Thursday, May 22, 2008
In Our Opinion...
Runaway County Government - A Culture Of Corruption
In this bottom-line society in which we live, there is a tendency to assess most every human enterprise and institution quantitatively, rather than qualitatively. And, so it is that, with respect to Westchester County Government, an institution that lately has become a very sore point in the lives of most homeowners and taxpayers, concerns are mostly connected to quantifiable issues; chief amongst them the rapidly-growing county tax portion of our property tax bills.
Naturally, those who are sounding the alarm and expressing their concerns with Runaway County Government are pointing to the rapidly inflated ranks of County employees, aides to the County Executive’s Office, and the Board of Legislators, most conspicuous amongst them, not to mention their high salaries and benefits. It’s all about numbers. It is not difficult to understand the focus, the concrete financial reality, given its immediate impact on most households, particularly as we enter what many economists are predicting, may be the worst stagflation since the mid-70s. The numbers are scary, as many contemplate the possible loss of their homes, stuck between a rock and a hard place, not able to afford the taxes and upkeep of their single biggest asset, their house; and yet, unable, or unwilling, to sell it for substantially less than it was worth a year ago.
However, the trouble with County Government, as it has evolved under Larry Schwartz and his front man, Andy Spano, involves many more undesireable aspects than the immense financial burden they have dropped upon our shoulders. Every bit as worrisome is the culture of intrusion, Big Brother-ism, and outright interference in our daily lives, legislated and imposed under the oppressive rule of a man who goes about telling innocent senior citizens that he is “the most powerful person in Westchester.”
Make no mistake about it, he is; at least under conditions as they presently exist. There is no separation of powers; the County Legislature, even before Democrats had the present 13-4 super majority, has been nothing more than a rubber stamp for Schwartz’ schemes and demands. He controls through the purse strings, and his control is absolute!
Consider the fact that not only the nomination and election of most legislators, but also many judges, as well as the District Attorney and County Clerk, are all under the control of Public Enemy No. 1, Larry Schwartz. Consider, too, that the overwhelming majority of County employees harbor a strong dislike for his oppressive and overbearing ways. The rigging and fixing of elections has brought Larry and his cronies and puppets to the level of arrogance, blatant disrespect, and contempt for the People of Westchester that allows them to enrich themselves by leaps and bounds even as we all struggle as never before, just to make ends meet.
If it were only about numbers, and the need to trim fat and waste from the County Budget, we would not be talking about abolishing it. No, the problem runs much deeper than the financial burden that has become unbearable. It involves the sheer nerve and raw impudence of the machine that believes it can bark “Jump,” and we will only ask “How high?”
People in increasing numbers are declaring, “No more.” Larry, Andy, Bill, Susan, and all their agents; their overpaid commissioners and deputies, have gone too far, much too far in our faces, for us to take them back. Looking around, we realize that our neighbors in Connecticut and parts of Massachusetts have long ago rid themselves of such duplication and patronage, and that we do not need to tolerate the abuse any longer.
The organizational meeting of the Task Force To Eliminate County Government, on June 2, 7:30pm, at Greenburgh Town Hall, will be a good opportunity for citizens to come out in great numbers and make it clear they mean business.
Our Readers Respond....
Supervisor Paul Feiner Responds To Reader’s Criticisms
To the Editor:
I would appreciate the opportunity to respond to the letter “Political Opponent Takes Issue With Supervisor Paul Feiner.” The letter writer suggested that if I want to investigate the efficacy of having a county government that we also investigate the effi-cacy of Greenburgh Town Government.
During my tenure as Town Supervisor I have always encouraged a review of our operations. In fact, one of the reasons why Standard & Poors upgraded the Town’s bond rating to AAA (highest rating possible—less than 3% of all communities in the nation have this rating) on April 17, 2008 was because “we recently formalized financial management policies, specifically the Town’s new formal reserve policy and long range planning.” Since I have been Town Supervisor our bond rating has gone up 4 times, to the highest rating possible. That’s because the Town does not run on automatic pilot. We’re always looking for better ways to manage Town operations. And, we are constantly making changes.
In January I invited critics and supporters to serve on a Citizens’ Budget Advisory Committee that is looking for ways to tighten up operations. We have a new comptroller (who was also one of the budget critics for many years). We’re tightening up oversight and stablishing more controls.
