Letter to the Editor: Concern with Sleepy Hollow Trustee Comments at Public Work Session

I am a resident of Sleepy Hollow, NY and I regularly watch most, if not all, of the Village meetings to keep informed of governance in the area that I reside.

I was completely appalled by the behavior and comments of Trustee Jared Rodriguez at the Village’s Public Work Session on the evening of March 19, 2024.

At the end of the meeting after agenda items were discussed, the mayor asked if there were any trustees who had anything to present to the Board. Trustee Rene Leon expressed concerns for the number of cats (presumably feral and stray) that are around our Village. Trustee Lauren McConnell reported that she witnessed a cat kill a chipmunk recently in her yard.

I was shocked that Mayor Martin Rutnya would make light of this concern by jokingly saying “Is this a Bob Barker… have your pet spayed or neutered <thing>”, and there was general laughter in the room, but most concerning was what transpired next.

The police chief explained that officials can come out and trap feral cats and bring them back to their found location after spaying or neutering. At this point, Trustee Rodriguez exclaims “Bring them back here?!?” as in complete surprise and then states in no uncertain terms if upon their return they can drop “them like in the river.”

There is a quick “sorry” immediately after his words are voiced but that is not good enough.  Instead of working to come up with a humane solution, he continues to proclaim how it is the residents’ problem and that they shouldn’t keep feeding them. He spoke in a condescending tone without regard for the life of these animals.

There is no question in my mind that any individual that shares these rash and abusive beliefs should NOT be holding any public office and he certainly does not represent me.

It would be my strong recommendation that Trustee Jared Rodriguez formally apologize for his insensitive comments to the public.  I furthermore feel that Trustee Jared Rodriquez should consider removing himself from his position as Trustee.  This individual should not be representing the residents of Sleepy Hollow.

If you missed the meeting, the video can be viewed here:


The interactions I describe above begin at marker 1:36:25.

Andrew Monachelli
Sleepy Hollow


  1. I completely agree with Andrew Monachelli. The off-handed cruelty expressed by Trustee Jared Rodriguez is entirely inappropriate for a Village official. I also question whether it is appropriate for him to maintain his role on the Taconic Commission for Parks and Recreation given his public advocacy for killing animals by drowning them.

    1. Last Tuesday evening, due to lack of sleep, stress, and impaired judgement, I made a distasteful and insensitive joke with reference to our unhoused, unowned community cat population. I apologize for offending some of our residents who are especially concerned with animal welfare and the language we use to discuss these issues. The joke doesn’t represent me or my thoughts (or how I feel about cats). As with most issues, our discussion instead requires nuance and respectful language. I’ve submitted a longer letter to the editor for publication.

      1. That isn’t much of an apology – “ I apologize for offending some of our residents who are especially concerned…”

  2. Trustee Jared Rodriguez’s claim that his comments suggesting an act of aggravated cruelty that is in violation of New York State’s animal protection laws and federal anti-cruelty laws were a joke demonstrates his lack of responsibility for his actions and his unsuitability for public office. I seriously doubt that Trustee Rodriguez would be making any further comments if local residents had not spoken out about them and raised awareness of his intentions towards defenseless animals. I understand there are issues with abandoned and homeless cats in Sleepy Hollow but for a Village official to suggest drowning them in the Hudson as a solution rather than finding a humane way to address the problem, is reprehensible. On top of this, to now claim that he made this suggestion because he was tired and stressed, as justification for his comments, adds insult to injury. It’s not just some Sleepy Hollow residents who are especially concerned with animal welfare, New York State and the federal government are concerned with animal welfare and that is why laws are in place to protect animals from the type of action suggested by Trustee Rodriguez. I reiterate Andrew Monachelli’s remarks: Trustee Jared Rodriquez should consider removing himself from his position as Trustee. This individual should not be representing the residents of Sleepy Hollow, nor should he be a representative on the Taconic Commission for Parks and Recreation.

  3. I also express my deep concern and condemnation regarding the recent remarks made by a trustee regarding the drowning of stray cats. Such comments are not only abhorrent but also reflect a complete disregard for the welfare of animals and a lack of empathy towards living beings.

    The suggestion of drowning stray cats is not only morally reprehensible but also raises serious questions about the character and judgment of those entrusted with positions of responsibility within our community.

    Instead of resorting to barbaric methods of dealing with stray animals, we should focus on humane solutions such as trap-neuter-return programs, adoption initiatives, and increased support for animal shelters and rescue organizations.

    I urge the community to speak out against cruelty towards animals and to hold accountable those who espouse such callous and inhumane views.

  4. I do not live in Sleepy Hollow, or NY but communities worldwide face the same problem with community cats/strays. Thank goodness they don’t have the same attitude as Jared Rodriguez!!! He should step down 😠
    The Village should include in their budget funds for low cost spay/neuter and vaccinations. Help your community that wants to help these discarded cats. TNR does work. The solution is not immediate, but it is humane. I TNR Every cat that wanders through my property – out of my own pocket. If you cannot or will not help them, please do not harm them!! Thank you to everyone making a compassionate plea ♥️

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