined to acknowledge the error, that you would need to seek an outside authority for assistance.  You told me that you would seek the assistance of the New York State Comptroller to keep this from happening again.

Email to Moran on February 1, 2023

Given my previous experiences with Moran, in the conversation to which this email refers, I made it clear to him that this time any remarks he made would be on the record.

My experience with Commissioner Moran is that there is a disconnect between what he tells me in private and what he actually says and does in public.

Contrast the email above to the meeting at which he had assured me he would confront his colleagues on their violations of the city’s purchasing policies.

It Doesn’t Get Any Uglier

The following is an email sent by Mayor Kim to Moran.

Just Politics?

I know that some may dismiss Commissioner Moran’s behavior as shrewd political maneuvering and admire his moves to play both sides, but I am old school, I prefer my officeholders to say what they mean and mean what they say.

25 thoughts on “A Portrait of Dillon Moran and the Democratic Team”

  1. Whatever the conflicts are between the Mayor and Commissioner Moran, using profanities in an e mail is not appropriate for the leader of our City.

    Chris Mathiesen

    Liked by 1 person

  2. John – it’s called integrity. This council is a mess, an absolute embarrassment to the City and those that came before them. It doesn’t look like things can wait until the next election, impeach them. Classy email from Kim…certainly shows his true colors. Time to clean house.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Let’s hope they just stop at embarrassing themselves any further before the unearned-egos of Moran, Kim, and Montagnino make a decision that leaves taxpayers footing the bill for their ineptitude. I will literally vote for anyone else other than those three, and Minita is on thin ice too.

      Just saw in the Times Union that Montagnino charged a BLM activist with disorderly conduct. I’m surprised he didn’t turn on them sooner. In a council with multiple people unfit for the job, he’s proven himself to be the most deserving of getting removed from office.

      Shame on the democratic committee.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Given what a poor job this crew is doing, I wouldn’t be surprised if a charter change vote passed with flying colors this time. Whatever it takes to get them Kim, Montagnino, and Moran out.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Whoa! Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath. Just imagine changing to a strong mayor system and having Ron Kim in office for four years before he could be challenged. This crew would make any form of government they were part of dysfunctional.


      2. @Straight Shooter

        I should have been clearer, but for me the ineptitude of this mayor has shown that a city manager is the way to go. Saratoga Springs is a desirable place to be and hopefully a strong city manager would want to be here.

        If Ron and Jim want to do ribbon cuttings and photo ops, great, but let them do it while in an elected role where they can’t screw so many things up.


      3. Andy–

        I’m a bit confused by your reply below because the City Manager position IS an unelected role. City Managers are appointed. The current Commission form requires the public to elect each leader by way of their votes. The primary strength of the Commission form is that it allows for the public to also NOT elect those same leaders, holding them accountable for their performance.

        Can you imagine not being able to elect someone new? That’s what you get with the City Manager form of government. And Straight Shooter concisely explains why Strong Mayor is no better; look no further than the city of Albany to see how that’s been going for the past century. Not so good.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. @ Connie

        I understand the City Manager is not elected, but they are credentialed to do the job. That’s more than I can say for most of the current group of elected officials. Montagnino, Moran, Sanghvi, and Kim seemingly have no qualms ruining their own reputations, but you have to assume a professional city manager would do a better job, if only out of their own self-interest.

        To your point that the “primary strength of the Commission form is that it allows for the public to also NOT elect those same leaders, holding them accountable for their performance”, the sad reality is that people in Saratoga aren’t given much of a choice in each election. How many elections have we had in recent years where the incumbent ran unopposed? Or as we’re seeing now, how are regular people supposed to know how undemocratic the local dem group is? Most will see a sign or Facebook post saying a candidate is endorsed by the Democratic committee and assume everything is going fine.

        I have no interest in strong mayor, as the fact that Yepsen and Kim served as recent Mayors shows that the worst of us can be elected to a position of power. But any idea that the commission form kept the inmates from running the asylum is being proven wrong every day by the current city council. We’re getting closer to catastrophe, either due to policy or financial mismanagement, and I don’t know if the group I mentioned above doesn’t care, or if they are just blind to how poorly they are doing.


