My current college project in political science involves gaining a local perspective about any elected official in Manlius. I chose trustee Janice Abdo-Rott. Trustee Abdo-Rott turns out to be controversial and polarizing, so I am sharing some of my findings.
Although she is running on a platform of transparency and integrity, this seems to be political ploy to mask her personal agenda. Her behavior as a trustee seems anything but transparent. She avoided public input to a plan to put business-sponsored banners on utility poles on the main streets of the village, telling the garden club that the banners were a “done deal” before any public review at all. Her effort was stopped by a robust response from the village planning board. Similarly, she worked in secret on plans to renovate the Swan Pond Park for months, refusing to share what she was doing with the Parks Committee. Hints of plans given to the committee were accompanied by the caution “this is confidential.” Parks Committee meetings are open to the public by law and her behavior would seem to violate the NYS Open Meeting Law. Her “Swan Pond extravaganza” to completely change the character of an historic village landmark was finally stopped when the mayor intervened to prevent expenditures from raising taxes.
Many residents think she is using her elected position to further her private company. Some cited seeing village DPW trucks in use at her business. Some cited as evidence that she uses her business e-mail account, with its advertising for her business, for all her official village e-mails. Her efforts to change the Swan Pond seem directed at achieving an example, at public expense, of her professional work to advance her private business.
Many question her integrity. Her activities as a trustee exceed the responsibilities specified in NYS law. Her interference in the job performance of the director of parks and rec directly led to the resignation of two directors, one after the other, although in different circumstances. Several specific incidents seem blatantly unethical. My favorite is that while serving as liaison to the DPW, she secretly tried to hire a summer college student to work for her private business after he had already agreed to work for the DPW for the summer.
Finally, I discovered that a group of concerned citizens has prepared a removal petition to the NYS Supreme Court, to submit if she is re-elected. This could be another project.
Although some residents support Abdo-Rott, many find her too bossy, too focused on her own agenda, and vindictive. Some actually fear retribution from her.
This student concludes that Janice Abdo-Rott is running a stealth campaign for re-election in which she is blaming her opponents for the very behaviors she herself exhibits.
MORRISVILLE STATE COLLEGE