Thursday, December 4, 2008
In Our Opinion...
Andy Spano Declares, “I Am The Agent Of Change”
At this point, it is difficult to say with certainty whether County Executive Andrew Spano is more arrogant or more indifferent with respect to Westchester taxpayers. Clearly, his recent conduct and public remarks suggest a hefty dose of each. For example, when asked by a local television reporter what he felt his chances might be if, in fact, he runs for a fourth term, (as we all know he will), he responded by saying he wasn’t concerned about any political opponent who might run on a platform of change. He declared, “I am the agent of change.” To that claim We respond with a one-word interrogatory: “Really?”
The sad, but simple, truth is Mr. Spano, if measured on a scale of arrogance ranging from 1 to 10, would be an 11. He suffers from an incredible disconnect with respect to the needs and the feelings of Westchester homeowners and taxpayers.
He has become a cruel and insensitive monarch. Between rigged elections such as the Larry Horowitz Affair in 2001, and enormous sums of money raised from corporations and individuals doing business with the County, Spano has no idea how most people feel about him; his totally unproductive trips to China, his overpaid and unproductive commissioners, particularly at the Board of Elections. Taxpayers are angry over the outrageous growth of his own staff, and all of County Government under his administration over the last 11 years; and, of course, the cost to working class families at a time when they are losing their homes to foreclosure in record numbers.
Mr. Spano totally underestimates our intelligence, those of us who have not been feeding off the public breast for 10 or 20 years, nor setting our own pay scales and health and pension benefits and perks. Firstly, he brought out a budget, proposed capital expenditures, and operating costs of nearly $1.8 billion. Our Bureau Chief, a knowledgeable auditor, labeled it a “shell game”, warning taxpayers, “Indeed, the County shifts $485,679,066 of its proposed 2009 costs into the ‘miscellaneous category’ in defiance of generally-accepted accounting principles.”
Secondly, as if to add insult to injury, Spano sent nearly a million dollars in pay increases, roughly $5,000 each, for his commissioners, department heads, prosecutors, and management at Westchester Community College, for approval to his rubber stamp Board of Legislators. His move would seem to suggest that his cronies, underworked, overpaid individuals such as Reggie LaFayette, an election commissioner already earning $155,000-plus, twice the salary of his counterpart in Nassau County, ought to be reaching into our pockets for a little more of our hard-earned tax dollars.
We are inclined to believe the divisive budget, the pay raises, and the overall accompanying remarks and rationalizations from Spano and his official mouthpiece, Susan Tolchin, were all conceived and spawned in the calculations of Larry Schwartz, who, would make such inappropriate moves if, for no other reason, than to show his suffering, taxpaying victims that he can. And, if that sounds as if Andrew Spano, Larry Schwartz, Susan Tolchin, and the “Ninth Floor Crowd” couldn’t care less about your struggle to pay your mortgage and your kid’s tuition, not to mention putting food on your table, you’re right.
Our Readers Respond...
A ‘Cynical Observer’ Responds
“There stood a new breed of President, a Renaissance Man, a vibrant, articulate, passionate yet calm under fire Chief Executive: a cool, collected leader, ready for whatever.” This is a small sampling of your November 13 In Our Opinion column. I don’t recall ever having read an editorial
so filled with gushing, reactive and hyper charged commentary. Your use of superlatives and excessive verbose characterizations seem almost frightening.
Mr. Obama has not even taken office yet; are you so certain of his leadership qualities and decision-making abilities? The President-elect has neither the experience nor record of any major accomplishment to warrant such esteem as you have bestowed on him. I believe you’re concentrating solely on surface appearances and not the substance of the man. Your expectations are much too high.
I realize and understand how, after eight years of self-imposed exile and suffering, you feel the need to revel in the joy and jubilation of the moment with the election of “The Chosen One”. I personally believe congratulations and a job well done would have sufficed.
Unlike the insulting, vitriolic and hate-filled emotional outbursts of radical liberals over the last eight years toward the one man, George W. Bush, who single-handedly reduced these same liberals to unrestrained hysterical malcontents; I will congratulate the President-elect. And there’s the difference between conservatives and liberals. I will, for the sake of the country, hope and pray that the new administration is successful. Although I do have my doubts, any criticisms I might have will be issue-oriented, and not personal invective directed at the President or members of his administration.
With this in mind, I’ll begin criticism by asking where is all this change we heard about over the past year and a half? It seems but a distant and faint memory, when you consider the appointments thus far made of former members of the Clinton Administration to cabinet posts. Perhaps experience, in most cases, is indeed a prerequisite for success.
“The American People Have Spoken, And They Have Spoken Clearly.” This statement cannot be contested or challenged. But keep in mind that 58 million Americans did not vote for Barack Obama. And, until such time as we can assess his performance, I will remain one of those Americans
you describe in your editorial, a cynical observer.