Two top leaders in Onondaga County government are sparring. One leader says he's doing his job. The other says her colleague is playing politics. The showdown was touched off by an audit report that was later challenged by the county executive, Syracuse's mayor and the chairman of the county legislature. YNN's Bill Carey says it's a struggle unlikely to end anytime soon.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- The 14th floor of the Onondaga County Civic Center is the scene of a quiet war of words. On one side, the Onondaga County Comptroller, who recently challenged fellow republican, County Executive Joanie Mahoney on rates being charged for parking spaces to a local developer at the parking garage serving the Oncenter. Rates that were far below the usual market charge.
“We weigh in on things that are very factual in nature. We are attempting to move the county forward by having our audits point out situations where we think there is either a lack of understanding or a lack of consistency,” said Onondaga County Comptroller Robert Antonacci.
City and county leaders said those lower rates were needed to hang on to jobs at the nearby Galleries building. The County Executive says the Comptroller was the one lacking in understanding.
“Formed a whole opinion without having looked very deeply into the facts. And then I think the response he got from SMG made it clear that he was ‘off track’ when it comes to how municipal lots are used for economic development purposes,” said Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney.
For her part, the County Executive, who has had her share of run-ins with fellow republicans, sees politics at play.
Mahoney said, “His name gets bandied about for bigger jobs all the time. I think he knows he has to have his name out there and he looks for any opportunity he can to get the publicity he wants for the next job he wants, whatever that is.”
Antonacci says such criticism comes with the job. He says politics play no role in his reports. That in a billion dollar operation, someone needs to raise questions and get answers on how money is being spent. He says he is not using the job as a "stepping stone."
“I'm very happy being the comptroller of Onondaga County. I think I'm doing a pretty good job at it. I enjoy what I do. These reports are necessary to show where government has been. Where it's going. And we'll continue to do that,” Antonacci said.
Mahoney said, “ It's mildly entertaining, but it just starts to fit a pattern that is very clear and that is that we're involved in politics and that's what politicians do.”
The tensions on the 14th floor go on.