The Town recently received a $75,000 grant from the state to conduct an independent review of the Greenburgh police and Dobbs Ferry police departments. That review will analyze whether or not the Greenburgh and Dobbs Ferry police should share more services or consolidate. We are looking for other ways to save money and run a more efficient operation.
The Town actively encourages our citizens to monitor their government and to let us know what we can do better. Our meetings are streamed live on the internet. Our work sessions are also streamed live on the internet. All resolutions are posted on the internet –before each Board meeting, to enable citizens to scrutinize the resolutions, legislation, contracts we’re voting on before the fact.
Westchester County is the third most expensive place in the United States (tax wise) to live in. If we are going to be successful in making our community a more affordable place to live in – everything must be on the table. We need to seriously explore whether we need County Government. If we can do without County Government (like Connecticut and parts of Massachusetts) we should eliminate this level of government. Other layers of government should also be looked at. There should be no sacred cows. Reinvent government in New York.
Paul Feiner, Greenburgh, Town Supervisor
Ed Krauss Strikes Again!
One must wonder what the Ed Krauss agenda is? Last week he had another one of his mindless diatribes printed in the Westchester Guardian. Most people who engage in personal invective for years on end must have a personal issue or two. Of course part of Mr. Krauss’ style is to repeat lies and half-truths until people start to believe them. His accusations that the financial affairs of the Town of Greenburgh have been mismanaged for years, is idiotic and inaccurate. Greenburgh has had extremely high bond ratings for many years now. Greenburgh, like many
communities, has had recent high tax increases. Is that because of mismanagement or malfeasance? In fact, it’s the economy, stupid! Falling real estate values, certioraris, and less sales tax revenues seem to any reasonable individual the culprit we are all facing. His specious claim that Greenburgh’s government has not been administered well is also ridiculous.
The services in Greenburgh are excellent, the parks are open, clean, and well managed and the amount of people that complain are few and far between. In fact, most of the complaints emanate from the mouths of a small clique of power-wannabees like Mr. Krauss. With regards to the Ethics Code, his simplistic view and understanding of why they were re-written begs the question.
They were put in to give Mr. Krauss’s allies and friends advantages in fund-raising. Any casual observer of the language of the code would laugh. It seems Mr. Krauss is not interested in democracy or the rule of the electorate, but in politics of derision and character assassination.
Supervisor Feiner has a long distinguished record of achievement, honesty, public service, and he has been rewarded for that fine effort by re-election many times. Because of the previous Town Board’s profligate spending and abuses, these allies of Mr. Krauss, were defeated. Now in the wake of his defeat, there are more sour grapes from his mouth and pen. What else is new?
The record is clear Supervisor Feiner has come out strongly against the incredible waste, feather-bedding and the ballooning of County government. The County Board Chairman Bill Ryan has been jaw-boning, arm-twisting and campaigning for more and more money, and more and more unnecessary layering of government. Where has been the cost-control from both Andy Spano and Bill Ryan? Supervisor Feiner has had the courage to stand up and expose what we all know, and few have the intestinal fortitude to say. Of course we have freedom of
speech and the press in this great country, and therefore people like Ed Krauss are given the right, and often the forum, to make fools of themselves. Any casual observer of the Greenburgh Town Board meetings over the years has seen ample evidence of his verbal contributions.
Come down every other Wednesday of the month and get a big laugh.
Richard J. Garfunkel, Tarrytown
Reader Goes Beep...Beep
Ernie Davis’ attorney Stephen Jackson was one of the lawyers involved in the Tawana Brawley hoax. The New York Times reported that he was the attorney for C. Vernon Mason in an article on April 23, 1998. The former prosecutor, Steven Pagones, sued Al Sharpton, Mason, and Maxon for defamation because they falsely accused Pagones of raping Tawana Brawley. Stephen Jackson tried to shift the blame to others. What a character! He also ran for Assemblyman in Queens in 1994 and City Council in 2001 and lost miserably in both elections.
Why didn’t he bring a lawsuit to overturn those elections? I wonder who will Ernie Davis, Jackson, and his cohorts shift the blame to after their frivolous lawsuit is kicked out of court? They will be at the other end of a multi-million dollar lawsuit for their behavior. I don’t think
a jury in Westchester will be too kind to Ernie and his crew. By then Ernie should be indicted...beep, beep.
Mount Vernon Road Runner II