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The Saratogian Newsroom blog, complete with thoughts and commentary from our newsroom staff and regular posts on happenings around town.

Friday, December 18


I was really hoping that this would just blow over, but it clearly isn't going to, so here it is:

On Wednesday evening, after going back and forth on whose responsibility it is to distribute layoff letters in the Department of Public Works, City Attorney Joe Scala threw a packet of letters at Commissioner of Public Works Skip Scirocco, hitting him in the back, although he says he only intended to throw the envelope at Scirocco's feet.

Scirocco said that after delivering the first of 28 lay off letters, he realized that individuals losing their jobs were asking a lot of questions that he was not equipped to answer. These were questions that should probably have been addressed by the city's Human Resource Manager. The problem being, of course, that the city does not currently have an HR manager. City Attorney Joe Scala has been empowered to fill in as HR manager in some capacities.

So, here's my take: Scirocco is within his rights to ask for help in answering technical, legal questions relating to layoffs. BUT, knowing Scirocco, and having heard both sides' description of the confrontation, it does not sound like the commissioner clearly articulated his request for this kind of help, but instead left the letters without explanation on Scala's desk. According to Civil Service, delivering the letters can also be handled by Human Resources, but Scala's role as a stand-in HR person is not clearly defined, so he may be right in saying that it's not his job.

From Scala's perspective, it appears to be the appointing authority's job to deliver the layoff letters, so without a good explanation of what Scirocco wanted when he left the letters, why would he want to get involved in the messy delivery of such documents? BUT, was it professional of him to throw the envelope at an elected official? Probably not. It certainly doesn't fit in with the Mayor's stated agenda of bringing decorum and civility to City Hall, a point that outgoing Commissioner of Public Safety was eager to point out this afternoon.

The bottom line, from where I'm sitting, is that the city is doing something it has never done before with this amount of layoffs. No one is really happy about it, and who can blame them? Emotions are running high, and since we're all human, confrontations can happen. Let's just hope that this is the worst we see.

Also, Horatio has a good take on all this.


Anonymous For whom the bell tolls said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

December 18, 2009 at 9:51 PM 
Anonymous Saratoga native said...

Skippy is a little cry baby. He doesn't have the guts to face his men. He always wants someone to do his dirty work for him.Kim still pulls his strings if Kim says press charge's I'll press charges.

December 18, 2009 at 10:07 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An attorney is supposed to solve problems for his clients, not cause them. Joe Scala should be disbarred. After he's fired.

December 19, 2009 at 3:30 AM 
Blogger demroc said...

here's dennis yusko,
According to the city's Policy and Personnel Manual, it is the city's human resource administrator's job to create termination letters, provide them to departing employees, conduct exit interviews and explain employee benefits.

But the city is enacting its cuts without a human resource administrator. Marcy Brydges resigned months ago, and Johnson had asked Scala to assume human resource and personnel duties. The City Charter mandates having a human resource director.

The same city manual also states that workplace harassment/violence shall be reported to the human resource director or a department head, both of whom were involved in Wednesday's tiff. "Conduct that constitutes violence will not be tolerated from any city employee," the manual states.

Read more:
TU: "

December 19, 2009 at 6:53 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The TIMES UNION has the full story, this shows how the lawyers that work for the city think that there above everyone Maybe the mayor will post bail for another one of his cronies

December 19, 2009 at 8:31 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any true leader of men and women would have taken the responsibility to personally lay a person off. If the individual being layed off had questions that the leader couldn't answer then the leader needs to get the answer back to the individual.

Sending someone else to do this unpleasent task is sending the message that you don't care about the workers. End result are worker attitudes that cause increased costs. In this case the taxpayers pay.

December 19, 2009 at 8:32 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An intrepid reporter might consider checking into the Political Konnection between Scirocco and Kim. I suspect there's a Puppet King pushing the situation a bit.

December 19, 2009 at 8:58 AM 
Anonymous City hall Filly said...

Since the Human Resources Manager left several months ago what is Johnson waiting for to fill the position? If he was doing his job it would have been filled long ago. Thus, this situation would not have taken place.

December 19, 2009 at 10:58 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...


How about our departing commissioner's behavior at the public library, letting loose with a virtual flame thrower of obscenties?

Mr Kim: what do yuo have to say about that?


December 19, 2009 at 12:37 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Horiato has a good take on this? What business are you in?

December 19, 2009 at 2:02 PM 
Blogger Suzanne Kwasniewski said...

The City Charter clearly states that the City Attorney is to do work for the City Council, but Mr. Scala clearly conducts himself as if he works only for the Mayor. Since H.R. duties are now assigned to him, Mr. Scala should have delivered those letters to the ousted employees. Throwing an envelope at a Commissioner is not the first unprofessional conduct by Mr. Scala. More than once he requested information pertaining to FOIL requests that I had already given him, and in his request he would imply that I was not doing my job, when in fact, he was not doing his. E-mails will verify this. Civility in City Hall? With a City Attorney who is insubordinate to Commissioners, and a Deputy Mayor who routinely leaves insulting and vaguely threatening phone messages, it is clear that Johnson's Civility is merely a campaign slogan.

December 19, 2009 at 4:24 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrew, Where do you draw the line. What Joe did was wrong, then he ordered Scirocco to pick up the papers. Do you know that he councils violence in the work place. I also hear that he threw something at Lou Benton. The HR persons do this job. Joe is the acting HR.

December 19, 2009 at 5:28 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They should have hired George Clooney. As in Up In The Air movie.

December 20, 2009 at 9:38 AM 
Anonymous Cliff A. said...

How come we have not heard anything from the Mayor about this issue? So much for an open door policy. More behind closed doors work from the Mayor and his cronies.

December 20, 2009 at 12:27 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What did skippy yell over his shoulder when he was running from smoke'in joe scala,what ever it was probably wasn't nice... so joe just sent the letters air mail,I applaud him for standing up to this Napoleon wanna be with no kahonies.

December 20, 2009 at 3:06 PM 
Blogger demroc said...

i'm sick of tighe's lies. here is a new blog.

December 20, 2009 at 8:48 PM 
Anonymous The next mayor of Saratoga said...

What is the address of this new blog that DEMROC is talking about? His post was no address.

December 22, 2009 at 5:25 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who is cheated by having an individual working in City Hall who throws documents at someone's head? Or for that matter, throws documents at all, twice?? It was an insult to Commissioner Scirocco for sure. The employees at city hall are working in a poison environment. They are being cheated and the taxpayers of our city are being cheated. We really need to change this form of government and get a professional manager. For now, Saratoga Springs is just looking foolish, mean-spirited and disfunctional.

March 14, 2010 at 8:12 PM 

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