      5. I couldn’t agree more that this crew is a disaster. And, as someone mentioned below, they would include Yepsen in a similar vein. There seems to be one large difference. When Yepsen was Mayor her ability to do damage was mitigated by some more sane and strong council members and as a Mayor in a commission form of government, she had only one vote at the table. Mathesien treated the police and fire departments with the respect they deserved. Madigan managed the finances with realistic and should policies. The staff in Accounts, including Marilyn, made sure things were being done within rules and regs. Thus while publically and ethically she was not a shining star, she was contained within the council.

        This particular council, other than perhaps Golub has no one same or strong in either policy or ethics. When they are not fighting each other they are backing up each other’s insanity. Their egos are surpassed only by their unearned egos.

        It is for the hopes of Saratoga Springs residents that in the coming elections there will be options that can bring fair-minded, ethical, and balanced governing back to the council. I will go out on a limb and say the first step to this will be making sure Chris Mathiesen is on the ballot and then doing what you can to get him elected. You’ll have to wait and see how the rest of the ballot comes down.

        Liked by 2 people

      6. @Andy (again)

        Last year there were several credentialed people running for several positions and there were plenty of choices for voters to choose from.

        If your statement “Most will see a sign or Facebook post saying a candidate is endorsed by the Democratic committee and assume everything is going fine” is strictly about the thought that Democrats will only pull the lever for Democrats and not look at other candidates – well – you know what they say about assuming…..

        Hopefully the past two years will serve as a reminder that voters should consider candidates based on factors other than whether or not they are registered Democrats or if the Democratic committee endorsed them.

        We do agree on one important matter: we are indeed getting closer to catastrophe.

        Hopefully, things will get better with the ability to make change with our current form of government – and good people who step up to run!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Why hide behind an @formayor email id, and John, why black out the other email addresses given any communication among 3 or more of them should be available to the public….. I think?


  4. Andy-I understand in theory the appeal of the city manager form. I know too many cases, however, where cities have hired the wrong person for the job and had to go to great lengths and expense to break the contract after damage was done and get rid of the person and then find a replacement. This proposal was the last of I think 6 attempts at charter change and lost by over 1,000 votes. Ron Kim was head of the group making that proposal.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Not sure how you quantify “too many,” but sure there are some cases of a city manager not working out because a lot of cities in NY State have city managers/strong mayors. Only 2 of 62 cities in NY have a commission only form of government.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Bruce—The cases I am familiar with had to do with good old-fashioned corruption and incompetence, but of course there are many reasons city managers don’t work out as hoped. Whatever the cause, the process of removing and replacing a city manager a city doesn’t want to keep remains a long, difficult, and expensive road to travel.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Please, Please Please!!! No more charter change votes. How many times do we need to revisit this failed idea? Saratoga Springs has thrived under the right leadership. The current council is a joke and with the possible exception of Golub are incompetent and dangerous.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. “I deduct 20 points of estimated IQ for use of obscenity in public conversation. It’s a low-class & craven form of trying to throw some weight around, a substitute for thought, meant to shut down an argument by a bit of shock. Doesn’t work; makes you look dumb instead.” ~ A. Esolen

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Andy,
    Unfortunately there is no system that will guarantee that “the inmates don’t take over the asylum”. The check on that is an informed and engaged electorate. Even the quality of a city manager depends on the quality of the elected officials who hire him/her. Last election saw a record number of candidates running for office in Saratoga Springs including three individuals running for mayor. Until voters decide to do the work a healthy democracy requires we will not see good government no matter what the form. We can only work to keep ourselves informed and make the effort to help others do the same.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It is unimaginable to me that anyone who has ever worked in any professional setting would even type a DRAFT response email like the one that the Mayor actually sent! Shows a real lack of professional judgment and that’s putting it mildly! And using profanity is such a sign of laziness… and for a lawyer? Yikes!

    Liked by 1 person

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