Blogs > Saratogian Newsroom

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

Tuesday, October 2

Old HR, same as the new HR

Up for a discussion and vote tonight at the City Council table is a month-to-month contract with Pinnacle Human Resources, the organization that has been providing services to the city for more than a year.

The group's contract was terminated in the first City Council meeting of September when Accounts Commissioner John Franck said he was not satisfied with their services.

Franck maintained it "had nothing to do with politics," but with the vote split along party lines and a personnel issue unfolding in the Accounts Department involving Mary Zlotnick, at least some at the City Council table thought it had to do with more than services.

The new contract lays out that it will be month-to-month. When terminating the contract, Franck said he wouldn't be opposed to Pinnacle handling the city's work while it searched for a new company and Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan said she was in favor of hiring someone in-house.We'll see if that position makes it into the comprehensive budget tonight.

Also concerned was this letter-to-the-editor writer, but I think she was talking about a different set of politics (ideological Dem vs. Rep) than the mayor, who seemed to be talking about the political dynamic of the city and the council. 

Of course, HR in the city has been political since the Council opted to go for an outside contractor rather than hiring an actual HR director.

In December — the last meeting before two Republicans on the City Council were replaced by two Democrats — the Council voted to extend the HR contract for another year in a move incoming Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan called "blatantly political."

The one Dem on the council, Franck, voted against it and extending the Harris Beach legal contract.

And Speaking of Harris Beach and Mary Zlotnick, I'm trying to get a tally now of how much her personnel hearing actually cost the city.  In speaking to her at the hearing, she was aghast at the cost (but to be fair, she probably would have been upset about the proceedings if it was all free).

I haven't gotten a good bead on it yet, but the equation goes something like:

$200 an hour (Harris Beach contracted cost for "general labor issues") times the entire Zlotnick hearing (my estimate is somewhere in excess of 40 hours, but I could be wrong) =something to the tune of $8,000, and that does not include any fee or lodging the hearing officer and court reporter were paid (I don't know if that was included in the Harris Beach cost or not, but I suspect it wasn't).

I'll keep trying to see what the bill eventually added up to.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The City seems to exceed its budget every year for outside counsel. Perhaps the City Council should not only continue to resist the mayor's attempt to restore a private HR firm that may have played a role in creating the situation in Accounts, but also ask the logical question "Why can't the City Attorney handle the case?"

In fact, even a cursory review of the number of outside law firms employed by the current administration should result in several questions.

And please keep in mind that the use of a private outside HR firm violates the intent of the City Charter that established the position of HR administrator.

The original HR administrator - a full time Civil Service title - was pushed aside by the mayor and his deputy and she finally quit out of frustration. This is a story in itself.

Finally, can you look into the rumor that the deputy mayor played a role in creating the issue in Accounts that resulted in the disciplinary hearing. All this simply plays into the hands of those who advocate for Charter reform.

October 2, 2012 at 5:25 PM 
Blogger Lucian said...

I looked into the issue you raised when all of this started (and a hundred other issues) Anonymous, and assessed it to be like most of them: a conspiracy theory.

I have it on good authority that the deputy mayor put in a good word for Mary Zlotnick when she was hired because I'm told the two are friends outside of work, but that is the extent of her involvement as far as I've found... and I've talked to a lot of people about this issue.

If anyone has any more information I should know about this or anything else, don't hesitate to e-mail me at

Rumor and innuendo abound and I'll dispel or confirm them when I can, but as I think I've made clear in my previous posts and stories I don't write about the rumors until I know more than the rumor itself.

October 2, 2012 at 6:37 PM 

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home