Woof! Saratoga County Republicans are ready to appoint the daughter of a big party supporter to the $62,413-a-year job of animal shelter director, claiming she’s the best qualified of the 62 people who applied for it. That claim might have a bit more credibility if not for Christina Abele’s age — 22 — and the fact that she has no administrative experience. Moral of story, and it’s nothing new: It helps to be politically connected.
Abele just got out of college in December. She’s done volunteer work at the shelter for the past five years and organized annual pet adoption clinics in her hometown of Halfmoon, but her principal employment has been as a banquet waitress with Mazzone Hospitality.
Members of the Board of Supervisors’ selection committee say they were impressed that she came to her interview confident and prepared, having reviewed the shelter’s budget and developed an “action plan” for reducing costs. OK, but what about her lack of management experience? The shelter has a dozen employees — five full-time and seven part-time — as well as several dozen volunteers. Abele may have been a business major at Siena College, but since when is a degree a substitute for experience?
The answer in Saratoga County appears to be: since your businessman father began donating thousands to county Republicans, including $5,250 in just the last three years alone. Among the recipients — to the tune of $2,500 between 2008 and 2011 — was Halfmoon Supervisor Mindy Wormuth, one of the members of the search committee that unanimously voted to endorse Abele. Couldn’t she have at least had the good sense not to sit on the committee, or to recuse herself when it came to voting for Abele?
Granted, we don’t know the candidates and didn’t sit in on the interviews; but the circumstantial evidence here clearly suggests that Abele’s selection wasn’t based entirely on her merits. Unfortunately, that’s the way hiring decisions are often made in politics, and the private sector as well. There’s taxpayer money involved here, though, and no piddling amount.