Local leaders being asked to consider the impact of their words
By NICOLE ANTONUCCI
The region's business leaders are raising concerns about political infighting among municipal officials in Fulton and Mont-gomery counties, and the impact it is having on the region.
In a letter sent to various municipalities Monday, the Fulton and Montgomery Region CEO Roundtable says arguing, name calling and personal attacks among elected officials are thwarting businesses from investing in the area.
"It's why we don't hear from anyone," roundtable member Dustin Swanger said. "Our goal is to improve the image of our region because what we are hearing people say is, 'Why would I come up to Amsterdam with all that nonsense going on?' I think we can do better."
Swanger said the letter was sent as a friendly gesture to remind municipalities to be more aware of how they interact, and how their actions and words can impact the region.
The cities of Amsterdam and Gloversville and the town of Johnstown were named in the letter as municipalities that have engaged in the types of public interactions that "create a negative environment, present a poor image, and discourage businesses from investing in the community."
The letter says it is an embarrassment, and asks all local officials to govern in a more professional matter and to have "fruitful and data-driven discussions" regarding complex issues facing their municipalities.
Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane said she agrees with the letter, acknowledging that the city is guilty of political infighting. She sees decision-making based on political and personal agendas, noting the Common Council's recent battle over proposed budget cuts.
"I think decisions in the budget were made because of personal bias, and I think it is detrimental to the community," Thane said. "We all have a right to an opinion, but when things get to the level of attacking of people personally, it is outrageous and unhealthy to the community."
Thane said it has resulted in several missed opportunities where developers interested in rehabilitating and developing city sites were driven away by the actions of the council and other officials.
Instead, the city had to demolish the buildings because they were vacant and deteriorating.
"We have paid out the nose for buildings that could have been generating thousands of dollars in revenue," Thane said, adding she has concerns that it may drive away the developer interested in building a casino near Thruway Exit 27.
"I am hoping the council will listen to the advice of our very successful business people in our region," Thane said. "Those that are acting out should be counseled or censored in some way because it is unacceptable behavior."
Members of the Amsterdam Common Council did not return calls for comment. Johnstown and Gloversville officials could not be reached.
To further assist municipalities, the CEO Roundtable is planning a seminar to discuss how officials can speak and think positively about moving the Fulton-Montgomery region forward.
"The CEO Roundtable is focused on growing the region and we want to work with our local elected officials to do that," Swanger said.