ALBANY — As county and local officials continue to battle with New York City Mayor Eric Adams over his decision to send 238 migrants to a Super 8 Motel in Rotterdam last week, Gov. Kathy Hochul has so-far decided not to weigh in on the controversy that has consumed Schenectady County politics.
Schenectady County Legislature Chair Anthony Jasenski has said the county received a call from a third-party contractor on July 18 around 9 p.m. informing them that three bus loads of asylum-seekers sent from New York City would be arriving at the Super 8 later that night. The call came as reports began to emerge that the then-current residents of the Super 8, which was known to house homeless people, domestic violence victims and other vulnerable populations, were abruptly evicted from the motel.
Since then, it has been reported that the motel owners had reached a deal to house the asylum-seekers through a company contracted by New York City and the motel’s occupants were forced to leave.
“They were put on the street with less than an hour’s notice,” said Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam. “We analyzed the entire situation and it comes down to irresponsible actions by one municipality forcing a situation like this onto another municipality and they have no intention of stopping this.”
In response, Santabarbara, introduced legislation that would establish statewide guidelines to ensure advance consultation occurs between state and municipal officials before any resettlement of immigrants or asylum-seekers in the state.
Santabarbara said he’s been in contact with the state Attorney General’s office, U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, and talked to one of Hochul’s representatives, but they had yet to get back to him. Santabarbara said state Attorney General Letitia James has been in daily contact with officials and has been gathering evidence to see if any potential crimes were committed. He added he also believed Adams may be telling the governor false information about notifying the municipality ahead of time, which the assemblyman says is not true.
Santabarbara continued to trade public barbs with Adams on Wednesday after a spokesman for Adams said the mayor personally notified elected officials across the state months ago. Santabarbara shot back with a statement shortly after.
“Let me be clear: there was no advanced notification or consultation provided to Schenectady County, the Town of Rotterdam, or my office regarding the arrival of migrants in our community. Contrary to the claims made by a spokesperson for City of New York Mayor Eric Adams, we were completely in the dark until the buses were already enroute to the Super 8 Motel,” Santabarbara said in the statement.
When reached for comment on the Rotterdam Motel 8 situation, a spokesperson for Hochul sent a copy of a transcript of comments made by the governor last month in Orange County about the migrants coming to the Hudson Valley.
When pressed, the spokesperson for Hochul refused to comment directly on the Rotterdam situation and the conflict between local officials and the Adams administration, and once again deferred to her previous comments last month. Hochul was asked about what conversations she’s had with county executives about incoming migrants.
“It’s basically saying, ‘We’ll try to give you as much heads up as we can,’” Hochul said at the time. “They’re staying in hotels paid for by the City of New York. And so there’s some misunderstanding that this is going to be an additional expense for localities. It is not. It’s the City’s legal responsibility to provide them not just a shelter, but the food, the services they need.”
Despite this claim, state and local officials have raised concerns about the costs associated with providing services and education for the asylum-seekers. There are at least 68 children among the asylum-seekers in Rotterdam.
State Sen. James Tedisco, R-Glenville, criticized what he called a total lack of transparency from Hochul’s office.
“That is exactly one of the areas where this administration, this governor fails. We’re not only senators and assembly people, we’re representatives. I could say it’s outrageous that a representative would not want to interactive with constituents who, with a total lack of transparency, uprooted people so we can bring in another group — no matter who the other group is — to take the services that they’re going to need after they’re uprooted,” Tedisco said. “I can say it’s outrageous, but I can’t say it’s surprising.”
Tedisco added that since he was first elected to the Assembly in 1983, he has not experienced such lack of transparency from any previous governors.
“This is one of the areas where it would be a no-brainer to suggest that the leader of our state, the governor would have a discussion with a bi-partisan group of elected officials from Rotterdam and the county, who want to deal with these individuals and help them in every way possible,” the Republican said.